Book review: West by West my charmed tormented life

By , June 28, 2012

  West by West my charmed tormented life by Jerry West

Always known as a straight shooter (as well as Mr. Clutch and one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players of all time) Mr. West taps his memories and unburdens his soul with a detailed and interesting autobiography.

His upbringing in rural West Virginia, the loss of his brother in the Korean War and an abusive father factor into his many quirks and years of masked depression.  His incredible career with the Lakers following the Olympic gold medal victory in 1960, where he and Oscar Robertson led a dream team to victory (one of the happiest days of his life) -is given somewhat of a short shrift.  The teams that featured him and Gail Goodrich in the backcourt and Wilt and later Abdul-Jabbar at center were always formidable (although the Celtics with Russell, Havlicek and later Cowens often bested them in the playoffs, if my vague memory serves).

West explores in more detail his years as GM and an executive with the Lakers,  his relationships with numerous players like Kobe Bryant, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neal and others that made the Lakers’  Showtime years so dazzling.  He recalls many personal moments with unvarnished feelings; the snubs, the misunderstandings (Hello Phil Jackson), the incredibly difficult decisions, the high stakes inner circles – that all nearly drove him crazy.

His family life, love of the outdoors, ambitious golf game (He has lent his business savvy and energy in heading up a major tournament  – Northern Trust Open in recent years) and ever evolving professional life are presented with his unique no-nonsense style (save for his interest in really snazzy shirts, pictures included).  He even includes a really fascinating chapter of a multi-era dream NBA game (in which he participates).  Go Jerry – you were truly one of the best!

A really solid, absorbing autobiography here.  Bonus points for great photographs, his career statistics and a listing of all the injuries he sustained as a pro.

- Phil


Book review: Treehouses

By , June 28, 2012

Once again, Cheekwood is featuring treehouses in their gardens. This summer’s theme is  “Great Works of Literature.” After seeing the multi-colored Rainbow Fish treehouse based on the story by Marcus Pfister I was feeling inspired to create a treehouse of my own and decided to study up on treehouses. So I returned to the nonfiction shelves (728’s) and found some books to inspire me.




Treehouses: the Art and Craft of Living Out on a Limb by Peter Nelson

“Treehouses lift the spirits. They inspire dreams. They represent freedom from adults or adulthood, from duties and responsibilities.”   Filled with stories of people and their treehouses, Peter Nelson’s book is fun to read and packed with helpful tips, and great photographs of small intimate spaces that will inspire you to create your own.




Treehouses: View from the Top by John Harris.

Featuring treehouses from all around the world, these structures are incredible. Going beyond the simple playhouse, you see treehouses as soaring open air dining rooms, classrooms and special cozy retreats. This book features hundreds of drawings and colored photos as well as a section that shows you how to construct your own.




These books represent two different theories on treehouses, both offer something inspiring.








Book review: The Hamptons: Food, family, and history

By , June 23, 2012

Kennedy green house : designing an eco-healthy home from the foundation by Robin Wilson. This book chronicles the re-design of century-old home owned by Robert Kennedy Jr. and his late wife, Mary Richardson. The Nashville connection is that Mary Richardson worked for over 20 years at Parish-Hadley. Pick up this title if you are interested in a “money is no object” LEED-certified building or green design project.

- Laurie

Book review: Knitting Art: 150 Innovative Works from 18 Contemporary Artists

By , June 21, 2012

Knitting Art: 150 Innovative Works from 18 Contemporary Artists
By Karen Searle

After attending a certain arts and craft show in the park this past weekend I was feeling rather inspired, so I went to the nonfiction 745-746 section and let myself run wild. What I love about the library is, no matter what your hobby, or even if you would like to learn a new one, chances are very good that we are going to have books on the shelf that will help you learn more and not just one book, but several great books that are all available for free. You can’t beat that.

 This is the book I found…

Knitting Art: 150 Innovative Works from 18 Contemporary Artists by Karen Searle. The cover of the book says it all….. cool, funky knitting projects in fabulous colors, using unusual materials and highly innovative artistic designs. Every page features knitters from around the world pushing past the ordinary and creating something to inspire us to think and create.


- Karen



Book review: The Burroughs File

By , June 18, 2012

The Burroughs File
by William S. Burroughs

This collection gathers much of Burroughs’ shorter work which appeared in literary magazines during the 1960s and other rare ephemera. The book reminded me of the uncanny power of Burroughs’ mind and why I was so fascinated with his work to begin with so many years ago. Most of this material was produced during the same time as his Nova Trilogy (The Soft Machine, The Ticket that Exploded, and Nova Express), i.e., his most formally experimental phase. The Burroughs File proves not only was there a method to his “madness,” but his madness was just a METHOD period. Burroughs used this method to unfold the nature of reality, political control, and biological enslavement. And, of course, to heal himself from those aforementioned.

I’m having trouble trying to define what these pieces are about. They are part surrealist autobiographical nostalgia, part bitter satire, part alien mysticism with a healthy dose of metafictional demonstration of the author’s own creative technique. You’ll never think about St. Louis the same way again.

For Burroughs beginners, this is a good introduction to the modus operandi of one the 2oth century’s most influential but difficult writers sans the notorious gross outs present in his other books. For Burroughs devotees, this is the equivalent of a b-sides album. Highly recommended for both species.

- Bryan

Book review: Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail

By , June 17, 2012

Wild : from lost to found on the Pacific Crest TrailWild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed

In the heart of the Canyon, by Elizabeth Hyde.

