Ages 18+.

Library Lists: (Useful!) Fitness, Nutrition and Exercise Materials

Lots of fitness, diet, and exercise books and materials seem to be repetitive or refuse to acknowledge that losing weight, dieting, and being fit are all difficult things to do! Others are too boring to make it through, despite having potentially useful tips. Even motivated people looking for some good information can become discouraged wading through the endless materials on fitness and diet that are out there. For some actually useful, beneficial and well-laid-out materials on exercise and health, try:

Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog: The format of this recently published book is over 100 short directives for how to lead a life of health and fitness. Drawing on the most recent science, and ignoring any of the “fad” diets that have sprung up in the past few decades, this book is an easy and useful guide to both physical fitness and nutrition.

Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run is the wonderfully honest story of Alexandra Heminsley, a woman who decided to take up running in her mid-thirties. She expected immediate weight loss, toned legs and the lauded “runners high”… but that’s not exactly what happened. She admits that starting to run can be a brutal and discouraging experience, and talks about motivating herself to get past those first miserable weeks (okay, months) and ultimately reaping the rewards of a running lifestyle.

Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred: Although most workout DVDs don’t do it for me, Jillian Michaels’ are a huge exception. Her workouts combine cardio, strength training and ab workouts in 20 minute workouts that really WORK. Each of her DVDs contains multiple workouts that progress by intensity level as you gain fitness and improve. 30 Day Shred, along with Jillian Michaels’ Ripped in 30 are the perfect solution if you nee d to work out at home and really want to sweat.

Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual clearly and concisely explains how to eat well. Incorporating many of the rules that he describes is easy, and this book is so compact that it’s a great one to have around the house when you need a reminder of how and why to eat healthy. Advice such as “Things that never go bad aren’t food,” is clever and really hits home.

No Sweat: In this brand new book, University of Michigan researcher and professor uses the results of her own research—and that of others—to explain why so many people begin exercise regimes with the best of intentions, but then fail to stick with them after a few weeks or months. Her information and advice are extremely useful, and this book is a quick and straightforward read.

Making healthy, complete meals is a challenge for everyone, and it can be especially difficult to get the nutrients and the right amount of calories when you're increasing physical activity or maintaining an active lifestyle. The Runner's World Cookbook contains over 150 easy and varied recipes that will help with overall nutrition (whether you're a runner or not!). I love the healthy, diverse, and straightforward recipes it offers. It even contains vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options for the athlete with dietary restrictions.

For even more excellent materials on health and fitness, check out the extended list here.

The Martian

“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it's found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are people who just don't care, but they're massively outnumbered by the people who do.”

After a freak accident during a vicious sand storm at the Ares 3 mission base, Mark Watney wakes up to discover that his crew mates, believing he did not survive the storm, have abandoned him on Mars. With only enough supplies to last the original 35 days of the mission (and no chance of a return mission to rescue him for another 4 years), Mark must rely on his training, quick wit, and intellect to help him stretch his supplies to the limit and find a way to survive in the harsh Martian landscape.

Throughout the novel, Mark's optimism blended with his witty (and sometimes crude) remarks humanize his character and bring a more light-hearted aspect to the novel. This fast-paced and thrilling novel intertwines the story of Mark with the respective stories of his devastated crew members on their way back to Earth, NASA's frenzied attempts to save Mark, and the media's fascination with the Mark Watney story. First-time novelist Andy Weir includes quite a bit of technical detail (most of which is backed by real science), adding to the intensity of this great story. The Martian is a classic story of hope and survival in a foreign wilderness that is sure to delight adult readers. Watch out for the movie adaptation starring Matt Damon, which hits theaters in October!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #547

The industry buzz on Kitchens of the Great Midwest * by TV producer (The History Channel and the Discovery Channel) J. Ryan Stradal has been relentless for weeks. The latest is the review in The New York Times. (Also check out the reviews in the L.A. Times and the Petoskey News where a pivotal scene is set).

Eleven year-old Eva Thorvald does not fit in - not with her hard-working, well-meaning but unsophisticated parents or the kids at school. She finds comradery in her cool cousin Randy who has a troubled history with the law, and solace in the prized hydroponic chocolate habaneros she cultivates in her closet. When her ingenious attempt to even the score with the bullies lands her in hot water, she bolts for the big city (Evanston, IL) where her cousin Braque is a college student. Eventually she would become the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, and in the process, comes face to face with the secret her loving family tried to shield her from.

"Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal’s startlingly original debut tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity. By turns quirky, hilarious, and vividly sensory, Kitchens of the Great Midwest is an unexpected mother-daughter story about the bittersweet nature of life—its missed opportunities and its joyful surprises." Recipes included.

"(A) big-hearted, funny, and class-transcending pleasure. It’s also both a structural and empathetic tour de force, stepping across worlds in the American midwest, and demonstrating with an enviable tenderness and ingenuity the tug of war between our freedom to pursue our passions and our obligations to those we love.” ~ Jim Shepard

"(A) charming, fast-moving round robin tale of food, sensuality and Midwestern culture..." ~ Janet Fitch

Readalikes: Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe; Mangoes and Quince by Carol Field; and La Cucina : a novel of rapture by Lily Prior.

