Books and Beyond
The Old Buzzard had it Coming by Donis Casey
An ugly abusive drunk is murdered, and Alafair Tucker is an Oklahoma farm mother who discovers an ability to figure out "whodunit," just when her family needs her help the most.
This is the first book in a series of historical fiction novels by Casey set in Oklahoma in the years between 1912 and 1920. Her work paints a vivid picture of farm life in this era, while entertaining us with a mystery that needs untangling. The characters are homespun and hard-working, and some of Alafair’s favorite farm recipes are also included.
Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast is one of the most interesting characters in suspense fiction today. He is the creation of co-authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. These authors have written 12 novels in which Pendergast appears. Aloysius X. Pendergast is a Special Agent of the FBI from New Orleans. He is described as corpse pale, with white blonde hair, silver eyes, is fairly tall, but has a slight frame. He wears only black suits, and drives a pair of 1959 Silver Rolls Royces. He is in the FBI but only takes a salary of $1 per year, as he comes from old Louisiana money. He has been in the Special Forces, holds a double doctorate from Oxford, and is also an expert in the eastern art of Chongg Ran. A master of disguise, Pendergast has the ability to solve puzzles that rivals Sherlock Holmes.
We met him first in Relic, 1995, followed by Reliquary, 1997, both set in the New York Museum of Natural History. The newest Pendergast book is Two Graves, 2012, which moves from New York’s Dakota building to the jungles of Brazil. The books often have a supernatural aspect to them and are always page turners. So pick up the first Pendergast and enjoy!
The Light Between Oceans: a Novel by M. L. Stedman
In the aftermath World War I, Tom Sherbourne is still recovering psychologically from the war when he takes the job as lighthouse keeper on tiny Janus Island off the coast of Australia. He hopes the solitude and steady job will help him recover from the devastating memories of the wounded, the dying and the killing.
He never expected a young woman from the mainland town to be attracted to him, let alone want to marry him. Tom and Isabel are deeply in love when they marry and settle on the remote island. Life goes relatively well until she suffers 2 miscarriages and then a stillborn birth. Shortly after, a boat washes up on the shore and inside it Tom and Isabel find a baby girl and a dead man. Undone from her losses, she begs Tom to let her have time with the baby before they notify the authorities. Against his better judgment, he relents but this decision and subsequent actions will lead to a family and to a love that he never knew he could feel. It will also lead to his downfall and ruin. This first novel brilliantly persuades us to suspend any simple judgments of how a good man could make such a wrong decision.
The Mouse That Roared by Leonard Wibberley
The Duchy of Grand Fenwick, a tiny nation forgotten by the world, struggles to cope with a financial crisis and with the modern world. The humorous novels chronicling the Duchy of Grand Fenwick’s inventive solutions and international misadventures were written during the frigid depths of the Cold War. The “Mouse” novels brought the welcome release of laughter to readers who were themselves trying to cope with frightening times. These satiric novels offer new generations of readers insightful, humorous views of life in a time of fear and international intrigue that still ring true today.
Leonard Wibberley, a prolific 20th century Irish author, spent much of his writing life in the United States and his 100+ works included fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, short stories, articles and screenplays. Wibberley is perhaps best known for his book The Mouse that Roared, the first in the satiric “Mouse” series. The book was later made into a motion picture starring Peter Sellers and Jean Seberg.
In addition to printed books available for checkout from JCPL, some of Wibberley’s short stories and articles are available for reading online through JCPL’s Ebscohost database.
Cormac and Marianne Wibberley, children of Leonard, are also writers, and some of their works are available through JCPL.
If you like watching westerns, you might try some of the following DVDs:
The Outlaw Josey Wales
The Outlaw Josey Wales stars Clint Eastwood as Josey Wales. Josey refuses to surrender to Union soldiers after the war. He returns home to find his family murdered and that is where his quest for revenge begins. This is one of my favorite westerns because Clint Eastwood gives a great performance as Josey Wales.
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid stars James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan. Pat Garrett is the new lawman in town and he is in charge of capturing Billy the Kid, his former partner in crime. Who will win – the lawman, backed by cattle interests, or the outlaw, backed by the people? Watch the DVD to find out!
3:10 to Yuma
Russell Crowe and Christian Bale star in this newest version of 3:10 to Yuma. Daniel Evans, a small farmer, is struggling to keep his land when he gets a chance to make $200 transporting the famous outlaw, Ben Wade, to justice. After losing a great deal of confidence and part of his leg in the Civil War, Daniel Evans is struggling to redeem himself in the eyes of his teenage son. Is Daniel able to save his land and restore the image his son has of him? I guess you will have to watch 3:10 to Yuma to find out!
In The Professionals, a rich Texan rancher hires four mercenaries to rescue his wife from a revolutionary in Mexico. However, not everything is as it seems, as the mercenaries soon find out. The Professionals was made in 1966 and although it has it serious moments, it is a fun and lighthearted western. Jack Palance gives a great performance, along with Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin.
As scientists uncover more and more secrets of the brain, that knowledge is making its way into books to be read and enjoyed by all. Below is an assortment of some of the most popular; from personal stories to improving your own life to shedding light on events in history.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, 2011
This book is listed on many best books of 2011 lists. Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The author reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. Reading this book will surely change the way you think about thinking.
Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks, 2012
With his usual elegance, curiosity, and compassion, Dr. Sacks weaves together stories of his patients and of his own mind-altering experiences to illuminate what hallucinations tell us about the organization and structure of our brains, how they have influenced every culture's folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination, present in us all, is a vital part of the human condition.
Brain on Fire: my month of madness by Susannah Cahalan, 2012
The story of twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan and the life-saving discovery of the autoimmune disorder that nearly killed her -- and that could perhaps be the root of "demonic possessions" throughout history.
The Brain that Changes Itself: stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science by Norman Doidge, 2007
An astonishing new science called neuroplasticity is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, the author traveled the country to meet both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they've transformed - people whose mental limitations or brain damage were seen as unalterable.
The Age of Insight: the quest to understand the unconscious in art, mind, and brain: from Vienna 1900 to the present by Eric R. Kandel, 2012
Age of Insight takes readers to Vienna in 1900, where leaders in science, medicine, and art began a revolution that changed forever how we think about the human mind--our conscious and unconscious thoughts and emotions--and how mind and brain relate to art. It is a wonderfully written, superbly researched, and beautifully illustrated book that also provides a foundation for future work in neuroscience and the humanities.
Thomas Jefferson said “never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today.” Mark Twain, on the other hand, proposed “never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” Both philosophies have merit, but only Jefferson’s is admired.
Procrastination is, for many of us, a major source of stress. A good New Year’s Resolution (should you get around to making one) is to find ways to deal with procrastination. Here are a few resources to help you take on the problem.
The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play by Neil Fiore - A lot is promised in the title of this book. It is straightforward and optimistic, with many examples. The first part looks at the why’s and how’s of procrastination. There are exercises that the reader can use to determine what is behind their own procrastination habits. With this groundwork established, the book looks at ways to deal with putting things off. There are many suggestions, including the “unschedule”, where work is scheduled around set times for exercise and rest. A final chapter discusses how to deal with others who procrastinate.
Procrastination: Why We Do It, What to Do About It Now by Jane Burka and Lenora Yuen - Similar to The Now Habit, this book also gets into the psychology of procrastination, and it also offers tips on how to change. There is more emphasis on the reasons we put things off, with a chapter on delving into your past in order to determine how procrastination has become a coping mechanism.
The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing by John Perry - A book about getting things done by putting them off, this little text offers a very amusing contrast to the previous two titles. The author acknowledges that he is a procrastinator, but has found ways to turn that into a positive. For instance, he has found procrastination to be an effective tool in getting other nasty things done instead. If the task you should be working on is too much for you to deal with, turn instead to the second and third items you are putting off. They will seem much more appealing by comparison, and this will allow you to finally get around to them. The author brings humor and intelligence to the process of what he calls “structured procrastination.” There are useful tips here in this lighthearted book.
We all know music influences our moods and energy. Here is some of my favorite music to bring about a calm and relaxed mood. This music is perfect for the end of the day or, perhaps for yoga or meditation.
Music for Healing and Unwinding by Steven Halpern - Halpern has been creating this kind of music since 1975 and this 2005 CD was my introduction to his music. The library has many more by this musician.
Dakshina by Deva Premal - This is beautiful hypnotic and meditative vocal music.
Through a Dog’s Ear: Music to Calm Your Canine Companion by Lisa Spector - This also works great for humans. These classical pieces are beautifully arranged for on a single piano.
Self-Healing with Sound and Music by Dr. Andrew Weil with music by Kimba Arem - If you’re interested in the ideas behind healing music, check out this audiobook. This two CD set includes one of Dr. Weil speaking about the healing effects of music and one of music composed by classically trained Kimba Arem using a variety of instruments.
Looking for more like this? Try searching the library for Music for Relaxation.
What are some of your favorites?
Reading the Bard’s plays isn’t for most guys. Thankfully Hollywood has taken care of the culture gap by making some truly arse-kicking (remember, Shakespeare’s British), testosterone-fueled adaptations especially for the Die Hard crowd. They are, as TBS might call them, “Shakespeare movies for guys who like Shakespeare movies.”
Here’s the lowdown:
Henry V - Forget that Laurence Olivier crap. Kenneth Branaugh’s version is gritty and violent, and the epic final battle in the mud has everything except girls and a volleyball. Dudes willing to forgive this oversight will enjoy a really intense war movie.
Hamlet - Kenneth Branaugh’s adaptation goes for the artsy and is sure to disappoint the bros. You want Mel Gibson’s version. To be or not to be Rambo is the question. The body count at the end will tell you the answer.
Romeo + Juliet - "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?" It’s not light breaking through that window, chump: it’s a spray of bullets. This update uses all the play’s original language but remakes the story into a tale of gangster warfare in Verona. Shakespeare liked his violence. You’ll like it too.
Titus - This movie’s so intense and bloody it really needs to star Wolverine. Instead we get Anthony Hopkins playing a character so bloody it makes Hannibal Lecter look like a vegan. Want to play a game? Take a drink every time someone loses a body part!
Richard III - Ian Mckellen (that’s Gandalf, yo) turned this play into a story about England in the 1930s taken over by a fascist government that looks just like the Nazis. A little bit V for Vendetta, a little bit Valkyrie, there’s plenty here to like.
Much Ado About Nothing - Even hardcore guys have to mellow out sometimes. This retelling of Shakespeare’s comedy has Keanu Reeves, Denzel Washington and Kate Beckinsale. No blood in this one, but hang out for some laughs because this is a real Shakespeare movie for guys who like Shakespeare movies.