Jenny's Picks

ISBN: 9780385535373
Availability: Special Order
Published: Doubleday Books - August 5th, 2014

Jenny's Book Review for Off The Beaten Path: During the 1870s, ice floes in the Arctic wilderness were vast and unknown. Maps proved sketchy and ill-conceived. Prevailing theories about ocean currents remained unconfirmed. A mystic notion of warm open waters teeming with wildlife at the North Pole was alive and well.

#George Washington De Long and his crew of 32 sailed for the North Pole armed with obsession for uncharted discovery and the deep pockets of a narrative-hungry newspaperman. Their ship carried early renditions of Bell’s telephone, Edison’s light bulb and a certain faith that science would guide their way. Throughout “In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette,” Hampton Sides lays bare the arduous progress of a heroic journey and the enduring spirit of an innovative nation. His narrative history creates nothing short of a gripping Arctic thriller.

#While we brace ourselves for climate change’s 21st-century parting of the Arctic seas, Sides takes readers on a formidable journey toward a 19th century North Pole so invincibly bound up in ice we feel the Jeannette’s doom from the start. Sides summons the essence of unrelenting ice while building riveting characters onboard and abroad. Looming suspense wrangles readers’ nerves during the harrowing voyage and a hellish trek across the Siberian ice (a fate which this short recap shall not reveal). Needless to say, the appearance of John Muir somewhere around the Arctic Circle sweetens a historic narrative already rich in impeccable detail.

#Sides talks about “In the Kingdom of Ice” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library. This free event is part of the library’s ongoing Author Series. He is bringing a slideshow, and undoubtedly a treasure trove of juicy research that was left on the cutting room floor as he condensed this epic, page-turning history.

ISBN: 9780385351232
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Published: Knopf Publishing Group - October 8th, 2013

Jenny's Book Review for Off The Beaten Path: This downstairs drama will more than hold you over until “Downton Abbey” returns to PBS in January. Jo Baker’s “Longbourn” is an irresistible story about the housemaids, footmen, stable boys and cooks who sustain the whims of Jane Austin’s persnickety Bennet sisters in “Pride and Prejudice.”

#The servants’ romances are no less turbulent or tenuous, their insecurities no less troublesome. Indeed, this testimonial from the maids’ quarters douses an upstairs obsession with manners, morality and marriage (a story we all know and love) with a charming and well-rounded dose of class-conscious reality.

#Baker has improvised a fantastic novel — a derivative tale veering out of Austin’s cursory mention of the help in her 201-year-old classic. Unveiling daily toil, slights and celebrations beyond the drawing room, the servants’ story is primed to win your heart. Downstairs grit proves itself every bit as romantic as the ribbon-clad girls who live upstairs. In a modern world, where we can only hope to be less tone deaf to the boundaries of class, it feels refreshing to air the Bennets’ proverbial laundry and live for some months among the kindly souls who made that social-climbing household hum.

#“Longbourn” is a delightful read and an accomplished tribute to an age-old classic.

ISBN: 9781439159859
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Published: Scribner Book Company - May 7th, 2013

Jenny's Staff Pick (August 2013 Pick): This is a book unlike anything I’ve ever read. Fedarko has managed to capture the true spirit of the canyon, the people, and the river itself like no one else could. Sure to be an instant classic

ISBN: 9780307378521
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Published: Pantheon Books - March 5th, 2013

Jenny's Staff Pick (June 2013 Pick): Sandlin captures the true spirit of the extreme weather pioneers in a way only the ultimate history writer can. This book is perfect for those who love not only history but a delightfully written story as well.

ISBN: 9781451621372
Availability: Special Order
Published: Free Press - November 13th, 2012

Jenny's Staff Pick: It’s not often that I find a book so riveting I simply can’t put it down and end up reading it cover to cover. In this memoir, Calahan recounts her harrowing month- long ordeal with a rare brain inflammation that has symptons mimicking schizophrenia. She has no recollection of her ordeal and has to dredge up the dreadful memories from medical records, surveillance cameras, journals and interviews with doctors and family members. It’s a story about a complicated condition that begs to be told, and it takes someone brave and exceptional to do it.

ISBN: 9780393083187
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 10th, 2012

Jenny's Staff Pick: This is the brutally honest, and hard to imagine story of Phiona, a young girl from the Katwe slum in Kampala, Uganda, who, at the age of 14, becomes the youngest ever competitor at the International Olympiad Chess Tournament. This is also the story of Robert Katende, who in my opinion is the real hero in this story. He grew up in Uganda’s slum himself, and it was his job was to institute a program to help the kids in the Katwe slum. Katende was a slum kid working with slum kids … and he knew what they needed to help them succeed in all areas of their life. This is the story of Uganda NOW! It is powerful! It is a reality check to appreciate all the things we have in our life, the same things that others are denied!This true story is an amazing inspiration! Although I’ve never been a chess fan, it makes me want to go out and buy a Chess set for every classroom and every home in my community!

