Xpress Reviews: Nonfiction | First Look at New Books, January 25, 2013

Week ending January 25, 2013

Bedrick, David. Talking Back to Dr. Phil: Alternatives to Mainstream Psychology. Belly Song. Mar. 2013. 232p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780985266707. pap. $17.95. PSYCH
Attorney, counselor, educator, and organizational consultant Bedrick explains an intriguing new approach to psychological treatment. His love-based psychology considers disturbed feelings and behaviors to be reflections of human diversity; he aims to help people find meaning and power in difficulty. This contrasts with his view of mainstream psychology’s focus on correcting individuals’ inadequacies or pathologies without helping them achieve deep, personal transformation. Bedrick compares the mainstream approach with his own methodology using various problems and issues raised in episodes of the Dr. Phil television show.
Verdict While smartly presented and accessible to lay readers, Bedrick’s discussion of his approach to psychological treatment is better suited to practicing professionals, though the author’s lack of clinical credentials may lessen his authority among experts. The questionable integrity of the Dr. Phil show, including episodes in which psychic con men James Van Praagh and John Edward claimed they could talk to dead people and Dr. McGraw didn’t challenge them, will enhance the level of scrutiny.—Dale Farris, Groves, TX

Gold, Jeff. 101 Essential Rock Records: The Golden Age of Vinyl from the Beatles to the Sex Pistols. Gingko. 2012. 260p. illus. ISBN 9781584234883. $39.95. MUSIC
Before the advent of the Internet, Gold’s (former executive vice president & general manager, Warner Bros. Records) monumental survey of 101 “essential” LPs would have validated the opinions and tastes of so many classic rock snobs, vinyl fetishists, and musical outliers. It also could have been a treasure map for young cultural explorers. In an era of extensive online music criticism and instantaneous access to information (not to mention the music itself), this collection of casual and mildly charismatic ruminations about essential records feels slight and cursory. As a result, this insider gives readers paltry insight into a bygone era. The selections are made up of the usual suspects of rock hierarchy: Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, etc. Even the lesser-known favorites run the same old gamut: Moby Grape, Love, et al. Granted, reading anecdotes from various rockers from David Bowie to Suzanne Vega is fun, but most of these entries are neither too deep nor invested.
Verdict Essentially, this is a coffee-table book for rock fans young or old; a striking title designed to launch conversations of a specific, pointed variety. It’s cool but not as cool as it would have been 20 years ago.—Rob Morast, Norfolk, VA

Kepnes, Matt. How To Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter. Perigee: Putnam. Feb. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780399159671. pap. $15. TRAV
Sparked by his trips to Costa Rica and Thailand, Kepnes (nomadicmatt.com) quit his job in 2006, withdrew his savings of $20,000, and hit the open road. His trip of one year became six. Now an expert on cheap travel, Kepnes outlines preparations for, as well as money-saving strategies during, lengthy trips. His advice covers banking, using credit cards for discounts and free mileage trips, finding the cheapest airline tickets, what travel equipment to have, and whether to take out insurance. On-the-ground suggestions include cheap accommodations, food and beverages, transportation, and sightseeing information. Kepnes’s nearly seven-year globe-trotting journey included five continents, but he has still not reached some popular destinations, such as China and the South Pacific. The book also includes invaluable appendixes that list tour and travel companies, flight resources, backpack companies, discount cards, accommodation resources, travel insurance, and credit cards. There are also destination-specific resources, a suggested packing list, and a section on vaccinations and medical care abroad.
Verdict Kepnes provides a wealth of information for traveling cheaply on extended journeys and will provide invaluable information for aspiring globe-trotters.—Melinda Stivers Leach, Wondervu, CO

