DP Nightstand Nonfiction Titles

Posted on September 4, 2014. Filed under: Nonfiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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.

Nonfiction

book cover for CollegeCollege: What It Was and Should Be
by Andrew Delbanco

“As the commercialization of American higher education accelerates, more and more students are coming to college with the narrow aim of obtaining a preprofessional credential. The traditional four-year college experience—an exploratory time for students to discover their passions and test ideas and values with the help of teachers and peers—is in danger of becoming a thing of the past.

In College, prominent cultural critic Andrew Delbanco offers a trenchant defense of such an education, and warns that it is becoming a privilege reserved for the relatively rich. In arguing for what a true college education should be, he demonstrates why making it available to as many young people as possible remains central to America’s democratic promise.

In a brisk and vivid historical narrative, Delbanco explains how the idea of college arose in the colonial period from the Puritan idea of the gathered church, how it struggled to survive in the nineteenth century in the shadow of the new research universities, and how, in the twentieth century, it slowly opened its doors to women, minorities, and students from low-income families. He describes the unique strengths of America’s colleges in our era of globalization and, while recognizing the growing centrality of science, technology, and vocational subjects in the curriculum, he mounts a vigorous defense of a broadly humanistic education for all. Acknowledging the serious financial, intellectual, and ethical challenges that all colleges face today, Delbanco considers what is at stake in the urgent effort to protect these venerable institutions for future generations” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for Defining MomentsDefining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and Right
by Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.

“‘Defining moments,’ according to Badaracco, occur when managers face business problems that trigger difficult, deeply personal questions. In deciding how to act, managers reveal their inner values, test their commitment to those values, and ultimately shape their characters. Badaracco builds a framework for approaching these dilemmas around three cases of increasing complexity, reflecting the escalating responsibilities managers face as they advance in their careers.

The first story presents a young man whose choice will affect him only as an individual; the second, a department head, whose decision will influence his organization; the third, a corporate executive, whose actions will have much larger, societal ramifications. To guide the decision-making process, Badaracco draws on the insights of four philosophers—Aristotle, Machiavelli, Nietzsche, and James—because they offer practical rather than theoretical advice. He thus bridges the gap between classroom philosophy and corporate pragmatism. The result is a flexible framework that managers can draw on to resolve issues of conflicting responsibility in practical ways” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for An Exact Replica of a Figment of My ImaginationAn Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination
by Elizabeth McCracken

“‘This is the happiest story in the world with the saddest ending,’ writes Elizabeth McCracken in her powerful, inspiring memoir. A prize-winning, successful novelist in her 30s, McCracken was happy to be an itinerant writer and self-proclaimed spinster. But suddenly she fell in love, got married, and two years ago was living in a remote part ofFrance, working on her novel, and waiting for the birth of her first child.

This book is about what happened next. In her ninth month of pregnancy, she learned that her baby boy had died. How do you deal with and recover from this kind of loss? Of course you don’t—but you go on. And if you have ever experienced loss or love someone who has, the company of this remarkable book will help you go on.
With humor and warmth and unfailing generosity, McCracken considers the nature of love and grief. She opens her heart and leaves all of ours the richer for it” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for I Know Why the Caged Bird SingsI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou

“Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir, first published in 1969, is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.

Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local ‘powhitetrash.’ At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (‘I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare’) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for The Man Who Loved Books Too MuchThe Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession
by Allison Hoover Bartlett

“Rare-book theft is even more widespread than fine-art theft. Most thieves, of course, steal for profit. John Charles Gilkey steals purely for the love of books. In an attempt to understand him better, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett plunged herself into the world of book lust and discovered just how dangerous it can be.

Gilkey is an obsessed, unrepentant book thief who has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of rare books from book fairs, stores, and libraries around the country. Ken Sanders is the self-appointed ‘bibliodick’ (book dealer with a penchant for detective work) driven to catch him. Bartlett befriended both outlandish characters and found herself caught in the middle of efforts to recover hidden treasure. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, she has woven this entertaining cat-and-mouse chase into a narrative that not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his dirtiest crimes, where he stashed the loot, and how Sanders ultimately caught him but also explores the romance of books, the lure to collect them, and the temptation to steal them. Immersing the reader in a rich, wide world of literary obsession, Bartlett looks at the history of book passion, collection, and theft through the ages, to examine the craving that makes some people willing to stop at nothing to possess the books they love” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for My Beloved WorldMy Beloved World
by Sonia Sotomayor

“An instant American icon—the first Hispanic on the U.S. Supreme Court—tells the story of her life before becoming a judge in an inspiring, surprisingly personal memoir. With startling candor and intimacy, Sonia Sotomayor recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a progress that is testament to her extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself.