ISBN: 9780446539470
Availability: Special Order
Published: Twelve - December 1st, 2011

Jenny's Staff Pick: The author takes us on a religion-hopping journey around the globe after a brief stint in the hospital prompts a nurse to ask him “Have you found your god yet?” If I had to pick three words to describe this book relatable, thought-provoking and humorous they would be. The first two keep you turning the pages but at the same time lingering over every word. The third one reminds us to not take life too seriously. A must-have for any home library.

ISBN: 9781416599074
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Published: Simon & Schuster - April 10th, 2012

Jenny's Staff Pick: Laugh your way to a healthier in lifestyle with Jacobs’ new book. Join him as he goes on a quest to become the healthiest person alive one body part a time. It’s hard not to be inspired as he makes becoming healthier fun. After all, laughter is the best medicine!

ISBN: 9780805091533
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Published: Henry Holt and Co. - October 25th, 2011

Jenny's Staff Pick: If you’re familiar at all with Tony Horwitz you know that no one breathes life into history better than he does. When you think of history, page-turner isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind. That will all change once you start reading this book.

By Brian Selznick, Brian Selznick (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780545027892
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Published: Scholastic Press - September 13th, 2011

Jenny's Staff Pick: If you’re familiar at all with Tony Horwitz you know that no one breathes life into history better than he does. When you think of history, page-turner isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind. That will all change once you start reading this book.

ISBN: 9780963810953
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Published: Polyface - September 17th, 2007

Jenny's Staff Pick: Farmer and clean food evangelist Joel Salatin proposes a new way of doing things. With government regulations endless when it comes to food, Salatin explains how to put the freedom to choose clean food back into our hands and out of the government’s. Get inspired and pass it on.

ISBN: 9781594487873
Availability: Special Order
Published: Riverhead Hardcover - March 22nd, 2011

Jenny's Staff Pick: A Hawaiian history lesson done right. In typical Sarah Vowell fashion, the book is stacked with humor, irony and a morality check to boot.

ISBN: 9781592404254
Availability: Special Order
Published: Gotham - October 15th, 2009

Jenny's Staff Pick: The year is 1935. In the backwoods of the Virginian Blue Ridge mountains a congregation of Primitive Baptists gather in a small country church house. At some point in the service, elder Lee Stanley lays a hand on his eight year old son’s shoulder and asks him to lead the church in the hymn “Salvation, O! The Name I Love.” In a high lonesome voice that would become synonymous with bluegrass the youth belted out the first line of the song. As the congregation chimed in little Ralph Stanley knew his voice was a gift from God. With his brother Carter they would go on to define the sound that we know as Bluegrass. In his newly published autobiography “Man of Constant Sorrow”, (Gotham Books, 2009) Dr. Ralph Stanley candidly retells his life story in his own charming and colloquial words. Ralph is one of the last progenitors of bluegrass left with us and this glimpse into a lost world should be poured over and cherished.

ISBN: 9780316013260
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Published: Back Bay Books - September 2006

Jenny's Staff Pick: Fed up with her soul-sucking job Julie Powell believes there is more tolive for. She finds solace in coming home after a long day at work andcooking. Taking inspiration from her beloved Julia Child she embarks on amission to cook all the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking inone year and writing a blog about it. Often hilarious and sometimesdisastrous this book is just what you need to feed your soul.

ISBN: 9780312378554
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Published: St. Martin's Press - May 26th, 2009

Jenny's Staff Pick:  A heart-warming and painfully funny memoir, Mishna tells us the story of her white family who grows up in a poor black neighborhood. She lives with her divorced dad who honestly believes he is black and her younger sister. You can't help but chuckle at all of her mishaps and triumphs. It is a beautiful and very insightful tale.

Jenny's Staff Pick: From the bestselling author of Sex Lives of Cannibals (another one of my favorites), J Maarten recounts his journey through the big cities of Shanghai and Beijing all the way to the Gobi Desert and the hinterlands of Tibet. This laugh out loud tale will open your eyes to the powers that be in the new beating heart of the world.

ISBN: 9781400066445
Availability: Special Order
Published: Villard - March 25th, 2008

Jenny's Staff Pick: In this hilarious book, Doug Fine tries to see if it's possible for the average American to reduce their carbon footprint in a world that is addicted to oil. From raising goats to installing solar panels, this inspiring book makes a profound statement about trading today's instant gratifications for a deeper, more enduring kind of satisfaction.

ISBN: 9780307279460
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Published: Anchor Books - December 26th, 2006

Jenny's Staff Pick: Straight from the comic genius himself, Bill takes us on a journey through the wilderness of the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. Not only is this book a moving plea for the conservation of America's last great wilderness, it's a hilarious that is sure to make you cry tears of laughter.