Archive for the ‘Adult Non-fiction’ Category

The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley ISBN 978-1451654424

cover art from The Smartest Kids in the World and How they got that way by Amanda Ripley

cover art from The Smartest Kids in the World and How they got that way by Amanda Ripley

The American Education system is broken and after reading books like this I really wish that someone would have the courage to announce it from the roof tops.  THIS NEEDS TO BE FIXED!!!

Amanda Ripley is a journalist who tried to avoid the complex educational system; however, she was interested enough in these comparison studies and PISA test scores.

PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) is a test that is put together by the OECD (Operation for Economic Co-operation and Development) — this test evaluates if children are ready for adulthood and the duties of earning a living.  Problem-solving more than answering basic facts.

The test has learned that though the USA spends almost the most per student … we are about the middle of the road in results.

Amanda Ripley tracked three US students who studied abroad in Korea, Poland, and Finland.  She compared their experiences with foreign students who came to the United States.

I loved this book and I would say that anyone in the education field or any parent who is concerned about their children should read this book — it is fascinating.

The US education system is broken and needs to be fixed before we ruin the lives of many more students.

To learn more about the OECD — please click on the link

Editorial Reviews


“[Ripley] gets well beneath the glossy surfaces of these foreign cultures and manages to make our own culture look newly strange…The question is whether the startling perspective provided by this masterly book can also generate the will to make changes.”

(New York Times Book Review)

“Compelling . . . What is Poland doing right? And what is America doing wrong? Amanda Ripley, an American journalist, seeks to answer such questions in The Smartest Kids in the World, her fine new book about the schools that are working around the globe ….Ms. Ripley packs a startling amount of insight in this slim book.”

(The Economist)

“[T]he most illuminating reporting I have ever seen on the differences between schools in America and abroad.”

(Jay Mathews, education columnist, The Washington Post)

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X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking by Jeff Gordinier ISBN 978-0670018581X Saves


One day I was looking at other books talking about Baby Boomers and Millenniels and I wondered — what generation am I?

When I discovered that I am part of Generation X (after asking where were Professor X and Wolverine?) I wanted to learn more about what others thought I was.

X Saves the World — is a great collection of essays about the contributions of our generation and it is indeed a mixed bag of offerings. But when I read his collection — I nodded and said, yup I can see that.

Many people lament that we do not have the commitment of the Boomers and that we lack the goodness of the Boomers children the Milleniels (though the current activity of certain celebrities make me wonder, are they really that good?) — I have to ask. We may not be out to save the world … but many in my generation think of doing good where we are. The concept of “Think Global, Act Local” — questioning the status quo and realizing that unlike our parent’s generation, we will have multiple jobs through out our life and not the same one for 40+ years.

Did I agree with everything he said about my generation? No, but I will admit that I recognized many things in what he wrote.

If Generation X were a Super Hero … we wouldn’t be Superman — clean-cut and respectable. We are more like Gambit — the gambler with the cool cards and fancy staff … or maybe Surf Person … meandering around helping people when we can, when we aren’t searching for that ephemeral perfect wave.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nostalgia for the attitudes and culture of the early to mid-’90s looms large in Gordinier’s entertaining book-length argument for the greatness of Generation X. Gordinier does not have warm sentiments toward the baby boomers or the current wanna-wanna generation of celebrity worshippers, preferring instead the self-effacing, conflictedly ambitious heroes of the ’90s, like Kurt Cobain and Richard Linklater, who were not enthralled by the concept of changing the world. Gordinier has an easygoing style and a comprehensive knowledge of pop culture gleaned from a career writing for Entertainment Weekly and editing Details magazine, and this might be the reason the book sometimes feels like a collection of essays. Sequences on the rise of Nirvana and the burst of the dot-com bubble are ably narrated. And Gordinier does find a fresh perspective in discussions of recent phenomena such as YouTube and American Idol and their relationship to Generation X. (Mar. 31)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. 

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The Art of the Start: the time-tested, battle-hardened guide for anyone starting anything by Guy Kawasaki read by Paul Boehmer

cover art from Art of the Start

cover art from Art of the Start

The draw back of listening to this on audiobook as opposed to reading it in print was that I didn’t do the exercises or write down ideas of things that I really thought were important … it is hard to do when driving 65 miles per hour down the highway!

But it is my hope to re-listen to this book soon so that ideas can percolate in my head and turn into action.

This breaks the project into many points.  If you are starting a business or a church group or a new hobby;  you need a plan.  All projects start with a dream.  I want to create a world changing app for the tablet.  I want to write a book.

