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Category: 2010 Entries

May 26 2011

Handle with Care

Book:  Handle with Care

Author: Jodi Picoult

Reviewer: Rachel C. McCall, Special Collections, NCSU Libraries

This is a fun book to read with an unexpected ending. My friends and I love the books [Picoult] writes because they teach you about other people’s perspectives, deal with controversial issues, and show that reality may not be the way you see it.

Dec 13 2010

Dead Pool

Dead Pool coverBook: Dead Pool

Author: James Lawrence Powell

Reviewer: Dr. Mark Arthur Megalos, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources

Combine the fight over water rights in the arid west with agency in-fighting and climate change and you have a scary prediction for the future of the Southwest, California and the fate of Las Vegas. A must read for natural resource professionals and anyone concerned with sustainability.

Dec 06 2010

Cutting for Stone

Book:  Cutting for Stone

Author: Abraham Verghese

Reviewer: Beatrice Tucker Sanford, Office of Gift Planning, NC State

Fascinating story that weaves historical events in this ficitional novel. I found the text riveting and learned a bit about Ethiopia, medical training, and complicated relationships…

Nov 30 2010

Ishmael

Book:  Ishmael

Author: Daniel Quinn

Reviewer: Beth A Raines, Staff Senate, Statistics, NC State

The first in a series with The Story of B, and My Ishmael. I recommend all of them. My 20-something sons had been recommending Ishmael for some time, but I was not impressed with the synopsis they provided. I was finally convinced though, and reluctantly picked up Ishmael. It was life-changing, and I read it twice. It has provoked multiple in-depth conversations with my sons. The ultimate message of the books is for the reader to educate others.I am doing that here, by recommending these books.

Nov 19 2010

For the Win

For the Win titleBook: For the Win

Author: Cory Doctorow

Reviewer: Adam Rogers, NCSU Libraries Fellow

In For the Win, Doctorow takes a surprising, strange-but-true fact from today’s Internet frontier–that miserably-paid Chinese workers toil at repetitive tasks in online gameworlds to produce virtual goods to sell for real money to American gamers–and extends it to imagine a near-future dystopia with hyper-corporate, billion-dollar online games. But, there are those who resist: techno-savvy idealists (including the book’s teenage protagonist) who band together across continents and multilingual chat systems to stick it to the globalized, multinational Man.

Though primarily aimed at young adults, the book is refreshingly deep in its discussion of global economics, sweatshop labor, sophisticated networks, and the mechanics of the online gaming business. While lacking  some of the narrative cohesion of Doctorow’s 2008 bestseller Little Brother, For the Win is a wild ride. And I bet it’s the only book on this list that’s available, totally legally, for free on the open web (at http://craphound.com/ftw/download/ ). Doctorow is, after all, one of this century’s strongest advocates for sane copyright law, and he puts his money where his mouth is.

Nov 19 2010

Dancer

Dancer coverBook: Dancer: A Novel

Author: Colum McCann

Reviewer: Aurelia Clayton, Library Facilities Manager, NCSU Libraries

Dancer is a fictional biography of Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev, a complex man living during a complex time. McCann’s writing style, as usual, just blows me away. Well worth the read

Nov 19 2010

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Immortal life coverBook: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Author: Rebecca Skloot

Reviewer: Aaron Keith Massey, student, computer science, NC State

Skloot’s first book is destined to become a classic investigation of the ethics and science.  It examines the life of Henrietta Lacks, a black tobacco farmer who died of cancer.  Her cells were taken without her knowledge, and  became the first to grow indefinitely in culture. The cells spawned a multi-million dollar industry and revolutionized medicine, but her family wasn’t informed for 20 years.  Find out what happens when they learned the truth. You won’t be able to put the book down.

Nov 10 2010

Zorba the Greek

Zorba coverBook: Zorba the Greek

Author: Nikos Kazantzakis

Reviewer: Kim Duckett, Principal Librarian for Digital Technologies and Learning, NCSU Libraries

Zorba the Greek traces the friendship that develops between “The Boss,” a young intellectual and Zorba, an older, passionate, fiery man of the earth. It’s a fabulous philosophical exploration of the tensions between the mind, body, and spirit. Kazantzakis’ prose is fecund and heady. His exploration of ideas is rich and permeating. I couldn’t believe I’d never read it.