She writes of her precarious childhood and the refuge she took with her passionately spirited paternal grandmother. She describes her resolve as a young girl to become a lawyer, and how she made this dream become reality: valedictorian of her high school class, summa cum laude at Princeton, Yale Law, prosecutor in the Manhattan D.A.’s office, private practice, federal district judge before the age of forty. She writes about her deeply valued mentors, about her failed marriage, about her cherished family of friends. Through her still-astonished eyes, America’s infinite possibilities are envisioned anew in this warm and honest book, destined to become a classic of self-discovery and self-invention” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for My Stroke of  InsightMy Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey
by Jill Bolte Taylor

On December 10, 1996, Jill Bolte Taylor, a thirty-seven- year-old Harvard-trained brain scientist experienced a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. As she observed her mind deteriorate to the point that she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life-all within four hours-Taylor alternated between the euphoria of the intuitive and kinesthetic right brain, in which she felt a sense of complete well-being and peace, and the logical, sequential left brain, which recognized she was having a stroke and enabled her to seek help before she was completely lost. It would take her eight years to fully recover.

For Taylor, her stroke was a blessing and a revelation. It taught her that by “stepping to the right” of our left brains, we can uncover feelings of well-being that are often sidelined by “brain chatter.” Reaching wide audiences through her talk at the Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference and her appearance on Oprah’s online Soul Series, Taylor provides a valuable recovery guide for those touched by brain injury and an inspiring testimony that inner peace is accessible to anyone” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for The OTher Wes MooreThe Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
by Wes Moore

“Two kids with the same name lived in the same decaying city. One went on to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison. Here is the story of two boys and the journey of a generation.

In December 2000, the Baltimore Sun ran a small piece about Wes Moore, a local student who had just received a Rhodes Scholarship. The same paper also ran a series of articles about four young men who had allegedly killed a police officer in a spectacularly botched armed robbery. The police were still hunting for two of the suspects who had gone on the lam, a pair of brothers. One was named Wes Moore.

Wes just couldn’t shake off the unsettling coincidence, or the inkling that the two shared much more than space in the same newspaper. After following the story of the robbery, the manhunt, and the trial to its conclusion, he wrote a letter to the other Wes, now a convicted murderer serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. His letter tentatively asked the questions that had been haunting him: Who are you? How did this happen?

That letter led to a correspondence and relationship that have lasted for several years. Over dozens of letters and prison visits, Wes discovered the other Wes had had a life not unlike his own: Both had grown up in similar neighborhoods and had had difficult childhoods, both were fatherless; they’d hung out on similar corners with similar crews, and both had run into trouble with the police. At each stage of their young lives they had come across similar moments of decision, yet their choices would lead them to astonishingly different destinies.

Told in alternating dramatic narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for The Power of PausePower of Pause: Becoming More by Doing Less
by Terry Hershey

“What if…
What if life isn’t about finishing on top, but knowing when to stop?
What if life isn’t about learning to live with stress, but learning to live with less?
What if life isn’t about pushing yourself to the limit, but embracing every minute?
What if life isn’t about constant action, but eliminating distraction?
What if life isn’t about what you chase, but resting in God’s grace?

The Power of Pause will forever change the way you think about and live your life. When you develop the capacity to do less, you’ll find that you can become so much more—more present to those you love and to your own life, more in awe of the daily joys and wonders of this world, more focused on the little things, which are really the big things.

If You’re ready to be totally surprised by the gift of stillness, then it’s time to experience the power of pause—for the ‘rest’ of your life!” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for Predictably IrrationalPredictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
by Dan Ariely

“How do we think about money?
What caused bankers to lose sight of the economy?
What caused individuals to take on mortgages that were not within their means?
What irrational forces guided our decisions?
And how can we recover from an economic crisis?

In this revised and expanded edition of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Predictably Irrational, Duke University’s behavioral economist Dan Ariely explores the hidden forces that shape our decisions, including some of the causes responsible for the current economic crisis. Bringing a much-needed dose of sophisticated psychological study to the realm of public policy, Ariely offers his own insights into the irrationalities of everyday life, the decisions that led us to the financial meltdown of 2008, and the general ways we get ourselves into trouble.

Blending common experiences and clever experiments with groundbreaking analysis, Ariely demonstrates how expectations, emotions, social norms, and other invisible, seemingly illogical forces skew our reasoning abilities. As he explains, our reliance on standard economic theory to design personal, national, and global policies may, in fact, be dangerous. The mistakes that we make as individuals and institutions are not random, and they can aggregate in the market–with devastating results. In light of our current economic crisis, the consequences of these systematic and predictable mistakes have never been clearer.

