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).