Posted On: Aug 22, 2013 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
With more than a month to devote to my reading (I missed last month’s Reading the Classics deadline due to my not paying attention to said deadline), I was able to take on an extended reading project. Luckily, I had already jumped in to a project, a project that I was a bit skeptical of at first, the mystery genre. And of course if a guy trying to read classics decides on a mystery…well, there are certain authors that spring to mind. Agatha Christie was an obvious frontrunner, followed by several other huge names in mystery. However, my mind was made up with the help of LPL’s faithful Acquisitions Volunteer, Michelle. She is a pretty devout fan of Sherlock Holmes…mostly, I think, because of the current BBC TV series Sherlock. I have yet to see Sherlock…I have my hold on Season One of the series (you’d think the guy that orders the stuff for the collection would be able to get his holds placed a bit sooner). And since I couldn’t get my hands on the DVD set, I decided to do it the old fashioned way. I’d read some Sherlock Holmes stuff! And then, I decided to cheat and went straight to the audio version of A Study in Scarlet from the library’s handy audiobook partner, One Click Digital. It was a quick read listen and I enjoyed it so much that I was ready for some more Holmes stories. Luckily the library has plenty of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s greatest character! I made it through several Holmes stories, some in their printed form, and others in their audiobook format. I did a few of the big ones…The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Sign of Four. And I grabbed a couple volumes of the library’s Holmes collections. I haven’t yet made it through all three volumes, but I’m enraptured enough to keep going! In fact, I said to my wife last night, “I think what I like about the Sherlock Holmes stories is trying to solve the mystery before Holmes does!” Well, she duly informed me that that’s the reason ALL mystery fans read mysteries. And so with my pride only slightly hurt (I say, only slightly because I’m proud to report that I have beat Holmes to a closed case on more than one occasion) I picked up my volume of Sherlock Holmes stories and got back to deducting, deducing, solving crimes!
-Dan Winsky, Acquisitions
Posted On: Jul 25, 2013 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
At times when my 2 ½ year old son gets in a DVD rut, I “accidentally” pop something totally random into the player. More often than not, this doesn’t fly, and we’re doomed to a 34th viewing of Goofy’s Coconutty Monkey, or yet another Team Umizoomi quest. However, I recently had good luck with an old standby from my own grade school 16mm days, a 28-minute film from 1966 entitled Paddle-to-the-Sea, which was sufficiently different from anything my son had ever seen in the Day-Glo CGI wonderland of today’s children’s television that it held him spellbound almost from start to finish. Paddle-to-the-Sea, based on a Caldecott honored book of the same title by Holling Clancy Holling, tells the story of a miniature birchbark canoe and rider carved by an Indian boy living in a wilderness cabin north of Lake Superior. The boy carves the words “Please put me back in water—I am Paddle-to-the-Sea” on the bottom of the canoe, and releases it to flow down the river from his home into Lake Superior and beyond. Read More..
Posted On: Jul 13, 2013 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
As a concerned citizen, you try to do your part. You’ve switched every light bulb in your house to those swirly compact fluorescents, you only buy produce grown within spitting distance of your kitchen table, and the closest thing to T.V. you watch is the fuel economy monitor in your Prius. And for all those best efforts, you might just be making the environment worse. Thanks. Read More..
Posted On: Jul 8, 2013 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
I love Frida Kahlo. I love the brutality and the deeply personal nature of her paintings, the abandon with which she lived her life, her fierce devotion to her country and her lovers. I am intrigued by the mysteries and the ambiguities of her life. The way my coworker Kelli swoons over Abe Lincoln, growing giddy at the thought of holding a lock of Lincoln’s hair…that’s the way I feel about Frida Kahlo. Read More..
Posted On: Jul 4, 2013 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
Annie Dillard showed up on Facebook one day. Not the real deal, merely a notice that it was her birthday. But that was enough to send me down memory lane, recalling how much I enjoyed reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek all those years ago. It was time to visit Tinker Creek again. Read More..
