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Staff Picks - Staff Favorites (Non-Fiction)

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All titles can be found in the non-fiction section unless otherwise noted.

Age of Spiritual Machines (006.3)
by Ray Kurzweil
The creator of the Kurzweil synthesizer and the Windows 95 voice-recognition program offers logical forecasts abt. 21st century technology.

A History of Bombing (172.42)
by Sven Lindqvist
Provides a history of aerial bombardment from the early 20th century to the high-tech weaponry of the modern military.

The Rule of Saint Benedict (255.106)
A classic collection of rules for monastic living, including the 6th century monk’s injunctions to follow a path of obedience, humility & contemplation.

The Power of Myth (291.13 C188)
by Joseph Campbell
Noted mythologist discusses the relationship of ancient myths to modern life, including discussions of recent heroes, tales of love & marriage, the power of myth, and mythic themes.

Norse Mythology (293.13 GAIMAN)
by Neil Gaiman
Presents a rendering of the major Norse pantheon that traces the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and the exploits of its characters, illuminating the characters and natures of iconic figures Odin, Thor, and Loki.

What Every American Should Know About Women’s History (305.40973)
by Christine Lunardini
Covers major events in American history in which women played significant roles and profiles such notable figures as Anne Hutchinson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, & Betty Friedan.

Freakonomics (330)
by Steven D. Levitt
Takes an unconventional view of how the economy works, from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing, offering a very different look at what really drives the economy.

From the Beast to the Blonde (398.2)
by Marina Warner
A cultural study of fairy tales shows what they reveal about the changing status of women, the ways of men, racial prejudice &other subjects.

The Story of English in 100 Words (422)
by David Crystal
A distinguished English-language expert demonstrates how the history of English vernacular is reflected with sources in key influences and events, from “roe” and “loaf” to “fopdoodle” and “twittersphere.”

The Professor and the Madman (423)
by Simon Winchester
An American surgeon living in London kills a stranger, is judged insane, incarcerated, connects with Jas. Murray the editor of the original OED, & over decades contributes 10,000 examples of usage to the great dictionary.

Eats Shoots & Leaves (428.2)
by Lynne Truss
Looks at the history of punctuation and the rules governing the use of apostrophes, commas, dashes, hyphens, colons, and semicolons.

Packing for Mars (571.0919)
by Mary Roach
Describes the oddity of space travel, answering questions about the long-term effects of living in zero gravity on the human body, & how simulations on Earth can give a preview to life in space.

The Third Chimpanzee (573.2)
by Jared Diamond
A renowned scientist examines the less than 2% of human genes that distinguish us from chimpanzees & that link human behaviors – like genocide, drug addiction and the extermination of other species – to our animal predecessors.

Reason for Hope (590.92 G646)
by Jane Goodall
The distinguished scientist draws on her experiences and spiritual beliefs to explore the higher purpose to life, explaining how this can be best served through a commitment to understand the spiritual ties between humankind and the natural world.

When Elephants Weep (591.51)
by Jeffrey Masson
Offers proof of the reality of emotions throughout the animal kingdom and evaluates humans' treatment of animals--from hunting to eating them--in light of this discovery.

Bonk (612.6)
by Mary Roach
A whimsical assessment of the science of sexual physiology considers the lighter side of such topics as mythologies about a woman’s ability to experience orgasm and the ineffectiveness of Viagra on female pandas.

Darkness Visible (616.8527 S938)
by William Styron
A literary tour de force, this bestseller is a true account of his descent into a crippling and almost suicidal depression. Styron is perhaps the first writer to convey the full terror of depression's psychic landscape, as well as the illuminating path to recovery.

The Emperor of All Maladies (616.994)
by Siddhartha Mukherjee
A historical assessment of cancer addresses both the courageous battles against the complex disease and the misperceptions and hubris that have compromised modern understandings, covering such topics as ancient-world surgeries & developments of present-day treatments.

