There is more than one reason why you should be carefully choosing the University you want to attend. Some might be a good choice career-wise, but then there's all that poltergeisting which might be a bit annoying when you're trying to learn for exams. Encounters of the spooky kind have apparently scared students throughout the years and in America's Haunted Universities Matthew L. Swayne now presents a collection of paranormal events in dormitories and classrooms, and of course libraries too.Tongue in cheek and wildly entertaining, the author isn't trying to proof that these places are actually haunted, but instead he compiled a mix of unexplained occurrences that are often based on folktales and urban legends of the haunting kind. Of course a few real ghost stories might have slipped in as well, but maybe it's just an old building settling that explains the eery creaking and moaning in the walls at night.I must admit I was happy to see that the author doesn't try to convince readers that all those ghostly encounters are the real thing. Though you're free to take every word at face value, if you wish.While the book claims to be a comprehensive collection, to me it seemed a rather haphazard assortment of incidents, some all too brief, maybe a paragraph long, while others were more extensive. Apart from that, however, this has been a truly amusing read for me.In short: A hauntingly fun read!
If you're a bibliophile you most likely thought about it yourself. Your very own bookstore. In The Little Bookstore Of Big Stone Gap Wendy Welch and her husband make that dream come true. In a spur of the moment decision they buy an old Edwardian home to open their own used bookstore. Of course it's a long way from a dream to a working business, especially if you have no business plan.This is a quaint and wholesome story about a small town bookstore and its people. Putting their hearts, as much as part of their personal library onto those empty shelves, this venture proved to be a real page turner for me. Yet I'll be the first to admit that you should love books, otherwise this book might not captivate you as much as it pulled me in.Both warmhearted and fun Wendy sure managed to put a smile on my face from the first page on. Not only can you feel the love for books between the lines, she is also a wonderful writer, not just bringing her experiences and observations to paper, but making them come alive in the reader's mind. I could literally see myself browsing those shelves, catching glimpses of the cats (and dogs) of the house, and mingling with the regulars. I'm in love with this place already!Too bad the book doesn't include pictures of the shop which would have really rounded off the picture.In short: A bookishly charming memoir!
Time for a little confession - Uncle John's Fully Loaded 25th Anniversary Edition isn't my first Bathroom Reader, and most likely not my last one either. So you could say that I'm a little prejudiced as I've always enjoyed these books. Of course for this particular edition I certainly expected the Uncle John's team to, once again, outdo themselves.The Bathroom Reader's are a series of books filled with trivia and short essays on various topics, some volumes dedicated to a single topic, while others, like this one, offer a broad spectrum from Law & Order to Stage & Screen and from Word & Phrase to Myths & Legends. In a nutshell? A light and entertaining read filled to the lid (pun fully intended) with genius conversation starters and useless but laughter-inducing fun facts. Due to the nature of the Bathroom Reader's, and the book title is already a dead giveaway, this tome makes for perfect reading material in the bathroom. Obviously you may just as well read these books on the couch or on the bus, but that is entirely up to you. Ultimately it is perfect to dig into anytime you've got a few minutes to spare!Honestly, after 25 years you can't help but wonder how and where they dig out so many new topics without getting repetitive, but once again Uncle John doesn't disappoint!In short: Fully loaded indeed! Will keep you from being bored during many sittings to come!
With Mankind Beyond Earth Claude A. Piantadosi presents a different focus among the multitude of books on space exploration. Emphasizing the importance of first returning to the Moon before even thinking about taking the big leap towards Mars, some may think the book offers a much too prudent approach, but does it really?Not just reiterating historic events, but drawing a vivid picture of how space travel draws from eg polar science, which is one of the grandparents of space exploration, the author comes to the conclusion that despite what it may look like, a coherent plan for human space travel has not been developed yet. Obviously traveling into outer space does not allow much leeway when it comes to errors and bringing feasibility of future space exploration on par with the limits of human biology is a crucial point. Thus we must continue to learn and what better way than settling up on Earth's natural satellite which would offer the chance for habitat development before attempting interplanetary missions? With robotic missions well under way, we are certainly taking the first step, but it's a fragile balance not just of scientific research, but politics as well as economic considerations.Highly engrossing and accessible even for those who aren't science nuts, I thoroughly enjoyed this book which does not simply draw castles in the sky, but conveys a wonderful combination of sound science with a sense for adventure!In short: Captivating tract on the importance of space exploration!
Who knew how big the impact of beverages on American culture really is? In his book Drinking History Andrew F. Smith introduces the reader to a history of drinking in the United States, from Colonial times, when beer ran out and colonists had to make do with plain water, straight to today's low-fat soy latte from the nearest coffee-shop of your choice.I've always been drawn to books that explore the history of things, probably because history class back in school has been rather dull, and looking at our past from a slightly different angle is something that accommodates my curiosity more than the apparent lack of enthusiasm my history teachers showed.As far as factual information goes this book has it all - each chapter brings you some historical background, dips into how certain beverages were produced, shares how people's tastes changed over the years, and obviously major events such as the Prohibition are in the spotlight too.Sadly, my interest in the doubtlessly fascinating topic, and my appreciation for a presentation of facts in a brief and succinct format, collided with the writing style which is bordering heavily on school book charm. I expect my non fiction fare to be a bit more lively and a little less dry, and hadn't it been for the segments on typical American beverages, eg Root Beer or Dr. Pepper, which I personally found the most interesting, my verdict would have been less favorable.In short: Shaken, but definitely not stirred!
