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May 12, 2011 Edition

Pavement Chalk Artist, by Julian Beever

I bet you’ve never seen chalk art like this before! Beever lives in an enchanted world, where sidewalk break apart to reveal ladders to sunny Australian beaches and people appear in danger of falling off Big Ben though they are chalk people on flat ground. Beever has drawn on concrete walkways around the world, each time planning his drawings so that, from one angle, they leap into 3 dimensions. Often they are drawn to be at their best with a little audience participation: look for “Baby Food,” featuring a real baby placed in a chalk dish in front of a giant chalk lobster, or for “Beneath Every Street,” where a young woman appears to be drinking from a chalk fountain whose connections to the city water supply are clearly visible through the broken pavement around her. Page through this once to be amazed at the whimsy and solidness of the art; look again to read a little about the inspiration and technique involved.

The Empowered Patient, by Elizabeth Cohen

Cohen is a CNN medical correspondent and experienced traveler in the medical system and has made it her mission to help patients and their families find the right doctor, get the right diagnosis, get great medical care, buy medications at prices they can afford, and navigate the insurance maze with solid information at their fingertips. There are fascinating, sad, and funny stories that bring home the point that the doctors are people, mistakes happen, and the best way to guard against it all is to be informed. She writes about using internet resources to research your symptoms to see whether they sync with the doctor’s diagnoses and staying aware of the treatments available, doing the homework that will help you get the medicine you need, and even discusses strategies for staying visible and safe in case of hospitalization.

The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed, by Joseph D’Agnese and Denise Kiernan

If you’ve got gigs instead of timesheets or clients instead of an employer, this may be the book you need to help you stay on top of your finances. Keeping track of your income is a whole new ballgame if you work freelance or are self-employed. D’Agnese and Kiernan have done both and are here to help you learn to take care of the things that need planning for: retirement, health care, taxes, emergency savings, and paying off and staying out of debt. Working through the chapters will set you up with the tools you need to determine your income and work within it. There’s nothing magical here, just clearly- explained common sense strategies emphasizing willpower, bookkeeping (no accounting degree necessary), and planning to get you into stable financial shape.

Amulets and Talismans, by Robert Dancik

Whether or not you are the type to make, own, or give an amulet or talisman, if you are a jeweler or wearable art creator, you’ll want to pick up this inspiring and practical guide. Dancik opens the book with instructions for working with metal, concrete, polymer clay, found objects, and even paper-pulp mâché. Further on, projects are shown utilizing traditional symbols ranging from protective eyes, horseshoes, and compasses, with step-by-step instructions on putting them together to form personal amulets and talismans. The emphasis is mostly on the objects and Dancik touches only lightly on their meanings, so if you are after New Age or mystical talismans and amulets, this will be only somewhat useful.

One Word, edited by Molly McQuade

Think of this as word jazz: McQuade invited writers from diverse genres to write about a word which inspires or carries great meaning for them. The results range from essays to one-liners and from fragments of memory to historical lineages. The words themselves run the gamut of common to rare, from short to long, and from English to other. Browse or read straight through – you’ll find yourself captivated by meditations on “quipu,” “half-light,” “gray, and “crash.”

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