New nonfiction includes travel guides, how-tos

Posted: Thursday, February 18, 2010

New non-fiction at the Juneau Public Libraries has plenty to offer, including travel guides, memoirs, how-tos, and much more.

"The Dog Lover's Companion to the Pacific Northwest," by Val Mallinson, illustrated by Phil Frank.

Mallinson and her Dachshunds, Coop and Isis, have sniffed out the best places for dogs and their humans in Washington, Oregon, and Canada, and have written it all down in this handy guidebook. The best doggie beaches, playgrounds, and parks of all types are indicated with four paws, the ones to skip unless your dog can't wait any longer get a single hydrant, and leash-free zones and parks with human attractions get their own symbols, too. There are pet-friendly places to stay, information on local veterinarians, and restaurants with relaxed rules and/or convenient spots to park your pal. Sidebars list extras: for instance, Doggie Day Cares in various cities, for when your agenda includes non-canine attractions, and dog-related events such as Lincoln City's Mutt Masters Dog Show and Olympics. An excellent and unique resource for those traveling with their four-footed friends.

"Friends like These," by DannyWallace.

Wallace, about to turn 30, is having an early mid-life crisis precipitated by a box of childhood mementos his parents have sent him and by becoming godfather to a six-month old baby. Panicking over his now undeniable adult status and suddenly longing for the simplicity of his childhood, he goes through his old address book, giving himself a year to find his 12 best friends. Soon, he's earning Man Points with his wife and flitting around the world, reacquainting himself with friends spread far from London, reminiscing about conker contests and music taped off the radio, and encountering crazy bag ladies in California. Wallace skates the surface of his life with an occasional rough patch: he makes an overture to one friend that is misconstrued, discovers that another has passed away, and goes to a lot of trouble to find a Japanese exchange student in Tokyo. He knows how to tell a story and he sounds like a wonderful, if a bit wacko, friend: readers will find themselves both disappointed and satisfied when his year is up and the quest (and book) is over.

"Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks," by Ethan Gilsdorf.

Do you have shelves of three-ring binders full of detailed D&D quests and character sheets? Do polyhedral dice hold a special place in your heart? Or maybe it's the SCA, with its costumes, courts, and traditional handicrafts, which absorbs your attention after your mundane day is over. Perhaps you can't wait for lunch to go on a WoW raid in the Eastern Kingdom. Should you be embarrassed about any of these pastimes? Gilsdorf says not at all, and proceeds to examine the worlds of gamers from the inside out, opening them up to inquiring minds and curious (but intimidated) onlookers. He's not shy about the role his mother's illness played in his immersion in the D&D world as a kid, but he's also sure that not everyone who role plays is trying to escape reality. With real affection, Gilsdorf introduces readers to kids, teens, and adults around the world who have two distinct existences: IRL and the game.

"The Authorized EnderCompanion," by Jake Black.

For those readers who can't get enough Ender, here's an encyclopedia of the people, places, and technologies of Ender's world. Whether you're reading the latest (and final) book in the series, "Ender in Exile," and need a refresher, want to straighten out the chronology in your mind, or try to get a grip on the technology, this is the book to pick up. Most of the text is encyclopedic, with in-depth entries on significant people and places and mention of lesser characters and locales. Then there's a family tree, a chapter on the development of the screenplay (no timeline yet for production of a movie though) and a full chapter on how the Battle School might function. The final chapter, composed of readers' "testimonials" about the books' affect on their lives, is not necessary, but creates a feeling of community.

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