Then bits and pieces need to come into place.

The dream needs to be made manifest in pieces — sometimes starting is the most difficult thing so break it into manageable chunks and slowly move forward.  Articulate the pieces and the more you share with trusted associates, the more you can figure out what will work.  Part of this process will be pitching to important individuals who can help you. Something that may also be part of this preliminary time is writing a plan of how to proceed and what you hope to gain.

If this is a company you will need to raise capital or if you want to write a book you will have to determine how much funding you need to move forward.  If you are starting a church group this may not be as important a goal.  However every new endeavor needs support if it is financial or emotional.  Do you have people who share your vision?

Every dream needs supporters.  Every project needs a brand so that when people see the image they know exactly what to expect.  Then you need to be a person of integrity who will stand by your dream and give that vision to the world in such an amazing way that your audience will think of you and your vision before all others.

This book is a great resource if you are starting to formulate a new dream or business.  My recommendation would be to read it in print or eformat for listening, though very well-done, was hard to capture all the wonderfully helpful points that he had to make … unless you have time to listen multiple times or have an eidetic memory.

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Farm City: the education of an urban farmer by Novella Carpenter (read by Karen White)

farm city

I really enjoyed the vegetable, bee, and poultry part of the book — the pig part I could have done without.

Ethically, I wondered about growing vegetables on someone else’s property without their permission but I decided that it made for an amusing story and I liked all the mishaps and adventure of getting compost and raised beds in the abandoned lot.  How her neighbors helped her by providing seeds or other supplies.  How her neighbors helped themselves to her harvest and how she was okay with that most of the time.  I liked her report on the experimentation with heirloom varieties and what worked for her locale.

I enjoyed the bee stories of her hives on her patio.  How her friend’s children came to help her extract the honey and the different tastes she harvested throughout the year.

I began to really wonder about her when she got chicks, but since my sister-in-law has chicks in her shower every spring I wasn’t TOO taken aback.  Her story of bashing the head of a possum in with a shovel was a little gross but since I have seen my father defend our chickens with a .22 I could understand the concept.

But I have had pigs — when we did we lived in a setting where the pen was some distance from our house and our neighbors houses and that was bearable.  I do not know how she could do this living in an upstairs apartment right next to many other families.  They are loud and stinky and hers seemed to like to run away.  Depending on their personality that could have been dangerous — even if they only wanted to rub against you and say hello.  They could step on your foot and you would know it if 300 hundred pounds of pig were on your toe.

I appreciate the fact that Novella wanted to learn how to process and preserve her pigs.  I think that is wonderful.  People do need to learn how their food is made and I do think we would appreciate our food and the animals that were sacrificed for our meals — however, I do not know if she does all her work credit by how she writes about the butchering of her pigs.  Yes, I acknowledge that when my plans do not go as I hoped I am not always the most charitable of people; however, she was trying to write about the spiritual significance of her pigs and she was quite vulgar and mean about it.  Could she have said, this is what I hoped for and it was unfortunate that the butcher didn’t agree with my sentiments?

Overall, I did like this book and thought her adventure in urban farming was worth listening to and I do recommend it for the audio book listener.  I may even look into another book of hers, but I might look at the table of contents before committing to the second book.

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The Raw 50: 10 amazing breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and drinks for your raw food lifestyle by Carol Alt ISBN 978-0307351746

Raw 50

I flirt with Raw Food — in the summer when I get veggies from the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) it is easy to have lots of wonderful salads or cut veggies.  In the winter it is not so thrilling when all I really want is a great crock pot soup.

I have acquaintances who are really into raw food and their enthusiasm and exuberance about the life style switch is just a little frightening, but also a little appealing.

If you are going completely raw or (like me) just adding more raw food to the general diet … she has some amazing recipes in this book.  Some combinations that are a little surprising and yet wonderfully tasty.

The concept behind why raw is so good for you is that the enzymes in food are what helps the food nourish us and if we cook them above a certain temperature, we are killing the enzymes and thereby neutralizing the benefit of eating that food.

Do we want a live and vibrant body fed well or do we want to just continue moving on in the same old way.  I love this book as a look into more options for my family and I — though as I said I am far from 100% raw.  In August it is easier to dream about this than in January!

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Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: the revolutionary, scientifically proven, nutrition-based cure by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. ISBN978-1-583333006

Prevent and Reverse

This book is very clearly written: the first half is about the problem and cure, the second half is all the different recipes presented as examples of healthy eating.

Esselstyn has performed this study for many years.  Patients who were told to go home and die for medicine could no longer help them turned to Dr. Esselstyn and his study and said, there must be something more we can do.

