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In the stacks: New nonfiction

Posted: October 27, 2011 - 12:03am

New nonfiction on the shelves includes “Seppuku: a history of samurai suicide,” by Andrew Rankin, “When Someone You Love Suffers from Posttraumatic Stress,” by Claudia Zayfert and Jason DeViva, and a book compiled by the Veterans Information Service called “What Every Veteran Should Know.”

“Metamaus,” by Art Spiegelman. Fans of Spiegelman’s epic graphic novels about his family’s experience during the Holocaust, rejoice! This is an in-depth exploration of the research that went into Maus’s creation (Spiegelman wanted every button on every piece of clothing to be historically accurate), how the books’ publication have affected Spiegelman’s memories of his family, and how the books were received in different countries. There are interviews with Dash and Nadja, Spiegelman’s children, with Holocaust survivors who knew his mother, and with his father, Vladek. And, there is a CD-rom that contains a digital, annotated copy of The Complete Maus, along with audio interviews and Spiegelman’s private notebooks and sketches.

“The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost,” by Rachel Friedman. At 20, Rachel knows how the world works: you study hard, stay emotionally detached, and graduate at the top, and start looking for a spot in the corporate world. Somehow, though, she is amazed to find herself heading overseas on a scantily-planned, four-month break before her senior year. She’s booked two-nights lodging in a bed-and-breakfast, but is determined to try to relax and let things sort themselves out — and to her surprise, they do! This travel memoir is a coming-of-age and learning-to-let-go story rolled into one as she explores Ireland, returns home to finish school, and then launches herself to Australia.

“The Handy Science Answer Book,” compiled by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Great for adults and kids both, this is one-stop shopping for anyone who has ever wondered how much clouds weigh, wants to settle bets on the largest sea mammal (the blue whale), or find out how charcoal is made. Have you forgotten the names and orders of the planets? How the moon affects the earth? The index and chapter setups make it easy to answer these questions and many, many more. Plus, this is written for the layperson, so the text is clear, concise, and interesting.

“When Parents Text,” by Lauren Kaelin and Sophia Fraioli. Purely for laughs, this winnows the funniest texts from the authors’ website into one pocket-sized book suitable for gifting to a beloved parent learning to text (or the beleaguered recipient of the texts). Helpfully divided into categories (n00bs, parental wisdom, and Harry Potter all warrant their own chapters), this is full of laugh-out-loud, share-with-friends, amiable bumbles into a new technological arena. This is not to say that a particular generation can’t learn to handle the serious responsibility that comes with texting, simply that the learning curve is sometimes steeper (and funnier) than anyone realized.

“Be Honest,” edited by Ninive Calegari, forward by Neko Case. A product of 826 National (a writing center co-founded by Ninive Calegari and Dave Eggers), this is a collection of essays by high school students on a variety of topics. Some essays are modeled after Sherman Alexie’s autobiographical essays, others are inspired by a quote from James Baldwin, and still others by outright questions about favorite teachers, life-changing events, and ways to improve student life. Perhaps you’ll be reminded of your own high school days as you read the wish for clean, working restrooms and teachers who really love teaching. Or flash back to the teacher who inspired you through their enthusiasm for the subject, or encouraged you to keep trying despite learning or language difficulties. Articulate and insightful, these are a look at contemporary life in high school.

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Don’t forget: if you’re feeling brave enough, join us at the Downtown Library this Saturday for a pre-holiday showing of “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” complete with live (loud! spine-tingling!) music. Costumes welcome. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., movie starts at 7 p.m.

NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month and it kicks off Nov. 1! Love books? Write one! Be a part of this national writing movement happening all month long. Open Writing Labs will be held in library conference rooms all of November. Come write at the library, we’ll keep you fueled with coffee and tea and a great mid-way workshop to get you through! Questions? 586-0442. Full event schedule on our website.

For information about our upcoming programs, or to place a hold on any of our material, please visit us at www.juneau.org/library or call us at 586-5249.

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