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The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger

The dramatic story of the shipping container and the innovation that made globalization possible, by economist Mark Levinson. 

Fa7b4b43 tiny Inna Guzenfeld for engineering and transportation
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Chainbreaker Bike Book: A Rough Guide to Bicycle Maintenance (DIY)

The first half is a friendly, readable manual for basic bike maintenance and repair. The second half is a compilation of a series of zines (called Chainbreaker) about all things bike. The zine was written by a (female) bike mechanic from New Orleans.

1b8271aa tiny Laurel Leckert
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The Accidental Playground: Brooklyn Waterfront Narratives of the Undesigned and Unplanned

This engaging account traces the evolution of the former Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal, documenting the people, stories, and activities that populated the Williamsburg waterfront from the early nineties to the post-2000 development boom. 

Fa7b4b43 tiny Inna Guzenfeld
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Recycling Reconsidered: The Present Failure and Future Promise of Environmental Action in the United States (Urban and Industrial Environments)

This book is a critical examination of recycling in the Unites States since the 1970s. MacBride argues that recycling has not achieved the goals of the environmental movement, but has instead shifted the responsibility of waste prevention from industry to consumers and municipalities. Required reading for anyone with a compelling interest in the subject. 

Fa7b4b43 tiny Inna Guzenfeld
6d1dba62 tiny Mickey Davis for agriculture, cooking, organic, and history
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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

What I consider the best read of all time. A game changer!

6d1dba62 tiny Mickey Davis for history, Pop Culture, and nutrition
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Fat of the Land: Garbage of New York -- The Last Two Hundred Years

The definitive history of solid waste management in New York City, written by a former director of policy for the Department of Sanitation. An engaging account of the politics of garbage collection and waste disposal filled with insalubrious stories and controversial characters. Currently out of print. 

Fa7b4b43 tiny Inna Guzenfeld for nyc, recycling, Environmental Science, Waste Management, department of sanitation, and Garbage
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Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

The Japanese concept of wabi-sabi is intrinsic to everything I make, but especially kokedama. This book gives a beautifully detailed and thorough explanation of the very-hard-to-define concept, which is related to the appreciation of the imperfections of natural beauty.

9a124ac9 tiny Anna Macoboy for Arts, crafts, philosophy, Aestetics, and japan
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From Beirut to Jerusalem

The book is essentially split into two parts. The first discusses the politics of the Arab world, particularly those of autocratic Arab rulers and how they rule domestically. The second discusses the politics of Israel and how it acts both internally and with its neighbors. Though somewhat dated, it is a great introduction to the sociology of Israel and Arab countries and explains the trends and societal factors at play. The particular lens of the book is through the Lebanon civil war, which is fascinating in and of itself.

Missing Jordan J for middle east, history, and politics
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Concrete Crafts: Making Modern Accessories for the Home and Garden

This is a great introductory book for concreting. The author takes you step by step through a whole range of projects and clearly explains all the basics of concreting, plus provides a range of different formulas for concrete mixes. I refer to it all the time!

9a124ac9 tiny Anna Macoboy for Concrete, Concreting, Home and Garden, and crafts
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A History of the Modern Middle East

An easy-to-read comprehensive history to the Middle East from the 1800s to today. Delves deeply yet understandably into the nuances of each country in the region, without bias. Provides all the necessary historical background to those who seek to understand the politics of the Middle East today.

Missing Jordan J for history, middle east, and islam
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Morning Glory: A Biography of Mary Lou Williams

Mary Lou Williams was singular. The most important woman in jazz history, though her contributions are almost completely overlooked. This biography digs deep into her personal and spiritual life and rescues her reputation as one of jazz's most important composers and arrangers.

58ef2454 tiny Christopher Bussmann for jazz, history, Biography, and nyc
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Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast: A Field Guide

This is a lovely color photo field guide to city weeds, or spontaneous urban plants, by botanist and lecturer Peter del Tredici, who argues in an inspiring and logical introduction that the plants ""naturally"" growing in a city are those requiring the least resources to maintain, the weeds. Del Tredici makes a case for cultivating beautiful, sustainable urban landscapes using the wildflowers already abundant around us, then curates an excellent field guide for identifying them.

