Linda's Past Picks - 2

Linda's Staff Picks

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!

Find more of my Staff Picks here!


The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery Cover Image
ISBN: 9780767916530
Availability: Usually Ships in 2-7 Days
Published: Crown - September 12th, 2006

Are you afraid of "bodysnatchers?" Have you been in a sugar mood and have teeth problems? Are you getting tired of bloodletting? Well, as a person in the 1700's, all of these issues would have been a daily discussion. But, if you saw Dr. John Hunter, you might (more likely) be on the road to full recovery from your ailments.

John Hunter's life story with the medical/social history of the 1750's-1800's in England is an engrossing (and perhaps gross) tale. There are fascinating changes in the medical field, with John Hunter leading the way for the scientific study of the human body and its diseases, plus the doctor/patient talk about "body heal thyself." You will wonder how anyone survived!

The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400078677
Availability: Usually Ships in 2-7 Days
Published: Vintage - April 12th, 2005

New York City has always been known for innovations and diversity, but did you know these elements were rooted in the long, past Dutch settling on Manhatoes in the 1600s?

Shorto dramatizes the early life - wilderness survival, international business, Indians, politics and intrigue of this heavenly land using recently translated (from the Dutch) archives in New York State.

Explore the Old New York map on the inside cover - find Breukelen? Enjoy "cole slaw?" Need to talk to your "boss?" There is old Dutch history here too! Competition between Boston, Manhattan (New Netherland) and Virginia included European, English and Dutch politics and business. It is (was) EPIC.

Red-Tails in Love: PALE MALE'S STORY--A True Wildlife Drama in Central Park (Vintage Departures) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679758464
Availability: Usually Ships in 2-7 Days
Published: Vintage - March 30th, 1999

Winn has written a charming story not only about birds but of the group of dedicated birdwatchers from in Central Park. Red-Tails are their obsession, but other animals are also in the picture, as well as the wildlife service, so is the media, so are celebrities - and on and on! Birding fever has spread! Emotions and danger run high. Maybe its the anthropomorphic way in which the birds are portrayed, but you become part of the birder-loop and very concerned. Fast-moving, spiritual and inspirational-time to get the binocs out!

Jacques Pepin Fast Food My Way Cover Image
By Ben Fink (By (photographer)), Jacques Pépin
ISBN: 9780618393121
Availability: Usually Ships in 2-7 Days
Published: Harvest - September 1st, 2004

If you've seen him on TV, you probably wished you had "smell-o-vision"! Yes, sharpen your knife, gather fresh (organic & local is great!) ingredients and prepare to act from inspiration a la Jacques!

I've personally tried some of these recipes. They are quick, healthy and very tasty. We all need to slow down and enjoy our food. These recipes are basic, good ingredients quick to prepare - but take a while to savor the results! Enjoy your food... Enjoy the cooking... Enjoy your friends... (who might share the eating!)

The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms Cover Image
ISBN: 9781565124684
Availability: Usually Ships in 2-7 Days
Published: Algonquin Books - March 11th, 2005

The Earth DOES move under your feet! So watch where you step! We shouldn't forget where our food comes from - those acres of cultivated land with microbes, bacteria, fungi & WORMS who do all the dirty work of helping plants grow. Stewart gives the history - Pangaea, separation of continents, and the "domestic duties" (Darwin said) of the worms. But currently, worms are the canaries in the coal mine. They can absorb toxins and now are considered for helping sewage disposal! Ever since Rachel Carson warned of DDT in the food chain we haven't heeded the advice. The interdependence of all life in turn; help each other. Did you know there are good worms and "not so good" worms?

All Mortal Flesh: A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery (Fergusson/Van Alstyne Mysteries #5) Cover Image
UNAVAILABLE: Backordered or Out-of-Print (But email us to search for a used copy.)
ISBN: 9780312933982
Published: Minotaur Books - March 4th, 2008

For those who have been following this series, this edition is sure to shock you!

