Linda's Past Picks - 1

If it's Wednesday, I must be at The Bookloft - not the greenhouse, not leading a field trip, not at Naumkeag and not doing trail work on the AT! So many interests, like so many books, and so little time! That's why non-fiction books are usually my picks, because I try to keep up with my favorite subjects. As I heard once, "Act your shoe size!" We all need to slow down and see what there is to see. We need to reread some books, like Silent Spring. Sometimes it's children who help us grown-ups marvel at the wonders of the natural world, right in our own backyards. Stop and smell the flowers!

Go to my CURRENT Staff Picks here!

Water for Elephants: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781565125605
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Published: Algonquin Books - May 1st, 2007

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Water for Elephants


Can you believe an old man, in a nursing home telling you stories of his life as a circus vet? Can all that drama have been real?

Sara Gruen blends the history of circus life with this fictional story of Jacob, a circus veterinarian.

From the early days of the depression, the circus offered salvation with pain. The drama of lives intertwined w/a hard and brutal way of life, Jacob tells his story-about love and friendship.

His days at the home reflect his impatience w/that life and when the circus comes to his neighborhood, well, you need toget involved w/Jacob and his life story! A fast-paced and emotional read.

Dry Storeroom No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780307275523
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Vintage - September 8th, 2009

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Dry Storeroom No. 1: The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum


Dry? Not this story! You'd think writing about old, dead things in the bowels of the British Natural History Museum would be boring - but Fortey takes you exploring through the departments recalling those characters (aka scientists!) and those earlier times. Miriam Rothchild's collection of fleas; millions of lice; moon rocks; bones & plants; things "pickeled" and so much more to delight your imagination.

And old becomes new -archives are being re-explored with high tech equipment so there is more understanding of evolution of species & the changes each has experienced.

Fortey says "species are a product of time & evaluation" & we need to know relationships of all species for earth's survival.

Science & humor!
'DEM BONES will tickle you!

I Shall Not Want: A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery (Fergusson/Van Alstyne Mysteries #6) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780312933999
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Minotaur Books - April 28th, 2009

Bookseller: Linda
Title: I Shall Not Want


Only for those who have followed the characters in Millers Falls-bk #6 has brought more drama and emotion to the pages!

Clare and her church become involved with migrant workers; Russ still feeling the pain of his wife's death (and continued emotion for Clare) and then there are additions to MFPD.

The issues are set early and then the action begins. Families, farm, city gangs, drugs, migrant workers, and the whole town is drawn into the recent murder investigation. Of course, Clare gets involved.

Personalities are drawn together and apart...

And Clare? Well, she's in active National Guard- and we'll see where that leads!

American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, the Birth of the
ISBN: 9781594483691
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Published: Riverhead Books - April 7th, 2009

Bookseller: Linda
Title: American Eve


What was the crime of the century? Harry Thaw murdering Stanford White? Mrs. Nesbitt manipulating her daughter - for money? Stanny using Evelyn? Harry Thaw using Evelyn??

A complicated personal and historical tale which may bring your emotions to boil!

But, such was NYC in the new 1900's - working girls, rich men, freedom but sufferings...

Evelyn's story was made famous in the movie "Girl on a Red Velvet Swing" and more recently in "Ragtime."

Stanford White, the great architect, and Harry Thaw, rich playboy looking for revenge, were both tied into Eveyln's life. She was the face for many products - Fairy Soap, Coca Cola, etc. And she became the one to suffer humiliation and betrayal.

A great for history folks - and for the Berkshires - as Stanley White's works are still here.

Shrinking the Cat: Genetic Engineering Before We Knew About Genes Cover Image
ISBN: 9780618257485
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Published: Mariner Books - December 12th, 2002

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Shrinking the Cat


Sue Hubbell is one for the most readable and thorough writers I've read. With discussions of genetic engineering, she relates the past history of some of our common "natueal items": silk moths, cats and apples, to human intervention. She calls humans "homomutans," never satisfied with what we find.

We have to remember to consider the consequences and plan with ecological thinking.All life is based on a variation of the same theme: DNA.

The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray's Anatomy Cover Image
ISBN: 9781934137215
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Published: Bellevue Literary Press - September 1st, 2009

Bookseller: Linda
Title: The Anatomist


You may not have been there doing a dissection in the 1840's, but Hayes brings you to the table today - modern anatomy classes!

With marvel, art, awe and sensitivity, Hayes tells the story of the 2 men behind the 200-year-old classic, Gray's Anatomy. Henry Gray and Henry Carter (the illustrator) collaborated in the 1840's when science and medicine were growing. With the discovery of anesthesia, operations could take longer and doctors could go deeper to learn more.

