#bibliophile #janemount #wonders #rhondarubinstein #californiaacademyofsciences #chroniclebooks #lisahaineswright #beloitcollege
Okay, I am a massive bibliophile. I review all sorts of books, but usually just talk to you about cookbooks. Two nonfiction books came across my desk recently that are just too wonderful to keep to myself, though. Well, to borrow phrasing from one of my blogging friends, one is tangentially related to my blog. The first is for book lovers, and the second is for nature/animal/photography lovers. Both have fabulous gifting potential. Thanks to Chronicle Books for letting me use their photos.
I LOVE seeing other people’s favorite book lists. I do. It always makes me feel that much closer to a person, like a literary window into their bookish soul. So, just for fun, I’ll add my own Top 10 fiction list at the end. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours?!
If you wait with bated breath every year for the NPR list of books, you need Bibliophile! “The goal of this book is to triple the size of your To Be Read pile,” explains the author in her intro. Yeah, this book can easily promise that. It’s a book lovers’ geeky dream come to print, and I think it’s destined to get many a chest hug after being oohed and aahed over as list hungry fingers flip through.
Everything is hand-drawn, making the book oh-so charming, and really setting a tone that invites you to linger. And there’s a ribbon sewn in to hold your thought.
There are random lists like beloved bookstores, bookstore cats, striking libraries, writing rooms, iconic covers, writer-owned bookstores, songs about books (Bowie, Metallica, Vega…), and little free libraries.
Then there are the lists of top books by category. This is where the real magic happens. Yeah, it’ll increase my to-read list, but I am just as excited about the help in shopping for that perfect gift for other book lovers! Sure, they’ve all got Amazon wish lists, but this gives me a chance to surprise them with that book that they didn’t even know they wanted! Boom! Look at me getting to look all thoughtful. 😀 For my physics-major turned economist husband, there’s “Us and the Universe” (Hawking’s in there), “Space & Aliens”, “Technothrills & Cyberpunks”, “History”, “War”, and “Biographies & Autobiographies” (McCullough’s Adams is in there). For my imaginative, comic-loving engineering-student daughter, there’s lists of “Graphic Novels & Comics”, and a “Feminist” list. For my younger one, there’s “Nature and Animals”. And for me, 5 different food-centered lists: “Regional Cooking”, “Everyday Food Inspiration”, “Reference Cookbooks”, “Baking & Desserts”, and “Food Writing”. I was surprised by how many titles I’m missing from my collection. Yeah, feel free to use this birthday shopping for me.
There’s “Book Club Darlings” that I can’t even wait to bring to book club! There’s “Special Powers” which will give you more ideas for the Harry Potter lover on your list! “Journeys & Adventures” and “A Sense of Place” would be fabulous when you need a vacation. And “Short Stories” would be great when you want to cuddle up and have a romantic date night in, passing the book back and forth, taking turns reading aloud, and sipping some nice grapes or tea.
Some of the other categories are: “Cult Classics”, “Novels of the Millennium: Optimistic Confusion”, “Historical Fiction”, “Southern Lit”, “Love & Romance”, “Unhappy Families Each in their Own Way”, “Fantasy”, “Mysteries”, “Poetry”, “Sports”, and “Dystopia”. Need inspiration? “We’re All Human”. Want a literary tie-in to geography? “Read Around the World”. Loved A Man Called Ove? “Mortality”. “Memoirs” has authors like Frank McCourt.
Skeptical or cynical? The publisher of the book is not overly represented at all. Nope, I checked. It’s not a clever ad for them. Yeah, that occurred to me and that was my first thumb through. Lol!
Do I agree with all the lists? They’re great lists, but oh, heck no! But that’s half the fun! I want to debate about all the categories I feel passionate about! So I think it’s a conversation starter to boot!
*I received a copy to explore and share my thoughts.
Wonders is filled with spectacular nature photographs that will delight any enthusiast. It’s pulled together by the California Academy of Sciences where they have an annual BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition. The book is a collection of the winning photographs. The first image is of a polar bear just as she’s about to break the surface of the water looking directly through the camera lens with a soft pink glow of the horizon with the low sun in the background. As breathtaking as it is, you’re immediately aware of the position of the photographer in his tiny boat.
Each photograph is accompanied by the photographer’s story and thoughts from the academy scientists that deepen your understanding of what you’re seeing.
I found the backstories of what went into those shots absolutely fascinating. The photographers are braving the elements and wildlife, and then place their position and timing bets based on meticulous studies, and even with the best planning, still require all the luck in the world for it to work out. There are a few photos of the photographers in their natural habitat in the book and those give you a glimpse of their planning process.
At the end of the book, they introduce you to each of these photographers and tell you where they’re from and what their specialty is.
I’ll be sure to add a trip to the Academy of Sciences to my next San Francisco trip. They have a planetarium, aquarium and natural history museum right at Golden Gate Park.
The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. That this is on the list may reflect more on the teacher. Have you ever had a professor that was so passionate about their subject that you just couldn’t get enough of the class??? Lisa Haines Wright is retiring from Beloit College this year, and I feel so lucky to have taken so many of her classes. Hugs to you, sister!
‘Tis: A Memoir by Frank McCourt
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
It by Stephen King
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
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