If you read and loved Laura Ingalls Wilders' autobiographical series years ago, The Wilder Life might feel like a book you could have written. Author Wendy McClure re-discovers her prized Little House books as an adult, awakening her own childhood spent reading the books and imagining herself in Laura's pioneer world.
Now firmly back under the spell, she and her ever-patient boyfriend drive to sites around the country where the Ingalls family homesteads once stood, encountering back-to-the-earth groups and some slightly over-focused internet fans who dissect the books, television series, and various spin-offs to an extreme. She attempts to churn butter and grind wheat for bread, and examines the politics between various fan factions: Team Mary vs. Laura's followers...the "official" vs. "family-approved" sites...fact vs. fiction...
Finally, she concludes that the Little House world has come full circle for her, and she puts everything back into perspective. It's a nice place to visit, in other words, but you wouldn't want to live there. This quick read is a great reminder that good children's literature creates lifelong memories that never really go away, especially for fans of a certain sunbonneted pioneer girl named Laura.
Are you ready for some football? The college and pro seasons are just about to start! With the recent Super Bowl successes of the New York Giants and New England Patriots, you may have forgotten that there's a third NFL team in our area, the New York Jets. The Jets are positioning themselves to make a run for the Super Bowl this year, and in just a couple of years, Head Coach Rex Ryan has established himself as one of the best coaches in the entire league.
Ryan's memoir, Play Like You Mean It, came out a couple of months after last season ended, the Jets having finished just one victory short of the championship game. Whether you're a Jets fan or not, all football fans recognize that Ryan coaches with passion and knows how to get the best from his players. He grew up the son of former coach Buddy Ryan and decided at an early age that football was his destiny. Two seasons ago, he earned his first head coaching job and the Jets have reached the AFC Championship Game in both seasons, under his leadership. Is this going to be the year they take that final step and break the franchise's Super Bowl drought?
Outspoken, brilliant, charismatic, driven, and most of all, passionate about the game -- Ryan writes like he coaches. Jets fans are putting their faith in him and he will reward the optimism with an entertaining season that just may end on a podium in Indianapolis next February. Kick-off is September 8!
Fifteen years ago, Jon Krakauer captivated readers with the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young American whose wanderlust led him to Alaska and a mysterious, tragic end. Part of the book relates McCandless to another young man, Everett Ruess, an explorer, artist, and writer in the early part of the 20th century. Ruess disappeared in Utah under even more puzzling circumstances than McCandless, and to this day, his fate has never been definitely established. Now, author David Roberts tackles the 80-year-old mystery in a brand-new book (out July 19), Finding Everett Ruess.
At 20, Ruess and his two burros were exploring a Utah desert, far from civilization, when his family lost track of him. The burros were found, but to this day no trace of Ruess has ever been verified. Did he plan his own disappearence? Was he murdered? Did he fall and die in the wilderness? Lost diaries, weird "sightings," bone fragments, and DNA tests keep the tale unraveling, but Ruess remains forever 20 years old, an unsolved mystery and symbol of youthful longing and freedom.
For all who found the book and movie Into the Wild compelling, Jon Krakauer wrote the introduction to this book, so closely does he see the connection between McCandless and Ruess. Finding Everett Ruess may be the closest we ever come to really knowing what happened to a young man who once wrote, "I have not tired of the wilderness...it is enough that I am surrounded by beauty." The mystery of his fate still echoes today.
A pretty young woman disappears on a quiet college campus. Strange and secretive behavior among the students leads new teacher Phoebe Hall to suspect that there's a pattern to some similar recent events. When she starts to investigate, she finds herself the target of increasingly malicious pranks. Is there really a secret society on campus, with bizarre initiation rites? Or is a serial killer on the loose? You'll be double-checking all of the locks on your doors and windows -- and your dish-washer -- as the story unfolds.
Kate White, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and author of the Bailey Weggins mystery series, returns with The Sixes, a stand-alone page-turner that's nearly impossible to put down between chapters. And just when you think that the mystery has been solved, you'll notice that there are still plenty of pages left in the book for an unexpected ending. This perfect summer read is set for release on August 2 -- place your hold now!
