Staff Picks

Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!

May 26, 2015

Think Like a Freak

Think Like a Freak
by Levitt, Steven D. and Stephen J. Dubner
153.43 LEV

The economist and the journalist whose collaboration produced the Freakonomics books are at it again, this time encouraging the reader to apply their quirky approach to problem analysis. They urge us to set aside preconceptions and approach problems with the open-mindedness of a child, admitting to ourselves and to others that we don’t know everything.

So much of public policy today is motivated by a quest for bettering the lives of the citizenry, but is structured without regard for the often perverse incentives built into the policy, creating unintended consequences and exacerbating the original problem. A more thorough analysis – like a freak would suggest – would analyze incentives as they apply differently to every affected party.

The authors provide many fascinating examples of this, including the reason Nigerian scammers are so obvious about their identity. Spoiler alert – they save time by eliminating all but the truly gullible prospects. The examples are all interesting and are drawn from many unexpected areas of modern society.

Think Like a Freak is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, an audiobook on CD, and in large print

             --Recommended by Melinda Mullican, Wayne Library


May 18, 2015

Bones on the Ground

Bones on the Ground
by O,Maley, Elizabeth
970.1 OMA

With the state’s bicentennial quickly approaching, there will likely be renewed interest in Indiana’s history. We may hear a lot about the state’s founders and the new settlements they created, but what is not often talked about is the numerous Native American tribes who struggled to maintain possession of their lands in the face of widespread white settlement. While the U.S. adopted an Indian policy and white settlers pushed further west, many Native Americans fought their intruders, while others adopted their ways. Very little remains from the tribes, and the answer to what happened to them is different depending on which point of view you hear.

Bones on the Ground presents the story of the Old Northwest Territory from before the American Revolution through the removal of the Miami from Indiana in 1846. Sketches of people and places such as the Battle of Tippecanoe, the Potawatomi Trail of Death, William Wells, and Little Turtle are presented in first-person narratives and biographical sketches. O’Maley does an incredible job of bringing these vibrant characters to life and showing both sides of the expansion story. If we think only of the white settlers who marked their new territory, we’re neglecting the Native Americans who called our state home long before it was indeed a state.

              --Recommended by Carrie Voliva, Pike Library


May 11, 2015

The 39 Steps

The 39 Steps
by Buchan, John

Written in 1915, this book served as the basis for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 classic film. It’s been said that the film was 80% Hitchcock and 20% Buchan. Too bad, because the book as written stands up at least as well as the film 100 years on! A classic man-on-the-run thriller, the hero, Richard Hannay, dodges the police and foreign spies on his way to save the life of the Greek premier. But, that’s not the most of his worries. Escapes from London, the Scottish heath, a foreign agent’s bomb factory and a master of disguise (or worse – remember, it was written in 1915) make this as much a page turner as it was for the readers of Blackwood’s Magazine. The 39 Steps is also available as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook, and a dramatized version on on CD. Of course, the Library also owns DVDs of Hitchcock’s version.

                       — Recommended by Gregg Jackson, Southport Library


May 4, 2015

The Gospel According to the Son

The Gospel According to the Son
by Mailer, Norman

I first read Norman Mailer’s The Gospel According to the Son several years ago. I have read it a couple of times since then. The book centers on the four gospels, Mark Matthew, Luke and John. Mailer explores and envisions the gospel as told by the messiah himself in the first person. Mailer's use of fact and fiction to explore the inner conflicts of the Son of God makes for a very entertaining and thought-provoking read.

I found this book to be very entertaining. Although it’s a mix of fact and fiction, it’s fun to see how the story is told from Jesus’ point of view. A must read.

The Gospel According to the Son is also available as a downloadable e-book.

            — Recommended by Gregory Hill, Decatur Library


April 20, 2015

Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After

Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After
by Lowe, Cherie
332.024 LOW

Cherie Lowe's book starts with the birth and growth of the family's “debt dragon.” They lived from paycheck to paycheck and spent without an economic plan. When the brakes went out, they charged the repairs. When someone was ill, they charged the medical costs. Too exhausted to cook, they charged take-out meals. After a few years, even without buying jewelry, vacations or other luxuries, they owed more than $127,000 in credit card and student loan debt.

Cherie then discusses how they realized the dragon hovered around their world, challenging their security. What did Cherie and her husband do to slay the dragon? The remainder of the book describes the process. They prayed, discussed, simplified their life, budgeted and aggressively paid off bills. In short, they changed their behavior.

Cherie divides the book into easily read chapters on topics such as budgets, grocery store strategies and back to school strategies. Her witty conversational style enlivens the topic. Each chapter closes with a list of doable debt slaying strategies. She includes other simple charts such as grocery store ten commandments and instructions on couponing. The personal stories make the reader feel like Cherie is talking directly to her friend, the reader. Read her blog and get new tips at

Slaying the Debt Dragon is also available as a downloadable e-book.

                  --Recommended by Sue Kennedy, Irvington Library