Friday, October 12, 2012

Bestsellers are waiting for you @ your library

A Year Up: How A Pioneering Program Teaches Young Adults Real Skills For Real Jobs With Real Success by Gerald Chertavian

Kirkus Reviews –

A must-read account of the origins and growth of Year Up, a groundbreaking employment program. Year Up founder and CEO Chertavian debuts with this memoir about his nationwide program, which is aimed at "closing the ever-widening Opportunity Divide in this country." As evidence of his success, he proudly cites growth rates over the 10 years from the program's start-up, but he also provides references from the 400 or so major corporations that have opened their doors to program participants as interns, and then employees. Year Up, writes Chertavian, offers a unique mixture of educational, social support and mentoring opportunities--not to mention health coverage. The program works closely with corporations, especially in the finance and technology fields, to develop curricula that meet the companies' emerging needs, and participants also learn the social skills they will need in their new lives. Entry-level jobs for program graduates average twice the minimum wage, or about $30,000 a year. Chertavian builds financial support from the corporations who underwrite the internship program, and he encourages networks within communities to refer promising candidates. He is also beginning to partner with community colleges to "connect young adults with living wage employment." In addition to highlighting his many successes, Chertavian recounts the difficulties students face in rising above difficult, and often brutal, circumstances to keep moving forward. The individuals profiled here are sure to inspire. Among recent publications on unemployment and education, this is a standout.

The Mobile Wave: How Mobile Intelligence Will Change Everything by Michael Saylor

From Publisher –

The Mobile Wave argues that the changes brought by mobile computing are so big and widespread that it’s impossible for us to see it all, even though we are all immersed in it. Saylor explains that the current generation of mobile smart phones and tablet computers has set the stage to become the universal computing platform for the world. In the hands of billions of people and accessible anywhere and anytime, mobile computers are poised to become an appendage of the human being and an essential tool for modern life.

The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code by Sam Kean

Kirkus Reviews –

Science writer Kean (The Disappearing Spoon: and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements, 2010) returns with another wide-ranging, entertaining look at science history, this time focusing on the many mysteries of DNA. The author examines numerous discoveries in more than a century of DNA and genetics research, including such familiar touchstones as Gregor Mendel's pea-plant experiments and the double-helix model of Watson and Crick. Kean also explores less-well-known territory, deftly using his stories as jumping-off points to unpack specific scientific concepts. He discusses how DNA discoveries led not only to medical breakthroughs, but also to new ways of looking at the past; they "remade the very study of human beings." Kean delves into theories regarding possible genetic diseases of Charles Darwin, French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and ancient Egyptian King Tut, among others, and how their ailments may have subtly affected developments in scientific, artistic and even royal history. Some stories edge into more bizarre areas, such as one Soviet scientist's dream to create a human-chimpanzee hybrid, but Kean also tells the moving story of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, "perhaps the most unlucky man of the twentieth century," who was near both Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 when the nuclear bombs were dropped--and who, despite almost certainly suffering DNA damage from radiation, lived into his 90s. At his best, Kean brings relatively obscure historical figures to life--particularly Niccolò Paganini, the titular violinist who wowed early-19th-century audiences with his virtuosity, aided by finger flexibility that may have been due to the genetic disease Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Kean's talent also shines in the sections on scientific rivalries, such as that between biologist Craig Venter's private company Celera and the government-funded Human Genome Project, both of which are racing to sequence all human DNA. In an impressive narrative, the author renders esoteric DNA concepts accessible to lay readers.

Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story by Jim Holt

Kirkus Reviews –

A guided tour of ideas, theories and arguments about the origins of the universe. Any book with such a title is bound to raise at least as many questions as it tries to answer. "I cannot help feeling astonished that I exist," writes Holt, "that the universe has come to produce these very thoughts now bubbling up in my stream of consciousness." With too much abstract theory, the author runs the risk of the narrative collapsing under its own weight. However, if he moves too far in the other direction, rigorous exploration gives way to platitudes. Holt finds the right recipe, combining a wide variety of subjects in his exploration of his "improbable existence." The author lists his background as an "essayist and critic on philosophy, math, and science," which could serve as the boiled-down review of this book, as he draws from those three disciplines and others and respectfully does not shy away from posing thoughtful, difficult questions to his interview subjects. Through discussions with philosophers of religion and science, humanists, biologists, string theorists, as well as research into the scholarship of days past--from Heidegger, Parmenides, Pythagoras and others--and an interview with John Updike, Holt provides a master's-level course on the theories and their detractors. The interludes find the author positioning himself as an existential gumshoe, but also working through the sudden loss of a pet and, later, the death of his mother. Holt may not answer the question of his title, but his book deepens the appreciation of the mystery.

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