Richard’s February Recommendation

Talking to Girls About Duran Duran:  One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield

talking to girls about duran duranRichard says:  “Talking to Girls About Duran Duran:  One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut is Rolling Stone contributor Rob Sheffield’s second book.  Like his first book, Love is a Mix Tape:  Life and Loss, One Song at a Time, Talking To Girls About Duran Duran… is part memoir, part pop culture commentary, and part coming-of-age story.  As a fan of Sheffield’s Rolling Stone articles and rock music in general, I love that this book is arranged like a greatest hits compilation.  Like that lost art of the perfect mix tape, it’s all about the flow of the narrative.  As such, each chapter is structured around one particularly memorable 1980s hit and how it influenced the author as a teenager.  Sheffield has a particular affinity for Duran Duran, whose biggest hits had a tremendous impact on him; however, he also gets to demonstrate his encyclopedic knowledge of all things new wave and pop culture as the book progresses.

Anyone with nostalgia–borrowed or otherwise–for a ‘greatest hits’ collection of the ’80s will find something to enjoy in this charming, funny, and incredibly accessible book.  Pop fans will also find a lot to love in how Sheffield effortlessly weaves his knowledge of the minutiae of ’80s media.  Likewise, anyone looking for a good coming-of-age story will appreciate the author’s candid exploration of his awkward adolescence and how Duran Duran (and pop music in general) taught him to relate to girls.  As an added bonus, you couldn’t get a better list of recommendations for your next new wave playlist.  Even if you spent all night watching reruns of VH1’s I Love the 80s or John Hughes films, then you’d still only scratch the surface of the popular culture highlights this book explores.  It’s like The Wonder Years for Generation X.  Highly recommended.”

Does this sound interesting?  Click here for a sample!

3 Similar Reads

Mad World:  An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s by Lori Majewski

Rip It Up and Start Again:  Postpunk 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds (note:  this book is not available at River Forest Public Library.  It may be ordered through the SWAN network.)

Turn Around Bright Eyes:  The Rituals of Love and Karaoke by Rob Sheffield (note:  Sue Quinn reviewed the ebook in July 2014.)

Lisa’s January Recommendation (#2)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
goldfinch“The Goldfinch, to me seems like many books within one. There are many different experiences that we share with the main character, almost as if they are self-contained from the others. I could not put it down, and it is a VERY long book.
One of the sequences involves an antique dealer and the day-to-day experiences of someone who deals with furniture in a way few people do. As he repairs and restores the furniture, there is a sense of connection beyond that one would normally have with an inanimate objects. The descriptive nature of Tartt’s style allows for the characters to resonate.There are so many different aspects to the different characters, it is bound to relate to many in one way or another!  I have read a few reviews that have mentioned this as a very Dickensian tale. ” – Lisa

  • 2013 Nominated National Book Critics Circle Awards (winner will be announced March 13, 2014)

3 Similar Reads

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The World to Come by Dara Horn

Dorothy’s February Recommendation

In the Castle of the Flynns by Michael Raleigh

in the castles of the flynnsDorothy says that this is “A funny, poignant, bildungsroman about an 8-year-old orphan raised by his Chicago Irish extended family, grandparents, bachelor uncles, and the obligatory nun”.  Here is a partial review from Book List: “The McCourt brothers can move over.  The Chicago branch of the Irish mafia weighs in with a hilarious rendition of an Irish Catholic childhood, circa 1955…his [Raleigh’s] familiar, superior sense of place is here, but he adds an orphan, a family burdened by the love of drink and blessed with the gift of gab, a beautiful and brilliant nun, and a charismatic, slightly dangerous uncle”.

Read about or request this book from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

All Souls: A Family Story from Southie by Michael Patrick MacDonald

Rebecca’s December Recommendation

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

This debut novel depicts the end of the world through the eyes of Julia, a 12-year-old girl living in California.  The apocalypse is not caused by plague or war, but by the age of miraclesgradual slowing of the Earth’s rotation.  Walker’s melancholy and spare writing make this “end of the world event” even scarier than the former options.  Julia’s realization that the world is coming to an end is slow, which I believe makes for a very realistic story.  However, while I love all novels the depict the apocalypse in some way, this is not the reason why I ultimately loved this one.  For me, the best part of the novel was how Walker told a brilliant coming of age story through the character of Julia; despite, or maybe because of, the apocalypse, the themes of love, puberty, and family were told poignantly and with great emotional depth.  This novel will appeal to lovers of lyrical writing, well-developed characters, and deliberate storytelling.  The coming of age story also makes for a great young adult/teen crossover.

