Book Review: Hollywood Rides a Bike

Hollywood Rides a Bike: Cycling with the Stars, by Steven Rea, Angel City Press, 160 pp., $20.

Take a ride back in time and pay homage to classic wheels. Steven Rea, film critic for the Philadelphia INquirer and professor at Drexel University, initially took his love for cinema and cycling to the internet in NOvember 2010 with the Tumblr "Rides a Bike." After developing cult-like following, Rea has brought this fascinating collection to print, providing a great glimpse into the bike culture of Hollywood's finest. Boasting high quality, mostly black and white photos, as well as a bikes and stars index, Hollywood Rides a Bike is a timeless treasure to add to your collection. -- Liz Pacheco

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Wine to Water: A Bartender’s Quest to Bring Clean Water to the World

Wine to Water A Bartender’s Quest to Bring Clean Water to the World by Doc Hendley (Avery, 288 pp., $26, January 2012)In 2004, Doc Hendley was a bartender and a bit of a partier in Raleigh, N.C. But an encounter with a family friend whose husband worked for an international aid organization set his life on a different course. Using his experience in the bartending industry, Hendley launched a series of wine tasting events to fund clean water projects. However, instead of donating the funds, Hendley traveled to Africa and witnessed the water crisis firsthand.
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Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves From the Automobile

Straphanger Saving Our Cities and Ourselves From the Automobile by Taras Grescoe (Times, 336 pp., $25, April 2012)Across the globe, car-centric urban planning has wreaked havoc on many a city. In Straphanger, Taras Grescoe explores this problem by traveling on public transportation in cities like Tokyo, Copenhagen, Los Angeles and even Philadelphia. He interviews people involved in the movement to create affordable, sustainable urban transportation. Part urban history and part travel narrative, Grescoe shows how transit defines cities—from the endless highways of Phoenix, the city with no downtown, to the rapid transit of Bogota, Columbia, which has expressway lanes and large, clean bus stops.
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Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America

Fool Me Twice Fighting the Assault on Science in America by Shawn Lawrence Otto (Rodale, 380 pp., $24.99, October 2011)In Fool Me Twice, Shawn Lawrence Otto narrates the evolution of science in America. His story begins with the beliefs of the founding Puritans and leads all the way to the climate-change and evolution deniers who influence policy today. Otto explains how the government, our politics and the media have prevented the public from understanding the science critical to solving our greatest challenges. The book is both heart-wrenching and empowering because the nation’s future depends on science—its observation, facts, innovation and creativity—and not the rhetoric with which it’s now so closely associated.
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Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans

Avery, 358 pp., $26 written by Capt. Charles Moore with Cassandra Phillips reviewed by Katherine SilkaitisWhen Capt. Charles Moore set sail from Honolulu in 1997, he and his crew stumbled upon a floating phenomenon. Estimated at two million square miles, the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre is home to nearly three million tons of plastic debris. Here marine life share space with fishing nets, glow sticks and oyster spacer pipes as well as more mundane detritus of modern life, like pens, coffee stirrers and plastic bags.
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High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky

Farrar. Straus and Giroux, 339 pp., $29.95 written by Joshua David and Robert Hammond l reviewed by Katherine Silkaitis

When New York City’s High Line opened in June 2009, it was the culmination of a decade’s worth of work spearheaded by two unlikely West Side residents. Joshua David, a travel journalist, and Robert Hammond, an entrepreneur, both wanted the city’s unused elevated freight line—which ran uninterrupted for more than 15 blocks—to be saved and repurposed, instead of torn down. High Line is David and Hammond’s story in their own words, accompanied by images of the High Line after its construction in the 1930s, its abandonment in the 1980s, and its rebirth as a public park.

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Book Review: Seeds of Discent

Seeds of Discent
by Nic Esposito
(Bobcat Coveside Books, 300 pp., $20, March 2011)

The descent of plant roots into Philadelphia’s trashed soils is the most essential dissent against America’s failing economy, especially when these roots grow food, says author Nic Esposito. A 28-year-old West Philly farmer, Esposito’s first novel, Seeds of Discent, appears inspired by, if not a reflection of, his personal experiences. The fictional story features West Philadelphia Millennials serving the planet by rebuilding cities greenward. They fill vacant lots, roofs and walls with food. They live simply, for this future. Philadelphia’s urban farmers exhibit daily heroism, by defying social pressures to succeed as consumers. Yet instead of becoming competitive, they courageously love one another for their shared vision.

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Book Review: Shucked

Shucked: Life on a New England Oyster Farm
by Erin Byers Murray
(St. Martin’s Press, 368 pp., $24.99, October 2011)

Boston-based journalist Erin Byers Murray quit her full-time job as a lifestyle reporter to go work on an oyster farm. Shucked is both a personal memoir of the physical, emotional, and mental challenges she faced to succeed at her new job, and a look at the day-to-day, year-round operations of Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, Ma.

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Book Review: Rambunctious Garden

Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World
by Emma Marris
Bloomsbury Publishing (2011), $25

"Rambunctious gardening is proactive and optimistic; it creates more and more nature as it goes, rather than just building walls around the nature we have left,” proclaims author Emma Marris in the first chapter of Rambunctious Garden.

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Book Review: The Neighborhood Project

The Neighborhood Project: Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time
by David Sloan Wilson
Little Brown (2011), $25.99

In David Sloan Wilson’s fifth book, the evolutionary biologist chronicles his attempt to use Darwin’s theory of evolution to improve the quality of life in his town of Binghamton, N.Y. It’s an ambitious goal, especially since the concept is a bit vague and obscure. What do Darwin and evolution have to do with the well-being of cities and individuals?

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MEDIA: Planetwalker by John Francis

When you walk the walk like John Francis, you don’t necessarily need to talk the talk. Planetwalker: 17 Years of Silence, 22 Years of Walking is the true story of a native Philadelphian who, after witnessing a devastating 1971 California oil spill, chose to abstain from all motorized transportation. Instead, Francis walked. When his walking led to arguments with those who did not understand his beliefs, he gave up using his voice, as well

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