The Shallows by Nicholas Carr

The ShallowsReview by Chris Swisher

Is the Internet making us stupid? How has information technology evolved and where is it going? How, with the immense, and growing, database of information at our fingertips, can we balance distraction with mindfulness? Nicholas Carr examines these issues in his bestselling book The Shallows.

In covering this essential topic, Carr fluidly ranges from classical philosophy, poetry, neuroscience, and the history of technology.

The digital world, says Carr, is ubiquitous and here to stay. The Internet provides us a fix for ennui, but access to more information most certainly does not make us smarter. Carr reminds us that have a problem here that computers and networks created and most certainly cannot solve. Highly recommended. Continue reading

David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

David and GoliathReview by Mike Packard

Things are not always as they seem.  Perceptions of advantage are often challenged when an underdog takes the cake.  Malcolm Gladwell explores the dynamics of remarkable individuals who clearly had to overcome extreme odds to achieve success in David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.

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Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster

Bitter is the New BlackReview by Sarah Newell

Jen has the good life – well-paying job, Chicago penthouse apartment, and plenty of shoes.  That quickly falls apart during the dot-com burst of the early 2000s.  What is an intelligent, driven and well-dressed woman to do when she’s out of a job?  Apply for unemployment, of course!  Watch as the smart-mouthed heroine falls from grace and learns the ropes of supporting her Prada habit on a shoe-string budget.

While at times exhausting, this intelligent and strong-willed woman wins the reader over with a paradoxical combination of absurd hubris and striking humility.  It is in her love of her boyfriend Fletch, the placid and stoic foil to our heroine, that the reader sees Jen’s heart of gold.  This goodwill of course extends to her array of rescue animals, but not to many of the adults that stumble into her path!  As I personally disagreed with almost all of Jen’s life views, I hold the author in high esteem for not only winning me over, but helping me root for her in the end.  Bitter is the New Black is a quick read and great book to enjoy on your own or with a group of friends!

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About the reviewer:Sarah Newell has been with the Tredyffrin Library Reference Department since December 2014.  She loves traveling, cooking and finding enjoyable books to read!

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Dead Wake Audiobook

Review by Ellie Thompson

On May 7, 1915, nearly 100 years ago, the Lusitania, a British luxury ocean liner was torpedoed by German U-20 off the coast of Ireland.  It took eighteen minutes to sink; it took thirteen hours and four minutes for Erik Larson to tell the fascinating story in his newest non-fiction book, Dead Wake.  Brilliantly written, meticulously researched and beautifully read by Scott Brick, this captivating account of the sinking of the Lusitania during WWI maintains suspense even while we know the fateful ending for all but 764 of the 1259 passengers aboard.  This historical narrative is filled with secrets, lies, disaster and romance.  The political strategy and intrigue involving Germany, England and the United States during this period of WWI is told from each country’s perspective.  The reader also learns about the personal lives of the people involved in this tragic drama as well as daily life aboard both the luxury liner and aboard the claustrophobic U-boat. Continue reading

Book of Ages by Jill Lepore

book of agesReview by Abby Shelton

“Sorrows rolled upon Jane Franklin like waves of the sea. She left in their wake these gifts, her remains: needles and pens, letters and books, politics and opinions, this history, this archive, a quiet story of a quiet life of quiet sorry and quieter beauty.” (267)

In Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, historian Jill Lepore uses these items, mentioned above, to explore the life of Benjamin Franklin’s little-known younger sister, Jane. Although Jane’s effects are few, Lepore crafts an evocative and imaginative narrative of Jane’s life. Born the youngest of seventeen children in 1712, Jane learned to read and write from her brother Benjamin and would correspond with him for the rest of his life. She married a poor saddler at age fifteen and would have twelve children. She recorded these children’s birth and death dates in her small and homemade Book of Ages as a way of recording her lineage. Lepore explains that Jane lived a relatively ordinary life as a wife and mother and when she died in 1794. Jane left behind only a few effects. Continue reading