Soon to be cross-posted – a review of Humboldt

So I finally got around to writing another blog posting for a book I read not too long ago.  I wrote it originally for my library’s blog – because it’s a good book and it hasn’t been checked out very much.  I’m posting the review here first – it won’t show up on Pima County Public Library’s blog until late September. Continue reading


The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: a Hmong Child, her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures

By Anne Fadiman

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997

Genres: nonfiction, social sciences, anthropology, cultural studies, medicine

ISBN: 9780374525644

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 341 (including Notes, Bibliography, and Index).

Setting: Mostly set in Merced, CA, but also includes places where the Hmong have lived – including China, Laos, & Thailand, and other cities in the US.

Time period: Early to mid 1980’s (but the book also covers different times in the Hmong’s history – including America’s secret war in Laos)


Description: When Lia Lee, a Hmong child, was an infant, her older sister slammed the door on her way out.  Immediately afterwards Lia suffered her first epileptic seizure and Lia’s parents took her to the hospital.  Thus began a frustrating and strained relationship between Lia’s parents and hospital staff.  Language barriers and cultural expectations prevented Lia from getting the right care for her, leaving her in a tragic state of being. Continue reading

Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution

By Sara Marcus

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Harper Perennial, 2010

Genres: Non-fiction, social sciences, feminism, women’s studies, popular culture

ISBN: 9780061806360

Intended audience: Adults

Number of pages: 367

Setting: Mainly set in Olympia, WA & Washington DC (but also includes other locations in the US and Europe)

Time period: 1989-1994

Description: Punk rock + young woman  + DIY + feminism = riot grrrl.  “In the beginning, someone told a girl to start a band” (p. 31).  The book describes how the bands Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Heavens to Betsy came into existence and how these bands and associated zines sparked  a riot grrrl movement across the county and world with girls creating bands and publishing their own zines.  The movement started in Olympia, WA but soon spread to Washington, DC and other areas around the US.  Once mainstream media became aware of riot grrrls, however, everything changed.  The book includes an extensive bibliography, notes, and index. Continue reading

I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski: Life, The Big Lebowski, and What Have You

By Bill Green, Ben Peskoe, Will Russell, & Scott Shuffitt; Foreward by Jeff Bridges

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Bloomsbury, 2007

Genre: Non-fiction, social science, popular culture

ISBN: 9781596912465

Intended audience: Achievers

Number of pages: 237

Setting: USA, mostly California but also Louisville, Kentucky

Time period: Contemporary

Description: This book is a must read for any “Achiever”, or true fan, of The Big Lebowski.  Written by the folks who created Lebowski Fest, it is filled with trivia, interviews, and true life stories upon which parts of the movie were based, such as the real Little Larry. Continue reading

Generation Debt: Why Now is a Terrible Time to be Young

By Anya Kamenetz

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Riverhead Books, 2006

Genre: Non-fiction, social sciences

ISBN: 9781594489075

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 265 (including Notes and Bibliography)

Setting: USA

Time period: Contemporary

Plot summary: Why do so many younger Americans graduate from college (or not) with huge debt from school loans where previous generations did not?  Why do younger Americans typically accrue large credit card debts and often end up either never leaving home or having to move back in with Mom and Dad?  What happened to all the good jobs?  Should high school graduates even bother to pursue a college degree when a typical undergraduate leaves college with a $20,000 debt and often struggles for years to find a job that comes even close to a livable wage?  And how can individuals of this generation even think about moving forward with planning for a family when they are so mired and bogged down with their personal finances?  Anya Kamenetz asks a lot of tough questions in this book and reveals how young Americans are getting shafted by their government, corporate interests, and older Americans. Continue reading

This is Your Country on Drugs: the Secret History of Getting High in America

By Ryan Grim

Place: Publisher & Year: Hoboken: Wiley, 2009

Genres: Non-fiction, social sciences, history, popular culture

ISBN: 9780470167397

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 264 (including notes and index)

Setting: USA

Time period: 1800s – present

Plot summary: Grim tells the story of America’s relationship with various drugs throughout the country’s history up to present day.  He begins the book by asking the question – what happened to acid? – since neither he nor any of his friends can find it anymore.  He then goes on to explain why LSD could no longer be found.  From here, he moves backward in time, examining the rise and fall of various drugs throughout the nation’s history, beginning with alcohol and including opiates, cocaine, marijuana, speed, pharmaceuticals and many others.  Grim looks at the cyclical nature of drug use over time for various drugs and how this relates to social, political, and economic factors of the time period.  By the end of the book, Grim comes full circle in examining acid’s comeback. Continue reading

Sastun: My Apprenticeship with a Maya Healer

By Rosita Arvigo with Nadine Epstein and Marilyn Yaquinto

Place: Publisher & Year: San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994

Genres: Non-fiction, ethnobotany, anthropology, autobiography, biography, traditional medicine

ISBN: 9780062502551

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 190

Setting: San Ignacio, Belize

Time period: 1980’s (1981- 1993, most of the book’s story is 1981-1987)

Plot summary: When Rosita moves to San Ignacio, Belize with her husband and daughter, they have dreams of establishing a farm along with their medical practices, but find life quite challenging.  When Rosita meets Don Elijio Panti, a well known Mayan healer in the area, she asks to become his apprentice.  She has a thirst for knowledge about the local plants and his healing techniques; she also recognizes that Don Elijio’s knowledge was in danger of becoming lost to the world if he didn’t pass it on to someone else.  Don Elijio, however, politely denies her request thinking that the Mayan spirits would not accept a gringa.  She also had no sastun.  In spite of his rejection, Rosita regularly visits Don Elijio, helping and learning from him.  Eventually, Rosita receives a sastun, and her apprenticeship begins in full. Continue reading