Stories of childhood, bullying and the perfect pet featured at the library

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 23, 2014

Not My Father’s Son is a memoir by Alan Cumming. Dark, painful memories are often locked away in our memories until something triggers them to explode into our consciousness. Such is the case of Alan Cumming’s memories of his childhood and of his father’s rage, cruelty, and abusiveness. In 2010, television producers approached Alan about doing an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?—a television program that traces the genealogy of celebrities. Alan jumped at the chance hoping to solve the mystery of his maternal grandfather, Tommy Darling, who had disappeared into the Far East after WWII. All Alan’s mother remembered of her father was that he had been a courier, carrying information between battalions on his motorbike. She was only eight the last time she saw her father. Just before filming of the television episode, Alan’s father reconnected with him and laid bare a secret that would shock Alan and sent him on a journey that would change his life forever. This is the story of how Alan embraced the best aspects of his past and learned to put aside the darkness.

Dangerous Personalities: An FBI Profiler Shows You How to Identify and Protect Yourself From Harmful People is by Joe Navarro with Toni Sciarra Poynter. It seems that every day there is news of another tragedy—Newton, Boston Marathon, Aurora, Columbine. The officials always seem to say that “there were signs, but nobody acted.” For every one of these horrors, there are millions of smaller, more evil acts committed against ordinary people by those with dangerous personalities. They can range from the abusive boss to the toxic and manipulative spouse; from the out-of-control family member to the suspicious neighbor. You may not read about these people in the newspaper, but the damage that they cause is not less devastating on the lives of those they torment. Retired FBI agent Joe Navarro gives you the tools to spot these harmful personalities and shows you how to protect yourself and your family. Navarro, who has 25 years of experience working with counterintelligence and criminal profiling with the FBI, uses examples from history and from news headlines as well as checklists developed in his tenure in law enforcement to illustrate the complete spectrum of dangerous personalities.

Taking the Lead: Lessons from a Life in Motion is a memoir by Derek Hough. If you have ever seen the immensely popular show Dancing with the Stars, then you are sure to recognize the show’s all-time champion, Derek Hough. He began his training in London at the age of twelve and went on to compete in grueling dance competitions all around the world. Eventually, he landed the coveted Dancing with the Stars job. Whether he is dancing with an Olympic gold medalist, an internationally renowned recording artist, or a celebrated actress, Derek is a consummate competitor whose skill and commitment have led to his success. In this book, he opens up about his childhood as a bullied little boy and how he transformed himself into an accomplished performer and coach who refuses to let anything stand in his way. Derek chronicles how his experiences have taught him to embrace a positive outlook, to channel his creativity, and to face his fears head-on.

Surviving Henry: Adventures in Loving a Canine Catastrophe is by Erin Taylor Young. Choosing a new pet for the family is a difficult process. Do you get a rescue dog? How about a cat? Then, you finally decide you just have to have a puppy. You don’t always know what you are getting, though. Your hope is for laughs and cuddles, long walks and wagging tails. Sometimes, however, you wind up with a dog like Henry. Erin Taylor Young chronicles how she and her family brought a boxer puppy home and found out that he “suffers from Supreme Dictator of the Universe Syndrome.” Henry vandalizes his obedience school, leaps through windows, and cheats death at every turn. He also really hates ducks. Above all, Henry causes his long-suffering owner Erin to wonder why God would send such an obstinate and destructive creature into her life. But this rough-housing brute of a dog wasn’t sent just to torment her. Erin learns from Henry the power of truly unconditional love.

The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America’s Coldest Cases is a book by Deborah Halber. Today, in America, it is estimated that upwards of forty-thousand people are dead and unaccounted for. The remains of these missing persons are stored for years, sometimes decades in the back rooms of coroners’ facilities and county morgues. These children, spouses, siblings, and friends are waiting for someone to piece together the circumstances surrounding their deaths and ultimately solve the mystery of who they were and to whom they belong. These unsolved cases are overlooked by law enforcement officials who are constantly inundated with newer cases with better clues, so it falls on a new breed of amateur detectives to adopt these cases and see them through to the end. These aspiring Sherlock Holmes’s are most often civilians armed with nothing more than an Internet connection and a keen interest in cold cases. They pour over facial reconstructions, news items, and other online clues as they race to beat out the police—and one another. There is rarely any financial compensation for this work, and very little recognition; most of these sleuths are connected only through online forums, and law enforcement considers them a nuisance or worse. However more and more crimes are being solved by these “DIY CSI’s.”

Evangeline Cessna is a history librarian at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library.

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