There was — eat whole foods, vegetables, and fruit: cut meat, dairy and oil from the diet.

People who have followed this rather strict diet have received remarkable results in their heart disease and cholesterol readings.  They have basically healed themselves and now have a clean bill of health.

The question seems to be — do you want control of your health or do you want that burger.  You cannot have both.

Though looking at these recipes … you can find some amazing recipes that are both tasty and tempting.  Great colors to attract the eye and strong flavors to tempt the palate.  When you look at the recipes and follow some of them … you wonder what you saw in a burger when you can have a rich medley of flavors to enjoy.

This book is definitely something to look into if you have health concerns and are looking for alternatives to a life of daily pills.

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How I Write: secrets of a best-selling author by Janet Evanovich and Ina Yalof  ISBN 978-0312354282


cover art from "How I Write" by Janet Evanovich and Ina Yalof

cover art from “How I Write” by Janet Evanovich and Ina Yalof

This is another book I listened to on audio book and it was fun.

Janet’s daughter, Alex, has been her web-master since the beginning and has kept a page for questions about writing.  Ina Yalof is a professor of English who lives in New Hampshire where Janet used to live.  So this book is written like a group of ladies gathered around a table drinking coffee and eating coffee cake.  Alex poses the question from the web site; Janet answers the question and at the end of the chapter Ina inserts her blurb from the non-fiction realm.  When examples are needed, they are pulled from Janet’s Stephanie Plum Series and are read by Lorelei King — reader of the Plum series and she is just extraordinary.

This is wonderfully light and humorous — I wouldn’t say this is the intellectual capstone of the publishing industry but she uses her wonky sense of humor and love of life to share insights on what works for her.  She encourages people to just sit and write.  Plow through the self defeating ideas that are wont to distract beginner writers.  Janet candidly shares that the first three novels she wrote are still in her desk drawer, but they are written and complete.  She also shares that it took her ten years of constant rejection to get published.

This is recommended for people interested in writing but needing a slight humorous boost to get their butt in the chair.  Maybe a person who has stopped a story because of some life experience.  This book is also for people who love Janet’s other books and just want to understand a little more about how she does it!

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The Healthy Green Drink Diet: advice and recipes to energize, alkalize, lose weight and feel great by Jason Manheim  ISBN 978-1616084738

The Healthy Green Drink Diet by Jason Manheim

The Healthy Green Drink Diet by Jason Manheim

I first learned about green drinks a year or two ago when I read a book by Victoria Butenko.  She is a vegan / raw foodist who believes that if you follow the diet of the chimpanzee — mostly greens, then fruit/vegetables and some nuts — then you will get all the nutrients you need.  She is very interested in getting the exact nutrient levels of all kinds of greens: from lambs quarters to kale and she shows that some of these greens are full of great nutrients.

So when I saw this book on the shelf I had to take it out.  Jason also makes some great points: an acidic body is more likely to exhibit disease (Otto Heinrich Warburg’s Nobel Prize winning research), boosting immune system, and weight loss.

The American Cancer Society tells us we need to eat 5 to 7 servings of fruits and veggies every day with some greens.  If you counted what vegetables you ate today would you have succeeded in the Cancer Society recommendations?  I would have — for I just drank my green drink for lunch!  Roughly 2+ cups of kale, a pear, an apple, and some frozen tropical fruit blend.  Two quarts of green drink was my lunch.  I love it and it is so easy.  Some days I will serve a green drink with dinner as well.  I keep an assortment of spinach, mixed salad greens, kale and collards in my fridge and I always have organic apples and pears on my counter in easy reach of the blender.  My kids will tell you that some blends are better than others — but amazingly enough, they always drink them.  (editor’s note — dandelion greens are full of amazing nutrients but a little goes a long way in the flavor department!)

So when I picked up this book — I was looking for recipes.  I sort of open my fridge and see what I have.  These were great to look through and I hope to keep track of some of them to experiment with in the future.  I am sure my kids will appreciate it!

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Ship of Ghosts: the story of the USS Houston, FDR’s legendary lost cruiser, and the epic saga of her survivors by James D. Hornfischer  ISBN  978-0553803907

Ship of Ghosts by James D. Hornfischer

Ship of Ghosts by James D. Hornfischer

I don’t usually listen to abridged audio books of texts.  I figure that if the author wrote a whole book — the reader should read it; however when I requested the audio book through the InterLibrary Loan system, this is what I received.  So I noted that James Hornfischer approved of the abridgement so I guess I had to accept it!

