David Foster Wallace‘s suicide hit me pretty hard. He was quite a bit younger than me and I looked forward to reading him the rest of my life. He wrotDavid Foster Wallace‘s suicide hit me pretty hard. He was quite a bit younger than me and I looked forward to reading him the rest of my life. He wrote eight books tho, and I have several to go. This one’s a collection of journalistic pieces–highlights being an account of his tennis career (he was a regional hotshot as a kid), his experience of the Illinois State Fair, an appreciation of a professional tennis player, and his account of a luxury Caribbean cruise.
His reaction to the cruise? Despair. That’s the source of much of the fun here–an elite sensibility interpreting some mass market archetype. Still, Wallace grew up in a college town on the Illinois plains, so he has access to a just-folks sensibility, too.
The attraction for me is his prose style, which seems tied closely to the way his mind worked. His opinions are qualified, nuanced, heavily footnoted. You can find yourself engrossed in a three page footnote (that’s where the funny stuff tends to be), then have to backtrack and look for your place in the text proper. --John
After reading Glass’ Three Junes (2002) I anxiously watched for The Whole World Over. It was all that I hoped for and more.
Greenie is a passionate bakAfter reading Glass’ Three Junes (2002) I anxiously watched for The Whole World Over. It was all that I hoped for and more.
Greenie is a passionate baker, devoted to her four-year-old son. Her husband falls into a midlife depression while her friend nurses a broken heart. The character and plot development are excellent. I started the book by listening to the recorded disc from Books on Tape read by Anne Marie Lee. The recording is excellent and the narrator captures the drama of the story. I read the last third of the book, and reading was just as satisfying as listening.
If you haven’t read Three Junes yet, I would recommend this title as well. I read it on a rainy winter day in Positino ~ sure wish I was back there reading!! --Kara
I’d like to blame my father for my addiction to James Bond. But even more than an affinity for tall dark men with English accents, thanks to Bond I’veI’d like to blame my father for my addiction to James Bond. But even more than an affinity for tall dark men with English accents, thanks to Bond I’ve always secretly wanted to be a spy. So when I came across "Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy" by Lindsay Moran I couldn’t resist.
I was expecting some kind of Valerie Plame memoir about a CIA cover gone bad, but I was wonderfully surprised. This is more of a "CIA approved" version of Lindsay Moran’s daily journal about what its REALLY like to work for the Central Intelligence Agency than some tell all book. I was hooked from page one.
As the daughter of a Defense Department employee and a childhood fan of Harriet the Spy, Lindsay had dreams of some day working as a covert operative for the CIA. She graduated from Harvard and then graduate school, and spent a year teaching English in Bulgaria before applying to the CIA.
After jumping through all their many application hoops, which include a variety of tests ranging from a federal background check to polygraph and psych tests - Lindsay ends up being offered not only a job with the CIA – but only after she has already accepted a Fulbright in Bulgaria! Never one to do things the easy way, Lindsay asks to defer her start date with the CIA for a year so she may do research abroad, and amazingly the CIA agrees – with the caveat that she not mention to anyone what she’ll be doing when she returns to the US, and that she retake all the entrance tests upon her return.
How does a woman in her mid 20′s who is naturally outgoing and social succeed in a career that requires her to lie to everyone around her, be secretive about what she does, where she lives and even she knows? And even more important, how will she make it through all the training required to get the job she thinks she wants?
It’s a secret. But if you read the book you’ll find out.
And for fun, read the small print at the bottom of the back of the title page that begins with "The material in this book has been reviewed and approved by the CIA". Makes you wonder what didn’t make it into the final draft. Check out the CIA Publication Review Board if you’re curious. --Beth
Sometimes, to grow up, a kid just needs to get out of town. Camille Preaker left tiny Wind Gap, Missouri eight years ago to pull her life together. HeSometimes, to grow up, a kid just needs to get out of town. Camille Preaker left tiny Wind Gap, Missouri eight years ago to pull her life together. Her smothering mother and the trauma of losing a beloved sister had driven Camille to cutting herself. Now a reporter for a third-rate Chicago daily, she’s assigned to return home to dig into the story of a second child murder, and things go badly right away.
We probably all suspect our families are dysfunctional, but Camille’s is worse, I promise you. Her mother’s truly a horror, and little half-sister Amma is way out of control, the queen of mean at the local junior high. Finding herself drawn to her old pathology, Camille kills the pain with alcohol–lots of alcohol. Stonewalled by the cops, she turns to her old friends for info, and realizes they haven’t changed much at all. Her downward spiral makes her wonder if she has either.
