During the spring “What’s on Your Nightstand” event at the Des Plaines campus, the following books were discussed.
Remember, if Oakton doesn’t own the book or our copy is checked out, you can request a copy to be sent from one of our consortium libraries for FREE! Most books take less than a week to arrive.
Education of a Wandering Man
by Louis L’Amour
“From his decision to leave school at fifteen to roam the world, to his recollections of life as a hobo on the Southern Pacific Railroad, as a cattle skinner in Texas, as a merchant seaman in Singapore and the West Indies, and as an itinerant bare-knuckled prizefighter across small-town America, here is Louis L’Amour’s memoir of his lifelong love affair with learning—from books, from yondering, and from some remarkable men and women—that shaped him as a storyteller and as a man.
Like classic L’Amour fiction, Education of a Wandering Man mixes authentic frontier drama—such as the author’s desperate efforts to survive a sudden two-day trek across the blazing Mojave desert—with true-life characters like Shanghai waterfront toughs, desert prospectors, and cowboys whom Louis L’Amour met while traveling the globe. At last, in his own words, this is a story of a one-of-a-kind life lived to the fullest . . . a life that inspired the books that will forever enable us to relive our glorious frontier heritage.
Go for It
by Lee Ann Piano
“Life is about dreaming, doing and enjoying the process. Sometimes it might seem as if your dreams are impossible, or there are too many obstacles standing in your way, or you’ve missed your window of opportunity. But the Go For It Success Tips can catapult your dreams into reality!” (Amazon).
“Vance, a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, provides an account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm.
J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.
But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
How Reading Changed My Life
by Anna Quindlen
“Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and bestselling author Anna Quindlen uses the mastery of the medium in which she works to send an utterly compelling message as she explores the importance of books in her life and their vital role in society” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
by Hope Jahren
“Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book might have been a revelatory treatise on plant life. Lab Girl is that, but it is also so much more. Because in it, Jahren also shares with us her inspiring life story, in prose that takes your breath away.
Lab Girl is a book about work, about love, and about the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s remarkable stories: about the things she’s discovered in her lab, as well as how she got there; about her childhood—hours of unfettered play in her father’s laboratory; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work ‘with both the heart and the hands’; about a brilliant and wounded man named Bill, who became her loyal colleague and best friend; about their adventurous, sometimes rogue research trips, which take them from the Midwest all across the United States and over the Atlantic, from the ever-light skies of the North Pole to tropical Hawaii; and about her constant striving to do and be the best she could, never allowing personal or professional obstacles to cloud her dedication to her work.
Jahren’s insights on nature enliven every page of this book. Lab Girl allows us to see with clear eyes the beautiful, sophisticated mechanisms within every leaf, blade of grass, and flower petal, and also the power within ourselves to face—with bravery and conviction—life’s ultimate challenge: discovering who you are” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
90 minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death & Life
by Don Piper
“Now available in hardcover, 90 Minutes in Heaven is the runaway bestseller about one man’s experience with death and life. As Baptist minister Don Piper drove home from a conference, his car collided with a semi-truck that had crossed into his lane. Piper was pronounced dead at the scene. For the next 90 minutes, he experienced the glories of heaven, where he was greeted by those who had influenced him spiritually, and he experienced true peace. Back on earth, a passing minister who had also been at the conference felt led to pray for the accident victim even though he was told Piper was dead. Miraculously, Piper came back to life, and the pleasure of heaven was replaced by a long and painful recovery.
For years Don Piper kept his heavenly experience to himself. Finally, friends and family convinced him to share his remarkable story. An inspiring and encouraging account, 90 Minutes in Heaven continues to touch and comfort millions of people around the world as it offers a glimpse of inexpressible heavenly bliss” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife
by Eben Alexander
“Thousands of people have had near-death experiences, but scientists have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those scientists. A highly trained neurosurgeon, Alexander knew that NDEs feel real, but are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.
Then, Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by a rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human—shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a coma. Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back. Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.
Alexander’s story is not a fantasy. Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. Today Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman
by Alice Steinback
“‘In many ways, I was an independent woman,’ writes Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Alice Steinbach. ‘For years I’d made my own choices, paid my own bills, shoveled my own snow.’ But somehow she had become dependent in quite another way. ‘I had fallen into the habit of defining myself in terms of who I was to other people and what they expected of me.’ But who was she away from the people and things that defined her?
In this exquisite book, Steinbach searches for the answer to this question in some of the most beautiful and exciting places in the world: Paris, where she finds a soul mate; Oxford, where she takes a course on the English village; Milan, where she befriends a young woman about to be married. Beautifully illustrated with postcards from Steinbach’s journeys, this revealing and witty book transports you into a fascinating inner and outer journey, an unforgettable voyage of discovery” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
American Born Chinese
by Gene Yuen Yang
“Jin Wang starts at a new school where he’s the only Chinese-American student. When a boy from Taiwan joins his class, Jin doesn’t want to be associated with an FOB like him. Jin just wants to be an all-American boy, because he’s in love with an all-American girl.
Danny is an all-American boy: great at basketball, popular with the girls. But his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee’s annual visit is such a disaster that it ruins Danny’s reputation at school, leaving him with no choice but to transfer somewhere he can start all over again.
The Monkey King has lived for thousands of years and mastered the arts of kung fu and the heavenly disciplines. He’s ready to join the ranks of the immortal gods in heaven. But there’s no place in heaven for a monkey. Each of these characters cannot help himself alone, but how can they possibly help each other?” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
by George Orwell
“Mr. Jones, Of the Manor Farm, had locked the henhouses for The night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the pop-holes. With the ring of light from his lantern dancing from side to side, he lurched across the yard, kicked off his boots at the back door, drew himself a last glass of beer from the barrel in the scullery, and made his way up to bed, where Mrs. Jones was already snoring.
As soon as the light in the bedroom went out there was a stirring and a fluttering all through the farm buildings. Word had gone round during the day that old Major, The prize Middle White boar, had had a strange dream on the previous night and wished to communicate it to the other animals. it had been agreed that they should all meet in the big barn as soon as Mr. Jones was safely out of the way. Old Major (so he was always called, though the name under which he had been exhibited was Willingdon Beauty) was so highly regarded on the farm that everyone was quite ready to lose an hour’s sleep in order to hear what he had to say” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
by Viet Thang Nguyen
“The narrator, a communist double agent, is a ‘man of two minds,’ a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).
-posted by Gretchen Schneider
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