PT Bookshelf

Need something good to read? Recent releases investigate Viagra, children in ballet school, mazes, criminal profiling, Buddhism and the pursuit of encyclopedic knowledge.

By PT Staff, published on November 1, 2004 - last reviewed on January 21, 2005

The Rise of Viagra: How the Little Blue Pill Changed Sex
in America

By Meika Loe (New York University Press)

Ads and spam tell us that 36-hour-long erections are the
key to

self-esteem for men, while the search for a "female
Viagra" promises to cure the other half of humanity.
Sociologist Loe documents the

discoveries and the hype that is Viagra's legacy -- from
physician Giles Brindley dropping his pants to show hundreds of
colleagues his chemically induced erection in 1983 to Bob
Dole's confessions. In the process, Loe challenges drug
companies' definitions of normal sex and normal aging.

The Unending Mystery: A Journey Through Labyrinths and

By David Willis McCullough (Pantheon)

McCullough presents an engrossing look at the mythologies
and symbolism inherent in mazes and labyrinths. Using
dissections of some of the world's most famous mazes from
ancient sites in the Mediterranean to modern manifestations in
the South Bronx, McCullough is able to maintain curiosity and
interest throughout his deeply detailed and academic
investigation of the enigmatic world of mazes.

Attitude! Eight Young Dancers Come of Age at The Ailey

By Katharine Davis Fishman (Jeremy P.

From The Red Shoes to Billy Elliot, dancers who leap
their way toward their dreams always pull heartstrings. Fishman
tracks students at the prestigious Ailey School and teases
apart factors in their creative development, such as raw talent
and familial support. The intrinsic joy of expression is what
these offbeat kids share: After a rigorous ballet rehearsal, a
group of boys spontaneously breaks into a Charleston riff and
then bursts into applause -- for themselves and for one

Profilers: Leading Investigators Take You Inside the
Criminal Mind

John H. Campbell and Don DeNevi, eds. (Prometheus)

It's TV in book form! Sort of. Profilers covers the same
ground as Court TV and popular crime programs like CSI, but
with a drier approach: This volume can read too much like an
average psychology text book. Still, those intrigued by
autoerotic murders, eye-gouging attacks and fire-setting
firefighters will find plenty of fascinating detail about how
law enforcement tackles these crimes.

The Know-it-all: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the
Smartest Person in the World

By A.J. Jacobs (Simon & Schuster)

An intellectual dilettante decides to educate himself by
reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, then writes this
book in A-Z format to document his painful progress. Jacobs
weaves together odd facts and deft humor into a narrative
thread: He and his wife want a child, and the book is as much a
story of their hopes and frustrations as it is a catalog of
knowledge. It's a pleasure to read -- and you might learn

Adventures with the Buddha:

A Buddhism Reader

Jeffery Paine, ed. (W.W. Norton & Company)

Spanning from 1920s Tibet to the present-day United
States, Paine's collection follows the spiritual travels of
nine Westerners as each learns the Buddhist way of life. Though
easily digestible, it sheds rare insight into the struggles of
four women who help make Buddhism accessible for non-Asians,
including one U.S. teen taught by the Dalai Lama and later
ordained as a Buddhist nun.