A Bedside Book of Beasts by Graeme Gibson

A Bedside Book of Beasts by Graeme Gibson (2009)
Gibson, a Canadian novelist has compiled poetry and myth, fairy tale and folklore, sacred texts and travelogues into a cleverly illustrated book. Far from a merely pretty survey of the animal kingdom, it is a book that delivers the disquieting message about a delicate balance disturbed and provides a thought-provoking collection of anecdotes about the human relationship with wild animals.

Exquisite, full-color reproductions of beast-themed drawings, paintings, and woodcuts, ranging from ancient to modern illustrate each entry, making this book more of an experience than just an interesting read.

Listen to the author read from his book or  read an excerpt from the book.

Beyond the Homestretch by Lynn Reardon

Beyond the Homestretch by Lynn Reardon (2009)
Did you ever wonder what happens to thoroughbred racehorses once they are no longer fit to race? You might find this trip to a Texas racehorse adoption ranch an interesting and informative read. Even if you are not a racing fan (which I am), author and equestrian Lynn Reardon’s account of her personal transformation from accountant to owner of a racehorse adoption ranch will keep you engaged. Reardon takes readers along on a ride atop fiery racehorses while dealing with offbeat horse people and adjusting to the colorful Texas culture. It is full of equine melodramas and surprising, Zen-like insights.

Read an interview with the author and watch a trailer about the book.

Eat This, Not That by David Zinczenko

Eat This, Not That!: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America! by David Zinczenko (2009)
If you love to eat but would like to lose a few pounds with little effort, this book can help you make better food choices. One can learn about the “40 Best & Worst Beers in America” and the “Best Snacks in America” with glossy full-color pictures of every food and beverage featured and exclamation points galore. Frozen foods, pizzas, burgers, desserts and many other well-loved treats get the full analysis. Making better choices in the grocery store, mall food court and restaurant can lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Written by editors at Men’s Health magazine, this popular series makes food research fun and easy. Other books in the series concentrate on nutrition for kids and a restaurant survival guide.

Get more ideas for healthy eating at Eat This!

African Diary by Bill Bryson

African Diary by Bill Bryson (2002)
A small book to get a quick insight into Africa. Bryson writes with his usual humor about traveling through Africa and what his preconception of Africa was before his trip.

Bill Bryson's story about Africa contains wonderful pictures and explanations of the continent. The profits of the book go to CARE to benefit African people.

Check out the official Bill Bryson website and read reviews on Amazon.com.

Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom

Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom (2009)
Mitch Albom, who hasn't been to a church since he was young, is moved by the deep faith of two very different men, an elderly and spirited rabbi who wants Mitch to give his eulogy when he dies, and an ex-con turned minister to the poor and homeless. The book is touching and entertaining and just might get us thinking about our faith and the place God has in our life. Listen to Albom talk about his book. Also check out the author's interview on Good Morning America, read reviews at Amazon.com and visit his website.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman

Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman (2008)
Friedman discusses the past 40 years of world energy use. This book will help you understand the need for clean energy even if you don't care about the issue.

The author explains the history of the Middle East oil regulation. Most importantly, you'll be shocked by the energy use that will be required by the exploding populations of China and India.

Enjoy learning about energy in an informative way. I was surprised that this was not a boring book and was a fast way to understand energy for the future.

Watch Friedman discuss his book.

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama (2004)
An elegant, compelling biography about Obama and his complex roots as the son of a white American woman and an absent black Kenyan father.

Preview the book before you visit the library and read the reviews at Amazon.com.

Remarkable Creatures by Sean Carroll

Remarkable Creatures: epic adventures in the search for the origins of species by Sean Carroll (2009)
This book is as much about the scientists as their discoveries. It is a chronicle of the greatest adventures in natural history in the last 200 years from Darwin's trip around the world to Charles Walcott's discovery of pre-Cambrian life in the Grand Canyon; from Louis and Mary Leakey's investigation of our deepest past in East Africa to the trailblazers in modern laboratories.

The author Sean Carroll, a professor of genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, takes a look at the lives of these remarkable people whose one purpose was (and still is) to find evidence of evolution. Carroll has a gift for storytelling and this tale makes a very entertaining book.

I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson

I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson (1999)
This collection of topics, with Bill Bryson's usual humorous outlook, is very enjoyable. It’s a great book to pick up and put down because each chapter is a short story about a separate subject. Bryson was urged to write articles about returning to America after living in England for 20 years. This book is a collection of the articles he wrote about how things had changed in America while he was gone.

Visit the author's website and read reviews at Amazon.com.

Home by Julie Andrews

Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews (2008)
This is Julie Andrews' memoir about her life growing up in England during WWII and her childhood singing career. It was very interesting to read about Julie growing up in England and how strong she was in dealing with her life as a child, as an amateur and as a beginning professional. The book explains Julie's life on-and-off stage and how it only takes a few kind people to nurture talent in spite of situations that are not ideal.

If you like Julie Andrews, you'll be interested in this book. The book ends as Julie is hired to be Mary Poppins by Walt Disney in this wonderful animation and actor movie. I hope Julie writes the next book about her middle years because it would be interesting to know how she managed to have a diverse career and a family life using all of her artistic and domestic talents.

Visit the Julie Andrews website and read the USA Today review.

The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan

The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan (2008)
John Grogan, the author of Marley and Me, writes another winner. This is a funny, sentimental good read about John Grogan, the not-so-good Catholic boy, who grows up navigating life with his ultra-conservative Catholic parents. His deep love for his parents shows through in every page as his values clash with theirs, and he becomes a man.

Catholic or not, this memoir will make you think about your life and your relationship with your parents. John Grogan is a wonderful storyteller and writes another beautiful memoir, minus Marley.

Visit the author's website and read reviews at Amazon.com.

A Narrative of My Captivity Among the Sioux Indians by Fanny Kelly

A Narrative of My Captivity among the Sioux Indians by Fanny Kelly (1871)
Originally published in 1871, this is a great firsthand account of life on the frontier in the latter 19th century. Fanny Kelly describes a wagon train, an attack by the Sioux, her life among her captors, and by extension, their lives, and the story of what happened when she got back. This book has plenty of drama and action. Plus it is a historical snapshot of an America now long forgotten.

Preview the book, read reviews from other readers, and explore other "captivity" narratives.

Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou

Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou (2008)
Letter to My Daughter is a collection of 28 essays on life, faith, motherhood, kindness, and what it means to be human. The pieces are short but are wonderful words of wisdom and insight.

I am right with Angelou as she takes on popular culture and our acceptance of obscenity. She calls on us to improve our values to be a people of substance, and to require the same from our elected officials. I found this to be a very thought provoking read.

Read the reviews at Amazon.com, watch the author introduce her book, and visit the author's website.

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot (1972)
Perfect stories from the life of a young veterinary doctor. The best book about people and animals that I have read in the last five years.  Herriot continues his story of life as an English country vet in All Things Bright and Beautiful and All Things Wise and Wonderful. These real life stories were made into an excellent BBC series.

James Herriot was the pen name for James Alfred Wight. Visit the James Herriot website to learn more about this veterinary/author. You may also read an excerpt from the book and find reviews at Amazon.com.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson (2006)
Humorous, laugh-out-loud story of Bill Bryson's childhood growing up in the 1950s. If you want to read a true version of how life was growing up in the 1950s in Iowa, this is it. If you want to recall how life was in the 1950s, this is it.

Check out the reviews at Amazon.com, preview the book before visiting the library, and watch a video of Bryson discussing his book.