LJ Best Books 2016

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Jensen/Nutt Explain Teen Brains, Kamenetz Tests Ed Standards, Rascoff Gets Real About Real Estate, Essential Pro Media | Social Sciences Reviews, December 2014

redstarJensen, Frances E. with Amy Ellis Nutt. The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults. Harper. Jan. 2015. 384p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062067845. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062067869. PSYCH

teenagebrain122314They can’t help it—teens are in many ways unable to control impulses, make wise decisions, and understand what they do, explains Jensen (neurology; chair, neurology dept., Univ. of Pennsylvania). It’s not willful; it’s brain chemistry. By understanding relevant brain science, however, parents can find plans of action to help their kids through all the nuances of life in this fraught period. Jensen, with science writer Nutt, explains how teen brains are still developing and changing; nonscientific readers will find a lot of information here about neurology. Yet Jensen is also a parent and imparts deep concerns about the pressures of raising her two sons. Today’s parents should not only “tolerate” their kids’ behavior—they can use their teens’ emotional outbursts and errors of judgment to help them learn, choose, and “wise up,” she explains. Jensen supports later-morning starts for school days (teens need morning sleep) and describes exactly what tobacco, alcohol, pot, and hard drugs do to the brain. While parents should understand and use social media, they must set limits for computer and smartphone use. VERDICT Recommended for readers who enjoyed Laurence Steinberg’s Age of Opportunity, this title applies new science to the frustrating dilemma of how to live with teenage kids.—Linda Beck, Indian Valley P.L., Telford, PA

redstarKamenetz, Anya. The Test: Why Our Schools Are Obsessed with Standardized Testing—But You Don’t Have To Be. PublicAffairs. Jan. 2015. 272p. notes. index. ISBN 9781610394413. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781610394420. ED

thetest122314Kamenetz’s (lead education blogger, NPR; Generation Debt; DIY U) provocative, well-researched book looks at the $13 billion standardized testing industry. Controlled by a handful of companies, it determines grade promotion and graduation rates and has been shown to discriminate against minorities, the poor, and individuals with learning disabilities. The first part of the work examines frequent complaints: tests emphasize the wrong subjects, waste time and money, and make both teachers and students hate school. Also mentioned is that tests penalize diversity, result in teaching to the test, lead to cheating, and are full of errors. Important historical figures in standardized testing, such as Francis Galton, were undeniably racist, and Kamenetz, along with authors such as Diane Ravitch (The Death and Life of the Great American School System) and Alfie Kohn (The Case Against Standardized Testing), raises many concerns. What will be heartening to the parents and educators who read this book, however, is that Kamenetz doesn’t stop there. She offers a range of solutions: opting out of tests, creating better and less frequent exams and testing unconventional but key qualities like mind-set and grit. VERDICT With the Common Core upon us, this timely book should be required reading for anyone concerned with education today.—Elizabeth Safford, ­Nevins ­Memorial Lib., Methuen, MA

redstarRascoff, Spencer & Stan Humphries. Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate. Grand Central. Jan. 2015. 288p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781455574742. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781455574766. BUS

realestate122314This title seeks to arm home buyers, sellers, and owners with the relevant data to navigate today’s postrecession housing market. Coauthored by Rascoff and Humphries, the CEO and chief economist of Zillow (zillow.com), respectively, the book tackles common myths (that remodeling a kitchen gives the best bang for your buck), niche trends (Manhattan real estate prices), and other topics (what your street name says about its value). It turns (mostly) Zillow statistics into interesting and relevant housing topics. While much of the coverage is very specific, the conclusion focuses on more general information and sometimes verges on editorializing. One example is the popular mortgage interest deduction (MID). Rascoff and Humphries state that it doesn’t affect most people, only those who pay federal income taxes, itemize their deductions, and currently have a mortgage (about 13 percent of people). They recommend replacing it with a first-time home buyer tax credit or cash grant; they say that this would help less affluent buyers and wouldn’t need to be subsidized by Washington, as the MID is. Extensively backed up by data and well sourced, this book is written in a fast-paced, conversational manner and is easy to read. VERDICT Recommended for those interested in statistics and the housing market, or real-estate watchers seeking new ways to look at housing.—Leigh Mihlrad, FDIC Lib., Washington, DC

