Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Recommended read: Half a Life

Half a Life by Darin Strauss is a deeply personal story; do not tread lightly. See, Strauss accidentally killed a classmate when he was 18 (half a life ago). Celine was on her bike and crossed two lanes ending up in front of Darin's car. It was too late.

It is safe to say that we all have experienced grief in some form or another, but probably not under these horrific circumstances. Strauss is excruciatingly truthful (read his admission that he was essentially putting on a show for two pretty girls that come upon the accident scene) and generous to a fault as he lays bare his emotions and thoughts on the accident, then and now. He was often gauging his outward emotion on the emotions of others around him. All the while, he was really trying to understand the meaning of the accident.

On a side note: His writing style is unique and fluid, possibly coming from his fiction background (most notably for Chang and Eng). The chapters are short and poignant. Check out this interview with Strauss from the Daily Beast.

Find it in the catalog!

Friday, December 17, 2010

O Bookmas Tree

Two of our library elves*, Gingerbread Crumble and Merriweather, assembled a holiday tree out of library books.  Sprinkles, our craftiest elf, made the garland and super cool topper.

*We have several library elves, most just move books around and generally cause mischief.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Read/ Listen: 33 1/3 Book Series

Proving that sometimes good things do come in small packages, Continuum's 33 1/3 series is a dream come true for the musically obsessed.  Each tiny book is written by a different author and is focused entirely on one album.  There is great variety among the different albums chosen, ranging from Neutral Milk Hotel's indie rock cult classic In the Aeroplane Over the Sea to Nas's masterpiece Illmatic to Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love.  Super fans will enjoy reading all about their favorite albums.  But casual listeners and even skeptics might just discover a new appreciation for the albums highlighted in these books.  Below are some of the newest titles in the series:
Read: Song Cycle by Richard Henderson (2010).
Find it in the catalog!
Listen to: Song Cycle by Van Dyke Parks (1968).  
Find it in the catalog!

Read: Highway to Hell by Joe Bonomo (2010).  
Find it in the catalog!
Listen to: Highway to Hell by AC/DC (1979). 
Find it in the catalog!

Read: Wowee Zowee by Bryan Charles (2010).  
Find it in the catalog!
Listen to: Wowee Zowee by Pavement (1995).   
Find it in the catalog!

Read: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Christopher R. Weingarten (2010).
Find it in the catalog!
Listen to: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy (1988).
Find it in the catalog!

Read: Spiderland by Scott Tenant (2011).
Find it in the catalog!
Listen to: Spiderland by Slint (1991).
Find it in the catalog!

You can discover more about the series (and lots of other cool stuff too) by checking out the official 33 1/3 blog.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Horror Movie Night: Gremlins

On Tuesday Night at 6:30 PM, we will be showing Joe Dante's classic '80s horror film Gremlins at Dundee Township Public Library.  Whether you are tired of watching classic, violence-free Holiday films (you can only watch It's a Wonderful Life so many times), want to wax nostalgic about Corey Feldman's career, you really love Howie Mandel's voice work, or just think the little gremlins are so cute, you should come and check it out!  There will popcorn, holiday cookies, and a raffle for a gift card. 

The movie is part of a new club we have at the library for 20 and 30 somethings.  Below is the event info:

When:  Tuesday, December 14 at 6:30 PM
Where:  The meeting room (downstairs) at Dundee Township Public Library District.
What:  Watch Gremlins and nibble on popcorn and holiday cookies.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Recommended read: Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue
Find it in the catalog!

Room is told from the point of view of Jack, who has just turned five years old. He lives with his mom, Ma, in Room, which is actually an 11 x 11 foot garden shed. Jack tells the reader about their routine in Room, which in addition to eating, taking a bath, and doing laundry includes activities such as Phys Ed (they move furniture on top of the bed so they can run on Track that's in the shape of a C), Parrot (Ma plays the TV, mutes the sound, and Jack recites verbatim what he just heard), Corpse (they lay down next to each other being as still as possible), Keypad (Jack presses buttons trying to figure out the code), and Skylight (they stand on top of the table under Skylight and yell as loud as they can). Ma limits Jack's TV watching, which he accepts but doesn't like. Ma and Jack have found resourceful ways of creating activities. Jack keeps adding segments to a snake under the bed made of old egg shells, they've attached toilet paper rolls together to make Labyrinth, and Jack even keeps Ma's bad tooth that falls out to play with. Ma has repeated the stories including The Count of Monte Cristo, Goldilocks, and Princess Diana numerous times for Jack, and they also enjoy singing pop songs to each other.

Each night Jack must be in bed in the wardrobe by 9 PM, because that is when Old Nick punches the numbers on the keypad and comes into Room. Ma keeps Jack out of sight of Old Nick, who takes away their garbage and begrudgingly brings limited food and household items that Ma requests. Each week Ma and Jack are able to request something special, called Sundaytreat.