The Mysteries Within: A Surgeon Explores Myth, Medicine, and the Human Body Cover Image
ISBN: 9780684854878
Availability: Usually Ships in 2-7 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - March 6th, 2001

Did you ever hear of "the vapours?" Do you ever get a "case of the spleen?" How about the wandering uterus - females only? From modern liver surgery (details included!) to historical accounts of some body systems, Nuland entertains and educates you thru the body. It's an interesting journey thru the stomach, heart, liver, spleen and uterus. Sometimes you'll laugh or cringe, but you'll be one ahead on dinner conversation! I'm ready to read more books by Nuland.

Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature Cover Image
UNAVAILABLE: Backordered or Out-of-Print (But email us to search for a used copy.)
ISBN: 9780312377960
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - March 4th, 2008

She wrote for herself to be pleased with a story that reflected her passions - true-to-life drawings of plants and animals, and her beloved Lake District of England. These stories (Peter Rabbit, etc.) began as "picture letters" to friends.

A turn of the century independent and forward thinking women who was an activist in womens' education, enjoyed the Girl Guides & Boys enjoying the land, preservationist of land & heritage animal breeds as well as a devoted daughter, sister, friend & wife. A women of our time - the 21st Century. Fear takes you through Beatrix's ups & downs such that you become part of her landscape & time. A passionate & loving,caring person.

Eat More Dirt: Diverting and Instructive Tips for Growing and Tending an Organic Garden Cover Image
UNAVAILABLE: Backordered or Out-of-Print (But email us to search for a used copy.)
ISBN: 9780767909204
Published: Broadway Books - February 11th, 2003

Prepare ourself for the Organic Revolution!! Sandbeck can shovel out useful information (very practical tips), spray you with lots of humor (or humus?) and rake out bits of history to give you tools for thought! Yes, this book should worm its way onto your shelf and be a companion to your garden books. Have you tried her "Slug Bread" - no Julia Child, but good for something!

The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451648607
Availability: Usually Ships in 2-7 Days
Published: Atria Books - September 27th, 2011

Is it done for the money? The adventure, even suffering seasickness? The excitement (chased by a mountain lion!)? The competition ( hardcore, determined men)? Or LOVE OF BIRDS?

Follow the 3 obsessed birders as they travel all over the North American continent in search of birds to add to an annual list - only 365 days to do it all. Reads as a race against time and problems to add your bird to the Big Year List. 3 characters, very different, struggle thru life to top each other in numbers. A fun read, and you will learn a few things too.

Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing, and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon Cover Image
UNAVAILABLE: Backordered or Out-of-Print (But email us to search for a used copy.)
ISBN: 9780767926447
Published: Crown - March 3rd, 2009

What do you say to your dog? Do you know what your dog is thinking? Dr. Trout takes us through a full day of emotion - healing, loss, and certainly funny tales (tails!) too. We try to understand the human element of the pet-human relationship - but we don't know vice versa. A warm-hearted read showing our (human) need for the furry friends (cats included) to help keep us human; caring and sensitive. You will see behind the scenes of life as a vet.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375725609
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - February 10th, 2004

Too much to write - wonders of science, inventions, public health, food, architecture and on and on... The Chicago Exposition, 1893, had to top the Paris fair. America was going all out to "out-Eiffel, Eiffel" (tower man). Buffalo Bill was there; Olmsted had quite a challenge designing the landscape. Mr. Ferris finally was able to present his "wheel".

So much history, so well presented - like an intriguing mystery. And behind these workings was a psychopath doing his dirty work in the neighborhood. Now that's another story! Read this twice!

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393333060
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 17th, 2008

I can only give a few thoughts that Ackerman related through this story:
  • Bond with nature
  • Why humanize animals and animalize humans?
  • Ways to transcend pain
  • Perpetuate goodness in the midst of inferno
  • Mindful chores
  • Some word to touch humanity leads to hope for the future.
One had to cope with the constant bombings, "guests" (Antonina and Jan were part of the 'underground forces' as well as the scientists who ran the zoo), and fear of the Nazis. There is much detail about how the residents of Warsaw survived at the beginning of WWII and through it all. References to the science of animal genetics played a big part in the German story, strange ideas to be sure. This book is certainly about family strength and survival.

