Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
Bicycle Diaries is a travelogue bound with a genuine curiosity to explain the dynamics of human relations by mapping both the metaphysics and the concrete environments of some of the world’s most famous cities from the perch of a bicycle seat. Most of Byrne's reflections, compiled over years of touring the world with his band (Byrne famously fronted the band The Talking Heads), are quirky meditations on why and how cities are organized the way they are. Byrne’s interests are eclectic and show a breadth of both historical knowledge and depth of analysis not often found from inside the inner thoughts of a punk rock troubadour. Don’t be surprised at how easy it is to travel along with Byrne as he translates the language of the city into a fresh and smart examination of what makes us human. Byrne suggests the ways in which cities evolve are often concrete reflections about what and who we value as a society. His attentive gaze focuses on the subtleties and nuances of how cities are transformed by various forces including market economics, gentrification and the transformative influence of artists.
Lastly, he discusses what particular cities do well and what others miserably fail at in providing for a useful public transportation infrastructure or bike-friendly accommodations. It should come as no surprise that he advocates for the establishment of more bicycle lanes and city routes friendly to bike commuters. Having lived in New York City for over thirty years, some of Bryne's most interesting musings center around the ways that New York City has changed over the years. Overall, there's enough in Bicycle Diaries for the bicycle enthusiast, the urban theorist, the Talking Heads fan, and the generally curious.
Pat Tillman was a famous, professional football player who enlisted in an elite troop of army rangers after the September 11th attacks. Tillman sacrificed a large salary that would have made him millions and committed to a three year stint that would ultimately take him to both Iraq and Afghanistan. That is what most Americans knew of Pat Tillman prior to learning about his death in 2004.
Tillman’s death atop a rugged mountainside in Khost Province, a region of Afghanistan near the Pakistani border, was more than just a routine death by enemy soldiers but rather a troubling story of friendly fire that unfolded amidst a military cover-up. Jon Krakauer, author of Into the Wild and Into Thin Air, takes the reader alongside Tillman as he emerges from the crude stereotypes often rendered of professional athletes and shown to be a dynamic subject full of humane depth and internal contradictions. As much as the book focuses on Tillman's rise to football fame and the scandal surrounding his death, lay history readers will glean great insights about the country of Afghanistan, its recent history, and the often under discussed topic of wartime fratricide.
Join me and several other librarians on December 3rd at 6:30pm as we talk about some of the best books of 2009. This program will provide helpful lists of recently published books, albums and movies that might be great holiday gifts.
Where Men Win Glory: the odyssey of pat tillman