Professional media

Abbott, Andrew. Digital Paper: A Manual for Research and Writing with Library and Internet Materials. Univ. of Chicago. 2014. 259p. index. ISBN 9780226167640. $60; pap. ISBN 9780226167787. $20. PRO MEDIA

Abbott (sociology, Univ. of Chicago; Methods of Discovery) begins by telling readers that this work “covers finding things…different ways to read, how to browse or scan, and strategies for writing.” It is evident that ­Abbot has a scholarly audience in mind. Statements such as, “your own university’s catalog is better than Worldcat,” demonstrate a presumption that the reader, whether student or scholar, has access to a large research library. A more fitting title for this book would be A Humanities Scholar’s Research Considerations, as there is little focus on using technology to conduct research. There is no mention of using electronic resources or digital archive collections; physical files are recommended over digital ones with the author’s questionable reasoning that “physical materials make us exercise more judgment.” Likewise, a note on primary materials states, “You tend to find them by accident.” Serious researchers may find the comparison of controlled vocabulary in physical vs. digital tools and the relevancy ranking used by Google Scholar vs. JSTOR to be useful, but overall this book has a limited audience. VERDICT Librarians involved in instruction should instead consider The Craft of Research by Wayne C. Booth, et al.—Karen Venturella, Union Cty. Coll. Libs, Cranford, NJ

Kirchhoff, Liz. Teaching Social Media: The Can-Do Guide. Libraries Unlimited. 2014. 125p. index. ISBN 9781610695565. pap. $45; ebk. ISBN 9781610695572. PRO MEDIA

teachingsocialmedia122314In this concise, informative guide, ­Kirchhoff (adult services librarian, South Barrington Branch, IL) hits on all of the major social media tools that have grown in popularity within the past few years. Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Yelp are just a few sites the author describes here. She provides detailed lesson plans she implements while teaching these classes at her public library, including preparation tips, special considerations, and variations for different audiences. Addressing the importance of explaining terms and jargon specific to certain social media sites, Kirchhoff also gives warnings about what could potentially distract patrons from the lesson and discusses the major concerns that arise from interacting online, such as those related to privacy, safety, and security—and how to convey this information to patrons in order to put them at ease. Lastly, the author does an excellent job at considering all library users, from those learning the basics to the more advanced, and also the difference between personal vs. business accounts on social media sites. VERDICT A quick yet descriptive read, Kirchhoff’s guide covers everything librarians need to know when teaching their own classes on the subject. Recommended for public libraries.—Jill Morningstar, Michigan State Univ. Libs., East Lansing

Sheridan, Gina. I Work At A Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks. Adams Media. 2014. 160p. index. ISBN 9781440576249. $13.99. PRO MEDIA

Based on Sheridan’s (librarian, St. Louis Cty. Lib.) blog of the same name ­(iworkatapubliclibrary.com), this slim collection reads like a highlight reel of the online narrative and features previously unseen reader submissions. Interactions are amusing, charming, and occasionally frustrating. Food is a recurring theme, whether someone asking for a knife to cut an onion, donating an uncooked chicken, or seeking a margarita machine—only to leave upon learning the library doesn’t have one. There is the ubiquitous “I’m a taxpayer” line when negotiating a fine, along with patrons upset that their tax dollars are being spent on DVDs and video games. Other relatable stories involve someone wanting to apply to all of the jobs on the Internet and someone else wishing to send a message to everyone on the Internet. (They were advised to create a blog.) This hilarious read, a favorite among LJ and SLJ staffers, will also delight fans of the blog Awful Library Books ­(awfullibrarybooks.net) and even those who enjoy the interviews with public librarians on Steve Thomas’s Circulating Ideas podcast. ­VERDICT If anything, Sheridan’s debut is too short and leaves the reader wanting more. However, librarians and circulation staff alike will find themselves laughing and nodding along at the featured stories.—Stephanie Sendaula, Library Journal

Eating Abroad

Eatwell, Piu Marie. They Eat Horses, Don’t They? The Truth About the French. Thomas Dunne:St. Martin’s. Dec. 2014. 352p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781250053053. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466854932. TRAV

