Friday Faves

  • housefridayfaves

    There is an interesting trend on the rise in nonfiction literature. More and more, authors who write a nonfiction book for adults will then go back and edit their work and re-release it as a slightly shorter, more streamlined version meant for young adults. While some people are skeptical of the need for two versions of the same book, I find I quite like the new variety on offer. These books can fill the gap between juvenile nonfiction and adult nonfiction, which is great news for some middle grade readers who want to read something more advanced, for young adults who appreciate a tailored and easier transition into adult books, and for certain adults—ahem—who like their nonfiction quick and easy with all the good bits left in.

    Here are five wonderful books that were either adapted for young adults or written specifically with them in mind.

    the family romanovTHE FAMILY ROMANOV: MURDER, REBELLION & THE FALL OF IMPERIAL RUSSIA
    byy Candace Fleming
    (2014)

    Thousands of diamonds sewn into clothes to hide them from the soldiers, starving peasants beating at the castle gates, and a princess who may have survived her family’s murder. This fascinating page-turner tells the story of Russia’s last czar, Nicholas II, and his family, who lived in supreme luxury, loved each other fiercely, and completely failed their people in their greatest crisis.

    boy on a boatTHE BOYS IN THE BOAT: THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMERICAN TEAM’S EPIC JOURNEY TO WIN GOLD AT THE 1936 OLYMPICS
    by Daniel Brown
    (2015)

    During the dark days of the Great Depression, nine boys from the University of Washington, the sons of loggers and farmers, took on the elite German rowing team in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and showed Hitler and the world the meaning of American determination.

    race to save the lord god birdTHE RACE TO SAVE THE LORD GOD BIRD
    by Phillip Hoose
    (2004)

    This award-winning book focuses on the legendary Ivory-billed Woodpecker and the span of 200 years during which Americans went from trying to shoot it for their stuffed bird collections to desperately trying to save it from extinction.

    unbrokenUNBROKEN: AN OLYMPIAN’S JOURNEY FROM AIRMAN TO CASTAWAY TO CAPTIVE
    by Laura Hillenbrand
    (2014)

    When Louis Zamperini and two fellow airmen crashed into the Pacific Ocean in the middle of World War II, they could not have known that it was only the beginning of one of the most famous and harrowing survival stories ever told. After surviving the dangers of the ocean, they then had to survive the physical and emotional torture of a Japanese POW camp, while their hope of ever returning home slowly ebbed away.

    revenge of the whaleREVENGE OF THE WHALE: THE TRUE STORY OF THE WHALESHIP ESSEX
    by Nathaniel Philbrick
    (2002)

    This young adult adaptation of In the Heart of the Sea tells the true story of a whaleship that was sunk by an angry whale and the long struggle to survive for the captain and sailors stranded in a few small lifeboats without food or water. 

     

  •  Gardening

    Sometimes I feel like the best way to describe me is: A Food Moron. I grew up in a metropolitan area, in an era when convenience foods were the new miracle of the food industry, and dinner came more often from a can or a box or even a window than it did from the ground. Now that I am in our lovely community here in Provo, I have felt often that I have a huge amount of catching up to do. So many people around me seem to already have a grasp on how to grow your own food and put it on the table for your family without any cardboard boxes involved at all!  And while I don't feel like I have the benefit of a lifetime of knowledge of good food practices, I am trying to learn now as an adult so that I can improve my life and the lives of my family. 

    But food is becoming an increasingly tricky subject, almost as perilous to navigate in social settings as politics and religion.  You can find as many different opinions on food practices as there are people in the room. The publishing industry reflects this trend as well, with a new food-related book coming out almost every day prescribing one method or another.

    While I don't claim to have any more answers than the next person, I have read several interesting books recently that have helped me to learn about the food industry, and more importantly, that have inspired me personally to make changes. Which is why I've spent the last two months digging through the dirt in my backyard, pulling up roots, hammering and drilling: things I never thought I'd be doing when I was growing up!

     Garden 1.1
    My yard in February 2018

    Garden 2
    Versus April 2018

    I heartily support anyone who's trying to make their life better with better food practices, whatever they are! But these are the books that have educated me and inspired me to get out the shovel and do something.  

