DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

December 2018

Who doesn’t love a good stunt memoir? You know: Books in which an author recounts his or her decision to do (or not do) this or that thing and then document the results of said decision. As someone who regularly undertakes large personal projects that inevitably fall far short of completion, I relate and admire those individuals who decide to do a thing, then do that thing, and are then (finally!) possessed of the energy and organizational skills to relate their findings to the world. Anyway! We have assembled a list of 15 such titles for you to peruse. Click here for the entire list, or click on the title or cover of each suggested book to be taken to its record in our catalog.

So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading by Sara Nelson

Sara Nelson set out to chronicle a year’s worth of reading, to explore how the world of books and words intermingled with the “real” world. Fifty-two weeks, fifty-two books …  and it all fell apart the first week. That’s when she discovered that books chose her as much as she chose them, and the rewards and frustrations they brought were nothing she could plan for.

Three Among the Wolves: A Couple and Their Dog Live a Year With Wolves in the Wild by Helen Thayer

Helen and Bill Thayer, accompanied by their part-wolf, mostly Husky dog, Charlie, set out on foot to live among wild wolf packs, first in the Canadian Yukon and then in the Arctic. They discover the complexities of wolf family structure and view the intricacies of the hunt firsthand, as well as the wolves’ finely honed survival skills and engaging playfulness.

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell

This is the story of Julie Powell’s attempt to revitalize her marriage, restore her ambition, and save her soul by cooking all 524 recipes in volume one of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking – in a mere 365 days.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

In this book, Barbara Kingsolver and her family embark on a rural, locally sourced adventure. For one year, their diet will consist solely of  food that was raised in their own neighborhood or that they have grown themselves.

A Year Without “Made In China”: One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy by Sara Bongiorni

Sara Bongiorni fills this book with engaging stories and anecdotes of her family’s yearlong attempt to outrun China’s reach – by boycotting Chinese-made products – and does a remarkable job of taking a decidedly big-picture issue (the effects of globalism) and breaking it down to a personal level.

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs

The author of The Know-It-All follows up his bestselling account of reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica with another improbable adventure – a year spent living, as literally as possible, by the rules of the Bible.

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

In the vein of Julie and Julia, this book describes Gretchen Rubin’s year-long attempt to discover what leads to true contentment. Drawing at once on cutting-edge science, classical philosophy, and real-world applicability, Rubin has written an engaging chronicle of personal transformation.

Working in the Shadows: A Year of Doing the Jobs (Most) Americans Won’t Do by Gabriel Thompson

What is it like to do the back-breaking work of immigrants? To find out, Gabriel Thompson spent a year working alongside Latino immigrants, who initially thought he was either crazy or an undercover immigration agent. Thompson shines a bright light on the underside of the American economy, exposing harsh working conditions, union busting, and lax government enforcement – while telling the stories of workers, undocumented immigrants, and desperate U.S. citizens forced to live with chronic pain in the pursuit of $8 an hour.

My Year With Eleanor: A Memoir by Noelle Hancock

In this book, Noelle Hancock recounts the results of her decision to heed the advice of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and do one thing a day that scares her in the year before her 30th birthday.

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche

Newly arrived in Chicago and friendless, author Rachel Bertsche  settles upon a plan: She’ll go on 52 friend-dates, one per week for a year, in hopes of meeting her new Best Friend Forever.

Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy by Maggie Anderson

On January 1, 2009, Maggie and John Anderson embarked on a year-long public pledge to “buy black.” The Andersons combed Chicago in search of supermarkets, dry cleaners, gas stations, pharmacies, and clothing stores owned by African-Americans, and this is the story of what they learned.

Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall: How I Learned to Love My Body By Not Looking At It for a Year Kjerstin Gruys

When Kjerstin Gruys became engaged, she was thrilled – until it came time to shop for a wedding dress. Faced with a new set of impossible beauty standards, she found herself struggling to maintain a positive self-image. She then decided to embark on a bold plan, vowing to give up mirrors and other reflective surfaces, relying instead on her friends to help her gauge her appearance and her outlook on life.

Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianka Bosker

In this book, Bianka Bosker quits her job as an executive in the tech industry and gives herself one year to become a master sommelier. Her quest takes her inside underground tasting groups, exclusive New York City restaurants, California mass-market wine factories, and even a neuroscientist’s fMRI machine as she attempts to answer the most nagging question of all: what’s the big deal about wine?

All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island by Liza Jessie Peterson

This book recounts a year in poet and actress Liza Jessie Peterson’s classroom at Island Academy, the high school for inmates detained at New York City’s Rikers Island.

