Saturday, December 28, 2013

Recommended Read: Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese

Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese: A Guide to Wedges, Recipes and Pairings 
by Tenaya Darlington.
Find it in the catalog!

As someone who spends far too much time and money hanging out at the cheese counter, I consider myself a cheese enthusiast, if not a cheese nerd.  So naturally when I saw this book on some best books of the year lists, I had to check it out.  And I was truly surprised by how much I learned about cheese from this title!  I discovered new brands and styles of cheese, like the American-made Haribson ( described as "A sexy librarian's cheese-all horn rims and whispers"--naturally I had to try it!), or the Spanish raw sheep's milk cheese, La Serena (described as "A gutsy broad, slightly feral, with lots of the soul.")

The author, Tenaya Darlington, has a great sense of humor that shines throughout the book.  The cheeses are organized by the different personalities of the "hunks": "quiet types," "rockstars," "baby faces" and less attractive, "stinkers" and "mountain men".  I discovered my taste in cheese is pretty much the opposite of my taste in dates.  While "stinky" and "boozy" might describe a delicious French cheese, they aren't desirable adjectives for a boyfriend.  Darlington provides serving suggestions to go with each cheese; for instance, with one of my favorite cheeses, Rogue River Blue, she recommends: "A cheese this good doesn't need much to go with it.  Treat it like a great Roquefort... and slice up a ripe pear.  A dish of toasted walnuts is a great foil."  She also recommends beer and wine pairings to go with the hunks.

Warning:  reading this book is dangerous for your wallet and waistline.  Not only did it make me hungry, each and every time I picked up the book, I found myself tempted by even more types of cheese at the counter.  Darlington provided different cheese boards to try and even cheese tasting party ideas.  This book is must read for cheese enthusiasts of all variations, particularly those interested in getting acquainted with American and Italian artisanal cheeses.   

If you still can't get enough cheese, check out the author's blog.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Some New (and Cool) Additions to the Collection

A mix of some new non-fiction additions to the collection:

The Rocket Man ,and Other Extraordinary Characters In the History of Flight by David Darling. Looks to be a quick read at 195 pages, and I love the cover ... so the book must be good, right? Includes photos.

The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Pulitzer Prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. This book was in Amazon's top 100 books of 2013.

Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II by Wil S. Hylton. Account of a WWII American bomber that went missing, and the mystery surrounding the fate of the men.

American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell by Deborah Solomon. Includes many photos of his artwork and personal life.

A History of the World in 12 Maps by Jerry Brotton. Interesting concept; photos of all kinds of maps (which one would hope, considering the title).

The outspoken actress, Shirley MacLaine, is back with another book: What If ... A Lifetime of Questions, Speculations, Reasonable Guesses, and a Few Things I Know for Sure.

Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him by David Henry & Joe Henry.

The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things by Kate Harding. From the online catalog summary: "From A to Z, this work covers the spectrum of defining the woman in contemporary society, and includes short bios of famous and influential women plus cultural terminology, concepts, and the gamut of interests pertaining to womanhood." It's a book that you wouldn't have to read cover-to-cover, but skip around based on your interests.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Downton Abbey for the Devoted

Calling all Downton Abbey fans! Join us on Saturday, November 9 at 2 pm for "Behind the Doors of Downton Abbey" (to ensure your spot, please register). The program will feature behind-the-scenes anecdotes, hidden details and historical context. 

Also, we've got plenty of books that will fill the void until the new season begins in January. Try out some of these titles:


And, of course, Downton Abbey Seasons 1-3 on DVD:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Zombie reading list for fans of "The Walking Dead"

A couple weeks ago, season four of The Walking Dead premiered on AMC to a record-breaking number of viewers. If you are a fan of the show or just enjoy some gore in your reading material, here is a list of zombie-related books to check out. You'll be surprised at some of the titles we have! First up, the most obvious:

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled-- no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living.

Eighteen volumes have been published in this graphic novel series so far. You may check out each volume individually or....

...if you want to binge-read, I recommend:

The Walking Dead Compendium

Compendium 1 collects issues 1-48 (Volumes 1-8)
Compendium 2 collects issues 49-96 (Volumes 9-16)

You will still need to request Volume 17: Something to Fear and Volume 18: What Comes After after reading both volumes to be current with the entire series!

