Tag Archives: non-fiction

Staff Review: Rethinking Narcicism

RethinkingNarcissismRethinking Narcissism

Dr. Craig Malkin



Available July 15, 2015

You are a narcissist. Feel offended after reading that sentence? Do not be! Dr. Malkin argues that we are all narcissistic, which, in fact, may not be entirely bad. Some narcissism is good and can be beneficial to both you and society as a whole. By reading this book, you will be able to take the “Narcissism Spectrum” test which will, in turn, allow you to realize more about yourself and those around you. Although this book will not replace a conversation with a trained professional, it will give you the tools you need to incite change. You do not need to be a medical professional to enjoy this book. Read it and be pleasantly surprised, or not, that loving yourself – just enough – is a necessary, if precarious, fact of life.

~ Rebecca

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Staff Review: Thinking in Numbers

9780316187367Thinking in Numbers

Daniel Tammet

Back Bay Books


Available now


Daniel Tammet views life in a fascinating way. After watching the documentary The Boy with the Incredible Brain, I felt compelled to buy Born on a Blue Day. I read and loved it. Then years went by, and he and his talent fell off my radar. When I came across Thinking in Numbers at Eight Cousins, I began to remember how much I enjoyed Born on a Blue Day. This book rekindled my interest in Daniel Tammet, and changed my perspective in a number of ways (pun intended).

This books touches on many topics that the author links vividly and directly to numbers. It has been years since my Shakespeare class in high school, and although I remember basic information about some of his plays, I never really thought about the text beyond what was relevant to class discussions, papers and tests. Reading the chapter “Shakespeare’s Zero” made me think very carefully about the number zero, and about Shakespeare’s many works. If I get the chance to reread Macbeth, King Lear, or any other of Shakespeare’s works, I know it will be from a different, more profound point of view.

Every chapter in Tammet’s book is rich in history, language and comparisons. He gives the reader glimpses into his world and how everything relates to numbers. Even if you are not a fan of math and are not a linguist, this book will inspire you to reflect on your life and how you live it. Thinking in Numbers is a wonderful, thought-provoking journey through the mind of an autistic savant that will take mental energy to read, but will leave you with a feeling of satisfaction and curiosity at the same time. I highly recommend it.

~ Rebecca

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Morse Pond Book Club

Book ClubIn a previous post, I mentioned that the Morse Pond Book Clubs were up and running again. Eight Cousins is delighted (I need another word that conveys total jubilation) to be partnering with the clubs again this year. For the past few weeks, I (Sara) have been running around like a mad squirrel trying to gather as many middle-grade ARCs as possible. You know how people are about boxes when they’re moving? That was me at a recent publishing exhibition. “You have middle-grade ARCs at this booth? I’ll take 20.”* Eight CousinsPublishers have obliged my rampant foraging and have even sent boxes of fantastic ARCs for the two clubs (thank you!)

So what about the kids? Well every time I drop off a new set, I hear more and more fantastic stories from Mrs. Abbott. One kid didn’t bring his book back because he read it so fast that his father had to borrow it to see what all the fuss was about. The hilarious part is that he only ‘confessed’ this fact later. The librarian and the bookseller are still trying to decide why he thought he might get in trouble for loaning out a book! Another kid is new at the school this year. Since the kids sometimes read the same book, the club is giving him something to talk about with his classmates. Mrs. Abbott put together an amazing presentation to explain the program to parents and other teachers. Her slides and photos are included here. I’m so jealous of everything she does with the groups when I’m not around, but fortunately the kids do occasionally come into the store and want even more books. 1) Thanks so much for introducing yourselves! 2) Seriously?!? I just dropped off like 30 ARCs at your school! It’s amazing to see first hand that you really do love reading that much. For the record, we do, too. Mrs. Abbott and I try to maintain a certain level of professionalism, but when two book lovers get together the conversations quickly become something like, well like two book lovers talking about books: Have you read Mr. Lemoncello’s Library yet?!? OMG!** Yes! I loved it! But Wonder is really taking hold here! Everyone in the school is really excited about it! You have to read Rooftoppers, it’s my new favorite book! Did you see how excited the kids got about Prisoner 88?!? I know! I totally want to read it now!


Some of the reviews have been posted here already and a flood more just arrived, so look for those over the next couple of weeks.The next time I meet with the kids, we’ll talk more about the reviewing process. My ideal is that throughout the year we can arrange for some special guests — like editors, publicists, designers, and umm, maybe some authors and illustrators — to talk to the two clubs. Anyone interested!?! Not yet? Well look at the photos below and then decide : )

Trying to decide . . .

Trying to decide . . .

Selecting ARCs

Selecting ARCs

Reading at its finest!

Reading at its finest!

Small group reading!

Small group reading!

Reviewers in training.

Reviewers in training.

* I swear I never took more than 2 of each.

** Neither Mrs. Abbott nor Sara actually uttered, “OMG!”, but they might as well have.

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Historians on History

9780807050217Today the Falmouth Public Library hosted their Narrative Non-Fiction group, which featured the book Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 by Stephen Puleo. Eight Cousins was on hand to sell Puleo’s books after the event so I had the good fortune of listening to his talk. He spent most of the hour answering questions, but the final question elicited an impassioned discussion on the importance of history, especially of teaching history. It’s always interesting listening to writers talk about writing, but today it was fascinating listening to a historian talk about history. Puleo talked about the necessity for history teachers to infuse a passion for history into their lessons. History often becomes bogged down with dates and events that mean little to students, but history is, as Puleo stated, a story. History is not simply events, but how those events came to be, the decisions that led to those events, and the lasting influence that those events had. Dark Tide, for example, isn’t simply about the Molasses Flood, but incorporates the people whose decisions affected the flood and the change in regulations that were later introduced because of it. Each moment is a piece of a larger narrative.

