As We Speak by Peter Meyers and Shann Nix

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Public speaking is a common source of fear and anxiety. It’s certainly not my favorite thing to do, but I also know that there will be times in my life when I will need to make a presentation or speak in front of a larger group of people. I picked up As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Have it Stick looking for some tips and tricks for writing and presenting speeches effectively. I got exactly what I was looking for in this book.

Meyers and Nix combine their years of experience as presenters and consultants and boil down the most important advice they give about being an effective presenter in to this book. They address how to draw an audience in and keep people’s attention, where to take breaks and encourage interaction, and how to physically present oneself to appear more confident. There are numerous examples of the types of speeches/presentations people frequently hear in meetings and at conferences, along with how the information should have been presented to be most effective. Meyer and Nix also site numerous studies and provide a fairly extensive bibliography for those interested in learning more about how we speak and how we listen.

This is one of those books so packed with useful information that it needs to be read in small chunks and digested properly before going on to a new section. There are exercises and worksheets available on an accompanying website http://standanddelivergroup.com/ and suggestions for how to practice speaking techniques throughout the book.

Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr

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Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr follows four friends as they support each other through the biggest challenges of their lives. After a terrifying date experience, Cassie is ready to give up entirely on dating. She can’t refuse, however, to a budding friendship with the burly biker who came to her rescue. Julie married her high school sweetheart and quickly added three children to her family. Their life is full of love, but barren when it comes to money, causing conflict between a practical wife and an overly-optimistic husband. Marty married Joe for love, but is tired of picking up after him and of his lack of grooming. Suddenly her faithless but clean-cut ex is looking pretty good. Beth is quietly struggling with her health, putting everything else to the side in the meantime, but sometimes love is found in the most unexpected places.

A light story of friendship and love, Summer in Sonoma also demonstrates how the grass is not always greener on the other side.

The Postmortal by Drew Magary

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“In this world nothing is certain except death and taxes.” Benjamin Franklin
What if that were no longer the case? The Postmortal by Drew Magary is based on the premise that death is no longer certain when a “cure” for aging is accidentally discovered by a geneticist looking for a way to genetically alter the color of his hair. What happens next is a look at what would potentially happen to the world with an indefinite end to the human lifespan. People no longer have goals, they stop getting married (because who wants to commit to a relationship that could last centuries?), ageism turns extreme, insurance companies won’t cover bypass surgery for a 28-year-old but more and more people need a bypass at that physical age. The world becomes more and more overcrowded as people continue to have babies but not enough people are dying from disease and unnatural causes to keep the population in check.

We see all of these developments and repercussions through the journal of John Farrell, a man with the “cure age” of 29. He turns down marriage to the mother of his child because he can’t imagine making that kind of commitment. He stops working and travels for a decade because he will never reach retirement age. He also joins the emerging field of “end specialization” when he returns to work. In this position, he works with a company where people can contract to voluntarily end their lives (fees on a sliding scale with the government subsidizing for those who can’t afford the fee). Through all this, we witness John’s relationships with his family, friends, lovers and co-workers as the world increasingly slides into chaos.

A chilling look at what the future could be that’s made more alarming by how realistic and believable Magary’s dystopian future is.