If you do decide to binge-read, please be cautious, or you may end up like me, waking up in the middle of the night, screaming and holding out both arms in front of you in self-defense against an approaching walker. Embarrassingly, I can only handle zombies/horror in small doses.


World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
An account of the decade-long conflict between humankind and hordes of the predatory undead is told from the perspective of dozens of survivors who describe in their own words the epic human battle for survival. See also: the movie adaptation starring Brad Pitt: World War Z (DVD)

Zone One by Colson Whitehead
In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead.

Paul is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion by Alan Goldsher
Can the Beatles sublimate their hunger for gray matter, remain on top of the charts, and stay together for all eternity? After all, three of the Fab Four "are" zombies, and zombies live forever ....

Rise Again: A Zombie Thriller by Ben Tripp
Sheriff Danielle Adelman is threatened when her small town of Forest Peak is in danger of being overrun by residents who have suddenly died and become zombies and she flees across the California desert, searching for her missing sister.


The Enemy by Charlie Higson
After a disease turns everyone over sixteen into brainless, decomposing, flesh-eating creatures, a group of teenagers leave their shelter and set out for a harrowing journey across London to the safe haven of Buckingham Palace. More in this series: The Dead, The Fear, The Sacrifice.

Ashes by Ilsa Bick
Alex, a resourceful seventeen-year-old running from her incurable brain tumor, Tom, who has left the war in Afghanistan, and Ellie, an angry eight-year-old, join forces after an electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky and kills most of the world's population, turning some of those who remain into zombies and giving the others superhuman senses. More in this series: Shadows, Monsters

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel
In the year 2195 when society is technologically advanced but follows the social mores of Victorian England, recently orphaned Nora Dearly is left at the mercy of her domineering, social-climbing aunt, until she is nearly kidnapped by zombies and falls in with a group of mysterious, black-clad commandos. More in this series: Dearly, Beloved

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
In a post-apocalyptic world where fences and border patrols guard the few people left from the zombies that have overtaken civilization, fifteen-year-old Benny Imura is finally convinced that he must follow in his older brother's footsteps and become a bounty hunter. More in this series: Dust & Decay, Flesh & Bone, Fire & Ash.


In these craft books zombies aren't so scary:

Creepy Cute Crochet: Zombies, Ninjas, Robots, and More! by Christen Haden
746.434 HAD

Zombie Felties: How to Raise 16 Gruesome Felt Creatures from the Undead by Nicola Tedman
746.0463 TED

The cupcake designs in these books are creepily impressive:

Zombie Cupcakes by Zilly Rosen
641.8653 ROS

A Zombie Ate My Cupcake! 25 Deliciously Weird Cupcake Recipes by Lily Vanili
641.8653 VAN

Do you think the zombie apocalypse is a real possibility? Do you wish you had some advice so you can adequately prepare for life as a zombie? If so, the following books are right up your alley.

How to Be a Zombie: The Essential Guide for Anyone who Craves Brains by Serena Valentino

TEEN 398.45 VAL

So Now You’re a Zombie: A Handbook for the Newly Undead by John Austin

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cooking for One or Two

Recipes are generally sized for about four or six people, which is great if you are cooking for a family or a small dinner party (or one teenaged boy).  However, when your cooking for one or two, there is simply too much food.  You are faced with a dilemma, endless leftovers or trying to scale down the recipe (which sometimes leaves you with awkward quantities of unused ingredients like half a can of beans).   Thankfully there are plenty of cookbooks out there for solo and couple diners.  Below are some of my favorites:

Cooking for One:

Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones.
Find it in the catalog!
Judith Jones was an editor for Julia Child and James Beard, so she has pretty good foodie cred.  After losing her husband, she decided to come up with great meals to cook by herself.  This has lots of great classic dishes to make for yourself including Ratatouille and Boeuf Bourguigon.  My personal favorite is a poached egg nestled in greens.  It's yummy, takes about five minutes to make and is great for nights I barely feel like heating something in the microwave.  Jones gives you lots of good ideas for what to do with
leftovers too!

What We Eat When We Eat Alone by Deborah Madison.
Find it in the catalog!
This is an interesting look into the actual eating habits of solo diners. It has lots of smart, practical during the week recipes as well as some outlandish, treat yourself recipes.  This is the book I most frequently turn to when making dinner for myself.  My personal favorite recipe is the avocado taco recipe which is cheap, easy and delicious!

Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One by Joe Yonan.
Find it in the catalog!
If you want seriously delicious food with Southwestern accents definitely check out this title.  Most recipes have several layers of flavor going them on, which makes them tasty but probably not quick mid-week meals.  I really enjoyed his recipes for mushroom tacos with caramelized onions and goat cheese.  Even though it turned out ugly thanks to my poor omelet making skills, the Swiss chard, goat cheese and bacon omelet was completely delicious and could definitely feed more than one with a side salad.

Cooking for Two:

One Pan, Two Plates by Carla Snyder.  
Find it in the catalog!
If you are looking for quick but delicious weeknight meals for two check out this cookbook.  Each recipe includes the hands-on cooking time as well as the total cooking time, so you can plan your meals easily.  A variety of different cuisines are covered in this book including French, Italian, Thai, and Indian.  Some tasty sounding recipes include: three cheese mac and cheese with crispy prosciutto, lamb korma, and balsamic braised chicken thighs with figs and creamy polenta.

Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two by Beth Hensperger.
Find it in the catalog!
During the winter months, I'm a huge fan of using my slow cooker.  Mainly because it means I don't have to spend any time actually cooking, I just have to do prep.  However, most slow cooker recipes make a lot of food and I wind up eating the same thing for days on end.  Thankfully, this book gives you recipes that are just big enough for two.  And it actually has small batch soup recipes!  Yummy sounding recipes include: Provencal tomato soup with poached egg, chicken with basil cream sauce, and skirt steak fajitas with tomato-olive salsa.

Small-Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos.
Find it in the catalog!
Excess baked goods aren't usually a problem; odds are you can hoist them upon loved ones, friends and coworkers with little resistance.  Who doesn't like a homemade cookie?  However, if the temptation of having 30 delicious freshly baked cookies is too much temptation to bear, you can check out this book which sized for one or two portions.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Some New (and Cool) Additions to the Collection

Just an eclectic mix of some new non-fiction additions to the collection:

Japanese Sword Fighting: Secrets of the Samurai by Masaaki Hatsumi - on a cart full of books, THIS is the first one I picked up to look at. It's full of photos. Find it in the catalog

Surgeon in Blue: Jonathan Letterman, the Civil War Doctor Who Pioneered Battlefield Care by Scott McGaugh. Seems like an interesting angle on one more aspect of the Civil War. Might fit the bill for history and medical buffs alike. Find it in the catalog

iPad for Artists by Dani Jones. Mainly tutorials for different creative techniques, like drawing and painting, using art apps. Color photos/illustrations. Find it in the catalog

Asperger's Syndrome Workplace Survival Guide: A Neurotypical's Secrets for Success by Barbara Bissonnette. Excerpt from the book description: "It covers everything from choosing the right career to deciding whether disclosure is the right option. It features realistic strategies for meeting employer expectations and effectively resolving problems." Find it in the catalog

Quick Changes: Fresh Looks for Every Room (from House Beautiful). Little, but packed, with ideas to spruce up your home. Color photos. Find it in the catalog

Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust. A massive graphic novel. From the description: "Two teenaged punk-rock girls hitchhike their way across Italy without a penny in their pockets..." Find it in the library catalog

The Universe: An Illustrated History of Astronomy by Tom Jackson. Lists 100 astronomical discoveries that changed history; includes a section in the
back of famous astronomers. Lots of Photos. Find it in the catalog

Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock 'N' Roll in America's Loudest City by Steve Miller. I think the title says it all. Find it in the catalog

American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution by Garrett Epps. You must be dedicated for this one ... according to the book jacket, legal scholar Epps goes through the entire Constitution. Find it in the catalog

Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids by Daniel Loxton and Donald Prothero. Another one that has a descriptive enough title. Photos! Find it in the catalog

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Recommended read: Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler: A True Love Story Rediscovered

Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler by Trudi Kanter
Find it in the catalog!

We hear it, coming from the end of the street. Closer, closer. Each step at the same split second. Each step the same length, loud, powerful, terrifying. We are like tiny ants whose nest has been disturbed, running in all directions, trying to find a hole, a blade of grass, somewhere--anywhere--to hide.
Originally self-published in 1984, Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler is the memoir of Austrian hat designer Trudi Kanter, who escaped from Austria after the invasion and occupation of the Nazis. A successful owner of a hat business in Vienna, Ms. Kanter witnessed the changes in her beloved city  after the Nazis took over power. She knew she had to get herself and her parents out of Austria, and persevered to see their safety assured.

