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staff picks winter2

Holiday Potpourri

At this time of year, many of us are looking for a gift idea or just some fun reading to release some of the stress of the season. Books with interesting concepts, lots of pictures to browse, or that off-centered topic can fit the bill.

Here are a few favorites:

Other People’s Rejection Letters edited by Bill Shapiro
A collection of notes, letters, emails and texts from the sweet (a little girl’s note saying she’s running away – and glad of it!) to the bitter (a woman informing her mother that she’s expecting a baby but doesn’t want contact with her.) It is like a car wreck — you know you shouldn’t look, but just can’t stop rubbernecking. The only question is how Shapiro unearthed all of these gems!

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow
From the Baby Boom generation onward, Little Golden Books have been a part of children’s literary lives. Muldrow, a longtime editorial director at Golden Books, has written an engaging guide to life using the illustrations from many of the Little Golden Books produced over the years. You will find yourself reminiscing about the original stories, as well as marveling over the endearing illustrations that the books are so well-known for. A very charming book for young and old!

Records of Our National Life : American History at the National Archives
Established in the early 1930s, the National Archives has preserved the rich heritage of America with the retention of documents, maps, letters, photographs, diagrams, telegrams, and all sorts of items that tell our incredible history with humanity and grace. Covering the time period from 1762 to 2009 the items pictured in this book give glimpses into the past – from the Oaths of Allegiance signed by George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, to the images of confederate money, to the first federal income tax form, to World War II posters, to the moving transcript of Lady Bird Johnson’s audio diary on the day Kennedy was assassinated – that inform our present.

What Makes a Masterpiece : Artists, Writers and Curators on the World’s Greatest Works of Art
This survey of art highlights the greatest artistic achievements from all cultures throughout human history. From the cave paintings in France to Vilhelm Hammertoe’s Dust Motes Dancing in Sunbeams painted in 1900, great works are examined by knowledgeable contributors. Beautiful color illustrations, including enlarged sections, allow you to do a world art sightseeing tour with your fingertips. This book will increase your ability to view any art piece with fuller understanding and appreciation.

Someday, Someday Maybe : a novel by Lauren Graham
Graham, of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood fame, has written a witty and funny novel of an actress in 1990’s New York, trying her best to beat the odds. Struggling to keep her head about water, while coming close to her self-imposed three year deadline to become a “serious” actress, Franny Banks is in turns pessimistic and hopeful, and always amusing. As she tries try to give her best performance for an upcoming showcase, as well as not make a fool over herself with a fellow actor in her class, keep her waitressing job and her agent, and be supportive of her roommates, we get a rollercoaster ride of a read.

What if? : Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
Remember being a kid and asking those near impossible questions to your parents — Why is the sky blue? Why can’t people fly? Do fish sleep? This book is the grown up version of those unanswerable questions. Munroe, a former NASA roboticist, takes the most popular questions from his blog and gives thoughtful technical answers. With stick figures, drawings and a wry style, this book will satisfy any armchair scientist.

Helen Freeman

Helen Freeman is the Technical Services librarian.