30 Dec
2011

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle

*KRISTEN’S PICK*

The day I got this book I was meet­ing my hus­band for din­ner, and (as usu­al) he was late. Which was okay, for once, as I got to start read­ing at the bar. My hus­band paid the price for being late, there was no lov­ing chit chat at din­ner, but a lot of “shush­ing” from me, along with assort­ed remarks like “I am try­ing to read”, and “where’s your book” (I love the guy, don’t get me wrong). When we got home, I stayed up read­ing until the end and I bet you will too. Lar­ry Doyle (an ex Simpson’s writer) has craft­ed an uproar­i­ous love let­ter to geeks every­where. With a def­i­nite Simpson’s flair, (and I mean that in the best of ways — I’m a huge fan!) right down to the oblig­a­tory “Mill­house” of a best friend (read gay) who also, no mat­ter what the sit­u­a­tion, can­not stop spout­ing movie quotes, includ­ing their direc­tors. Who doesn’t have a friend like this? I have two (you know who you are). I can’t imag­ine any­one not lik­ing this book!

30 Dec
2011

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

*Ryan’s Pick*

Between fourth and six­th grade I think I read this book five times. Dog lovers need this book. Young boys need this book. Any­one who grew up in the coun­try needs this book. If you haven’t read it, you need this book.
Rawls encap­su­lates all of the large hard­ships and small vic­to­ries of grow­ing up and learn­ing about life in the back­woods and forests of any city and state. I think that this is the book that made me real­ize how pow­er­ful lan­guage and writ­ing can be. Pas­sages still stick with me — some 12 years after read­ing it. The rac­coons, the great sycamore, the boy falling on the axe, the side by side graves, the mys­te­ri­ous plant.
Where the Red Fern Grows was a book that changed the way that I saw lit­er­a­ture. It’s one of those sto­ries that you can read as a young boy for the thrill, as an adult for the nos­tal­gia, and again as an old man for the famil­iar com­fort that it nev­er ceas­es to deliv­er.

30 Dec
2011

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

*Marlie’s Pick!*

Ladies — this is a great sum­mer read, you won’t be able to put it down! It’s the sto­ry of a young girl, Lily, who leaves her abu­sive father and sets off on her own search­ing for answers about her deceased moth­er. She is tak­en in by a fam­i­ly of three black sis­ters liv­ing in the deep south dur­ing a time of seri­ous racial unrest. Lily is put to work in their hon­ey house for the sum­mer and begins a won­der­ful jour­ney of self dis­cov­ery in wom­en, fam­i­ly, love and trust. I swear you can actu­al­ly smell the hon­ey from the bees and feel the swel­ter­ing heat of the south in sum­mer! I ran out and got The Mer­maid Chair (by Sue Monk Kidd) the very day I fin­ished this — I couldn’t get enough! The Mer­maid Chair was great, but not as affec­tive and haunt­ing as The Secret Life of Bees… LOVED IT!

30 Dec
2011

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

*Kristen’s Pick!*

The first line is: “I was born singing. Most babies cry, I sang an aria”. Yeah, this book had me at hel­lo. I liked Levine’s oth­er books, (Ella Enchant­ed and Two Princess­es of Bamar­re) but I loved this! This lyri­cal re-imag­in­ing of Snow White spoke vol­umes to me about the spell beau­ty can weave and the use (and mis­use) of pow­er. Besides, I was born to live in Ayortha, a land where con­ver­sa­tions are most often sung and then spo­ken. This book should take its place as a mod­ern clas­sic.

30 Dec
2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

*Blair’s Pick!*

If you lose your purpose…it’s like you’re bro­ken”

If you’re not already sold just by pick­ing up and flip­ping through this visu­al­ly stun­ning book, then you are bor­ing. This is a beau­ti­ful sto­ry that blends film and mag­ic and child­like won­der to cre­ate Hugo Cabret, a boy who tends to the clocks at a train sta­tion in Paris, where he also lives. At the heart of the sto­ry lies a mys­tery: an automa­ton with a mes­sage. This mes­sage not only changes Hugo’s life, but also some­one unex­pect­ed. Like the small parts that make each clock work, the char­ac­ters in this sto­ry real­ize they too are parts of a vast machin­ery where each piece mat­ters, be it a dream­er, adven­tur­er, magi­cian or clock­mak­er.

30 Dec
2011

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

* Jessi’s Pick*

Imag­ine a poem that kills any­one who heard it. Now imag­ine if that same poem some­how end­ed up in a children’s book that par­ents read to their kids. What would you do? Carl Streator, a news­pa­per jour­nal­ist, makes it his mis­sion to find and destroy all copies of this dead­ly poem. Author of Fight Club and famous for sub­ver­sive twists, Chuck Palah­niuk does not fail to impress with Lul­laby. This book was my first intro­duc­tion into the world of Palah­niuk and is still by far my favorite!

30 Dec
2011

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fford

*Mya’s Pick!*

A won­der­ful trip through space and time, com­plete with time-trav­el­ing Dads, Edward Rochester (of Jane Eyre fame) and the world’s third most want­ed crim­i­nal. The Eyre affair intro­duces agent Thurs­day Next, an agent with the secre­tive Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Net­work, Lit­er­ary Detec­tive Divi­sion. It’s all busi­ness as usu­al for Thurs­day until some­one starts kid­nap­ping char­ac­ter from works of lit­er­a­ture. When Jane Eyre goes miss­ing, it’s up to Thurs­day to enter the world of books and track down the vil­lain. A friend sug­gest­ed, more like forced this book on me. Full of lit­er­ary puns and allu­sions, this bril­liant­ly out­landish caper kept me laugh­ing from start­to fin­ish. I enjoyed it so much that the moment I fin­ished I went right and bought the rest of the series. A book that makes all those gru­el­ing hours in AP Eng­lish worth it!

30 Dec
2011

Watchmen by Alan Moore

*Chris’s Pick!*

We’ve come a long way since the for­ties and the cre­ation of the super­hero, and there is no bet­ter exam­ple of just how far comics have pro­gressed as an art than Alan Moore’s Watch­men. Dave Gib­bons bril­liant illus­tra­tions cre­ate a liv­ing world, pack­ing in as much detail as pos­si­ble, forc­ing a slow exam­i­na­tion of every pan­el, flip­ping back through pages to find sim­i­lar­ly framed pan­els.
Watch­men deliv­ers on every front: super­heroes who aren’t super, a mur­der-mys­tery detec­tive sto­ry, an alter­nate real­i­ty where Richard Nixon is still pres­i­dent and we nev­er lost in Viet­nam, philo­soph­i­cal reflec­tions on the human con­di­tion, a detached blue sci­en­tist with God-like pow­ers who refus­es to wear cloth­ing, a moral­ly grey world where any­one could be the hero or the vil­lain, and pirates.
That sounds like a lot, but it’s nev­er cum­ber­some, it’s tied togeth­er through beau­ti­ful prose, like a tapes­try made from the tat­tered old remains of Superman’s cape. Moore asks hard ques­tions, and he asks them earnest­ly, and with­out restraint. There’s an answer in there some­where, hid­den in the illus­tra­tions, in the mul­ti­ple nar­ra­tives, the over­lap­ping time-peri­ods, hid­den in the beau­ty. But above all,there’s a real human sto­ry about what hap­pens when aver­age peo­ple decide that aver­age isn’t enough any­more.