One More Page Books

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Moby Duck...Do you know where your rubber duck was?

NPR had its show on this book AFTER my sister finished her review  (I think they knew we beat them to the punch), but I was slow to post (bad me).

Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn (which came out earlier this month) is one of those books that promises a lot in its subtitle, “The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them.” It delivers, eventually, but you have to wade (forgive the pun) through a slew of adventures (and misadventures) following the life cycle of this flotsam (loosely translated, stuff that falls off ships) and the cast of characters that he meets along the way.

The title, of course, is drawn from Herman Melville’s novel of 19th century whalers, but Hohn is seeking Floatees, plastic bathtub toy animals (specifically, ducks, beavers, frogs, and turtles lost from the container ship Ever Laurel on January 10, 1992). Instead of harpooning whales, he: cleans beaches with driftologists in Alaska; interviews various environmentalists with equally varied agendas; joins the crew of a ship sampling the Pacific Ocean’s mostly plastic “Garbage Patch”; attends a toy trade fair in Hong Kong; visits a toy factory in Dongguan, China; sails from Pusan, South Korea to Seattle as a passenger on a container ship in winter; and transits the Northwest Passage aboard two research vessels, working alongside (among others) a blind oceanographer.

Throughout the book, Hohn places his narrative within the context of his own life, past, as a child, and present, as a father. He considers the innocuousness of these humble toys, how they first entered our culture in the early 20th century (read: how will parents keep their child busy if they can’t afford paid help), how they became affordable for everyone after WWII (one word – Plastics), and how they became fixed in our mindset (at least, in part) as the result of an educational TV icon (Ernie of Sesame Street, singing about his favorite bathtub pal). Hohn gently rails against the plastics and shipping industries, toy manufacturers, politicians, and, well, all of us; he tries not to make anyone the “bad guy” but nobody comes out completely clean either. Your bath time experience will never be the same again.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Friday Reads - Updated!

Love this because it's a reflection of what people are READING, not just what they BOUGHT. My commentary in BLUE.

Top 25 Best Read List (March 18, 2011)

1. SWAMPLANDIA by Karen Russell - we have it and just sold one last night. Asked customer to let us know what she thinks since it's been slow to move here at OMP

2. THE TIGER'S WIFE by Téa Obreht - sold out first weekend, but we have more

3. A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness - we've got one copy left!

4. JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte - Of course we have. :)

5. ROOM by Emma Donoghue - we have, but NO ONE buys (even thought it's a great book)

6. HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins - we have all three in the series

7. JUST KIDS by Patti Smith - we have and sell a lot! (fantastic book!)
THE WEIRD SISTERS by Eleanor Brown -  we have and sell a lot! (a store favorite)
WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy - have
WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen - have; movie coming out soon

11. CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese - we have and it's our book discussion pick for April 5
SING YOU HOME by Jodi Picoult - have
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE by Stieg Larsson - of course, one of my favorites

14. WISE MAN'S FEAR by Patrick Rothfuss - have
THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss- have

16. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis- have and highly recommended by one of our YA customers and staff
MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND by Helen Simonson - have and she'll be at OMP on Thurs, May 5th

18. LOVING by Henry Green - do not have -- must look into this one
THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot - have, in paperback now
WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel - have, Terry is reading now

21. UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand - just sold out last night, more on order!
WITHER by Lauren DeStefano - have and highly recommended by staff

23. A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD by Jennifer Egan -have, now out in paperback
GREAT HOUSE by Nicole Krauss - have
INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher - have, highly recommended by YA customer (male).  Second in series, Sapphique, is also on the shelf

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Obliquity: Why Our Goals are Best Achieved Indirectly

This title of British economist John Kay’s latest book caught my attention, but thankfully, my intelligent sister, Teresa is the one who read it and did the review.

Most people won’t read a book written by an economist, let alone appreciate its title, except for maybe me. A few months ago, I spent a Sunday afternoon at the library, skimming through dictionaries, looking up the title of British economist John Kay’s latest book, Obliquity: Why Our Goals are Best Achieved Indirectly (due out in the US in spring 2011); it is based on his essay in the January 17, 2004 issue of the Financial Times. As with many words, obliquity has diverse definitions, depending on its usage (e.g., astronomy, trigonometry, botany, grammar). I zeroed in on two from the Oxford English Dictionary: “3. Indirectness in action, conduct, speech, etc.; a way or method that is not direct or straightforward” and “4. Deviation from any rule or order. Obs. Rare.”

As Kay notes, anyone can program a computer to play Sudoku (or Jeopardy), but that misses the whole point of the game (consider one of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s responses during 2010 Celebrity Jeopardy Tournament). To be oblique is to follow an indirect path, to not do the obvious, to not plow single-mindedly toward a goal. Kay’s primary thesis is we have less control over our circumstances than we think we do; while we can create models, plan actions, and propose strategies, we cannot control what other people, and especially nature, will do in response. And when things go wrong, we blame people and nature, not our models, actions, or strategies.

He takes particular aim at the recent business scandals that led to the economic meltdown in 2008 and the decisions that led to the U.S. military action and ongoing involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. Kay also rails against planning that ignores the fickleness of human nature and unpredictability of the natural world. When he discusses attempts at urban planning by le Corbusier and Robert Moses, the cliché “Rome wasn’t built in a day” rings oddly appropriate. Muddling through is practical and pragmatic thinking, examination and discovery, reassessment and, ultimately, achievement

While the book is not a self-help guide, it is readable (less than 200 pages) and gave me (in spite of its decidedly subjective viewpoint) insight into why some people, like Warren Buffet, seem to have the “magic touch.” These individuals focus on those things they know well, understand their goals, and learn from their mistakes. While there is a need for the direct approach to solve some problems, we are best served when we do not merely think outside the box, but obliquely.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

More Jess Recommends

No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko was good! Gennifer is the author of Al Capone Does My Shirts - a big indie favorite!

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli is a sad story about WWII Germany told from the perspective of a young street boy and it was a nice story. An old favorite of mine is Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. It's a unique story about what popularity really is.