Read about or request Age of Miracles from the online catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Mara and Dann: An Adventure by Doris Lessing

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

The Weather Makers by Tim F. Flannery

On Thin Ice by Richard Ellis

Annals of the Former World by John McPhee

Hadley’s (and Pat’s!) August Recommendation

Me and You by Niccolo Ammaniti

We had two people recommend this short novel for the month of August.  Here is Hadley’s recommendation:

“I enjoyed this short novel by Italian author Niccolo Ammaniti. The main character Lorenzo is a teenage outsider who has trouble connecting with his peers, and getting a handle on his emotions. Lorenzo lies to his parents about taking a ski trip with friends, and instead intends to spend the week by himself vegging out in a hidden room of his family’s large house. Everything is going according to plan until his troubled half sister Olivia pays a visit. At times funny and sad, Me and You tells the story of a brief, deep connection of two half siblings during an important moment in both of their young lives.”

And here is Pat’s recommendation:

“Niccolo Ammaniti is the author of a little story entitled ME AND YOU, translated from the Italian.  It’s a beautiful little book, a perfect tale, painful and moving.  I read it in one sitting since it’s only 147 pages.”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) The Dearly Departed by Elinor Lipman (Access to library catalog here!)

2) Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk (Access to library catalog here!)

3) Snow by Orhan Pamuk (Access to library catalog here!)

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) Confessions of a Young Novelist by Umberto Eco (Access to library catalog here!)

2) The Sisters Antipodes by Jane Alison (Access to library catalog here!)

3) Where’s My Wand? by Eric Poole (Access to library catalog here!)

Laona’s July Recommendation

The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont

“Here is the book description: ‘Devastated by the suicide of his prep-school roommate and disdaining the trappings of his affluent Manhattan life, Jason transfers to another school and bonds with a troubled classmate whose subsequent death compels Jason to uncover the truth, in a tale set against a backdrop of the 1987 stock market collapse’. This novel is, without doubt, one of the best I have read thus far in 2012.  Starboard Sea is an examination of a young man’s foray into the risks and pleasures of adulthood.  At times tragic, at other times hopeful, Jason’s story is full of poignancy, painful self-discovery, and reminders how complicated this journey to adulthood can be.  Although this novel is most definitely not a ‘beach read’, this haunting novel, complete with unforgettable descriptions of sailing, is not to be missed”.

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1)  The Secret History by Donna Tartt (Access to library catalog here)

2) Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (Access to library catalog here)

3) A Fatal Inversion by Barbara Vine (Access to library catalog here)

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) The Reagan Diaries by Ronald Reagan (Access to library catalog here)

2) The Boys of Winter by Wayne R. Coffey (Access to library catalog here)

3) Our Guys by Bernard Lefkowitz (Access to library catalog here)

Ted’s June Recommendation

The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau

The Book of Jonas, the debut novel from Stephen Dau, is a heart-wrenching but very well written book.  The book tells the story of Jonas, a 15 year old Muslim boy who has lost everything in an American raid on his Afghan town. He is brought to America to live with a foster family while dealing with his grief and attempting to rebuild his life. He reluctantly learns the painful lesson that he cannot rebuild his life until he deals with his traumatic past.  Stephen Dau is a wonderful writer and he tells Jonas’ story through quietly beautiful prose. This is a weighty story told in an equally weighty (but not overdone) prose.  This is not a light book but it is worth the read. The story weighed on me, but I was glad to let myself be part of it as it unfolded.”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian (Access to library catalog here)

2) July, July by Tim O’Brien (Access to library catalog here)

3) Little Children by Tom Perrotta (Access to library catalog here)

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1)  The Lost Boy: A Foster Child’s Search For The Love of a Family by David Pelzer (Access to library catalog here)

2) Like Family: Growing Up In Other People’s Houses: A Memoir by Paula McLain (Access to library catalog here)

3) Children of Jihad: A Young American’s Travels Among the Youth of the Middle East by Jared Cohen (Access to library catalog here)