Nov 09 2010

The Lonely Polygamist

Lonely Polygamist coverBook: The Lonely Polygamist

Author: Brady Udall

Reviewer: Marian Fragola, Director, Program Planning and Outreach, NCSU Libaries

I just loved this big, messy book about a man surrounded by multiple wives and children, but still trying to fill an inner emptiness. When Golden Richards, the lonely polygamist of the title, goes looking for love to fill that emptiness . . . well, you’ll have to find out for yourself.  Sure, the book isn’t perfect, but what a juicy, wonderful read, although some pretty terrible things happen to the characters (keep a box of tissues nearby). If you haven’t yet, also check out Udall’s The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, another knock-out heartbreaker. Whew! Udall sure can tell a story.

Nov 05 2010

The Glass Castle

Glass Castle cover

Book: The Glass Castle

Author: Jeannette Walls

Reviewer: Kara Glenn Forester, Student, CHASS – Psychology, Sociology, NC State

This book was incredible. Walls’ memoir was intriguingly beautiful, and I was wrapped up in her life story from the very first page. Her ability to face the hardships presented to her family will truly make you appreciate your own family, despite all differences. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading real life stories and is able appreciate an author’s raw heart of honesty.

Nov 05 2010

The Kite Runner

Kite runner coverBook: The Kite Runner

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Reviewer: V.S. Akshay, Industrial & Systems Engineering Graduate Student, NC State

The book by itself was a journey through time from pre-Taliban Afghanistan to its current state. The one factor that most stood out is the cultural similarity between India and Afghanistan.

Nov 05 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Guernsey coverBook: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Author: Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Burrows

Reviewer: Barbara Goist, University Library Technician, NCSU Libraries

Post WWII English author learns of and writes about German occupation of Guernsey Is. Strong characters, love story,laughter and tears. The history and people fascinated me.

Nov 04 2010

Anatham

Anathem coverBook: Anathem
Author: Neal Stephenson
Reviewer: Joshua K. Wilson, Reference Librarian for Physical & Mathematical Sciences, NCSU Libraries
Anathem vaulted Stephenson to the top of my list of favorite authors. He just blows me away. His novels are consistently clever and complex yet thoroughly readable and hilarious. Anathem portrays an alternate cosmos (in fact, multiple parallel cosmoses) and a whole new scientific philosophy functioning within it. I loved Stephenson’s portrayal of the Avout, an intellectual order sort of like mathematicians crossed with monks.

Nov 04 2010

The Age of Wonder

Age of Wonder coverBook: The Age of Wonder

Author: Richard Holmes

Reviewer: Andreas Orphanides, Librarian, Digital Technologies and Learning, NCSU Libraries

It’s easy to pretend that our knowledge of the universe comes to us from on high, communicated to us through infallible avatars that we call scientists. Of course, the reality is not so simple. In Age of Wonder, Richard Holmes explores the lives, lessons, and discoveries of major figures from the Enlightenment, sharing tales of their personal triumphs and tragedies, and shedding light on the human side of scientific discovery.

Nov 03 2010

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Omnivore's Dilemma coverBook: The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a Natural History of Four Meals

Author: Michael Pollan

Reviewer: Kyle O’Donnell, junior, College of Textiles, NC State

“We are what we eat,” goes the old wives’ tale.  Yet, so few of us know where our food comes from, how it affects our natural resources and body.  Pullen’s work challenged my conceptions of economics, politics, nutrition and the pleasure of eating.

Nov 02 2010

Zero History

Zero History coverBook: Zero History

Author: William Gibson

Reviewer: Keith Morgan, Principal Librarian for Digital Media, Research and Information Services, NCSU Libraries

Zero History is another of William Gibson’s “speculative novels of last Wednesday.”   Gibson’s interest in technology and trends, from locative art, viral marketing and the culture of surveillance and paranoia spin through a story that involves arms dealers, federal agents, armored urban vehicles and is, in the end, absurdly and hilariously about pants. The fact that the book references both the Festo AirPenguin and the Ekranoplane is just one measure of Gibson’s absurdist take on modern life.

Nov 02 2010

Loving Frank

Loving Frank coverBook: Loving Frank

Author: Nancy Horan

Reviewer: Ramona Lawson, University Library Technician, Acquisitions, NCSU Libraries

A novel by Nancy Horan displays the genius architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, while it allows the selfish, narcissist man to be exposed. The multiple murder of Wright’s companion of many years Mamah Borthwick Cheney and her children at Taliesin, Wright’s Wisconsin summer home, is handled delicately. Wright’s design principles: the use of native materials, open interior floor plans, and multiple windows which integrated the outdoor areas with interior spaces are explained in context of the novel.

