During the summer “What’s on Your Nightstand” event at the Des Plaines campus, the following nonfiction books were discussed.
Remember, if Oakton doesn’t own the book or our copy is checked out, you can order a copy to be sent from one of our consortium libraries for FREE! Most books take less than a week to arrive.
by David McCullough
“In this masterful book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence—when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.
Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the King’s men, the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation
by Eric Rutkow
“Eric Rutkow’s … work shows how trees were essential to the early years of the republic and indivisible from the country’s rise as both an empire and a civilization. Among American Canopy’s many captivating stories: the Liberty Trees, where colonists gathered to plot rebellion against the British; Henry David Thoreau’s famous retreat into the woods; the creation of New York City’s Central Park; the great fire of 1871 that killed a thousand people in the lumber town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin; the fevered attempts to save the American chestnut and the American elm from extinction; and the controversy over spotted owls and the old-growth forests they inhabited. Rutkow also explains how trees were of deep interest to such figures as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Teddy Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt, who oversaw the planting of some three billion trees nationally in his time as president.
Never before has anyone treated our country’s trees and forests as the subject of a broad historical study, and the result is an accessible, informative, and thoroughly entertaining read” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka: A Memoir
by Lev Golinkin
“In the twilight of the Cold War (the late 1980s), nine-year old Lev Golinkin and his family cross the Soviet border with only ten suitcases, $600, and the vague promise of help awaiting in Vienna. Years later, Lev, now an American adult, sets out to retrace his family’s long trek, locate the strangers who fought for his freedom, and in the process, gain a future by understanding his past.
Lev Golinkin’s memoir is the vivid, darkly comic, and poignant story of a young boy in the confusing and often chilling final decade of the Soviet Union. It’s also the story of Lev Golinkin, the American man who finally confronts his buried past by returning to Austria and Eastern Europe to track down the strangers who made his escape possible—and say thank you. Written with biting, acerbic wit and emotional honesty…, Golinkin’s search for personal identity set against the relentless currents of history is more than a memoir—it’s a portrait of a lost era. This is a thrilling tale of escape and survival, a deeply personal look at the life of a Jewish child caught in the last gasp of the Soviet Union, and a provocative investigation into the power of hatred and the search for belonging” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
“To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven.
In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts that had fallen into obscurity. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu tells the incredible story of how Haidara, a mild-mannered archivist and historian from the legendary city of Timbuktu, later became one of the world’s greatest and most brazen smugglers.
In 2012, thousands of Al Qaeda militants from northwest Africa seized control of most of Mali, including Timbuktu. They imposed Sharia law, chopped off the hands of accused thieves, stoned to death unmarried couples, and threatened to destroy the great manuscripts. As the militants tightened their control over Timbuktu, Haidara organized a dangerous operation to sneak all 350,000 volumes out of the city to the safety of southern Mali” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast
by Natasha Trethewey
“Beyond Katrina is poet Natasha Trethewey’s very personal profile of her natal Mississippi Gulf Coast and of the people there whose lives were forever changed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Trethewey’s attempt to understand and document the damage to Gulfport started as a series of lectures at the University of Virginia that were subsequently published as essays in the Virginia Quarterly Review. For Beyond Katrina, Trethewey expanded this work into a narrative that incorporates personal letters, poems, and photographs, offering a moving meditation on the love she holds for her childhood home” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
Mars Rover Curiosity: An Inside Account from Curiosity’s Chief Engineer
by Rob Manning and William L. Simon
“The firsthand account of the trials and tribulations of engineering one of the most complex pieces of space technology, the Mars Rover Curiosity, by its chief engineer Rob Manning….
In Mars Rover Curiosity: An Inside Account from Curiosity’s Chief Engineer, Rob Manning, the project’s chief engineer, tells of bringing the groundbreaking spacecraft to life. Manning and his team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, tasked with designing a lander many times larger and more complex than any before, faced technical setbacks, fights over inadequate resources, and the challenges of leading an army of brilliant, passionate, and often frustrated experts.
Manning’s fascinating personal account—which includes information from his exclusive interviews with leading Curiosity scientists—is packed with tales of revolutionary feats of science, technology, and engineering. Readers experience firsthand the disappointment at encountering persistent technical problems, the agony of near defeat, the sense of victory at finding innovative solutions to these problems, the sheer terror of staking careers and reputations on a lander that couldn’t be tested on Earth, and the rush of triumph at its successful touchdown on Mars on August 5, 2012. This is the story of persistence, dedication, and unrelenting curiosity” (description from eReadIllinois).
by Elie Wiesel
“Night is Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps….
Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
Real Food for Healthy People: A Recipe & Resource Guide
(Available soon at the Des Plaines campus)
by Carol D’Anca
“Carol D’Anca integrative nutritionist and gourmet cook is reinventing whole food plant based cooking and elevating it to a delicious, elegant and healthful cuisine. Her extraordinary recipes and culinary tips have delighted students at her cooking school, “The Academy of Plant Based Cooking and Nutrition,” and are now beautifully presented and artfully photographed in this recipe and resource guide.
More than a cookbook, Real Food for Healthy People serves as a resource guide for organizing the kitchen, stocking the pantry and learning basic culinary tips that are extremely helpful when preparing a whole food plant based diet” (description from Barnes&Noble).
-posted by Gretchen Schneider
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