On this side of the Mississippi it is not unusual to know of someone who has trekked the Appalachian Trail. If you haven’t had the chance to enjoy a day hike on the trail, you’ve probably seen plenty of badges of honor – AT stickers – on the back of SUVs. While stuck in city traffic waiting for the light to turn green you may have daydreamed of walking sticks and cool streams and an AT escape yourself.

Across the Mississippi folks are drawn to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. This 2,650 mile trail takes most thru-hikers 5 to 6 months to complete. That means hiking about 20 plus miles daily…for months on end….ascending, descending, across gravely paths, under the shade of ponderosa pines, navigating snow slides, enduring 100+ degree temperatures, sharing the trail with rattlesnakes, elk, lizards, bears and the occasional llama.

Not many folks would attempt an eleven hundred mile solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Fewer still would admit to not preparing physically for the hike. The author Cheryl Strayed did just that. She made plenty of trips to her local REI to prepare her backpack, “Monster,” but she neglected to prepare for the physical endurance needed to meet the trail. In her words, she was “profoundly unprepared.” Her feet paid a heavy price for this lack of preparation and suffered mightly before she was named Queen of the Pacific Trail by fellow hikers.

In Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Coast Trail, Strayed recounts the physical toll off hiking the trail and how the journey reset the course of her life. Find a shady hammock, cue up Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Jerry and Joni, open a bottle of chilled Snapple Lemonade and enjoy the adventure of her lifetime.

Also check out the author’s fiction title, Torch. For a contemporary whitewater trail adventure, try the 2009 fiction title, In the heart of the Canyon, by Elizabeth Hyde.

- Laurie

Book Review: In One Person

By , June 15, 2012

In One Person

By John Irving

In John Irving’s latest best seller, he creates a setting where gender lines are blurred, sexuality is questioned, and a young boy grows into a man who is tormented by the search for his own worth. The novel is about a bisexual man who struggles to find his place in a straight world that doesn’t accept his decisions and a gay world where there is no middle ground.

Billy Abbot takes the backstage by storm. He remembers watching his grandfather play women’s roles in the local town theater. He pines over the local librarian Miss Frost, who plays a pivotal role in helping him discover who he really is, and is the first person to know his desire to become a writer. His family is divided by those who accept who he is, and in turn themselves, and those who remain in denial. His best friend Elaine sticks with him throughout the entire novel, at his side when their friends begin dying during the AIDS epidemic, and when he discovers the whereabouts of his estranged father.

In One Person is John Irving’s thirteenth novel. Five of his previous novels have been made into films, of which one won an Academy Award. He also received the Nashville Public Library Literary Award in 2008.

Pleasant Reading -


Book review: Lost in My Own Backyard – A Walk in Yellowstone National Park

By , June 12, 2012

  Lost in My Own Backyard : A Walk in Yellowstone National Park  by Tim Cahill

This is a very small but really enjoyable book from a witty and knowledgeable author – who resides in Montana, about 50 miles north of America’s first National Park.

Part Walk in the Woods, part love letter and part trail guide, Cahill has a knack of giving you just enough information for you to want to come along for the adventure.  He is really well read on the park’s history and it’s stunning geological features but leaves the detailed minutia to others (and includes an excellent selected bookshelf at the end for further reading).

He’s big on respecting wildlife, especially thousand pound plus bison and bears but will definitely take you on some trails less traveled.  Just don’t get him started on the discovery and naming rights of waterfalls in the park!

Great summer reading; makes me want to plan a trip!





Book review: Free-Range Chicken Gardens

By , June 12, 2012

Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard

by Jessi Bloom; Photos by Kate Baldwin

Nashville is fast becoming a city of urban farmers.  For many the urban farm includes a hen or two (no more than six, remember…)  Landscape designer and farmer Jessi Bloom’s book Free-Range Chicken Gardens tells you what to plant in your chicken-friendly garden, as well as tips to keep your chickens from harming your plants as they roam around.   Through beautiful photos and easy to understand planning and management techniques, Bloom offers advice on successfully encouraging your chickens and garden to coexist.  She also features urban farmers from around the country who share their own chicken testimonials.  Although you’ll find some beginner’s information about coops, breeds, and general poultry care, this book may be more helpful to the urban farmer who already has chickens.  Investigate the basics of raising poultry with  Keeping Chickens with Ashley English, or The Complete Guide to Raising Chickens.                  -crystal

In Memorium: Ray Bradbury

By , June 11, 2012

Ray Bradbury was the homey wizard of American science fiction. Most often associated with SF in public consciousness, he also dedicated much of his working life to poetry and drama. Before his death at age 91, he had earned the National Medal of the Arts and was named a Commandeur by the French Order of Arts and Letters. He gained fame in the 1950s with the publication of The Martian Chronicles, but his most beloved title to librarians is probably Fahrenheit 451 due to its provenance being a pay typewriter in a California library and its anti-censorship theme. Some of my colleagues swear by Dandelion Wine (a great summer reading choice by the way). For those into the creep, check out Something Wicked This Way Comes, a horror-fantasy classic. I’d put my money on Truffaut’s 1966 interpretation of Fahrenheit for which Bradbury himself wrote the screenplay.

I remember being at panel where a number of big chair types were taking swipes at Bradbury when a brave 15-year old jutted up his leather banded wrist and declared that kids don’t like to read but if you give them something like Fahrenheit 451 then they might actually like to read. I thought to myself: this kid’s the future.

Do you have a Bradbury memory? Leave it in the comments.

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