Nonfiction

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

In Born Standing Up, Steve Martin looks back at his comedy career in a way that few artists are able to do. He not only has succeeded in his craft, he also has the luxury of being able to step back from the act and make sense of just what it was all about.

In the 1970's and 80's, Martin attained a kind of success usually reserved for rock stars. He filled up arenas and released number one albums, but  Martin is quick to point out that this was no overnight sensation. He spent his youth trying to break into the entertainment business by working at Disneyland and writing for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

Jim Henson: The Biography approaches the man through his work. This makes sense since, as he was the artist who redefined puppetry, Henson created and entertained almost non-stop for four decades.

The Modern Scholar Series

From Here to Infinity by Michael D.C. Drout

We are all about lifelong learning at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library, and we hope that you are, too. Whether it is through our collection or our classes and events, we offer ways to educate for so many different types of learners. I learn best by listening, so one of my favorite methods of acquiring new information is though our Modern Scholar audio courses.

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Jon Ronson sees insanity all around him. Partially that is because as a journalist he is drawn to write stories in which people engage in erratic behavior. It is also because he has learned The Psychopath Test, and he cannot stop administering the 20-point checklist to everyone around him.

Item 1: Glibness/superficial charm

Item 2: Grandiose sense of self-worth

Item 3: Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom

Item 4: Pathological lying

And, so on. From a rude concierge at a hotel to the CEO of a giant corporation, no matter where Ronson looks, everything's coming up psycho.

Adventures Among Ants by Mark W. Moffett

Cover to Adventures Among Ants

Ants are among the most numerous animals on the Earth, but few people pay little attention to them other than to step on them when they become an inconvenience. Have you ever wondered how ants are always able to summon swarms of allies seemingly from nowhere?  Or, how ants can plan massively-coordinated attacks and design gigantic nests?  Mark W. Moffett wondered and wrote a book, Adventures Among Ants, detailing the discoveries he made after years of research.

Punk: The Best of Punk Magazine by John Holstrom and Bridget Hurd

Punk: The Best of Punk Magazine by John Holstrom and Bridget Hurd

Punk: The Best of Punk Magazine follows the history of New York City's Bowery music scene with actual reprints of the homemade zine's existence from 1976 to 1980. What's captured on these black and white pages is an anti-movement—a reaction against the well-intentioned but ultimately toothless peace and love ethos of the late 60's.

New York was a dump, seemingly destined for ruin. Rock music was gasping for air, trying to find sustenance from the softly vacant likes of Toto, Bread, or Seals and Crofts.

John Holstom and Legs McNeil did not expect things to improve. But when they heard a new band called the Dictators, a change started to manifest. The Dictators wrote songs about hanging out at burger joints, drinking Coca-Cola for breakfast, and being "Teengenerates." It was stupid enough to also be absolutely brilliant, and it encapsulated Holstrom's and McNeil's lives like no other music they were hearing at the time.

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani

Richard Feynman was one of the younger scientists entrusted to work on the atomic bomb, but the graphic novel biography Feynman shows that there is so much more to his life than just those few years.

For one thing, the Nobel-winning physicist was equally fascinated with art, using diagrams to explain his science in a way for which he could not always find the right words. What better representation for an artistic scientist's life than a graphic novel?

Mr. and Mrs. Dog: Our Travels, Trials, and Epiphanies by Donald McCaig

Mr. and Mrs. Dog: Our Travels, Trials, and Epiphanies by Donald McCaig

In British canine agility classes, there are often two sections: Border Collies and Anything but a Border Collie. The often black-and-white Border Collies, made famous in the movie Babe, are considered among the smartest and most agile dogs in the world and are in a class by themselves. I picked up Mr. and Mrs. Dog, by Donald McCaig, hoping for a little more understanding of our Border Collie, Tess, a pull from the local pound. Despite her hard upbringing, she is joyous and full of energy, leaping about like a lamb when it’s time for a walk. But she gets down to business, too, gently making sure that everyone is in place and taken care of. Very responsive to commands, gestures, or just a hint of what’s wanted, she wants to do what’s required of her, almost obsessively. I did wonder, is this normal?

Battle of the On-Demand Music Services

Battle of the On-Demand Music Services

This is a fantastic time for music lovers. Music downloads no longer suffer from copy protection. Numerous sites and social tools have sprung up to help us discover and connect with talented artists. One of the most exciting developments has been the rise of subscription-based, on-demand music services. One low monthly or annual fee buys you access to a huge selection of music to listen to at any time. Heard a song from a new band you like and you want to hear more from them? Bam! Listen to all of their work right then and there without worrying about the recording industry suing you.  There are a number of these services to choose from, and in this post I'm going to help you decide which one to use.

Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of our Fellow Creatures by Virginia Morell

Animal Wise cover

Animal Wise is a look at the emotions and intelligence of several species of animals: ants, fish, birds, parrots, rats, elephants, dolphins, chimpanzees—and dogs and wolves. Morell interviews the scientists who are doing cutting edge research into the animals’ minds and emotions. If you are an animal lover like I am, you do not need a scientist to tell you that animals have emotions.  However, this book rejoices in each species, as the scientists who have devoted their lives to the study of these animals take such pride in their discoveries and have a fascination with the animals that they are researching.