Like every bookish brunette with tortoise-shell glasses, I believe that if Tina Fey and I met she would see a kindred spirit with whom she would want to be BFFs forever and we would immediately set up play dates for our daughters. (I really do believe this, by the way.) Listening to the audio version of  her New York Times Hardcover Bestseller Bossypants has done nothing to lessen my certainty that my down-to-earth midwestern sensibilities would be a welcome change from all those Hollywood phonies who also think that she wants to come over and eat tortilla chips with hummus and watch a Real Housewives marathon on Bravo. So, when your town’s similarly deluded version of me comes into your library wanting more articulate, feminist, hilarious memoirs, try not to say, “Me too, sister.” Instead, ask if she’s read Jen Lancaster. Though, Lancaster ‘s books are much more personal, more anecdotal. It’s like Maude vs. Mary Tyler Moore. (I love you, Tina Fey, but you’re Maude in this analogy.) You can also recommend Why I’m Like This by Cynthia Kaplan. Kaplan’s essay “Jack Has a Thermos” is a nice companion piece to Fey’s shout out to dad, “That’s Don Fey.” For more general lady comic shenanigans, please take a look at last spring’s That’s No Lady blog post. Readers who weren’t really inspired by Fey’s climb up the comedy ladder or thoughts on being a working mom might just like reading about an East Coast Greek girl. They will thank you for showing them where the Tori Carrington mysteries are shelved. Finally, don’t overthink this one. People who appreciate the smart/funny combo in narrative non-fiction, probably enjoy it elsewhere. Imagine what a hero you’ll be if you’re the one who introduces a patron to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast or You Look Nice Today. (Note: The You Look Nice Today website makes absolutely no sense unless you’ve listened to their podcasts. It’s not you; it’s them.) And if you’re still on the waiting list for Bossypants at your library, try getting your hands on the audio version. (I’ve listened to it twice.)

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Everything you ever wanted to know about apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes is contained in  Michael Pollan’s witty and insightful The Botany of Desire. He uses these four plants to explore genetic engineering, prohibition (Oh, Johnny Appleseed, I’ll never think of you the same way again), greed, commerce, beauty, corporate agriculture, and more. It’s a book that you want your best friend to read at the same time so that at the end of each section you can say, “Wow. So what do you think this means for…” or “Maybe we should be careful about eating/breathing/smoking so much…” I’ve often said that for me the true test of popular nonfiction is how annoying it makes the reader. When I was reading this book, I was so full of fascinating tidbits that I was insufferable. That’s a good book!

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king tut

James Patterson’s The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King comes out today, and of course, you don’t have enough copies for your patrons. Or perhaps, when they’ve read it, their interest is piqued. Here are some more titles on the Boy King.

Fiction:

The Lord Mehren Series by Lynda S. Robinson.  The 6 titles in this series follows Lord Meren, a confidant of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, as he solves crime in ancient Egypt.  Full of historical customs and facts.

The Egyptologist by Arthur Philips.  Set in the 1920s, Egyptologist Ralph Trilipush risks his career and his reputation searching for the tomb of an ancient pharaoh.

The Amelia Peabody Series by Elizabeth Peters.   Victorian spinster shakes off the mores of the day to travel to Egypt and become an archaeologist. Another series by Peters, featuring art historian Vicky Bliss, contains a novel where Bliss sets off to find the missing mummy of King Tut – The Laughter of Dead Kings.

Valley of the Kings: A Novel of Tutankhamun by Cecelia Holland.  A fictional account of Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamen’s long-lost tomb.

Nonfiction:

The Mysterious Death of Tutankhamun by Paul Doherty.  Written like a best-selling thriller,  Doherty asks and answers questions surrounding Tut’s death and discovery.

Tutankhamun The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs by Zahi A. Hawass and Sandro Vannini. Written to commemorate the world museum tour of Tut’s tomb in 2008, this lavish book features photographs and illuminating commentary.

Who Killed King Tut?  Using Modern Forensics to Solve a 3,330-year-old Mystery by Michael R.King and Gregory M. Cooper ; with Don DeNevi. The authors speculate on who or what killed Tut, based on ancient history, modern forensic techniques, and archaeological evidence.

In the Valley of the Kings: Howard Carter and the Mystery of King Tutankhamun’s Tomb by Daniel Myerson.  A biography of Carter, the British archeologist who discovered the  tomb of the boy king Tut in 1922.