Nov 02 2010

Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History

Ten Discoveries coverBook: Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History

Author: Patrick Hunt

Reviewer: Steve Knopp, Ph.D. student, Research & Policy Analysis, and member of NCSU Libraries’ Student Advisory Board

Have you ever wondered about the true story behind the most fascinating findings in the history of civilization? This very short book outlines a fabulous account of each one of ten that you’ll find spellbinding. The Rosetta Stone, King Tut’s Tomb and The Dead Sea Scrolls are but three that I found thriling. But my favorite was the account of finding Nineveh’s Assyrian Library. What a breakthrough!

Nov 02 2010

City of Saints and Madmen

Book: City of Saints and Madmen

Author: Jeff Vandermeer

Reviewer: Daniel M. Hawkins, Access and Delivery Services, NCSU Libraries

A fantasy that owes as much to Nabokov as it does to Lovecraft.  It consists of four novellas and twelve short stories, all interrelated, that utilize unreliable (and often conflicting) narrators to paint a picture of a civilization in decline; A civilization built over the ruin of an older one, whose descendants seem to be positioning themselves for long deferred vengeance.  Intricate, entertaining, erudite, lyrical, and terrifying. A must read…

Nov 01 2010

Ford County Stories

Ford County coverBook: Ford County Stories

Author: John Grisham

Reviewer: David Howard, Friends of the Library Board of Directors

At the risk of being too mainstream I really enjoyed John Grisham’s Ford County Stories. For someone who admittedly does not have as much time to read as I should, this collection of short stories was perfect. Each story could be read when a short time allowed itself, and all were so captivating that I couldn’t wait to discover the next story.

Nov 01 2010

Freedom Summer

Freedom Summer coverBook: Freedom Summer:  The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy

Author: Bruce Watson

Reviewer: David Hiscoe, Director of Communication Strategies, NCSU Libraries

2010 was a pretty challenging year; the Great Recession hasn’t been much fun, and I’ve needed a little inspiration. This book looks at one of the most fearsome times in US history, when students, the clergy, ordinary citizens (some as unjustly deprived as anyone has ever been in this country) and a few government employees took enormous personal risks to change things.  If you don’t know who Bob Moses is, you don’t know about one of the bravest, most thoughtful, most savvy people in our history.

Nov 01 2010

Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools

Three Cups of Tea coverBook: Three Cups of Tea

Author: Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin

Book: Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in
Afghanistan and Pakistan

Author: Greg Mortenson

Reviewer: Frank Abrams, Professor emeritus, North Carolina State University

For Three Cups of Tea: Subtitle says it all: “One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations”
inspiring… What determination and true human concern can do.

For Stones into Schools:  Clear evidence that sincerely listening to real people and helping them to reach their hopes and dreams trumps beating the hell out of them to get them to think like “us.”Stones into Schools cover

Nov 01 2010

Higher Education

Higher EducationBook: Higher Education

Authors: Charles Sheffield and Jerry Pournelle

Reviewer: Dr. Michael Stoskopf, Professor of Aquatics, Wildlife, and Zoologic Medicine and of Molecular and Environmental Toxicology, NC State

Higher Education by Charles Sheffield and Jerry Pournelle  (1995) provides a criticism of public education policy with a distinctly libertarian flavor wrapped in a quick read of adolescent science fiction action.

Nov 01 2010

Unveiling Islam

Unveiling Islam coverBook: Unveiling Islam

Authors: Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner

Reviewer: Warren Stephenson, Friends of the Library Board of Directors

The book is Unveiling Islam by Ergun and Emir Caner.  It describes their interpretation of the Qu’ran with which they grew up and how it now looks to them after converting to Christianity.  We all want to know more about Islam but really  don’t want to study the Qu’ran to gain the knowledge.  This book describes the many differences and gives you a sound basis for being able to speak knowledgeably about what the Qu’ran teaches.  Their viewpoint is definitely  negative and they give the reasons why they are.  It is certainly more attractive than trying to read the Qu’ran and then interpeting what you think it means!

Nov 01 2010

The Last Skin and Phantom Noise

Book: The Last Skin

Author: Barbara Ras

Last Skin coverBook: Phantom Noise

Author: Brian Turner

Reviewer:  John Balaban, Professor of English, Poet in Residence

On a recent trip to Texas and the Big Bend, I took with me two new books of poetry: Barbara Ras’ The Last Skin, and Brian Turner’s Phantom Noise.   This is Ras’ third book of poetry and perhaps her finest inspection of our public and private quandries.  For Turner, the Iraqi War veteran whose first book Here, Bullet caused a huge stir, this collection is a powerful extension of his humane insight with poems like “Al-A’Imma Bridge”.

