Monthly Archives: April 2012

Staff Picks – Alcatraz

Alcatraz: History and Design of an Icon by Donald MacDonald and Ira Nadel

Did you know that the island on which Alcatraz sits was the property of the King of Spain until 1846? After the Mexican-American War in 1848, the island became the property of the U.S. government and was established as a fortress. In 1909, it became a prison to house U.S. soldiers convicted of crimes in the Philippines. During the intervening years, different levels of fortress were constructed and the uses of the buildings also varied in many ways.

In this small book, the authors tell the story of this legendary American landmark. Included are pictures of the island and the buildings – both outside and inside – all hand-drawn plans by architect MacDonald.

Even the identification of the facility changed through the years – citadel, fortress, prison, disciplinary barracks, anti-aircraft post, the “Rock.” Various architectural styles also have been visible through the years and are displayed in the drawings, which decorate nearly every page.

In 1933, Alcatraz became the country’s first maximum-security prison. Authorities proclaimed: “In their individual cells, their ‘evil influence’ would not extend to others.” Regulations within the prison were severe; for example, each prisoner had to keep his cell “neat, clean and free from contraband.” There even was a diagram showing where each item in the cell had to be placed around a bed and on the two shelves that were provided.

This book, in its unique size and format, tells all, from the island’s discovery to its current use as a national park receiving more than one million visitors each year. I found this book to be an entertaining way to learn about the most famous prison in U.S. history.

In the adult nonfiction area: 979.461 MacDonald c2012.

Recommended by: Paula at Main

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Staff Picks – Through My Eyes

Through My Eyes: A Quarterback’s Journey by Tim Tebow

I like Tim Tebow. I was impressed by his success with the Denver Broncos this past football season. So I read his book.

This young man has a remarkable story that explains his urge to compete and win, but his desire is very personal. Simply put, he believes God has given him certain talents and his intent is to use these talents to his fullest potential. This makes Tim Tebow a very serious person, and he writes with seriousness as he describes his schooling, athletic experiences, and accomplishments in life.

And then there is the fun-loving Tebow. Mixed in with the trophy-winning football games and special trips to the Philippines with his missionary parents are delightful stories of comic exploits featuring one-upmanship between him and his two older brothers (note: these began when Tim was only 3 years old, with his brothers being 6 and 9). There are also several humorous episodes involved in his efforts to lead his fellow football players as they attempted to win particularly important games at the high school, college, and professional levels.

Tim Tebow is not terribly complicated but he has led a full and interesting life up until now, a life worth reading about. I happily recommend getting to know Tim Tebow through his words and eyes.

Found in the Adult Nonfiction area: 921 Tebow c2011

Recommended by: Paula at Main

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Staff Picks – The Technologists

The Technologists by Matthew Pearl

Set in post-Civil War Boston, Matthew Pearl’s The Technologists tells the story of the conflict between progress and the past. The first students of what will become MIT are nearing graduation, but their excitement has been dulled by a recent spate of devastating “accidents” attributed to science and technology. A group of “social outcasts” from MIT work diligently to solve the mystery and prove that science and technology benefit mankind rather than destroy it. Pearl, author of The Dante Club, keeps the reader invested in the story with the diverse cast of characters each with their own personal demons. Despite the different backgrounds and interests of the students, they pull together to determine who is behind the string of bizarre events. This novel will appeal to readers of both steam punk and historical fiction.

Recommended by: Amy L. at Main

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Staff Picks – The Christmas Wedding

Sorry this one is slightly late!

The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

I just read my first James Patterson book, “The Christmas Wedding.” I thought the premise was interesting but unlikely. A widow, Gabby Summerhill, is getting married on Christmas day, but she won’t tell anyone who the groom is until the wedding. She has had three marriage proposals in a short period of time, all from men she has known and loved for years.

Her family of four grown children and she had not been together at Christmas since her husband died. The mystery of the groom was mostly to ensure her family would all be in attendance. The prospective grooms were her late husband’s younger brother, the farmer next door and a rabbi, all of which helped with Gabby’s charity, feeding breakfast to the area homeless.

I enjoyed the story with all the children, their spouses and grandchildren. It seemed there was so much going on and you wondered what would happen next. Gabby didn’t even tell the groom until the wedding and wouldn’t you know, she married the one I thought she would not marry.

Recommended by: Kay at Main

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