Packed with new studies and thought-provoking responses to readers’ questions and comments, this revised and expanded edition of Predictably Irrational will change the way we interact with the world—from the small decisions we make in our own lives to the individual and collective choices that shape our economy” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for Savage HarvestSavage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
by Carl Hoffman.

“The mysterious disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in remote New Guinea in 1961 has kept the world, and even Michael’s powerful, influential family, guessing for years. Now, Carl Hoffman uncovers startling new evidence that finally tells the full, astonishing story.

On November 21, 1961, Michael C. Rockefeller, the twenty-three-year-old son of New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, vanished off the coast of southwest New Guinea when his catamaran capsized while crossing a turbulent river mouth. He was on an expedition to collect art for the Museum of Primitive Art, which his father had founded in 1957, and his expedition partner—who stayed with the boat and was later rescued—shared Michael’s final words as he swam for help: ‘I think I can make it.’

Despite exhaustive searches by air, ground, and sea, no trace of Michael was ever found. Soon after his disappearance, rumors surfaced that he’d made it to shore, where he was then killed and eaten by the local Asmat—a native tribe of warriors whose complex culture was built around sacred, reciprocal violence, headhunting, and ritual cannibalism. The Dutch government and the Rockefeller family vehemently denied the story, and Michael’s death was officially ruled a drowning.

While the cause of death was accepted publicly, doubts lingered and sensational stories circulated, fueling speculation and intrigue for decades. The real story has long waited to be told—until now.

Retracing Michael’s steps, award-winning journalist Carl Hoffman traveled to the jungles of New Guinea, immersing himself in a world of former headhunters and cannibals, secret spirits and customs, and getting to know generations of Asmat. Through exhaustive archival research, he uncovered hundreds of pages of never-before-seen original documents and located witnesses willing to speak publicly for the first time in fifty years.

In Savage Harvest Hoffman finally solves this decades-old mystery and illuminates a culture transformed by years of colonial rule, whose people continue to be shaped by ancient customs and lore. Combining history, art, colonialism, adventure, and ethnography, Savage Harvest is at once a mesmerizing whodunit and a fascinating portrait of the clash between two civilizations that resulted in the death of one of America’s richest and most powerful scions” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for Silver LiningsSilver Linings: Meditations on Finding Joy and Beauty in Unexpected Places
by Mina Parker
photographs by Daniel Talbott

“In Silver Linings, Mina Parker and Daniel Talbott present an array of ways of looking at that old cliche: every cloud has a silver lining. Parker writes, ‘It doesn’t take much to shine up your old outlook or try on a new one. One of my grandfather’s favorite sayings was ‘Into each life a little rain must fall’. Recently I’ve started to think maybe you don’t have to spend your days and nights constructing mental rain shelters in preparation for the great flood that may or may not ever come. Maybe, if you can see the positive, even in the worst situations, that outlook can be its own rainy-day relief.’

Silver Linings offers quotations and meditations to help lighten the darker moments and revel in the brighter ones that might ensue. It’s about making the best of unexpected situations, celebrating the sun in the midst of a dark day, finding a new opportunity when an old way no longer works. Daniel Talbott’s photographs the beauty all around us all the time: the momentary reflections in shop windows, quiet moments, and flowers bursting out in unlikely cityscapes. Thriving in all seasons and all places, flowers are the best symbols of silver linings: the products of bright, sunny days and heavy, dark rain clouds” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for The Spirit Catches You and You Fall DownThe Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
by Anne Fadiman

“When three-month-old Lia Lee arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia’s parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run ‘Quiet War’ in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely proud people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia’s pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness and healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia’s doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg—the spirit catches you and you fall down—and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for UnbrokenUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand

“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 and resolve, and human 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” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for What Excellent Community Colleges DoWhat Excellent Community Colleges Do: Preparing All Students for Success 
by Joshua S. Wyner

“In this book the author draws on the insights and evidence gained in administering the inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. This book identifies four domains of excellence including degree completion, equity, student learning, and labor market success, and describes in detail the policies and practices that have allowed some community colleges to succeed in these domains.

By starting with a holistic definition of excellence, measuring success against that definition, and then identifying practices and policies that align with high levels of student success, the author seeks to contribute to the growing body of knowledge about improving student success in community colleges” (Descriptive content provided by Syndetics).

book cover for When Women Were BirdsWhen Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice
by Terry Tempest Williams

“‘I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won’t look at them until after I’m gone.’ This is what Terry Tempest Williams’s mother, the matriarch of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah, told her a week before she died. It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as it was to discover that the three shelves of journals were all blank.

In fifty-four short chapters, Williams recounts memories of her mother, ponders her own faith, and contemplates the notion of absence and presence art and in our world. When Women Were Birds is a carefully crafted kaleidoscope that keeps turning around the question: What does it mean to have a voice?

-posted by Gretchen Schneider

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