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Old 02-23-2010, 10:40 AM   #1
pilotbob
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March 2010 Book Club Nominations

Help us select the next book that the Mobile Read book club will read for March 2010.

The nominations will run through Mar 02.
Voting (new poll thread) will run for 5 days starting Mar 02.

Book selection category for March per the "official" club opening thread is:

March 2010
Nonfiction


In order for a book to be included in the poll it needs THREE NOMINATIONS (original nomination, a second and a third).

How Does This Work?
The Mobile Read Book Club (MRBC) is an informal club that requires nothing of you. Each month a book is selected by polling. On the last week of that month a discussion thread is started for the book. If you want to participate feel free. There is no need to "join" or sign up. All are welcome.

How Does a Book Get Selected?
Each book that is nominated will be listed in a pool at the end of the nomination period. The book that polls the most votes will be the official selection.

How Many Nominations Can I Make?
Each participant has 3 nominations. You can nominate a new book for consideration or nominate (second, third) one that has already been nominated by another person.

How Do I Nominate a Book?
Please just post a message with your nomination. If you are the FIRST to nominate a book, please try to provide an abstract to the book so others may consider their level of interest.

How Do I Know What Has Been Nominated?
Just follow the thread. This message will be updated with the status of the nominations as often as I can. If one is missed, please just post a message with a multi-quote of the 3 nominations and it will be added to the list ASAP.

When is the Poll?
The poll thread will open at the end of the nomination period, or once there have been 10 books with 3 nominations each. At that time a link to the poll thread will be posted here and this thread will be closed.

The floor is open to nominations.


Official choices each with three nominations:

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers? by Mary Roach
"Uproariously funny" doesn't seem a likely description for a book on cadavers. However, Roach, a Salon and Reader's Digest columnist, has done the nearly impossible and written a book as informative and respectful as it is irreverent and witty. From her opening lines ("The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back"), it is clear that she's taking a unique approach to issues surrounding death.

The Omnivore's Delimma by Michael Pollan
In The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan writes about how our food is grown -- what it is, in fact, that we are eating. The book is really three in one: The first section discusses industrial farming; the second, organic food, both as big business and on a relatively small farm; and the third, what it is like to hunt and gather food for oneself. And each section culminates in a meal -- a cheeseburger and fries from McDonald's; roast chicken, vegetables and a salad from Whole Foods; and grilled chicken, corn and a chocolate soufflé (made with fresh eggs) from a sustainable farm; and, finally, mushrooms and pork, foraged from the wild.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
It is a really fascinating book about a woman whose cells became the first 'immortal line' in medical research and 50 years after her death, are still being used and have led to many medical discoveries. Her family did not find out this was even going on until years after her death. It's a very interesting story.

Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things by Richard Wiseman.
An award-winning psychologist exposes the truth behind life's little oddities and absurdities in this quirky and practical guide to life.
For over twenty years, psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman has examined the quirky science of everyday life. In Quirkology, he navigates the backwaters of human behavior, discovering the tell-tale signs that give away a liar, the secret science behind speed-dating and personal ads, and what a person's sense of humor reveals about the innermost workings of their mind-- all along paying tribute to others who have carried out similarly weird and wonderful work. Wiseman's research has involved secretly observing people as they go about their daily business, conducting unusual experiments in art exhibitions and music concerts, and even staging fake séances in allegedly haunted buildings. With thousands of research subjects from all over the world, including enamored couples, unwitting pedestrians, and guileless dinner guests, Wiseman presents a fun, clever, and unexpected picture of the human mind.

American Notes by Charles Dickens
It's a short travelogue of Dickens' travels through America in the year 1842, and contains some wonderful descriptions of a world that no longer exists, and, in addition, is extremely funny in parts, such as Dickens' description of the then-prevalent habit of chewing tobacco and spitting.

