Friday, March 6, 2009

Library Loot: March 5-11

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Robin from A Striped Armchair and Alessandra from Out of the Blue that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. Feel free to play along on your blog, too.

We've been racking up the overdue fines lately, thanks to not visiting the library for the past two weeks (a lifetime, it seems). I can renew online but once you reach $5.00 in fines, the system blocks you from doing any online renewals. So, this afternoon, after what I thought was a pretty productive afternoon of working at home, I stopped by the library before picking up the kids.

I'm pleased to say that I was a bit more restrained than the last visit, but that's only because I was there 20 minutes before closing. Still, I snagged these off the New Releases shelf ... and promptly wrote a check for my fines.

Real Food for Real Food for Healthy Kids: 200+ Easy, Wholesome Recipes - by Tanya Wenman Steel and Tracey Seaman.

From Parent-tested and kid-approved, a comprehensive, practical resource for wholesome, healthful meals children of all ages will eat—and love. In an era of McDiets, packed schedules, and stressful jobs, it's harder than ever to incorporate nutritious food into our children's daily lives. But you no longer have to rely on microwaved hot dogs and frozen pizza. In this essential cookbook, food—and parenting—experts Tracey Seaman and Tanya Wenman Steel offer help and hope, whether you're experienced in the kitchen or more inclined to head to the drive-through. Real Food for Healthy Kids features more than 200 easy-to-make recipes for school days and weekends, including breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner, and even parties. Each recipe has been taste-tested by children and analyzed by a nutritionist.

You know me, I'm always up for a new cookbook, but Steel and Seaman certainly seem to know their food as the editor-in-chief of and the test kitchens director for the magazine Every Day with Rachael Ray, respectively. Still, I'm not expecting this one to solve my kid's finicky eating habits (that would be Betty) but if I get a new idea out of it that doesn't cause an hour-long temper tantrum such as the one that Betty pulled upon last night upon hearing that I'd brought Chinese food home in celebration of The Dean's birthday, all the better.

The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future, by Mark Bauerlein

This shocking, lively exposure of the intellectual vacuity of today's under thirty set reveals the disturbing and, ultimately, incontrovertible truth: cyberculture is turning us into a nation of know-nothings.

Can a nation continue to enjoy political and economic predominance if its citizens refuse to grow up?For decades, concern has been brewing about the dumbed-down popular culture available to young people and the impact it has on their futures. At the dawn of the digital age, many believed they saw a hopeful answer: The Internet, e-mail, blogs, and interactive and hyper-realistic video games promised to yield a generation of sharper, more aware, and intellectually sophisticated children. The terms "information superhighway" and "knowledge economy" entered the lexicon, and we assumed that teens would use their knowledge and understanding of technology to set themselves apart as the vanguards of this new digital era.That was the promise. But the enlightenment didn't happen. The technology that was supposed to make young adults more astute, diversify their tastes, and improve their verbal skills has had the opposite effect.

According to recent reports, most young people in the United States do not read literature, visit museums, or vote. They cannot explain basic scientific methods, recount basic American history, name their local political representatives, or locate Iraq or Israel on a map. The Dumbest Generation is a startling examination of the intellectual life of young adults and a timely warning of its consequences for American culture and democracy.Drawing upon exhaustive research, personal anecdotes, and historical and socialanalysis, Mark Bauerline presents an uncompromisingly realistic portrait of the young American mind at this critical juncture, and lays out a compelling vision of how we might address its deficiencies.

Anyone my age (that would be 40, in less than a month) who has ever worked with someone under 30 knows all too well the premise of this book (and is probably kicking themselves for not writing it). Certainly there are exceptions, but from my vantage point, the charge that there is an intellectual vacuity among this generation is all too valid.

Patriotic Grace: What It Is and Why We Need It Now, by Peggy Noonan

In this long season of searing political attacks and angry partisan passions, Peggy Noonan's Wall Street Journal column has been must reading for thoughtful liberals and conservatives alike. Now she issues an urgent, heartfelt call for all Americans to see each other anew, realize what time it is, and come together to support the next President—whoever he is. Because it is not the threats and challenges we face, but how we face them that defines us as a nation. The terrible events of 9/11 brought us together in a way not seen since World War II. But the stresses and divisions of the Bush years have driven us apart to a point that is unhealthy and destructive.

Today, Noonan argues, the national mood is for a change in our politics and it is well past time for politicians to catch up. Americans are tired of the old partisan divisions and the campaign tricks that seek to widen and exploit them. We long for leaders who can summon us to greatness and unity, as they did in the long struggles against fascism and communism.

In this timely little book, written in the pamphleteering tradition of Tom Paine's Common Sense, Noonan reminds us that we must face our common challenges together—not by rising above partisanship, but by reaffirming what it means to be American.

This book was written in the months prior to the presidential election, so it's already somewhat dated, but worthwhile reading (or so it seems) nonetheless. I like Peggy Noonan, and I listened to a good interview with her recently, which made me pick up this book ... again. Yes, even though I managed to restrain myself in the number of books I checked out of the library, I still fell into my habit of checking out books I already have checked out in order to extend my time with them.

And with that, I think I am going to curl up in bed with one of my current reads (either Best American Poetry 2008 or Promises to Keep by Joe Biden) and call it a night.

No comments: