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February 22, 2008 Edition

The Ugly Truth About Managing People, by Ruth King

More than half of this fascinating book is taken up with stories from employers and employees who have faced management challenges and overcome them. Though everything from small startups to Fortune 500 businesses is represented, the problems presented aren’t restricted to any particular type or size organization. The stories are clearly told and followed by a summation of what the employee or employer learned, other steps that could have been taken, and ideas on how to apply the lessons learned to the reader’s own organization. The rest of the book deals with chapters on critical survival strategies and management myths. Don’t think this is just for supervisors or managers: this is full of great information for all who want to understand how people function in a work environment.

Eating Royally, by Darren McGrady

As Princess Diana’s private chef for 15 years, McGrady got to know the family’s favorite recipes as well as the requirements for royal events. Here, he describes the yearly life of the royals and each season’s rituals and events. In amongst the information about formal attire, what a footman does and where toast is prepared in Windsor Castle are recipes for events as diverse as royal feasts and family dinners. The Queen’s favorite cheese soufflé is here, as is a several century old shortbread recipe, fancy event desserts like Framboise St. George, and more homey fare like cottage pie. Through anecdote, photos, and mementos, McGrady shares his time with the royals.

China A to Z, by May-lee Chai and Winberg Chai

Whether you are contemplating a trip to China or simply curious about cultural differences, this practical and clearly written guide will open your eyes. There are plenty of differences that will surprise readers, from the meanings of colors and gestures to different spins on historical events. Learn how to bargain, how to resolve problems without anyone losing face, and what to expect if travelling with children. Though not a traditional guidebook, this book will give even the most casual reader an invaluable perspective on a venerable and changing country.

Mouth Wide Open, by John Thorne

This is my first encounter with John Thorne and his writing, but I know it won’t be my last. As a chef, he is adventurous and yet homey; as a writer, he tells you what you want to know and makes you laugh while doing it. Even while he is lamenting the odor and lingering taste of beef kidneys at breakfast, he’s hurtling readers onward to more pleasant experiments involving homemade falafel, Chinese fried rice, and several intense marmalades. His playful and invigorating turn of phrase invites readers to get up and cook, and his recipes guarantee delight.

Digital Photo Design, by Paul Comon.

So you’ve got a new camera that you know can capture our gorgeous Alaskan scenery beautifully, but somehow you’re still disappointed? Here’s a primer on photo composition for those who don’t believe the camera does it all and want to develop an eye for what makes photos spectacular. Helpfully starting with a definition of visual composition and then moving on to discussions on the Golden Rectangle, Fibonacci Numbers, the role of lines, the rule of thirds, and the importance of light and perspective. Whether you’re a beginner or more advanced photographer, this slim book, heavily illustrated with sample photos, has a lot to offer.

Parenting Beyond Belief, edited by Dale McGowan

This collection includes essays from such big-name parents such as Penn Jillette and Mark Twain as well as doctors, ministers, philosophers, and other non-religious parents. Topics range from the Easter Bunny to the Pledge of Allegiance, from teaching morals without the Ten Commandments to navigating the Boy Scouts of America. Chapters cover blended marriages, celebrating holidays, learning to be and do good, beliefs about death, questioning life, talking science, and building a community with like-minded families.

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