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41kPXdzm8sL._SL160_Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell is getting a lot of press these days.  It’s a frank discussion of why we buy junk we don’t need, how prices affect us psychologically, what happened in the past to send us down this path, and how it’s affecting our future.  When a patron asks you for it, steer them towards these as well:

Not Buying It: My Year without Shopping by Judith Levine.  Levine and her partner try to spend an entire year not buying anything but necessities.

Give It Up!: My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less by Mary Carlomagno.  Similar to Levine’s book, Carlomagno gives up one thing per month – drinking, shopping, dessert, even swearing.

Throw Out Fifty Things:  Clear the Clutter, Clear Your Life by Gail Blanke.  Blanke shows you how to stop letting bad purchases clutter your space and your life.

Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businessesby Stacy Mitchell.  A look at how mega-retailers are shrinking the middle class and adding to environmental concerns.

A Year Without “Made in China”: One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy by Sara Bongiorni.  Bongiorni, her husband, and 2 kids try to spend an entire year not purchasing anything made in China, with fascinating results.

To be fair, you could always add:

The Wal-Mart Revolution: How Big Box Stores Benefit Consumers, Workers, and the Economy by Richard Vedder and Wendell Cox.  Because libraries like to remain fair and balanced, right?

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Give Me Something Good to Eat

The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David Kessler is one of those nonfiction books that just took over at my library.  We had to go back to purchase more copies to satisfy the hold list.  Kessler examines how food companies spend big money devising just the right overload of salt, fat, and sugar to trick your brain into craving unhealthy food.  While your patrons are waiting, or, after they’ve read it and they want to learn more, share these titles:

Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines our Health and How to Fight Back by Michelle Simon.  Very similar to Kessler’s book but a bit more serious in tone, Simon explains why we cannot trust food corporations to “do the right thing” and why we need to fight for our health in today’s corporate food culture.  A call to arms, if you will.

Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats by Steve Ettlinger.  A fascinating look at the science of processed foods – sure to make turn you into a label reader and make you rethink how tasty chemicals can be.

The Gospel of Food: Everything You Think You Know About Food Is Wrong by Barry Glassner. Glassner.  Glassner interviews chefs, chemists, nutritionists, and restaurant critics about the way we eat and what it all means.

All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America? by Joel Berg.  More academic (and a little less readable) than Kessler’s book, Berg has anyalzed 50 years of domestic food policies in the US and investigates the political and economic impact of food insecurity.  For those serious about the subject.

What to Eat by Marion Nestle. Once readers have figured out what not to eat, they’ll want to know what they should be eating.  This is the definitive guide to making healthy and informed choices about food from a famous and acclaimed nutritionist.  Highly readable and entertaining, as well as informative.

The Queen of Fats: Why Omega-3s Were Removed from the Western Diet and What We Can Do to Replace Them by Susan Allport.  While Kessler divulges how bad food is processed to taste good, Allport reveals how good food is processed to take the good things out.  An eye-opening look at why the food we eat today, even natural stuff, is not as good for us as the same food we ate 30 years ago.

An Apple A Day: The Myths, Misconceptions, and Truths About the Foods We Eat by Joseph A. Schwarcz.  Eat fish, it has omega 3′s.  Don’t eat fish, it has mercury! Cook with Teflon pans because you don’t have to add fat – but watch out, the fumes will kill your pets!  Schwarcz looks at today’s top food fears, trends, and questions, giving a scientist’s perspective on what to eat and what to stay away from.

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Who isn’t glad that somebody else took on the task or recreating Julia Child’s cook’s canon and documenting her tasting triumphs and tragedies? The success of the film version of Julie and Julia has readers’ mouths watering for more. Fortunately, many of us love reading about eating nearly as much as doing it. Here’s where you can steer hungry readers:

Fiction:

  • Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews
  • Last Bite by Nancy Verde Barr
  • The Food of Love by Anthony Capella

    Memoir/Food:

    • Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
    • I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci
    • Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Riechl

      Memoir/Humor:

      • Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
      • Confessions of a Slacker Wife by Muffy Mead-Ferro
      • The Idiot Girl’s Action Adventure Club by Laurie Notaro

      And everything by Laurie Colwin. Whether it’s about food or not. She’s lovely.

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