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The Bookwatch

Volume 19, Number 5 May 2024 Home | BW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Writing/Publishing Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Photography Shelf Biography Shelf Psychology Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf    

Reviewer's Choice

The Next Half Century
Alan Nevin
Global Economic Press
9798988614418, $24.99 Paperback/$6.99 eBook

The Next Half Century: Prepare for an Amazing Change in World Prosperity sports a new deluxe color edition. It bases its projections about the future on an unusual combination of statistics: trends and demography, and real estate. This reflects Alan Nevin's position as a demographer and real estate economist, casting a different light on the subject of not just futuristic thinking, but understanding the processes, routines, and implications of demographic-based forecasting.

From this, one might expect that Nevin's guide would be weighty and scholarly, and perhaps not for the average reader seeking entertainment value along with thought-provoking social insights. In actuality, Nevin writes with a passionate and colorful hand that injects life and interest in what could have proved a daunting topic. This translates to The Next Half Century's appeal to a much wider audience.

From the impact of widespread and powerful economic growth in first-world nations, which combats the usual pessimism about their survival and influence, to the massive economic changes that will be fostered by this trend and the United States, Nevin creates an uplifting, positive vision of the future which serves as a much-needed panacea for modern-day angst.

Graphics, charts, and colorful portraits depict this future in different, highly accessible ways. This approach allows readers to dip into the potentials and promises of economic forecasting without the usual dry approach of monolithic speech and the typical lack of visuals in competing books on the subject.

History, economics, and nations of the world all receive reasoned, lively contrasts and speculations powered by a foundation of facts and well-researched trends that lay the groundwork for insights not to be found in other books. In turn, this creates a treatise that is as perfect for book club and classroom discussion groups as it is for individual pursuit. It raises many questions about opportunity, choice, impact, and purpose that a diverse audience will find suitable for lively debate and personal contemplation.

The next fifty years receives close inspection as to its possible or likely incarnations based not only on current changes in population, lifestyle, education, and employment patterns already underway around the world, but geographic regions of the U.S. that are already on target to become leaders of these changes.

Too many books paint a grim picture of what is to come. This is why The Next Half Century: Prepare for an Amazing Change in World Prosperity is so very highly recommended to anyone who would view coming decades in a more positive light than has been presented in the past.

Future generations need this book, which builds hope based on facts and research, not just ideals; and libraries need to include it in their collections and point it out so these readers can find it.

The Writing/Publishing Shelf

How to Self-Publish Like A Pro
Tina Koenig
Independently Published
9781736470527, $24.95 Paperback/$14.95 ebook

With the publication of "How to Self-Publish Like A Pro: A Comprehensive Guide for Writing, Publishing, and Promoting Your Book", Tina Koenig covers all the basics for would-be self-published authors, from the initial structuring of an author's business to building and promoting an author presence and registering a book with the Library of Congress.

Koenig's extensive information goes beyond the basics of how to publish a book. It also covers the aftermath of promotion, which is as important to the publishing process as gaining an ISBN and understanding how to work with different kinds of publishers.

Koenig outlines how to provide review copies months before publication so there is adequate time to schedule reviews that dovetail with a book's publication date. She also encourages understanding the pros and cons of different platforms for gaining book reviews (including ones that many novices won't think about, like Instagram).

Ultimately, Koenig pins down the nuts and bolts of the publishing process in a manner that requires no advanced (or even much basic) prior knowledge.

Another subject Koenig covers, that many books about the process do not, is how authors can lay the groundwork to become an 'expert' whose advice will be solicited by podcasters and other media entities. There is no better publicity than that which comes from added value, delivered by an author who backs, say, an interview with repeated emphasis that their book holds further information, and thus will prove of additional interest to listeners or readers.

These kinds of strategies make the most of the latest technology, social media, and literary connections in the industry, affording Koenig's book a contemporary and wide-ranging series of applications. These are broad in scope and specific, with easy step-by-step insights that any novice publisher can easily absorb.