A great majority of Trudi Kanter's memories are written in the present tense, as if she is re-experiencing events and conversations. I love her use of prose. She vividly describes people and scenes in a very succinct way, such as this excerpt about her second husband Walter, when they were still dating:
His hand holds mine under the table, reaches for my knee. Summer breeze. The smell of wood, of pines, moss, living and dying. I like his choice of wine and food, the way he makes the waiters dance around us. The way he handles the night and me in the car. In the twilight his eyes are velvet purple.
While reading Ms. Kanter's recollections we are able to witness her love of Vienna, her awe of traveling through Paris checking out the latest hat designs and fashions, her terror of running out of time to live and becoming trapped in Austria, and finally her adjustment to living and starting over in London.

After doing the nearly impossible of procuring a visa for herself after the Austrian borders closed, Ms. Kanter then went about getting one for Walter, and later, for both her parents. I was amazed at the strength of this woman, and I recommend this book if you enjoy reading about history and would like to hear a unique perspective on World War II.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Check out our new eNewsletter for fiction fans

Whether your a fan of sit on the edge of your seat thrillers or nice light romances, odds are you'll find something useful in our newest eNewsletter for Fiction Lovers.  The latest edition has some sound advice on judging a book by its cover.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Confessions of Sociopath by M.E. Thomas

Most sociopaths (also known as psychopaths) aren't serial killers as the media might make you think. Most are productive and functioning human beings - you may know one - that often come across as extremely charming but manipulative individuals seemingly without a conscience. After reading Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas I was enlightened to the more "everyday" sociopath among us.

Thomas (an alias for obvious reasons) runs the blog SociopathWorld, is a former lawyer, and a current law professor. Her opening anecdote was upsetting to the point that I doubted I could continue reading, but I forged ahead. She discusses some of the theories and diagnostic tests surrounding psychopathy, but she doesn't dismantle or attempt to prove any of them in depth, she mostly identifies with them or not. She's very confident, if not arrogant, about her abilities: occasionally she makes declarations such as "I am a genius." At times I couldn't shake the feeling that she was manipulating all of us "empaths" just a bit. However, I do applaud her honesty - her childhood didn't sound particularly rosy, which I wish she had explored a bit more. She adds some humanity to an otherwise generalized label. I recommend this book if you're interested in psychology and/or psychopathy, or if you want some insight into someone you know to be, or suspect might be, a sociopath.

Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight by M.E. Thomas
Find it in the catalog!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Beach Reads Display

Skip the airfare and travel from the comfort of your lawn chair by reading one of the books from our summer non-fiction display.  In keeping with the summer reading theme, all titles are travel related.  Here's a list of the current titles included.  You are sure to find something to love!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer reading weekly winners recommend...

Adults in the summer reading program recommend a variety of books they are enjoying during the Have Book - Will Travel summer reading program. The following four entries are the first weekly winners in our gift card drawings. Each reader wins a $10 Target gift card!

Archie Meets Nero Wolfe by Robert Goldsborough
Find it in the catalog!
"It is an excellent prequel to Rex Stouts' fine series. Well written and finely observed. The language was crisp and the characters stayed in line with the original." -- recommended by David

Strand of Deception by Robin Carrol
Find it in the catalog!
"It is a murder case where the forensic evidence is the main evidence to prove the one who comitted the crime is really the one who did it. Lots of technical stuff and a bit of romance thrown in."  -- recommended by Catherine

Blockade Billy by Stephen King
Find it in the catalog!
"I couldn’t put the book down. The 'voice' that King uses to tell this story is easy to follow and made Blockade Billy a page-turner for me." -- recommended by Kelly

Inferno by Dan Brown
Find it in the catalog!
"Robert Langdon back for more adventures involving symbology." -- recommended by Keith

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Recommended read: The Death of Bees

Warning: this book will not be for everyone. The Death of Bees, a debut novel by Scottish author Lisa O'Donnell, is written in internal monologue, or conversational style, with the three main characters' voice in short alternating chapters. Some words or phrases may be unfamiliar to an American reader, but in context, you'll be able to understand the meaning. I will also note, that the author does use profanity throughout, but it is true to the characters.

