Richard’s April Recommendation

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

waiting for godotRichard says:  “Samuel Beckett’s infamous, highly influential Waiting for Godot is among the most well-regarded (and infuriating) tragicomedies of the 20th century.  The plot, such as it is, is a trifle:  two men are waiting for Godot.  Why, for how long they have been waiting, where this occurs, etc. all tend to be open for interpretation; there is precious little information given about Vladimir and Estragon, their circumstances, or much anything else.  Instead, the narrative (such as it is) unfolds in the protagonists’are they protagonists?conversations and the play’s exploration of the absurd and existential.

Waiting for Godot is rightly identified with two popular, post-World War I literary and philosophical movements:  absurdism and existentialism.  If not the original ‘show about nothing’there are surely earlier examples, although I can’t think of any offhandthen it at least captures a certain feeling of time and place, which is to say a vacuum.  Most of the action takes place in strange dialogues and pronouncements, many of which will ring true to devotees of this genre.  In a review, theater critic Vivian Mercier once famously said ‘nothing happens, twice.’  If this description sounds dull or tedious, then you might want to skip this one; however, anyone with a taste for philosophy, wordplay, and biting humor will likely find Waiting for Godot a great reador viewing.  My advice?  Read the play before seeking out any productions.  The last time I saw this performed, more than half of the audience walked out after the first act.  The main complaint?  ‘Nothing happens.  I get it.’  That may be, but that’s why Waiting for Godot so effective.”

3 Similar Reads

The Fall by Albert Camus

Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard

Sue’s September Recommendation

The Humor Code: A Global Search For What Makes Things Funny by Peter McGraw and Joel Warner

Sue says: A college professor and a journalist criss-cross the globe trying to find out if there is one unifying model for explaining what makes things funny.  Their travels take them from the comedy clubs of Vegas to the refugee camps of the West Bank, where they meet some very interesting people and unearth a plethora of jokes.  Their somewhat madcap adventures are grounded in the amount of scholarly research and published studies about humor that they also draw upon and use as a basis for their unusual quest.  A thought-provoking and very amusing read.
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Ashley’s November Recommendation

let's explore diabetes with owlsI recently listened to the audiobook of Lets Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris. I’m a big Sedaris fan. Usually I read his latest work in print and pick up the audiobook later before a big road trip. This time, I sought out the audiobook first and I’m glad I did. While the voice of Sedaris rings through printed text, there’s something very special about hearing him read his own work. The audiobook of Lets Explore Diabetes With Owls is made up of live and studio recordings of Sedaris’ latest book of essays. These essays revolve around his life and travels abroad and, of course, his family. Sedaris gives readers his usual dose of comedy, but there is a more serious undertone to many of the essays in this book. If you need a break from the radio, I highly recommend popping this book into your CD player. It provides an interesting look at one man’s life and it may spark a bit of introspection on your end.
Swan Summary:
“From the unique perspective of David Sedaris comes a new book of essays taking his readers on a bizarre and stimulating world tour. From the perils of French dentistry to the eating habits of the Australian kookaburra, from the squat-style toilets of Beijing to the particular wilderness of a North Carolina Costco, we learn about the absurdity and delight of a curious traveler’s experiences. Whether railing against the habits of litterers in the English countryside or marveling over a disembodied human arm in a taxidermist’s shop, Sedaris takes us on side-splitting adventures that are not to be forgotten”
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Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell

Genna’s November Recommendation

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

this is where i leave youSometimes I’m just happy to read a book that’s so well written!

This book follows the character of Jude, who’s been recently cuckolded by his boss, which has forced him to quit, move out of his house and into a janky basement, and start to get “soft” around the middle. Judd’s stoic father has just passed away (as if it can’t get any worse for Judd), so he travels to be with his family who he really only seems to like as much as the tip of his pinky, but their dysfunctional sarcasm and veiled loving remarks are really what crack a smile and elicit a giggle from the reader several times. Who doesn’t love some good sibling jabs?

Judd’s father has requested that they all sit shiva for the traditional 7 days, and his descriptions of sitting on a low-to-the-ground shiva chair, face to face with wrinkly saggy legs, is hilarious.

Judd’s mother is a well-known published child psychologist who wears scandalous clothing and openly discusses sex the whole week. Judd’s oldest sister Wendy ignores her husband who has his phone attached to his head all week, and her 3 squealing children, while his brother Paul and wife Alice express fertiility frustration problems, and to round it off, the youngest brother Philip, a handsome screw-up, waltzes home with a 44 year old fiance.

It’s very well written, the characters have really stuck with me, and I laughed out loud several times and cried once.