Join former lawyer/filmmaker Eatwell as she debunks myths about the French in this fun, informative guide. Each chapter presents a myth followed by a thorough, well-researched explanation and ends with a “myth evaluation” of true, false, or somewhere in between. Beginning with food, the author explores the titular tradition about the French predilection for horses, frogs, and snails and concludes that it’s “arguably true.” Along with fictions about France’s cuisine, the book investigates the truth behind about all things French from French sex and marriage to the French on holiday and the country’s history and culture. Eatwell, herself a British import to France, concludes with a section on “the best of enemies” by looking at tales concerning the two countries. For example, the accepted wisdom about the British as expert gardeners is determined to be false as she judiciously notes that “the French and English have been champions of gardening at different periods of history.” The volume contains delightful illustrations and photographs. VERDICT Eatwell’s myth busting has broad appeal and will draw in readers, from Francophiles to history and culture buffs alike.—Lacy S. Wolfe, Ouachita Baptist Univ. Lib., Arkadelphia, AR

redstarSchroeder, Carol L. & Katrina A. Schroeder. Eat Smart in Denmark: How To Decipher the Menu, Know the Market Foods & Embark on a Tasting Adventure. Gingko. 2014. 160p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781938489020. pap. $15.95. TRAV

eatsmartindenmark122314Jonathan Safran Foer once said “Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving, and identity.” This food guide for travelers takes the reader on a cultural, culinary journey to Denmark with Schroeder and her dietitian daughter Katrina, who are Madison, WI–based foodies with a particular interest in all things Danish. Their delightfully unusual but exceptionally readable book focuses on Denmark’s traditional and contemporary cuisines, with an emphasis on visiting the outdoor and indoor produce markets, sampling various street foods, and understanding the dishes (regional specialties, national favorites) one might encounter in the markets or on restaurant menus. The 17-page section on the historical under­pinnings of Denmark’s foodstuffs is fascinating and well researched. The work also includes some recipes for better-known foods, such as Viking fish soup, pickled red cabbage, creamed kale, slow-braised shank of Danish pork, and apple Charlotte. The conveniently sized volume includes good-quality ­black-and-white and color photographs; several black-and-white maps depicting the country and its regions; a handy index that lists both English and Danish words; and a 28-page list of ingredients, spices, and cooking terms, including svamp (mushroom), krebs (crayfish), kommen (caraway), or tang (seaweed). ­VERDICT Highly recommended for larger travel collections.—Elizabeth ­Connor, Daniel Lib., The Citadel, Military Coll. of South Carolina, Charleston

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Biography

redstarToumani, Meline. There Was and There Was Not: A Journey Through Hate and Possibility in Turkey, Armenia, and Beyond. Metropolitan: Holt. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780805097627. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780805097634. MEMOIR

Communications

Booher, Dianna. What More Can I Say? Why Communication Fails and What To Do About It. Prentice Hall. Jan. 2015. 176p. notes. index. ISBN 9780735205338. pap. $15. COMM

Economics

Fleming, Noah. Evergreen: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty That Keeps Your Business Thriving. AMACOM. Jan. 2015. 288p. notes. index. ISBN 9780814434437. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780814434444. BUS

Education

Geiger, Roger L. The History of American Higher Education: Learning and Culture from the Founding to World War II. Princeton Univ. Dec. 2014. 584p. notes. index. ISBN 9780691149394. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781400852055. ED

Hallowell, Edward M. Driven to Distraction at Work: How To Focus and Be More Productive. Harvard Business Review. Jan. 2015. 256p. notes. index. ISBN 9781422186411. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781422186428. CAREERS

History

redstarAnand, Anita. Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary. Bloomsbury USA. Jan. 2015. 432p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781632860811. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781632860828. HIST

redstarBailey, Catherine. Black Diamonds: The Downfall of an Aristocratic Dynasty and the Fifty Years That Changed England. Penguin. Dec. 2014. 544p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780143126843. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780698182950. HIST

Cohen, Roger. The Girl from Human Street: Ghosts of Memory in a Jewish Family. Knopf. Jan. 2015. 336p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780307594662. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385353137. HIST

Davis, William C. Crucible of Command: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee—the War They Fought, the Peace They Forged. Da Capo. Jan. 2015. 656p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780306822452. $32.50; ebk. ISBN 9780306822469. HIST

Hooper, John. The Italians. Viking. Jan. 2015. 336p. photos. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780525428077. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698183643. HIST

Katz, Pamela. The Partnership: Brecht, Weill, Three Women, and Germany on the Brink. Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Jan. 2015. 480p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780385534918. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780385534925. HIST

