Coming Clean

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Kimberly Rae Miller
Title: Coming Clean
Kimberly Miller’s parents were hoarders – but they were the hoarders who love her. This memoir, which takes place on Long Island, discusses her life with packrat parents who wanted the best for her but seemed physically unable to give her a childhood like all the other kids had. The clutter ruined aspects of her life and shaped the adult she would become. The book is interesting, compassionate, funny, and sad. I would recommend it for anyone.

chasing thieves and detectives through the secret world of stolen art

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Joshua Knelman
Title: Hot art : chasing thieves and detectives through the secret world of stolen art
This book gives a fascinating introduction to the subject of art theft and the shadowy world that surrounds it. Despite what one may assume, the police have little in the way of resources to solve these crimes, and the art owners and dealers seem to haven even less in the way of desire to fight the crooks. Why? One word – money. Lots and lots of money. Although this may seem counterintuitive, read this book and it will start to make sense.

Medium Raw

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Anthony Bourdain
Title: Medium Raw
Anthony Bourdain is not a chef. Surprised, huh? He comes right out and admits this. He is lot of things- ex-junkie, world traveler, gourmand, adventurer, and a cook – but he does not think of himself as a chef. You’ll learn all this and more in the essays that comprise this book. He discusses aspects of his life and issues that affect the world and food. There are times that instead of attending the Culinary Institute of America, he seems to have taken classes at the Keith Richards Kooking Kollege, majoring in sex, drugs and rock and roll, although he now claims to be a devoted family man. You decide.
P.S. Words of Warning- If you’ll be offended by rough language and graphic sexual references, pass this one up.

Learning to speak Alzheimer’s : a groundbreaking approach for everyone dealing with the disease

From Ginny Pisciotta
Author: Joanne Koenig Coste
Title: Learning to speak Alzheimer’s : a groundbreaking approach for everyone dealing with the disease
Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s is a fascinating and informative book that considers the emotional and physical well-being of both the patient and the caregiver.
There are many excellent books on the subject out there, but what I found to be unique about this one is that I felt like it actually gave me a window into the mind of the Alzheimer’s patient. Strange and seemingly random behaviors are more understandable and often even avoidable, when you learn to see things from the perspective of the Alzheimer’s patient.
The author calls her method “habilitation” which is based on entering the patient’s reality rather than trying to make them understand yours. There are 5 basics tenets to habilitation:

1. Make the physical environment work
2. Know that communication remains possible
3. Focus on Remaining Skills
4. Live in the Patient’s World
5. Enrich the Patient’s Life

The book is full of fascinating anecdotes , examples, helpful tips and suggestions, information, and resources. It gives hope to the caregiver, helping them to realize there are ways to make things a little easier, and that they can still communicate with their Alzheimer’s patients as well as enrich their lives.

A big Manhattan year : tales of competitive birding

From Jackie Cantwell
Author: David Barrett
Title: A big Manhattan year : tales of competitive birding
Most of us call the act of identifying birds in their natural environment “bird watching”. But the more serious refer to it as “birding”. And those who take birding very seriously sometimes compete with each other to have a “big year” or a “big day”, which is to spy the most birds in a given area in a certain amount of time. So the author, an Upper East Side Manhattan resident, attempted a Manhattan big year in 2012 after birding for only one year. He combined his love of training for competitive running races with his birding. Although there’s no prize awarded to the winner, one can see the totals on He details the preparation that goes into such a feat. First of all, one must buy a good pair of binoculars! One must study the physical appearances of many species and subspecies of birds, along with the bird calls they make, and how they look in flight. He partakes in guided birding walks through Central Park as well as consulting numerous websites, books, and signs up for text alerts of rare bird sightings. Migration patterns and Hurricane Sandy impacted his year greatly. His tone is conversational, and I learned about the different areas within Central Park, as well as Randall’s Island and northern Manhattan. He explains how technology such as the smartphone has aided birders tremendously. He says for the most part, birders are generous in wanting to share their knowledge and their finds. This is a truly unique glimpse into a world most of us never knew about. I dare you not to appreciate birds more after this read!

Rachel is [videorecording DVD]

From Ellen Druda
Author: Charlotte Glynn
Title: Rachel is [videorecording DVD]
Rachel is a young adult still living at home. Rachel is finishing her last year at school and trying to figure out what to do next. And like most people her age, Rachel is a frustrated, frightened, excited, half child half grown-up. What makes Rachel different is her developmental disability. This portrait of a young lady at a critical point in her life is expressed by her film maker sister, who takes us into the daily life of Rachel as she alternately rages at and depends upon her mother, Jane. While Rachel deals with school, work, friends, and boys in her world, Jane tries to figure out how to get Rachel her dream of living independently after graduation with varying degrees of success. What gives this film its heart is how very typical Rachel is, and yet how very different her disability makes her. Poignant, funny, and complex, the documentary is enlightening and sympathetic.

One doctor : close calls, cold cases, and the mysteries of medicine

From Margaret Mezzacapoa
Author: Brendan Reilly
Title: One doctor : close calls, cold cases, and the mysteries of medicine
Dr. Reilly describes his personal medical care (including a stint at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, the setting and inspiration for the TV show, “E.R.”). He also relates case histories of patients he has cared for. His stories are succinct and interesting, interspersed with his opinions on our current healthcare system. On occasion, he’ll use medical terminology and jargon, but fear not – he explains everything thoroughly. It’s an entertaining read that provides food for thought.

Old-school comfort food : the way I learned to cook

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Alex Guarnaschelli
Title: Old-school comfort food : the way I learned to cook
Chef Alex details some of her personal journeys in professional kitchens and gives recipes for each section of the book. Unfortunately, one of the classes she excelled at was, “How to take a basic recipe and make it far more complicated.” The food itself sounds appealing, but the extra steps she adds make me think that by the time I cooked it, I’d be too tired to eat it. It’s a decent read, though.

Son of a gun : a memoir

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Justin St. Germain
Title: Son of a gun : a memoir
The author’s mother was murdered when he was young. He sets out to figure out why his mother dated horrible men and married five of them. When I got to the end of the book I was still waiting for something of compelling interest to happen.

Coming to My Senses

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Pam Rice
Title: Coming to My Senses
This is a pleasant tale of a woman’s struggle to retain her beloved home and her independence in the face of a condition leading to blindness. This could be particularly interesting for anyone dealing with a physical challenge, either for themselves or an elderly parent.