In the Stacks

Posted: Sunday, May 26, 2002

All kinds of new non-fiction is hitting the shelves at the public libraries!

"Safe Teen," by Anita Roberts, is a fantastic introduction to the meaning and effective use of body language for parents and their kids. Not all situations are appropriate for all ages; teens can read this on their own, but parents will want to introduce selected bits to their younger kids. Situations include how to present at strong front when being followed, keeping arguments from escalating into violence, protecting yourself from bullying and much more.

"Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God," by Jack Miles, asks questions about the role of Christ from new perspectives. Why, he wonders, do Christians venerate a man who was, by Biblical accounts, not particularly likable, and who was, in fact, executed as a common criminal? Can this execution be considered a divine suicide? In attempting to find answers, Miles, an ex-Jesuit, abandons the oft-done historical angle and instead explores the Bible as a work of literature, piecing together Christ's life and personality as a part of an evolving God.

"The Minority Quarterback," by Ira Berkow, is a collection of sports articles that originally appeared in the New York Times. Berkow is known for bringing his subjects' personalities into his essays, whether they are household names such as Marge Schott or little-known players like Marcus Jacoby (the title subject). These stories have a lot to offer, whether you are a fan of sports or of human nature.

"Breaking Gridlock," by Jim Motavalli, addresses issues surrounding the transportation problems the US is experiencing in a clear and readable manner. By presenting the pros and cons of such ideas as paratransit systems (similar to Care-a-Van here in Juneau, but available to everyone) and car sharing, Motavalli makes it easy for readers to think about what might be possible in their own communities. Everything discussed is in practice somewhere, whether in the US or in Europe. An important idea book for Juneau as we continue to develop.

"Faith, Madness, and Spontaneous Human Combustion" by Gerald N. Callahan has as its underlying theme the vital importance of our immune systems in keeping us healthy and making us the individuals that we are. He extols the virtues of dirt-eating in early childhood (helps our immune systems develop by inoculating us with mycobacteria) and examines the idea that some forms of mental illness may be caused by infections in this book which is part-memoir, part-science.

"Peer-to-Peer: Harnessing the Benefits of a Disruptive Technology," by Andy Oram, is written by and for computer geeks (no other way to put it!) who want to explore the history, future, and influence of peer-to-peer technologies such as Napster, Gnutella, and Freenet. If you are interested in security issues, the architecture of remailers, metadata, and gateways between peer-to-peer systems, this may be the book you've been waiting for.

"The Wonder of Girls," by Michael Gurian, is the companion volume to the popular "The Wonder of Boys." Gurian writes about recent scientific developments that have made it possible to see the neurological and physical differences between boys and girls. These differences are not trivial; they produce behaviors and thought patterns which were previously thought to be culturally determined, and which affect how the genders interact. A fascinating read.

Be bold and brave and check back next week for some great kids' books to start your summer off right!

Parents, don't forget that the Daring Days of Reading program kicks off on Saturday, June 1st with a Wizard of Oz carnival at the downtown library from 10 a.m. to noon!

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