Marnie and her sister Nelly are left to fend for themselves after their parents' death. Marnie, soon to turn 16 (age of legal capacity in Scotland), wants to keep her sister with her, so she doesn't report their deaths. A horrible childhood is plainly stated by Marnie, but she only alludes to despicable actions on both parent's parts, so you are left to fill in the blanks. Their neighbor, Lennie, sees the girls struggling and becomes their defacto caretaker over time. As a group they try to protect one another from the suspicions of friends and family on the whereabouts of the parents.

You see events through the eyes of each character and it's interesting to see how each interprets situations. How age, past experience, and temperament color their perceptions. Your opinions of the girls and Lennie keep shifting with each new chapter. This is a character study more than a mystery, but there are a few bombshells along the way casually thrown in. The chronology is loose - the book is divided into each season for the year. Fans of Gillian Flynn (specifically her book Dark Places) may enjoy this book, as the structure and style is similar.

The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
Find it in the catalog!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Recommended Reads: A Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs

 The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs by Dana Bate.
Call No.: FICTION BATE (Adult New Fiction)
Find it in the catalog!

Foodies looking for a funny and light beach read will love this new book by Dana Bate.   It follows 26-year-old Hannah Sugarman who seemingly has her life together.  She's a researcher at a Washington think tank (the Institute for Research and Discourse aka. NIRD) and shares a swanky D.C. pad with her politically ambitious boyfriend Adam.  However, Hannah despises her job and desperately wants to work as a chef, but her parents and boyfriend don't take her cooking ambitions seriously.  Also, her boyfriend is getting tired of her occasional big mouth and general way of being.  

When Adam dumps Hannah, she rents a garden apartment from Blake, a pirate talking aspiring politician whose frequently away on business.  Finally on her own and with encouragement from her friend Rachel, she decides to finally start an underground supper club (an unlicensed restaurant run out of someone's home).  But when her place floods before the first meeting, she decides to use her out-of-town landlord's apartment and barely used gourmet kitchen without his knowledge.  The supper club takes off and Hannah continues to use Blake's pad on the sly; a precarious arrangement as Blake is running for a local office on the platform to crack down on the illegal supper clubs.  Obviously at some point this is going to blow up in Hannah's face.  But in the meantime, she becomes increasingly good friends with Blake, who encourages her culinary aspirations. 

Hannah makes a lot of poor decisions in this book, mostly because of her desire to live up to other people's expectations, and she wrestles with guilt over using her landlord's apartment for her semi-illegal business venture.  But in spite of her mistakes, Hannah eventually learns to take charge of her own life.  This is a great book about growing up and finding your own path.   Being from the northern Illinois, I had an entirely different idea of supper clubs, a term which also refers to rural(ish) Midwest dining establishments with cocktails and very large portions.  However, it was interesting to learn about these clandestine dining clubs and the food sounded a lot better!  There are lots of drool worthy dishes in this book including a grilled cheese sandwich with smoked gouda and caramelized Asian pears and deep fried turkey leg confit.  Recipes are included at the end of the book. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer reading starts today!

Adults! Teens! Kids! Stop by the Dundee Library or Randall Oaks Branch to sign up for this year's summer reading program Have Book - Will Travel, which runs through Saturday, July 13.
Sign up at the Information Desk or Randall Oaks Branch Library. Read four books between now and Saturday, July 13 to be entered into the grand prize drawing for a $100 Target gift card. We will also have additional prize drawings at the end of summer reading for a variety of Book Bundles grouped by genre, some including autographed copies. Plus, fill out Recommended Read entries to be entered into weekly drawings for $10 Target gift cards.

Sign up at the Information Desk or Randall Oaks Branch. Grades 6-8 are required to read 720 minutes (12 hours) and grades 9-12 are required to read 1200 minutes (20 hours) to earn a paperback book. At the halfway mark, teens earn a halfway prize. Teens may also fill out Recommended Read entries to be entered into weekly gift card drawings for $10 Target gift cards. Visit the Teen page or blog for lots of reading lists and recommendations, or follow DundeeReads on BiblioCommons!

Sign up in the Children's Department or at Randall Oaks. Earn prizes and tickets for the drawings by doing your weekly reading, visiting the library, having or getting a library card, attending programs, and more. When you finish reading the number of minutes for your age group, you earn a free book. Visit the Children's page to see all the fun programs we have scheduled for the summer.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Cast the Book: This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

 This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Topper
Find it in the catalog!