Krepinevich, Andrew & Barry Watts. The Last Warrior: Andrew Marshall and the Shaping of Modern American Defense Strategy. Basic. Jan. 2015. 368p. notes. index. ISBN 9780465030002. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780465080717. HIST

Lembeck, Harry. Taking on Theodore Roosevelt: How One Senator Defied the President on Brownsville and Shook American Politics. Prometheus. Jan. 2015. 500p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781616149543. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781616149550. HIST

Levin, Phyllis Lee. The Remarkable Education of John Quincy Adams. Palgrave Macmillan. Jan. 2015. 544p. notes. index. ISBN 9781137279620. $35. HIST

redstarManseau, Peter. One Nation, Under Gods: A New American History. Little, Brown. Jan. 2015. 480p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780316100038. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316242233. HIST

redstarMockett, Marie Mutsuki. Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye. Norton. Jan. 2015. 352p. ISBN 9780393063011. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393246742. HIST

redstarSattin, Anthony. The Young T.E. Lawrence. Norton. Jan. 2015. 352p. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393242669. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393242676. HIST

Steinberg, Jonny. A Man of Good Hope. Knopf. Jan. 2015. 336p. maps. index. ISBN 9780385352727. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385352734. HIST

Uglow, Jenny. In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793–1815. Farrar. Jan. 2015. 464p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780374280901. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781466828223. HIST

Law & Crime

Baker, Amy J.L. & others. The High-Conflict Custody Battle: Protect Yourself & Your Kids from a Toxic Divorce, False Accusations & Parental Alienation. New Harbinger. 2014. 232p. ISBN 9781626250734. pap. $17.95; ebk. ISBN 9781626250758. LAW

Gajda, Amy. The First Amendment Bubble: How Privacy and Paparazzi Threaten a Free Press. Harvard Univ. Jan. 2015. 320p. notes. index. ISBN 9780674368323. $35. LAW

Parapsychology

redstarAxelrod, David B. & others. Merlin Stone Remembered: Her Life and Works. Llewellyn. Dec. 2014. 384p. photos. bibliog. ISBN 9780738740911. pap. $21.99. PARAPSYCH

Political Science

redstarFathi, Nazila. The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran. Basic: Perseus. Dec. 2014. 336p. notes. index. ISBN 9780465069996. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780465040926. POL SCI

Panetta, Leon with Jim Newton. Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace. Penguin Pr. 2014. 512p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781594205965. $36; ebk. ISBN 9780698152748. POL SCI

redstarPalestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation. McSweeney’s. (Voice of Witness). 2014. 320p. ed. by Cate Malek & Mateo Hoke. illus. maps. notes. ISBN 9781940450247. pap. $16. POL SCI

Risen, James. Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. Houghton Harcourt. 2014. 304p. index. ISBN 9780544341418. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780544341425. POL SCI

redstarRose, Flemming. The Tyranny of Silence. Cato Inst. 2014. 240p. notes. ISBN 9781939709424. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781939709431. POL SCI

Psychology

Barrett, Emma & Paul Martin. Extreme: Why Some People Thrive at the Limits. Oxford Univ. 2014. 288p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199668588. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780191645662. PSYCH

Zacks, Jeffrey M. Flicker: Your Brain on Movies. Oxford Univ. Dec. 2014. 352p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199982875. $27.95. PSYCH

Social Science

Class Lives: Stories from Across Our Economic Divide. ILR. (Class Action). Dec. 2014. 234p. ed. by Chuck Collins & others. ISBN 9780801453281. $75; pap. ISBN 9780801479656. $19.95. SOC SCI

Herzig, Rebecca M. Plucked: A History of Hair Removal. New York Univ. Feb. 2015. 280p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781479840823. $29.95. SOC SCI

Tanenbaum, Leora. I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet. Harper Perennial. Feb. 2015. 416p. notes. index. ISBN 9780062282590. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062282606. SOC SCI

Whitlock, Kay & Michael Bronski. Considering Hate: Violence, Goodness, and Justice in American Culture and Politics. Beacon. Jan. 2015. 240p. notes. index. ISBN 9780807091913. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780807091920. SOC SCI

Travel & Geography

Logothetis, Leon. The Kindness Diaries: One Man’s Quest To Ignite Goodwill and Transform Lives Around the World. Reader’s Digest. Dec. 2014. 256p. photos. ISBN 9781621451914. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781621451921. TRAV

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