Posted On: Jul 1, 2013 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
When I was in high school it seemed like everyone’s dad had a copy of William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich somewhere in the family bookshelves, and occasionally one of us would take a stab at reading it. In my own case, I made it all of about 100 pages in before the litany of early Nazi intrigues and unpronounceable German names had me stupefied. My own father considered the book to be a great accomplishment—both for its author, who won the National Book Award for it in 1961, and for himself, who never failed to recount with his trademark guffaw, whenever the book was mentioned in his presence, how he borrowed a paperback copy from a friend, tore it in half while reading due to its laborious length, and returned it in two pieces when he finished. Read More..
Posted On: Jun 26, 2013 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
Yeah, I know the month is almost over, but a few days remain. And who’s to say I can’t expand a bit and just make 2013 The Year of the Audiobook? I spend a lot of time listening to audiobooks…perhaps more than anyone else I know. I’ve mentioned before that audiobooks accompany me at any time I can possibly fit one in. Laundry, doing the dishes, driving, yard work and date nights that include chick flicks are all great times to do some audiobook listening. Mind you, some of these audiobook events involve well-hidden ear buds and no small amount of acting as if you’re paying attention but they’re great audiobook times nevertheless! Read More..
Posted On: Jun 21, 2013 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
Growing up as a teenager with access to one of the few cable systems to carry MTV when it debuted on August 1, 1981, I spent a lot of time watching the channel and its original five VJS. So when VJ : the unplugged adventures of MTV’s first wave arrived on our shelves to be cataloged, it immediately caught my eye.
In it, the four surviving VJs – Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, and Martha Quinn —together with co-writer Gavin Edwards compile an oral history of the early days of the channel, back when it really was “music television.” They reveal details of their lives before they were tapped for the brave new occupation of “VJ” , behind-the-scenes tales of the channel’s shaky startup (when even cable operations in Manhattan – where the VJs were living—didn’t carry the channel & so they couldn’t have a full picture of what their efforts were creating), through MTV’s heyday in the mid-80s. Especially enjoyable for me are their reminiscences about fifth VJ J.J. Jackson (who died in 2004), and the scoop on their individual (and sometimes sudden) departures from the channel. Read More..
Posted On: Jun 18, 2013 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
After reading Prep, a novel about the trials and tribulations of a teen girl at boarding school, and American Wife, a novel whose main character is modeled after Laura Bush, I never expected that Curtis Sittenfeld’s next novel would be about psychic sisters.
Despite the supernatural hook, Sisterland is very much in the tradition of Sittenfeld’s previous novels, which feature startling realistic and unflinchingly honest narrators and examine complex family dynamics. Rather than an angsty teenage outsider or a wife who loves her husband but is at odds with his politics, Sisterland centers around Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, who both have “senses” that give them glimpses into the future. While Kate eschews her given name–Daisy–and her psychic abilities for a quiet life in the suburbs raising her two young children as a stay at home mom. Vi, who makes a living as a professional psychic, predicts a massive earthquake and appears on television warning local St. Louis residents, and Kate can’t escape the fallout, or her own premonitions. Read More..
Posted On: Jun 6, 2013 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
I love it when someone tells me about something I never knew existed. I live for it in fact. Wanting to delve more deeply into mid-century noir novels, a friend hipped me to a great website where I could track down some out of print titles. On said website, I was also pleased to stumble upon a treasure trove of great books on music. One of them was Nik Cohn’s Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom. It’s the best title of a book of all time, right? Thankfully, the book lives up to its title and then some.
Nik Cohn wrote Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom in 1968 during a feverish seven week assault on his manual typewriter. Mark Rozzo, writing in the New York Times, called the book “a monument to speed writing.” It’s a who’s who of the “Golden Age of Rock,” from Elvis to Gene Pitney, Chuck Berry to The Beatles and The Stones, all told in pithy and pitch perfect mini-biographies. Taken as a whole one of the most inspired and engaging enumerations of the birth and evolution of rock music I’ve read to date, and I’ve read several. Nik Cohn writes with great personality and pulls no punches. It’s a wholly entertaining read. Even the most steadfast rock aficionado is bound to learn something from this Nik Cohn lost classic.