New nonfiction titles grace the shelves

Posted: Friday, March 30, 2007

Here's a sample of some of our new nonfiction on a huge variety of subjects at the Juneau Public Libraries.

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"Washed Up," by Skye Moody. In 1990, a container box full of Nikes fell overboard. Thousands of shoes washed up on beaches along the Pacific, but beachcombers were stymied: the left and right shoes ended up hundreds of miles apart, thanks to the interaction of shoe curvature and current. This is only one of the tidbits you'll learn in Moody's book - part science-treatise, part history, part personal anecdote, this is a delightful read. In addition to the nearly obligatory notes in bottles and the above-mentioned sneakers, Moody writes about amber, seasick whales, pirate treasure, and the 200-mile Pacific Garbage Patch.

"A Fighter's Heart," by Sam Sheridan. Years after getting hooked on boxing at Harvard, Sheridan finds himself with money and time on his hands and decides to return to fighting. He's no slouch physically, and quickly toughens up further as he trains first in Australia, then in Thailand and further abroad, immersing himself in kickboxing, karate, jiu-jitsu, and other martial arts. This is much more than a blow-by-blow account of what it is like to train, fight, and train some more - it is also an exploration into the psyches of men who live and breathe controlled aggression and physical stamina. Whether you are a fighter or curious about why someone might want to be, you will enjoy this nuanced and compelling look into a brutal world.

"I Wish I'd been there," edited by Byron Hollinshead. Hollinshead invited twenty historians to choose a moment in American history that they wish they'd witnessed, and then write about it. The result is this collection of essays about events as varied as the burial of a great chief in Cahokia (in present-day Illinois), the Salem Witch Trials, and the confrontation between Lyndon Johnson and George Wallace over segregation. Arranged chronologically, but also perfect for browsing.

"Treasure Ship," by Dennis M. Powers. In July of 1865, the S.S. Brother Jonathan set sail from San Francisco, California, for British Columbia with 244 people, over $250,000 (1865 value), and about 700 tons of cargo and baggage aboard. Caught in a rogue wave and slammed down onto an uncharted reef, there were only 19 survivors. Pieces of the ship, luggage, and bodies washed up over a 125-mile stretch of the coast, but the boat's final resting place wasn't found until 1993. Powers followed the Deep Sea Research Team as they used the latest technology to locate the ship and its treasure, bringing numismatists, lawyers, and the State of California down on their heads in this amazing story.

"Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China," by Guy Delisle. In 1997, Delisle took a 3-month contract to work on an animated film in Shenzhen, an industrial town in southern China. Speaking almost no Chinese, and left for the most part without a translator, he builds a lonely but functional life and chronicles it in vignettes of words and pictures. Delisle presents many details just as he encounters them, without explanation, since there was no one to explain their mysteries to him. All in all, this graphic novel will be interesting to many readers, especially those who have lived overseas and who will be reminded of the adventure and alienation of their own experiences.

"The United States of Arugula," by David Kamp. Italian food was practically unknown in the US before World War II. Sushi and salsa are relative newcomers to the American menu. How did we move from steak and potatoes to omelets with baby vegetables? Kamp examines the role of the Big Three (Craig Claiborne, Julia Child, and James Beard) in changing our dining and shopping habits, and turns gossipy with feuds and back-kitchen goings-on as he moves forward to modern days. Fascinating for foodies and gossips alike. (Pair this with Barry Glassner's "The Gospel of Food," in which Glassner takes note of Norway's official dietary guideline: "food and joy= health" and wonders what's wrong with Americans' relationship with food.)

As always, placing a hold on library materials is easy: Call the Juneau Public Library at 586-5249, or if you have Internet access, your library card and a PIN, you may place your own holds by visiting and looking at the library catalog or at the In the Stacks column on the Web site. The columns are linked to the catalog. To place a hold, simply click on the desired title.

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