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

Everybody’s Got Something by Robin Roberts

Everybody's Got SomethingRobin Roberts, anchor of TV’s Good Morning America, writes of her harrowing experiences fighting for her life through both breast cancer and a bone marrow replacement which needed to be done as a result of chemotherapy. I found the book hard to put down. Extremely detailed and revealing of her relationships with friends, family, and co-workers, she managed to be inspiring, as well. “Everybody’s got something” was her mother’s caution that no one is to be envied because all struggle through life. The other oft-repeated advice her mother told her was, “make your mess your message” which Roberts does very admirably in this memoir. Acclaimed author Veronica Chambers co-wrote the book.

Reviewed by Laura R.

Piano Lessons by Anna Goldsworthy

Piano LessonsA biography of music education and of an education of the soul, this is an engrossing book, the more so if you are familiar with classical composers. It follow the true journey of Anna from her beginnings with the piano through her success as a concert pianist, centering on the lessons of Eleonora Sivan, her teacher. It reflects the intensity of a gifted musician, detailing hours of practice and music analysis, but equally attending to the passion. The is a memoir with much heart.

Reviewed by Sue


Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing by Natalie Goldberg

Old Friend from Far AwayThis book is a pleasure to read, but it is even more valuable as a group of exercises and encouragements for memoir writing, with many writing prompts and a very basic direction — “Shut up and write.”
There are many examples from Goldberg and other authors that inspire as well as illustrate.

From the book — “To write just to write is what writing practice is all about…. Practice for no reason. Then all poetry, literature, even home, that evasive place, will come to you.”

Reviewed by Sue