New nonfiction at the library

Posted: Thursday, March 03, 2011

New non-fiction on the shelves at the public libraries runs the gamut from the past to the future.

Welcome to the Jungle, by Hilary Smith. This is the book that Smith wished she’d had when she was first diagnosed as bipolar in college: honest and unflinching, but badass and funny at the same time. She’s writing for young adults who have just been diagnosed and are struggling to understand what the diagnosis means for their future, but it’s the kind of book that’s too good not to share among friends and family members who want to understand what’s going on. Smith’s focus is firmly on learning to take care of yourself. She offers up tips on becoming your own manager through regular meals, exercise, and sleep, and explains why neither this nor meds will, alone, keep you healthy and happy. And she’s reassuring throughout, whether talking about how and when to tell that cute guy you like, or sharing space with roommates.

Life After High School: a guide for students with disabilities and their families, by Susan Yellin and Christina Cacioppo Bertsch. This slim book should be subtitled “a guide to college…” because the main focus is on teens with mental, physical, or learning disabilities who are planning the transition to higher education (though there is one chapter on choosing to go to work instead of college after high school). Written by a lawyer specializing in disability law and a director for disability services at a university, this is an invaluable resource for parents and teens alike. The first section outlines what legally constitutes a disability and what the law says schools must do to accommodate students. Following this are in-depth chapters on creating a paper trail to document previous accommodations and their necessity, the importance of investigating colleges with accommodations in mind, and becoming responsible for one’s own disability when parents aren’t around. One of the most vital tidbits of information is that it’s never too early to start preparing for independence.

The World in 2050, by Laurence C. Smith. Smith sets himself ground rules (one is that technology advances will be incremental; another, that there won’t be any “genies,” i.e., meteor strikes) and then sets out to look at four global forces (population trends, globalization, climate change, and resource demands) that are shaping our world today, projecting their effects forty years into the future. What he shows readers is a future set in the North: while the nations of the equator become more desperate for resources and crowded with people, Canada, the United States, Greenland, Iceland, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Norway, will be gaining in economic and political power thanks to newly-opened waterways and growing economies. The final section deals with several scenarios outside Smith’s original premises: what if climate change is sudden, not slow? What if globalized economies become untenable because of higher transportation costs? All-in-all, this highly readable book, with its grounding in history and state-of-the-art model projections, will give readers a realistic look at our most probable futures as a global people.

Finders Keepers, by Craig Childs. To whom does the past belong? When you find a carved stone fishing weight on the beach or a piece of basket buried in the muskeg, is it yours? And, if so, what should you do with it? Should it be turned over to a museum for study? Sold to a collector to become part of a private cache? Kept on your desk as a paperweight? Childs is an avid relic hunter who explores these questions in depth and with great personal insight. He’s a thoughtful man whose personal philosophy is that the past should be discovered for the thrill of finding, and then left alone. Set mostly in the deserts of the American Southwest, but with forays into the St. Lawrence Islands and the Taklamakan Desert in China, this is a fascinating exploration into the history, science, culture, and ethics of artifacts.


Come to the Downtown Library at 3 p.m. this Saturday, March 5 for answers to all your eBook questions.

Then join us at 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, for an Introduction to Fundraising Planning for Non-profits. Space is limited, register online or by calling 586-0442.

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