72. Losing My Cool, by Thomas Chatterton Williams. This was an interesting autobiography, one that offers insights on the pervasive influence of the hip-hop culture. Williams even subscribed to many of the negative ideals taught by the culture, but credits his father's early influence and insistence that Williams study hard (even in the summer he assigned his two sons homework and reading material) and go to college in making him an eventual success. Williams described his college years as an awakening for him, as he discovered new and better ways of thinking. Williams also goes into the segregation and treatment his father had to face under Jim Crow, and how he worked to give his sons chances he never had.
73. It Came From Ohio, by James Renner. I would have never pictured Ohio as a hot spot for paranormal activity (the Mansfield Reformatory notwithstanding), but this book is filled with short stories strange goings on in the Buckeye state. The stories range from well-documented to the campfire story told to scare new campers, and all are pretty entertaining. Each short story also has asides, set off in a gray box, related in some way to the main story. Most people are familiar with the Mothman legends, courtesy of the movie "The Mothman Prophecies." Lesser known stories include the Loveland frogs, the Mellon heads, werewolf sightings, Bigfoot sightings and even a couple well-documented UFO sightings (one of which inspired the UFO chase scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A quick and entertaining read for those interested in the more unusual aspects of Ohio's history.
74. Charlie's Gingerbread House, by Melissa Staehli and Amy Rottinger. This is a very cute, whimsical picturebook aimed at preschool and early gradeschool. The large, vibrant pictures and simple text follows the adventures of a mouse, Charlie, who stumbles across a gingerbread house. He munches his way through the sweets until the house is no more. This will appeal to childrens' imaginations. Who among us haven't dreamed of finding a lifesize Gingerbread house, a la Hansel and Gretel, and dining on the sugary goodness (without the Wicked Witch, of course!)
75. Faith and You, vol. 2, by Terry Pluto. Terry Pluto is a local sports columnist who also writes a regular column on faith and religion. This is an interesting read for people of all faiths - whether they be athiest or agnostic, Muslim, Jewish or Christian. Pluto never comes across as preachy and he tells from the beginning that his columns are not meant to convert people, but rather to make them think. He covers a lot of family aspects - marriage, relationships with parents, frienships, as well as issues of jealousy, handling a crisis such as the school shootings or a diagnosis of illness. His writing style flows well and is easy to read, very conversational. He shares many anecdotes from his life - his relationship with his parents (especially his father), and his wife, and is not ashamed to confess his personal shortcomings. A side note, he is a very popular author. When I was done reading this book for an article, two coworkers asked to borrow my review copy.
76. Damn Right I'm From Cleveland, by Mike Polk. This is a very tongue in cheek "travelers guide" for Cleveland, really meant for the residents already here and familiar with this city's quirks and foibles. The author, a comedian who is known for his Hastily Made Tourism Video and Factory of Sadness video on YouTube, this time decides to write a book, complete with a lot of pictures and graphics, detailing Cleveland lowlights. He includes information on low moments in Cleveland sports (the funniest segment; he has his friends recreate the scenes), cheap dating tips, local bars and more. It's a quick read and pretty funny, and most Northeast Ohioans will nod and chuckle at the satire. Fair warning - keep this out of the hands of the kiddies. The humor is very adult (and at times a bit sophomoric).
77. Young and Courageous, by Marilyn Seguin. Grade schoolers looking for an idea for history figure to profile - or anyone interested in history - will enjoy this collection of short stories that briefly relate young women who, in their own way, make their mark on history. The stories are fictionalized and documented, and the author includes a brief afterwards on each person and their life following the events that made their mark. Most people will know the story of Sacagawea, who helped Lewis and Clark navigate the new American territories. Lesser known stories include the tale of sisters Abbie and Rebecca Bates, who managed to fool an entire British army, during the Revolutionary war. Or the story of Belle Boyd, a Confederate spy who risked jail and even getting shot. Or Minnie Freeman, a young schoolteacher who risked her life to save her students when a freak snowstorm struck the area.
78. Heroes of the Negro Leagues, by Mark Chiarello and Jack Morelli. In the 1990s, watercolor artist Mark Chiarelli made a series of baseball cards dedicated to the players who played in the Negro Leagues. The images of these cards have been compiled into a book, along with brief profiles of the players who played the sport during a time when the Major Leagues did not accept black players (indeed, one of the profiles includes Frank Grant, who was was named the Best Player in Buffalo History for his Major League playing - before being shown the door). There are 60 profiles in all, ranging from well-known greats such as Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays and Satchel Paige to those who might not be as well known. This is a good book for reluctant readers; the bios are short, barely a page, and the watercolor renderings of the players are gorgeous. This book also includes a DVD, Only The Ball Was White, which I plan to check out in the future.