Tag Archives: nonfiction

 Unquiet Mind.

Imagine one day your brain is overflowing with ideas, bursting with creativity; you can’t stop the thoughts from coming, faster and faster and faster. You’re exhilarated, you don’t sleep, you see everything with a clarity you didn’t think possible; your brain is on fire with understanding. You’re euphoric, delighted, inspired by life.

And then it isn’t and you aren’t.

Instead you can’t get out of bed. You can’t go to work. You don’t eat or you eat too much. You stop showering. You’re apathetic, possibly suicidal. Nothing matters, nothing is exciting, everything is pointless. You’re tired. You’re done.

That’s life with bi-polar disorder. There’s no in-between.

UnquietMind

Kay Jamison is a clinical psychologist and an expert in the field of mood disorders. She has also suffered from bipolar disorder since early adulthood. A good friend with bipolar disorder asked me to read her book, so that I might understand him and his illness. I’ll confess, the idea of “mania” is seductive to me. As someone who is pretty even-tempered, the idea of going off the rails is tempting. However, the personal and financial fall-out is too scary—and that’s what makes me different from someone suffering from bipolar disorder.

Jamison wrote Unquiet Mind as a memoir, so it doesn’t get too scientific—though she does explain the science behind drugs (some work, some don’t and it seems like all of them deaden) and brain chemistry. But ultimately, it’s her story about years of refusing medication—even while studying it! At one point, instead of finding a therapist, she buys a horse. She racks up piles and piles of bills, is evicted multiple times and yet completes a PhD. It’s a highly personal glance into someone’s very personal struggle.

Do I understand my friend’s illness better now? Maybe?

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, by the way, so it’s a great time to read Unquiet Mind!

suzy

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April Recap

Art courtesy Marcel L. Walker. Click through for his website.

Art courtesy Marcel L. Walker. Click through for his website.

April saw another huge celebrity loss in Prince, which left all of us here at Eleventh Stack more than a little sad. On the happier side of thing, baseball season started, and Abbey highlighted some baseball-related resources. Sheila also helped us celebrate children author Beverly Cleary’s 100th birthday.

Kayla gave a big thumbs up to Kara Thomas’s The Darkest Corners and Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass. Kelly looked at the theme of displacement in Ranbir Singh Sidhu’s work, and Ross mused on cultural expectations in his review of Nookietown. Jess looked a few non-superhero comics, and Natalie enjoyed Jane Steele, a new adaptation of Jane Eyre.

In movie land, Ross explored the desolation of Sunset Edge and the iconic movie-related art of Drew Struzan. Tara reviewed Victoria, a film shot all in one take.

novelcureLeigh Anne plugged poet Martin Espada’s new collection Failed and Sharon Dolan’s Manual for Living. Suzy made us think about mistakes and how we handle them. Melissa considered a career change to bibliotherapist, and one of our volunteers wrote about her efforts advocating for the library. Brittany compared her childhood to those of refugee kids, and Adina highlighted some recent memoirs and autobiographies she’s enjoyed.

Of course we didn’t forget about food—Scott M. took us on a tour of local Greek food festivals and highlighted some of his favorite Greek cookbooks.

What’s your favorite book, movie, or album from April? Let us know in the comments.

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Autobiography or Memoir?

One of my favorite go-to genres is autobiographies and memoirs. These days there are tons—is it just me, or does everyone seem to write a book about their life?

TypingSnoopy

Snoopy is busy writing his memoirs. Click through for source.

What’s the correct term for this popular genre? Autobiography or memoir? I’ve heard both used interchangeably, but further research shows that there are slight differences between the two. Autobiographies usually chronicle someone’s entire life, from childhood until present day while memoirs focus on a specific time period or event (and often jump around in time). Autobiographies also usually include a lot of facts. Memoirs care more about the story and are less concerned with fact-checking and getting every detail right.

Another difference between autobiography and memoir is when the book happened to be written. Autobiographies were once the preferred style, written by celebrities or politicians. Now memoirs dominate with an intimate, conversational style and more room for embellishment or “stretching the truth” of personal history. Because of their more approachable style, anyone can write a memoir (and they do!).

I’ve already read quite a few autobiographies/memoirs this year; I’ve tried to classify them below!

 

malcolmx

Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
Autobiography

This one is pretty straightforward. The word “autobiography” is actually in the title! Told to Alex Haley, Malcolm X recounts his life chronologically starting with his childhood and Haley finishes the story with Malcom’s untimely death.

 

 

 

wild

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Memoir

Strayed writes about a specific time in her life—hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Flashing back and forth in time from the trail to memories of her mother, Strayed’s struggle to hike the PCT mirrors her quest to move on after her mother’s death. Focused on her experience, not facts, this book clearly falls into the memoir category.