Or you could use Michael Pollan's review below, which I copied from Amazon.com:

""Peter Del Tredici has written one of those rare books that completely overturns the way you look at the landscape—in this case, the landscape of the city's derelict cracks and corners, which in his hands becomes a place of unusual interest, value, and beauty. Though ostensibly a field guide, this book is much more than that—it offers a deep and wise reconsideration of our most cherished ideas about nature. You will never look at an 'invasive species' the same way again.""—Michael Pollan, author of The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore's Dilemma"

4fdba1ac tiny Rae Winkelstein for crafts, hobbies, gardening, landscaping, home, encyclopedia, and nyc
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Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original

The definitive biography of Thelonious Monk is a bracing look at a 20th Century iconoclast and goes beyond jazz to focus on the great historical and cultural implications of Monk's work and jazz's tortuous relationship with mainstream culture and the civil rights movement. A penetrating look at an often mysterious figure whose music is still misunderstood.

58ef2454 tiny Christopher Bussmann for jazz
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Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year, Expanded Edition

Fantastic story about a fantastic teacher who gets burned out after a year or so. She has great alternative titles for major subject names, among many other great ideas intertwined in her story.

8816ba6f tiny Vincenzo LaRuina for teaching and education
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AIA Guide to New York City

Great reference for those curious about architecture in NYC

64244e8d tiny Stephen Dargo for new york city and architecture
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Basta de historias!: La obsesión latinoamericana con el pasado y las 12 claves del futuro (Vintage Espanol) (Spanish Edition)

So, this one is for all the Spanish speakers out there because there is unfortunately no English translation.

However, it is a great book about a journalist who traveled the world to examine educational systems in different countries (India, Israel, South Korea -- to name a few) in order to compare them to that of Latin American countries and figure out why L.A. is so behind when other countries with an equally large (or larger) population living in poverty are advancing.

Very well written and extremely interesting! 

Ed418885 tiny Marianna Breytman for journalism, spanish, and education
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Russ & Daughters: Reflections and Recipes from the House That Herring Built

A great book about the amazing institution that is Russ & Daughters -- the Jewish appetizing store on the Lower East Side.

It talks about the history of the store, how the Lower East Side has changed with different populations moving in and out, and also includes recipes! 

Ed418885 tiny Marianna Breytman for history, food history, and lower east side
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The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition

Consider this your primer for writing and editing in English. It's a quick read and still highly relevant. 

F40ce79e tiny Grace Duggan for writing and editing
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The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English

Clark takes a great approach toward pesky grammar points. This is an engaging, interesting, and highly informative read. 

F40ce79e tiny Grace Duggan
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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Vintage International)

A book about running, and writing. Murakami took up running and writing at the same time, and he puts the two activities side by side. A totally lovely read.

28c7e1da tiny Dory Kornfeld for marathons, running, and murakami
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The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition

This is the book to buy if you are looking for an American English style guide and don't have one already dictated by your job or field. It has answers to every style question you'll have -- and online forums for new style needs that come up along the way.

F40ce79e tiny Grace Duggan
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Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats

I love everything I've made from here, especially the fudgesicles and pop tarts. Definitely chock full of good rainy day projects. 

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The Chinese Takeout Cookbook: Quick and Easy Dishes to Prepare at Home

We're lucky to have Diana as a teacher at the Brainery, and even if you can't take a class, I'd highly recommend her cookbook. The best scallion pancakes ever, amongst a million other great recipes!

A69143a5 tiny Jen Messier for cooking, chinese food, diana kuan, dumplings, and wontons
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Uncommon Carriers

These are long, long essays by McPhee, most of which were originally published in The New Yorker on a topic I never really thought about before: how things get from one place to another.

There're essays on long-haul truckers, UPS sorting facilities, and tow boats on the Illinois River, to name a few. An awesome primer on the Way Things Work. 

travel and transportation