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Nonfiction (RD 115)

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As nature made him : the boy who was raised as a girl

Colapinto, John

HarperCollins 2006

"In 1967, after a twin baby boy suffered a botched circumcision, his family agreed to a radical treatment that would alter his gender"--Cover.

Between a rock and a hard place

Ralston, Aron

Atria Books 2005

One of the most extraordinary survival stories ever told-Aron Ralston's searing account of his six days trapped in one of the most remote spots in America, and how one inspired act of bravery brought him home. It started out as a simple hike in the Utah canyonlands on a warm Saturday afternoon. For Aron Ralston, a twenty-seven-year-old mountaineer and outdoorsman, a walk into the remote Blue John Canyon was a chance to get a break from a winter of solo climbing Colorado's highest and toughest peaks. He'd earned this weekend vacation, and though he met two charming women along the way, by early afternoon he finally found himself in his element: alone, with just the beauty of the natural world all around him. It was 2:41 P.M. Eight miles from his truck, in a deep and narrow slot canyon, Aron was climbing down off a wedged boulder when the rock suddenly, and terrifyingly, came loose. Before he could get out of the way, the falling stone pinned his right hand and wrist against the canyon wall. And so began six days of hell for Aron Ralston. With scant water and little food, no jacket for the painfully cold nights, and the terrible knowledge that he'd told no one where he was headed, he found himself facing a lingering death-trapped by an 800-pound boulder 100 feet down in the bottom of a canyon. As he eliminated his escape options one by one through the days, Aron faced the full horror of his predicament: By the time any possible search and rescue effort would begin, he'd most probably have died of dehydration, if a flash flood didn't drown him before that. What does one do in the face of almost certain death? Using the video camera from his pack, Aron began recording his grateful good-byes to his family and friends all over the country, thinking back over a life filled with adventure, and documenting a last will and testament with the hope that someone would find it. (For their part, his family and friends had instigated a major search for Aron, the amazing details of which are also documented here for the first time.) The knowledge of their love kept Aron Ralston alive, until a divine inspiration on Thursday morning solved the riddle of the boulder. Aron then committed the most extreme act imaginable to save himself. Between a Rock and a Hard Place-a brilliantly written, funny, honest, inspiring, and downright astonishing report from the line where death meets life-will surely take its place in the annals of classic adventure stories.

The book of basketball : the NBA according to the sports guy

Simmons, Bill

Ballantine/ESPN Books 2010

Bill Simmons, the from-the-womb hoops addict known to millions as ESPN.com's Sports Guy, offers in a single volume his wildly opinionated and thoroughly entertaining look at the past, present, and future of pro basketball.

The book of five rings

Miyamoto, Musashi Cleary, Thomas F. Yagyu, Munenori

Shambhala 2000

Born to run : a hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen

McDougall, Christopher

Vintage Books 2011

Recounts the author's experiences with the reclusive Tarahumara Indians, whose techniques allow them to run long distances with ease, and describes his training for a fifty-mile race with the tribe and a number of ultramarathoners. Isolated by Mexico's deadly Copper Canyons, the blissful Tarahumara Indians have honed the ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury. In his narrative, award-winning journalist and often-injured runner Christopher McDougall sets out to discover their secrets. In the process, he takes his readers from science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultra-runners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to a climactic race in the Copper Canyons that pits America's best ultra-runners against the tribe. McDougall's incredible story will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.

The botany of desire : a plant's-eye view of the world

Pollan, Michael

Random House 2002

Focusing on the human relationship with plants, the author of Second nature uses botany to explore four basic human desires, sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control, through portraits of four plants that embody them, the apple, tulip, marijuana, and potato. Every school child learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers; the bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers' genes far and wide. In The botany of desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship. In telling the stories of four familiar species that are deeply woven into the fabric of our lives, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind's most basic yearnings. And just as we've benefited from these plants, the plants have done well by us. So who is really domesticating whom?

