Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Science Books

Fiction is often referred to as writing from one’s imagination.  But then aren’t all good books, generated from a healthy imagination? Without imagination science would never advance.  The following titles are all new books with Dewey decimal call numbers in the 500’s (math and science).

The Jewel House by Deborah Harkness focuses on the array of ordinary men and women in Elizabethan London who shared a keen interest in nature and scientific inquiry.  Throughout the city, lawyers, prisoners, midwives, merchants, and others developed the tools and techniques, as well as the collaborative yet contentious culture, that became the hallmarks of the Scientific Revolution.  A professor of history at the University of Southern California, recently Harkness has become well known for her fantasy series, the All Souls Trilogy.

In order to write What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, author Randall Munroe cheerfully runs computer simulations, digs through declassified military research memos, consults with nuclear reactor operators, times scenes from Star Wars with a stopwatch, calls his mother and Googles some really freaky looking animals.  His responses are comic gems, accurately and entertainingly explaining everything from your odds of meeting your soul mate to the many horrible ways you could die while building a periodic table out of all the actual elements.

A Mind for Numbers, How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if you flanked Algebra) by Barbara Oakley lets us in on the secrets to effectively learning math and science, based on insights from neuroscience and cognitive psychology.  Contrary to popular belief, math requires creative, as well as analytical, thinking.  Many people think there’s only one way to solve a problem, when in fact there are often a number of methods—you just need the creativity to see them.

The author of Most Wanted Particle, The Inside story of the Hunt for the Higgs, the Heart of the Future of Physics, Jon Butterworth is a leading physicist at the Large Hadron Collider.  He was there when proof of the Higgs particle’s existence was discovered.  He gives an inside account of the hunt for the Higgs.  Writing with clarity and humor, he revels as much in the hard science as in the messiness, uncertainty, and the humanness of science—from the media scrutiny and late-night pub debates, to the false starts and intense pressure to generate results.  He explains why physics will never be the same after our first glimpse of the elusive Higgs and where it will go from here.

The Monk in the Garden by Robin Marantz Henig evokes a little-known chapter in science, taking us back to the birth of genetics, a field that continues to challenge the way we think about life itself. Shrouded in mystery, Gregor Mendel's quiet life and discoveries make for fascinating reading. Among Mendel’s pea plants, Henig finds a tale filled with intrigue, jealousy, and a healthy dose of bad timing.

Creatures of the Deep by Erich Hoyt gives readers a glimpse of the amazing variety of creatures found in the deepest parts of the ocean. Weaving together details from the latest scientific research about sharks, giant squid, dragonfish, huge tube worms and clams, and tiny microbes of the deep-sea vents, Hoyt embarks on a magical journey roaming across the abyssal plains and descending into deep-sea trenches more than 20,000 feet down.

Most people agree that math is important, but few would say it's fun. Mathematical Curiosities will show you that the subject you learned to hate in high school can be as entertaining as a witty remark, as engrossing as the mystery novel.  As authors Alfred S. Posamentier and Ingmar Lehmann demonstrate, when you realize that doing math can be enjoyable, you open a door into a world of unexpected insights while learning an important skill.  If math has frustrated you over the years, this delightful approach will teach you many things you thought were beyond your reach, while conveying the key message that math can and should be anything but boring.

--Ellen Moore, Webmaster

Monday, May 18, 2015

Let’s Go Outside

It’s that time of year again when the weather gets warmer (and stays warmer) and everything is turning green. Check out a few of these new non-fiction books to inspire your outdoor adventures:

Poems from Planet Earth by Yvonne Blomer.

An anthology of poems from readers at the internationally renowned Planet Earth Poetry in Victoria, B.C. Named after P.K. Page's poem "Planet Earth", the work includes poems from 116 contributors and is called a "launching pad for the energies of writers and poets established and not."

New Adult Non-Fiction, 811.608 PO

Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies by Alastair Bonnett

At a time when Google Maps Street View can take you on a virtual tour of some of the remotest trails and cell phones double as navigational systems, it's hard to imagine there’s any uncharted ground left on the planet. Exploring some of the most unexpected, unique places in the world, Alastair Bonnett rekindles our geographical imagination. The tour includes moving villages, secret cities, no man's lands, and floating islands. An intrepid guide down the road much less traveled, Unruly Places illustrates that the most extraordinary places on earth might be hidden in plain sight, just around the corner from your apartment or underfoot on a wooded path.

