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Rachel's Reviews

Don't Make Me Pull Over by Richard Ratay

One of my favorite memories is driving 1276 miles by myself to Canada to meet someone I met online and hang out with them for three weeks. (It’s cool, we promised each other we weren’t serial killers.) Ratay’s book recaptured that joy I found throughout the back roads and highways, and it introduced me to a whole mess of histories associated with road travel. The facts are surrounded by stories of the author’s own road trips, back when seat belts were optional and CB radios lived next to the 8-track player. From the introduction of the radar gun to what brought about the actual building of the transcontinental highway system, this book covers all facets of the best and worst of vehicle travel. - Rachel

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Don't Make Me Pull Over!: An Informal History of the Family Road Trip Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781501188756
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - May 14th, 2019

The State of Water by Obi Kaufmann

In my list of “science-y topics I love,” water is not near the top. The State of Water, however, makes me crush hard on it in all of its beautiful, meandering ways. There’s an anatomical look to the art, which shouldn’t be surprising seeing as how dependent we are on water’s ability to travel throughout the state. A gorgeous companion to The California Field Atlas, it covers water’s presence in California, our history, and the future. - Rachel

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The State of Water: Understanding California's Most Precious Resource Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9781597144698
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Heyday Books - June 2019

Surprise, Kill, Vanish by Annie Jacobsen

This is my favorite type of book: fast paced, intelligent, and makes me exclaim, “Ohh, nooo!” out loud while reading it. It’s history from the angles you weren’t meant to see, making the text that much more alarming. Reading about the acceleration from covert training for WWII offense to the more recent happenings in the Middle East was equal parts horror and fascination. Already a fan of her writings, the amount of work Jacobson (Area 51) put into this book is astounding. The clandestine nature of it all meant she went far beyond traditional research, and that effort shows in the details. - Rachel

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Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780316441438
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - May 14th, 2019

Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer

Going into Rough Magic already knowing the outcome didn’t affect the reading experience for me at all. In fact, it made it an even better book, as I spent most of my time reading it shaking my head in disbelief and wonder at the shenanigans Lara was able to get up to. Starting with her impulsive joining of the Mongol Derby (622 miles in 10 days on 25 different half-wild ponies), she pushes herself along, drawing on a wild restlessness that bypasses any sort of training or preparation that she should have had. Rough Magic is travelogue and memoir, with a harsh, fond look at her childhood and a bittersweet exploration of how to find oneself in the world. - Rachel

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Rough Magic: Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781948226196
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Catapult - May 7th, 2019

The Department of Sensitive Crimes A Detective Varg Novel by Alexander McCall Smith

I am easily distracted by titles, and this one was no exception, luring me in with the promise of odd Swedish crimes. While it turned out not exactly what I was expecting, I quickly became caught up in the characters’ lives and the escapades that came their way (such as the search for the imaginary boyfriend). A lovely introduction to McCall Smith’s work, if you’re not already familiar with it. - Rachel

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The Department of Sensitive Crimes: A Detective Varg Novel (1) (Detective Varg Series) Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781524748210
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon - April 16th, 2019

The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt

I cannot wait to immerse myself in this graphic novel, which is based on Humboldt’s personal writings and Wulf’s The Invention of Nature. The art is a wonderful mix of scientific illustrations, collage, and loose watercolor sketches and perfectly pairs with the written content. Nonfiction graphic novels are a weakness of mine, and this is one I’m looking forward to adding to my collection. - Rachel

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The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt (Pantheon Graphic Library) Cover Image
By Andrea Wulf, Lillian Melcher (Illustrator)
$29.95
ISBN: 9781524747374
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon - April 2nd, 2019

Skeleton Keys by Brian Switek

God, I love this book and the absolute nerdy adoration and fascination the author has for bones (yay a kindred spirit!). It reads as a favorite professor's lecture, the one who made the concepts real and fun and tricked you into learning at the same time. Starting with the minute process of bone growth, the book ranges from how bone repairs itself to newer research being done on how Instagram is enabling the legal and illegal bone trade. It's that perfect blend of science, history, and pop culture, including nods to Jurassic Park and the use of highly technical terms such as "whumpfed." - Rachel

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Skeleton Keys: The Secret Life of Bone Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780399184901
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - March 5th, 2019

Burnout by Emily Nagoski & Amelia Nagoski

Jenny Lawson's Furiously Happy was the first book that made me cry within the first five pages, and now Burnout is the second, and for the same reason: I've found my people. Burnout strikes that nice balance between easily readable and scientific backing, in addition to recognizing the amount of stress and crap that women are faced with. The authors provide tl;dr "cheat sheets" at the end of each chapter, understanding the need for quick references in high stress times. Burnout and Furiously Happy allow folks to see that they're not alone in their head, burdened with stress, mental illness, self-doubt, and other debilitating thoughts. Everyone goes through those on some level, and Burnout provides the tools needed to thrive during challenging times. - Rachel

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Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781984817068
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - March 26th, 2019

The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America by Matt Kracht

There are birders, and then there are Birders. But what about the rest of us? We all come across that noisy blue pokey one that screams*, the herds of tiny round brown birbs**, and the tubby grey sacks with tiny heads*** but there hasn’t been a specific guide for us meh-birders until now. Crass, blunt, and incredibly accurate, this is a field guide begging to be gifted, loved, and worn down by use. (Either in the field or just showing it off to folks.) - Rahcel

*“Stupid-Ass Stellar’s Jay”; **”  Western Wood Pew-Pew“; ***”Effing Pigeon”

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The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America (Bird Books, Books for Bird Lovers, Humor Books) Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781452174037
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - April 2nd, 2019

The Ravenmaster by Christopher Skaife

Skaife, a yeoman warder, describes himself as being ornithivorous in relation to his job, inhaling all that there is about ravens, no matter the area of study (science, mythology, art, etc.). And while he covers some of those topics in this book, it’s his personal stories that kept me reading late into the night. Skaife’s voice feels like you’re just swapping stories over a pint with a friend. - Rachel

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The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374113346
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 2nd, 2018

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