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

This book documents the twelve months during which author Cait Flanders bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries, fuel for her car. She trashed 70 percent of her belongings, learned how to fix things rather than throw them away, researched the zero waste movement, and completed a television ban – learning at every stage that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt.

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Dec 18 2018

Bon Appetit: 10 Cozy Culinary Mysteries

by Elisabeth H

It’s impossible to separate the holiday season from high-calorie sweets, but – oddly enough – all too easy to justify the consumption of those pies and cakes and salty snack mixes. Allow us to propose a solution to this problem: Instead of cracking open a cookie tin at 3 a.m., why not dig into a food-themed mystery instead? We have assembled a list of 10 titles (old and new) that will satisfy your appetite for mystery and for food. Click here for the entire list, or click on the title or cover of each suggested title to be taken to its record in our catalog. And (this is important) please forward all uneaten cookies to your local branch of the DeKalb County Public Library.

Fer-de-Lance and the League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout

One of the first culinary mysteries appeared in 1934 with Fer-de-Lance, the first Nero Wolfe novel. Wolfe is not only a brilliant private detective, but food is his number one preoccupation and delight. On the hunt for more Wolfe? Click here to view and request more titles featuring this food-savvy detective.

The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams

In this new series from author Ellery Adams, Nora, a bookstore owner helps her customers solve their problems by prescribing the perfect book. (The freshly baked scones don’t hurt.) When a potential customer is found murdered, Nora founds a secret society of book- and scone-lovers to solve the mystery of his death. We also have the book’s sequel, which you can request by clicking here.

Glazed Murder by Jessica Beck

When Suzanne Hart buys a donut shop with her divorce settlement, she thinks that her world is finally about to settle down. Her plans have their middle punched out, though,  when the body of one of her customers is dumped in front of her shop. If you can’t stop with just one, we have more than 10 other installments in this series – you can view and request them by clicking here.

Cake and Punishment by Maymee Bell

In the first installment of a delectable new Southern-set series, Sophia Cummings, pastry chef extraordinaire, must craft the perfect cake for an old friend’s wedding while sifting through the suspects in a murder. More sweet murder awaits you in the sequel, Batter Off Dead, which you can request by clicking here.

Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs

The first in the popular Tea Shop Mystery series introduces Theodosia Browning, owner of Indigo Tea Shop. She is catering an event when an esteemed guest is found dead, his hand clutching an empty teacup. Theo desperately tries to save her reputation and track down the real killer. Need a refill? You can view and request other titles in the Tea Shop Mystery series by clicking here.

The Merlot Murders by Ellen Crosby

Ellen Crosby’s debut mystery is set in the wealthy Blue Ridge wine country of northern Virginia, where vineyard heiress Lucie Montgomery must find a killer or lose her cherished family vineyard. Can’t stop sipping? You can view and request other titles in the series by clicking here.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

This is the first novel in Joanna Fluke’s recipe-laden mystery series about cookie shop owner Hannah Swensen. In it, Hannah’s work-life cookie crumbles when the delivery man from a nearby dairy is found murdered behind her shop. With more than 20 titles in the series, Swensen’s sweets will keep you pleasantly buzzed for many an hour – to view and request other titles in the series, click here.

Death by Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake by Sarah Graves

In this new series by Sarah Graves, Jake and Ellie (from the author’s Home Repair is Homicide mysteries) open a chocolate-themed bakery. Ellie’s old family recipes reel in the customers – until an early-season hurricane scuttles their plans. To make matters worse, the health inspector is found murdered in their kitchen. The followup – Death By Chocolate Malted Milkshake – isn’t available for checkout yet, but you can request it by clicking here.

Cherry Pies & Deadly Lies by Darci Hannah

This new series features a fearless, reckless sleuth who unravels a complicated culinary mystery. Whitney Bloom is furiously baking pies when she receives a desperate call from her mother: the manager of her family’s cherry orchard has been found dead and all evidence points to her father as the killer.

Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles by A.L. Herbert

Mahalia “Halia” Watkins’ Sweet Tea restaurant has the finest soul food in Prince George’s County, Maryland. In between preparing her famous cornbread and mashed potatoes, Halia dips her spoon into a grisly mystery, investigating the murder (in her kitchen!) (next to her frying pan!) of a smooth-talking, shady entrepreneur. Ready for a second helping? You can request the sequel, Murder With Macaroni and Cheese, by clicking here.