    6.20 CookedCOOKED: A NATURAL HISTORY OF TRANSFORMATION
    Michael Pollan
    (2013)

    Michael Pollan has been a critical player in our national conversations about food for the better part of two decades.  While he's written many important books on the subject of the environment and agriculture, Cooked was a culmination of sorts where much of his knowledge and research was encapsulated in practical application. 

     

    6.20 Salt Sugar FatSALT, SUGAR, FAT: HOW THE FOOD GIANTS HOOKED US
    By Michael Moss
    (2013)

    This book takes an in-depth look at major players in the food industry, and examines how research and development of their products is done to help it become as desirable as possible to consumers today.  It's a fascinating look at how food products are specifically designed to keep people eating ("bet you can't eat just one") while no real attention is paid to nutrition unless it can be used as a market appeal.   

     

    6.20 The Dorito EffectTHE DORITO EFFECT
    By Mark Schatzker
    (2015)

    While part of this book covers similar ground as the book above, Schatzker takes it another step further to examine agricultural practices over the last century as well.  Many varieties of grown food have been bred for decades for its resistance to disease and bigger yields, but practically no consideration for taste.  As a result, many grown foods have lost much of their true flavors and intensity, and people increasingly turn to the processed food industry to provide flavor, at the expense of nutrition. 

     

    6.20 Animal Vegetable MiracleANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE: A YEAR OF FOOD LIFE
    By Barbara Kingsolver
    (2007)

    Author Barbara Kingsolver and her family moved from Tuscon to Virginia to live for one year eating only what they produced themselves or what they could find locally produced.  Kingsolver's mindfulness of the world around her and passion for responsible eating are incredibly inspiring.  I haven't yet found someone who wasn't motivated to make even a small change after reading this. 

     

    6.20 The Third PlateTHE THIRD PLATE: FIELD NOTES ON THE FUTURE OF FOOD
    By Dan Barber
    (2014)

    Written by the renowned chef of the Blue Hill restaurant and one of the original chefs of the farm-to-table movement, Dan Barber explores the evolution of American food, its effect on our environment, and most importantly the environment's effect on food.  This is a fascinating discussion of true sustainability, and how the practices that will benefit our environment the most will also help to provide us with the most delicious food possible. 

     
  •  End of the World

    Does it say something about you if all you want to read is a story about the end of the world? I hope not, because lately it’s all I seem to be reading! There’s something intriguing about a story set in a world where things can be so much worse, and lately I seem to live for those small threads of meaning that bind people to hope in the face of bleak events. Here are five stories set in familiar but fundamentally altered worlds where people are redefining life as we know it. 

    6.29 The Last PolicemanTHE LAST POLICEMAN
    By Ben H. Winters
    (2012) 

    Suppose you were a beat cop who wanted to be a detective and you were suddenly granted your wish because the world is going to collide with an asteroid in the near future. This is Hank Palace's situation, and in a world where suicide is commonplace, the remaining police force of Concord, New Hampshire, thinks Hank is a nutcase for investigating an apparent suicide as a murder. And yet… why did the man hang himself with a belt other than his own? The end of the world scenario of this detective novel makes it both thought-provoking and strange.  

     

    6.29 Station 11STATION ELEVEN
    By Emily St. John Mandel
    (2014) 

    Outside of Toronto, a famous actor, Arthur Leander, collapses from a heart attack in the middle of a performance of Shakespeare's King Lear. Shortly thereafter, a deadly super-flu quickly spreads and wipes out approximately 99% of the world's population. The novel switches back and forth in time, before and after the pandemic, and centers on the lives of Arthur and people connected to him in one way or the other. In the years after the Fall, one of these people, Kirsten, join a group of traveling actors/musicians who are determined to keep a modicum of culture alive because as their motto says, "Survival is insufficient."

     

    6.29 Life as We Knew ItLIFE AS WE KNEW IT
    By Susan Beth Pfeffer
    (2006) 

    Sixteen-year-old Miranda begins her diary with accounts related to boys and prom. Her writing shifts dramatically after a meteor hits the moon altering the moon’s gravitational pull. This collision changes life forever on earth. Tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes and the loss of electricity abound. Through the ten-month ordeal, Miranda records how her family through everything and how every day death is a constant threat. Will they have enough food and fuel to make it through the long, cold winter? Will life ever return to normal? Is there even such a thing as “normal” anymore? 

