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Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon

Reviewed by Erica Hall

I knew that I liked Ruth Bader Ginsburg before reading this book, but I didn’t realize just how cool her personal history is. RBG really is a fierce advocate for truth and justice, despite how calm and quiet she may appear. She has consistently flouted gender norms, even in her early years when it was not as common to do so, and she has done so with grace and class. In Notorious RBG, Carmon entertains as well as informs with pictures, funny asides, and a selection of annotated dissents of RBG. The tone is light, but the content will stay with you for months after reading.

Available at TCPL: Book | Overdrive Audiobook

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Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Reviewed by Erica Hall

Hypbole and a Half book cover

Hyperbole and a Half is difficult to classify. It originated as a blog in the form of a webcomic, which can still be viewed for free online. The actual book Hyperbole and a Half pulls together many of these entries in the form of a book, with new stories added. These comics are autobiographical and take place anywhere from the author’s childhood to present day. While at first glance the drawings seem very child-like, it’s important to note that they do a remarkable job of enhancing the storytelling, which is also surprisingly poignant. Her stories about depression are simultaneously funny and truthful. Her stories about her dogs (Simple Dog and Helper Dog) are endearing. And “God of Cake,” her story about being a small child hell-bent on eating a forbidden cake, has me laughing out loud even after multiple re-reads.

Available at TCPL: Book

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Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Reviewed by Lynne Bartlett
Between the World and Me

This is the kind of book that one may want to check out again and again, or keep a copy on-hand on a Kindle or in print to re-read sections again or read the whole book again. It is a challenging book by an African-American author who has had such a different life experience than my own, that I found myself saying, “No, that’s not how it is!” It became very important to me to understand his perspective. His perspective includes a sense of his own physical body being in danger almost every day of his life. This perspective became rooted in him at an early age and as an adult, he struggles to convey his perspective to his son, fearing for his son in the world, but also not wanting to strip away any of the freedom and joy he sees in his son’s life. This book is a letter to his son. It’s heartbreaking and honest. It was a book worth the journey of sticking with in order to bring the author’s world view into the light of my own reality in order to grapple with it, lament it, question it, and try to understand it.

Available at TCPL: Book | eBook | Digital Audiobook

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Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Reviewed by Circulation Specialist Kimberly Alcorn-Howell

Into the Wild Book Cover

This is a very short book written by Jon Krakauer about Chris McCandless, the young man who traveled to Alaska in the summer of 1992 and was found dead by a moose hunter four months later. The story of McCandless is fascinating – he has just graduated from college, he’s incredibly bright, and has very high prospects for the future. But then another side of McCandless begins to emerge – the edgy, discontented side that wants nothing to do with his family or with the modern world in general. He has an adventurous spirit, an unquenchable wanderlust that causes him to travel the United States and bounce from one job to the next, but there is also something darker under the surface. Chris McCandless is restless, incredibly cynical of civilization and humanity itself, and he is ready to travel to the edges of the world in an attempt to shake everything off and reinvent himself.

After graduating from Emory University with excellent grades and honors, Chris McCandless cuts all ties with his family, donates his entire $24,000 savings to charity, and then begins his journey west and, eventually, north to the “last frontier.” He travels by car, train, hitchhiking, canoe, and walking until he finally reaches his destination of Fairbanks, Alaska. From there, he disappears into the Alaskan wilderness in search of the untouched, uninhabited space he needs to clear his mind and really live off the land.

Four months after disappearing, his body is found partially decomposed by a moose hunter.

What fascinated me about the book was Krakauer’s attempt to pinpoint why, exactly, Chris McCandless felt the need to leave his life and possessions behind and live by himself in the extreme wilderness. Another mystery the author explores is how McCandless actually died. All of the theories, perspectives, and conclusions about why McCandless did what he did and what his last few days were like are simultaneously interesting and heartbreaking; he was a passionate person with extreme ideals and intense emotions who met a very unfortunate end.

If you’re interested in reading more about Chris McCandless, check out The Wild Truth, written by Chris’ sister, Carine McCandless. Other books by Jon Krakauer include Under the Banner of Heaven, Into Thin Air, and Missoula.

Available at TCPL: Book

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Finding Betty Crocker: the secret life of America’s first lady of food by Susan Marks

Reviewed by Circulation Specialist Natasha Hunt

Finding Betty Crocker Book Cover

Everyone that knows me, knows when asked where I got that cake recipe I will reply Betty Crocker.  All the scrumptious treats I have made for programs have been with the help from my favorite baker Better Crocker. Perusing our cook book collection for some holiday recipes I came across this interesting book Finding Betty Crocker: the secret life of America’s first lady of food by Susan Marks. I have always loved the recipes and mixes so this title attracted my curiosity.

In this biography you will learn about how our beloved Betty Crocker was created by the Washburn Crosby Company in 1921. You get to read about the many ladies behind Betty Crocker.  How Betty Crocker’s popularity grew in the 1940’s with her very own radio cooking show. How she helped with rationing during the Great Depression and with the war effort of World War II. Through the 1950’s and her first ever cook book nicknamed “Big Red” and still to this day you now Betty Crocker by her eye catching red all over the merchandise.  In this book you are also given some of the original recipes in the beginning of every chapter like mouthwatering Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Joy Cake or Chiffon Cake.  I could not pass up sharing these delightful cookies and cakes with my family and friends. My mind and taste buds had a delightful WOW in this book. Finding Betty Crocker is a treasure of American history that has made me love Betty Crocker and General Mills even more!

Available at TCPL: Book

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Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz

Reviewed by Children’s Specialist Morgan Hayes

Rad American Women A-Z book cover

Rad American Women A-Z, by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl, documents America’s many famous and unsung heroines. In typical fashion of an A-Z book, Rad American Women uses the alphabet to showcase the feats of these many women. But instead of having “A is for Apple,” Schatz writes “A is for Angela Davis – Who never backs down from the fight for justice” and “M is for Maya Lin – Who makes big ideas into beautiful art.” Each page contains the alphabet letter, a beautiful illustration, and a short story about the accomplishments of each woman.

This book is great for anyone who wants to learn about America’s most inspirational women. It is perfect for children, adults, and teachers, who wish to start a discussion on feminism and the power of women in America. Rad American Women also includes a resource guide with other books about “Rad American Women” and websites and organizations that promote equality for all.

Available at TCPL: Book

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Born Survivors by Wendy Holden

Reviewed by Circulation Specialist Tammy Powers

Born Survivors book cover

Born Survivors is a true story about three Jewish women who were newly pregnant in 1944. They were separated from their family and friends and sent to Auschwitz. They survived, despite the odds, at the concentration camp and hid their pregnancies from the Nazis and especially Joseph Mengele. Then they were sent to a slave-labor camp where they worked, half-starved and dehydrated. The labor camp, Mauthausen, was considered the camp of “extermination by labor”. It was there that they were freed by American soldiers at the end of the war. With the help of guards and strangers, all three women and their children survived. Tragically, more than twenty three members of their immediate families did not survive, including their husbands.

I would highly recommend this book. The book has pictures of the women, their families and their children. The pictures make the story both more personable and more tragic. To read about WWII and the concentration camps is different than putting faces to the statistics. This is not only a story of survival but a story of how there can be hope and love despite being surrounded by evil and cruelty. There are two quotes that I found touching: “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage” by Seneca, and “No day shall erase you from the memory of Time” by Virgil.

Available at TCPL: Book

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