DP Nightstand Event, Nonfiction Titles

Posted on January 20, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This Spring during orientation many faculty, staff, and administrators met to discuss what they are reading or have recently read at our “What’s On Your Nightstand” events. Here are the nonfiction titles discussed at DP’s event. Next week I will also post the titles from the RHC event.

book cover for Extraordinary, Ordinary LifeExtraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family
by Condoleezza Rice

“Condoleezza Rice has excelled as a diplomat, political scientist, and concert pianist. Her achievements run the gamut from helping to oversee the collapse of communism in Europe and the decline of the Soviet Union, to working to protect the country in the aftermath of 9-11, to becoming only the second woman – and the first black woman ever — to serve as Secretary of State. But until she was 25 she never learned to swim. Not because she wouldn’t have loved to, but because when she was a little girl in Birmingham, Alabama, Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor decided he’d rather shut down the city’s pools than give black citizens access.

Throughout the 1950’s, Birmingham’s black middle class largely succeeded in insulating their children from the most corrosive effects of racism, providing multiple support systems to ensure the next generation would live better than the last. But by 1963, when Rice was applying herself to her fourth grader’s lessons, the situation had grown intolerable. Birmingham was an environment where blacks were expected to keep their head down and do what they were told — or face violent consequences. That spring two bombs exploded in Rice’s neighborhood amid a series of chilling Klu Klux Klan attacks. Months later, four young girls lost their lives in a particularly vicious bombing.

So how was Rice able to achieve what she ultimately did? Her father, John, a minister and educator, instilled a love of sports and politics. Her mother, a teacher, developed Condoleezza’s passion for piano and exposed her to the fine arts. From both, Rice learned the value of faith in the face of hardship and the importance of giving back to the community. Her parents’ fierce unwillingness to set limits propelled her to the venerable halls of Stanford University, where she quickly rose through the ranks to become the university’s second-in-command. An expert in Soviet and Eastern European Affairs, she played a leading role in U.S. policy as the Iron Curtain fell and the Soviet Union disintegrated. Less than a decade later, at the apex of the hotly contested 2000 presidential election, she received the exciting news – just shortly before her father’s death – that she would go on to the White House as the first female National Security Advisor.

As comfortable describing lighthearted family moments as she is recalling the poignancy of her mother’s cancer battle and the heady challenge of going toe-to-toe with Soviet leaders, Rice holds nothing back in this remarkably candid telling. This is the story of Condoleezza Rice that has never been told, not that of an ultra-accomplished world leader, but of a little girl — and a young woman — trying to find her place in a sometimes hostile world and of two exceptional parents, and an extended family and community, that made all the difference” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

book cover for The Googlization of EverythingThe Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry)
by Siva Vaidyanathan

“Siva Vaidhyanathan examines the ways we have used and embraced Google–and the growing resistance to its expansion across the globe. He exposes the dark side of our Google fantasies, raising red flags about issues of intellectual property and the much-touted Google Book Search. He assesses Google’s global impact, particularly in China, and explains the insidious effect of Googlization on the way we think. Finally, Vaidhyanathan proposes the construction of an Internet ecosystem designed to benefit the whole world and keep one brilliant and powerful company from falling into the ‘evil’ it pledged to avoid” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

book cover for Life ItselfLife Itself: A Memoir
by Roger Ebert

“Roger Ebert is the best-known film critic of our time. He has been reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, and was the first film critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. He has appeared on television for four decades, including twenty-three years as cohost of Siskel & Ebert at the Movies.

In 2006, complications from thyroid cancer treatment resulted in the loss of his ability to eat, drink, or speak. But with the loss of his voice, Ebert has only become a more prolific and influential writer. And now, for the first time, he tells the full, dramatic story of his life and career.

Roger Ebert’s journalism carried him on a path far from his nearly idyllic childhood in Urbana, Illinois. It is a journey that began as a reporter for his local daily, and took him to Chicago, where he was unexpectedly given the job of film critic for the Sun-Times, launching a lifetime’s adventures.

In this candid, personal history, Ebert chronicles it all: his loves, losses, and obsessions; his struggle and recovery from alcoholism; his marriage; his politics; and his spiritual beliefs. He writes about his years at the Sun-Times, his colorful newspaper friends, and his life-changing collaboration with Gene Siskel. He remembers his friendships with Studs Terkel, Mike Royko, Oprah Winfrey, and Russ Meyer (for whom he wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and an ill-fated Sex Pistols movie). He shares his insights into movie stars and directors like John Wayne, Werner Herzog, and Martin Scorsese.

This is a story that only Roger Ebert could tell. Filled with the same deep insight, dry wit, and sharp observations that his readers have long cherished, this is more than a memoir – it is a singular, warm-hearted, inspiring look at life itself” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

book cover for Mind's Own PhysicianThe Mind’s Own Physician: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the Healing Power of Meditation
by Jon Kabat-Zinn PhD and Richard Davidson PhD

“By inviting the Dalai Lama and leading researchers in medicine, psychology, and neuroscience to join in conversation, the Mind & Life Institute set the stage for a fascinating exploration of the healing potential of the human mind. The Mind’s Own Physician presents in its entirety the thirteenth Mind and Life dialogue, a discussion addressing a range of vital questions concerning the science and clinical applications of meditation: How do meditative practices influence pain and human suffering? What role does the brain play in emotional well-being and health? To what extent can our minds actually influence physical disease? Are there important synergies here for transforming health care, and for understanding our own evolutionary limitations as a species?

