Book Reviews

This Is Your Country on Drugs

Interesting sounding book just out: This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America by Ryan Grim (Wiley, $24.95, 0470167394/9780470167397, June 29, 2009).

Book review by Debra Ginsberg from Shelf-Awareness who calls it "a truly compelling and enlightening read."

The "Verdict" on Reviews

Library Journal article:

For decades, Library Journal reviews have concluded by recommending titles for particular types of libraries or collections, with an occasional nod to a type of reader—the generalist, the student, the fan. Phrases like "highly recommended for larger libraries," "recommended for medium-sized and large fiction collections," and "for academic libraries only" have been standard fare at the end of reviews. Librarians know the drill so well that many just skip to that final sentence to get the recommendation and move on. They're looking for the quick yea or nay cum evaluation.

Now, responding to librarians' requests that we frame reviews for their readers rather than for their colleagues only, we're abandoning the wording we've become known for—and sometimes teased about (see below)—along with the guidance for the librarian once considered core to LJ reviews.

Full story here.

BOOK REVIEW: 'Raised by Librarians' will warm your heart

Sheila Dembowski: "The children's picture book "The Boy Who was Raised by Librarians" is a wonderful story that makes that very point. Author Carla Morris is a librarian herself and has woven her experiences into an inspirational story about the power of libraries and the positive influence they can have on people."

Together : A Shared Vision

Book Review: Together: a Novel of Shared Vision by Tom Sullivan with Betty White; published in large print by Center Point Publishing, 2008.

I saw the book Together on a large print book list. I was looking for some "gentle" fiction for some of my older large print users, who have forsaken much of general literature because they view it as being too vile for their enjoyment.

I was pleasantly surprised by the book. It is a story about Brendan McCarthy, who a pre-Med student who likes to live on the edge. With a hot girlfriend, Brendan thinks that he is on top of the world the fateful day he begins his descent from a mountain peak that will change his life forever. In a convergent story, Nelson is the third name given to a highly intelligent black lab that is going through service dog training for the third time.

Tom Sullivan and Betty White take a plot line that could have been completely formulaic and add sufficient plot twists to make you excited about turning the pages.

This book is a wonderful addition to any large print collection because it touches so many areas of interest for large print readers. The book proves to be a fairly gentle read, with only a small amount of bad language. As a dog story, it has a strong appeal to people like this writer who has black labs of my own. Third it offers contemporary gentle fiction that is not religious in nature. This will be welcome to patrons who do not want materials with vulgar language, graphic violence, or sexually explicit descriptions. -- Read More

Study Bible wins top honors in Christian Book Awards

A study Bible won top honors in the Christian Book Awards that were announced Thursday night in Dallas by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

The association gave ESV Study Bible, published by Crossway, the “book of the year” award. It’s the first time a study Bible has won the overall prize in the 30-year-history of the Christian Book Awards.

What is the purpose of a book review? And are book reviewers writing anything useful?

Michelle Kerns has been experiencing something of a book review epiphany (or, as fellow Simpson fans will appreciate, an epipha-tree). After compiling my list of the top 20 most annoying book reviewer clichés she indulged her self by surfing about the Internet in search of fellow book reviewers in thrall to reviewerspeak. The shocker came when she realized at least 95% of the reviews don't say anything useful at all.

Super-Hero Teachers and the Super-Power of Writing: Perfect Man

Perfect Man

If you are a parent or a teacher or a writer or a child, if you've had the gift of an extraordinary educator, if you've ever felt small, if you're prepared to have your heart swell with hope or you'd just enjoy a good laugh, get your hands on a copy of this unpredictable, heart-warming super-hero tale -- and then rise to its challenges to live life, exercise your strengths and recognize greatness in yourself and others.

You can listen in on our chat about this book on our Just One More Book! Children's Book Podcast.

Author: Troy Wilson (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Dean Griffiths (on JOMB)
Published: 2004 Orca Book Publishers (on JOMB)
ISBN: 1551434350

Looking for more inspiring teachers in children's books? Check out 100 Cool Teachers in Children's Literature on A Year of Reading (thanks to Franki, Mary Lee -- and to Tricia for the reminder).

There is an aversion to long chunks of sentences.

Commentary on NPR
Literary Death Spiral? The Fading Book Section

One of the sad, little sidebars to the sad, big saga of the waning of American newspapers is the disappearance of professional, edited book sections.

One of the last two major, stand-alone print book sections died this past Sunday, when The Washington Post published its last edition of Book World. The paper will still review books, but only The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle will continue to run a full mini-magazine devoted to books. It is a heavy symbolic blow to readers, writers and publishers. And it is an injury to our collective literacy and, thus, to our wisdom and intellectual agility.

Full piece here.

One of the Last Of the Few Sunday Newspaper Book Sections Will Soon Be Gone

The Washington Post reported today that it plans to close its stand-alone magazine Book World as of mid-February.

In dropping one of the few remaining stand-alone book sections in American newspapers, Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli said that the coverage will be shifted to the Style section and a revamped Outlook section. Shea said that The Post would publish about three-quarters of the roughly 900 reviews it has carried each year. The change will take effect Feb. 22.

Reading Into Bush's Book List

There is an interesting editorial in today's Washington Post about the list of books George Bush has read recently. "Reading Into Bush's Book List" By Richard Cohen, washington Post, Tuesday, December 30, 2008; Page A15.

In what without a doubt is the most astounding op-ed piece of the year, Karl Rove reveals that his friend and former boss, George W. Bush, has read probably hundreds of books over the course of his presidency. One of them was Albert Camus' "The Stranger," with its unforgettable opening lines: "Mother died today. Or perhaps it was yesterday, I don't know." After reading Rove's Wall Street Journal column (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123025595706634689.html), it's clear there's much we all don't know...

...My hat is off to Bush for the sheer volume and, often, high quality of his reading. But his books reflect a man who is seeking to learn what he already knows. The caricature of Bush as unread died today -- or was it yesterday? But the reality of the intellectually insulated man endures.

See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/29/AR2008122901896.html?hpid=op...

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