Empires of Light (621.309)
by Jill Jonnes
A riveting chronicle of scientific history recounts the race among inventor Thomas Alva Edison, creator of the incandescent light bulb; eccentric genius Nikola Tesla; and George Westinghouse, a tough entrepreneur and powerful empire builder--to bring electricity to the world.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl (636.1001 R518)
by Stacey O’Brien
The author’s rescue of an abandoned barn owlet, from her efforts to resuscitate and raise the young owl through their nineteen years together, during which the author made key discoveries about owl behavior.

I Am Maru (636.80092)
by Mugumogu
Celebrates the Scottish Fold cat named Maru who has become in Internet sensation due to his love of taking charge and diving headfirst into cardboard boxes, drawers, and trashcans.

Homer’s Odyssey (636.80929)
by Gwen Cooper
A pet rescue volunteer describes her relationship with a three-pound blind cat whose daredevil character and affectionate personality saw the author through six moves, a burglary, and the healing of her broken heart.

Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (641.5 P437)
by Deb Perelman
Presents 100 new and favorite recipes in a volume that features adapted options for busy home cooks by the award-winning blogger.

Around My French Table (641.5944)
by Dorie Greenspan
A James Beard Award winner offers 300+ personable recipes for French home cooking.

Bean by Bean (641.6565 D787)
by Crescent Dragonwagon
Presents over 100 recipes for appetizers, soups, salads, entrees and desserts featuring beans as the main ingredient.

What It Is (741.5973
by Lynda Barry
A visual testament to the creator’s life-long quest for creative excellence explores such questions as the capacity of material objects for summoning memories & the tangible qualities of images.

Astonishing X-Men (741.5973)
by Joss Whedon
The X-Men are re-formed & as the cure for the mutant gene is discovered, a violent, aggressive alien starts terrorizing people. A counterpart to S.H.I.E.L.D., the extraterrestrially-oriented military organization S.W.O.R.D. becomes perhaps more involved with the X-Men than originally planned.

Born to Run (782.421 SPRINGSTEEN)
by Bruce Springsteen
Traces the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's life from his childhood in a Catholic New Jersey family and the musical experiences that prompted his career to the rise of the E Street Band and the stories behind some of his most famous songs.

When the Game Was Ours (796.32309)
by Larry Bird & Earvin “Magic” Johnson
Two NBA legends offer a definitive account of their decades-long rivalry and friendship, exploring Bird’s struggles with chronic pain and Johnson’s discovery that he had contracted HIV.

Luckiest Man (796.35709 G311)
by Jonathan EIg
The Hall of Fame ballplayer whose career was cut short by the disease now commonly called after him, in a portrait that shares details about Lou Gehrig’s rivalry with Babe Ruth, the onset of his illness, and the final years of his life.

Sandy Koufax (796.35709 K88)
by Jane Leavy
The elusive baseball pitcher considered as both a champion athlete and a symbol for his beliefs, citing such achievements as his perfect game in Sept. 1965 & his refusal to pitch a World Series game that fell on a Jewish holy day.

Into Thin Air (796.522 K89)
by Jon Krakauer
The author describes his spring 1996 trek to Mt. Everest, a disastrous expedition that claimed the lives of eight climbers and explains why he survived.

Seabiscuit (798.4)
by Laura Hillenbrand
The author retraces the journey of Seabiscuit, a horse with crooked legs and a pathetic tail that made racing history in 1938, thanks to the efforts of a trainer, owner, and jockey who transformed a bottom-level racehorse into a legend.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (813.54 K54)
by Stephen King
King shares his insights into the craft of writing, offering a humorous perspective on his own experience as a writer.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (813.6 S913)
by Cheryl Strayed
Traces the personal crisis endured by the author after the death of her mother & a painful divorce, prompting her to undertake a dangerous 1,100-mile solo hike that both drove her to rock bottom and helped her to heal.

Gift from the Sea (814)
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
A woman's reflections on life, its stages, and its states, comparing them with the natural treasures of life in the sea.

I Remember Nothing (814.54 E63)
by Nora Ephron
A humorous collection of essays discusses the author's career in journalism, divorce, a long-anticipated inheritance with unanticipated results, and the evolution of her relationship with her e-mail in-box.