Not a particularly suspenseful book, it’s still hard to put down. It would be unfair to disclose the revelations Flynn springs on the reader, but they’re both fascinating and repellent, like the YouTube video of the giant centipede eating a bat. The insightful view of small town gossip, and some nice twists a the end make this a winner. --John
Well, ok.. she didn’t write it JUST for me, but this book is my new guide to life!
I Like You: hospitality underAmy Sedaris wrote a book just for me!!
Well, ok.. she didn’t write it JUST for me, but this book is my new guide to life!
I Like You: hospitality under the influence by Amy Sedaris is almost impossible to classify. Technically is supposed to be a guide to entertaining. But it’s also a cookbook (with over 100 recipes), a guide to parties and social occasions (from entertaining in-laws to blind dates), and so much more.
In case you’re wondering just who Amy Sedaris is, or why that name sounds familiar, then either you know of her older brother David, or you’ve seen her on Comedy Central or in movies like School of Rock. Look her up on Wikipedia they”ll tell you shes and actress, comedienne and and author.
So why is “I Like You: hospitality under the influence” such a great book?
Where else can you find gift wrapping ideas, a variety of mixed drink recipes, menu ideas for dinner for one, multiple recipes for pie crusts, a guide to the right hairstyle for your face shape, a photo essay on putting on pantyhose (as well as uses for old ones), and silly craft ideas for all ages, just to name a few. Every page in this book is a delight.
Now if you like your books neatly organized with lots of white space and outlines and things, this book will probably hurt your eyes. It does have chapters – sort of. And an index – kind of. But it reads more like some eclectic person’s journal. Someone who doodles a lot and has ADHD.
To me, that’s at least half the fun. But then, like I said, she wrote this book just for me, and I’m getting my very own personal copy (and a stack of little post-its to mark specific pages!) But the library has a copy you call all fight over. --Beth
Marvel’s various Ultimate series began as retellings of classic Marvel comics, simplifying decades of back-story for readers who would otherwise neverMarvel’s various Ultimate series began as retellings of classic Marvel comics, simplifying decades of back-story for readers who would otherwise never catch up. The Ultimate versions can have interesting differences with “real” versions. In “real” life for instance, the Fantastic Four was the first big Marvel hit, but in the Ultimate universe, the Ultimates (Avengers) are more established, and the FF recent additions. Even more confusing is the central role of Nick Fury, who’s now a Black man in (most, but not all) Ultimate stories.
Spider-Man was the first Marvel character to get the Ultimate treatment, and ICPL’s newest is one of his best. It begins with a team-up with Spidey’s new girlfriend, Kitty Pride of the X-Men, which evolves into a jungle adventure with the X-men being hunted by anti-mutant racists. There’s a nice twist at the end that saves Peter Parker from getting busted by his Aunt May. Appearances by Blade, Daredevil, and the Punisher follow. While none of these characters really does it for me, the storytelling remains good, the artwork top-notch.
“Wait a minute,” you’re thinking, “back up. Everybody knows from the movies that Peter Parker’s in love with Mary Jane. What’s this about a new girlfriend?” Good question. Mary Jane knows about Kitty, and confronts Peter here, a touching scene. Author Brian Michael Bendis writes the best dialog in the business, and is at his best when Peter talks to the women in his life. --John
You are surrounded by space on all sides and immersed in time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But, do you really understand it? Is it really 4-dimensioYou are surrounded by space on all sides and immersed in time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But, do you really understand it? Is it really 4-dimensional or merely our perception of an 11-dimensional reality? Brian Greene, one of the world’s leading physicists, thinks that he knows and he explains it all to you. Using super-strings and M-theory, Greene tries to close the gap between quantum mechanics and Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Granted that probably is not very interesting for most people, but with wit and humor he is able to translate the mathematics and physics of the universe into analogies which are accessible by the layperson. --Todd
The New York Times Practical Guide to Practically Everything: The Essential Companion for Everyday Life, does just what its title states. The book isThe New York Times Practical Guide to Practically Everything: The Essential Companion for Everyday Life, does just what its title states. The book is comprised of 12 sections; the first is Health and Fitness and the last Laws and Mores with House and Garden, Travel, Everyday Science several of the sections in between. This is a great source to have if you don’t have access to Google or you just want to use a good old fashioned reference book to answer a question, (you know, like you used to in the days before the Internet).
