Nonfiction

03/27/2012 - 3:31am
Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography by Errol Morri

“Our beliefs do not determine what is true or false. They do not determine objective reality. But they do determine what we see.”

In Believing Is Seeing, Errol Morris investigates the complex relationship between documentary photographs and the truth we assume they deliver. Best known as the gifted documentarian behind films such as The Fog of War, Standard Operating Procedure, and The Thin Blue Line, Morris has spent years pondering how authenticity, truth, and appearance converge and complicate one another. It is hardly surprising then that Morris’s analysis of documentary photography is insightful and accessible.

Errol Morris’s cinematic explorations often fixate on a specific figure or series of events. He then breathes life into the topic by artfully combining provocative interviews and extensive research. Believing is Seeing successfully incorporates this methodology while simultaneously deconstructing the very notion of documentary veracity. The book consists of essays, each one describing a case study in which documentary photographs created controversy, conflicting interpretations, or troubling implications. Morris elucidates both the context and reception of each image with interviews and archival research.

He also analyzes both contemporary and historical images, demonstrating that many of the same issues and questions have been recurring since the advent of photography. Whether the photograph was taken in 1855 during the Crimean War or in 2003 at Abu Ghraib, our collective tendency to equate an image with a finalized truth has been problematic. To borrow Morris’s succinct phrasing, “…photographs allow us to think we know more than we really do. We can imagine a context that isn’t really there.”

03/14/2012 - 3:30am
Cover to Herbs in Bloom

With the gardening season starting in full force, there are many moments when we plan a project, even get started and then get stuck. Further guidance and reading is required. The Central Rappahannock Regional Library certainly has a large collection of paper copies of gardening books. But what happens if the perfect book is checked out and has holds on it? Or, perhaps you can't get in to see us at the library. Time is running out, and you need to start now.

I was aware of the fact that EBSCOhost has a collection of electronic gardening books but did not know how extensive the collection is. By typing in "gardening," as the search term, I came up with over four pages of results.

To utilize the results of your gardening, there are also many different cookbooks also available as eBooks.

03/14/2012 - 7:56am
Wild Horses of the World by Moira C. Harris

Wild Horses of the World, written by Moira C. Harris and with photographs by Bob Langrish, is a beautiful coffee table book that looks at dozens of types of wild horses around the world. Though all but one example, the Przewalski horse from Mongolia, are really more feral than truly wild, these horses have been roaming free for so many centuries and sometimes millennia that they have established their own identities, which are often interlinked with the history and culture surrounding them. Whether abandoned by explorers or left to freely roam by farmers until needed, the newly-wild horses quickly adapted to the natural herd behavioral patterns that protected them.  Without human interference, only the hardiest of the lot could survive.

03/13/2012 - 3:31am
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, seeks to determine through investigative journalism exactly what goes into deciding what we should eat. Pollan explains that as omnivores, humans have such a vast variety of foods that they are able to eat—plant, animal, and even fungi--that it creates a problem within the human mind. Other species such as the koala bear only have one choice for dinner, eucalyptus leaves; because humans have so many choices, deciding what to eat can take up a large part of humans' time. 
 
In order to investigate exactly how we have come to use the supermarkets and the industrial-style meal preparations today, Pollan looks at all of the ways in which people are able to feed themselves. He analyzes first the industrial-style food change, which starts with large farms in other parts of the country—or, in some cases, other parts of the world—and consists mostly of corn products, which leads to a meal served at your local McDonald's. Then he looks into the organic phenomena that we're seeing today, which stemmed out of early ideas about better ways to manufacture food that does not contain hormones and antibiotics that other industrial food chains add. Next, he looks at some alternative food production models, such as grass feed farms. The one that he examines most thoroughly is Polyface Farm, which is located in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Lastly, Pollan looks at the most traditional way of food production—food foraging—with which he produces an entire meal using his own skills in Berkley, California.

05/16/2014 - 2:20pm
You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secret of Happiness

If you are a dog lover, you will love this book. Only dog lovers would understand giving up their free time and a good portion of their shoes, which somehow turn into chew toys, in return for the unconditional love of a pup. But really, all animal lovers can relate to this story. You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secret of Happiness by Julie Klam is a hilarious memoir about how one woman went from being single at thirty and by herself in her Manhattan apartment to working in a dog rescue, married, and parenting all with the help of Otto, a Boston Terrier rescue. From Otto, Klam learned to share her life with another living being, which led her to a completely different lifestyle.

