Check It Out: Lies on the bookshelf

Numerous novels and nonfiction books depict aspects of deception, trickery and illusion. Here are a few samples of books that debunk the idea that "what you see is what you get."

"Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil" by Tom Mueller

Olive oil, a symbol of purity due to its medicinal abilities, beauty aid and vitality to religious ritual, has become deeply corrupt according to Mueller. He claims that the olive oil industry has many levels of interest: those who are interested in seeing quality extra virgin olive oil gain its rightful place on the shelf, and those who need to be held responsible for their deliberate label misrepresentations of the product.

"The Silicon Jungle: A Novel of Deception, Power and Internet Intrigue" by Shumeet Baluja

Have you ever wondered what consequences can occur if you post personal information online?

In Baluja's novel, his protagonist, Stephen Thorpe, lands an internship at a company called Ubatoo, an Internet empire that provides its users with popular online services. However, the tides soon change when Thorpe is asked to protect people who are unfairly targeted in the name of national security.

This story is an eerie look at how others can use our online activities for personal and political gain just as easily as they can use it for marketing and humanitarian purposes.

"Liar, Liar: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Deception" by Gary Paulsen

Paulsen, a well-known children's author, delves into the consequences of telling lies to people in this book for those 8 and older. Kevin, the protagonist, is in eighth grade and often believes his lying makes everyone's life better. As an example, his teacher assigns him to work on a social studies class project with Katie. Kevin describes Katie as some "sort of mechanized humanoid, made up of spare computer parts, all the leafy green vegetables that no one ever eats and thesaurus pages." Because Kevin cannot stand the thought of working with Katie, he comes down with a made up disease, hoping this will dismiss him from working with her.

"Collision: When Reality and Illusion Collide" by Ron Bruguiere

Bruguiere shares his personal life and experiences with actors during his 42-year theater career. Show people such as Lucille Ball, Gene Kelly, Barbra Streisand, Barbara Cook, Ethel Merman, Fred Astaire, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, Doris Day and others are revealed in his behind-the-scene encounters.

"For one to go backstage in a theater, illusion needs to be parked outside before you enter," he writes. "Once you enter you will encounter the realities dwelling in the kingdom of make-believe, and those realities may not always be desirable."

Grand illusion or trickery, intentional or not, is an intriguing subject that can be found in all genres. Delve into a novel or a non-fiction investigation and you may discover that "nothing is as it seems."

CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public Library. All titles may be reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at For more information on the Central Library or any of the branches, call the Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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