When times are tough, it can be easy to wish for a little more awesome in our lives, but perhaps the awesome is already there, and we just need to take notice! Celebrate finding the amazing in the ordinary in The Book of Awesome: Snow Days, Bakery Air, Finding Money in Your Pocket, and Other Simple, Brilliant Things by Neil Pasricha, founder of the website 1000 Awesome Things. With bright spots ranging from “eating the French fries at the bottom of the bag” and “the smell of rain on a hot sidewalk” to “the sound of ice cubes cracking in a drink” or “when you hear someone’s smile over the phone,” you can’t help but feel your spirits lift. Open your eyes to simple pleasures and a happier outlook.
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“Once upon a time…” Are there four more thrilling words? No matter our age, we love a story! If it’s been too long since you’ve visited a faraway land, set sail for Happily Ever After, a collection of retold fairy tales by masters of fantasy, horror, and young adult fiction. Gregory Maguire riffs on Snow White with “The Seven Stage a Comeback,” Cinderella takes a disturbing turn in Peter Straub’s “Ashputtle,” and “The Troll Bridge” has never been as fun as when Neil Gaiman is telling it. Edited by John Kilma and with an introduction by Fables creator Bill Willingham, Happily Ever After is an ideal choice for enchantment during this year’s Discover the Magic summer reading program.
Michael Cera plays one of those insufferable hangers-on, the type of guy who’s always the last to leave the party (long after the hosts have expressed their desire for sleep) in Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus, a surprisingly poignant indie road-trip flick. On a single-minded quest to find, prepare, and consume the titular “magic cactus,” he hooks up with three sweet-natured Chilean brothers. Also on board is a free-spirited American girl named Crystal Fairy (a magnetic Gaby Hoffmann), who frustrates him with a goodness that he sees as an obstacle to his desired hallucinogenic journey. It’s an offbeat ride, for sure, but the dynamic that develops between these disparate characters is fascinating and leads to a heartbreaking revelation.
Steve from Research Services recommends The De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn’t Know About the Stuff You Thought You Knew by Cracked.com:
The De-Textbook is full of lists that will blow your mind. You’ll find out how little you know about real ninjas, Puritans, Thomas Jefferson, why you lay awake at night, and velociraptors. One interesting fact is that the symbol of the modern anarchist movement is Guy Fawkes, a supervillain who wanted to blow up the English king and Parliament. You’ve seen his pointed moustache on a thousand protest masks. In actuality this man was no anarchist. Guy Fawkes wanted to install a much more conservative government ruled by the Pope. He’s been misappropriated by a movement that doesn’t understand what he wanted. But then, most everything any of us think we know about most anything is probably wrong, and this book will astound you out of ignorance.
Every Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.
For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.
This week we invite you to check out the winners of the 2014 Left Coast Crime Awards. Each year this mystery fan convention selects a clever theme and then honors the most appealing in several wonderfully specific categories. Here are your Calamari Crime Winners:
The Lefty: Best Humorous Mystery Novel — The Good Cop by Brad Parks
The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award: Best Historical Mystery Novel Covering Events Before 1960 — Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses by Catriona McPherson
The Squid: Best Mystery Set within the United States — Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
The Calamari: Best Mystery Set Anywhere Else in the World — How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s words turn out to be a hard lesson to learn for economist Rachel Chu. She agrees to accompany her boyfriend Nick to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore, excited and a little apprehensive to finally meet his family. What he hasn’t mentioned is that he comes from staggering wealth, so she has no idea of the spectacle of excess she is about to face. Will this change her opinion of Nick? Narrator Lynn Chen plays with humor and drama, all while helping listeners keep a host of characters distinct. Crazy Rich Asians is an affectionate satire paired with relationship drama that is ideal for those who enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada.
Richard Pryor once said, “What I’m saying might be profane, but it’s also profound.” Pryor pushed the boundaries of topics that comedians explored. He could make people laugh – and, by proxy, talk about – everything from love to racial inequality. Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him explores the flaws and genius of Richad Pryor. National Book Award-winner Colum McCann says of Furious Cool, “Part memoir, part biography, part poem, part history, part ballad, it manages to sing a wake song for an incredible American.”
When you’re done with Furious Cool, have a listen to Is it Something I Said? Released in 1975, it was Pryor’s first comedy album for Warner Brothers.
Badfellas was the original English title, and that alone gives a tease of what Malavita has on tap. When a Mafia kingpin testifies in exchange for witness protection, Giovanni Manzoni becomes Fred Blake, and he and his family find themselves living in Normandy, France. They mostly follow the rules, but old habits are hard to break. It only takes one slip before old friends who’ve become new enemies come calling all the way from Alcatraz. A film adaptation, The Family, stars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, but you can’t miss the story in audio. Sopranos actor and 2013 Audie Award winner for Best Solo Narration, Edoardo Ballerini deliciously balances the menace, the dark comedy, and the Italian sensibilities of Tonino Benacquista’s international crime caper.
The Happiest Millionaire is a favorite lesser-known Disney musical that offers toe-tapping charm. Fred MacMurray is a wealthy father who keeps pet alligators in his mansion and hosts a Bible-and-boxing club in the stables. Lesley Ann Warren, Greer Garson, and the irrepressible Tommy Steele add to the family fun.
Australian bachelor Don Tillman is a brilliant genetics professor whose social skills are anything but genius. He’s reached a point in his life at which he’s willing to deviate (slightly) from beloved routine in order to find a suitable life partner. A scientifically sound process is designed, and soon “The Wife Project” is underway. Enter Rosie, a woman who meets none of Don’s criteria and who has a personal project of her own. If your resolution is to explore upbeat fiction that appeals equally to men and women, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion passes with flying colors. Optimize your results by choosing the audiobook read by Dan O’Grady and enjoy hearing Don’s deadpan earnestness and inadvertent humor delivered in a native Aussie accent.