The Forger’s Spell by Edward Dolnick

Find in catalogWell worth reading on several levels. In this mystery, we know the perp, the man who forged the Vermeers and fooled Goering – so the mystery lies in how he was discovered. Along with this surprising and sometimes ironic story, Dolnick carefully shows just how a forger works and how experts checking out dubious paintings investigate. The techniques are  fascinating, but  I especially enjoyed the background issues Dolnick addresses. What psychology  leads buyers and experts to become gullible? In fact, what induces any of us to cling to errors of judgment, in the face of evidence to the contrary? Dolnick offers a thoughtful explanation of what determines the value of a work of art: why is an original Vermeer valuable while a beautiful, accomplished fake is not?

This book is a great complement to  “The Monuments Men, “ and to “The Hare with Amber Eyes,” all of which present different aspects of the Nazi theft of art treasures.

The New Codependency by Melody Beattie

The New CodependencyI just can’t recommend this book highly enough. The ‘baby-boomers’ probably remember the first major book on this topic about 30 years ago by the same author. And baby-boomers, who now may have grandchildren, adult children, elderly parents, friends, and others whom they love, could really take a new look at this book all about taking care of one’s own emotional needs.

New ideas to ponder from Ms. Beattie: one can be co-dependent without anyone else in the picture if one is not taking care of oneself! one doesn’t have to call oneself ‘codependent’ to benefit from the wisdom in these teachings! and the concept that guilt is a ‘stage of grief’ that often accompanies loss (“what could I have done to prevent this?”) – and one should be very careful as we often had no power to prevent the tragedies of life.

Helpful, short self-quizzes at the end of the book can be sources of affirmations (e.g., “I surrender to, and release, fear instead of letting fear turn into control.”) This book could make a valuable addition to a personal library.

Reviewed by Laura R.

Starting Your Career as a Social Media Manager by Mark Story

Starting Your Career as a Social Media ManagerAs social media is fairly ephemeral and changes rapidly, any title on the subject is only relevant for a short amount of time. Unfortunately, this particular title was not useful or relevant even briefly, in this reviewer’s opinion. While the “case studies” were marginally interesting, inasmuch as they gave examples of various social media experts’ career paths, the book is devoid of really useful information for an emerging social media manager. The bulk of the book instructs the reader how to find a job using social media- not quite the same thing as making your job social media. Finally, in chapter 11, the reader is treated to a real-world scenario for creating and managing a social media program. However, the steps are glossed over and best practices in terms of content and participation are not explored. My recommendation: give this title a miss and check out Meredith Farkas’ Social Software in Libraries. Though it’s industry-specific and a bit dated, it’ll still be incredibly germane for anyone interested in actually building and managing social media business profiles.

Reviewed by Caroline

Wild Nights: Nature returns to the city by Anne Matthews

My review below considers the entire book, but much of Matthews’s research focuses on the New York-northern New Jersey area.  Eugene readers not familiar with New York City might particularly find more interest in the chapters, “The Shores of Brooklyn,” “The Old Neighborhood,” and “The City of River Lights,” with their more general discussion of ecology and urban planning.  And these are relevant to the issues we deal with here.

For most urban dwellers, encounters with nature are a mix of wonder: a glimpse of a peregrine falcon swooping down on a pigeon; frustration: deer wrecking suburban gardens; and loathing: rodents carrying plague vectors.  Matthews examines the history of wildlife in our cities, and the ways we have encouraged or damaged species.  Migrant songbirds often find city towers fatal, but the striped bass is coming back to a cleaned-up Hudson,

Who wins, who loses?  We continue to crave contact with the green and the wild. Incentive zoning attempts to maintain small public spaces, hopefully with shaded seating, maybe a water feature.  Matthews observes high school boys in baggy pants carefully feeding gray squirrels.

The research is detailed and fascinating, but the topics meander and I was often unclear as to her point.  The last chapter offers a fearful vision of the consequences of global warming.

Reviewed by Sarav

Stop Street Harassment: Making public spaces safe and welcoming for women by Holly Kearl

Stop Street HarassmentA very important book based on years of research into how women are commonly treated in public spaces–Kearl uses survey and interview results from many countries in addition to USA. She gives practical advice in several final chapters, and notes resource groups that are empowering women to assert their need for respect and safety, anywhere and everywhere. A useful book, even if it is only to confirm that one is not alone in taking offense at aggressive verbal and nonverbal behavior. The latter part of the book is encouraging because it affirms strength in numbers, women together solving the problems.

Reviewed by Laura

Insects of the Pacific Northwest by Peter Haggard and Judy Haggard

Insects of the Pacific NorthwestThis field guide, published in 2006, has lovely photographs of 425 of the 28,000 species of insects in the Pacific Northwest. There is a brief and helpful discussion of scientific classification, insect anatomy, and insect growth and development. The guide also includes photographs of plant galls that have been induced by insects.

I was most interested in identifying my backyard insects, especially the bumblebees. Unfortunately, I didn’t get far. The Haggards show two species of bumblebees and mine was neither one. I was able to identify another flying insect as a butterfly, rather than a moth, thanks to the guide. At rest it held it white wings vertically over its body rather than laying them more flat. But, this particular butterfly also was not in the guide. I figured out much less about the flying bug with the distinctive red head.

The problem, I think, is not the Haggards or mine. It’s just the thousands and thousands of species. Given the necessary gaps in the guide as well as the gaps in a beginner’s knowledge, it’s probably most realistic to use this guide to identify order and family, but not to expect to identify genus and species. Maybe you’ll get lucky, but the numbers suggest that you won’t.

Reviewed by Lily

Vow by Wendy Plump

VowWendy writes about marriage (her own) and infidelity (her own and her husband’s) with candor, exuberance, sorrow, bewilderment, and at times clarity. It’s is a sobering book, very well written, surprising in its authenticity. A quick read but not an easy one.

Reviewed by Vicki

Pet Goats & Pap Smears by Pamela Wible

This is a fabulous and uplifting book by a local physician who is on a mission to transform medical care by creating ideal clinics designed by the consumers–we ‘patients’! She has actually created the first of these here in Eugene, and fills the book with 101 short descriptions of interventions and encounters she has had where everyone wins (usually)….the clients, the physician, the live animals dotting the clinic who play an important support role….Key to affecting society and health care on a wider scale, though, will be happy physicians, which are in surprisingly short supply! There is a very alarming suicide rate among them. Over-stressed and out-of-touch with their own and others’ feelings, author Pamela Wible leads workshops aimed at medical field workers to teach about other paths than traditional care delivery, and to show the way to successful interactions such as those she amusingly and touchingly describes in “Pet Goats & Pap Smears.” You will need to read this book to feel the love; yes, here is a Doc who actually uses that word!

Reviewed by Laura R.