Hayes traces the lives of these two men, and history and medicine. You will learn a few things about the wonderful body machine.

Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312427658
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Published: Picador - January 22nd, 2008

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance


You hope going to the doctor will make you feel better - but that is not always the case!

Dr. Gawande, on the front line (so to speak), discusses issues in the medical field - some old, some new. His perspective on war, cleanliness, salary and legal action, the death penalty - to name a few - are from a doctor's point of view.

His writing is as engaging and emotional as these issues can be. Health care is a hot topic. Gawande tries to dissect and explore these dilemmas, as a doctor and as a human being. There are always felings involved and the 'do no harm' motto.

Also read Complications.

The Secret Life of Bees Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780143114550
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Penguin Books - September 1st, 2008

Bookseller: Linda
Title: The Secret Life of Bees


Young Lily's life is like a hive of bees - busy with changes and teeming with emotins, the bitter & sweet.

This story centers on the life of a troubled 14 year old girl and her Black nanny in the deep south during the 1960's.

Emotions range the line from hate to love. You feel for this young girl - the people who give her strength, her own unsettled childhood, racial turmoil and her coming of age.

What you are reminded: love really matters AND makes a difference.

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities    Cover Image
By Briony Morrow-Cribbs (Illustrator), Amy Stewart, Jonathon Rosen (Drawings by)
ISBN: 9781565126831
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Published: Algonquin Books - May 21st, 2009

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Wicked Plants


An intriguing cover to draw you into the perils that MAY await you in your beloved GARDEN!

AMy Stewart is a gifted "garden writer" who brings all her knowledge and research to your attention through verse and special graphics.

Interesting history of plants from past to present; you will enjoy re-reading all teh perils!

Stop and think before you touch; DO NOT taste or eat; smell? Only if you dare! Pick your poison - tobacco? No lilies for your cats! And to think Darwin fell in love with Purple Loosetrife!

Watch out for the fatal fungus, but you are sure to shudder and laugh while you read.

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (Vintage Departures) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400078455
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Published: Vintage - January 26th, 2010

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Lost City of Z


For many, it was an obsession looking for the Ancient City of Z. Was it real or imagined? Many explorers have tried to find it somewhere in the Amazon by following the stars - or GPS - and failed.

But Percy Fawcett, the "gentleman explorer" (actually went to explorer school"!) was the image of fearless, determined & unscathed as he survived years in the jungles on his searches.

Finally, he never did return from his search for the City of Z. Author Grann attempts to retrace Fawcett's last trip using journal accounts, Indian stories, and archaeological data - where's Z?

The personal hardships and tragedies; meetings with native peoples were repeated by Grann, who tried to retrace Fawcett's journey.

Through his second trip the local Amazon history, those early explorers, the culture, the exploitation and the adventure are all here.

The Amazon is on the edge...

Out of the Deep I Cry: A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery (Fergusson/Van Alstyne Mysteries #3) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780312988883
Availability: Out of Print
Published: St. Martin's Paperbacks - May 3rd, 2005

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Out of the Deep I Cry


Spring Rains. The Adirondacks. Small town. Leaky church roof. Funds needed. Free clinic loses funding. Clinic doctor goes missing. Town's dirty secrets begin to emerge from the deep.

Rev. Clare and Police Chief Russ pair up again to solve the many mysteries that surface as they explore the town's checkered past. And...the fine line between duty and passion becomes blurred in a situation of life and death!

be sure to read Julia Spencer-Fleming's first two Clare/Russ mysteries: In the Bleak Midwinter and A Fountain Filled with Blood. You will get hooked.

Parasite Rex (with a New Epilogue): Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures Cover Image
ISBN: 9780743200110
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Published: Atria Books - November 9th, 2001

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Parasite Rex


Take a closer look at yourself, the human. We seem so organized, high tech and sophisticated, but we still get parasites! These creatures have been around long before we came on the scene. The manipulated hosts to serve their purpose--reproduction and survival. Zimmer will take you high and low around the world, describing some of these wonders! As horrid as it seems, these parasites are part of the ecosystem, and they've adapted over millions of years and influenced many organisms. These wonders are small but POWERFUL.

An Irish Country Christmas: A Novel (Irish Country Books #3) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765320728
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Published: Forge Books - October 27th, 2009

Bookseller: Linda
Title: An Irish Country Christmas


If you've followed Taylor's previous stories about the town of Ballybuckleboo and all the "characters," here is another funny, heartwarming book set during the holidays.

