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Check It Out

Courier Articles by Sandy Schultheis
Sunday, July 25, 1999


New Titles Guaranteed To Slake Your Book Habit.

A bibliophile, according to Webster, is a person who loves or admires books. Biblioholism (not in Webster's) is a more serious condition which pulls people into bookstores or compels them to make weekly or even daily visits to their public library just to see what might be waiting for them on the new book shelves. What is so compelling about new books? If you are searching for information, fresh insights, and unique experiences, books are the fastest and easiest means to get them, especially for those of us who avoid television. Here are some new titles that caught my eye in a recent sweep of the new shelves or were recommended by other biblioholics.

Ophelia Speaks; Adolescent Girls Write about their Search for Self by Sara Shandler.

When Mary Pipher's book Reviving Ophelia came out in 1994 it became a big hit with parents of adolescent girls. This series of essays, stories and poems by girls in their teens was collected in response to questions that book raised for Ms. Shandler. Some of the writing is whiney and angst-ridden, some is funny and perceptive and moving. There is an essay on "Girl Power" written by a fifteen-year-old which really impressed me with its intelligence and insight. I passed the book on to an 18-year-old co-worker who loved it and recommends it to teens, especially those who need to know their problems aren't unique.

Clear Springs by Bobbie Ann Mason (Random House, 1999).

Fans of Western Kentucky author Mason will enjoy her memoir of family ties, growing up in a rural area and becoming a writer. Many elements in Mason's novels are taken from her own life experiences and it is interesting for the reader to make those connections. After college at the University of Kentucky, Mason moved to the East Coast to escape the confines of country life and to begin her writing career. She found truth in the old adage which begins "you can take the boy (girl) out of the country…" .

The Hungry Ocean by Linda Greenlaw (Little Brown, 1999).

I love to read about women who have unconventional careers. If you enjoyed Sebastian Junger's hugely popular The Perfect Storm two years ago, you will no doubt remember swordboat captain Greenlaw, who is perhaps the only woman in this line of work. Here is her story and it is exciting, funny and well written.

Close to the Wind by Pete Goss (Carroll and Graff, 1999).

Another tale of adventure and survival at sea, and a real "guy's book" for everyone who appreciates true-life tales of daring, grit and heroism. Goss raised the necessary funds to finance entry into a single-handed round the world yacht race , the grueling Vendee Globe, and then forfeited his chance of winning by rescuing a fellow sailor adrift in a storm on the southern ocean. Awesome is not a word to be used lightly, but it describes this man's story perfectly.

Contentment: A Way to True Happiness by Robert A. Johnson and Jerry M. Ruhl (HarperSanFrancisco, 1999).

Are you attracted to little books that offer insights into the secrets of life that have eluded you all these years? Through myths, stories, and Jungian insights, the authors explain how you can infuse your everyday life with a sense of the sacred--and enjoy real, lasting happiness. They define the process of finding contentment as "a dance between your wishes and reality, [between] what you want and what you get.".

What Have You Lost: Poems selected by Naomi Shihab Nye with photographs by Michael Nye (Greenwillow, 1999). I'm always skeptical about books of poetry. Maybe because I like to hear poetry read by poets, but am not crazy about reading poems in books. But this was an exception which pulled me right in. Imagine my surprise when I came upon a poem by a young Evansville writer, Jenny Browne. You will find this wonderful book of poems and photography in the children's section at McCollough Branch library. It is aimed at young adults, but I found it hard to put down.

Slouching Toward Fargo by Neal Karlen (Spike, 1999).

A wacky, over-the-top tale of one of the strangest clubs in the unaffiliated A-level Northern League. It is subtitled "a two-year saga of sinners and St. Paul Saints at the bottom of the bush leagues with Bill Murray, Darryl Strawberry, Dakota Sadie, and me". For a local angle, it mentions former Evansville resident, Ed Nottle, who was active in the Friends of Bosse field. Recommended by fellow biblioholic, Ted DeVries, as the best and funniest baseball book he has ever read. After he borrowed it from the library he went out and bought his own copy.

Sandy Schultheis is a librarian with the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of EVPL.