Posts Tagged ‘Book Review’

Turn Here, Sweet Corn

Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works (University of Minnesota Press) is a new memoir by Atina Diffley of Eagan, Minnesota.  “The book is billed as a gardening guide, love story, business handbook, and legal thriller, but it is really a wrenching tale of a common yet private tragedy: the way development pressures push farming families off the land, and what happens to those families during and afterward.” [Review: The Impermanence of EdenThe Chronicle Review, May 6, 2012.]

Intrigued?  Want to read it? 

Check out our copy!

(currently on the New Book display shelves)

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding & the Meaning of Things – Book Review

Johanna Bjork, Reference Librarian, reviews this book from the BSC Library collection:

 Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding & the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee (RC 533 .F76 2010).  Check it out!

“Hoarding is the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them.” — Mayo Clinic definition

Do we own stuff or does it really own us?  Frost and Steketee take us into the world of the compulsive hoarder in Stuff.  Consider the Kleenex you’re tossing; for some people with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder, of which hoarding is a symptom), tossing a used Kleenex is unthinkable!  People who hoard often have difficulty processing information and concentrating on one task.  Hoarders develop a connection between possessions and security.  The more possessions they have, the more secure they feel.  Eventually, hoarders turn their environment into a cocoon of sorts — a cocoon of stuff. 

  • Irene, a librarian, finds it difficult to get rid of anything, including work-related items that are being discarded or recycled.
  • Bernadette, a trauma survivor, self-medicates with things vs. drugs or alcohol. 
  • Debra feels she must preserve her past, every little piece of it, because it is her identity. This forces Debra to document every second of her life.
  • Pamela becomes entangled in an animal hoarding relationship.   

For Irene, Bernadette, Debra, and Pamela, being surrounded by their things, cocooned in their worlds, is their comfort zone.    

Unfortunately, these cocoons can destroy their inhabitants.  Piles of possessions can fall, trapping or killing the hoarder.  Bacteria, vermin, and invasive creatures may take up residence and infest food sources and cause disease.  Invasive creatures can chew through wiring, causing fires.  In the case of someone like Pamela, who hoarded cats, disease can become rampant.  Some hoarders even hoard used sanitary products and human excrement.  In addition to the load of bacteria and germs in the environment, bathrooms and kitchens may become inaccessible because of all the stuff.     

Family members often attempt to eliminate and resolve hoarding issues.  A typical, non-hoarder approach is to simply clean up and haul stuff to the dump, thrift store, or recycling center — an approach that may do more harm than good.  In Stuff, hoarders describe the touching, moving, or removal of their stuff as the equivalent of rape.  If this approach is used without also teaching the hoarder how to manage things differently, the hoarder generally collects more stuff.  The cocoon has been desecrated and the inner sanctum must be rebuilt.

TV shows like A&E’s Hoarders, Animal Planet’s Confessions: Animal Hoarding, and TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive shed a light on hoarding.

We likely all have something we can’t live without and the thought of parting with it seems inconceivable.  What is your Stuff?

Fargo Native Pens Promising Debut Novel

Vestments ($25, 304 p., hardcover) by Fargo native John Reimringer was highlighted in the June 28, 2010, issue of Publishers Weekly as one of “10 promising debut novels.” 

Reimringer now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, and lists Hemingway, Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, John McGahern, and Andre Dubus as his favorite authors. 

Publisher Daniel Slager says, “Unpretentious and yet profoundly eloquent, Vestments is the kind of novel that doesn’t come around very often.  The characters are wonderfully lively and memorable, the central question eminently topical, and the prose subtly lyrical.  I couldn’t be more happy for John; he is one of the hardest-working novelists I’ve encountered.”   

Vestments will be released in September by Milkweed Editions.  The BSC Library is ordering a copy.  Check it out!