The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco Cover Image
UNAVAILABLE: Backordered or Out-of-Print (But email us to search for a used copy.)
ISBN: 9780375757082
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - March 9th, 2004

In the new year of 1900, a ship from Hong Kong docked in San Francisco. No one was aware that some infected, adventurous rats escaped into the city. Just say the word PLAGUE and one shudders - bulbos of pus, blackened skin - and death... But that's just part of this story that Chase researched. Social class, public health, politics, personalities & bureaucracy all play major roles in handling the plague. This is a very readable & mind-opening story of how people cope under stress. AND the plague has not been eliminated from U.S. shores, but still dwells in squirrels!

The Garden of Invention: Luther Burbank and the Business of Breeding Plants Cover Image
UNAVAILABLE: Backordered or Out-of-Print (But email us to search for a used copy.)
ISBN: 9780143116899
Published: Penguin Books - February 23rd, 2010

Luther Burbank - extraordinary passion and understanding of plants (and, as you'll read, influence on raising "human plants" too!) - believed he could develop new plants which could feed the world, trees for shade and flowers to enjoy in beautiful colors. A unique and odd fellow who kept all his breeding details in his head but wanted to share his new plant. He was a mystic - talked about natural philosophy, lectured on evolution and thought man could direct the state of "wabble," life forces, into different channels! His personal life was unconventional but later proved to be totally supportive - his mother, sister, and second wife. If you love plants, Burbank will enlighten you to some of the more popular breed - Shasta Daisy (all that work!), Russet Potato, various flowers - all that we enjoy.

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey Cover Image
ISBN: 9780767913737
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - October 10th, 2006

Only one of these adventures is needed per lifetime - if you dare...

TR, who just lost the 1912 election, his son Kermit & a famous Brazilian explorer, Rondon, with a crew of "camaradas", headed down the River of Doubt, known but not explored. This was to be a scientific study & collection for the Museum of Natural History as well as a mapping of part of the Amazon River. Not all survived - malaria, restless natives and extraordinary wildlife were some of their challenges. But there were others...

The magnificent Amazon, the survival and discoveries, and then to be questioned upon the return - was painful - truly an awesome read with photos illustrating.

Wild Health: Lessons in Natural Wellness from the Animal Kingdom Cover Image
ISBN: 9780618340682
Availability: Usually Ships in 2-7 Days
Published: Mariner Books - March 19th, 2003

Ready to lick your wounds? Saliva has antiseptic qualities. Ready to up coarse leaves and swallow them to get rid of those annoying worms? Engel describes interesting animal behavior in the wild, a "hard" lab for studying. She brings you into the field to learn the plants and techniques animals use to help them cope with injury, illness and stress. We learn that man has been altering the environment, removing plants and adding toxins which hinder the animals ability to stay healthy.

Heroic Measures (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
UNAVAILABLE: Backordered or Out-of-Print (But email us to search for a used copy.)
ISBN: 9780307386786
Published: Vintage - June 1st, 2010

Alex and Ruth, a senior couple in New York City, he an artist and she a retired school teacher, have made the decision to sell their 5th floor walk-up for an apartment with an elevator. Their 12-year-old dachshund, Dotty, has trouble with the stairs, too. This time period, a weekend, is a roller coaster of drama and emotion; memories and plans. Dotty needs emergency surgery; bids are coming in for the apartment; Ruth and Alex must hunt for another one AND NYC is having its own problem - a trailer truck jack-knifed in the Midtown Tunnel! Is the driver a terrorist with a bomb? Tension and real estate prices are in flux - and yet little Dotty & cousins seem to know all.

Staff Pick Badge
The Shadow of the Wind Cover Image
By Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Lucia Graves (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780143034902
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - January 25th, 2005

This high suspense melodrama has all the elements of old-style literary novels, starting with an incredible scene of the hero, Daniel, being taken into the library by his bookseller father. We are propelled through small chapters of doomed love in post-war Barcelona. Daniel's quest to uncover the story of forgotten author Julian Carrac shadows his own need to recover, through reading, his own life memories. Mysterious Gothic scenes of relentless evil...