New Adult Non-Fiction, 910 BO

The Morris Canoe: Legacy of an American Family by Bruce Weber.
The story of the B.N. Morris canoe, crafted between 1890 and 1920, and how a single canoe took the paddling sports to a new dimension. The legacy of the Morris family canoe has contributed the tradition of paddling as a recreational experience.
New Adult Non-Fiction, 797.122 KL

How to Raise a Wild Child: the Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature by Scott D. Sampson.
From the host of PBS Kids' Dinosaur Train comes an easy-to-use guide for parents, teachers, and others looking to foster a strong connection between children and nature. Children today spend less time outdoors on average than their parents, although experiences in nature are essential for healthy growth. How to Raise a Wild Child illustrates how adults can help kids fall in love with nature - enlisting technology as an ally, taking advantage of urban nature, and instilling a sense of place along the way.
New Adult Non-Fiction, 508.076 SA.

Wild Rides and Wildflowers: Philosophy and Botany with Bikes by Scott Abbott
Two university professors set out to repeatedly bike the Great Western Trail, observing and writing about its variations with every season. The accounts of their adventures, however, refuse to be limited to flora and fauna. In Wild Rides and Wildflowers, Abbott and Rushforth share their deeply personal explorations of the male psyche, true friendship, biking, and botany.
New Adult Non-Fiction, 796.64 AB
--Kayla Argeropoulos, Library staff

Monday, May 11, 2015

Reading Biographies

Over the past several years my pleasure reading has transitioned from primarily fiction to all nonfiction. What would encourage one to do such a thing? Well, for myself, as I grew out of being a teenager, I started realizing that there are tremendous real-life stories about people who live or lived in this same world as you and I. As I read more and more biographies, I find that there can be a sense of magic amongst people we live with, and not only within fictional worlds.

                For example when I read Walt Disney – The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler, I learned how Walt began his magical journey. Gabler did his research to find out about Disney’s upbringing as a child, his adolescence, young adulthood, and, finally his success as the business entrepreneur that many remember him as being. I found out Walt used to be a paper boy for an entire town to help provide food his family.  Also, that he served in the Red Cross during WWII when still underage by forging his mother’s signature. What other hobbies did he have had in addition to building a playground city and producing some of the most classical children’s movies ever known? You can find out by reading this journey of a well-known American icon.

                When reading about Walt Disney, I found out he had a similar obsession to Neil Young. They both love or loved toy trains, and real-life sized trains, too. I learned quite a bit when reading Waging Heavy Peace written by Neil Young. Young kept a journal for a good portion of his life and still does. One day he decided to put some of his notes together and write a book. If you enjoy cars, guitars, traveling, and life lessons, this could be a good read for you.

               Another story I recently read is similar to Neil Young’s book in the sense that the author is Canadian born and he wrote his own biography. Mr. Hockey, My Story by Gordie Howe is one of, if not my favorite, read in a long time. If you are a hockey fan, you know who Gordie Howe is, especially if you are a Red Wings fan. This book discusses Gordie’s upbringing and how hard he worked in life, not just in the National Hockey League (NHL). Howe is a legend in the hockey world and always will be. This book helps prove why he is a legend. Howe’s book gives insight on how to be a good family man, how to be a tough hockey player, and how to balance these two callings.  

A more recent NHL star biography I read was “Boy on Ice – The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard” written by John Branch. Derek Boogard was titled as an enforcer in the NHL and for good reason. He stood at 6 feet 7 inches and 260 pounds and broke another player’s face once with a punch. Derek may have been known on ice for his fighting, but off ice I found he was a gentle giant. As the hockey equipment improved, the drugs to numb the pain did also. This book goes in depth as to how professional athletes can have a lot of pain and are overusing medication to cope with their pain.

                There is another new book I would like to get around to reading soon at Peter White Public Library. The title is John Wayne – The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman. I imagine this book will also be a wonderful read that can have just as many magical moments as the fantasy books I grew up enjoying. This, along with all the other books I noted above, are in the library’s adult non-fiction collection.  

--Shane G. Sizemore, Maintenance Department