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LISTS: Famous Writer Biopics

Quills DVD coverHunter S. Thompson was known to shoot typewriters. Dorothy Parker drank more than she wrote. Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin’s relationship was equal parts eros and literature. There are even rumors that the Marquis de Sade wrote a manuscript in blood.

Click here for movies on the strange and passionate lives of famous writers.

By Readers' Advisor on August 24, 2012 Categories: Lists, Literary, Movies and TV

Trashy or Brilliant? You Decide.

The Modern Library listed Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, as the fourth best novel of the twentieth century. It explores a romance between Humbert, our middle-aged narrator, and a possibly sexually precocious pre-teen named Dolores.

Here’s Nabokov being interviewed on Close-Up, a Canadian Broadcasting Coroporation show, about his controversial novel.

By Readers' Advisor on July 7, 2012 Categories: Books, Literary

Celebrate June is Audiobook Month

Bossypants audiobook cover

Just in time to highlight great listens for summer reading, the winners of the 2012 Audie Awards have been announced! Honoring the year’s best recordings in a rich mix of categories, these awards are a perfect source of listening suggestions while traveling on vacation, basking in the sun, or making everyday routines more exciting. Try one of the most recent winners below or sample past Audiobooks of the Year. Need more incentive? Don’t forget that listening to an audiobook counts as reading in our Summer Reading Program!

Audiobook of the Year: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Solo Narration (Male): Simon Vance, narrator of The King’s Speech

Biography/Memoir: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Fantasy: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Humor: Shatner Rules by William Shatner with Chris Regan

Literary Fiction: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Multi-Voiced Performance: A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

Mystery: Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke

Narration by the Author: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Personal Development: Prime Time by Jane Fonda

Romance: New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb

Thriller/Suspense: The Nightmare Thief by Meg Gardiner

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on June 11, 2012 Categories: Audiobooks, Awards, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Humor, Literary, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Nonfiction, Romance

For the Lit-History Nerds

Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway book cover“The Raven,” Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poem, stole its main character from a Dickens novel. Jack London was an adventurer in the Yukon before he was the writer of The Call of the Wild. Treasure Island’s Long John Silver was based on the real life, one-legged, big-hearted poet William Ernest Henley, and Sherlock Holmes was based on a doctor of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s acquaintance. In Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway, Celia Blue Johnson relates the stories and inspirations behind fifty famous works of literature. Each miniature history is a clear, concise account that usually takes no more than five-ish minutes to read. It’s great for curiosity’s sake or for cocktail party fodder.

By Readers' Advisor on February 9, 2012 Categories: Books, Literary, Nonfiction

National Book Award Winners

Salvage the Bones book cover“You owe it to yourself to read this book,” wrote Library Journal, and the judges emphatically agree. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn West is the newly announced winner of the National Book Award for Fiction. In this powerful story, a pregnant 14-year-old living in dire poverty tells of her family’s struggle to prepare their rural Mississippi property for a hurricane that happens to be called Katrina. Stephen Greenblatt took top Nonfiction honors for The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, and Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out & Back Again won in the Young People’s Literature category. Click here for a complete list of finalists and interviews with the authors.

By MPPL on November 19, 2011 Categories: Awards, Books, Literary, Nonfiction

Wilde Audio Fun

Importance of Being Earnest audiobook cover“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.”  If your ears itch for fast-paced, witty dialogue and a dash of romantic intrigue, you can do no better than the L.A. Theatre Works production of The Importance of Being Earnest.  One of the most adored plays in the English language is brought to vivid life, complete with assumed names, mistaken lovers, and a misplaced handbag.  James Marsters leads a cast of nimble voice actors in the story of Jack and Algernon, who both pretend to be named Ernest in order to enjoy double lives.  Laugh out loud with the play that best showcases Oscar Wilde’s scathing humor.

By MPPL on September 19, 2011 Categories: Audiobooks, Humor, Literary

Might As Well Live

Dorothy Parker author photoDorothy Parker was a notorious wit, wisecracker, poet and writer. She was a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table (as portrayed in the movie Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle). Parker was a New Yorker regular, a Hollywood screenwriter and an O. Henry Award winner. She was active in politics as early as 1927, where she was arrested for “loitering and sauntering” at a protest. Later, throughout the 1940s and ’50s, the F.B.I. created a 1,000 page dossier on her activities. For a taste of Parker’s hilariously belligerent, bittersweet work, try her Complete Stories or the collection of her “lost” poems, Not Much Fun.

By MPPL on June 23, 2011 Categories: Books, Literary, Movies and TV

Sigh No More

Much Ado About Nothing DVD cover Hero and Claudio are to be wed in a week. To pass the time, they conspire to make Beatrice and Benedick fall in love. Beatrice would “rather hear a dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves” her and Benedick, well, he’d prefer to go pale with “anger, with sickness, or with hunger” than with love. While the snarky sweethearts are hilariously occupied, other conspirators are up to much more nefarious activities in Kenneth Branagh’s Shakespearean adaptation, Much Ado About Nothing.

And remember, A Midsummer Knight’s Read, the Summer Reading Program, has officially started! If you watch, read or listen to anything by or inspired by William Shakespeare, you can get up to five bonus raffle tickets.

By MPPL on June 2, 2011 Categories: Literary, Movies and TV

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

The Weird Sisters book coverCathleen of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown:

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” – Robert Frost

The Andreas sisters are named for three wildly different Shakespeare heroines, and the one thing they have in common is that their lives are messy.  Bianca has just been fired and is swimming in debt.  Cordelia gives up her semi-nomadic life when she discovers she’s pregnant.  Rosalind had already been living at home in order to care for their ailing parents, and the tension of her upcoming wedding isn’t helping.  In Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters, all three end up back under the same roof, and the curtain rises on a masterful blend of drama and lightness that would make the Bard proud.

By MPPL on May 2, 2011 Categories: Books, Literary, Picks by Cathleen, Staff Picks

Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry

Portraits of a Few People I've Made Cry book coverUnconventional love is the focus of a new collection of wise and wonderful stories by Evanston author Christine Sneed.  Not to be confused with romance, these tales paint perspectives on what draws people together and what roles we take.  The characters are bold and interesting; the writing lovely and modern.  You’ll find energy, wit, reflection, and originality in a work that was named one of 2010’s best surprises by TimeOut Chicago.  Admire the sure-handed delicacy of Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry.

By MPPL on April 25, 2011 Categories: Books, Literary