Jonathan Tropper's novel about a semi-dysfunctional Jewish family, the Foxmans, sitting shivah after their atheist father passed away is being turned into a movie with one of the most exciting sounding casts around, including everyone from Tina Fey to Connie Britton (aka. Tami Taylor) and Timothy Olyphant. Topper's novel is laugh out loud funny and with this cast, it has the chance to be really good.  I'm a little less excited about the director, Shawn Levy, who's comedies never really worked all that well for me.  Then again, I'm not the target demographic for Night at the Museum or Date Night.  Below is the break down of the cast with character descriptions:

Judd Foxman:  Judd is the narrator of the story.  He's going through a divorce after catching his wife cheating on with his boss, a Howard Stern-esque radio shock jock, Wade Boulanger.

Who's Cast for Judd:  Jason Bateman.   Bateman is great at playing put-upon sad sacks, so he should do well here.  However, he's about ten years older than Judd in the book. 

Who I'd cast:  The Foxman boys are known for their curly dark hair, so when I read the book, I pictured Judd looking like the ever-adorable Hamish Linklater

Wendy Foxman:  Judd's sister, she is a mother of three kids.  Her husband Barry is an obvlious businessman who treats her badly.  Wendy's very blunt and she's obsessed with how thin other women are, especially Judd's soon-to-be-ex-wife Jen. 

Who's Cast for Wendy: Tina Fey.  Wendy's a little less spastic than most of the characters Fey plays, so it will be fun to see her play someone different.

Who I'd Cast:  Julia Louis-Dreyfus.  She's about 10 years older than Wendy in the book, but she looks great and can definitely play younger.  She definitely could pull off Wendy's bluntness and sass.  However, it's a bit hard to believe that Julia Louis-Dreyfus (or Tina Fey for that matter) would have body issues.

Paul Foxman:  Judd's alpha male older brother.  Paul runs the sporting goods owned by their deceased father.  He and his wife Alice are trying to conceive.

Who's Cast for Paul:  Corey Stoll, who was wonderful playing Ernest Hemingway in Midnight in Paris.  Stroll is actually quite a bit younger than Bateman, but he does seem more imposing.

Who I'd Cast: My first though reading the book was Rob Riggle or Vince Vaughan, however, I'm happy to see Corey Stoll in anything!

Philip Foxman:  Judd's ne'er-do-well  younger brother.  Philp tends to live life on the wild side, experimenting with drugs and dating models. 

Who's Cast for Philip:  Adam Driver.  Driver is fantastic on Girls, making his bizarro character (Adam Sackler) somehow both frightening and charming at the same time.  He definitely has the charisma needed for Philip. 

Who I'd Cast:  I actually think Driver is pretty perfect for this role.  He's handsome in an off-beat way, and has the irreverence and edge to play this character really well.

Mrs. Foxman:  The widow, known for her infamous enhanced cleavage.  She is a therapist who wrote a definitive book on child rearing (including examples from her own kids).  Mrs. Foxman is a smart woman, who tends to over share with her children.

Who's Cast:  Jane Fonda.

Who I'd Cast:  I don't really have any kind of strong opinions on Jane Fonda.  She does get name-dropped in the book, but not as a Mrs. Foxman doppleganger. However she's about ten years older than the character in the book.  I pictured Mrs. Foxman as being more Susan Sarandon-esque.  Diane Keaton might be too zany and not surgically enhanced enough for Mrs. F, but she's great at playing high-maintenance, over-sharing moms.

Alice Foxman:  Paul's wife.  She desperately wants to have a child.  Unlike the rest of the Foxman clan, she had a regular upbringing and doesn't quite get the way the Foxmans communicate.  Alice is on fertility drugs that make her overweight. 

Who's Cast:   Kathryn Hahn.

Who I'd Cast:  I love Kathryn Hahn.  She's usually hilarious.  However, she's not overweight by any stretch of the imagination.  If they drop the fat jokes from the books, I think Hahn would be great.

Tracy:  Philip's much older therapist girlfriend.  Tracy is in her mid-forties and is "engaged-to-be-engaged" to Philip. 

Who's Cast:  Connie Britton.