Nov 01 2010

The Monk and the Riddle

The Monk and the Riddle coverBook: The Monk and the Riddle
Author: Randy Komisar
Reviewer: Jay Dawkins, Friends of the Library Board of Directors and former NC State Senior Class President and Student Body President
My best read lately has been The Monk and the Riddle, a book about creating a life while making a living. It’s written by Randy Komisar, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who works with entrepreneurs to launch their startup companies. It was recommended to me by Jason Massey, an NC State entrepreneur who worked with Randy.
Through a wealth of personal experiences and a well-crafted story, Komisar shows us that the best startups are not necessarily those with the best business plans, money, or even market opportunity. In fact, it seems like those factors pale in comparison to one question: would you be willing to do this for the rest of your life? If the answer is no, then the companies, and their founders aren’t nearly as likely to achieve success. Komisar masterfully explains how deferring life for ‘after we make the money’ doesn’t offer nearly the benefits, happiness, or fulfillment of a life more in tune with what we care about.
It’s a fast, inspiring read and perfect for entrepreneurs, business-minded people, or anyone pondering what to do with the rest of their life.
DH Hill library has a 181 page hardcopy and students can access an e-book version through the library website.
Nov 01 2010

Cutting for Stone

Cutting for Stone coverBook: Cutting for Stone
Author: Abraham Verghese
Reviewer: Dargan Williams, Friends of the Library Board of Directors

My favorite is Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese.  (I’ve read Verghese’s previous books and enjoyed them).  This is certainly his best to date.  The novel takes place primarily in Ethiopia from the 1950′s -1970′s — a time of great turmoil for that country.  It centers on twin boys, conjoined at birth and successfully separated, who’s mother died at their birth and father is unknown.  The boys grow up to become doctors, while struggling with love, identity, values. The book makes me eager to visit Ethiopia, and it makes me even more aware as I watch my son as he trains to be a surgeon (like 2 of the main characters in this book).
A great read for anyone!
Nov 01 2010

Little Bee

Book: Little Bee

Author: Chris Cleave

Reviewer: Anna Ball Hodge, President, Friends of the Library Board of Directors

Favorite book of the summer-Little Bee by Chris Cleave, a writer for The Guardian. A young girl from a Third World country and English woman from “my” world of abundance lives collide and other story lines develop. Little Bee’s reflections are spot-on. “A scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.”  My book club’s selection for March, I can’t wait to discuss each page of this beautifully written tale/real life story that relates world events to my Raleigh life.

Nov 01 2010

The Lacuna

The LacunaTitle: The Lacuna

Author: Barbara Kingsolver

Reviewer: Orion Pozo, Collection Manager, Engineering, NCSU Libraries

A lacuna is “a gap or missing part” and Kingsolver shows her prowess in writing a novel about the missing parts of her character Harrison William Shepherd’s life & 20th century life. The Lacuna reminds me of her earlier work The Bean Trees because of its focus on the inherent value of marginalized lives. By giving the quiet person with a private life center stage, she creates a powerful critique of American values of success and conformity.

Nov 01 2010

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Title: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Author: Jack Weatherford

Reviewer: Babi Hammond, Special Collections Research Center, NCSU Libraries

Weatherford is not a specialist in the history of the Mongols, and his book is not a perfectly reliable guide to the history of the Mongol Empire. But it is great read, and in broad aspect very enlightening, especially as an introduction to the topic.

Nov 01 2010

Blackout and All Clear

All Clear coverTitle: Blackout and All Clear

Author: Connie Willis

Reviewer: Kristen Blake, Electronic Resources Librarian, North Carolina State University Libraries

The best book I read this year was Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis — two novels that make up one epic narrative of life during the London Blitz. Three future historians travel back in time to study World War II and wind up trapped in one of history’s most turbulent moments. Willis brilliantly animates the struggles and sadnesses, as well as the optimism and heroism, of the shopgirls, ambulance drivers, actors, codebreakers and others who supported the Allies from the homefront. Add in a plot that reads like Agatha Christie times ten and you’ve got a seriously addicting saga.

Nov 01 2010

If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name

Title: If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name

Author: Heather Lende

Reviewer: Kathy Brown, Director, Planning and Research, NCSU Libraries

Perhaps because I was raised in a geographically isolated town in northern Maine, this book resonated with me.  The author writes obituaries for the local paper in Haines, Alaska, a town of about 2400 people.  The book consists of vignettes that capture what it is like to live on the edge of nowhere, and Lende conveys a deep appreciation for the town’s inhabitants, their interactions, the natural beauty that surrounds them, and the cosmic issues that we all face.