Because Room is all that Jack knows, he is connected to all the inanimate objects inside, referring to everything by name: Table, Remote, Rug, Wardrobe, Bath. Ma is the only other person he's ever talked to, so her word is law on what the world is. She has told Jack that everything outside Room and what he sees on TV is Outer Space (he refers to the various TV stations as "planets"). But when Jack starts to ask questions after noticing the same pills ("killers") used by Ma on TV, Ma then begins to tell Jack the truth about the world and how she ended up in Room-- kidnapped when she was a 19-year-old college student seven years earlier, Old Nick locked her inside the soundproof garden shed in his backyard. As Ma explains more and more to Jack about the outside world, she formulates a plan for how they can escape.

Jack is one of the most memorable characters from a work of fiction that I have read in quite some time. He has such an open, innocent view of the world, and his voice remains stuck in my head, weeks after finishing the book. I think Donoghue did an amazing job of writing a character who is, in a way, an alien to life on Earth-- even though Jack loves shows like Dora the Explorer and can sing songs by The Beatles and Kylie Minogue, he has never interacted with people and places "outside." I think Room is definitely one of the best books of 2010 and I think you will become quite attached to the character of Jack. As Ma shares her plan for escaping with Jack, I started to actually feel a little sick with worry because I didn't want anything to go wrong. Once you start reading you will curse any task (eating, working, sleeping) that takes you away from finishing this book.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shelf oddities: wardrobe edition

Spruce up your wardrobe for the holiday season with some ideas from French Chic: How to Dress Like a Frenchwoman by Susan Sommers. Truthfully, some of the content is still basically useful. The photos, however, are not.

Aww, look: the gigantic tote had a baby purse!

The caption in the book actually reads "You may not dare wear a towel, but it does provide inspiration." Oh yes, a towel will push my outfit over the edge into chic-land. I don't know about you, but I'm also inspired to rock a side pony tail and crimp it.

If you're not into butt bows, you could always try butt ruffles . . . that match your shoes.

646.34 SOM
Find it in the catalog!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cast the Book: Inherent Vice.

Read the Book:
Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon

Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson has recently expressed in interest in adapting the Thomas Pynchon stoner noir novel Inherent Vice, which follows drug-addled P.I. Larry "Doc" Sportello who is trying to track down his ex-girlfriend's missing mobster beau.  The novel is set in 1969 and set in the mythical L.A. neighborhood of Gordita Beach.  It's an enjoyable read that could easily pass as an account of Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski's early years (though less funny than the Coen Brother's film).  P.T. Anderson has an excellent track record; most of his films range from good (Hard Eight) to mind-bogglingly awesome (There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights ).  So I, for one, couldn't be more excited to see his take on the book.  

Robert Downey Jr. is rumored to be cast as Doc.  I think RDJ is an excellent actor and really shines in comedies, but I don’t quite see him for this part.  First off, RDJ is quite a bit older than Doc, who is 29 in the book.  Also, I think RDJ is a bit too smart and charming to really be a convincing Doc, though he did a nice job playing a paranoid drug addict in A Scanner Darkly .   However, if P.T. Anderson is interested in a middle-aged Doc; I think RDJ's blue collar counterpart, Sam Rockwell, would be a great choice.  He’s made a career out of playing desperate and pathetic characters (think: Snow Angels , Confessions of a Dangerous Mind , and Safe Men ).  Also,  NOTE TO CASTING DIRECTORS, he has real life experience as a private investigator.  Then all the movie would need is one good dance sequence! 

Below are my casting choices for the major characters in Inherent Vice:  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Recommended holiday craft book: A Greener Christmas

edited by Sheherazade Goldsmith
745.59412 GRE
Find it in the catalog!

A Greener Christmas is filled with a variety creative ideas for holiday crafts, decorations, gifts, and recipes. Even if you are a novice crafter you will find projects to complete, such as natural cards, recycled paper cards, or fabric Christmas cards. If you enjoy sewing, colorful crafts like fabric garland, glove purses, or a flock of festive birds are projects you may like to tackle. I really appreciate that the idea for these crafts is that you are using what you already have on hand. Many times I come across interesting projects that require materials I would have to go out and purchase before I could even start any of the steps. Now whenever I work on crafts and greeting cards my goal is to reuse as many materials as possible in the creation of something new.

Not into crafts at all? I still recommend this book to you if you enjoy baking or cooking. Goldsmith provides tips on buying locally, choosing seasonal foods, and more. Plus you'll find many mouth-watering recipes to make for holiday get-togethers, like shortbread cookies, spiced nuts, mulled drinks, ginger cake, and four types of stuffing.

A Greener Christmas is also a great gift to buy for a friend or family member who enjoys crafting and baking. The book includes many color photos of both the finished products and the instructions, which I'm always happy to see and is extremely helpful.