Who I'd Cast:  Lauren Graham.  Britton is a fantastic actress, but she seems too together to fall for someone like Philip.  While I'm sure Graham is a pretty together lady in real life, she's great at playing a mild mess as the relationship-hopping, still living at home single mom Sarah Braverman on Parenthood

Jen:  Judd's soon-to-be ex-wife, Jen is in her early thirties, very pretty, blonde, and pregnant (but not showing).

Who's Cast:  Abigail Spencer.

Who I'd Cast:  I'm not familiar at all with Abigail Spencer, but IMDB tells me she's way younger than Bateman and not a blonde.  With Hamish Linklater, I'd cast Jen as Katherine Heigl.  With Bateman, I'd reteam him with his Arrested Development love interest, Christine Taylor

Horry:  He's the Foxman's next door neighbor Linda's son and Wendy's high school boyfriend.  Horry has a brain injury from a bar fight that makes him still have to live at home.

Who's Cast: Timothy Olyphant.  

Who I'd Cast:  I'm always a fan of Olyphant, but being as Horry isn't repeatedly described as "incredibly good looking," I'm going to guess that he's a tad too handsome.  I'd cast Luke Wilson.  He's great at playing characters who are nice but frustrated with their lives, like Levi on Enlightened or Richie from the Royal Tenenbaums

Rabbi Charles Grodner:  The family's youngish rabbi who was a childhood friend of Paul.  Grodner wasn't exactly pious in his youth.

Who's Cast:  Ben Schwartz, who is fabulous as Jean-Ralphio on Parks and Recreation

Who I'd cast: Brett Gelman.  I am sort of interested to see Schwartz play a character who is trying not to be outlandish.  However, he's a little bit on the young side.  While Gelman is actually only a couple years older than Schwartz, his beard and receding hairline make him look more mature.

Penny:  Judd had a crush on Penny in high school.  She works at the Foxman's sport store and ice skates in her free time.  She's also impossibly thin. 

Who's Cast:  Rose Byrne.  Byrne can be very funny and is certainly thin, but she's not really believable as Bateman's high school contemporary (unless he was held back a lot).

Who I'd Cast:  However, her Bridesmaid cohort Kristen Wiig is closer to Bateman's age and could bring some darkness to Penny's quirk.

Wade Boulanger:  Judd's former boss who is currently sleeping with his (Judd's) wife.  Boulanger is a radio host in the vein of Howard Stern, only if he was jock. 

Who's Cast:  Dax Shepard.

Who I'd Cast:  Vince Vaughn would be great at this role. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Recent Reads

You Before Me by JoJo Moyes
Find it in the catalog!
I initially checked out this book just to see if I was right about the ending (I was), but it proved to be a really great read.  It's about a working class English girl Louisa (Lou) Clark who lives a relatively sheltered life and works at a small local cafe.  However, when the cafe closes shop, Lou is forced to take a job care-taking for a wealthy cantankerous quadriplegic, Will Traynor.  Will used to be an adventurer and shrewd businessman before being badly injured in a motorcycle accident.  Despite their differences and Will's perpetual bad mood, the two soon become friends.  However, Louisa discovers that Will has a shocking deadline.  This book is a real tearjerker, but there is humor throughout the book.  I really enjoyed Louisa's somewhat contemptuous relationship with her single mother sister, Katrina- the "smart one" of the family. 

The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill
Find it in the catalog!

Set in the mid 1800s in a Quaker community in Nantucket, this novel follows 24 year-old Hannah Price who dreams of one day discovering a comet.  She works as a librarian and spends the evening observing the stars. Overall, Hannah is pretty happy with her existence until her father announces that he is moving to Philadelphia to remarry.  As an unmarried woman, Hannah is forced to either leave her observatory and the island she's lived all her life, or marry a man she doesn't love for stability.  Things are further complicated when Hannah takes on a student Isaac Martin, an ambitious sailor from Azores.  Martin is not white, and his relationship with Hannah causes problems for them both even in the relatively liberal Quaker community.  This book is slower paced, but moody and romantic.  Hannah is sometimes a bit too stubborn, but it was hard to not be sympathetic to her plight and inspired by her accomplishments.  I definitely rooted for Hannah and Isaac's relationship.  Hannah is very loosely based on a real life "lady astronomer" Maria Mitchell.

The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh
Find it in the catalog!

