30 Dec
2011

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

*Blair's Pick*

This book, for better or worse, is responsible for my entire college career. This is one of those books that I read when I was young and revisited it when I was older and has become one of the five books, along with my cat, that I would rescue from a fire. My love of language began here and is still with me. It is with young Milo that I learned how wonderful and strange language can be, which led me to pursue poetry, philosophy and linguistics in college. In Dictionopolis I learned that letters taste different. I learned that Conclusions is an island that can only be reached by jumping. I learned that war is what happens when rhyme and reason are nowhere to be found. I learned that meaning in language is never exhausted, but always open to new and imaginative possibilities.

30 Dec
2011

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

*Andy & Blair's Pick*

I can’t even begin to say how awesome this book is. Eggers plays with the reader from the start by sneaking into the copyright page and adding funny snippets to it-a very post modern move-to always remind the reader not to take the thing in their hand for granted. Eggers broke new ground with this book; it hovers in free space between several poles- truth and fiction, youth and adulthood, popular and underground cultures; they all flow through this story of Eggers’ move to California with his younger brother following the deaths of their parents-31 days apart from each other. Moments like this are the heartbreaking side of this book, and the staggering genius comes in when he describes such heartbreak with his unique postmodern mix of humor and irony.  He was a candidate for the first MTV Real World, and the transcript of the interview is included. I mean c’mon. That’s pretty neato.:)

30 Dec
2011

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

*Henry's Pick*

This book threw a bomb into everything I knew when I was young. At that time I only knew how to wrap my head around my backyard, and this book gave me the entire universe. It was my introduction to infinity. No longer was it just something I drew in the margins of my homework. A Wrinkle in Time made infinity as tangible as I think it will ever be for me, folding it into something that I could fit in my pocket. Even after delving into the world of theoretic physics and theories about multiple dimensions, the ideas in this book still hold. However, I think the greatest lesson in this book dealt with the opposite of infinity, which to me is fate. A mysterious character named Mrs. Whatsit compares fate to a sonnet. A sonnet has a strict form. There are 14 lines, all in iambic pentameter, but within these lines you can write whatever you want. I think this is as hopeful an outlook on fate you will ever find in print.

30 Dec
2011

The Art of Modern Rock by Paul Grushkin & Dennis King

*Jessi's Pick*

Being an artist, how could I pass up an opportunity to review this book? Also being a complete music geek on top of that…well forget it! Obviously, I recommend this book, both from an artist’s standpoint and a lover of rock n roll. It’s interesting to see the progression of poster art, the details and complexity can be quite amazing. Even simplicity itself can be wonderous if used in the right context. You may even catch me flipping the pages on a slow day (shh…don’t tell my boss!).

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.