Moser, Rosemarie Scolaro. Ahead of the Game: The Parents’ Guide to Youth Sports Concussion. Dartmouth: Univ. Pr. of New England. 2012. 208p. ISBN 9781611682243. $19.95. CHILD REARING
While kids have been bumping their heads since time immemorial, research into concussions is a fairly young field. Over 500,000 children between the ages of ten and 14 visit ERs every year for concussions, and as many as 60 percent of high schoolers have had at least one concussion. In this timely and thorough text, Moser, director of the Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey and neuropsychologist for area football and hockey teams, alerts parents to the dangers of concussion, dispels common myths about concussions, and presents the latest findings regarding baseline testing, diagnosis, and treatment. You do not have to black out in order to sustain a concussion, and children often don’t present symptoms until days after impact, making diagnosis especially difficult. Given that a second head injury—called second impact syndrome—can result in severe and irreversible brain damage, the need for proper diagnosis and rest for an athlete is indisputable.
Verdict Moser’s much-needed contribution to the literature is commendable. With high-profile topics like the NFL’s Brain Bank and the Zackery Lystedt Law getting serious media play, her book should reach the right people at the right time. Anyone involved in youth sports needs to read this book; should be widely available through public and academic libraries. For another excellent title on youth sports injuries, see Mark Hyman’s Until It Hurts (2010). When in doubt, sit them out!—Julianne Smith, Ypsilanti Dist. Lib., MI

Myss, Caroline. Archetypes: Who Are You? Hay House. 2013. 248p. ISBN 9781401941086. $24.95. PSYCH
Best-selling author Myss (Anatomy of the Spirit) writes a laundry list of 12 archetypes; the impetus behind the categories is valid—if you can figure out who you are, through encouragement, your positive attributes may become self-actualizing. However, this unfortunate amalgam of modern stereotypes doesn’t come close to identifying itself with the concept of archetypes originating from the field’s leading thinkers. Myss’s “new” archetypes are watered-down versions of previous incarnations, appealing to a trendy sensibility. In addition, each chapter has a “male counterpart,” which one may only guess is a nod to Jung’s anima/animus, a misunderstanding even Myss senses when she writes that archetypes are “mostly inherently genderless.” Is preying on women with low self-esteem an honest way to increase book sales?
Verdict Read Joseph Campbell, Carol Pearson, Carl Jung, or your favorite fairy tales and/or myths and be inspired by the magnitude of the archetype’s true form. This book is an unnecessary purchase. —Nadine Dalton Speidel, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH

starred review starSchoenbaum, David. The Violin: A Social History of the World’s Most Versatile Instrument. Norton. 2012. 708p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780393084405. $39.95. MUSIC
Schoenbaum (history, Univ. of Iowa; Hitler’s Social Revolution: Class and Status in Nazi Germany, 1933–1939) tells a series of engaging interconnected “histories” of the violin. Most books on violin history concentrate on playing or violin-making, but Schoenbaum covers all the bases, as indicated in the four major sections: “Making,” “Selling,” “Playing,” “Imagining.” While more traditional histories, such as David D. Boyden’s The History of Violin Playing from Its Origins to 1761 or Boris Schwarz’s Great Masters of the Violin, have more data about particular players or specific historical developments, Schoenbaum’s strategy casts a wider net and includes information not usually included in accounts of playing or making: the economics of the orchestra (as opposed to only a roll call of great soloists); the sometimes shady undercurrent in the high-end violin trade; and a consideration of race, gender, and class among virtuoso violin players. Perhaps the most innovative section is “Imagining,” which considers the ways in which the violin has stimulated the imagination of artists, writers, and moviemakers.
Verdict As a history of a 500-year-old phenomenon in all its social ramifications, this book is unequaled; recommended for all libraries.—Bruce R. Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., Kingsville

Shankman, Peter with Karen Kelly. Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over—and Collaboration Is In. Palgrave Macmillan. Apr. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780230341890. $25. ECON
PR specialist Shankman (CEO, the Geek Factory, Inc., Can We Do That? Outrageous PR Stunts That Work) offers insights into how and why nice companies are the next big thing. A troubled economy that intensifies competition, combined with social media’s ability to expose bad behavior quickly, is a major factor in the equation of why company top brasses are having a harder time playing dirty. When companies and their leaders act with “enlightened self-interest,” their relationship with their employees and customers becomes beneficial for all in the long-term. The author interviews dozens of executives to uncover the hallmarks of a new brand of leadership—the kind that gets down on the floor to help an employee who’s dropped a stack of uncollated papers. These leaders aren’t pushovers or Pollyannas—they can make tough decisions when necessary and read the handwriting on the wall when things go awry. But they’re accessible, they listen (really listen), they accentuate the positive—and in so doing they inspire loyalty from customers and staff while still building the bottom line.
Verdict Who can argue with the premise that just about everyone would rather deal with nice people than nasty ones? Shankman’s book is a quick read, with illuminating and sometimes gossipy anecdotes to illustrate the traits necessary to make nice in business.—Carol Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin Whitewater Libs.