The premise of this book sort of reminded me loosely of W. Somerset Maugham's Painted Veil.  In spite of her father's Irish working class roots, Frances Irvine has led a life of privilege in London until her father dies suddenly.  Before his death, her father had made some poor investment choices and Frances is left with nothing.  Frances must choose between either working as caretaker for her aunt or marrying a distant cousin Edwin, a doctor in South Africa.  Frances doesn't really like Edwin all that much, she finds him rather serious and boring.  However, after initially rejecting his proposal, she changes her mind and agrees to the arrangement.  Edwin pays for her to travel to South Africa by ship.  While en route, Frances meets the charming and handsome diamond miner William Westbrook.  Frances falls hard for William, but finds out he's engaged to wealthy woman in Kimberley.  Once Frances arrives in South Africa, she finds life with Edwin even worse than she expected.  He lives in relative poverty, and insists of investigating a potential smallpox outbreak in Kimberley despite the express displeasure of the powerful mining boss.  Will Frances leave Edwin for the more dashing William? 

Frances can be a difficult character to sympathize with, mainly because she makes some really poor decisions.  One of the guys is so clearly great and on the right side of history and the other guy is an obvious jerk and up to no good.  However, the setting of the book is really interesting and I found the plot quite compelling.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Recommended Read: When You Reach Me

There are some great kids book out there that adults can enjoy too and I've got one such book for you: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I was first introduced to this book by my 11-year-old niece: "It's my favorite book. You have to read it."

Miranda, the protagonist sixth-grader, is likeable as she rambles around New York City in the late 1970s. She lives with her quirky single mother, who is obsessed with going on the TV game show $20,000 Pyramid. Miranda's life gets complicated when her best friend, Sam, inexplicably pushes her away and she begins to receive mysterious notes with messages that are important to the future, but have no context in the present, such as "I'm coming to save your friend's life, and my own." The story circles back on itself and you may end up wanting to re-read it to make sure everything holds up. 

Even though it's a mystery with a sci-fi time-travel bent, it's a quite realistic read overall and uses the time-travel angle poignantly. If you're a fan of L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, you'll enjoy this one, and if you need further convincing, When You Reach Me won the 2010 Newbery Medal.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Remembering Roger Ebert

Everyone has a favorite memory of beloved film critic Roger Ebert; whether it's a clever remark he made on his long-running television show, a favored sentence from one of his thousands of movie reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times, a passage from one of his many books, or a cherished personal encounter with a man who was, by all accounts, friendly and approachable and happy to discuss the movies with anyone who was interested.

My own favorite memory of Roger Ebert comes from an old episode of Siskel and Ebert and The Movies that aired sometime in the late '80s. The format of the show was simplicity itself; Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel would alternately introduce a film that was currently playing in theaters, some clips would be shown, the two critics would share their impressions of the film, maybe some banter, and then a verdict would be rendered: thumbs up or thumbs down. That was it. And you always kind of hoped that they'd disagree on the film in question. When the two disagreed, you got a fuller sense of what they really thought of the film, good or bad. There was something charming about the way they wanted each other to appreciate what was unique about a given film, or what made it uniquely awful.

I would've been about ten years old when this particular episode aired. In addition to reviewing whatever Hollywood films were current that week, none of which I remember, there was a review of Alejandro Jodorowsky's film Santa Sangre. And these were, unquestionably, the strangest, most unsettling images I had seen in my life to that point. I remember Ebert, in voice-over, explicating a scene where an armless woman was playing the piano with the aid of her son, who had slipped his arms through the sleeves of his mother's dress. There was something off-kilter in the acting, and the candle-lit set appeared baroque, almost operatic. The succeeding images were dreamlike and menacing, evocative of dark mysteries that I couldn't possibly understand. Needless to say, Ebert gave it a thumbs up.

That peculiar memory resurfaced at the news of Roger's passing, those four or five minutes of a decades-old episode. I've been thinking about that, how appropriate it is that Roger Ebert used his popular weekly TV show to highlight a little-known art-film about magic, vengeance, and religious fanaticism, directed by a Chilean-French filmmaker whose name almost certainly meant nothing to the vast majority of viewers. Roger Ebert loved the movies. Big movies and small ones, great movies and otherwise. Roger Ebert loved the movies. It was an enduring, lifelong love-affair, and we were fortunate to share it with him.