What the Dog Saw (814.6)
by Malcolm Gladwell
Collects the author’s best New Yorker pieces on topics such as why there are so many kinds of mustard but only one type of ketchup, a surprising assessment of what makes a safer car, & an examination of a machine built to predict hit movies. 

Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell is This? (818.5209 P238)
by Marion Meade
Traces the life of the American journalist, screenwriter, and wit, describes her relationships with other members of the Algonquin Round Table, and attempts to portray her complex personality.

Naked (818.5402 S447)
by David Sedaris
The author recounts hitchhiking across the country with an odd cast of quadriplegics and deadbeats, working as a migrant worker in North Carolina, and other adventures.

The Ten, Make That Nine, Habits of Very Organized People. Make That Ten (818.5407)
by Steve Martin
This brief collection of Tweets made by Steve Martin will keep you laughing long after you’ve finished the book. Such fun.

Stitches (818.5409 S635)
by David Small
Graphic novel autobiography of his troubled childhood with a radiologist father who subjected him to repeated x-rays & a tormented mother, a home he fled at the age of 16 to become an artist.

The Time Traveler’s Handbook (909 WYLLIE)
By James Wyllie
Describes in detail eighteen historical events, including VE day in 1945, the Women's March on Versailles during the French Revolution, and the Battle of Bull Run during the American Civil War.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (910.4092 B916)
by Bill Bryson
Tells of his all-American childhood growing up as a member of the baby boom generation in Iowa, detailing his rich fantasy life as a superhero known as the Thunderbolt Kid and his remarkably normal 1950s family life.

In the Empire of Ice (910.9113)
by Gretel Ehrlich
Discusses the peoples of the high Arctic, their traditions, and the changes they face in the modern world and from global warming, in a book that looks at languages, hunting traditions, and religious practices.

A Walk in the Woods (917.40443
by Bill Bryson
A wry account of the author’s adventurous trek along the Appalachian trail, its natural pleasures, human eccentrics and offbeat comforts.

The Lost City of Z (918.11046)
by David Grann
Interweaves the story of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who vanished during a 1925 expedition into the Amazon, with the author’s own quest to uncover the mysteries surrounding Fawcett’s final journey.

The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition (919.8904 S524)
by Caroline Alexander
A companion volume to an American Museum of Natural History exhibit chronicles the perilous 1914-1916 expedition in Antarctica when Shackleton and his crew were stranded for twenty months.

Night (940.5318)
by Elie Wiesel
The narrative of a boy who lived through Auschwitz and Buchenwald provides a short and terrible indictment of modern humanity.

A Distant Mirror (944.025)
by Barbara Tuchman
The prize-winning historian traces the major currents of the fourteenth century, revealing the century's great historical rhythms and events and the texture of daily life at all levels of European society.

Venice: Lion City (945.31)
by Garry Wills
A historical perspective on Venice during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is told through its relationship with art and its connection to religion, and details the labor, warfare, prayer, and discipline of the time.

Persepolis (955.054 S253)
by Marjane Satrapi
The great-granddaughter of Iran’s last emperor and the daughter of ardent Marxists describes growing up in Tehran in a country plagued by political upheaval and vast contradictions between public and private life.

1491 (970.011)
by Charles Mann
A groundbreaking study that radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans in 1492.

No Ordinary Time (973.917 R781)
by Doris Stearns Goodwin
A biography of Eleanor Roosevelt and an intimate look at those residing in the White House during the war years shows how Eleanor and Franklin together turned a country deep in depression into a militarily strong and economically healthy nation.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (973.92092 E29)
by Dave Eggers
A respected magazine editor and founder offers a satiric, eloquent and thoroughly tradition-shattering memoir that discusses the deaths of his parents from cancer, his raising of his younger brother and more.

The Color of Water (974.71004)
by James McBride
A young African American man describes growing up as one of twelve children of a white mother and black father and discusses his mother’s contributions to his life & his confusion over his own identity.