Koenig's strategies make the most of the latest technology, social media and literary connections. Each chapter is broad enough in scope to be easily absorbed, with step-by-step insights that any novice publisher can implement. These qualities place How to Self-Publish Like A Pro head and shoulders above similar-sounding books, affording it a diversity and ease of understanding that will make it a major library and reader attraction.

The Cookbook Shelf

Theo Kirwan
Mitchell Beazley
c/o Octopus Books
9781784729158, $26.99

Saladology: Fresh Ideas for Delicious Salads pairs lovely color photos by Matt Russell with recipes that come from Sprout & Co., a Dublin restaurant co-founded by author Theo Kirwan and his brother Jack.

Over a hundred recipes feature salads which move from side dishes to main dish affairs, offering ingredients that move far beyond the usual lettuce-centric creation with such creative ideas as Crispy Bombay Cauliflower; Thai Crispy Salad with onions, ginger, and bulgur wheat; or Peppers & Tofu with Lime-Butter Pine Nuts.

The heady blend of international influences and redefined notions of what defines a 'salad' make Saladology both a standout and a main dish heartily recommended for vegetable cooks seeking to expand their repertoire of original, creative fare.

The Photography Shelf

The Camera Bag Companion
Benedict Brain
Ilex Press
c/o Octopus Books
9781781579299, $26.99

The Camera Bag Companion: Your Personal Photography Tutor joins a host of camera how-to guides on the market - but with a major difference. Yes, it comes from an award-winning photographer; but that doesn't mean it's filled with technical confusion. Benedict Brain's purpose is to provide easy access to tips, tricks, and keys to success that the professionals use. His tips cover the latest camera technology, from smartphones to HDR photography, smoothing the gap between professional and novice picture-takers. No collection or aspiring photographer should be without The Camera Bag Companion. Above and beyond other introductions, it should be pulled from or added to one's camera bag first.

The Biography Shelf

The Political Activism of Anthropologist Franz Boas, Citizen Scientist
Alan H. McGowan
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
9781527566859, $82.00, Hardcover
(Use PROMO25 when ordering, for a 25% discount)

The Political Activism of Anthropologist Franz Boas, Citizen Scientist comes from a professor who devoted over a decade of research to his subject. From this, and the publication of this book by Cambridge Scholars, readers might anticipate a dry and droll examination; but the delight of this treatise lies as much in its lively delivery as in the wealth of facts that reflect the life and times of Franz Boas.

From the start, the account lures readers with the dramatic embellishments of a novel, capturing a realistic atmosphere that surrounds the anthropologist's life: "On June 20th, 1883, a young German scholar with a freshly minted Ph.D. in physics boarded a small two-masted schooner named the Germania on its way to Baffin Island, a part of the Arctic archipelago whose permanent residents were Indigenous people then called Eskimos, plus traders, whalers and people in a few scientific outposts from Europe, Canada and the United States. That scholar, not quite 25 years old, was Franz Uri Boas. It was a voyage that was not only going to change the young man, but also the world of anthropology."

Readers who anticipate a singular life focus will also be challenged and delighted by the close examination afforded to the prejudices, preconceptions, and anthropological methodology of the times: "The very notion of putting actual Indigenous people on display, which both Boas and Putnam supported and organized, would raise serious issues now, and did even then. Of course, the Chicago event was not the first, nor would it be the last, to put people on display."

The opportunities for not just enlightenment, but debate about anthropological processes, depictions, prejudice, and racism afford much material for classroom discussion and debate not only in anthropology courses and settings, but in reading groups devoted to examining historical trends, precedents, and attitudes.

Alan H. McGowan achieves more than capture the influential and revealing life of Franz Boas. He highlights the authority and pressures of the times in not just scientific study and research, but the fostering and presentation of facts about indigenous peoples and others. The account moves from anthropological and scientific waters to delve into the political circumstances of his times, his ideals and struggles with the U.S., and the war which reached out to affect his efforts and attitude: "I cannot visualize how reasonable people and nations which are 'leaders of civilization' can conjure up such a terrible war. If Germany loses, such hatred will be created that it will stir up her nationalism for years to come; if she is victorious, such arrogance, that it will lead to the same consequence. If people would only realize what a source of hatred and misfortune the highly praised patriotism represents!"