As I said in most of my history classes the huge focus is on what happened in Europe … weeks of what happened in Europe and the bombing of Britain and how the Americans went to the factories and the women built bombers and boats and the bombing of Pearl Harbor and a “Day that Shall Live in Infamy” and then we fast forward to Hiroshima.  Well at least in my history class, your history class may have been different.

This research was amazing — so in-depth and meticulous and you could tell that through interviews and journals Hornfischer truly cared about sharing this very important story of a real part of American history.  I think it is essential that these stories be collected and told because only when we understand what happened can we hope that we won’t repeat the same situations of the past.  Human nature is what it is, but we can hope that we can eventually change.

To anyone who wants to learn more about this time in history, I highly recommend this book.  To anyone who wants to learn about courage in the face of adversity, I highly recommend this book.  To anyone who wants to read a book with lots of heart and much documentation, I highly recommend this book.

Book Description

Release date: August 28, 2007

“Son, we’re going to Hell.”

The navigator of the USS Houston confided these prophetic words to a young officer as he and his captain charted a course into U.S. naval legend. Renowned as FDR’s favorite warship, the cruiser USS Houston was a prize target trapped in the far Pacific after Pearl Harbor. Without hope of reinforcement, her crew faced a superior Japanese force ruthlessly committed to total conquest. It wasn’t a fair fight, but the men of the Houston would wage it to the death.

Hornfischer brings to life the awesome terror of nighttime naval battles that turned decks into strobe-lit slaughterhouses, the deadly rain of fire from Japanese bombers, and the almost superhuman effort of the crew as they miraculously escaped disaster again and again–until their luck ran out during a daring action in Sunda Strait. There, hopelessly outnumbered, the Houston was finally sunk and its survivors taken prisoner. For more than three years their fate would be a mystery to families waiting at home.

In the brutal privation of jungle POW camps dubiously immortalized in such films as The Bridge on the River Kwai, the war continued for the men of the Houston—a life-and-death struggle to survive forced labor, starvation, disease, and psychological torture. Here is the gritty, unvarnished story of the infamous Burma–Thailand Death Railway glamorized by Hollywood, but which in reality mercilessly reduced men to little more than animals, who fought back against their dehumanization with dignity, ingenuity, sabotage, will–power—and the undying faith that their country would prevail.

Using journals and letters, rare historical documents, including testimony from postwar Japanese war crimes tribunals, and the eyewitness accounts of Houston’s survivors, James Hornfischer has crafted an account of human valor so riveting and awe-inspiring, it’s easy to forget that every single word is true.

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Forks Over Knives: the cookbook by Del Sroufe  ISBN 978-1615190614

Forks Over Knives the cookbook by Del Sroufe

Forks Over Knives the cookbook by Del Sroufe

I didn’t read the book as in from cover to cover because I just don’t do that with cookbooks, but I did go through it looking at recipes saying, “This looks good” or saying, “If I tried that my son would disown me!”

For anyone wanting to learn more about the vegan diet this has some great options: some that I have tried (much to my long-suffering children’s bemusement) and some that I vow never to attempt for they sound too strange to me!.  Yet I am glad that I looked at this book.

I made the sweet potato pie oatmeal which was pretty good … and my kids liked that one.

I made the mushroom stroganoff, which I loved and my kids were wondering what I was doing with the tofu!  They liked it and thought it was good … but they knew I had bought tofu and were kind of scared about what I did with it, especially when I roll my eyes at them and tell them to just eat!

The book has a lot of salads that I will want to try when the weather is warmer and I am more in the mood for cold salads.

I have had to alter some recipes just slightly because I am gluten intolerant so can’t use the pasta they suggest, but everything else was a wonderful experiment.

Book Description

Publication Date: August 14, 2012

A whole-foods, plant-based diet has never been easier or tastier—300 brand-new recipes for cooking the Forks Over Knives way, every day!

Forks Over Knives—the book, the film, the movement—is back again in a Cookbook. The secret is out: If you want to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, and prevent (or even reverse!) chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, the right food is your best medicine. Thousands of people have cut out meat, dairy, and oils and seen amazing results. If you’re among them—or you’d like to be—you need this cookbook.

Del Sroufe, the man behind some of the mouthwatering meals in the film, proves that the Forks Over Knives philosophy is not about what you can’t eat, but what you can. Chef Del and his collaborators Julieanna Hever, Judy Micklewright, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and Darshana Thacker transform wholesome fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes into 300 recipes—classic and unexpected, globally and seasonally inspired, and for every meal of the day, all through the year.

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