Science Books for the Non-Scientist

I am not a scientist, but I’m married to one.  I was an English major and for most of my life have been a loyal fiction reader.  A few years ago, though, I began dipping into nonfiction and discovered that there is a rich realm of science books for the non-scientist.  Many are elegantly written with finely drawn characters and are such page-turners that they read “like fiction.”  As an added bonus, I don’t have to sound so ignorant around real scientists.

One of my favorite science writers is Dava Sobel, a former science reporter for the New York Times who is adept at making complex topics easy to grasp.  She mixes in a fair amount of history and profiles of eccentric personalities, making the science easier to absorb for a lay-person like me.

Try any of these Sobel titles:

The Planets 

A graceful exploration of our solar system, weaving together science, mythology, history, art and music.  A fun, small book! Continue reading “Science Books for the Non-Scientist”

Opening new worlds: Mysteries in translation

For those of us who love mystery novels, the quest for the next exciting detective or, better yet, the next series, is endlessly diverting. As it happens, this is a wonderful age for us, with the advent of many new absolutely top-notch works and series from abroad, best-sellers in their own countries, being released here in translation from their original languages. Whatever your area of interest, from Amsterdam to Tokyo, there is a novel for you!

The classic Maigret mysteries, by Georges Simenon, a Belgian writing in French, are the forerunners of this trend. Maigret, who appears in almost 80 novels, enjoys the pleasures of life as he pursues criminals. Another early example is The Fairy Gunmother, also originally in French, which established Daniel Pennac in France as a preeminent comic-thriller writer. His detective, named Malaussène, works as a professional scapegoat, taking the blame for others’ mistakes in Belleville, a racially diverse section of Paris. A series of madcap adventures ensue. Continue reading “Opening new worlds: Mysteries in translation”

Scooters scream into mainstream

There’s a meteoric rise in scooter use since gasoline jumped the $4 mark.  I’ve been scooter commuting since 2002 and I’ve got a lot more company these days. Scooter registration is up 33% over the period June 2007 to June 2008 in King County.

Fuel costs for your car range between $1200 -$4200 per year. (That’s the difference between a 1984 Corolla and 2008 Hummer with gas at $4.20 per gallon and 15000 miles per year). Calculate your own yearly gasoline tab . Factor in maintanence, insurance and depreciation and we’re NOT saving a bundle on our car ownership.

Parking is more costly and more scarce.  The Department of Transportation is considering limiting the number of parking permits to one per household Continue reading “Scooters scream into mainstream”

Central District and High Point reader suggestions

Readers from the Douglass-Truth Branch and the High Point Branch offer some of their favorite books from this summer. Here are suggestions for some late-summer memoirs, a medical thriller set in Seattle, poetry and novels.

Readers in Douglass-Truth’s Adult Summer Reading Program suggest:

Shame on It All by Zane
A captivating story of three sisters showing the true meaning of sisterhood and the love and loyalty amongst sisters. If you like a mixture of laughs, as well as some troubles, you will definitely enjoy this book

Bone Black by Bell Hooks
This memoir tells the story of growing up and facing the issues and problems of racism and sexism within her own life. It shows she pushes through the mental hardships and pain to accept all of herself and touse her knowledge to keep living. Continue reading “Central District and High Point reader suggestions”

What Is a Mix Tape?

“When I first saw you, I saw love.”

“All you need is love.”

“Love is a battlefield.”

“I’m not going to write you a love song.”

“I’m all out of love.”

From famed music critic and contributing editor at Rolling Stone Magazine, Rob Sheffield’s book Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time will grab the heart and ears of any music lover no matter how young or old they may be. Although iPods have come to replace mix CDs and mix CDs have long replaced mix tapes, there is nothing like a good mixture of songs to connect a person to someone else’s life or emotion at the time. Mix tapes have been linked to break-ups, the infamous road trip, and of course as a way to communicate to someone when you have no words.

Rob does just that while explaining his early years as an awkward geek growing up and the music he listened to. It was the path of music that would lead him to his future wife, Renee. It was their love of music that kept them together, and even after the tragic loss of Renee, it was music that continued to keep Rob going. With each chapter beginning with the songs from fifteen of his own mix tapes, we follow the soundtrack of his life…and even a couple from our own. Continue reading “What Is a Mix Tape?”