Books in the Park

suggestions from the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library at Pinellas Park

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Out of My Later Years, by Albert Einstein

out-of-my-later-years-einsteinThe contents of this book are a compilation of Albert Einstein’s articles, addresses, assorted papers, and letters published posthumously and edited by the Einstein estate. These accessible essays provide a glimpse into the inner workings of Einstein’s famous mind. Topics covered include: the self, moral decay, morals and emotions, and the goal of human existence.

A portrait of trials, tribulations, and understanding, Out of My Later Years conveys the insight of the modern world’s most celebrated intellectual on a range of societal topics, many of which remain relevant today.

Before or after you watch National Geographic’s Genius, this collection will help further illustrate that this man knew much, not just about the physics of the universe, but also about the inner workings of the universe’s most minor denizens.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Out of My Later Years.

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Letters from an American Farmer, by J. Hector St. John

letters from an american farmerHector St. John de Crevecoeur, an emigrant French aristocrat-turned-farmer, provides an “everyday life” account about the emerging United States.

The year was 1765 in Orange County, New York. After having acquired his citizenship, de Crevecoeur became a landowner. His property generated both a food staple and a “literary staple.” In a series of observant and erudite letters, he interprets the development of American society.

Letters from an American Farmer paints a vivid portrait of the young country, not only detailing the hardships of frontier living but the perilous unrest that existed between fanatical patriots, back-country loyalists and plantation culture in the south.

“For many [Europeans], his essays offered the first major impressions of the American landscapes, the people, the institutions, and the problems that stood in the way of making one nation out of the diverse former colonies.”

For a glimpse into “everyday life” from 18th century America and general colonial history, Letters from an American Farmer provides candid insight.

As a work in the Public Domain, Letters from an American Farmer is available as a free download from

Check the PPLC Catalog for a physical copy of Letters from an American Farmer.

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Hello Goodbye Hello, by Craig Brown

hello goodbye hello coverHello Goodbye Hello tells how the celebrated, gifted, and despicable got along famously, disastrously, or indifferently with each other. Author and satirist Craig Brown describes true encounters of the famous meeting the famous such as:

Marilyn Monroe meets Nikita Krushchev
President Richard Nixon meets Elvis Presley
Salvador Dali meets Sigmund Freud
The Duchess of Windsor meets Adolf Hitler
Mark Twain meets Helen Keller
Madonna meets Michael Jackson

With his usual wit, Craig Brown adds more coincidence to these tales: “…To lend a pattern to a book that revolves around chance and to insert a note of order into the otherwise haphazard, I have described each of the 101 meetings in exactly 1001 words, which makes Hello Goodbye Hello 101,101 words long. The acknowledgements, prefacing notes, note to the U.S. edition, book description, authors biography, and the list of my other books each consist of 101 words, as does this note.”

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Before Your Dog Can Eat Your Homework, First You Have to Do It by John O’Hurley

Before Your Dog Can Eat Your Homework First You Have to Do It coverWho are you? On the surface it’s a seemingly innocent question that O’Hurley attempts to answer.

As in It’s Okay to Miss the Bed on the First Jump, O’Hurley again shares pearls of wisdom from the life lessons he has learned. The anecdotes range from whimsical to solemn. A one sided conversation with his young son William allows O’Hurley to delve into everyday situations.

“Yes, life can change in an instant, and sometimes life is unexpectedly unfair. It is not what happens to us in life; it is what we do about it… the unfairness of rejection is simply protection in disguise.”

“To accept a goal means you accept the responsibility of preparing for its accomplishment.”

“The paradox of this dream of inadequacy is that, it only occurs in the minds of people who want to succeed. Underachievers sleep peacefully.”

“We claim not to have time, when, ironically, time is all we truly have.”

Who are you? The question is as simple as it is profound.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Before Your Dog Can Eat Your Homework, First You Have to Do It.

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It’s Okay to Miss the Bed on the First Jump by John O’Hurley

it's okay to miss the bed ohurley coverLife’s lessons learned via unusual circumstances. What might a person learn from everyday occurrences?  What are our goals? Where are we now? Within the pages of It’s Okay to Miss the Bed on the First Jump, O’Hurley recollects instances and insights gained from daily interactions. The interpretations range in complexity. Moments from the laughable to touching are deciphered throughout the publication.

O’Hurley examines common life “struggles” from attachment to detachment, from self assurance to doubt, and from consistency to change. Preparation meeting opportunity sparks the initiative to begin the process of change. All too often “we agree with the status quo rather than expand the energy it takes to evoke change.” Change is difficult for many of us. It is the “leap of faith” that can and does propel personal and professional progress.

O’Hurley’s premise throughout is introspection. A resonating and poignant question he asks: “At what point do our imaginations stop entertaining us and actually instruct us?”

The answer lies within…

Check the PPLC Catalog for It’s Okay to Miss the Bed on the First Jump.

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Clapton by Eric Clapton

clapton coverIt has been said that music is the soundtrack of our lives. By knowing exactly where you were, what you were doing, and who was present when you heard a particular tune reaffirms the influence music has in everyday life. Eric Clapton has been deemed an icon within the music industry, and his autobiography is an insightful look at his life in his own words.

Quotes from the book:

“…I have always believed that music in itself is a powerful enough agent to cause change, and that sometimes words, or agendas, can get in the way.”

“…[Blues music] has its own scale, its own laws and traditions, and its own language. In my view it’s a celebration of triumph over adversity, full of humor, double entendre, and irony, and it’s very rarely, if ever, depressing to listen to. It can be, and usually is, the most uplifting music you will ever hear.”

“…Music will always find its way to us, with or without business, politics, or religion. Music survives everything, and like God, it is always present.”

Clapton writes with candid honesty from telling of his lowest points as well as his highest, even recounting missed opportunities. Eric Clapton provides a glimpse into the window of musician stardom with all the vicissitudes of life.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Clapton.

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Zero, by Charles Seife

zero seife coverZero and infinity, can you have one without the other? Is there a cause and effect relationship between the two?

The author provides a lucid history of the number zero, illustrating its many embodiments as a symbol, a tool, and a concept. To utilize zero, to ignore zero, or even to refuse zero is the challenge set before many civilizations. “The Babylonians invented it, the Greeks banned it, the Hindus worshiped it, and the Christian Church used it to fend off heretics.” When the concept of zero finally arrived, it changed everything. Sefie argues that the power of zero lies in its contradiction as something and nothing combined, and civilizations throughout the ages have struggled with it, alternatively seeking to ban it and embrace it. “The clash led to holy wars and persecutions, philosophical disputes, and profound scientific discoveries.”

In addition to offering fascinating historical perspectives, Seife’s prose provides readers who struggled through math and science a clear window for seeing both the powerful techniques of calculus and the conundrums of modern physics.

One must read Seife’s recount of events to truly appreciate the power of zero.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Zero.