* = starred review

Congratulations to all of the WINNERS at the 10th Annual LEGO Contest! 2015 is the summer of LEGO Awesome!

Summer 2015 has been the summer of LEGO in all of its interlocking awesomeness and the highlight of EVERY summer, the annual LEGO contest, has come and gone and now it’s time to celebrate! This year we had 200 entries in 6 age categories:

Preschool, Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12 and Adults!

We gave out 24 LEGO trophies, 72 medals and over $500 in gift cards to the winners! As always the house was packed and about 600 people attended to vote of their favorites, see all the projects and experience the Award Ceremony!

Congratulations to the winners in our 10th Annual LEGO Contest!

Crossover Graphic Novels good for young and old -August edition

There's nothing quite like sitting down with a good graphic novel. The mix of art and word can create a unique experience and there is nothing better than being able to share that experience with others. There are some graphic novels that are so great that it doesn't matter how old you are you can enjoy them. Here's this months crossover (good for all ages) graphic novels.
Mouse Guard is a story of the Mouse Guard of a world filled with sentient creatures, creatures who think like we do! It follows the exciting adventures of these protectors. If you loved the Redwall series you will love this series and if you love the idea of mice fighting weasels and otters and all manner of other creatures this is the series for you.

Darkwing Duck I loved Ducktales growing up and when they made Darkwing Duck into a comic they really brought the two series closer together. If you love daring adventures and mysteries with a masked crusader then Darkwing Duck is for you. If you loved Ducktales then Darkwing Duck is for you. If you just like ducks, then I'm sure this series has something to offer you

Amulet is huge, and gaining popularity (it's even currently optioned for being made into a film!!) but this graphic novel series is not just for children. The story has some serious depth to it and the art is beautiful. There is more than enough in this series to keep anyone interested for every volume that is out (and all the ones that will be released!)

Stay tuned for more awesome graphic novels and books in the AADL blog!

The Carnival At Bray

A 2015 Printz Honor Award winner, the teen novel The Carnival At Bray is Jessie Ann Foley’s first novel, and it’s beautifully written.

It’s 1993 and grunge, flannel, Doc Martens, and the music of Nirvana swirl through the air like sweat during a mosh pit at a Smashing Pumpkin's show. 16 year old Maggie Lynch moves from Chicago to Ireland with her family, thanks to her serial dating mother’s new relationship. Maggie initially survives on care packages of Twizzlers and Spin magazines from her young rocker uncle whom she cares for the most. Her time is spent missing her uncle, dealing with a new school, hanging out at the carnival, trying to make friends, and finding a boy for a first kiss. But eventually there are larger things to deal with.

It’s a book of love and loss. Of first love, learning to be who you are, figuring out how you fit into your dysfunctional family, and ultimately learning that life was meant to be lived.

No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness

Even as a lifelong runner, I go through phases where it is incredibly difficult for me to get myself out the door and working out. I’m always interested to learn more about fitness and exercise and seek a little extra motivation. But, when I found out that the next book my book club is reading is No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness, I was a little disappointed. It seems like there are so many diet and exercise books out there that either say the same thing over and over, don’t acknowledge how difficult it can be to stay fit and healthy, or both. I expected No Sweat to be the same... and I am so happy to say that I was wrong! University of Michigan professor and researcher Michelle Segar offers an extremely well-researched, step-by-step program for applying science to achieve fitness and overall well-being. The simple four steps that she outlines in her book are geared towards people who struggle to break the cycle of failed attempts at regular exercise, but are applicable to people of all fitness levels. Even if, like me, you really enjoy exercising most of the time, the tips in No Sweat are beneficial for the weeks when you’re dragging your feet. Segar readily admits that she has always hated running, and uses her own story, along with the inspiring and practical ones of many others, to teach readers how easy—and even fun—getting fit can be; it doesn’t have to involve activities that you hate! No Sweat is a great, easy-to-read, straightforward book that can really help everyone achieve an active lifestyle. Get on the hold list today!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #546 - Short Stories with a Strong Sense of Place

In the Country: Stories * * * a debut collection of stories by Manila born Mia Alvar (Harvard, Columbia) "speaks to the heart of everyone who has ever searched for a place to call home. From teachers to housemaids, from mothers to sons... (it) explores the universal experiences of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across borders both real and imagined."

A pharmacist living in New York smuggles drugs to his ailing father in Manila, only to discover alarming truths about his family and his past. In Bahrain, a Filipina teacher drawn to a special pupil finds, to her surprise, that she is questioning her own marriage. A college student leans on her brother, a laborer in Saudi Arabia, to support her writing ambitions, without realizing that his is the life truly made for fiction. And in the title story, a journalist and a nurse face an unspeakable trauma amidst the political turmoil of the Philippines in the 1970s and 80s.

"These stories are stunning in their insight, compelling for their precise and nuanced detail, and provocative for the way they blur class lines."

