Recommended Non-Fiction: Mystery of Cats Revealed, the Importance of “It,” Hedy Lamarr, Elsa Maxwell and StarTrekby Larry Cox on Oct. 09, 2013, under Uncategorized
Getting to It: Accomplishing the Important, Handling the Urgent, and Removing the Unnecessary by Jones Loflin & Todd Musig (Harper Business, $25.99)
Most of navigate our lives by making lists and trying to accomplish the various things on those lists, usually with mixed results. Jones Loflin, an internationally-recognized speaker, trainer and author, and Todd Musig, a senior training industry executive, provide a guide to help busy people remain focused and pointed in the right direction. Loflin and Musig are also co-authors of the award-winning book, “Juggling Elephants.”
To cut to the chase, Loflin and Musig believe it is important to define and focusing on “it.” “It” is The Important Thing. They urge readers to first identify “It” and then plan “it” and focus on “it.” Get others excited about “it.” By following the advice in their new book, it should be easier to sort through our many priorities to determine what is most important and downgrade the rest.
Star Trek: The Original Topps Trading Card Series (Abrams ComicArts, $19.95)
No one, not even the producers, realized the impact Star Trek eventually had on our modern culture after it first aired on television in 1966. Even though the series ended in 1969, its popularity continued to build. In 1976, Topps released the first full-color collectible Star Trek trading card series. The cards featured images from the classic television series, and behind-the-scenes photos exclusive to this card issue.
This book serves up the fronts and backs of all eighty-eight cards as well as a complete set of “chase cards,” the twenty-two rare and hard-to-find stickers that were originally sold one per pack. As a bonus, tucked inside the back cover is a bonus set of four limited-edition trading cards.
Inventing Elsa Maxwell: How an Irrepressible Nobody Conquered High Society, Hollywood, the Press and the World by Sam Staggs (St. Martin’s Press, $17.99)
Elsa Maxwell was born in Keokuk, Iowa, in 1881. She moved to San Francisco as a young girl and one afternoon while watching preparations for a wedding being planned across the street from where she lived, she vowed that someday she would host the most extraordinary parties in the world. How she managed to accomplish that and much more is the subject of this witty, crisply written book.
Elsa defied the odds throughout her life. She constantly reinvented herself. For example, after moving to Hollywood during the late 1930s, she appeared in several movies, wrote a syndicated newspaper column, hosted a radio show, composed several songs, and seemed to be everywhere. During the age of television, she became a fixture on Jack Paar’s late-night talk show, often serving up often unsubstantiated gossip to the delight of the viewing audience.
This is a fun book about a woman who set out to become a legend and did just that.
Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr by Stephen Shearer (St. Martin’s Press, $17.99)
Hedy Lamarr was during the 1930s and 40s one of the most beautiful women on the planet. She once said that she saw her famous face as her misfortune, adding that it was “a mask I cannot remove: I must live with it. I curse it.” This remarkable woman was more than just a classic beauty, however. For example, she invented one of the most important scientific discoveries of the last century.
Stephen Shearer, author of a previous biography about Gloria Swanson, chronicles the life of Lamarr as he re-evaluates her stage, television, radio, and film career. Even though her life seemed nothing short of glamorous, she suffered a great deal of disillusionment and disappointments in her personal life. In fact, her numerous marriages, nasty lawsuits, and public missteps turned her from an adored actress into a tabloid headline.
Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet by John Bradshaw (Basic Books, $27.99)
Cats are the most popular pet in the world and outnumber pet dogs in homes by as many as three to one. Despite their popularity, they are adored despite their seeming aloofness, inscrutability and independence.
John Bradshaw, Foundation Director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol and author of the New York Times bestseller “Dog Sense,” is a cat expert who believes that if we want cats to adapt to and thrive in our modern world there is much that we need to do to improve their lot. He adds that we need to take stock of what we know about felines, what is yet to be discovered, and most important, how we can use our knowledge to improve the daily lives of cats.
This is a fascinating book that reveals much new information such as why cats don’t generally like other cats, why they are picky eats, how proper training can reduce stress, and, perhaps, most intriguing of all the multitude of reasons why cats purr. Bradshaw points out why purring doesn’t necessarily indicate contentment.
“Cat Sense” opens by examining the cat’s evolutionary history, from wild, solitary hunter to our present domestic pet. DNA suggests that its ancestor as the Arabian wildcat which lived some 10,000 to 15,000 years ago in the Middle East. Bradshaw documents the social connections that cats maintain — how they conceive and interact with other cats and people — as well as the science of the cat “personality.” This explains why two cats may react very differently in the same situation.
Whether you share your home with a cat or just admire them from afar, this book is must reading. It is meticulously researched, crisply written, and an essential guide that offers penetrating insights about the domestic cat, many beliefs that will challenge our most basic assumptions but promise to dramatically improve not only the lives of our pets but ours as well.
Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During WWII by Farah Jasmine Griffin (Basic Books, $26.99)
Farah Jasmine Griffin, a professor at Columbia University and acclaimed author, focuses on three exceptional artists in her new book: novelist Ann Petry, choreographer and Dancer Pearl Primus, and composer and pianist Mary Lou Williams. New York City during the 1940s was its own melting pot of political progressivism mixed with artistic energy and in was in this environment that a number to exceptional Harlem women stepped forward to help redefine American culture.
As Griffin points out, “These women were not Harlem’s only architects, nor were they its best known. But they, like others, tried to leave their mark on New York. They built a city where people mattered. They were concerned about poor and working people, about women and children, about the disenfranchised and the dispossessed. They brought a radical vision from the 1930s into a new decade, helping to create a political culture that would inspire people worldwide.”
This well-crafted book is a literary glimpse into a frequently overlooked period of cultureal and political progress for African Americans and women. Griffin is to be commended for dusting off this rich period of history and putting both the events and the people who made it happen into rich historical context.