Of course there are always the medical emergencies for young Dr. Barry & senior Dr. Fingal O'Rielly but there are other, personal issues going on between the doctor AND townspeople!

A new doctor in the area, Dr. Fitzpatrick stirs things up with his "shakey therapies."

With humor & feeling, Taylor brings the town through strife, tragedy, & hope for a snow-filled Christmas, where all is well.

So, will Barry's Patricia make it home? Is Fingal getting romantic with old friend Kitty? And enjoy Kinky's home cooking!

Our Life in Gardens Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374532130
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - December 22nd, 2009

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Our Life in Gardens


Gardeners never seem to have enough "garden books." Joe and Wayne's should be added to your collection. Not only are there 'how to' tips, but also plant lore with personal experiences - even warm and fuzzy feelings at times! Such green marvels! From their Vermont garden to various horticultural escapades - including cooking - you can't help learning more.

This is a book to enjoy - humor and sensitivity in all things growing.

With the science, humanity and horticulture sense, this book is sure to inspire. What a romp through the muck of gardens...

Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic Cover Image
ISBN: 9780786887460
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Published: Hachette Books - November 3rd, 2004

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Survival in the Arctic


This is a chronicle of an ill-fated expedition to "live off the land". But this land was a desolate Arctic Island. Four adventuring men & one Eskimo woman (seamstress & cook) were left on Wrangel Island, 1921.

They accomplished their research, did hunting & tried to manage their supplies. But, that was not enough AND the relief (not rescue!) ship never arrived after 1 year.

This is a survival adventure in the truest sense. Learn the fate of the crew, the harsh realities of swimming - and one woman's story! Polar bears & scurvy were problems. Politics & business played with their lives!

Coal: A Human History Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780142000984
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Penguin Books - January 27th, 2004

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Coal: A Human History


To think that old plant material can change mankind, is difficult to imagine. But Barbara Freese has brought this story of coal together from the study of paleobotany through human historical uses (like jewelry?!!) to the current questions of coal use in environmental concerns.

It's a fascinating history, well researched and you'll be surprised by all the influences COAL had (railroads, business, unions, child labor) to the questions today of acid rain, SO2, public health, still with COAL ans the problem/prophet!

Think of your air; a clean breath? Maybe not! New energy sources are needed everywhere (worldwide) - for all to breathe free!

The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Aircraft and America's Finest Hour Cover Image
ISBN: 9780425227718
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Published: Dutton Caliber - June 2nd, 2009

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Candy Bombers


Absolutely absorbing historical tale of humanity where you'll meet "Uncle Wiggly Whigs"!

After WWII, Berlin was divided between the 4 Allied Powers (Great Britain, France, U.S., & Soviet Union) to rebuild the city.

But the Soviets mere "moving" in Europe & wanted Berlin too. Politics not fighting was this next conflict as the Soviets put pressure on the 2,000,000 Berliners, survivng the devastated city, with the Blockade. No supplies were to get through; Berliners barely survived, *Berliners mere determined to resist the Soviets because they wanted freedom & democracy at any cost.

U.S. military had mixed feelings (hard feelings after WWII but quite a change afterward) of how much effort they should expend- lose Berlin, may lose all of Europe.

So an Airlift was started and under new leadership by Tonner, it became like clockwork like the planes dancing.

The remarkable Candy Bomber who defied regulations, dropped the parachute candy packages to children, became the miracle worker who brought all the chaos into international eyes.

At this time, 1948-49, Truman was running for election, politics was hot & the stubborn Soviets were unrelenting. The basic moral issue- let the Berliners down OR continue Airlift, America made a choice & in her glory, came through.

Month by month action with issues, tensions & people (including Bob Hope) make this an emotional read.

AND this was the start of the Cold War-----

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781401340902
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Hachette Books - June 9th, 2009

Bookseller: Linda
Title: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane


Fiction, but so blended with history - then and now - that you become lost in time.

Salem/Boston; the physick book of a graduate student healer; magic, spells and history.

There is the witch story; there is the old abandoned house; there is the strange mother, memories of a grandfather and the 'book.'

Connie, the graduate student is drawn into this drama because of her research and then because of her relations. Fast paced with turns and questions (will they get answered?), mystery, drama and even a little romance - and the circle comes around.

Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375706219
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Published: Vintage - November 13th, 2001

Bookseller: Linda
Trilobites: Eyewitness to Evolution


Old stuff, those trilobites. Found all over the world, many species and various sizes, from prehistoric time. Fortey pulls you into the depths of these times, searching for specimens and marveling at their adaptations-especially the eyes. This book is an entertaining international adventure from prehistory to the present.

