Reference Short Takes | November 1, 2012

By Christina Connolly, Worcester Public Library, MA

America’s Top-Rated Smaller Cities: A Statistical Handbook, 2012/13. 9th ed. Vol. 1: Alabama-New Hampshire. Grey House. 2012. ISBN 9781592378746. pap. $195. Ref
Patrons who are interested in how their city stacks up against others or are thinking of moving will value this compilation of statistics on the 124 most desirable (statistically speaking) United States cities with a population between 25,000 and 125,000. Data is arranged into rankings sections accompanied by tables on “Business” and “Living Environment.” Information included is as diverse as the price of a dozen eggs, the median cost of a single-family home, and the top ten causes of death. Each profile begins with a page of background information, e.g., historical events, nearby institutions, and climate. Five appendixes add ready-reference appeal. VERDICT An exhaustive essential for libraries.

The Celts: History, Life, and Culture. 2 vols. ABC-CLIO. 2012. 898p. ed. by John T. Koch and Antone Minard. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781598849646. $189. Ref
Virtually all aspects of Celtic life are touched upon in these 800-plus entries on archaeology, art, history, music, mythology, and language and literature. Cross-referenced and written by noted experts, entries range in length from an informative paragraph or two to multi-page essays. While certainly readable for high school or college age students, the information is in-depth and is perhaps a better fit for more advanced scholars who have a familiarity with Celtic languages and geography; either way, a fascinating browse. VERDICT A comprehensive cross-disciplinary encyclopedia on an ancient civilization.

Clark, John F. & Samuel Decalo. Historical Dictionary of Republic of the Congo.  4th ed. Scarecrow. 2012. 521p. ISBN 9780810849198. $120. Ref
Clark and Decalo present a comprehensive resource on all things Congolese. While the title is heavy on the political, the country’s history from around 500 CE through the 1960 declaration of independence and civil wars of the past decade, culture, and economic system are additional focus points. More than 700 cross-referenced entries account for the bulk of this one-volume gem, and are accompanied by an introduction, a chronology, and ready-reference appendixes. VERDICT Given that this book also features an extensive bibliography, it forms an outstanding entrée for those interested in the country.

Current Biography Magazine. Salem. 2012. c.96p. ISBN 0011-3344. pap. 11 issues/year $195. Ref
Current Biography remains a one-stop shop for general information on the lives of overachieving citizens. Since the subjects are not necessarily household names, the series offers a solid alternative to Wikipedia. Its monthly editions offer profiles of 16 individuals who are well-known in fields ranging from business to entertainment, from the arts to politics, and from science to sports. Overviews run between five and six pages in length each and consist of general information about each subject’s childhood and family of origin, education, career trajectory, and personal life. Suggestions for further reading are included. VERDICT A solid resource on the lives of the notably successful.

Hanold, Maylon. World Sports. ABC-CLIO. (Contemporary World Issues). 2012. 304p. index. ISBN 9781598847789. $58. Ref
Former Olympic kayaker and current ultrarunner, fulltime lecturer, and researcher Hanold gives professional sports a thorough workout from social, political, and economic perspectives, including controversial issues relating to sexuality, race and ethnicity, and the role of women in sports today. Chapter titles sum up content: “Background and History,” “Sports Issues Worldwide,” “North American Sport,” “Chronology,” “Biographical Sketches,” “Data and Documents,” “Directory of Organizations,” and “Print and Non-Print Resources.” A solid access point for researchers high school age and older, this book is worth its shelf space for the thorough directory and resource chapters alone. VERDICT Another winner from the “Contemporary World Issues” series.

Lowenkopf, Shelly. The Fiction Writer’s Handbook: The Definitive Guide to McGuffins, Red Herrings, Shaggy Dogs, and Other Literary Revelations from a Master. White Whisker. Nov. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9781478312109. $19.95. Ref
Knowing how editors choose one work over so many others would give any writer an advantage. To that end, Lowenkopf, a longtime writer, editor, and educator, delivers the fiction-writing guide he has always longed for—one that can be applied to the practical goal of every aspiring writer: getting published. Arranged alphabetically, entries define and describe elements of editor-speak used by those in the know when judging a manuscript. Defining terms and ideas from “aftertaste” to “zeitgeist,” the handbook instructs and encourages beginner writers. An annotated bibliography punctuates this spirited read on what works and what doesn’t. VERDICT An invaluable insider’s take on what editors look for when sifting through the slush pile.

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Vol. 21: Art and Architecture. Univ. of North Carolina. (New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture). Jan. 2013. c.592p. ed. by Judith H. Bonner & Estill Curtis. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780807837177. $49.95; pap. ISBN 9780807837184. $27.95. Ref
One of 24 volumes to be published in this update of The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (1989), Art & Architecture discusses how art has evolved throughout the last few centuries from the bayou to the nation’s capital and everyplace in between. The volume begins with several essays written by subject specialists on prominent advances and notable practitioners in the art and architecture worlds, while alphabetically arranged biographical sketches on prominent persons in the field comprise the latter half. VERDICT An informative look at who and what influences the unique visual landscape of the American South.

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.