 

 

AnneFrank

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Autobiography

Less straightforward to categorize is Anne Frank’s account of her time spent in hiding during WWII. While her diary mainly focuses on a specific time period, you can’t get a more accurate account than a diary. Readers get to experience Frank’s thoughts, emotions, and observations day-by-day, which is why I’ve chosen to label this book an autobiography.

 

 

 

Cover of My Life on The Road
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
Autobiography

I really struggled to categorize this one, especially since it was recently published and probably branded by publishers as a memoir. Following the criteria I laid out previously, Steinem’s book falls closer to autobiographies in a couple ways. Steinem begins the book in her childhood and (for the most part) continues chronologically through her life. Even though her theme is “my life on the road,” there isn’t one event or time that she emphasizes more than others. People, places, dates and other facts are also important to the story taking place.

 

bookcover

Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures by Phoebe Gloeckner
Memoir

This book combines text, illustrations, and comic strips into a truly unique story of a teenager growing up in San Francisco during the 1970s. Though the author will not directly say how closely the book follows her own life, she highly implies most of the story is based in truth. This book’s focus on Minnie’s teenage years and its questionable veracity leads me to label this book as a memoir.

 

Disagree with my classifications? Any good autobiographies/memoirs you’ve read recently? Let us know in the comments below!

-Adina

Take a look at some of the autobiographies/memoirs that the library has to offer!

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Seven Thousand Miles

As a child of the eighties and nineties, my life consisted of the following:

  • A warm breakfast before school, preferably sausage and pancakes with a mountain of syrup.
  • A snack after school, preferably the sugary kind.
  • Nickelodeon
  • Skip-it.
  • More Nickelodeon
  • Rollerblading down the hill in front of our apartment.
  • Trips to my great-grandparents house on visits to Kentucky.
  • Grassy fields.
  • Fried meals.
  • Comfort.
  • More Nickelodeon

As a child of the eighties and nineties I assumed that others like myself were enjoying a similar childhood. Perhaps my neighbors weren’t making trips to see their great-grandparents in Kentucky, perhaps they weren’t playing Skip-It, or rollerblading down hills, but without a doubt they were experiencing a childhood. In the bubble of my mind and the shelter of my childhood, this experience was being had by all. It was not.

While I was watching cartoons and eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch on Saturday mornings, children seven thousand miles away in Sudan were experiencing a childhood that I, at 8, could never have fathomed.

While I was playing Aladdin on my Sega Genesis, there were children being pulled from their homes during the day or night, fleeing for their lives from men with guns and men with machetes and men with machinery. These children wondered and worried about their brother or sister or cousin or aunt or uncle or mother or father. They worried and wondered about family they might or might not see again. They wondered and worried about life and death and not if, but when they would be next.

While I enjoyed the comfort of light up sneakers, these kids walked for hundreds of miles, barefoot against scorching hot land.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Starvation.

Reading stories about children who managed a strength to survive that I can’t even fathom has begun to put life into perspective for myself. Not everything and not everyone begins with a warm breakfast or Nickelodeon or roller blades. Not everyone’s reality is coming home to a warm bed, or coming home at all. The Second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005) consumed the lives of two million people. Children were not immune to the chaos that this war and strife brought.

TheRedPencil

The Red Pencil, written by Andrea Davis Pinkney, tells the story of Amira, a 12 year old Sudanese girl living a normal life until the Janjaweed arrive. Torn from her village, she not only loses the person she is closest to, she also loses her voice, until a woman arrives with the gift of a red pencil.

ALongWalkToWater

A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story, written by Linda Sue Park, alternates between the two stories of eleven year old Nya and eleven year old Salva. Although they are experiencing life decades apart, their stories intersect when the life changing force of water brings them together.

brothersinhope

Brothers in Hope: the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, by Mary Williams, describes eight-year-old Garang Deng’s determination to lead himself and 34 other Lost Boys from Sudan to the safety of a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Their journey continues from Ethiopia to Kenya, where (years later) they are given the opportunity to seek safety in America.

Fiction or non-fiction, these are the books and the children within that have stuck with me. These are the authors who help us to not forget.

-Brittany

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“I Paint So That I Don’t Have to Talk”: The Art of Drew Struzan

Back in December when we were reflecting on all the Star Wars-related materials the Library has, I briefly touched on the majestic music of John Williams. Today I want to talk about another artist who was first introduced to me via Star Wars–Drew Struzan.

If that name doesn’t ring a bell, what about names like Indiana Jones, John Rambo or Harry Potter? Now there’s probably so much bell-ringing in your ears you should make an appointment with an audiologist. You might not recognize Drew Struzan’s name, but you’ve certainly seen his work, whether it’s in the form of an album cover, a book jacket or one of his over-150 movie posters.

