Non-Fiction Reviews


LITTLE HEATHENS: HARD TIMES AND HIGH SPIRITS ON AN IOWA FARM DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION by Mildred Armstrong Kalish is a wonderful memoir of her childhood in the 1930’s. Times were hard, but she experienced much love and kindness and also learned the importance of frugality and ingenuity.
Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553384246
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Published: Bantam - April 29th, 2008

I tell of a time, a place, and a way of life long gone. For many years I have had the urge to describe that treasure trove, lest it vanish forever. So, partly in response to the basic human instinct to share feelings and experiences, and partly for the sheer joy and excitement of it all, I report on my early life. It was quite a romp.

THE GOD DELUSION by Richard Dawkins

For those of you currently or formerly religious gals and blokes who’ve been frightened by its reflective cover and less-than-subtle title, THE GOD DELUSION by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is a brave, compelling, and only occasionally arrogant deconstruction of centuries of religious belief. Your eyes won’t bleed; your fingertips won’t be singed. If you’re a thinker, delve in.
The God Delusion Cover Image
ISBN: 9780618918249
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Published: Mariner Books - January 1st, 2008

A preeminent scientist -- and the world's most prominent atheist -- asserts the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm religion has inflicted on society, from the Crusades to 9/11.

THE RED BOOK by Carl Jung

In the field of psychology, few are held at the level of respect and awe as Carl Jung.  His writings and ideas have impacted the way we as humans view our minds and our world as much as perhaps any person in the 20th Century.  Recently, Jung’s most personal work, known as THE RED BOOK, was released after being sealed away in a Swiss bank vault for 25 years.
The Red Book (Philemon) Cover Image
By C. G. Jung, Sonu Shamdasani (Editor), Sonu Shamdasani (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780393065671
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - March 1st, 2010

"The years, of which I have spoken to you, when I pursued the inner images, were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me.


American Made: When FDR Put the Nation to War by Nick Taylor features a remarkable social worker and bureaucratic genius, Harry Hopkins, who headed the largest employment enterprise spearheaded by any government in modern history--the Works Project Administration (WPA).
American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553381320
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Published: Bantam - February 24th, 2009

Seventy-five years after Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, here for the first time is the remarkable story of one of its enduring cornerstones, the Works Progress Administration (WPA): its passionate believers, its furious critics, and its amazing accomplishments.


Part travel book, part cultural critique, and part ode to the bicycle, David Byrne’s BICYCLE DIARIES is simply a pleasure to read. Singer, writer, filmmaker and renaissance man Byrne recounts equally joyous and harrowing experiences astraddle his bicycle, his vehicle of choice. David Byrne is how occasionally irreverent Christian writer Anne Lamott imagines God.
Bicycle Diaries Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143117964
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Published: Penguin Books - September 28th, 2010

A round-the-world bicycle tour with one of the most original artists of our day.

MY LIFE IN FRANCE by Julia Child

Though most of you have probably already seen the movie, Julia Child’s memoir MY LIFE IN FRANCE is well worth the read. It yields insights into the legend that can’t be captured on film.
My Life in France Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307277695
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Published: Anchor Books - October 9th, 2007

The bestselling story of Julia's years in France--and the basis for Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams--in her own words.


It is so nice to read a book that highlights what one person can do to make life better for so many.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Picture Book Edition Cover Image
ISBN: 9780803735118
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Published: Dial Books - January 19th, 2012

When fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba's Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone's crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library . . . and figured out how to bring electricity to his village.


Retired episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong has hit another one out of the progressive theological ballpark with ETERNAL LIFE: A NEW VISION. This new book, quite possibly his last, confronts human beings’ most pervasive fear, death and oblivion, in a way that doesn’t require them to believe in religious fairy tales. (Hardcover, $24.99). Recommended by Kelly.
Eternal Life: A New Vision: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060778422
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Published: HarperOne - October 5th, 2010

Drawing on a lifetime of wisdom, New York Times bestselling author and controversial religious leader John Shelby Spong continues to challenge traditional Christian theology in Eternal Life: A New Vision. In this remarkable spiritual autobiography about his lifelong struggle with the questions of God and death, he reveals how he ultimately came to believe in eternal life.


For those of you struggling to reconcile your own religious faith with all we now know (or if you have relatives on either side of the fence who you have a hard time talking to), THANK GOD FOR EVOLUTION by Michael Dowd might just be the ticket. He joins an ever-broadening circle of writers who believe when religion and science divorced many centuries ago, both have suffered mightily for it.
Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World Cover Image
ISBN: 9780452295346
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Published: Plume Books - April 28th, 2009

Few issues have revealed deeper divisions in our society than the debate between creationism and evolution, between religion and science. Yet from the fray, Reverend Michael Dowd has emerged as a reconciler, finding faith strengthened by the power of reason.

The Woman Behind the New Deal by Kirsten Downey

Need a heroine? Trying to understand what the feminist movement was all about? I highly recommend WOMAN BEHIND THE NEW DEAL: THE LIFE OF FRANCIS PERKINS, FDR’S SECRETARY OF LABOR AND HIS MORAL CONSCIENCE by Kirsten Downey. Ms. Perkins was the first woman member of the cabinet.
The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life and Legacy of Frances Perkins--Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Minimum Wage Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400078561
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Published: Anchor Books - February 23rd, 2010

"Kirstin Downey's lively, substantive and--dare I say--inspiring new biography of Perkins . . . not only illuminates Perkins' career but also deepens the known contradictions of Roosevelt's character." --Maureen Corrigan, NPR Fresh Air