3 Similar Reads

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

While I’m Falling by Laura Moriarty

The World Without You by Joshua Henkin

 

 

Weekly Spotlight On…2013 Books into Movies

movie reelSeveral of the most popular movies this year were based off of a book (Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, The Hobbit, Cloud Atlas and so many more).  There is something about a well-told story that compels people to put the images they see in their heads up for all to see on the big screen.  While the movie occasionally outdoes the novel, I believe that this is rarely the case.  Take, for example, 2012’s movie version of Cloud Atlas.  The movie was considered to be a flop for American audiences, but the 2004 novel of the same name by David Mitchell rose to the top of the bestseller list when the movie was released.  According to an article found on Squidoo, on average, Hollywood releases more than two dozen movies based on books a year.  In 2013, read the book before you see the movie.  Here is a selected list of upcoming movies based on books:

John Dies at the EndJohn Dies at the End (Release Date: January 25th, 2013)

This was originally a 2009 novel of the same name written by David Wong.  A gross–out horror book infused with humor (which actually manages to increase the terror of the reader), Paul Giamatti makes an appearance in this movie most likely to appeal to lovers of cheesy sci-fi or horror movies.  Fans of last year’s Cabin in the Woods won’t want to miss this one.

warm bodiesWarm Bodies (Release Date: February 1st, 2013)

Based on the 2011 novel of the same name written by Isaac Marion, this movie will put a new twist on the romantic comedy by using one of most popular trends in American culture today: zombies.  The story is fairly simple, focusing on a single zombie, R, who yearns for a better life and ends up falling in love with a human girl.  Hijinks ensue.  This one will most likely appeal to the teen demographic.

admissionAdmission (Release Date: March 22nd, 2013)

This comedy, starring comedic heavyweights Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, is based on a 2009 novel of the same name by Jean Hanff Korelitz.  Tina Fey plays a Princeton admissions officer who is up for promotion when she takes a professional risk after she meets a college-bound alternative school kid who just might be the son she gave up years ago in a secret adoption.  The book was very well received when it came out, being hailed as, “Strongly plotted, crowded with full-bodied characters and as thoughtful about ‘this national hysteria over college admissions’ as it is about the protagonist’s complex personality.  A fine, moving example of traditional realistic fiction.” (Kirkus Reviews).

the company you keepThe Company You Keep (Release Date: April 5th, 2013 (limited release))

This thriller directed by and starring Robert Redford is based on the 2003 novel of the same name by Neil Gordon.  The story is centered on centered on a former Weather Underground activist who goes on the run from a journalist who has discovered his identity.  The film has a lot of big names attached to it, including Shia LaBeouf, Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, Chris Cooper, Stanley Tucci, Terrence Howard, Nick Nolte, and Sam Elliott.  Library Journal calls the book an “upscale literary thriller” and it was a 2003 New York Times notable book.

the great gatsbyThe Great Gatsby (Release Date: May 10th, 2013)

This Baz Luhrmann adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel was originally scheduled to be released in the winter of 2012.  While it is usually not a great sign when a movie’s release date is pushed back, Luhrmann’s directorial vision, as demonstrated in films such as Moulin Rouge! and Strictly Ballroom, will at least ensure it’s originality and daring.  The cast, which includes Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as the heart-breaker Daisy Buchanan, and Tobey Maguire as the narrator Nick Carraway, is also promising.  But everyone should still try the book first.

world war zWorld War Z (Release Date: June 13th, 2013)

Continuing in the zombie trend, Brad Pitt will star in this movie based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Max Brooks.  While the previews make the movie look like a fun ride (if you’re into the zombie thing), the book is a worthwhile read not necessarily for the zombie fun but for the humorous way Brooks approaches contemporary politics, politicians, and foreign policy.  The novel is ultimately an alternate history that asks the question: how would the world really react to a zombie outbreak?  Hopefully the movie didn’t miss this mark.

carrieCarrie (Release Date: October 18th, 2013)

Did Stephen King know when he wrote his very first novel that it would continue to engage audiences far into the future?  Perhaps not, but Carrie has withstood the test of time and there is something about a Stephen King story that begs to be represented visually (again…and again…and again).  Skeptics abound concerning this remake, but it does have promising elements: directed by Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don’t Cry) and starring Chloe Grace Moretz (Let Me In) as Carrie and Julianne Moore as her psychotic, controlling mother, this has enough promise in it to get me to the movie theaters come Halloween.

ender's gameEnder’s Game (Release Date: November 1st, 2013)

Based on the classic science fiction novel of the same name by Orson Scott Card, this movie stars Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin, and Asa Butterfiel (Hugo) as Ender.  70 years after a horrific alien war, an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future invasion.  The book is the winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards and has withstood the test of time–it is still one of the bestselling science fiction books in the world today.  The novel is great reading for adults and for teens, especially younger boys.

Publisher’s Weekly also recently came out with a great list of the 10 Most Anticipated Movies From Books. Another great resource to find out what movies are coming out based on books is EarlyWord.  This site gives a comprehensive list instead a few select titles.  Enjoy, and stay tuned for more Weekly Spotlights and staff recommendations!

Blaise’s March Recommendation

Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

“I would like to recommend Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?  Kaling is an actor and writer who plays the character Kelly Kapoor on the television show The Office.  In this book, she talks about growing up, her family, her friends, her career and behind the scenes at The Office. This was the first book I read after having my baby and it was funny and light but still interesting and decently written – the perfect thing to read when you aren’t getting much sleep!”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

Katie’s October Recommendation

official book club selectionOfficial Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin by Kathy Griffin

“This is not my usual choice for a book. I expected this book to be all laughs and no seriousness but that was surprisingly not the case. This book dealt with hardships, had some laughter but overall was an interesting read. Kathy Griffin also grew up in Oak Park so it is interesting to hear her discuss this area in her memoir….”

Read About It
Request It

You can find this book in the library at CALL # BIOGRAPHY GRIFFIN in with the new books.