Tuesday, April 28, 2009

American Salvage

Author: Bonnie Jo Campbell

First line: The mother jiggles her key in the ancient lock, nudges open the heavy oak door with her shoulder, and then freezes on the threshold.

Why you should read this book: Moving through these fourteen fine-hewn tales, a cast of alcoholics, meth addicts, bruised men, and long-suffering women surprise the reader with persistent hope in the face of blunt reality's repeated blows. Death by homemade scuba gear, Y2K paranoia, and a bedroom wall full of honeybees on a deteriorating property haunted by a stunning but elusive orange snake illustrate the journeys made by individuals clinging to love in salvage yards and garden shops and local bars. This book speaks of hard, raw truths, but handles tenderly the foibles and weakness of those who forge on beyond painful revelation.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't want to read a selection of great stories about interesting people surviving tragedy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers

Author: Marina Warner

First line: In her first anthology of fairy tales, Angela Carter included a story from Kenya: while a poor man's wife in the village thrives, the Sultana in the palace grows thinner and scrappier by the minute.

Why you should read this book: It's a far-reaching scholarly examination of the place of women as tellers of tales as well as the characters within tales, with great emphasis on the voice and the power inherent in communication. Historical research reveals the transmission of cultural knowledge and ways in which personal control is expressed or contained through speech, varying throughout time and geographic location. Almost impossibly detailed in scope, this book spans from the oldest recorded stories to modern film interpretations, examining the prejudices and secrets of every story and every storyteller.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You think the Disney version should be the only version.

Monday, April 20, 2009

He's Just Not That into You

Authors: Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

First line: Many women have said to me, "Greg, men run the world."

Why you should read this book: Simple-minded but well-meaning and effective in its mission to convince single women that they deserve real love, this popular and fluffy dating guide from the writers of Sex and the City has inspired a new era of self-esteem for women and a major motion picture. In the form of an advice column, with answers, vignettes, bullet points, and worksheets, it seeks to persuade the reader that her perfect man exists, and will find her and treat her like a princess day and night, as soon as she stops accepting lame excuses from losers. Basically, what you will learn in this book is that if you're unhappy in a relationship with someone you want to be with, it's because he's just not that into you.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You believe that all human beings are flawed in some way, and that you must accept human foibles in potential mates or else stay lonely with your perfectly hot self.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

In Me Own Words: The Autobiography of Bigfoot

Author: Grahamn Roumieu

First line: I am not Chewbacca.

Why you should read this book: The comic-tragic tale of the one and only Sasquatch, told in touching, honest, broken English, recounts his painful adolescence, his disappointing forays into Hollywood and politics, and his penchant for eating people in the woods. Unafraid to drop names, Bigfoot dishes the dirt on his relationship with luminaries such as Pat Morita and Koko the gorilla, along with his hopes, dreams, fears, and disappointments. The life of a monster has never been so funny.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're searching for a serious examination of cryptozoology.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Potty Book for Boys

Author: Alyssa Capucilli

First line: Hello! My name is Henry.

Why you should read this book: This high-interest book details the trials and tribulations of its protagonist's journey to independence from diapers. Possibly grating to adults, especially after repeat readings, it is near and dear to the hearts of young boys, at least those in this reviewer's family. If you need more incentive to use the potty, you can try the accompanying video.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You know how to use the toilet, every time, with no accidents!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

iPhone: The Missing Manual Second Edition

Author: David Pogue

First line: If you'd never seen all the videos and photos of the iPhone, and you found it lying on someone's desk, you might not guess that it's a phone (let alone an iPod/Web browser/alarm clock/stopwatch/voice recorder/musical instrument).

Why you should read this book: Billed as "The book that should have been in the box (R)", this is a guide for digital immigrants--users over the age of thirty who harbor some essential distrust of modern electronics and are reluctant to play with new devices for fear of breaking them. If that description fits you, and you feel you are not getting the most out of your iPhone, this book will offer helpful hints about taking photos, forwarding your calls, understanding the meaning of the word "app", and removing plastic wrap and headphones to get the most out of your speakers, as well as demystify more complicated functions. Easy to read, not too condescending, with copious illustrations.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't have an iPhone. (Um...why did I read this book?)

Friday, April 10, 2009

The A.D.D. Nutrition Solution: A Drug-Free 30-Day Plan

Author: Marcia Zimmerman, C.N.

First line: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is the fastest growing childhood disorder in the United States.

Why you should read this book: It details the history and underlying causes of ADD along with its diagnosis and treatment in children and adults, and lays out a foundation for understanding the course of the disorder. The author presents research explaining how nutrition affects brain chemistry and how modern diets negatively influence cognitive processing and behavior, concluding with discussion of additives and foods to avoid, nutrients and supplements to add, and recipes and meal replacements to implement her thirty-day plan to eliminate ADD without drugs. The book also contains a number of appendices with further resources for readers, plus detailed documentation of the research on which the theories are based.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You are a strict vegan who meditates for two hours every day.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Berlitz Self-Teacher: Spanish

Author: The editorial staff of the Berlitz Schools of Languages of America, Inc.

First line: A very strange paradox exists in connection with languages and the learning of them.

Why you should read this book: A standard for sixty years, some of its cultural references are a little out of date, but for the beginning student with little or no access to native-speaking teachers, this book is an excellent way to delve into the intricacies of Espanol. With phonetic spellings and instant translations, it offers the student a full vocabulary with useful phrases and can help in acquiring a basic understanding. Chapter notes help unravel idiosyncratic meaning and end-of-chapter questions (with answers in the back) help readers to begin thinking in Spanish.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're standing at the border screaming your racist little head off about how English is the official language of America.