What We're Reading March 2015: Recommended Reads from the Staff of PVN

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Casie M:

Milwaukee Avenue: Community Renewal in Minneapolis, by Robert Roscoe (The History Press, 2014). 

In the 1970s, a politically savvy and hard working neighborhood organization, the Seward West Project Area Committee (PAC), out-maneuvered a public agency's renewal plan to demolish approximately 70 percent of a historic neighborhood in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Demolition would have included all of the houses on Milwaukee Avenue, a half-hidden, very narrow two block-long street, flanked by small brick houses. Built in the 1880s, many of these houses were the very first homes in Minneapolis. Milwaukee Avenue offers a unique presentation of determined citizens saving their neighborhood in a decade that changed history.

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Tamara:

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson (Crown, 2015). 

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack.

Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.

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Greg:

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work, by Matthew B. Crawford (Penguin Books, 2010).

A philosopher/mechanic's wise (and sometimes funny) look at the challenges and pleasures of working with one's hands.

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Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic, by Robert Siegel (Bentley Publishers, 2013). 

In Memoirs of a Hack Mechanic, Rob Siegel shares his secrets to buying, fixing, and driving cool cars without risking the kids' tuition money or destroying his marriage. And that's something to brag about considering the dozens of cars, including twenty-five BMW 2002s, that have passed through his garage over the past three decades.

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Meghan:

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman (BenBella Books, 2012).

In Traction, you’ll learn the secrets of strengthening the six key components of your business. You’ll discover simple yet powerful ways to run your company that will give you and your leadership team more focus, more growth, and more enjoyment. Successful companies are applying Traction every day to run profitable, frustration-free businesses—and you can too.

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Laurel:

Goldfinch: A Novel, by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown and Company, 2013). 

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, "Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind....Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction." - Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

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Laura:

The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen and David M. Shapard (Anchor, 2012).

The first-ever fully annotated edition of one of the most beloved novels in the world is a sheer delight for Jane Austen fans. Here is the complete text of Pride and Prejudice with thousands of annotations on facing pages, including: explanations of historical context, citations from Austen’s life, letters, and other writings, definitions and clarifications, literary comments and analyses, and more.

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The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, by James M. Kouzes (Jossey-Bass, 2012).

For more than 25 years, The Leadership Challenge has been the most trusted source on becoming a better leader, selling more than 2 million copies in over 20 languages since its first publication. Based on Kouzes and Posner's extensive research, this all-new edition casts their enduring work in context for today's world, proving how leadership is a relationship that must be nurtured, and most importantly, that it can be learned.

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Casie R:

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, by Susannah Cahalan (Simon & Schuster, 2013).

An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity.

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Teach Your Dog 100 English Words: The A+ Dog Training Program for Good Manners and Happy Obedience, by Michele Welton (Petbridge, LLC, 2010).

The 100 Words program is more than a few basic obedience commands. Your dog will learn dozens of useful, practical words - plus respectfulness. Michele Wetson has a knack for explaining dog training so everyone can understand and be successful. She has been an obedience instructor and canine consultant for over 30 years. The author of more than a dozen books, she is one of the most popular writers in the dog genre.

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Marisa:

Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen (Algonquin Books, 2007).

Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

Surprising, poignant, and funny, Water for Elephants is that rare novel with a story so engrossing, one is reluctant to put it down; with characters so engaging, they continue to live long after the last page has been turned; with a world built of wonder, a world so real, one starts to breathe its air.