What a Difference a Year Makes

The Year of Eating Dangerously: A Global Adventure in Search of Culinary Extremes

By Tom Parker Bowles

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"Fugu. Dog. Cobra. Bees. Spleen. A 600,000 SCU chili pepper. All considered foods by millions of people around the world. And all objects of great fascination to Tom Parker Bowles, a food journalist who grew up eating his mother's considerably safer roast chicken, shepherd's pie and mushy peas. Intrigued by the food phobias of two friends, Parker Bowles became inspired to examine the cultural divides that make some foods verboten or 'dangerous' in the culture he grew up with while being seen as lip-smacking delicacies in others. So began a year-long odyssey through Asia, Europe and America in search of the world's most thrilling, terrifying and odd foods. Parker Bowles is always witty and sometimes downright hilarious in recounting his quest for envelope-pushing meals, ranging from the potentially lethal to the outright disgusting to the merely gluttonous--and he proves in this book that an open mouth and an open mind are the only passports a man needs to truly discover the world."

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The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

By A.J. Jacobs

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"Raised in a secular family but interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to stone adulterers. The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal and will make you see history's most influential book with new eyes. Jacobs embeds himself in a cross-section of communities that take the Bible literally: he tours a creationist museum and sings hymns with Amish; he dances with Hasidic Jews and does Scripture study with Jehovah's Witnesses. He wrestles with seemingly archaic rules that baffle the 21st-century brain, and he discovers ancient wisdom of startling relevance."

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The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese

By Margaret Hathaway

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From Maine to Arizona and back again, Margaret and Karl and their dog, Godfrey, travel across America, visiting dairy farms and goat meat ranches. They meet a colorful cast of farmers, cheese makers, breeders, and chefs. They sample cheese from all over the country, learn how to make goat cheese themselves, keep a farm, care for the animals, and learn the protocols of participating in festivals and auctions. Once again back in Maine, they have a goat-themed wedding, and go on to purchase ten acres of pasture and their own herd of goats.

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The Year of Yes: A Memoir

By Maria Dahvana Headley

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"Like many young people everywhere, playwright Maria Headley had had her fill of terrible dates. Discouraged and looking for love, she decided the time had come for her to eliminate her own (clearly not adequately discriminating) taste from the equation. Instead--as she vowed to her roommates one frustrated morning--she would date every person who asked her out for an entire year, regardless of circumstances. It would be her Year of Yes. Leaving her judgment and predispositions at the door, our heroine ventured into a world suddenly brimming with opportunity and found herself saying yes to:

  • The Microsoft Millionaire who still lived with his mom.
  • An actor she had previously sworn off as gay.
  • And finally the significantly older man, divorced with kids, whom she never would have looked at twice before the Year of Yes--and to whom she is now happily married.

"Hilariously funny and ultimately inspirational, The Year of Yes will appeal to every person who has turned down a date for the wrong reason."

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Them: Adventures With Extremists

By Jon Ronson

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"Islamic fundamentalists, Ku Klux Klansmen, Christian separatists, and certain members of British Parliament would seem to have very little in common, but they do in fact share one crucial belief: that the world is secretly controlled by an elite group -- in a word, Them. This shadowy elite starts the wars, elects heads of state, sets the price of oil and the flow of capital, conducts bizarre secret rituals, and controls the media. This group is incredibly powerful and will destroy any investigator who gets too close to the truth. Does this shadowy elite really exist? Jon Ronson wondered. As a journalist and a Jew, Ronson was often considered one of 'Them,' but he had no idea if their meetings actually took place and, if so, where. Was he the only one not invited?

"Ronson decided to settle the matter himself, seeking out the supposed secret rulers of the world by way of those who seem to know most about them: the extremists. The result is a riveting journey around the globe. Along the way Ronson meets Omar Bakri Mohammed, once considered to be the most dangerous man in Great Britain. This powerful Muslim fundamentalist -- who tricks Jon into chauffeuring him around town because he doesn't have a car -- seems harmless enough until he takes Jon to Jihad training camp where Ronson is unmasked as a Jew. Jon shoots guns with Ruby Ridge survivor Rachel Weaver and learns about black helicopters and the New World Order. While trying to monitor a meeting of the famous Bilderberg Group in Portugal, he is chased by men in dark glasses. With a group of other true believers, he breaks into the fabled Bohemian Grove in California and witnesses CEOs and politicians engaged in a bizarre pagan ritual. When he attends a KKK rally to interview a PR-conscious Grand Wizard who forbids use of the "N-word," Jon watches as Klan members confront a perpetual cross-burning problem: Do you raise it and then soak it or soak it and then raise it? But the more Ronson tries to expose the emptiness of these conspiracies, the less and less he's certain that the extremists are crazy."

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Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses

By Bruce Feiler

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"Jewish author Feiler offers himself here as a pilgrim, walking through biblical lands and interviewing individuals from many religious traditions and walks of life. He reads the stories of the Pentateuch in the places they are thought to have happened, he records the latest archaeological understandings of the Bible, and he wrestles with his own faith. Of course, contemporary politics sneaks into the story, too; Arab-Israeli conflicts are hard to avoid when one is writing about the biblical Canaan. Feiler is an accomplished wordsmith. When he describes the 'smells of dawn cinnamon, cardamom, a whiff of burnt sugar,' the reader is transported to Turkey." (Publishers' Weekly)

The library also owns a video presentation of the book's information.

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Walking to Vermont: From Times Square into the Green Mountains--A Homeward Adventure

By Christopher S. Wren

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Newly-retired journalist encounters New England's gnarly nature as he treks far away from Times Square and into the Green Mountains.

From Chapter One:

It was not yet noon and hotter than a July bride in a feather bed when I trudged a half-dozen miles down the wooded northeastern flank of Mount Greylock, which is, at 3,491 feet, about as high as you can go in the state of Massachusetts. The descent, steep and muddy, made my footing precarious under the weight of a pack that felt stuffed with rocks. By the time I emerged from the spruce woods onto Phelps Avenue, a street of tidy wooden houses on the southern fringe of North Adams, I was hurting as hard as I was sweating.

Before I got bitten, I had planned to follow the white blazes marking the Appalachian Trail north across a green footbridge over some railroad tracks and the Hoosic River. Instead, I turned east on Main Street and caught a ride to the regional hospital on the other side of town.

Within minutes, I found myself stretched out on a white-sheeted bed in the hospital's emergency ward, feeling the soothing chill of saline solution dripping antibiotics into my vein through a long needle taped to the top of my hand.

It was not where I expected to be.

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