Eating animals

Foer, Jonathan Safran

Little, Brown and Company 2009

From the Publisher: Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between omnivore and vegetarian. But on the brink of fatherhood-facing the prospect of having to make dietary choices on a child's behalf-his casual questioning took on an urgency His quest for answers ultimately required him to visit factory farms in the middle of the night, dissect the emotional ingredients of meals from his childhood, and probe some of his most primal instincts about right and wrong. Brilliantly synthesizing philosophy, literature, science, memoir and his own detective work, Eating Animals explores the many fictions we use to justify our eating habits-from folklore to pop culture to family traditions and national myth-and how such tales can lull us into a brutal forgetting. Marked by Foer's profound moral ferocity and unvarying generosity, as well as the vibrant style and creativity that made his previous books, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, widely loved, Eating Animals is a celebration and a reckoning, a story about the stories we've told-and the stories we now need to tell.

Generation kill : Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America, and the new face of American war

Wright, Evan

Berkeley Caliber 2008

"They were called a generation without heroes. Then they were called upon to be heroes. Within hours of 9/11, America's war on terror fell to those like the Marines of the First Recon Battalion, the first generation dispatched into open-ended combat since Vietnam. They were a new breed of warrior unrecognizable to their forebears--soldiers raised on hip-hop, Internet porn, and video games, a disparate band of born-again Christians, dopers, Buddhists, and New Agers who gleaned their precepts from kung fu movies and Oprah Winfrey. Cocky, brave, headstrong, wary, and mostly unprepared for the physical, emotional, and moral horrors ahead, the "First Suicide Battalion" would spearhead the blitzkrieg on Iraq, and be among the first American combat units baptized in the horrors of Iraq's terrifying guerilla war. Generation Kill is the funny, frightening, and profane firsthand account of those remarkable men, of the personal toll of victory, and of the randomness, brutality, and camaraderie of a new American War."--Cover, p. 4.

Half the sky : turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide

Kristof, Nicholas D. WuDunn, Sheryl

Vintage Books 2010

"With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and, ultimately, hope. They show how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. That Cambodian girl eventually escaped from her brothel and, with assistance from an aid group, built a thriving retail business that supports her family. The Ethiopian woman had her injuries repaired and in time became a surgeon. A Zimbabwean mother of five, counseled to return to school, earned her doctorate and became an expert on AIDS. Through these stories, Kristof and WuDunn help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women's potential. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population. Countries such as China have prospered precisely because they emancipated women and brought them into the formal economy. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it's also the best strategy for fighting poverty."--pub. desc.

The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks

Skloot, Rebecca

Crown Publishers 2009

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer and viruses; helped lead to in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks is buried in an unmarked grave. Her family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. The story of the Lacks family is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of--From publisher description.

Into the wild

Krakauer, Jon

Anchor Books 1997

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Into thin air : a personal account of the Mount Everest disaster

Krakauer, Jon, Rackliff, Randy

Anchor Books 1999

"Reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion, Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10, 1996. He hadn't slept in fifty-seven hours. As he turned to begin the perilous descent from 29,028 feet (roughly the cruising altitude of an Airbus jetliner), twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly to the top, unaware that the sky had begun to roil with clouds..." "This is the terrifying story of what really happened that fateful day at the top of the world, during what would be the deadliest season in the history of Everest. In this harrowing yet breathtaking narrative, Krakauer takes the reader along with his ill-fated expedition, step by precarious step, from Katmandu to the mountain's pinnacle where, plagued by a combination of hubris, greed, poor judgment, and plain bad luck, they would fall prey to the mountain's unpredictable fury."--BOOK JACKET.

Kabul Beauty School : an American woman goes behind the veil

Rodriguez, Deborah, Ohlson, Kristin

Random House 2007

"Soon after the fall of the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a humanitarian aid group. Surrounded by people whose skills--as doctors, nurses, and therapists--seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use. Yet she found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once her profession became known she was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afghan women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus the idea for the Kabul Beauty School was born. Within that small haven, the line between teacher and student quickly blurred as these vibrant women shared with Rodriguez their stories and their hearts, ultimately giving her the strength to leave her own unhealthy marriage and allow herself to love again, Afghan style."--From publisher description.