Set in the pristine Connecticut suburb of Old Cranbury, The Wonder Garden * * * *, Lauren Acampora's debut collection of interwoven stories "wields prose with the precision of a scalpel, insightfully dissecting people's desperate emotions and most cherished hopes."

A home inspector undergoing a bitter divorce tries to dissuade a couple from buying their dream home, unable to bear the sight of their optimism about the future. A disturbed businessman becomes obsessed with the idea of viewing his wife's brain surgery while inside the operating room. A young, pregnant wife cannot believe the advertising executive that she married now wants to chuck his career and heed the call of his spirit animal.

"A clear-eyed lens into the strange, human wants of upper-class suburbia."

Just released is The State We're In: Maine Stories *, the latest by the multiple prize-winning master of the short form, Ann Beattie. Though many of these 15 loosely linked stories are set in Maine (where Beattie now lives), what unites them is more than geography. "Riveting, witty, sly, idiosyncratic, and bold, these stories describe a state of mind, a manner of being..."

"Beattie is a master at depicting the peculiarly painful valor necessary for contending with troubled family members, spouses, lovers, neighbors, even pets. She is also that rarest of beings, a brilliantly comic literary writer. Some of her hilarity is circumstantial... Most often, it's her skirmishing dialogue that makes us laugh out loud."

If you like these short story collections, check out Publishers Weekly's The 10 Best Short Story Collections You've Never Read.

* = starred review
* * * = 3 starred reviews
* * * * = 4 starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #545 - "I have heard the mermaids singing each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me ..." ~ T.S. Eliot

"Dazzling...[a] quirky, raucous, and bewitching family saga", high praise by Sara Gruen for Erika Swyler's debut novel Book of Speculation, and rightly so. I simply couldn't put it down.

After his younger sister Enola runs off to read tarot cards for a traveling carnival, cash-strapped librarian Simon Watson lives alone in the decrepit family home that he watches nervously as it slowly crumbles toward the Long Island Sound. An old bound journal arrives at his doorstep one late June, almost at the same time his sister returns, restless and secretive. Fragile and water damaged, the book is a log from the owner of a traveling carnival in the 1700s, who reports strange and magical things, including the drowning death of a circus mermaid. Since then, generations of "mermaids" in Simon's family have drowned, always on July 24, including his mother.

As his friend Alice looks on with alarm, Simon becomes increasingly convinced that Enola will be the next victim of the family curse, and the answer must lie in the book.

"Debut author Swyler creates a melancholy world with hints of magic at the edges... Fans of historical novels, especially titles with circus themes or touched with a hint of the supernatural such as Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, Katharine Dunn's Geek Love, or Katharine Howe's The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, won't want to leave this festival."

The Mermaid's Child by Jo Baker - the acclaimed author of Longbourn brings us the magical story of a young girl in search of her mother...who her father believes just might be a mermaid. Malin Reed, always odd and awkward never quite fits in. When her father dies, she takes to the road in search of her mother. Apprenticed to a series of strange and wonderful characters, Malin embarks on a grueling journey that crosses oceans and continents - she even disguises herself as a boy in order to get a position on a slaving ship. Misadventures, rescues (by an eccentric librarian), icebergs and pirates, Malin's journey eventually comes to a fitting end.

This pungent early novel, only now available in the U.S, (is) "beautifully written and hauntingly strange,...a remarkable piece of storytelling, and an utterly unique work of fantasy..."

The Mermaid's Sister by Carrie Anne Noble, set in a mythical Pennsylvania mountain tells the story of three foundlings taken in by Auntie, a village wise woman. When Clara realizes that her sister Maren, is slowly but surely turning into a mermaid, she and best friend O'Neill set out to take Maren to a new home in the sea. Adventure finds them when a traveling show kidnaps them all, and Clara must overcome her inner doubts about who she really is in order to save them all.

"Like all good fairy tales, this one touches on deeper themes of sibling rivalry, jealousy, insecurity, and questions of identity...Noble's treatment of the mermaid theme is fresh and original, and even her minor characters are beautifully depicted."

Like mermaids? You might also enjoy Mermaid : A twist on the classic tale by Carolyn Turgeon, and The Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford.

Want to read the next big hollywood blockbuster before it's even made? Patrick Rothfusses Kingkiller series spurred a bidding war this month!

If you're a fan of fantasy fiction there is a good possibility that you've heard the name Patrick Rothfuss sometime in the past decade. His works include epic fantasies and not for children picture books a novella and short stories but the title that was on the tips of all the movie execs lips this past month was Name of the Wind.

Name of the Wind is the story of young Kvothe (pronounced like Quothe), his adventures and misadventures as he strives to learn magic and gains some powerful foes along the way. What makes this fantasy different from others is that it doesn't seem to follow a formula for a story like so many fantasies do, rather it is a man recounting the story of his youth to an historian. It could be said that the book is many shorter stories combined into one greater narrative that continues into the second book of the series The Wise Man's Fear and will conclude in the final book of the trilogy which will be entitled Doors of Stone which currently has no publication date.

So if you want to check out the latest hollywood craze before it's even begun filming check out Patrick Rothfuss' work!

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