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J.R.R. Tolkien, the Language Creator

In The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Tolkien wrote, “The invention of languages is the foundation. The stories were made rather to provide a world for the languages than the reverse. To me a name comes first and the story follows.”

If you’re thinking of creating a Lord of the Rings Halloween costume and want to make it as authentic as possible, or if you love invented languages, check out Tolkien speaking in Elvish and then peruse the languages he created.

By Readers' Advisor on October 6, 2012 Categories: Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Nonfiction, Web Video

Embracing Vulnerability and Imperfection

Brene Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She is most known for her TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability, which went viral and has over 5 million views. Her newest book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, discusses how to wholeheartedly experience the world and other people.

By Readers' Advisor on September 22, 2012 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Web Video

A Short History of Henry Rollins

Henry Rollins is the former lead singer of Black Flag. He’s a writer, a publisher, an actor, and a spoken word artist. He’s been around the world and back again and, if you go to see one of his shows, he’ll tell you about his travels. If you can’t make it to Rollins’ November dates at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, check out The Portable Henry Rollins or some of his more recent work.

By Readers' Advisor on September 15, 2012 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Web Video

Infanticide, Corruption, and Diamond Mining

In Kathy Reichs’ fifteenth Temperance Brennan novel, Bones are Forever, forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan is looking for the killer of three infants in Yellowknife, a remote diamond mining town in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Andrew Ryan, Tempe’s ex, is heading up the investigation, which only gets more complicated when Ollie Hasty, another ex and a sergeant with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, shows up.

By Readers' Advisor on September 8, 2012 Categories: Books, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Web Video

Identifying as a Feminist Isn’t a Bad Thing

Feminism isn’t a bad word. Caitlin Moran, in her new book, How to be a Woman, makes feminist issues hilarious while demonstrating that female empowerment issues are as relevant today as they ever were. There is no angry man-hating going on here, just light, straight talk about sexism, love, beauty, and life in general. How to be a Woman is a thought-provoking, somewhat curse-word strewn, feminist memoir that both men and women can laugh over and discuss.

 

By Readers' Advisor on September 1, 2012 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Web Video

Political, Philosophical, and Action-Packed

By all practical reasons, Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, should not be made into a movie. It consists of six interconnected stories, set in six different eras, written in six different genres.

A timeline spanning 1850 to a post apocalyptic future didn’t scare three directors – the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer). You can see their adaptation of Cloud Atlas, starring Tom Hanks, Natalie Portman, and Halle Berry, in the fall, but first, check out the book.

By Readers' Advisor on August 25, 2012 Categories: Books, Web Video

The Funniest Guy You’ve Never Heard Of

Dave Hill is a comedian, writer, and musician. You’ve probably never heard of him, but don’t worry, he’s funny. If you like David Sedaris but want less cynicism, more self deprecation, and spades of bravado, Dave Hill is for you.

Have a look at the socially awkward trailer for Hill’s debut memoir, Tasteful Nudes…and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation. It guest stars Dick Cavett and Malcolm Gladwell.

By Readers' Advisor on August 18, 2012 Categories: Books, Humor, Nonfiction, Web Video

Six Months Before the End of the World

In six months, an asteroid will hit Earth and kill every person on it. Scientists are sure of this. Most people walk away from their jobs and get working on their bucket lists. Not Hank Palace. Palace has always wanted to be a police detective and he’s not going to let the end of the world stop him.

The Last Policeman, by Ben Winters, is the first in a trilogy about the pre-apocalyptic adventures of Hank Palace.

By Readers' Advisor on August 4, 2012 Categories: Books, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Web Video

John Waters, Eccentric Extraordinaire

John Waters is a boundary-breaking filmmaker and author. He is an oddball, kitsch king, and anti-tastemaker whose outsider aesthetic, over the decades, has been more and more accepted by popular culture. His most recent book, Role Models, is a self portrait wherein Waters explores himself through profiling the (sometimes shocking) people who have influenced him.

Here is John Waters talking about his life and work with Paula Marantz Cohen of Drexel University.

By Readers' Advisor on July 28, 2012 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Web Video

A Magician, a Harlot, and a Jewish Interpreter Walk Into a Western

1867, Omaha. Julius Meyer was kidnapped by the Ponca Indians. Julius quickly picks up the Ponca’s customs and language and becomes their official interpreter. Combine Julius’ story with that of a scandalous soiled dove and Julius’ soon-to-be-famous magician cousin, Alexander Hermann, and you have Magic Words, by Gerald Kolpan.

Kolpan discusses the inspiration and writing process behind Magic Words: The Tale of a Jewish Boy-Interpreter, the World’s Most Estimable Magician, a Murderous Harlot, and America’s Greatest Indian Chief in the clip below.

By Readers' Advisor on July 21, 2012 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, Web Video