Grab a Blanket and a Book this Winter

Mark Monmonier
Syracuse University Press

’Tis the season for lake-effect snow – the light, fluffy and relatively-easy-to-shovel snow that can seriously disrupt the daily routines of those who live in this region. With less water content than regular snow, lake-effect snow is deposited by narrow bands of clouds formed when cold, dry Arctic air passes over large, relatively warm inland lakes like the Great Lakes. This region is one of the few places where lake effect is produced.

Mark Monmonier, a Syracuse University geography professor, delivers a thorough and comprehensive overview of the subject, with the occasional touch of humor. The author wrote this book for two audiences: “Great Lakes residents who want to understand the lake-effect phenomenon and its implications more fully, and nonresidents misinformed by a media stereotype of ceaselessly brutal winters.”

The book explores the basic physics of lake-effect snow and the slow cartographic recognition of lake-effect snow as a distinctive meteorological phenomenon. It examines the evolution of forecasting strategies along with societal effects and coping strategies. Monmonier investigates the collection and use of snowfall data, and questions the national obsession with extreme weather.

With ample, easy-to-read maps and diagrams, this is the perfect book for true fans of meteorology and those folks who just want to learn more about this form of precipitation.


Bruce A. Austin
Printing Applications Laboratory
Photography by A. Sue Weisler

At the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in the fall of 2012, two galleries exhibited the work of Frans Wildenhain (1905-1980), an internationally recognized artist best known for ceramics. This 256-page catalog to accompany the exhibit features chapters on the artist and related topics.

Wildenhain was the last student to enter the Bauhaus Pottery in Germany in 1925. He came to RIT in 1950 as one of the founding professors of the School of American Craftsmen. RIT owns the largest Wildenhain collection in the world thanks to a donation by Robert Bradley Johnson – the book concludes with an interview with the donor. Bruce Austin, a professor in RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, organized the exhibition, and penned an insightful biography of the charismatic artist. He also wrote an essay on Shop One, a retail outlet initiated in the 1950s by Wildenhain and three colleagues to sell handcrafted objects in Rochester.

A scholarly chapter by Becky Simmons chronicles the School for American Craftsmen at RIT, which is today considered the nation’s leading crafts school. Studio Pottery after World War II is explored by contributor Jonathan Clancy.

Copiously illustrated with photographs of Wildenhain’s sculptures, ranging from his earthenware pots to ceramic murals, this handsome book will appeal to devotees of the artist, ceramics, marketing of crafts at mid-20th century and their connection to RIT.


William and Mary Lewis
Publish America
Softcover & e-book

The authors invite readers to “get off the interstates and drive through the heartland on U.S. 20.” They acknowledge some disadvantages to leaving the interstates, but make a compelling argument for traveling part of the older road’s 3,365-mile route, which spans from coast-to-coast, beginning in Boston, Massachusetts, and ending in Newport, Oregon. Enjoying the countryside and saving money otherwise spent on tolls are two advantages awaiting those traveling this predominately two-lane highway.

This is the third book in the series of the Lewis’ historical travel guides. The two previous books covered Massachusetts and Eastern New York. Volume III covers 211 miles through 28 cities, towns, villages and hamlets beginning with Skaneateles (Onondaga County) and ending with Forsyth and Ripley (Chautauqua County). The authors offer a short micro-history of each community along the way.

This reviewer had the pleasure of meeting the authors who reside in Oregon where U.S. 20 ends. Their enthusiasm for the subject during a public presentation was infectious, and translates into their writing style as they dole out bite-size pieces of the rich history of the communities located along the highway. Their detailed descriptions of landmarks, businesses and the scenery are sure to make some drivers put aside their GPS.


Susan U. Lange
Yates Heritage Tours Project LLC

Small towns in the Finger Lakes region lend themselves to walking. There may be less traffic, and the history of a community may be contained within an easily negotiated area. This walking tour goes well beyond the brochure often found at visitors’ centers. It is a fully illustrated, spiral bound book filled with detailed information about the village of Penn Yan.

