Book Reviews

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Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck

Just released in May, Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck examines the turbulent, fascinating and ultimately tragic life of Zelda Fitzgerald through the eyes of a fictional psychiatric nurse.

Better known as the wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald’s presence was as wild and controversial as her husband’s. She was a Southern beauty, one of the original flappers of the 1920s, an accomplished writer, dancer and painter, and sadly, a victim of mental illness.

Call Me Zelda begins in February 1932 at the Phipps Psychiatric Clinic, part of Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, with Zelda’s admission for an emotional breakdown and her introduction to Anna Howard, the nurse assigned to care for her.

 The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough

A new century brimmed with possibility. In the nineteenth century, many citizens of the United States sought education and culture in the Old World to enhance their knowledge of the New.

Historian David McCullough in The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris examines the lives of many Americans who sailed across the ocean to Paris to spend weeks, months, or years in the cultural capital of Europe. Paris and the French held a fascination for Americans in part for their help during the American Revolution. They also worshiped the Marquis de Lafayette for his leadership as well. Art, music, medicine, and other fields drew Americans to make the voyage for a stay in Paris. The city held another fascination for Americans as it had existed centuries before the discovery of America.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is one of the most famous autobiographies in English, certainly in America. Benjamin Franklin was not only a prominent figure in the US War of Independence, but also one of the most accomplished men of his day, well versed in several fields, and a self-made man to boot (call Central Casting – we have ourselves a Renaissance American).

In some respects, Franklin could be favorably compared to Samuel Johnson. Franklin was an auto-didact. His father, a chandler in Boston, needed his sons’ help in business, so that his sons did not receive the education in school and college for which they were all well-suited. Franklin received a lot of his education from reading material his brother James published (James had a printing press in Boston, and young Ben apprenticed there). Franklin would read the material coming to his brother’s print shop, which kept him apprised of current events. He learned the newspaper business as it was practiced at the time, and even created characters who would pen letters to the editor (taking on the persona of Silence Dogood, a God-fearing woman to comment on current events).

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

It is summer and that means Farmer’s Markets and more glorious produce than I almost know what to do with. At this time of year, there is a tried and tested book that I turn to make the most of all of the delicious things I bring home.

I discovered Deborah Madison’s book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone shortly after the 10th anniversary edition was released in 2007. Madison is well-known in the Slow Food movement and has been a long-time advocate of farm-fresh, seasonal produce and trying to reconnect people to fresh produce, the “pleasurable essential to the enjoyment of good health.”

It's time again for our Kansas City Public Library Staff Picks! Employees here at the Library have given us some of their favorite reads for the month, whether it be a new book coming out or an old favorite they've recently rediscovered.