Hanging with the Banned by Janene Hill, Young Adult Librarian

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Psst… don’t tell – I read banned books.
You probably have too and may not even know it.
Harry Potter anyone? How about To Kill a Mockingbird, The Giver, or The Kite Runner. Alice Walker, Philip Pullman, Judy Blume, Chris Crutcher, Kurt Vonegut, R.L. Stine, Caroline Cooney… all have books on the list of 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books for the past decade.
This year, as I search for my annual “challenged title” to read for Banned Books Week (September 24-October 1), I have examined the most commonly challenged titles as compile through the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom. To my surprise and delight, I found I have already read half the books on the list.
In 2010, the most commonly challenged titles included: And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; Crank by Ellen Hopkins; The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins; Lush by Natasha Friend; What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones; Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich; Revolutionary Voices edited by Amy Sonnie; Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer.
This week marks the 29th year the American Library Association (ALA) in cooperation with the American Booksellers Association and several national organizations sponsor Banned Books Week. The freedom to choose, the power of literature, and the importance of the First Amendment is the essential message of Banned Books Week, an annual celebration by libraries, librarians, and book lovers across the country.
According the Banned Books Week website: “The week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings (and challenges) of books across the United States.”
In 2010, 348 challenges were reported. In the majority of these cases, the books were not banned at their institutions due to the work of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books. The ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom does note that for each reported challenge, four or five more remain unreported.
A challenge is defined as “a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.”
Challenges fall into a number of categories as defined by the ALA. The top seven of these over the past decade have included:
- sexually explicit material
- offensive language
- unsuited to age group
- violence
- homosexuality
- anti-family
- religious viewpoints
The majority of these challenges were in school classrooms and libraries (67%) while another 24% took place in public libraries.
Advocacy for Banned Books Week extends from the American Library Association’s support and push for Intellectual Freedom for all Americans. Expression and access is the basic premise to the American Library Association’s statement on Intellectual Freedom. A portion of the ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual states: “Intellectual freedom implies a circle, and that circle is broken if either freedom of expression or access to ideas is stifled.”
Libraries often adopt and use the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights to help guide them in serving their customers and ensure they serve everyone in their communities equally and fairly. The document reinforces a library user’s right to choose for themselves.
Banned Books Week is also a chance to recognize a reader’s right to defend or oppose what they read, listen to, or view. It is about recognizing the differences among tastes and opinions.
A more lighthearted approach to knowing your rights as a reader was provided by Daniel Pennac in his 1994 book Better than Life. He provided a policy called The Reader’s Bill of Rights, a list of ten items established to recognize the differences among readers and their habits.
He said readers have: 1) The right to not read. 2) The right to skip pages. 3) The right to not finish. 4) The right to reread. 5) The right to read anything. 6) The right to escapism. 7) The right to read anywhere. 8) The right to browse. 9) The right to read out loud. 10) The right to not defend your tastes.
If you are interested in learning more about banned and challenged books, the ALA provides a wealth of information through the “Issues and Advocacy” part of their website (www.ala.org). The library also has several materials that speak about the issues, including Banned Books by Robert P. Doyle and Protecting the Right to Read by Ann K. Symons and Charles Harmon.

Adrenaline by Jeff Abbot

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CIA Agent Sam Capra is in the middle of a meeting in London when he receives a call from his wife, urgently asking him to meet her outside—NOW. As he exits the building, an explosion rocks the area he just left, killing all of his coworkers, and he sees his wife Lucy speeding away in a car driven by a strange man. This begins the fast-paced thriller Adrenaline by Jeff Abbott. No one in the CIA believes that Lucy has been kidnapped; instead insisting she is a traitor and set up the bombing. They also believe Sam must have known of her plans—why else is he the only survivor? Sam begins a harrowing journey to outsmart the CIA and use his training to track down his wife and find clues to the puzzle of the bombing. This story is filled with non-stop action and violence. Sam is a man on a mission—resourceful, intelligent and committed to finding his family—a memorable character. Abbot weaves a complicated story that is hard to put down—a terrific beginning to what appears to be a new series.

The Importance of Being Seven by Alexander McCall-Smith

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I can hardly keep up with the newest Alexander McCall-Smith books. Recently there has been a new novel out in one of his series nearly every month. The newest one in the 44 Scotland Street series is The Importance of Being Seven. I just love to read about Bertie, the perpetual six year old who can’t wait to be seven. His domineering mother, Irene, makes his life miserable. She has motherly good intentions such as keeping him inordinately busy with saxophone lessons, Italian language lessons, and seeing the psychotherapist (a new one since the former has moved away after a liaison with Irene).
In this book Bertie’s father finally stands up for him and disregards Irene’s arguments opposing their camping trip. What a glorious time they have enjoying forbidden chocolates and crisps and almost catching fish. The other tenants of this Scottish apartment building include a newly married couple, Matt and Elspeth, who may be moving to grander quarters now that triplets are on the way. Dominica and Angus have a marvelous time on a trip to beautiful Italy after being invited by Antonia who has designs on Angus. Antonia experiences a meltdown in a most unusual way.
The wisdom and philosophical musings of McCall-Smith make this another delightful book to savor.

Secrets by Kristen Heitzmann

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Lance Michelli has always been the wanderer of the family, periodically coming home to his grandmother’s kitchen for her cooking lessons and her undying affection. But now she is lying in the hospital and concerned that her time is running short. She sends him on a mission to Italy and California on a mission to right the wrongs of the past. It is up to him to uncover the secrets at the family homestead in the Sonoma Valley, but the owner, Rese Barret, will accept his presence only with reluctance. While he stealthily researches his family history, his cooking slowly melts her reserve and his open nature and faith help Rese to face her own past. With a compelling mystery and characters that one can’t help but cheer on, Secrets by Kristen Heitzmann is an example of Christian fiction at its best.

