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Nonfiction for adults

Posted: December 6, 2012 - 1:05am

New non-fiction for adults runs the gamut from biographies and how-tos to travelogues and graphic novels, as well as the titles below.

“In Search of the Miraculous, or, One thing Leads to Another,” by Milton Glaser.

Glaser is one of the superstars of graphic design, and here he showcases some of his recent work in a tiny book with the subtitle as its theme. Readers will find themselves turning almost irresistibly from page to page, following Glaser’s trail of breadcrumbs from design to rug to poster to glass panel to logo and back around in loops and swirls. Playfully, but with purpose, Glaser gives us a taste of some of his graphics and a glimpse of the mind behind the designs.

“Home Accessibility,” by Shelley Peterman Schwarz.

If you or someone you care about is facing limited mobility, vision, or hearing issues, this book can really help. Schwarz, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when her children were toddlers, has compiled useful ideas for every room of the house (and even outside). Each chapter covers an area of the home, from the garage, driveway, and entry, on through to the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc., with the first section covering heavier-duty remodeling suggestions. Chapters conclude with lists of resources and references. Philosophically speaking, Schwarz’s basics include: letting yourself use available technology to help yourself out, identifying what’s really important, both materially and socially, and spending your energy wisely.

“Eat the City,” by Robin Shulman.

Inspired by memories of the vacant lot she lived next to while in college, which was transformed from a drug-dealers haven to a patchwork field of herbs and vegetables while she watched, Shulman writes enthusiastically about food and its production in New York City. Launching with a story about an urban superhero who responds to bee-swarm emergencies with hood, ladder, and smoke, Shulman introduces readers to the mostly-hidden world of food production in New York City. Unbeknownst to most, the city is full of public gardens, chicken coops, bee hives, and pig farms, which are inspiring new generations of butchers, beekeepers, organic farmers, fishermen, and brewers. Shulman is a fantastic writer, weaving the past and the present together to highlight cause and effect, and has a knack for finding the choice bits in everyone’s story.

“The Hypo,” by Noah Van Sciver.

This suitably darkly-drawn graphic novel explores some of the darkest days of young Abraham Lincoln’s life. Long before he became our president, Lincoln was a lawyer who suffered fits of what he referred to as “The Hypo” – deep depression - that eventually led to a nervous breakdown. Van Sciver brings readers along for one of Lincoln’s descents into The Hypo, from the time the 28 year-old newly-minted lawyer and politician arrives in Illinois’ new capital of Springfield, to his wedding to Mary Todd. The art style isn’t my favorite, but I have to admit it’s perfect for the topic: the dense cross-hatching helps lower the sky and darken the scenes as Lincoln’s mood ebbs and flows and the organic, off-kilter forms of everything from wallpaper patterns to people bolster the feelings of unease and ill-health.

“Food Jobs,” by Irena Chalmers.

There’s more to the Food Industry than being a line-cook, catering, or starting your own business. This book highlights 150 jobs for culinary students and others who simply love food – some that are rare (thankfully so, they sound so tedious, like Egg Peeler and Truffle Salter), and others that are more common but still unusual (Food Critic for a magazine or newspaper, for instance). Chalmers has had lots of experience in a variety of food-related jobs and gives chatty but detailed overviews about the requirements for food photographers and stylists, specialty food promoters, etc. In addition, she includes essays by people working in the field writing about their current jobs, their backgrounds, and what their jobs entail. Even those not considering a career move to personal chef will find themselves fascinated by the behind-the-scenes action.

•••

Join library staff tonight (Thursday, Dec. 6) in welcoming two Alaskan authors, Sarah Isto and Nicole Stellon O’Donnell, who will share excerpts from their writing (historical poetry and nonfiction). Be at the Downtown Library at 7 p,m, for their talk, followed by Q&A, booksale, and signing.

These two authors, along with Jim Simard of the Alaska State Historical Library, will also host an event that focuses on the art of research. Sign up ASAP by calling 586-5249 or emailing jonasl@juneau.org. This is a half-day event that will begin at noon tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 7) at the Alaska State Historical Library with some hands-on primary source research and then writing time at the Downtown Library.

For information about upcoming programs, or to place a hold, visit www.juneau.org/library or call 586-5249.

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