Some of his most famous movie posters are collected in Drew Struzan: Oeuvre and The Art of Drew Struzan. From Hook to Hellboy, The Thing to The Walking Dead, Blade Runner to Batkid Begins, Struzan’s work is instantly recognizable and unquestionably beautiful. The books also include some of his studio work, like portraits of his grandchildren and his own interpretation of Baba Yaga. I’m someone who can barely draw stick figures, so I admire an artist like Struzan—his drawings and paintings almost look like photographs.

For more on Struzan beyond the art, I highly recommend the 2013 documentary Drew: The Man Behind the Poster. It reveals a placid, taciturn family man, like the sweet grandfather everyone wants. While the details of his early life are fascinating, hearing him talk about his work is the most interesting aspect of the documentary. Regarding movie posters, he says how important it is for a poster to not only sell the movie’s premise but also evoke the feeling or emotion of the movie. In a world where most movie posters consist of awful photoshopped giant heads, Struzan’s work has a classiness to it that harkens back to a golden age of cinema, when the multiplex was a portal to another world of imagination and wonder. Often imitated, but seldom replicated, you can look at a movie poster by Struzan and know exactly what kind of movie you’re going to see.

If you’re a fan of Steven Spielberg or Star Wars (read: everyone), or if you just like good art, you should check him out.

–Ross

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50 Cakes Project Update

motivate-with-cake-prints

Current life motto. Print by Holly van Who.

Remember when I said I wanted to bake 50 cakes in one year? This ridiculous undertaking is still going on. If you’ve ever thought about putting stock into the butter industry, now’s the time, my friends.

I’m almost halfway to my goal. I’ve tackled my fear of layer cakes (spoiler alert: no one really cares about your uneven layers when they are eating delicious homemade cake), listened to tons of Beyonce, spent an embarrassing amount of time pouring over cookbooks, made my first vegan cake and managed to flambé some cherries without causing myself bodily harm.

Here’s a glance at the first half  of my cake project, along with links to the books where I got the recipes; my favorites are in bold.

  1. Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake (All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray)
  2. Brown Sugar Pound Cake (All Cakes Considered)
  3. Cinnamon Almond Coffee Cake (All Cakes Considered)
  4. Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake
  5. Chocolate Pound Cake (All Cakes Considered)
  6. Ginger Apple Torte (Food 52 Cookbook: Volume 2)
  7. Cinnamon Roll Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
  8. Coconut-Buttermilk Poundcake
  9. Honey Nut Snack Cake
  10. Luscious Cream Cheese Pound Cake (Bake Happy by Judith Fertig)
  11. Chocolate Truffle Cake  (Bake Happy)
  12. Vegan Devil’s Food Cake with Coconut-Coffee Frosting (Bake Happy)
  13. Chocolate Whiskey Cake
  14. Blood Orange Upside Down Cake (Honey and Jam: Seasonal Baking from my Kitchen in the Mountains by Hannah Queen)

  15. Chocolate Butter Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch by Warren Brown)
  16. Vanilla Cupcakes (I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris)
  17. Neely’s Cookies N Cream Cake
  18. Devil’s Food Cake with Angel Frosting (Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis)
  19. Yellow Butter Cake with Peanut Butter Crunch Buttercream (CakeLove)
  20. Sunday Night Cake (Baked Explorations)
  21. Brooklyn Blackout Cake
  22. Chocolate Cherry Torte (Baking, From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)
  23. No-Mixer Cake (CakeLove)
cake-cocktails-prints

What about Make Cake & Drink Cocktails? (Print by Nina J. Charlotte)

Why not try baking a few cakes yourself? Reserve one (or ten) of our delicious cake-baking books now!

-Ginny

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Get Into Cooking

bookcover_cookingI love food, especially desserts, but I hate to cook. Yes, I’ve been known to yell at kitchen utensils. Luckily for me, my husband has adopted cooking and baking as a hobby, and made it his mission to bake the perfect pound cake.

It may not be good for my waistline, but the rest of me is thrilled. He even made whipped cream from scratch recently. We had some pound cake and fresh strawberries, so naturally we needed some cream to complete the picture.

If you or someone you know shares his love of cooking, you may find these books instructive. My husband certainly has.

Cooking For Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food by Jeff Potter

bookcover_kingarthur

The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-purpose Baking Cookbook

And, of course, where would we be without our old friend Betty Crocker?

The library has many more to help you get inspired. Maybe you’ll be the one to perfect your favorite recipe.

Tell us about your go-to cookbooks in the comments.

-Megan

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