     

    6.29 The FiremanTHE FIREMAN
    By Joe Hill
    (2016) 

    Harper Grayson is a nurse volunteering her time to help those infected by a terrifying plague that is spreading throughout the country. The doctors have named the infection Draco Incendia Trychophyton, but everyone else just calls it Dragonscale. The first symptom is an array of tattoo like marks across the body and the final symptom is spontaneous combustion leaving victims mere ash. When Harper contracts the disease she is quarantined in her home until a mysterious fireman with uncanny pyrotechnic abilities takes her to a hidden community of survivors.

     

    6.29 The Age of MiraclesTHE AGE OF MIRACLES
    By Karen Thompson Walker
    (2012) 

    On a Saturday just like any other, Julia and her friend Hannah have had a sleepover. As they wake up and the day progresses however, they discover that the world as they know it will never be the same. The earth has suddenly begun rotating slower and slower adding minutes and then hours to each day. Not only do the days and night grow longer, but gravity as well as growing food is affected. Julia is facing her world being turned upside down in other ways as well, friendships dissolve, her parents’ marriage is strained, and they boy she likes doesn’t ever seem to notice she’s around.

     
  • A 12-ish year old boy came up to the desk with full purpose and asked my coworker- “What is your favorite book?”

    I was busy helping another patron and I didn’t hear much about that conversation besides that and didn’t expect him to return because he got his answer.

    A couple minutes later he came back to the desk in full stride and full purpose again, stood before me and asked, “what’s your favorite book” like it was a grand request and pronouncement.

    This isn’t a difficult question but not really one I get often, at least not so directly. People usually ask for suggestions or books like: Diary of a Wimpy Kid/Harry Potter/Percy Jackson. My mind went blank and all I could suddenly think of were princess/fairy tale retellings which felt way too girly to suggest to this young teen boy.

    I did pull out “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman because that is one of my standard go-to’s but seriously- my mind blanked outside Ella Enchanted and Beauty. I told him this and he said he didn’t mind, he just wanted to get a variety. He went home with a stack of Louis L’Amour, Boy by Roald Dahl, The Graveyard Book and Goose Girl. It was a great stack but I’m annoyed at my brain for shutting off when he asked me a simple question.

    And in typical Amanda-fashion, as soon as he left my brain flooded with ideas of books I could have suggested. I really wished I could have found him again so I could tell him my actual suggestions.

    So here is a list of my *favorites I should have suggested- that I haven’t already written about already.

    *Listing a favorite book is subjective. I have the right to change this opinion at will and am catering more to age of patron asking.

    8.3 The Indian in the CupboardTHE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD
    By Lynne Reid Banks
    (1980)

    On Omri’s birthday his best friend gives him a little plastic Indian toy. Disappointed, he puts the toy in a metal cupboard and locks the door with a mysterious skeleton key that belonged to his great-grandmother. He finds out when he turns the key it transforms the toy into a real live man from a different time and place. I read this book a few times as a kid and loved the adventure and friendship between this boy and his little friends.

     

    8.3 HolesHOLES
    By Loius Sachar
    (1998)

    Stanley Yelnats is under a curse- a curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has followed the Yelnats family. Stanley is unjustly sent to a boys’ detention camp where they are required to dig holes all day long- five feed wide, five feet deep. Stanley realizes they aren’t just building character- that the Warden is looking for something as a mystery of the past unfolds before these campers. This was a really fun intriguing mystery. I love seeing how the past intertwined with the present and the “ah-ha” moments when they came together.

     

    8.3 SurvivorsSURVIVORS: EXTRAORDINARY TALES FROM THE WILD AND BEYOND
    by David Long
    (2017)

    This is a fantastic collection of 23 true stories of men and women who have survived seemingly impossible circumstances from a plane crash to quicksand. The stories are fascinating and the illustrations are fantastic. I would like to own this for my own book collection and give it to everyone. 

     

    8.3 A Monster CallsA MONSTER CALLS
    By Patrick Ness
    (2011)

    Twelve-year-old Connor O’Malley is dealing with a lot. A school bully, an estranged father, strict grandmother and a sick mother. One night at 12:07 am, a tree-like Monster comes to his window and tells Connor it is going to tell three stories over three nights- three truths and on the fourth night Connor had to tell the monster his truth. I love this book. It is beautiful and sad. If you read this I highly highly suggest getting the illustrated copy. It really adds to the story and is illustrated by Jim Kay, who is illustrating the Harry Potter series.