LJ Best Books 2016

A jury of our peers discussed, debated, disagreed, and finally declared LJ’s annual Top Ten Best Books of the year, selected by our editors, as well as Top Five lists for genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and SELF-e titles. VISIT THE WEBSITE

Reference Short Takes, August 2012

Dictionary of Early American Philosophers. Continuum. 2012. c.1218p. ed. by John R. Shook. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781843711827. $750. REF

Shook (Pragmatic Naturalism & Realism ) and 150 scholars provide 454 profiles of early American philosophers active between 1600 and 1860. Despite the title, entries include Canadian philosophers such as Jacques Odelin. The signed entries, which run to two or more pages each, often open with biographical details, discuss historical significance and reception, and close with detailed further-reading lists that supplement the general bibliography opening each volume. VERDICT The broadest survey of early American philosophical thought to date, this is a remarkable guide to North America’s early modern logicians and theorists.

A Dictionary of Love. 3d ed. CreateSpace. 2012. c.194p. ed. by Gil Friedman. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781470182397. pap. $14.95. REF

Friedman ( Gurdjieff, A Beginner’s Guide ) offers a frequently philosophical understanding of love and associated themes over the ages in this fascinating, newly expanded compilation of subject quotations. Following a brief introduction that considers contemporary relationship customs, the book is organized into 213 themes, from “actions and love” to “wounds and love.” Included are quotations by literary, political, and intellectual figures from the 17th century onward. A name index also notes professional identities, allowing quick location of specific individuals’ quotes. VERDICT A fantastic window on changing attitudes.

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms. 2d ed. Timber. 2012. c.517p. ed. by Robert Lee Riffle & others. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781604692051. $59.95. REF

Riffle (Tropical Look ), Paul Craft (International Palm Soc.), and Scott Zona (Wertheim Conservatory, Florida International Univ.) precede this expanded field guide with a discussion of palm characteristics, decisive omissions, and a spread detailing palm taxonomy that delineates subfamilies, genera, and species. A gallery of full-color plates illustrates precise species characteristics, while the book’s second half offers descriptive text organized by alphabetized genus and species. Multiparagraph entries prudently open with phonetically spelled taxonomic names and corresponding plate numbers, and detail location, physical description, and idiosyncrasies. VERDICT Supplants Don Ellison and Anthony Ellison’s Betrock’s Cultivated Palms of the World .

Lemetti, Juhana. Historical Dictionary of Hobbes’s Philosophy. Scarecrow. (Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies, and Movements). Dec. 2012. c.405p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780810850651. $85. Online: eBooks on EBSCOhost, Overdrive, MyiLibrary, EBL, & Questia REF

Lemetti’s (Hobbes Studies ) thorough lexicon covers the concepts, writings, and historical figures shaping Hobbes’s beliefs and the scholarly understanding of his philosophy. The opening chronology lists salient events in the philosopher’s life, while a 25-page introductory essay provides an insightful overview of his life and his contributions to philosophy, language, politics, math, science, and psychology. The fully cross-referenced entries are concise, well written, and specific in identifying where ideas or figures appear in Hobbes’s writings. A 39-page bibliography offers critical research leads. VERDICT Excellent for Hobbes scholars and Western political philosophy collections.

Rose, Mike. 250 Indie Games You Must Play. CRC Pr. 2012. c.280p. illus. index. ISBN 9781439875742. pap. $29.95. REF

Responding to the expansion of the independent gaming field, Rose (ed., Indie-Games.com) has compiled a record of its best programs. He opens with a discussion of the accepted, if difficult to explicitly define, character of “indie” games and explains their influence. The subsequent game profiles are organized into three categories: downloadable, browser-based, and commercial. A page devoted to each game lists developer name, concept inspiration, overall objective, level numbers, and accompanying audio. Each profile also includes a web link and a full-color screen shot, providing readers with an idea of game graphics. VERDICT A fun briefing for gaming enthusiasts.

Social Class. Vol. 20. Univ. of North Carolina. (The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture). 2012. c.499p. ed. by Larry J. Griffin, Peggy G. Hargis, & Charles Reagan Wilson. illus. index. ISBN 9780807835593. $49.95. REF

Further expanding the “Encyclopedia of Southern Culture” series edited by Wilson ( Baptized in Blood ), volume editors Griffin (Southern Cultures ) and Hargis (sociology, Georgia Southern University) have assembled nearly 130 scholars who contribute 58 thematic essays and 103 shorter entries on various aspects of Southern social class and its influence on prevailing culture. Objective, signed entries run several pages in length each and are studded with factual details. Entries discuss sometimes-difficult subjects such as collective memory, radicalism, and even lynching, and consistently illustrate those topics’ relationship to social status. Graphs and tables illustrate selected concepts. Brief further-reading lists close each entry. VERDICT A vital American history resource.

Worthen, Dennis B. Heroes of Pharmacy: Professional Leadership in Times of Change. 2nd ed. 2012. 496p. illus. index. ISBN 9781582121635. $39.95. REF

An update to the 2007 first edition, which was written to promote recognition of significant (and often under-recognized) figures, this book offers revised and expanded biographical essays on 52 pharmaceutical pioneers and 20 American Pharmaceutical Association founders. Each multipage profile, organized alphabetically by surname, contains helpful chronological or thematic subheadings. Quotations, black-and-white artifact and portrait illustrations, and extensive further-reading lists offer deeper insight into each figure and additional research leads. Essays are information-packed yet accessible and engaging. VERDICT Rich and insightful; for pharmaceutical and medical history collections.

Xu, Wenying. Historical Dictionary of Asian American Literature and Theater. Scarecrow. (Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts). 2012. c.389p. bibliog. ISBN 9780810855779. $99. Online: eBooks on EBSCOhost, Overdrive, MyiLibrary, EBL, & Questia REF

Xu (Eating Identities ) gathers information on the literary figures, characters, works, terms, movements, and groups that have shaped Asian—including South and Southeast Asian—literature and theater. The 600 alphabetized entries are approximately a paragraph in length each, offer a brief biography or overview of significance, and also include contemporary figures. A fabulous resource for students; veteran researchers will find the 84-page bibliography, judiciously organized by source and theme, a useful springboard to further reading. VERDICT An important addition . —­Savannah Schroll-Guz, formerly with Smithsonian Libs., Washington, DC

Henrietta Verma About Henrietta Verma

Henrietta Verma is Senior Editorial Communications Specialist at NISO, the National Information Standards Organization, Baltimore, and was formerly the reviews editor at Library Journal.