IPPL Staff

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: and Other Things I’ve Learned by Alan Alda (2005)
Entertaining, revealing, but not about his career on MASH. This is a poignant story of an eccentric life with his Dad, a vaudeville performer, and his Mom who struggles with mental issues. Alda’s story is funny, conversational, and a great read. And, yes, they really did stuff his dog!

Also check out Alda’s 2007 biography: Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.

Einstein (2007) and Kissinger (1992) by Walter Isaacson

Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007) and Kissinger: a biography (1992) by Walter IsaacsonEinstein and his earlier book, Kissinger, should be read one after the other to see how Isaacson deals with two professionally different, but similar, persons who have had great effect on the US and the world. Both left Nazi Germany to escape persecution and rose to the top of their fields. As a bonus, the two biographies challenge the reader in physics and world politics, as well as generate new interest in these fields.

Listen to any or all of three interviews with Isaacson on NPR: there's a 2007 interview following the publication of Einstein; a 2003 interview following the publication of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and a 2002 interview discussing Kissinger's background.

All the Shah's Men and Iran Awakening

All the Shah's MenAll the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer (2003)

The CIA’s 1953 coup of the democratically inclined Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh sets up the roots for Iran’s current distrust of the U.S.


For more information on the topic, check out Kinzer's interview with the History News Network of George Mason University or listen to his interview on NPR.


Iran AwakeningIran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope by Shirin Ebadi (2006)

A must read book for anyone interested in understanding the complex relationship between Iran and the U.S. Winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, Islamic jurist Shirin Ebadi’s memoir also provides a women’s view of life inside the theocracy of Iran. A great follow up to Kinzer’s All the Shah’s Men.


Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (2005)
Economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner examine the role incentives play in modern society. The authors use a variety of fascinating studies from sumo wrestling to the KKK to illustrate their points. Freakonomics is an entertaining read that makes you think in new ways about issues.

Go to the official book site for study guides, reviews, and articles on this bestselling title. Check out the authors' Freakonomics blog on the New York Times website. Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, discusses his Thoughts on Freakonomics.


Am I Old Yet? by Leah Komaiko

Am I Old Yet? by Leah Komaiko (1999)
This memoir is a delightful story of the friendship that forms between a 44-year old woman (Komaiko), who’s feeling old and empty inside, and a 94-year old woman, Adele, who is living in a nursing home. Leah learns much about love and life from Adele’s infectious enthusiasm and positive spirit. Everyone should have an Adele in their lives!

Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez (2007)
An engaging, fast read about a hairstylist’s volunteer work in Afghanistan. On her first mission to Afghanistan, “Miss Debbie” is inundated with requests from other Americans to cut their hair! She realizes she has a skill to teach Afghan women which provides them with money, and a sense of self worth. An uplifting read that offers a true glimpse of life in Kabul.

Listen to an NPR interview with the author.

Amazing Gracie by Dan Dye

Amazing GracieAmazing Gracie by Dan DyeThis is a great book for any dog lover! It’s the touching and humorous story of Gracie, a lovable, deaf, albino Great Dane who is rescued by the author. Her finicky eating habits were the impetus behind the creation of the successful business, Three Dog Bakery. Dye is an entertaining storyteller, who reminds us how animals can touch our lives in amazing ways. This book had me laughing and crying!

The Faith Club by Ranya Idliby

The Faith ClubThe Faith Club by Ranya Idliby (2006)
Three women: a Muslim, Jew, and Episcopalian, begin an interfaith dialogue. Their intention is to write a children’s book showing the interconnection of these Abrahamic traditions. In the process, each woman embarks on a journey of understanding and questioning her own spirituality as well as prejudices.

Visit the authors' website for a reading group guide, information about the authors, interfaith links, and more.

I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson

I'm a Stranger Here MyselfI’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson (1999)
This book is a collection of columns that Bryson wrote for a British newspaper upon his return to the US, after living in England for 20 years. In his very humorous way, he makes comparisons between the two countries and many funny observations about various aspects of American life. It provided many laugh-out-loud moments.