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IPPL Staff

The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicolson

The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicolson (2007)
This nonfiction book is a snapshot of the summer of 1911. That summer, Kaiser Wilhelm comes to the coronation of his cousin George V, as King of England. The upper classes were indulging in balls and love affairs and the working classes were becoming increasingly disgruntled. A surprisingly quick and entertaining read.
IPPL Staff

Considering Doris Day by Tom Santopietro

Considering Doris Day by Tom Santopietro (2007)
Author Santopietro might have called his book Re-Considering Doris Day since his premise is that the signer/actress has gotten a bum rap as a goody-goody. His book, besides giving some biographical information, gives an enjoyable evaluation of each of Day’s movies, albums, and TV series and specials. In his view, Day was an energetic, sexy actress who deserves another viewing. I went back and watched or re-watched several of her movies, and would especially recommend Pillow Talk and Teacher’s Pet.

Don’t forget to check out the other Doris Day movies we have at the library.
Joe

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (1997)
Few endeavors conjure up an image of adventure more vividly than the thought of scaling Mount Everest, the highest summit on Earth. Jon Krakauer details the rigors of high altitude mountain climbing and the ill-fated expedition that would claim the lives of eight people.
Jennifer

Shakespeare by Bill Bryson

Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson (2007)
As part of the Eminent Lives series, Bryson presents a brief (196 page) biography of William Shakespeare – brief, he explains, because so little is actually known about Shakespeare. In his quirky comedic style, Bryson elucidates on what few facts exist on Shakespeare’s life. General history is interwoven with specifics about the playwright (for example, up to 40% of brides were pregnant on their wedding day). With amusing anecdotes on farfetched theories (like the plays were actually written by Francis Bacon, a random aristocrat, or a combination thereof), Shakespeare is a quick, enjoyable read on a mysterious author’s life and times.

After you read the biography, if you're interested in reading Shakespeare's works, check out the library catalog or visit MIT's The Complete Works of William Shakespeare online. To find out more about Shakespeare -- his life, works, theater, FAQs -- visit the Folger Shakespeare Library website.
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.
Hugh

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.
Mary

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.

Mary

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.

Denise

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!
Mary

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.
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Denise

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!
Mary

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.
Denise

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.