A Time to Kill

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In a small town in Mississippi, a young black girl is brutally raped and tortured by two drunken rednecks. After her father, Carl lee Hailey, takes justice into his own hands and kills the two assailants, he turns to young attorney Jake Brigance, to be his defender. At first buoyed by the publicity connected to the case, Jake gradually realized the seriousness of the situation—the KKK is threatening everyone involved with the case, beatings and shootings have taken place and racial tension is rising. With all of these complications, Jake views the case through the eyes of a father—what would he do if this terrible thing had happened to his daughter? Though the odds are against him, Jake defends Carl Lee to the best of his ability. John Grisham has painted a vivid portrait of a southern town divided by race and violence. His characters are believable and story is fast paced. This is Grisham’s first novel—self-published in 1989 and not popular until after the publication of his bestseller The Firm. He has said that this is the favorite of his works. A Time to Kill is a gripping story and a superb legal thriller, well-written and one you won’t want to put down!

The Bread, My Sweet

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I must confess that I originally picked up The Bread, My Sweet because, like many girls alive in the late 70’s, I still haven’t recovered from my crush on Chachi. I figured, at the very least, it would be an entertaining flick. It turned out, however, to be so much more. It has some of the same features of your typical romance. Dominic Pyzola makes good money as a corporate raider, but his true love is his Italian bakery where he makes amazing pastries with his brothers. The upstairs neighbors, Bella and Massimo, take care of them and keep them in line. When Dominic discovers Bella is sick, he is willing to do anything to make her happy, including marrying her wandering daughter Lucca. The Bread, My Sweet is a beautiful film filled with family, love, and amazing food.

Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

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Michael Zuckoff, a former writer for the Boston Globe and currently a professor of journalism, has uncovered a World War II story unlike most. Rather than one of battles this story is of a rescue mission for three sightseeing soldiers to the valley of Shangri La. While soldiers were fighting for their lives in Europe and Asia some were waiting in bases with nothing to do. An extremely remote valley in New Guinea surrounded by mountains was discovered to have stone-aged villagers. This remote valley was so interesting that soldiers were allowed to fly over it purely for entertainment.
When one of these excursions ended in a terrible crash the three survivors, a woman and two men, were the objects of a dramatic rescue from this land of cannibalistic tribes. Lost in Shangri-La is a riveting true story that inspires and reveals yet another reason to call World War II soldiers part of the Greatest generation.

Seniors and Technology by Ann Pearce

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I was headed home the other day, when I noticed my gas gauge said empty, not just sort of close to empty, but EMPTY. So, instead of turning left and going up the hill, I turned right and headed for the nearest gas station. I was slightly apprehensive about the prospect of filling up my car due to the fact that upon occasion, brand new gas pumps confound me, and I had never been to this particular station. Yes, I am so old that I remember a time when you only had to drive up to the pump and a friendly young man would come up to the car and ask, “Fill it up?” That same friendly young man would check your oil and clean your windshield, but I digress. I told myself, all I have to do is read the LED screen and follow the directions. I found the slot for my credit card, remembering to remove it quickly, grabbed the nozzle, and punched the number for regular. The LED screen said to start fueling, which I attempted to do and nothing happened. I tried again, but nothing happened. I waited so long, the LED screen read, “cancelling transaction.” Now, you really can’t argue with an LED screen, and it doesn’t look good to the other customers if you do. So, I simply started the process all over again hoping for a different result. Up to this point, all of my attention had been on the screen, but this time around when I punched the number 87, low and behold there was a second hose hanging on the right side of the pump. Grabbing the gasoline nozzle instead of the one for ethanol was all it took. Needless to say, I was elated to successfully complete the transaction and head for home.

Technology can be fun, exciting, useful, necessary, aggravating, slightly annoying (as my example above demonstrates) and sometimes downright overwhelming. It is also ubiquitous and constantly evolving. As a senior, where does one go to find answers to technology questions? Most of us call our children or grandchildren with varying degrees of satisfaction. However, another resource is “The Senior Sleuth’s Guide to Technology for Seniors” by David Peterka.

This easy-to-read guide introduces the reader to computers, the Internet, and gadgets galore to enrich daily living. The word ‘introduces’ should be stressed here. If you already have a Facebook page along with your dog, you watch your favorite movies streaming over the Internet, and you order all your airline tickets online, this may not be the book for you. However, if you are unsure of what technologies there are available, and you are curious to find out, this would make a good read.

Peterka points out that over the last few years, the senior technology market is booming. Even the International Consumer Electronics Show, which is held every January and is the largest show of its kind, features a growing number of technologies targeting seniors in their Silvers Summit. The reason for this growing interest is obvious: There are 78 million baby boomers in this country, and they are just reaching their full earning and spending potential.

