Now I Can See the Moon by Alice Tallmadge

Find in catalogThis a disquieting book to read and, I imagine, an almost impossible one to write. In her recent memoir, Alice Tallmadge digs deep into the story of her niece Michelle’s struggles with an eating disorder and traumatic recovered memories that led to her death by suicide nearly three decades ago. In a search for understanding, the author uncovers something much larger than her niece – a story about human nature and human culture, good and evil, courage and fear. This is a story still alive today. Read it if you dare. You won’t put it down if you do.

A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley

Find  in catalogThis is a “truth is stranger than fiction” memoir about a five year old Indian boy who got lost on a train, winding up alone on the mean streets of Calcutta. He survived by eating garbage and sleeping under a bridge, while trying to find a train that would take him back home to his family. After a few weeks a teenager took him to the police station and he was placed in a children’s home. After a fruitless search for his family, he was adopted by a loving family in Australia. Saroo never forgot his Indian family and as an adult he used Google Earth to eventually find his village. His birth mother was still living there, she had stayed in the hope that her son would some day return. I read this book after viewing the movie “Lion”, which was based on Saroo’s story. Both the book and the movie are very good (and available at the library).

We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

Find in catalogGabrielle Union was already such an inspiration to me but this book made me appreciate her activism even more. She is an amazing writer and goes into such deep personal stories. I was amazed by her courage to write so authentically.

Everything that Remains: a Memoir by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus

Find in catalogEverything that remains is adeptly titled; it’s a book about striping away all the other unnecessary distractions and how when one is able to do that all that remains is what is important. I like the personal stories that inspired the big and for the better life changes. It was inspiration, helpful, and funny all at the same time.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson

Find in catalogJenny Lawson writes a popular blog “The Bloggess” and this is a memoir of her life. She grew up in a tiny Texas town, the daughter of an eccentric taxidermist who put on puppet shows with dead animals. Her childhood was far from average and her stories are achingly funny, honest, and sometimes sad. Warning: adult themes and language.

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, by Judy Melinek

Find in catalogJudy Melinek trained to be a forensic pathologist in the New York City morgue, performing autopsies, attending crime scenes, and counseling grieving families. The author joined the NYC medical examiners two months before the 2001 terrorist attacks and was a part of the team that dealt with the identification of the victims. The book is a fascinating, and sometimes humorous account of the work of a real life medical examiner. It was interesting to compare fictional TV depictions to this first hand account, especially the amount of time that it takes to receive DNA results. Note: the descriptions of the medical procedures are graphic.

My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor

Find in catalogThis book, published in 2013, covers Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s growing up years, her college and law school education, and ends with her realizing her dream of being nominated to a judgeship. It’s a good read and offers insight into her family life, how she manages her diabetes, and her struggles in schools before bilingual education had made any headway. Interwoven with her personal story is interesting information as well about Puerto Rico’s history and migration, urban life in New York City especially for the poor, and campus life for a bright young woman at Princeton University and at Yale Law School in the late 1970s. Chapter 26, to me, was the most insightful. In it, she reflects on the death in 1983 of her cousin Nelson just before he turned 30. They were close growing up and she considered him her equal or her better. She ponders how she came to make it and succeed and he didn’t, succumbing to addiction and being one of the first to contract AIDS from needle usage. She reports some of the conversations they had as well as their last time together. Many of the values she cherishes and lives by shine through in this chapter, values that inform her legal decisions and the kinds of career and life choices she has made.

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys, by Vivianne Albertine

Find in catalogIf you thought you knew the history of punk music, think again. This book is an autobiography of the bassist from The Slits. Viv knew Sid Vicious before he spelled his name ‘Syd’. She also knew the Clash. She was also the guitarist in the punk band The Slits. Oh, you say you never heard of them? Maybe you should read this book and find out more about them, I highly recommend this book. And the title just gets under your skin after awhile.

Raising the Bar: Integrity and Passion in Life and Business, The Story of Clif Bar & Co. by Gary Erickson

Raising the BarThis story is about how a man saw a need and filled that need.

Gary Erickson, the founder of Clif Bar, tells how a long bike ride in his 30s led him to create the iconic, organic energy bars and other related products when there was really only one on the market at that time.

I loved reading his short stories throughout the book about his mountain biking trips and other excursions he took with friends and how the lessons he learned from those trips apply to how he runs his business.

It’s great to read about how some businesses owners, like Gary, stay true to their passions in their business instead of conforming to practices that compromise their values.

I recommend this book for anyone, especially businesses owners, outdoor enthusiasts and organic foodies.

Reviewed by Laura

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg

Running the BooksAs a job-seeking librarian who’s occasionally played with the idea of applying for prison librarian positions, I jumped on this book. Steinberg fell into prison librarianship and learned on the job both how to manage a prison library and how to interact with inmates. He made some mistakes (with both inmates and staff) and learned some hard lessons about human nature, growth, and compassion. This book is pretty compelling; funny in some places (maybe a bit too flip at times), poignant in others. You get to know some of the inmates through Steinberg’s eyes–or at least, as much as they allowed him to.

I do have to say I was astonished that he got the gig without ever having taken a basic librarianship course. He doesn’t mention anything about the learning curve he must have experienced with cataloging, collection development, etc. Just FYI to anyone who reads this book who is not a librarian: professional librarians go through a fairly rigorous master’s program. It’s not just about liking books.

Reviewed by Charlie