A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Consistently lauded for its lively, readable prose, this revised and updated edition of A People's History of the United States turns traditional textbook history on its head. Howard Zinn infuses the often-submerged voices of blacks, women, American Indians, war resisters, and poor laborers of all nationalities into this thorough narrative that spans American history from Christopher Columbus's arrival to an afterword on the Clinton presidency...

A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
(Is this available as an eBook?)
"First published in 1946, History of Western Philosophy went on to become the best-selling philosophy book of the twentieth century. A dazzlingly ambitious project, it remains unchallenged to this day as the ultimate introduction to Western philosophy. Providing a sophisticated overview of the ideas that have perplexed people from time immemorial, Russell's History of Western Philosophy offered a cogent précis of its subject. Of course this cannot be the only reason it ended up the best selling philosophy book of the twentieth century. Russell's book was 'long on wit, intelligence and curmudgeonly scepticism', as the New York Times noted, and it is this, coupled with the sheer brilliance of its scholarship, that has made Russell's History of Western Philosophy one of the most important philosophical works of all time."

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that The Devil in the White City is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. Burnham's challenge was immense. In a short period of time, he was forced to overcome the death of his partner and numerous other obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair's incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison. The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims. Combining the stories of an architect and a killer in one book, mostly in alternating chapters, seems like an odd choice but it works. The magical appeal and horrifying dark side of 19th-century Chicago are both revealed through Larson's skillful writing.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
This book examines what would happen to the planet if human beings disappeared. It looks at a wide variety of specific questions ranging from why and when bridges would fall down to what would happen to cockroaches. I just checked and it's available for both Kindle ($9.99) and SONY ($10.50).

The Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin

The Stranger Beside Me by Anne Rule
Ann Rule was a writer working on the biggest story of her life, tracking down a brutal mass-murderer. Little did she know that Ted Bundy, her close friend, was the savage slayer she was hunting.

The Greek Myths by Robert Graves
(any links to ebook versions of this? I couldn't find it on Amazon.)
The title says it all.

Last edited by pilotbob; 03-02-2010 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 02-23-2010, 10:41 AM   #2
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Sorry this thread is late. The month just got away from me. Well, it is a short month after all... that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

BOb
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Old 02-23-2010, 12:53 PM   #3
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How about Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers?
Quote:
"Uproariously funny" doesn't seem a likely description for a book on cadavers. However, Roach, a Salon and Reader's Digest columnist, has done the nearly impossible and written a book as informative and respectful as it is irreverent and witty. From her opening lines ("The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back"), it is clear that she's taking a unique approach to issues surrounding death.
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Old 02-23-2010, 01:09 PM   #4
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Two weeks ago SpiderMatt brought to our attention a book by Henry Hazlitt called Thinking as a Science.

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...hlight=Hazlitt

His thread was about one observation in the book, and received 180 responses and 3,711 views.

I am very much enjoying the book, which is a serious but not arcane discussion. It is only 140 pages long. It can be downloaded from Google Books here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=6Lc...age&q=&f=false
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Old 02-23-2010, 01:25 PM   #5
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"The Omnivore's Delimma" Michael Pollan

From The Washington Post
Most of us are at a great distance from our food. I don't mean that we live "twelve miles from a lemon," as English wit Sydney Smith said about a home in Yorkshire. I mean that our food bears little resemblance to its natural substance. Hamburger never mooed; spaghetti grows on the pasta tree; baby carrots come from a pink and blue nursery. Still, we worry about our meals -- from calories to carbs, from heart-healthy to brain food. And we prefer our food to be "natural," as long as natural doesn't involve real.

In The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan writes about how our food is grown -- what it is, in fact, that we are eating. The book is really three in one: The first section discusses industrial farming; the second, organic food, both as big business and on a relatively small farm; and the third, what it is like to hunt and gather food for oneself. And each section culminates in a meal -- a cheeseburger and fries from McDonald's; roast chicken, vegetables and a salad from Whole Foods; and grilled chicken, corn and a chocolate soufflé (made with fresh eggs) from a sustainable farm; and, finally, mushrooms and pork, foraged from the wild.