By drawing close connections between scientific processes, social attitudes, and political activism through the lens of one anthropologist's life, McGowan crafts a powerful synthesis of purpose and political involvement. This book should be on the reading lists of any group or individual interested in how Boas's work linked scientists to political issues.

Libraries that choose The Political Activism of Anthropologist Franz Boas, Citizen Scientist for their collections will want to highly recommend it above and beyond an audience of scientific thinkers alone, reaching out to activists, historians, and anyone involved in social and political transformation efforts.

The Psychology Shelf

Everything Slows Down
Garry Cosnett
Secant Publishing
9798988641056, $24.00 Hardcover/$7.99 eBook

Everything Slows Down: My Hidden Life with Depression: How I Survived, What I Learned documents a lifelong battle against clinical depression and a search for its cure. This took Garry Cosnett through a series of drugs, psychiatrists, hospitals, and challenges... all this while simultaneously navigating jobs and daily life challenges.

From its opening lines, Cosnett's words will resonate with readers struggling with their own long-term depression: "One's sixty-fifth birthday is commonly a point of reflection. It certainly was for me. I was taken aback by how much of my lived experience - at least the past fifty years - had been shaped by depression. At times, it could be described as mild. And at other times, it was diagnosed as major -- so severe as to be immobilizing. It was a stunning realization. How is it that depression's role in all my life's stages was not apparent to me? I guess it's like the analogy of a fish's relationship to water. It was the medium that I lived in and moved through."

From drugs that produced terrible side effects to treatments that helped only mildly or not at all, the tidal back-and-forth movement of Cosnett's efforts create a marked expose of not just drugs and treatments, but the politics and personalities that dictate their assignment: "I've learned that a reasonable target for depression patients is 80 percent better, 80 percent of the time. Dr. V. seemed to be more of a 60/60 practitioner. I felt pretty good, much of the time. Yet it didn't come close to the stunning success of phenelzine. I had the inner sense that I could do better. I grew frustrated."

Readers on their own long-term journeys through depression receive keys to survival, understanding, and empowerment within Cosnett's revelations in Everything Slows Down. Its candid accounts of successes (whether limited or more long-term), failures, ongoing challenges, and the shifting nature of drugs and their applications makes for a story that will educate a wide range of followers, from medical students and psychiatrists interested in the experiences and course of depression to fellow survivors who will not just walk in Cosnett's footsteps, but learn from his choices.

This is why libraries will want to include Everything Slows Down in their collections as a standout guide to depression's survival, and will want to recommend it to psychology reading groups interested in the nuts and bolts of better understanding.

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Interstellar Medic: The Long Run
Patrick Chiles
Baen Books
9781982193287, $18.00

Interstellar Medic: The Long Run tells of medic Melanie Mooney, who happens upon an unusual accident in the woods that leads her into a galaxy-hopping journey of unprecedented opportunity and danger. The premise takes a seasoned medic into alien territory as the first human in the Galactic Union Medical Corps, assigned with tending to aliens who need a medic... any medic. As she extends the concept of emergency medicine far beyond terrestrial boundaries, the adventure and alien culture encounters power a vivid tale that blends wry humor with action that sci-fi readers will find refreshingly different from traditional genre reads, and hard to put down.

The Icarus Job
Timothy Zahn
Baen Books
9781982193256, $28.00

Gregory Roarke and alien partner Selene are tasked with transporting an assassin in the course of their work for the Icarus Group, a secret government organizations searching for space portals. What does this have to do with a criminal's transport? Plenty, because the offer involves giving one of these rare portals to the Icarus Group if the duo will transport passenger Nikki, who holds her own ambitions and agenda in contrast to her prisoner status. Fast-paced action marks a multilayered story of hunter and hunted which places not one but multiple encounters in the realm of a vivid space mystery and dilemma which test Roarke and Selene in new and unusual ways. Libraries and readers seeking action-packed encounters from their sci-fi reading will find The Icarus Job a vivid seat-of-your-pants read.

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
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