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An Irish Country Village: A Novel (Irish Country Books #2) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765320230
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Published: Forge Books - February 3rd, 2009

Bookseller: Linda
Title: An Irish Country Village


Patrick Taylor first charmed readers with "An Irish Country Doctor," a warm and enchanting novel in the tradition of James Herriot and Jan Karon. Now Taylor returns to the colorful Northern Ireland community of Ballybucklebo, where there's always something brewing beneath the village's deceptively sleepy surface. Young Doctor Barry Laverty has only just begun his assistantship under his eccentric mentor, Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly, but he already feels right at home in Ballybucklebo. When the sudden death of a patient casts a cloud over Barry's reputation, his chances of establishing himself in the village are endangered, especially since the grieving widow is threatening a lawsuit.

While he anxiously waits for the postmortem results that he prays will exonerate him, Barry must regain the trust of the gossipy Ulster village, one patient at a time. From a put-upon shop girl with a mysterious rash to the troubled pregnancy of a winsome young lass who's not quite married yet, Ballybucklebo provides plenty of cases to keep the two country G.P.s busy. Not all their challenges are medical in nature. When a greedy developer sets his sights on the very heart of the community, the village pub, it's up to the doctors to save the Black Swan (affectionately known to the locals as the "Mucky Duck") from being turned into an overpriced tourist trap. After all, the good citizens of Ballybucklebo need some place to drink to each other's health...

Whether you've visited in the past, or are discovering Ballybucklebo for the first time, "An Irish Country Village" is an ideal location for anyone looking for wit, warmth, and just a touch of blarney.

Desperate Hours: The Epic Rescue of the Andrea Doria Cover Image
ISBN: 9780471423522
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Published: Wiley (TP) - February 1st, 2003

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Desperate Hours


I did see the Stockholm up close in 1956, but was too young to understand. Now, Goldstein has put the "news" on the front page.

It reads as a minute-by-minute live story. The collision (Stockholm & Andrea Doria), reactions of captains & crews, actions of rescuers responding to distress calls and voyagers, keep this fast-paced.

Many questions mere raised- media coverage, legal claims, procedures - all following a tragedy, are still with us today.

Luckily, this was not a Titanic story. You'll get accounts of how it felt to travel first class, history after WWII, rescue actions and people...

To Darkness and to Death: A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780312988876
Availability: Out of Print
Published: St. Martin's Paperbacks - May 30th, 2006

Bookseller: Linda
Title: To Darkness and to Death


On a day when Rev. Clare Fergusson should be at St. Alban's preparing for the bishop's annual visit, she finds herself caught uponce again with police chief Russ Van Alstyne in an investigation involving brutal beatings, kidnappings and murder.

As the day unfolds, Clare and Russ are compelled to examine their relationship (which has been growing over the last three books) when the diocesan deacon arrives to talk to Clare about a "serious matter." Clare deals with all that comes her way with energy, expertise, sensitivity and humor.

It's a riveting mystery - what's happening in Miller's Kill? And what is going on between Clare and Russ? I can't wait for the next one!

Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780425189986
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Berkley Publishing Group - May 6th, 2003

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Lusitania


This "epic tragedy" as it is called, certainly gives a graphic view not only of the - before, during & after - the sinking of the Lusitania, but of the time - 1915.

As historical page turner and thought-provoking story,this new age of warfare, WWI, was emerging - chemicals & subs & tensions running high on both sides of the Atlantic.

Diana Preston does an extraordinary job taking you on that final voyage. With the personalities, technologies, and international intrigue, you'll learn this was no simple sinking.

From beginning to end you'll experience the panic & hope...

Isle of Dogs (Andy Brazil #3) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780425182901
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Published: Berkley - October 1st, 2002

Bookseller: Linda
Title: Isle of Dogs


Totally unlike her previous books-Patricia is unusual but not cruel. Mystery, but mostly humor! The characters (even their names made me laugh), the incidents and still the Cornwell mystery make this a great read. You'll find yourself laughing out loud-many times. But the mystery is there. Have fun following the twists and turns.

A Short History of Nearly Everything Cover Image
ISBN: 9780767908184
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Published: Broadway Books - September 14th, 2004

Bookseller: Linda
Title: A Short History of Nearly Everything


You can begin with ANY chapter your heart desires! It is something of a reference book. But with Bryson's humor bringing the long forgotten (or never known!) characters of science and history to the present, you are told bona fide science with a flair!

From space to the oceans; man & microbes, you are given thrills & chills to fascinate & explain your "nearly everything" questions!

Keep it handy. Strange questions may arise at gatherings; you may the first to spellbind your friends!