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In the Stacks: New nonfiction for adults

Posted: March 13, 2014 - 12:03am

New nonfiction for adults at the public library includes a book about the role rising ocean levels have played throughout human history (The Attacking Ocean, by Brian Fagan) and two books about America’s national sport (Class A: Baseball in the middle of everywhere, by Lucas Mann, and Southern League, by Larry Colton.) as well as the titles below.

“The Mushroom Hunters,” by Langdon Cook.

Not a “how-to” book, but an outsider’s look at the secretive communities that spring up wherever mushrooms are to be found. Cook’s mushroom fever started out slowly, a wild mushroom spotted by chance and added to dinner, but quickly built into an obsession. After filling notebooks with maps full of dots and scribbles, his refrigerator full of pickled chanterelles, and his cupboards full of home-dehydrated shaggy manes, he takes the next logical step and dips his toe into the world of the for-profit mushroom picker and their close associates the mushroom buyers. Cook makes friends with a jack-of-all-trades picker named Doug and gets initiated into the foraging-for-sale lifestyle and he shows readers the importance of keeping extra bags handy at all times for the sudden bounty of wild mustard ($7 a pound) alongside the boletes and yellowfeet. An excellent look at the inner workings of an industry most of us are happy to partake of on our restaurant plates.

“Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers,” by Clyde Edgerton.

This hilarious book is packed full of helpful hints from the concrete (potty training) to the abstract (deciding how you demonstrate your values) for new parents-to-be. Edgerton, who has three children, dispenses such helpful information as: forget the child gates – train your child to crawl up and down stairs as soon as their able. And: write letters to your unborn and small child about daily events that they won’t remember. And: when to begin reading to your child (answer: as soon as they’re breathing air). All of this is done in a kind and amusing way that will go a long way towards comforting the stressed-out and confused dad. Bonus, it’s short, lightweight, and easy to juggle between bottles and diapers.

Ten Years in the Tub, by Nick Hornby. Readers who have enjoyed Hornby’s columns in Believer magazine over the years will be delighted to find a decade’s worth all in one spot for easy, chronologically-ordered rereading. Hornby writes with open delight about books he’s read, books he’s overlooked, and books he’s picked up and put down a few times before relegating them to the bottom of the pile. In between, he ruminates about life and the tiny probability that his readers are familiar with the game of cricket. Each dated essay starts out with lists of books bought and books read that month, and Hornby reads a lot and widely. Then he dives in to the meat of his impressions of the books (noting the occasional, anonymous “literary novel” or “biography” per the Believer’s stricture on not naming books that were disliked). Please note: if you read More Baths, Less Talking, you have read May 2010 through December 2011 of this book already.

“Capturing the Light,” by Roger Watson and Helen Rappaport.

In the 1830s, two men independently developed ways to capture light and preserve it, creating the processes of photography. Their rivalry went on for years, with battles for patents and recognition. Ultimately, Henry Fox Talbot, a shy and reclusive Englishman, developed the method of photography using negatives that is still used today, but it is the Frenchman, Louis Daguerre, whose name is most-closely associated with the art (though his daguerreotype process is no longer in wide use, it still has enthusiasts). This is a dual biography of the two, so different in nature and circumstance, but still driven by the same impulses of scientific inquiry and creative investigation.

“Crab Monsters,” Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses, by Chris Nashawaty.

Fans of B movies will snap up the story of Roger Corman, king of the B movies, especially since it’s augmented with interviews with the directors and actors he trained (including Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard, Jamie Lee Curtis, and James Cameron), as well as with the great man himself. Primed to make crowd-pleasing, hair-raising, budget films by his childhood steeped in Edgar Allen Poe, cheap movies and the all-influencing Great Depression, Corman moved to sunny California as a teen, where he rubbed shoulders with the high school age kids of studio executives and got his first job at the 20th Century Fox studios before starting his own studio. Fully-illustrated with stills and movie poster reproductions from such graphic classics such as Devil’s Angels, Battle Beyond the Stars, and Blood Bath, this will bring back memories to the right people.

•••

The Bard-a-thon wraps up on Saturday, March 15; check the schedule online or at any library for details.

Also, Friday, March 14, is the Second Friday Author Tea at the Douglas library at 5 p.m. ; join us to talk about your favorite female Alaskan author and to get introduced to new ones.

And, Tuesday, March 18, is Movies in Spanish night at the Douglas library, starting at 5:30 p.m.

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

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