From 'Sinister Pig' to Spock: Libraries stock up on new books-on-tape

In The Stacks

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2003

F or all you book listeners out there, this week's column highlights selections from the new shipment of books-on-tape we've just received at the Juneau Public Library. (Next week will be all about books on CD.)

"To America," by Stephen E. Ambrose, read by the author and Henry Strozier (non-fiction). This is Ambrose's last book, a combination of memoir, writer's manual and historical overview of America. While celebrating the things that he believes make America great, Ambrose painlessly inserts himself into the continuum of history, creating a background for readers of his many other history books.

"This Just In," by Bob Schieffer, read by the author (non-fiction). Schieffer, the chief Washington correspondent for CBS news, has written a memoir that is firmly rooted in his work as a journalist. No rehashing of old stories here, rather an expansion of the backgrounds to well-known stories about Vietnam, Kennedy, 9/11 and more. Wound around the news stories is a modest telling of a life lived in full.

"An American Story," by Solomon Northup, read by Allen Gilmore (non-fiction). When Solomon Northup, a free black man living in New York with his wife and children, was offered a job in Washington, D.C., he took a chance and accepted the offer. The year was 1842, and no job awaited him; instead, he was drugged and sold to a "nigger breaker" in Louisiana, and spent the next twelve years as a slave. This book is the story of Solomon's life before, during and after slavery.

"Terra Incognita," by Sara Wheeler, read by Patricia Gallimore (non-fiction). This beautifully written account of the author's seven-month stay in Antarctica covers far more than the physical geography of the continent. Wheeler is a master at the internal landscape of travel, the ups and downs and excitements that come from encountering the new every day. Humorous and touching, this book may well entice you to make your own journey to the far south.

"The Lexus and the Olive Tree," by Thomas L. Friedman, read by George Wilson (non-fiction). Are you curious about the effects of integrating capital, technology and information across national borders? Try this analysis of the history and future of globalization from Pulitzer Prize winner Friedman, who explains the basics clearly and succinctly, with many examples. You may not agree with his conclusions, but you will be better placed to form your own.

"The Sinister Pig," by Tony Hillerman, read by George Guidall (fiction). First, border patrol agent Bernie Manuelito finds a suspicious construction project in the middle of the desert. Then, even as Sergeant Jim Chee puzzles over whether (and how) to get Bernie to marry him, he finds himself with a second problem: The body of a retired CIA operative has been dumped on the reservation. And when the jockeying for power between drug lords begins, Bernie and Jim find themselves working very closely once again.

"Good Faith," by Jane Smiley, read by Richard Poe (fiction). Set in the boom days of the 1980s, this is a novel of greed and self-delusion. Joe Stratford is a real estate agent ready for a new game, so when he meets Marcus Burns, a former IRS agent, Joe is receptive to Marcus's get-rich-quick schemes. Skeptical at first, but willing to be drawn in, Joe finds himself sinking deeper and deeper into the quicksand trap that Marcus has created for him.

"The Bone Vault," by Linda Fairstein, read by Barbara Rosenblat (fiction). The Metropolitan Museum of Art has teamed up with the Museum of Natural History to present a new exhibit, but on the night of the opening gala, the body of a Met researcher turns up in the sarcophagus of a mummified princess. Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper begins work on the mystery, only to find that answers lie buried deep in the New York art world.

"Sarek," by A.C. Crispin, read by Nick Sullivan (fiction). Spock's mother is dying and so he returns to Vulcan to be with her and his father, Sarek. Though at first it seems that the old wounds between father and son might be forgotten in the face of Amanda's terminal illness, when Sarek chooses to answer the call of duty rather than to stay at Amanda's side as she is dying, sparks fly. All too soon, however, Spock and Sarek must find a way to work together to foil a plot to ruin the Federation.

"The Quality of Life Report," by Meghan Daum, read by Johanna Parker (fiction). When Lucinda Trout, conscientious reporter of sushi bars and thong underwear, trades in her tiny mouse-infested New York apartment for a sprawling, impossible-to-heat farmhouse in the Midwest, she hangs on to her job as lifestyle correspondent for a morning TV show by starting "The Quality of Life Report." Though she quickly finds that the Hallmark images of the Midwest that her boss wants to showcase are non-existent, she finds herself feeling more at home than she ever did in New York.

If you'd like to place a hold on any of these titles, call the Juneau Public Library at 586-5249. If you have Internet access, your library card and a PIN, you may place your own holds by going to our Web site ( and looking at our catalogue. Placing holds on items featured in In the Stacks is now even easier. The new columns are hyperlinked to the catalogue: Simply look up the column, click on the title you want and you will be ready to place a hold.

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