Each of the sections is divided into subcategories and topics. Entries are well written and not too technical. Each entry is signed and there is often link to a website or address if the reader wants to find out more information. The answers are authoritative - the book’s editors called upon the staff at the New York Times – editors, reporters and critics who in turn had their own sources of experts. It also has a handy index.
The New York Times Practical Guide to Practically Everything is one of those works you might want to have at ready at a dinner party when two people think they both know the correct answer but only one of them is really right. --Maeve
Rudy Harrington makes a new life in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. It’s a long way from Chicago and his life as an avocado buyer. Norma Jean, an elepRudy Harrington makes a new life in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. It’s a long way from Chicago and his life as an avocado buyer. Norma Jean, an elephant who paints, is left in Rudy’s care and she opens his heart and spirit to new possibilities in life.
This book had a great sense of place. I was born in the Rio Grande Valley and visited there often while I was growing up. The description of the place reminded me of the Santa Ana Bird Refuge and other places in the Upper Valley.
I also enjoyed the characters and how the story developed. This was an enjoyable read and interesting that an elephant was a part of two of my recent favorite stories ~ the other being Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.
Five tourists meet at a restaurant in Greece. A tragedy unfolds in the harbor below, creating a bond of sympathy between the five and the restaurant oFive tourists meet at a restaurant in Greece. A tragedy unfolds in the harbor below, creating a bond of sympathy between the five and the restaurant owner. Each person's story unfolds in a different chapter, each tale weaving in and out of the tales of others.
Maeve Binchy can be hard to follow. In many of her books, the action is carried forward in sections, each focusing on a different character. Ms. Binchy often leaves out part of the story in the transition between characters, leaving the reader to infer what happened by clues in the next character's piece. If you don't expect this, you may find yourself saying, "What just happened?"
Night of Rain and Stars can be a good introduction to Binchy. Rather than telling bits of one story, this book tells several separate stories. A reader can get a good taste of Binchy's well-drawn characters and believable plot without getting lost on the way.
The best part is this: when you finish this book and find yourself hooked on Binchy, there are a dozen other books by her on the shelf. --Beth D....more
"The are three sides to every story: yours mine and the truth" thats how The Kid Stays in the Picture begins and the book ends with another statement"The are three sides to every story: yours mine and the truth" thats how The Kid Stays in the Picture begins and the book ends with another statement that I can’t repeat here but it is now used as a mantra for any Hollywood player. Robert Evans is a player. From a habadasher to young actor, from a studio head to a major figure in a famous scandal, Evans has lived it all. The book while a great read, really it is a page turner, there is something about the audio version that gives this book a special pizazz. Evans reads his own story. In a flat seductive baratone Evans tells his tale with no apologies and little fluff. He talks about working with great directors like Polanski and Coppola. Dealing with stars like Brando, Nicholson, Dunaway and Sharon Stone. Getting an education from Hollywood dealers like Darryl Zanuck. Wooing women like Ali McGraw only to lose her to Steve MacQueen in an infamous affair. This is the stuff of legend. This is Robert Evans life and as he tells you all about it. This is the man who gave us The Godfather, Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, Harrold and Maud, Love Story and dozens of other movies during his tenure at Paramount Studios. He saw the highs and lows. He was a chief player in the cotton club scandal and he has married eight times. Cocaine just about ended everything and Evans is hardest on himself in retelling the stories. At the end you too will repeat with Evans that final line. Take a listen it’s a journey you shouldn’t miss. --Terri
Jean Chatzky, editor-at-large for ‘Money Magazine’ and financial editor for NBC’s Today Show, has a new book, Make Money, Not Excuses: Wake Up, Take CJean Chatzky, editor-at-large for ‘Money Magazine’ and financial editor for NBC’s Today Show, has a new book, Make Money, Not Excuses: Wake Up, Take Charge, and Overcome Your Financial Fears Forever. The premise of Make Money not Excuses is simple – there are four basic things you need to do:
1. You need to make a decent living.
2. You need to spend less than you make.
3. You need to invest the money you don’t spend.
4. You need to protect yourself and this financial world you’ve built.
These four tenets are so easy to understand that you probably don’t need to read the entire book but do. Chatzky is also a money coach and her steps to financial independence may be just what you need to get on track for a healthy financial future.