It was the title, and the somewhat scary cover, which first caught my attention. What promised to be a leap into the world of Hannibal Lecter is actually much more than that. In The Wisdom of Psychopaths psychologist Kevin Dutton introduces the reader to what exactly psychopaths are made of and, surprisingly, they have got quite a few good things going for them as this insightful and wonderfully entertaining tract proves.Connecting psychopaths to violent behavior, to associate them with vicious crimes, is easy, and some will doubtlessly live up to this expectation. Still, your doctor may be one too, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The point is that there is a fine line that separates a great surgeon from a serial killer.This book isn't so much about what psychopathic character traits we could adopt to implement them in our own lives, after all how do you learn to be charismatic or fearless, but it beautifully depicts why psychopaths are the way they are on both a neurological and psychological level. Ultimately it's about understanding them and Dutton does an amazing job illustrating their inner workings.I don't think I have ever read a book that so skilfully blends a serious topic with an adventurous streak, especially when he undergoes a "psychopath make-over". Fast-paced, fun and smart, this is for everyone who wants to know more about what makes psychopaths tick!In short: An intriguing and captivating work about the psychopath's mind!
When I first heard about The Tinkerers by Alec Foege I had to think back to my own childhood days when my grandpa would tinker around on all kinds of gadgets and our TV set got repaired by a tinkering friend at least a dozen times. In this spirit the author sets out from the tale of his own tinkering experience of repairing his smartphone, before delving deeper into history and technology, exploring tinkering from the birth of the nation straight to the hope of recovering the tinkering spirit through respective changes in the educational system.Written in a sweeping and entertaining way, Foege certainly understands to pull you right in with his opening chapter. Then, however, I found myself faced with the sudden realization that the author and I have a completely different understanding about what tinkering means. A promising introduction is followed by, more or less, inventing things, and while this is certainly interesting it's neither what I had expected nor what I had been looking to read about.Despite the misleading title the book is certainly rich in content and opens a fascinating perspective on the tinkering mind-set of the American people. Especially the emphasis on how Americans may, and should, rediscover their tinkering spirit, and the important part that education plays in this regard, was well worth the read and made up a little for what I conceived as missing the point of the topic.In short: Manifest for reviving the American tinkering spirit!
What did you have for breakfast today? Or more importantly how did you prepare it? I bet several kitchen appliances have been put to good use. Pans and knives, measuring and grinding, fire and ice (or rather, stove and fridge) - Consider The Fork by Bee Wilson isn't your ordinary guide into the history of food, but into the world of implements and technology inside the kitchen. It's not about what but how we eat, and if you find this to be a trivial topic, think again, because it's most certainly not. I promise, after reading this book you will never look at your spoon the same way again!Skillfully the author weaves a tapestry of her own observations while cooking, mixing it with fascinating excursions into history, effortlessly seguing from everyday snapshots to the distant past. Thoroughly researched and wonderfully detailed, but even more so, engrossingly and smoothly written, this book is literally a real treat for everyone even remotely interested into a look at the technology behind everything we eat. As unimportant as the equipment of a kitchen may seem compared to the history of food itself, I was both surprised and delighted by this book. I have always had a great appreciation for books presenting a slightly different angle on historical aspects of things, and this one catered to my taste (pun intended) just perfectly.In short: A mesmerizing and beautifully written journey into the world of kitchen utensils!
Being instantly drawn to this book, which features such a quirky title in combination with one of the most gorgeous covers I've seen in a long time, this proved indeed to be quite a unique read. Suzette Field certainly picked an unusual topic in her book A Curious Invitation, presenting an eclectic collection of bookish parties - from Queen Alice's Feast to The Ball at Mansfield Park, straight to The Thomas Ewen High School Prom and Finnegan's Wake!The focus on parties as literary device, and possible inspiration for your own fictional party, sounded fascinating and certainly did not disappoint. Not simply a reiteration of what other authors have written, everything from the location of each party to the dress code, food, and entertainment is being highlighted with refreshingly British humor.Of course some might wonder what use such a book may have, apart from being wonderfully entertaining, and all I can say is, it's not just a marvelous introduction to the broad variety of novels included, even more so it opens a whole new viewpoint from which to dip into these, often classic, stories. Plus, if you should feel so inclined, it will certainly make for interesting party planning too. Of course, being one of London's top party organizers, Ms Field knows her way around parties that are, shall we say, a little different, so why not let her literar(ll)y inspire you to host your own?In short: A delightfully bookish party planner!
After her tremendously successful book How To Be a Woman, Caitlin Moran is back with a collection of columns she's written for The Times Magazine in her appropriately named anthology Moranthology. Wading through a mishmash of different topics, mostly in the realms of popular culture, she also broaches more serious topics, such as living on benefits, or, my personal favorites, allows up-close-and-personal insights into her life, including how she got her trademark grey hair strand. Topics may vary, some columns being more poignant than others, ranging from grave to funny, and always with a tendency of bordering on the vulgar, Moran's witty and eloquent writing style is definitely the red thread in this book.Little did I know this is a collection of older work and the only new additions are the short introductions to each column. Of course this presented the perfect opportunity to simply get to know her work better. Unfortunately though this book shares the fate of many anthologies - the likelihood that you will end up loving a handful of articles while the rest is just average padding between the covers, a padding that, in my case, consisted of an abundance of pieces about British TV series.Seeing how my expectations were high after her previous book, this collection was admittedly a bit of a let-down for me. However, this is simply a matter of personal preferences and should not discourage anyone giving this book a try.In short: A mildly entertaining anthology in typical Moran-style!