A Fountain Filled with Blood: A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery Cover Image
UNAVAILABLE: Backordered or Out-of-Print (But email us to search for a used copy.)
ISBN: 9780312995430
Published: St. Martin's Press - April 19th, 2004

In the heat of the Summer, Rev. Claire Fergusson gets involved once again in solving a string of vicious attacks in the small Adirondack town of Millers Kill. This small town has had its share of current issues. The heat begins and secrets are revealed as Claire and Chief Van Alstyne team up once again. The chase scenes are breathtaking and humanity is exposed. A great whodunnit! Don't miss it!

Planthropology: The Myths, Mysteries, and Miracles of My Garden Favorites Cover Image
UNAVAILABLE: Backordered or Out-of-Print (But email us to search for a used copy.)
ISBN: 9781400097838
Published: Clarkson Potter - November 4th, 2008

Impressionable - that's what plants are! You on them, them on you. In the 21st century of gardening, it is time to rethink your planting plans. Druse brings dramatic photos of our beloved to your eyes and stimulates your mind - why, when, how, where these beauties became part of our garden. From tricky flower sex, sonic pollination, da Vinci, South American Indians, Wm. Morris and gardens to the path ahead... teaching, understanding, nature, plants, the environment, heirloom plants and all the past history that brought us to the present wonderful, colorful journey!

The Dragonfly Pool Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142414866
Availability: Usually Ships in 2-7 Days
Published: Puffin Books - October 15th, 2009

England, as well as other European countries, are trying to live with the threat of Hitler taking over their countries. The time: 1939. This story of schoolchildren, a young prince, diversions, escapes, interesting classroom lessons, disguises blend well with the emotions of family, duty, loyalty, and especially friendship. The fast pace brings together the history but more importantly the personal stories of all the different children but their one goal - to rescue the young prince Karil and survive the times. Engaging & fast paced, lots of action and emotion.

Central Park in the Dark: More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife Cover Image
UNAVAILABLE: Backordered or Out-of-Print (But email us to search for a used copy.)
ISBN: 9780312428839
Published: Picador - June 23rd, 2009

Follow a group of humans (some rabid!) as they penetrate the wild (and not so wild) Central Park - at night/dawn. Winn does another wonderful job of taking you on an adventure, in your own backyard, to explore the natural history. The owls (intime/outime); where do birds go at night?; learn about "Mothers" (rhymes with "author"); slug love; bats too!; singing insects and all the science related!

You'll enjoy the people and animals in this blend of passions - which are infectious. Observations, emails, binoculars, sheets(!), and waiting are all part of exploring!

In the Bleak Midwinter: A Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery Cover Image
UNAVAILABLE: Backordered or Out-of-Print (But email us to search for a used copy.)
ISBN: 9780312986766
Published: Minotaur Books - March 14th, 2003

In a small Adirondacks town, Clare Fergusson, a newly ordained Episcopal priest, finds an abandoned baby on the church doorstep. She and police chief Ross Van Alstyne later discover the murdered body of the baby's young mother, and an unusual investigative partnership develops.

The cold is constant and mind-numbing, and the snow is relentless. Clare, with thin boots, a bomber jacket, and a sprts car that's of little value in the snow, finds herself in a whole new world. This book offers a strong female protagonist, a chilling chase scene and a clever whydunnit.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780767919371
Availability: Usually Ships in 2-7 Days
Published: Crown - September 25th, 2007

Gosh, Oh Gee, the 1950's - the age for dreaming!! When kids were indestructible - no seatbelts, no helmets - there were heroes (like Roy Rodgers), TV was new and cars were "way out." Then came the "invasion of teenagers," the Cold War and Communism. Bryson will review the wonders of Dick & Jane, Silly Putty, Lincoln Logs & Mr. Potato Head! What a wondrous and humorous view of growing up in the 50's Bryson takes us on. How many of you can relate to that?! It's at least a laugh per page. As he moves forward in time small farms and towns disappear, the "last of something really special." Keep the memories.