Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Stranger than Fiction

Ideal for fans of Chuck's macabre storytelling, this collection of essays gives peerless insight into the contours of his mindscape. From interviewing Marilyn Manson to attending a Demolition Derby, from a glamorous season of steroid abuse to an incognito appearance at a shopping mall dressed in an animal costume, this book is as wild and wacky as they come.

Stranger Than Fiction by Chuck Palahniuk
Reviewed by: Odysseus

The Original "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs"

As a child, my only motivation for getting ready for bed was the prospect of having a story read to me. Whether it was read by my mom, dad, or older sister, my all-time favorite book was Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi and Ron Barrett. Long before it was ever considered for the big screen, a little girl growing up in North Boulder always longed to live in this book's world. Call me a glutton, but food has always been one of the best pleasures in my life, and to have it fall from the sky would satisfy many of my wildest dreams. Despite the disasters that take place in the book, I imagined myself in this culinary-driven world many times.

Being an animal lover as well, my favorite part of the book was always when the illustrator shows the sanitation department feeding the animals of the town with all the leftover food. Just imagine, in this kind of world, hunger would only exist because of droughts, and even then, the food could be stored until needed! My goodness, what a utopia! I suppose that's the purpose of the book: that even in a world where food falls from the sky, disaster can happen, and no version of the world can be perfect.

As excited as I am that a movie has been made from this book, I'm also a little reluctant to go see it. I'm a believer in the sacredness of texts and no matter how much I love a book, or even how much I hate a book, a movie version can never be as good as its book. I understand that more plot must be added to a children's book in order to create a movie, but it disappoints me that in the movie, the main character creates a machine to make the weather produce food. In my childhood, the best part about the book, like all myths and legends, was the feeling that somewhere in the world this place might actually exist. Still, I've always been a fan of animated movies and as soon as this poor college student finds sufficient funds, I'll be at the theater buying a ticket for the next showing of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I also hope that this movie can revive an interest in this book, as I believe it is a classic in children's literature and should remain so for years to come. Wow, I'm getting pretty cheesy, eh?

-Jackie, Marketing Intern

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Halfway to Each Other

Susan and Tim are on the brink of divorce when then come up with a crazy alternative. They move to Italy for a year with their two children in an attempt to revitalize their marriage and family. They slowly adapt to the language and customs while finding new joy in spending time with one another. Susan's memoir is candid, inspirational, and impossible to put down.

Halfway to Each Other by Susan Pohlman
Reviewed by: Jen R.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Staff Recommendation: The Law of Nines

Alex, a struggling artist, wants nothing more than to paint. However, when he discovers that his pictures illustrate the struggles of a parallel world, he attracts the attention of those who seek to break the world barrier, and stirs up hidden secrets from his family's past. A must-read for all neo-fantasy fans.

The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind
Reviewed by: Mari

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

This book explores the themes of art and infatuation, and is uniquely composed of two raw, quirky novellas whose main character may or may not be the same man. In the first story, a cynical London journalist falls into an intoxicating romance in Venice. In the second story, he is in Varanasi and becomes so enraptured by the squalor and beauty that he decides to stay.

Reviewed by: Jen R.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Revolutionary Road

Richard Yates is a preeminent storyteller of the 20th century; literary pundits agree that Revolutionary Road represents the pinnacle of his career. Set in post-war America in the 1950's, this is a tale of the insidious routines that capitalist societies construct around their constituents to acculturate them--to entrap them. This ingeniously crafted novel is assuredly a masterpiece.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Reviewed by: Odysseus

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Life and Times of Michael K

Michael K, the simple-minded gardener of Cape Town, quits his job to move his ill mother to her hometown. Trapped in the endless bureaucracy required for a travel permit, he journeys out without “proper” paperwork; a decision with dire consequences. Coetzee’s incomparable masterpiece opens numerous windows to the deep beauty and extreme darkness of Michael’s life.

Reviewed by: Arezoo

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Staff Recommendation: My Prison, My Home

Esfandiari, the Iranian-American founding Director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, travels every Christmas to Iran to visit her mother. In her trip in 2006, she was subjected to a series of interrogations and 105 days of solitary confinement by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. Here, she also discusses the political scene in pre- and post-1979 revolution in Iran.

My Prison, My Home by Haleh Esfandiari
Reviewed by: Arezoo

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Be Here Now

A classic of metaphysical literature, this book is a hallucinatory journey through the liberating revelations experienced by an adamant Seeker of Truth. Ram Dass exhibits the surreality of the transcendent experience with poetic sentences that lead nowhere and catch nothing and yet point the reader to this moment, right now, where everything always happens.

Be Here Now by Ram Dass
Reviewed by: Odysseus

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Staff Recommendation: South of Broad

Conroy’s long awaited new novel, set mostly in Charleston, explores the power of salvation through friendship. While Leopold Bloom King is haunted by his popular older brother's suicide and taking the blame for a crime he didn’t commit, he forms a complex and unlikely friendship with a group of diverse characters that help one another survive their dark pasts.

South of Broad by Pat Conroy
Reviewed by: Alyssa

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Customer Recommendation: The Hebrew Tutor of Bel Air

Set in the summer of 1963, this novel is told from the perspective of Norman, 17, a Hebrew scholar hired by a wealthy dysfunctional family to prepare Bayla, 16, for her bat mitzvah. The Hebrew instruction is minimal, but other life lessons are learned in the unlikely relationship these two characters forge. Love, motorcycles and more play a role in this insightful coming of age story.

Reviewed by: Sally

Friday, September 11, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Girl Trouble

This powerful debut collection of eight stories takes place in rural Roma, Kentucky. Themes of loss, isolation, deep sadness and regret are prevalent throughout. Two of the stories are related, but told from vastly different perspectives. A finely crafted, poignant read, which will stick with you a long time.

Girl Trouble by Holly Goddard Jones
Reviewed by: Sally Laventure

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Goldengrove

13-year-old Nico had always loved summer--until the day her sister, Margaret, drowned. Now, combined with the pains of adolescent self-discovery, Nico is isolated from her feelings of her sister's death, and from her grieving family. As a dangerous romance takes over her life, Nico must choose what to hold onto, and what to leave behind.

Goldengrove by Francine Prose

Reviewed by: Mari

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Staff Recommendation: Windows on the World Complete Wine Course

Windows on the World Complete Wine Course: 2009 is an ultimate guide to wine that offers a great deal of information in a straightforward and logical way. If you have always wanted to learn more about the reds and the whites, this course will give you all the necessary information, with a twist of special insight.

Reviewed by: Dominique

The Lovely Bones

In 2002, Alice Sebold published one of her best selling books, The Lovely Bones. The story takes place in Pennsylvania, 1973, and focuses on a young girl who has been murdered by her neighbor. She watches from a heaven-like place as her family grieves and searches in vein for her body, while the killer lives on in anonymity. A touching story of loss and moving on, The Lovely Bones covers a tragic tale in one of the most unique and ingenious perspectives; the victim.

After years of acclaim and appraisal, The Lovely Bones is set to be released in theaters December 11, 2009. Award winning director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) has once again used his talent to create a movie with almost magical imagery. With a superbly chosen cast, including names like Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz and Stanley Tucci, the film is said to be one of the most highly awaited films of the year.

The trailer for The Lovely Bones was released in August, and can be viewed here along with other information pertaining to the movie.


-Jillian Rago