One area of concern for seniors is health management. As we age, health management can become more complicated. There are more doctors’ appointments to schedule, more medications to take, and more chronic illnesses to manage. Taking the correct medications at the right times is extremely important. So how do you make this chore easier to manage? If you need a simple reminder, you can choose between a watch that features several alarms and can list the medications to be taken, a pill box that beeps or vibrates, or a phone service that calls at the appropriate time. A more high tech solution is a medication dispenser. It is not only programmed to beep, but it dispenses the correct medication. If you don’t take the pills, then a caregiver or family member is notified.

On the lighter side, Peterka covers entertainment, from purchasing a digital camera to uploading your latest family video to YouTube. There is even a rather lengthy section on the much loved, much hated remote. And since technology is the topic, Peterka lists several web sites for further exploration including his own at www.sleuthguides.com.

For a close up look at some technologies and services available here at the library, stop by our booth Wednesday, September 21 at All Faiths Chapel on the K-State campus. At 7:00 p.m., Dr. William Thomas will give a lecture entitled, “Eldertopia: How Elders Will Change the World.” Funding for this lecture is provided by the Beach Museum of Art, the Office of the President of KSU, the Center on Aging, K-State Libraries, the College of Human Ecology, and Meadowlark Hills Retirement Community. Other cooperating agencies are the KSU Department of Interior Architecture and Product Design, the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, and Manhattan Public Library.

To Account For Murder

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A dying man tells his only child, Frankie, of his part in a murder. The date of the telling is 1996 and the story is told in flashback style of the mid 1940’s. Charlie Cahill committed the murder of Michigan Senator, Harry Maynard, then presided as the assistant prosecuting attorney for Maynard’s trial. Political corruption is rampant throughout the book; sometimes leaving you wondering who’s working for whom. The action keeps you reading and the surprises at the end will make you want to read the story again.

The author, William C. Whitbeck, was the Chief Judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals. He has based his book, To Account for Murder, on the actual slaying of Michigan’s Senator, Warren G. Hooper.

The Dashwood Sisters Tell All by Beth Pattillo

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Based on Sense and Sensibility, The Dashwood Sisters Tell All is the third modern adaptation of Jane Austen novels produced by Beth Pattillo and I think the best so far. Ellen and Mimi Dodge have been sent on a tour of Hampshire to find the best place to scatter their mother’s ashes. Neither of them ever shared their mother’s obsession with Jane Austen, nor are they especially thrilled with each other, but they put a good face on it and forge ahead, each for their own reasons. The tour brings more than information about Austen, however as layers of their mother’s life are peeled away for them, revealing secrets and treasures that others would prefer kept quiet. Exploring Austen’s work and life also brings them a greater appreciation of each other. The Dashwood Sisters Tell All is a delightful story about family and love with a bit of intrigue thrown in for spice.

Motel of the Mysteries by David Macaulay

>I read a number of book related websites to stay up-to-date on what’s being published and what is available at MPL. I recently read about Motel of the Mysteries by David Macaulay on one of those websites as an old favorite of a fellow librarian and decided to pick it up.

The year is 4022. The ancient civilization of Usa was buried under mounds of detritus in the year 1985. Amateur archeologist Howard Carson makes the discovery of a lifetime when he inadvertently falls into a tomb buried under the detritus. The tomb is undisturbed, still bearing its sacred DO NOT DISTURB sign hanging from the doorknob. What follows is an exhaustive catalog of the contents of the tomb and Carson and his team’s explanations of the use and ceremonial significance of each item in the burial chamber. From the description of the altar atop which stands a device for communicating with the gods, to the Inner Chamber containing a porcelain sarcophagus, Carson’s findings are entertaining and cast a delightful satirical light on many aspects of American culture.

Motel of the Mysteries is not only an interesting speculation about how future generations will interpret the potential remains of current culture, but is a sometimes amusing look back at the technology and furnishings of the 1980s. For example, of the television, Macaulay writes “Judging by the impact marks on the top and sides of the upper altar, some aspect of this communication was dependent upon pounding the surface.”

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

>Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is a rather odd book about a young man whose grandfather is killed in a violent manner, but it’s also much more than that. Sixteen-year-old Jacob has always worshiped his grandfather and loved the stories his grandfather told about his life at a home for children in Wales when he was a young orphan. At some point the stories lost their luster and Jacob asked his grandfather to stop telling him fairy stories. After his grandfather is killed, Jacob decides he must go to the island where his grandfather lived in order to find some closure.

What he finds there makes him question his knowledge of his grandfather and his entire view of how the world works.

The story of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a wonderful work of fiction enhanced by the addition of authentic (mostly unaltered) old photographs from private collections.