Braille Book Review

January-February 2002
Books for Adults--Nonfiction

The following books were recently produced for the NLS program. To order books, contact your braille-lending library.

Note: For the infomation of the reader, a notice may appear immediately following the book description to indicate occurrences of strong language, explicit descriptions of sex, or violence. The word "some" before any of these terms indicates an occasional or infrequent occurence, as in "some strong language."

This page includes Web-Braille links to full-text braille versions of books. Eligible patrons may sign up for Web-Braille through the library that handles their braille magazine subscriptions.


Johannes Brahms: A Biography BR 11801
by Jan Swafford
8 volumes
Using primary sources, the author documents the life of composer Johannes Brahms in the context of the social and political atmosphere of nineteenth-century Austria. Brahms himself destroyed much of his personal correspondence as well as compositions he deemed inferior. Includes musical examples to show Brahms's developmemt. 1997.

Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House BR 12601
by Cheryl Mendelson
13 volumes
Helpful hints on a range of domestic topics--planning and preparing meals, doing laundry, cleaning each room in a home, preserving books and furniture, caring for pets, fire safety, and many others. Includes guidelines for both the novice and longtime housekeeper and bits of wisdom gained from older relatives. Bestseller 1999.

Frommer's 99 Washington, D.C. BR 12653
by Elise Hartman Ford
5 volumes
Tips on dining, shopping, accommodations, and recreational activities in the Washington, D.C., area including sightseeing and city strolls, museums and monuments, neighborhoods and parks, nightlife and entertainment. 1999.

The Metropolitan Opera: Stories of the Great Operas BR 12702
by John W. Freeman
6 volumes
Describes the plots of 150 world-famous operas, featuring works from sixteenth-century Italy through twentieth-century America. Seventy-two composers are presented in alphabetical order. Biographical sketches of the composers precede the opera entries, each of which includes a list of characters and a summary of each act. 1984.

Mao Zedong BR 12736
by Jonathan Spence
2 volumes
Portrays the personal and public life of the revolutionary leader of China from 1949 until his death in 1976. Depicts a "lord of misrule" who was relentlessly driven to achieve a utopian, egalitarian society at any cost. Traces his youth in Hunan province through his waning years as head of state. 1999.

Frost on My Moustache: The Arctic Exploits of a Lord and a Loafer BR 12776
by Tim Moore
3 volumes
A British journalist's comic account of his effort to re-create the 1856 Norwegian Arctic expedition of Lord Dufferin, who returned to write a bestselling travel book. But Moore suffers social and physical indignities as he leaves his comfortable coach to endure bitter cold, polar bears, born-again Vikings, and seasickness. 1999.

The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero BR 12789
by Robert Kaplan
3 volumes
Chronicle of the evolution of the mathematical concept of zero and the development of its importance as a philosophical concept. The author traces its path through various Eastern and Western societies, both ancient and modern. He incorporates literary quotations throughout the text, linking mathematical and cultural ideas. 1999.

For the Love of It: Amateuring and Its Rivals BR 12791
by Wayne Booth
3 volumes
A professor of English, who took up the cello at age thirty-one and continued playing for over four decades, describes the benefits and enjoyments of a hobby. Meditates on the meaning of "fun," "work," and "love" while contrasting the perspectives of amateur and professional. 1999.

Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America BR 12795
by Ronald J. Sider
3 volumes
An evangelical Christian's visionary strategy for reducing poverty in the United States--the richest nation on Earth in the twenty-first century. Notes that the solution to this issue requires moral, spiritual, socioeconomic, and structural changes, and proposes a joint effort by Christians and other people of goodwill. 1999.

Marco Polo and the Discovery of the World BR 12813
by John Larner
4 volumes
A history professor examines the authenticity of Polo's book about his travels to the East and assesses its impact on European culture. He reviews known facts about Marco Polo (1254-1323?) and the Venetian merchants, discusses how the book came to be written, and describes its reception in succeeding years. 1999.

Allergy-Free Gardening: The Revolutionary Guide to Healthy Landscaping BR 12817
by Thomas Leo Ogren
4 volumes
Horticulturist presents a system of rating plants for their allergen-producing potential and urges gardeners to avoid those highest on the list. Mentions more than three thousand varieties; includes descriptions, suggested locations, and possible problems. Offers tips, such as using female specimens to eliminate pollen, and recommends hard pruning and other gardening techniques. 2000.

The Catholic Vision BR 12908
by Edward D. O'Connor
6 volumes
A Roman Catholic priest and Notre Dame theology professor discusses the mysteries of God, Jesus Christ, and the Church. Outlines defining features, teachings, and practices of his religion. Asserts that Catholic doctrine is coherent, intelligible, reasonable, and socially relevant. Disputes the notion of a conflict between faith and reason. 1992.

To Love This Life: Quotations BR 12932
by Helen Keller
1 volume
Quotations from speeches, letters, articles, and interviews by the author, lecturer, and humanitarian who became deaf-blind at nineteen months of age. Topics include the senses, faith, women in society, human nature, war and peace, education, happiness, friendship and love, and triumph over adversity. Includes a chronology of Keller's life from 1880 to 1968. 2000.

Driving over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucía BR 12933
by Chris Stewart
2 volumes
First drummer for the rock group Genesis humorously recalls naively purchasing land in Andalucía, Spain, and with his wife, Ana, gamely making a go at being full-time farmers without the benefit of plumbing or electricity. Describes subsequent years when they had a child and made lasting friendships with neighbors. Some strong language. 1999.

Threads of Time: Recollections BR 12937
by Peter Brook
2 volumes
In this memoir, stage and screen director Brook recalls the aesthetic, personal, and spiritual journey that has shaped his long and varied career. Explains his ideas about film, opera, and other productions; discusses his efforts to create a multicultural and multilingual theater; relates experiences and encounters that left lasting impressions. 1998.

Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know about Writing BR 12968
by Patricia T. O'Conner
2 volumes
A user's manual for writing well. Emphasizes that good prose is more craft than art. Provides tips and techniques to improve writing skills and avoid pitfalls, whether for term papers, reports, newsletters, or a novel. For senior high and older readers. 1999.

The Prince of Tennessee: The Rise of Al Gore BR 12976
by David Maraniss and Ellen Nakashima
3 volumes
Two Washington Post journalists construct a personal and political biography of Vice President Al Gore. They describe Gore's childhood as the son of a senator and trace his career path in his father's footsteps. 2000.

Handwriting: Poems BR 12980
by Michael Ondaatje
1 volume
A collection of poems drawing on the history, landscape, and religious imagery of the author's birthplace, Sri Lanka. 1998.

Despicable Species: On Cowbirds, Kudzu, Hornworms, and Other Scourges BR 12998
by Janet Lembke
2 volumes
Fourteen natural history essays contemplating a dozen species that are loathed or scorned by humans: the sandbur, gray squirrel, starling, horsefly, opossum, centipede, and fruit fly among others. The author points out that all life is interconnected and humans need to better appreciate the diversity of the natural world. 1999.

Beginning Weight Training: The Safe and Effective Way BR 13184
by V. Patteson Lombardi
3 volumes
Advises proper weight lifting techniques for beginning and intermediate students as well as teachers. Also explains the scientifically based principles of the sport and ways to minimize injury. Discusses the human muscular system and how to develop a fitness plan. 1989.

Prenatal Testing and Disability Rights BR 13232
edited by Erik Parens and Adrienne Asch
5 volumes
Essays concerning the practice of prenatal testing for abnormalities and the debate about abortion. Selections illustrate the diverse opinions within the medical profession, across the disability community, and among prospective parents. 2000.

The Canterbury Tales BR 13235
by Geoffrey Chaucer
6 volumes
A modern English translation by Ronald L. Ecker and Eugene J. Crook of Chaucer's fourteenth-century classic in which pilgrims agree to a storytelling contest as they travel to the shrine of Thomas à Becket in Canterbury. 1993.

Islam: A Short History BR 13247
by Karen Armstrong
2 volumes
Describes the origin and spread of the religion of Islam. Discusses Muhammad and his family, the Crusades, and the powerful Moghul and Ottoman Empires. Explores Islam's divergence into sects and the creation of a modern fundamentalist movement. 2000.

Arcadia BR 13248
by Tom Stoppard
1 volume
The action of the play shuttles back and forth between the early nineteenth century and the late twentieth century in a room at Sidley Park in Derbyshire. The 1990s characters examine writings and garden plans to find evidence supporting various speculations--including one that Lord Byron had killed someone there. Some strong language. 1993.

The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age BR 13250
by Edmund Blair Bolles
2 volumes
Describes how the scientific community, including noted geologist Charles Lyell, believed the poles to be covered with open sea and scoffed at naturalist Louis Agassiz's 1830s ice-age theory. Twenty years later, when adventurer Elisha Kane's long months stranded among Greenland's glaciers lent credence to Agassiz's ideas, Lyell switched camps. 1999.

Mozart BR 13252
by Peter Gay
2 volumes
A brief biography of the eighteenth-century Austrian child prodigy, genius, and composer, whose life ended at age thirty- five. Historian Gay perceives kernels of truth behind the myths about Mozart and illuminates his musical contributions. 1999.

Betrayal BR 13253
by Harold Pinter
1 volume
Play centered around an adulterous affair between Robert and his best friend Jerry's wife, Emma. Two years after they stopped seeing each other, the former lovers meet at a pub and reminisce. Some strong language. 1978.

In Love with Night: The American Romance with Robert Kennedy BR 13255
by Ronald Steel
3 volumes
Examines Robert Kennedy's life, career, and enduring image. Asserts that he cannot be understood apart from his older brother, President John Kennedy. Argues that it is pure myth, not reality, for Americans to believe that with Robert's passing the promise of political redemption eluded the nation. 2000.

Herman Melville BR 13256
by Elizabeth Hardwick
1 volume
A critical interpretation of the nineteenth-century American author and his work. Discusses his character, homoerotic tendencies, and family life. Presents insightful analysis of his major opus, Moby-Dick (BR 1608), as well as his other novels, stories, and poems. 2000.

The Mythology of Native North America BR 13258
by David Leeming and Jake Page
2 volumes
Introduces seventy-two myths--with such noteworthy characters as Coyote, Spider Woman, Glooscap, Water Jar Boy, and the maiden who fell out of the sky--derived from a variety of Native American cultures and language groups. The authors' commentary places these tales within the context of world mythology. 1998.

Poems BR 13262
by Robert Frost
2 volumes
Eighty-four pieces by New England poet Robert Frost (1874-1963), as selected by John Hollander. Includes such favorites as "Mending Wall," "The Road Not Taken," and "Birches." 1997.

Police Brutality: An Anthology BR 13275
edited by Jill Nelson
3 volumes
Essays by academics, historians, social critics, a Chicago congressman, and a former New York City police detective place corruption and brutality in intellectual and historical context. Explains how these problems have influenced America's culture. Details numerous incidents perpetrated primarily against African Americans. 2000.

The Imprisoned Guest: Samuel Howe and Laura Bridgman, the Original Deaf-Blind Girl BR 13353
by Elisabeth Gitter
3 volumes
The life of Laura Bridgman, deaf and blind from age two, who became one of the most famous women of the mid-nineteenth century. Explores her education with Samuel Howe at Boston's Perkins Institution for the Blind; views her achievements in the context of American social, cultural, and intellectual history. 2001.

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