Smith, Corinne Hosfeld. Westward I Go Free: Tracing Thoreau’s Last Journey. Green Frigate. 2012. c.435p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781927043301. pap. $28.95. LIT
During the spring and summer of 1861, Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) went on a long journey west with the teenaged Horace Mann Jr. (1844–68) as his traveling companion. Smith here presents a beautifully detailed account of their trip, in which they went to Minnesota and back, returning by a different route, and using railroads and steamships in both directions, interspersing a narrative of her own journey re-creating theirs. It was to be the last journey that Thoreau made before succumbing to consumption the next year. (It was thought that the journey would improve his health.) Smith details the men’s route to and from Minnesota—including stops at Niagara Falls, NY; Redwing, MN; and Mackinac Island, MI; and travel through Ontario—as well as their botanical discoveries. Both men were avid observers of nature, but Smith’s emphasis is naturally on Thoreau, who filled 100 pages of a notebook with his observations.
Verdict Some Thoreau fans may find the current-day travel narrative distracting; it might have worked better as its own separate travel memoir. Nevertheless, the story of Thoreau’s last journey is a fascinating one that is still very much worth the read. Highly recommended for all Thoreau buffs, Thoreau collections, and travel memoir enthusiasts.—Sharon Britton, Bowling Green State Univ. Lib., Huron, OH

Svenonius, Ian F. Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ‘n’ Roll Group. Akashic. Jan. 2013. 200p. ISBN 9781617751301. pap. $14.95. MUSIC
Much like David Rees’s How To Sharpen Pencils, this book will cause readers to wonder if it is in fact a sincere, scholarly tract from ex–Nation of Ulysses front man Svenonius (The Psychic Soviet), or merely a long, deadpan joke. It begins with transcriptions of fictional séances with the spirits of long-dead rockers (e.g., Jimi Hendrix, Mary Wells), which wax on different aspects of rock music, and continues with revisionist ramblings, including the idea that rock was developed as an “insidious weapon” in the capitalist West’s arsenal of tools against Soviet Russia. Proscriptive how-to advice ranges over a wide number of subjects (e.g., sex, band photos, etc.) and can be seen both as skewering the cultural idolatry associated with rock and as genuine counsel.
Verdict Svenonius’s sociopolitical analysis of rock and roll is intellectually interesting, as when he posits that the genre was “brought about by the industrial revolution, the harnessing of electricity, and the miscegenation of various poor, exploited, and indentured cultures in the USA.” However, its lack of broad appeal makes it a fringe title; order for demand only.—Douglas C. Lord, Connecticut State Lib., Middletown

Wichman, Craig. Standing in the Spirit at Your Elbow: A History of Dickens’ Christmas Carol as Radio/Audio Drama. BearManor. Jan. 2013. 181p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781593932138. pap. $19.95. THEATER
Not a scholarly book on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, this title, by radio producer and actor Wichman, offers an enthusiastic appreciation and history of the iconic work in various audio formats. Published in November 1843, A Christmas Carol’s initial printing of 6,000 copies (personally designed by Dickens with hand-colored illustrations by John Leech) was sold out by Christmas and has never since gone out of print. Audio presentations followed when the technology allowed (as did a silent film in 1901), and Wichman traces that history. Many names are easily recognized: Lionel Barrymore, Basil Rathbone, Paul Scofield, and John Gielgud are only a few of the professional actors who have lent their stamp to the classic story via recording and live radio performance. Wichman also has a lengthy listing of local and regional radio live performances: the number is mind-boggling.
Verdict Clearly a labor of love, this book exudes a tone that is personal, somewhat breezy, and overreliant on exclamation points but is nevertheless a pleasant read. All who consider A Christmas Carol an important part of their holiday celebration will enjoy this book; students of the history of literature audio adaptations will find it invaluable.—Susan L. Peters, Univ. of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"