What a great idea for a reading group. If you’re interested, the next meeting is January 4th 10-11am at the library. The group will be discussing Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.

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2012 Picks of the Year — Middle Grade Chapter Books


Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals
By Hearst, Michael
2012-09 – Chronicle Books (CA)
9781452104676 $16.99

Michael Hearst is a composer of unusual music, including “Songs for Unusual Creatures.” He gathered so much fascinating material that he also wrote a book about fifty very strange animals, their habits and oddities. As a man of imagination, he has included not only the weirder details, but also playful humor and wit.


Jepp, Who Defied the Stars
By Marsh, Katherine
Hyperion Books
9781423135005 $16.99

Jepp is a dwarf teenager, and in 16th century Europe a dwarf is a curiosity of economic value. A greasy nobleman promises Jepp’s unsophisticated mother good things for him, and carries Jepp off to court, where a world of capricious luxury awaits. The beds are soft, but full of humiliation, and after initial wide-eyed excitement, Jepp and a friend try to escape. They’re partially successful, but find themselves in an even stranger situation.


Liar and Spy
By Stead, Rebecca
Wendy Lamb Books
9780385737432 $15.99

Georges (the s is silent) isn’t thrilled about his family’s move to a smaller apartment, but he understands his dad is unemployed, his mother is working extra shifts at the hospital, and he should do his bit to help. So Georges explores and meets Safer and Candy, two kids on another floor. Safer is a self-appointed spy looking for an assistant, since Candy is goofy and unreliable. Georges is wary but polite, and the results are funny, touching, and surprising.


By Palacio, R. J.
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
9780375869020 $15.99

Human kindness isn’t simple, as Auggie Pullman learns when he leaves the safety of homeschooling for a regular fifth grade class. His severe facial deformity gives everyone pause.  Among his family, classmates, and teachers, some are able to recognize the smart, funny, brave boy beneath the odd features, and some can barely tolerate him.  When the chips are down, when kids from another school start picking on Auggie, will anyone stand up for him?  The answer will sing out like a Handel oratorio.  In the few months since it was published, we already see schools taking up the book as a must read.


By Key, Watt
Farrar Straus Giroux
9780374350956 $16.99

Foster and his mother aren’t able to keep up the farm since his dad died, and his mother is trying to sell it, although she knows 12-year-old Foster wants to stay. Dax, the man who calls on her, is no friend to Foster, and Dax positively hates Foster’s dog Joe. Things are tense and getting worse when a stranger walks up the road. The stranger is Gary, an Iraq war vet who asks to trade barn shelter for chores. In Foster’s eyes Gary is a model of strength and masculine virtue. But Gary seems to have something to hide, and Dax would love to see Gary gone. The fiery climax reveals several things, including a more mature Foster.


The Last Dragonslayer
By Fforde, Jasper
Harcourt Children’s Books
9780547738475 $16.99

Reading Jasper Fforde is like listening to Spike Jones: serious sounding stuff except that there’s always one more outlandish boink and tootle where you least expect it. It works so well in Fforde’s Thursday Next mysteries that he’s now created the character of Jennifer Strange, a teenage foundling, who heads up Mystical Arts Management and keeps a knife-toothed Quarkbeast. Mystical arts and their practitioners were once revered, but lately they’re lucky to get paid for rewiring houses and unblocking drains. The less people believe in magic, the lower its powers ebb. The impending death of Maltcassion, the last dragon, is about to reduce it even further, as humans scramble to claim the valuable real estate that belonged to Maltcassion. And what does that have to do with the prediction of Big Magic? Jennifer Strange will be at the center of the coming changes, changes that are surprising to the end.

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2012 Picks of the Year: All Ages


Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version

By Pullman, Philip
Viking Books ($27.95)

Fairy tales are the bones of literature.  These fifty tales, beautifully and clearly retold, give readers the underpinnings of European literature and so much that springs from it. Although fairy tales are often free of character development and elaborate description, Pullman has managed to retell them in words that make them fresh again, ready to fire the imagination and illuminate the world.


Julie Andrews’ Treasury for All Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year
By Priceman, Marjorie

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers ($19.99)

Nobody should be a slave to convention, but everyone enjoys having a few rituals.  This collection, drawn from many poets and composers, and charmingly illustrated in bright watercolors, will add quality and resonance to the seasonal cycles of any family.


The Big Book of Hacks: 264 Amazing DIY Tech Projects 
By Cantor, Doug
Weldon Owen ($25.00)

The cover declares it’s serious with metal-reinforced corners, and the subtitle “264 Amazing DIY Tech Projects: Geek Toys, Home Improvements, Gadget Upgrades, Things That Go.” Try something  simple and practical such as #188, “Make a Laptop Stand from a Binder”; or something fun such as #99, “Set Up a DIY Drive-In Movie” (which includes applicable warnings about FCC regulations and use of public spaces); or go all out with #66, “The Electric Giraffe.”  By far the greatest proportion are practical, inexpensive, and just tech enough to let the geeks show off a little bit.

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