The first section is a wake-up call for anyone who has ever been hungry. In the United States, Pollan makes clear, we're mostly fed by two things: corn and oil. We may not sit down to bowls of yummy petroleum, but almost everything we eat has used enormous amounts of fossil fuels to get to our tables. Oil products are part of the fertilizers that feed plants, the pesticides that keep insects away from them, the fuels used by the trains and trucks that transport them across the country, and the packaging in which they're wrapped. We're addicted to oil, and we really like to eat.

Oil underlines Pollan's story about agribusiness, but corn is its focus. American cattle fatten on corn. Corn also feeds poultry, pigs and sheep, even farmed fish. But that's just the beginning. In addition to dairy products from corn-fed cows and eggs from corn-fed chickens, corn starch, corn oil and corn syrup make up key ingredients in prepared foods. High-fructose corn syrup sweetens everything from juice to toothpaste. Even the alcohol in beer is corn-based. Corn is in everything from frozen yogurt to ketchup, from mayonnaise and mustard to hot dogs and bologna, from salad dressings to vitamin pills. "Tell me what you eat," said the French gastronomist Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, "and I will tell you what you are." We're corn.

Each bushel of industrial corn grown, Pollan notes, uses the equivalent of up to a third of a gallon of oil. Some of the oil products evaporate and acidify rain; some seep into the water table; some wash into rivers, affecting drinking water and poisoning marine ecosystems. The industrial logic also means vast farms that grow only corn. When the price of corn drops, the solution, the farmer hopes, is to plant more corn for next year. The paradoxical result? While farmers earn less, there's an over-supply of cheap corn, and that means finding ever more ways to use it up.

Is eating all this corn good for us? Who knows? We think we've tamed nature, but we're just beginning to learn about all that we don't yet know. Ships were once provided with plenty of food, but sailors got scurvy because they needed vitamin C. We're sailing on the same sea, thinking we're eating well but still discovering nutrients in our food that we hadn't known were there -- that we don't yet know we need.

We've lost touch with the natural loops of farming, in which livestock and crops are connected in mutually beneficial circles. Pollan discusses the alternatives to industrial farming, but these two long (and occasionally self-indulgent) sections lack the focus and intensity -- the anger beneath the surface -- of the first. He spends a week at Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm in the Shenandoah Valley, a farm that works with nature, rather than despite it. Salatin calls himself a grass farmer, though his farm produces cows, chickens, eggs and corn. But everything begins with the grass: The cows nibble at it at the precise moment when it's at its sweetest and are moved from pasture to pasture to keep the grass at its best height. Their droppings fertilize the grass, and the cycle is under way. There's a kind of lyrical symmetry to everything that happens on this farm. Even the final slaughtering of chickens is done quickly and humanely, in the open air. It isn't pleasant, but compared to the way cattle are fattened and slaughtered in meat industry feedlots and slaughterhouses, it is remarkably reasonable.

We needn't learn how to shoot our own pigs, as Pollan does; there's hope in other ways -- farmers' markets, the Slow Food movement, restaurants supplied by local farms. To Pollan, the omnivore's dilemma is twofold: what we choose to eat ("What should we have for dinner?" he asks in the opening sentence of his book) and how we let that food be produced. His book is an eater's manifesto, and he touches on a vast array of subjects, from food fads and taboos to our avoidance of not only our food's animality, but also our own. Along the way, he is alert to his own emotions and thoughts, to see how they affect what he does and what he eats, to learn more and to explain what he knows. His approach is steeped in honesty and self-awareness. His cause is just, his thinking is clear, and his writing is compelling.

Be careful of your dinner!