Moonwalking with Einstein : the art and science of remembering everything

Foer, Joshua

Penguin Press 2011

Having achieved the seemingly unachievable-- becoming a U.S. Memory Champion-- Foer shows how anyone with enough training and determination can achieve mastery of their memory.

Paramedic : on the front lines of medicine

Canning, Peter

Ballantine Books 1998

They live for the action, for the saves, for the streets, for each other. In a first person narrative, this book tells the authentic American story of one man's experience as an EMT, and the dedication it takes to save lives. The author shocked his family and friends when he gave up a successful career as a speechwriter for the governor of Connecticut to become a paramedic. Making his way through a rigorous training period, overcoming his self-doubts and fear of making fatal mistakes, he went from a life of privilege to the life-and-death reality of the streets. Here he relives the seconds that can mean the difference between a patient's death and survival, as he struggles, sometimes in the face of a hostile crowd or the glare of TV cameras, to make the right call, dispense the right medication, or keep a patient's heart beating long enough to reach the hospital. This book takes us into the center of a mobile ER, and as the author tells his stories, of the lives he saved and lost, of the fear, the nightmares, and the constant, adrenaline-pumping thrill of action, we come away with a portrait of what it means to be a hero.

Rescue 471 : a paramedic's stories

Canning, Peter

Random House Publishing 2000

Here the author has written a book that captures the rarely seen real world of emergency medicine. A seasoned paramedic who fights under enormous pressure to save lives, he trains new paramedics for the rigors of a nonstop, action-packed battle. From a four-month-old baby who has stopped breathing to a sixty-seven-year-old woman with a strange abdominal mass that threatens to explode, these are gripping true stories from the "ER on the streets." An exciting, often moving account, he tells a powerful story of camaraderie, selflessness, and courage as paramedics try to stand tall and human through both defeat and victory.

Spook : science tackles the afterlife

Roach, Mary

W.W. Norton 2006

The best-selling author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers now trains her considerable wit and curiosity on the human soul. What happens when we die? Does the light just go out and that's that--the million-year nap? Or will some part of my personality, my me-ness persist? What will that feel like? What will I do all day? Is there a place to plug in my lap-top?" In an attempt to find out, Mary Roach brings her tireless curiosity to bear on an array of contemporary and historical soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that life goes on after we die. She begins the journey in rural India with a reincarnation researcher and ends up in a University of Virginia operating room where cardiologists have installed equipment near the ceiling to study out-of-body near-death experiences. Along the way, she enrolls in an English medium school, gets electromagnetically haunted at a university in Ontario, and visits a Duke University professor with a plan to weigh the consciousness of a leech. Her historical wanderings unearth soul-seeking philosophers who rummaged through cadavers and calves' heads, a North Carolina lawsuit that established legal precedence for ghosts, and the last surviving sample of "ectoplasm" in a Cambridge University archive.

Stiff : the curious lives of human cadavers

Roach, Mary

W.W. Norton & Co. 2004

Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers-some willingly, some unwittingly-have been involved in science's boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

Will to live : dispatches from the edge of survival

Stroud, Les, Vlessides, Michael

Harper 2011

Analyzes survival stories, recounting the events that occurred, and evaluating the decisions made utilizing four critical survival elements, in a text that includes practical tips.

Zeitoun

Eggers, Dave

Vintage Books 2010

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, longtime New Orleans residents Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun are cast into an unthinkable struggle with forces beyond wind and water. In the days after the storm, Abdulrahman traveled the flooded streets in a secondhand canoe, passing on supplies and helping those he could. A week later, on September 6, 2005, Zeitoun abruptly disappeared--arrested and accused of being an agent of al Qaeda.