The other nine promising debut novels include:

  • The Art of Losing by Rebecca Connell
  • Dogfight, a Love Story by Matt Burgess
  • Dust by Joan Frances Turner
  • Hate by Tristan Garcia
  • The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai by Ruiyan Xu
  • Open City by Teju Cole
  • Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva
  • The Sherlockian by Graham Moore
  • The Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Machart

 

Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

READ THIS BOOK.  IT IS IMPORTANT.                                      

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is filled with stories about the lives and experiences of women and girls throughout the world.  The accounts can be appalling and heartbreaking, but also uplifting and inspiring.  Woven into the stories are facts, statistics, and practical suggestions for action and positive change.   After reading the book, I came away with a new determination to do what I can to improve the lives of others. 

You can find the BSC Library’s copy at: HQ 1236.5 .D44 K75 2009

Now, this book is the inspiration for a celebration of International Women’s Day in movie theatres nationwide on Thursday, March 4.   On that night at 7:30 p.m. (all time zones), CARE will present HALF THE SKY.  The Grand Theatres in Bismarck is one of the participating theatres. 

Half the Sky will feature an uplifting night of music, celebrity discussion and the world premiere of “Woinshet,” a powerful short film co-directed by Academy Award® winner Marisa Tomei that chronicles the struggles of an Ethiopian woman who triumphs over violence and discrimination.

Tickets for the two-hour event will be available at the Grand.  A portion of proceeds will be used to support CARE’s work around the world. 

Read this book and help spread the word about the March 4 event!

— Marlene Anderson, Director of Library Services

Confessions of an Eco-Sinner (Book Review)

Confessions of an Eco-Sinner by Fred Pearce

Coming across the circulation desk at the BSC library, this book’s title piqued my interest.  What exactly is an eco-sinner?  The subtitle “Tracking Down the Source of My Stuff” further intrigued me.  This book is written in a series of short articles chronicling the author’s journeys around the world to find where his stuff comes from and what the environmental, economic, and human impact of Western consumption is becoming.

Many facts are presented about the impact of such far-ranging items as coffee, gold, bananas, and fish. Some of the information is sad, some startling, and some scary. If you want a source of information about issues affecting the world we live in that goes beyond today’s headlines, this is a book you might enjoy checking out.

BSC Library call number:  GE 195.7 .P43 2009

Lori J. Smith

When You Are Engulfed in Flames

“A zoo is a good place to make a spectacle of yourself, as the people have creepier, more photographic things to look at” (16).

Since reading Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris, I knew that his new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, would bring more of his intoxicating humor, eccentric lifestyle, and deeply entrenched dysfunctional family to the page.  Thus, perfect summer reading!

Sedaris takes us from his obsession with Virginia depression-era living, which appalled his father, to his $20,000 quit smoking plan.  When he isn’t obsessing about the Tegenaria April, he is busy searching markets for the perfect human skeleton for his boyfriend Hugh’s birthday.  How far will D’accord get you France?  “A pig’s nose standing erect on a bed of tender greens” (118).  What does one do about the New York cabbie who informs Sedaris that it is inappropriate to lie about such things as flaming mice burning down a house, as reported by a newspaper, though the cabbie insists he was in India and it was 150 degrees.  (Sedaris notes that when he wrote this book, the hottest day documented was not in India, but in Libya at 136 degrees in 1922, which was years before the cabbie was born.) (203)

There is a bit for everyone in this Sedaris book.  Whether you are into feeding spiders, smoking some pot, or just wanting to lounge around and enjoy some rather strange artistic elements, this book is for you.  So … go home and grab some news articles for conversation with your sweetheart if you don’t want to end up like the older couple next to you who have been married for years and have nothing to say.  No newspaper available?  Then When You are Engulfed with Flames will be a great conversation starter!

You can find When You are Engulfed in Flames (PS 3569 .E314 R47 2008), and these other Sedaris books at the BSC Library. 

  • Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim  (PS 3569 .E314 R47 2005)                     
  •  Me Talk Pretty One Day   (PS3569.E314 M4 2000)
  • Je Parler Français  (PS3569.E314 M414 2000)
  • Holidays on Ice   (PS3569.E314 H65 1998b)
  • The Santaland Diaries; and, Season’s Greetings  (PS3569.E314 S35 1998
  • Naked   (PS3569.E314 Z469b 1997)
  • Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays (PS3569.E314 B3 1994)

By Johanna McClay Bjork, Reference Librarian