Edited by world-renowned researchers Jon Kabat-Zinn and Richard J. Davidson, this book presents this remarkably dynamic interchange along with intriguing research findings that shed light on the nature of the mind, its capacity to refine itself through training, and its role in physical and emotional health” (from Amazon.com).

book cover for Paris Was OursParis Was Ours: Thirty-two Writers Reflect on the City of Lights
edited by Penelope Rowlands

“This collection of thirty two essays about Paris showcases the thoughts and feeling of writers such as Alice Kaplan, David Sedaris, Davis Lebovitz, Zoé Valdéz and Joe Queenan about the City of Lights. The works vary stylistically and discuss love, remembrance, youth, the arts and politics among other topics. The collection is edited by Penelope Rowlands, a journalist and critic who has lived in Paris” (from Amazon.com).

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
by Deborah Blum

“Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Deborah Blum follows New York City’s first forensic scientists to discover a fascinating Jazz Age story of chemistry and detection, poison and murder.

Deborah Blum, writing with the high style and skill for suspense that is characteristic of the very best mystery fiction, shares the untold story of how poison rocked Jazz Age New York City. In The Poisoner’s Handbook Blum draws from highly original research to track the fascinating, perilous days when a pair of forensic scientists began their trailblazing chemical detective work, fighting to end an era when untraceable poisons offered an easy path to the perfect crime.

Drama unfolds case by case as the heroes of The Poisoner’s Handbook – chief medical examiner Charles Norris and toxicologist Alexander Gettler – investigate a family mysteriously stricken bald, Barnum and Bailey’s Famous Blue Man, factory workers with crumbling bones, a diner serving poisoned pies, and many others. Each case presents a deadly new puzzle and Norris and Gettler work with a creativity that rivals that of the most imaginative murderer, creating revolutionary experiments to tease out even the wiliest compounds from human tissue. Yet in the tricky game of toxins, even science can’t always be trusted, as proven when one of Gettler’s experiments erroneously sets free a suburban housewife later nicknamed “America’s Lucretia Borgia” to continue her nefarious work.

From the vantage of Norris and Gettler’s laboratory in the infamous Bellevue Hospital it becomes clear that killers aren’t the only toxic threat to New Yorkers. Modern life has created a kind of poison playground, and danger lurks around every corner. Automobiles choke the city streets with carbon monoxide; potent compounds, such as morphine, can be found on store shelves in products ranging from pesticides to cosmetics. Prohibition incites a chemist’s war between bootleggers and government chemists while in Gotham’s crowded speakeasies each round of cocktails becomes a game of Russian roulette. Norris and Gettler triumph over seemingly unbeatable odds to become the pioneers of forensic chemistry and the gatekeepers of justice during a remarkably deadly time. A beguiling concoction that is equal parts true crime, twentieth-century history, and science thriller, The Poisoner’s Handbook is a page-turning account of a forgotten New York” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

book cover for Simple Act of GratitudeA Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life
by John Kralik

“Just when his dearest life dreams seemed to have slipped beyond his reach, Kralik was struck by the belief that his life might become at least tolerable if, instead of focusing on what he didn’t have, he could find some way to be grateful for what he had. He set the goal of writing 365 thank-you notes in the coming year.

Personal and uplifting, …Kralik’s inspiring memoir [is] about how the seemingly ordinary act of writing thank you notes led him out of hopelessness and into [the] fulfillment of lifelong dreams” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

book cover for Steve JobsSteve Jobs
by Walter Isaacson

“Based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs conducted over two years–as well as interviews with more than 100 family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues–Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

book cover for Tolstoy and the Purple ChairTolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading
by Nina Sankovitch

“After the death of her sister, Nina Sankovitch found herself caught up in grief, dashing from one activity to the next to keep her mind occupied. But on her forty-sixth birthday she decided to stop running and start reading. There were obligations she couldn’t put on hold – a husband, four kids, three cats, and piles of dirty laundry – but everything else would have to wait.

Sankovitch devoted herself to reading a book a day: one year of magical reading in which she found joy, healing, and wisdom. With grace and deep insight, Sankovitch weaves together poignant memories from her family’s history with the unforgettable lives of the characters she reads about. She finds a lesson to be learned in each book, ultimately realizing the ability of a good story to console, inspire, and open our lives to new places and experiences – reading as therapy.

In an era when we are constantly bombarded by technology and instant gratification is the norm, Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is a reminder of the wisdom to be found in books and proof of the all-encompassing power and delight of reading. Thoughtful, accessible, and moving, this book will touch the bibliophile in all of us” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

“On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit” (Enriched Content Provided by Syndetics).

-posted by Gretchen Schneider
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