Sunday, February 17, 2013

Goodbye 000s, Hello 100s!

After five weeks in the 000 Generalities class of the Dewey Decimal System, I'm headed into the land of Philosophy (and the supernatural and psychology!). Before I post my review for the first book of the 100s, I wanted to touch upon some books from the 000s that didn't make their way onto my to-read-immediately list... YET. These are books that I found while I was browsing the 000s. Books that piqued my interest. Books that I WOULD read......if only there were more hours in a day.

Books To-Read-Sometime-In-The-Future-When-Things-Slow-Down-or-When-I'm-Retired:

1. Click: What Millions of People Do Online and Why It Matters by Bill Tancer

Why I want to read this book: 
I'm obsessed with our obsession with the Internet.

From Booklist:

Tancer, a search-engine data miner, takes a look at our culture by evaluating the millions of search queries on the Internet. He crunches the numbers to quantify our desires, our fears, our quest for knowledge, and our aspirations. From porn to prom dresses to politics, the content of our search queries reveals much about our private thoughts that we would not reveal to loved ones, friends, or a stranger taking a survey. His lists include the top “fear of” searches; fear of intimacy and fear of rejection were ranked high, while the fear of public speaking, usually sited as number one, came in at number nine. “How to tie a tie” just beat out “how to have sex” in the how-to category, with “how to levitate” clocking in at number six! For businesses, searches can reveal surprising information that dispels assumptions about customer behavior, such as the seasonality of clothing purchases. Tancer brings humor, clarity, and insight to the trends that are revealed by the ways we seek out and consume information on the Internet. --David Siegfried

2. Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime by Miles Harvey

Why I want to read this book:
There are people out there that are so smitten with rare maps that they actually sneak into libraries and cut them from rare books. This is fascinating and unfamiliar territory!

From Publisher's Weekly:

Harvey himself sometimes seems obsessed as he explores the obsession of those who collect maps. Still, this is a challenging and erudite exploration of the explosion in "map culture" and the damage wrought by one determined con man with cartographic passions. Harvey's primary narrative (which originated as an article for Outside magazine) concerns the exploits of Gilbert Bland, a man who on the surface, according to Harvey, did indeed seem bland but who stole approximately $500,000 in antique maps from poorly secured rare-book libraries. Bland was apprehended in 1995 at Baltimore's Peabody Library; he was ultimately charged in several jurisdictions after numerous universities discovered extensive losses, but he plea-bargained for a light sentence. Harvey painstakingly reconstructs the map thief's various identities for Bland, a "chameleon," had abandoned a number of spouses and children and had engaged in questionable business ventures. Thus is Harvey launched into a larger meditation on the lure of "terra incognita," both literal and metaphoric, whether of Bland's enigmatic life or of undiscovered continents. Harvey uses the Bland case to explore both cartographic history and the dangers of obsession. One collector he examines is controversial map megadealer Graham Arader, considered responsible for cartography's newfound commercialism. Harvey's pursuit of all possible tangents (he even visits a map factory) causes his narrative to become unwieldy at times. But he offers dry wit and a fine sense of the dark places in our contemporary landscape, and he successfully captures both the story of Bland's bizarre "map crime spree" and the underexamined history and politics of contemporary cartography. Agent, Sloan Harris. (Sept.) 

3. The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge, Second Edition: A Desk Reference for the Curious Mind by the New York Times

Why I want to read this book: 
I don't want to read it so much as I want to peruse it at my leisure. I'm a fact junkie. 

From Library Journal:

"This widely expanded update to the original 2004 edition defines nearly every facet of contemporary life—from arts, grammar, mythology and culture to science, economics, and geopolitical issues. Though bearing an authority and informational wealth that might rival the voluminous Oxford Dictionary of English, this surprisingly manageable volume is organized alphabetically by subject and contains thousands of highly accessible essays, tables, and lists, all composed by New York Times field experts. It also includes an introduction by longtime "On Language" columnist and Pultizer Prize winner William Safire. An essential background referenec for almost every subject: highly recommended for all public libraries."—Library Journal

4. The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries (P.S.) by Marilyn Johnson

Why I want to read this book:
What an interesting topic! Obituaries are so brief but are used to sum up and honor what are supposedly the most memorable pieces of a person's life. 

From Publisher's Weekly:

Starred Review. A journalist who's written obituaries of Princess Di and Johnny Cash, Johnson counts herself among the obit obsessed, one who subsists on the "tiny pieces of cultural flotsam to profound illuminations of history" gathered from obits from around the world, which she reads online daily—sometimes for hours. Her quirky, accessible book starts at the Sixth Great Obituary Writers' International Conference, where she meets others like herself. Johnson explores this written form like a scholar, delving into the differences between British and American obits, as well as regional differences within this country; she visits Chuck Strum, the New York Times' obituary editor, but also highlights lesser-known papers that offer top-notch obits; she reaffirms life as much as she talks about death. Johnson handles her offbeat topic with an appropriate level of humor, while still respecting the gravity of mortality—traits she admires in the best obit writers, who have "empathy and detachment; sensitivity and bluntness." The book claims that obits "contain the most creative writing in journalism" and that we are currently in the golden age of the obituary. We are also nearing the end of newspapers as we know them, Johnson observes, and so "it seems right that their obits are flourishing." (Mar. 1) 

My review of Mary Roach's Spook will be posted shortly!

Sharlene Edwards
Program Director

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