30 Dec
2011

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

*Mya’s Pick*

Six­teen peo­ple are invit­ed to the read­ing of eccen­tric mil­lion­aire Samuel W. Westing’s will.  Depend­ing on how they play the dan­ger­ous and tricky game he’s cooked up, they could become mil­lion­aires. A clas­sic from my mid­dle-school days — this is one of those books that I forced on my friends if I had learned that they some­how made it to high school with­out hav­ing read it. Full of clev­er­ly laid clues and a won­der­ful­ly inven­tive end­ing, The West­ing Game is pure fun.  A hint for the read­er: pay CLOSE atten­tion to any clue you are given.  They are your only hope in solv­ing the mys­tery.

30 Dec
2011

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon

*Andy’s Pick*

I am strad­dling the divide between the com­fort­able insu­la­tion of col­lege and the weighty respon­si­bil­i­ties of adult­hood like Art the nar­ra­tor in The Mys­ter­ies of Pitts­burgh. The sto­ry fol­lows the nar­ra­tor, Art, as he trav­els around the city try­ing to uncov­er pieces of his bur­geon­ing adult iden­ti­ty. Art’s sex­u­al­i­ty, in par­tic­u­lar, has gar­nered a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of crit­i­cal atten­tion, but the narrator’s dynam­ic with his mob­ster father, super­fi­cial friend­ships, and rela­tion­ship with the city itself are all pieces in the puz­zle that is Art‘s life. After all, I nev­er thought aim­less­ly cruis­ing through Shadyside, Oak­land, and Squir­rel Hill could make for such an engag­ing nov­el until I moved to Pitts­burgh and saw the mys­ter­ies of the city for myself.

30 Dec
2011

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

Excerpts from EW’s interview with Stephen King:

I’m hav­ing a day of mixed feel­ings: hap­py because I’m read­ing the man­u­script of a nov­el that’s full of mag­ic, mys­tery, and mon­sters; sad because it will be fin­ished tomor­row and on my shelf, with all it’s secrets told and it’s sur­viv­ing char­ac­ters set free to live their own lives (if char­ac­ters have lives beyond the end of a nov­el — I’ve always felt they do). The sense of sad­ness I feel at the approach­ing end of The Mon­sters of Tem­ple­ton isn’t just because the story’s going to be over; when you read a good one — and this is a very good one — those feel­ings are deep­ened by the real­iza­tion that you prob­a­bly won’t tie into any­thing that much fun again for a long time.”

30 Dec
2011

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

*Kristen’s Pick*

I know you have seen the movie, and loved it, (who didn’t love it?) but I can’t stress enough that you should also read this book. Read it for the hilar­i­ous ‘asides’ where Gold­man takes you on an up close and per­son­al tour of both his child and adult­hood. Read it for the intro­duc­tion, a beau­ti­ful and touch­ing piece of writ­ing (and includes juicy tid­bits about mak­ing the movie). Read it for the “But­ter­cups Baby” expla­na­tion. Espe­cial­ly the con­ver­sa­tion Gold­man has with Stephen King (they are friends and have a sort of mutu­al admi­ra­tion soci­ety going, a fact that nev­er fails to delight me). The first line of the orig­i­nal text reads “This is my favorite book in all the world” and I couldn’t agree more.

30 Dec
2011

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

*Jessi’s Pick*

Fans of the wacky, zany, and down­right irrev­er­ent will love Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide. The book cen­ters around Arthur Dent, a man whose serene lit­tle world is destroyed (lit­er­al­ly) and he finds him­self to be almost the last man in the Uni­verse… and all with­in the first 30 pages! I learned many valu­able lessons from this book, like the impor­tance of always car­ry­ing a tow­el, why you should nev­er ask a Vogon to read you poet­ry, and that the answer to the ulti­mate ques­tion of life, the Uni­verse and every­thing is 42. The 25th ed. Also includes pho­tos, art­work and rec­ol­lec­tions of Adams’ friends. If you like this one, def­i­nite­ly fol­low up with The Ulti­mate Guide… Got your tow­el!?

30 Dec
2011

Post Secret by Frank Warren

*Blair’s Pick*

This book slapped me across the face, punched me in the stom­ach, gave me ice cream and then tick­led me. The most potent emo­tion this book evoked , how­ev­er, was relief. This col­lec­tion of post­cards rid­dled with anony­mous secrets lets you know that you are not alone in the world; the­se con­fes­sions wrap their creepy arms around you and say, “you’re one of us.” Both heart­break­ing and fun­ny, this is a must read.

30 Dec
2011

Mountain Man Dance Moves / Mcsweeny’s ed.

*Blair’s Pick*

By far no oth­er book has made me laugh this hard. It is the essence of a cyn­i­cal yet hope­ful gen­er­a­tion of intel­lec­tu­als who give new mean­ing to lists, although I’m not sure what the old mean­ing was, but the new mean­ing is much fun­nier. This book will make you pop­u­lar at social gath­er­ings by read­ing aloud, or more impres­sive­ly, recit­ing from mem­o­ry, one of the many adorably fun­ny lists in this book such as “Ways in which I have per­son­al­ly tak­en it upon myself to mess with Tex­as.”

30 Dec
2011

The Giver by Lois Lowry

*Marlie’s Pick*

The Giver is a remark­able and mem­o­rable sci-fi sto­ry about a boy named Jonas. Jonas lives in a seem­ing­ly utopi­an soci­ety, there is no pover­ty, no sick­ness, no war, no bad mem­o­ries and every­one is equal and alike. (Very rem­i­nis­cent of 1984 and Brave New World). ‘The elders’ choose Jonas for a very impor­tant task with­in the com­mu­ni­ty — he will study under the old­est man in the vil­lage and become the keep­er of all mem­o­ries. As he accu­mu­lates more mem­o­ries, he longs to feel real emo­tion, to be stim­u­lat­ed and inspired, and to be dif­fer­ent than every­one else. The Giver is a beau­ti­ful, touch­ing and com­pas­sion­ate tale of find­ing one’s self both emo­tion­al­ly and spir­i­tu­al­ly. It’s about fit­ting in while still find­ing a way to stand out. (…Junior High any­one!?) I read this book years ago as a school assign­ment and have found myself reread­ing it almost every year since. (…and yes, I still cry every time).