02/16/2012 - 4:28pm
Photo of Kindle Touch

You may have noticed that eBooks and eReaders are catching on with people.  With reports of ridiculously large sales numbers around the holidays, such as the one million Kindles sold each week of the 2011 holiday season, one gets the feeling that these gadgets might just have some staying power. 

At the Central Rappahannock Regional Library we have been delighted to offer the public free eBooks to check out through services like EBSCOhost and OverDrive. 

Overall, the public seems to be equally delighted with the service as our circulation statistics for eBooks continues to climb.
 

EBooks from the library have a number of advantages:eReaders - Kindle, iPad, smartphone

  • No late fees, period!
    Now, we have heard from numerous patrons that eBooks they check out will, through one technical hiccup or another, remain on their devices past the check-out period and concerns have been raised that overdue fees will be assessed because of this.  Have no fear: if you’ve experienced this difficulty, it does not change the fact that your eBook is indeed available for other patrons to check out, and you will not be fined one cent.
     
  • 24-hour service: our digital offerings are available for you to check out any time, any day, regardless of whether the library is open.  You want to read a Sookie Stackhouse book at 2 AM on a Sunday morning?  You can do that on OverDrive! Or, maybe you’re working at the last minute on a big paper for school and you need some serious non-fiction to help your research, but the library is closed.  Well, head over to EBSCOhost; with book titles as diverse as “Higher Education and Democracy: Essays on Service-learning and Civic Engagement” and “Entangled Geographies: Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War,” I’m pretty sure EBSCOhost has your back when it comes to research.

    (Photo of eReaders by The Daring Librarian)
     
  • There are practically no limits on your checkouts. 
    Now, I do say practically.  Technically, OverDrive limits you to three checkouts at a time, but you can return your books quite easily to free up space in your checkout queue for another title. This can be done through the Amazon.com if you checked the book out on a Kindle, through Adobe Digital Editions if you’re reading it on a Nook or Sony, or through the OverDrive Media Console app if you’re using a tablet computer.  And while EBSCOhost does not yet allow books to be returned early, you can have up to fifty titles checked out at once; we hope that will be enough.
     
02/03/2012 - 9:05am
A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron: "This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog's search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, this touches on the universal quest for an answer to life's most basic question: Why are we here? Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey's search for his new life's meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8 year old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog. But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey's journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wonders, will he ever find his purpose?"

If you liked A Dog's Purpose, you may want to check out our booklist called "No, No, Bad Dog!" (it also includes non-fiction titles).  These books are wonderful tales of "man's best friend."

You might try these fiction titles for a little laughter, maybe a few tears, but always a good "tale."

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Nearing the end of his life, Enzo, a dog with a philosopher's soul, tries to bring together the family, pulled apart by a three year custody battle between daughter Zoe's maternal grandparents and her father Denny, a race car driver. (summary)

 

 

Dog: a Short Novel by Michelle Herman
(T)he story of Jill Rosen-a single, childless professor who has given up on finding love-and Phil, the wise young dog she adopts, almost by accident. Although Jill finds her routines disrupted and her wistfulness about past loves stirred, she forges a connection with the dog that takes her by surprise in her solitary middle age. (summary)


 

01/24/2012 - 3:30am
The Social Animal by David Brooks

The Social Animal, by David Brooks, is a non-fictional account of the social lives of human beings. It looks deep into the human psyche in order to discover the motives for human actions. The story follows Erica and Harold, a fictional couple, through their entire lifespans. This includes a full examination of growth and development that starts in utero and expands over their lifetimes. Harold and Erica's relationship shows an array of longitudinal information that follows their relationship and explores such disciplines as psychology, sociology, politics, and history in an engaging approach to the social sciences.

01/17/2012 - 3:30am
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond reviews parts of history in order to theorize how different cultures became civilization's haves and how others became its have-nots. Diamond is a biologist, and here he seeks to explain why Eurasians--rather than Native Americans, Africans, and Native Australians--became successful conquerors. Diamond argues that rather than race and culture, factors such as food production and animal domestication allowed Eurasians to economically dominate the world.

12/14/2011 - 3:31am
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

Nickel and Dimed is the story of veteran journalist Barbara Ehrenreich’s investigation into low-wage America. Before she left her normal life to pursue this project, she already knew something of the problems that these workers endure because of her research into other social issues. Ehrenreich had suggested to the editor of Harper’s Magazine that someone should do an investigative piece about this group, but she never thought at the time that she would be the person to dig deep into the lives of the working poor in America.

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