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What’s it like to be a professional dishwasher, or a tax collector for the IRS? What enormous pressures is a prison guard subjected to on a daily basis? What were the hotel staff laughing about while you were checking out last weekend? With these – and other – questions in mind, we assembled a list of 12 memoirs that will take you behind the scenes of 12 very different workplaces. You can click on the book covers or titles below to be taken into our catalog, or click here for the entire list.

Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States by Pete Jordan

This is the true story of a man on a mission: to clean dirty dishes professionally in every state in America. Part adventure, part parody, and part miraculous journey of self-discovery, it is the unforgettable account of the author’s transformation from itinerant seeker into “Dishwasher Pete” – unlikely folk hero, writer, publisher of his own cult zine, and the ultimate professional dish dog – and how he gave it all up for love.

Confessions of a Tax Collector: One Man’s Tour of Duty Inside the I.R.S. by Richard Yancey

Richard Yancey needed a job. He answered a blind ad offering a starting salary higher than what he’d made over the three previous years combined. The job? Field officer with the Internal Revenue Service. Yancey was brilliant at it. As a revenue officer, Yancey knocked on doors and made people pay. (Never mind that he couldn’t remember where he stashed his own tax records.) Yancey details how the job changed him, and how he managed to pull himself back from the brink of moral, ethical, and spiritual bankruptcy.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

In this book, Jahren recounts her childhood in rural Minnesota, with a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs. These early experiences led to a career as a paleobiologist, a role that takes her around the world, from the North Pole to Hawaii to Ireland. The core of her book is the story of the relationship she forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, a student who becomes her lab partner and best friend.

Nature Noir: A Park Ranger’s Patrol in the Sierra by Jordan Fisher Smith

This is the story of Jordan Fisher Smith’s fourteen years as a park ranger on 48 miles of Sierra Nevada river canyons. Ranger work, in this place where wildness tends toward the human kind, includes encounters with armed miners who scour canyons for gold, drug-addled squatters, and extreme recreators who enjoy combining motorcycles, parachutes, and high bridges.

Blue Blood by Edward Conlon

Conlon, whose uncles, father, and grandfather were all police officers, and who becomes a NYPD officer himself after graduating from Harvard, paints a vivid portrait of the world of Big Apple law enforcement. Despite the fact that his father wanted something better for him, Conlon is irresistibly drawn to the force, and this book relates in thrilling, comic, tragic day-to-day details his ascent from beat patrolman to detective.

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

Two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist, throwing herself into the fascinating world of death investigation – performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, counseling grieving relatives. This book, which chronicles her two years of training, takes you behind the police tape of the events large (the disastrous crash of American Airlines flight 587) and small (the individual murders, suicides, and accidents that are her stock-in-trade).

Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover

In this book, author Ted Conover spends a year as a prison guard at New York State’s infamous maximum-security facility, Sing Sing. A gallery officer, Conover often has to supervise scores of violent felons – by himself. As he confronts the impossibility of doing his job by the book, he begins to develop the sense of balance between leniency and tyranny that defines a good prison guard. This is an excellent look at what prison life does to people on both side of the bars.

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert

Borchert, a longtime assistant librarian in a suburban Los Angeles library, pulls back the curtain on public library service and reveals a world overflowing with outsized, oddball personalities – on both sides of the desk.

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky

When Jacob Tomsky emerged from college with a philosophy degree, he didn’t intend to enter the hospitality business. Yet he did, becoming a valet parker for a luxury hotel in New Orleans. Ten years later, Tomsky was still in the industry and had worked his way around and through the hotel world. In this book, you are provided a backstage look at what lies beneath the surface of hospitality.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

Doughty, the blogger behind the popular web series Ask a Mortician, describes her experiences working at a crematory. In addition to detailing her day-to-day experiences – sweeping ashes from the machines, caring for bodies of all shapes and sizes – Doughty unearths and details the sometimes weird history of cremation and undertaking.

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

Reichl, a former restaurant critic at the New York Times and once the editor-in-chief of Gourmet, recounts her visits to some of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants, where she often dined both as herself and – in disguises involving wigs, makeup, and credit cards under assumed names – anonymously.

Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford

Author Bill Buford had long thought of himself as a reasonably comfortable cook before he decided to answer a question that ate at him every time he prepared a meal: How would his skills measure up in a professional kitchen? Buford seizes the opportunity to train in the kitchen of Mario Batali’s three-star New York restaurant, Babbo, and this book is the story of his time spent under Batali’s tutelage and of his apprenticeships with culinary masters in Italy.

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