Exactly 122 years ago this week, storm clouds that had gathered over the Plains States moved east and ripped open over southwestern Pennsylvania. Flooding and rising rivers caused destruction, but that turned out to be just the beginning of what we remember now as the Johnstown Flood. It was on May 31, 1889 that the South Fork Dam burst right above the town of Johnstown and 20 million tons of water poured below. Over 2,000 townspeople lost their lives in the devastation.
The Johnstown Flood has become part of American lore and legend, often cited in fiction and song, but the actual facts of the story are as astonishing as any Hollywood disaster film. Historian David McCullough has written a comprehensive book about the tragedy, and we also have an excellent documentary on DVD. With recent natural disasters still fresh in our minds, we're reminded of this tragic chapter in American history and the lives lost, 122 years ago today.
Baseball season has been underway for a month now, and for fans of the game, peeling open a wax pack of brand-new baseball cards never gets old. Remember the sugary sweet smell of that pink slab of bubble gum? Nothing tasted better during long childhood summers.
Author Josh Wilker uses the baseball cards of his youth (mid 1970s to early 80s) to frame his new memoir, Cardboard Gods. Famous and not-so-famous players' cards mark the beginning of each chapter -- you won't believe some of the hair and polyester on view! Baseball is a constant for Wilker amidst the political and cultural upheaval of the times; his book is as much about his rocky coming-of-age as it is about the men who play a boy's game.
Already drawing comparisons to Dave Eggers and Augusten Burroughs, Wilker's writing is edgy and incredibly evocative. And as The New York Times review noted, "...what the game means to the fans is often more interesting than the games themselves." Cardboard Gods will have you rummaging through your closet for that long-forgotten shoe box of cards...and the memories they evoke.
Remember Word Freak, the book about overly-focused Scrabble players (well, OK, fanatical Scrabble players)? Or King of Kong, the recent documentary about competitive Donkey Kong players with rather interesting off-screen lives? Now, we have Moonwalking with Einstein, a book that delves into the world of "mental athletes": ordinary people whose powers of memorization seem to be almost super-human.
Author Joshua Foer starts with the most basic question: How do they do that? In search of the answer, he studies the history of human memory, interviews amnesia victims and the real Rain Man, learns tricks of the trade, explains the "OK Plateau," and yes, tells us exactly what the book's title means. We sit in at the World Memory Championships, where contestants use headphones and ear plugs to block out noise while they memorize freshly-shuffled decks of cards and lists of hundreds of numbers and words in a matter of minutes.
Foer discovers that people with extraordinary memory aren't necessarily highly gifted or savants. For the most part, they've just tapped into methods known to scholars for centuries. He also tells us how modern conveniences like cell phones and the internet are actually changing the way our brains retain information. Moonwalking with Einstein just might help us all realize that with a little time and attention, we can all tap into more brain power than we think we have. It's an unforgettable read. Now, has anyone seen my keys?
One of our most popular (and favorite) new non-fiction books is Unbroken, the nearly-unbelievable story of Louis Zamperini. His survival against all odds is truly inspiring and we'll be talking about it in depth on Tuesday, May 3. Meanwhile, if you've finished reading Unbroken and are thirsting for another great adventure story, look no further than Lost in Shangri-La, which hits our shelves on April 26.
Lost in Shangri-La tells the long-forgotten story of a World War II military plane crash in the depths of New Guinea, close to an inaccessible area dubbed "Shangri-La" by pilots and airmen. The few survivors of the crash are dazed, injured, and lost. As they desperately search for a way out, they come face to face with primitive natives who have never seen a white man or woman...and may well be cannibals.
The natives take the survivors to be spirits, who have arrived as harbingers of the end of the world. The survivors, meanwhile, have to figure out how to alert rescuers. They are beyond the reach of planes or helicopters, with hundreds of miles of dangerous, enemy-infested jungle between themselves and safety, all the while dealing with serious burns and gangrene. Only an ingenious, never-before-tried rescue attempt can save them, and this book tells the whole story through diaries, declassified Army documents, and personal recollections.
Place your reserve now so that you'll have a copy as soon as the book is released -- Lost in Shangri-La is sure to be a found treasure!