Non-fiction selections roll onto library shelves

Posted: Sunday, September 21, 2003

L ots of non-fiction is rolling onto the public libraries' shelves this week. Here's a sampling.

"First Marathons," edited by Gail Waesche Kislevitz. Contemplating a marathon but need a little inspiration? Thirty-seven runners write about their first marathons, from what made them even consider the idea, to what got them to the finish line. Includes advice from top coaches, a list of favorite running songs, a bibliography for further reading and a list of great running Web sites.

"Bruce Aidells' Complete Sausage Book," by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly. This book features delicious-sounding recipes for every kind of sausage from the familiar (such as chorizo and bratwurst), to the exotic (Pike Place salmon, Chinese black bean and shiitake mushroom). Even if you don't want to make your own sausage from scratch, the second half of the book is filled with recipes that use sausage, whether homemade or store-bought. It's well-worth a look.

"From the Holy Mountain," by William Dalrymple. In 587 A.D., two Christian monks set off on a journey across the Middle East, traveling through what is now Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. In 1994, Dalrymple began the same trek, using the monks' writings to guide him. What he found was a drastically different religious topography than the monk saw: Instead of large and prosperous Christian communities, he found their bedraggled remnants. With his characteristic black humor, Dalrymple writes about the ways in which people stay the same even when religious, geographical, and social boundaries change.

"Straight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for Kids," by Timothy E. Wilens. Children are not just small adults, and if your child has been put on psychiatric medications, you need to know what to expect in the long and short term. This book goes through how doctors diagnose psychiatric illnesses in children, what medications can be given, which ones have long-term safety records and what alternatives might be appropriate.

"How to Write Killer Fiction," by Carolyn Wheat. While focusing on writing mysteries and suspense fiction for publication, this is a surprisingly rousing read. Even if you don't want to be published, reading this book on writing will give you insight into the ways your favorite writers approach their computers and what makes the books you like so appealing. If you do want to write, reading this will help you see what hooks readers and how to pace your plot and develop the kind of characters that readers want to come back to.

"The Orchid Thief," by Susan Orlean. Ever since John Laroche was a kid he's gone from one collecting obsession after another: first turtles, then tropical fish (that he collected from the ocean himself), ice age fossils, old mirrors and other things, all unrelated, all dropped as soon as the next subject suggested itself. But when he became an orchid collector, he ran into big trouble trying to take rare orchids from a state preserve. Orlean dives into the life of Laroche ("the most moral amoral person I've ever known"), the lives of the orchid collectors he supplied, the plants they collect and the area itself in this humorous and well-written book.

"World Rock Art," by Jean Clottes. A stunning survey of rock art of many types from around the world, shown in color photos, with explanations of how they were created and speculation on what they might mean. The well-known sites, like the Hall of Bulls in France, are here, alongside lesser-known ones in Niger and Australia. The art ranges from paintings and drawings to bas-relief sculptures. Clottes is an authority on rock art and his commentary is clear, concise, and fascinating.

"Boats of Alaska," by Pedro Denton. This slim book packs a lot of information about different kinds of commercial fishing boats and the equipment they use. Beautiful paintings of fishing boats at work in various waters of Alaska accompany the author's personal experiences, which appear next to straightforward descriptions of fishing. This is a great book for those who like knowing what they're seeing out on the water.


Many thanks to all who turned out to eat pizza and help us straighten up our shelves downtown. More than 50 hardworking volunteers gave us part of their Friday evening for this necessary, but not-at-all thankless task.

• 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 this column is now even easier. The new columns are hyperlinked: Simply look up the column, click on the title you want and you will be ready to place a hold.

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