Historic buildings and their styles are described, as well as how they’ve changed over time. Has wood been replaced by brick? Does a building’s use today vary from its original purpose?

The 192-page book also contains a timeline of events “to keep track of what was happening when each building was constructed.” A brief introductory history of Penn Yan’s early years from the village’s beginning into the 1930s, a map of Main Street indicating where buildings appear, and illustrations featuring old postcards, as well as archival and newer photographs, make for a compact and attractive reference.

A Children’s Scavenger Hunt at the back of the book is aimed at children less than 12 years of age. Once completed, it can be exchanged for a free copy of Historic Penn Yan, A Coloring and Activity Book at Longs’ Cards and Books at 115 Main Street – where, at one time, stood an opera house!


Bob Ritter

Cancer is never easy to talk about, whether it is a personal diagnosis or that of a loved one. Speaking to family, friends, a mere acquaintance or even health professionals can be daunting. After treatment, when the future can still be uncertain, conversations may remain awkward. This book aims to improve communication and to avoid tiptoeing around the “elephant in the room.”

Bob Ritter writes from personal experience having been diagnosed with breast cancer, something that is uncommon in men. The book is a compilation of columns on living with cancer he wrote over the course of five years for the Ithaca Journal. It will raise funds for the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes in Ithaca where he serves as its executive director. The organization provides support, information and a sense of community for those affected by cancer in Tompkins County.

This thoughtful, concisely written title examines themes such as survivor’s guilt, the after-treatment blahs and cancer as a chronic disease. Ritter tackles typical reactions and suggests alternatives. Encouragement from others to “stay positive” actually makes him cringe, writes Ritter. It may be better to acknowledge and share in the person’s sadness on down days when dealing with cancer. “Doing so makes an honest connection,” continues Ritter, now 16 years past the diagnosis that has shaped his life.


John Robert Allen
Softcover & e-book

This historical novel focuses on the fictitious Wallace Paine who grew to prominence in the early 20th century. Opening with his death in 1919, the reader is drawn back into this man’s world and his remarkable rise to power and wealth.

First-time author and former teacher, John Robert Allen, artfully connects the protagonist with dramatic events like the assassination of President William McKinley in Buffalo in 1901. Wallace, an ambitious person of modest upbringing, appears driven to succeed. While his business acumen is evident from an early age, his relationships and love interests are complicated. His passion for new technology, like Ford’s automobiles, puts him at odds with his father, a livery stable owner who resists the modern world his son embraces.

Wallace’s business career takes him to Rochester, Buffalo and Geneva in the Finger Lakes region. In his efforts to become a millionaire, he is drawn into international dealings that are both illegal and treacherous.

The history buff will delight in the attention to period detail and the real-life personalities, such as George Eastman, who are woven into the plot. The “house of many windows” in the book’s title refers to the dream home built by Wallace in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect he so greatly admired. The home is actually based on the author’s Geneva home.


David Moore
Create Space
Softcover & e-book

David Moore’s debut novel traces the passage into adulthood of a boy who is dealing with both emotional pain and a larger moral dilemma. The year is 1962. The reader is quickly drawn into the youngster’s troubled world in the fictional Upstate New York village of Stonebridge. Alex Spencer, a 13-year-old altar boy, discovers by accident that Father Francis, his parish priest, is seducing a female parishioner. Alex, already
grieving the loss of his father, is shocked, and events are soon set in motion that will forever change his life.

Themes of loss, vengeance, faith, love and forgiveness are intertwined in a compelling story. Even after leaving Stonebridge, the ramifications of the secret he witnessed haunt the youthful protagonist who harbors resentment toward the priest he once admired. Well-educated – thanks to his wealthy grandparents – he is attracted to a career in the political world of the 1960s. But his success does not eradicate the vengeance he seeks for the cleric.

Interesting characters that are allied with Alex include a love interest from his hometown and a quirky boarding school roommate. The sinister Father Francis attains even greater power and has influence over the lives of others, including Alex’s friends. To resolve this quandary, the author skillfully twists the plot toward a dramatic outcome.

by Laurel C. Wemett

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