Reviewed by Bunny Crumpacker
Copyright 2006, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.
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Old 02-23-2010, 01:47 PM   #6
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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

From Amazon:
Quote:
Not long after Jack the Ripper haunted the ill-lit streets of 1888 London, H.H. Holmes (born Herman Webster Mudgett) dispatched somewhere between 27 and 200 people, mostly single young women, in the churning new metropolis of Chicago; many of the murders occurred during (and exploited) the city's finest moment, the World's Fair of 1893. Larson's breathtaking new history is a novelistic yet wholly factual account of the fair and the mass murderer who lurked within it. Bestselling author Larson (Isaac's Storm) strikes a fine balance between the planning and execution of the vast fair and Holmes's relentless, ghastly activities. The passages about Holmes are compelling and aptly claustrophobic; readers will be glad for the frequent escapes to the relative sanity of Holmes's co-star, architect and fair overseer Daniel Hudson Burnham, who managed the thousands of workers and engineers who pulled the sprawling fair together 0n an astonishingly tight two-year schedule. A natural charlatan, Holmes exploited the inability of authorities to coordinate, creating a small commercial empire entirely on unpaid debts and constructing a personal cadaver-disposal system. This is, in effect, the nonfiction Alienist, or a sort of companion, which might be called Homicide, to Emile Durkheim's Suicide. However, rather than anomie, Larson is most interested in industriousness and the new opportunities for mayhem afforded by the advent of widespread public anonymity. This book is everything popular history should be, meticulously recreating a rich, pre-automobile America on the cusp of modernity, in which the sale of "articulated" corpses was a semi-respectable trade and serial killers could go well-nigh unnoticed.
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:03 PM   #7
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I have a nomination that's a really good book I think everyone should read...

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals by Jane Mayer
Quote:
“The Dark Side,” Jane Mayer’s gripping new account of the war on terror, is really the story of two wars: the far-flung battle against Islamic radicalism, and the bitter, closed-doors domestic struggle over whether the president should have limitless power to wage it. The euphemistically named but often grisly particulars of the fight against Al Qaeda — the “extraordinary renditions” by hooded agents in unmarked planes, the secret “black site” prisons across the globe, the “enhanced” interrogation techniques, the “reverse rendition” of detainees lucky enough to be found innocent and dumped blindfolded at remote borders — are harrowingly recounted here, complete with fresh revelations. But in Ms. Mayer’s hands the story of bureaucratic jockeying in well-upholstered offices and in the fine print of legal documents makes for an equally absorbing and disturbing story. It’s a cage match between the Constitution and a cabal of ideological extremists, and the Constitution goes down.
The full link is http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/22/bo...chuessler.html. Please have a read.
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:08 PM   #8
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I nominate 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' by Rebecca Skloot. It is a really fascinating book about a woman whose cells became the first 'immortal line' in medical research and 50 years after her death, are still being used and have led to many medical discoveries. Her family did not find out this was even going on until years after her death. It's a very interesting story.

I'll also second Omnivore's Dilemma.
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:11 PM   #9
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Ooh! I totally second Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers! I was just looking at that again thinking I need to buy it.
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:22 PM   #10
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I'll second the Omnivore's Dilemma; it looks interesting.

I'll have to second something else that isn't about dead things, or people will get the wrong idea ...
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Old 02-23-2010, 03:44 PM   #11
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Please let's not get into self-help type books.
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Old 02-23-2010, 04:01 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
Please let's not get into self-help type books.
I think people should be free to nominate anything that meets the non-fiction category.

Not that I'd support a self-help nom; but then I won't be supporting political ones either.
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Old 02-23-2010, 04:28 PM   #13
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Oh my.. Lots of good recommendations.

I've read both 'Stiff' and 'Omnivores Dilemma' in paper. The first is just a plain fun read and the second is good for your brain...
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Old 02-23-2010, 04:43 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by jgaiser View Post
I've read both 'Stiff' and 'Omnivores Dilemma' in paper.
Stiff only seems to be available as an ebook in the US (Kindle, B&N, Sony), Omnivores Dilemma is available in the US and the UK.
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Old 02-23-2010, 04:50 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
Stiff only seems to be available as an ebook in the US (Kindle, B&N, Sony), Omnivores Dilemma is available in the US and the UK.
Stiff is available in the UK from Amazon.com - I've bought it.
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