Month: April 2011

LISTS: Teen Sci-Fi & Dystopias for Adults

The Hunger Games book cover “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, is often read in high schools, but it is by no means only a teen read. Psychics, cryo-freeze tanks, body harvesting, police states, clones – whatever your brave new world – there are plenty of YA, sci-fi titles with adult crossover appeal.

Click here to take the red pill and stay in Wonderland.

Who’s That Woman in the Leopard Print Sweater?

Love Tattoo album cover Imelda May played the 2010 Grammys. No, really. She did. And still nobody on this side of the ocean knows about her. The Dublin-born, femme fatale is a triple platinum, rockabilly superstar in Europe. It’s no wonder, with an album like Love Tattoo. May’s got a scorcher of a voice that can get you hot-footing with songs like “Johnny Got a Boom Boom” and “Big Bad Handsome Man.” Then she’ll slow it on down with something lonely, like “Meet You at the Moon.” Though the album’s mixing slightly hides May’s voice behind the bass (making the vocals sound a bit far away), Love Tattoo is the perfect album for all you greasers and dolls looking for a swinging, swell time.

John’s Pick: The Sandbaggers

John staff picks photoRunning from 1978 to 1980 on British TV, The Sandbaggers was essentially the antithesis of the James Bond movies. It replaced exotic locations and outlandish action sequences with a John le Carre-flavored down-to-earth emphasis on the political and emotional cost of espionage work, and was never less than totally absorbing.

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.

LISTS: Stories Tied to Place

Murder on the Rocks book cover Visit the great U.S. of A. through reading. Here are a few authors that use setting as an integral part of their novels – from the wilds of Alaska to Martha’s Vineyard. If you read a lot by region, stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen desk and tell us your favorite authors who use place as a preeminent element in their writing.

Click here for a few fictional travels.

John Huston’s Take on Flannery O’Connor

Wise Blood DVD cover Hazel Motes may look like a preacher, but he isn’t the normal kind. Hazel sermonizes for a new church, the Church of Truth, and in Hazel’s truth – there’s no crucified Christ. Wise Blood, starring Brad Dourif, is based on the 1952 novel by Flannery O’Connor. Both the novel and the film are a compelling slice of Southern life where you’re never quite sure if you’re in for redemption or rejection, if the characters are capable of love or only anger. There are no answers here and every bend is an awkward turn. If you’re in the mood to knit your brows and ask some deep questions, try Wise Blood.

Pulitzer Time

The Best of It book coverHave you heard?  The 2011 Pulitzer Prizes, which honor excellence in journalism and the arts, have been announced!  Check out these winners:

Poetry – The Best of It: New and Selected Poems by Kay Ryan

Nonfiction – The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Biography – Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

History – The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner

Fiction – A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

A Voice of Wisdom

Letters to My Daughter book coverThough many of us insist on learning things the hard way, we could all benefit from those who are brave enough to share their experience.  The exceptional Maya Angelou is one of those courageous individuals, and Letter to My Daughter is her offering to daughters everywhere.  Beautifully read by the author in smooth, sage-like tones, this compact two-disc memoir urges listeners to savor life and to enrich our world.  It couldn’t have been easy to share the difficult ways she learned her lessons, but she does so with both gravity and the intentional joy of one who can see beyond the moment.  Challenge your heart with Angelou’s inspiring voice.

LISTS: Realistic Teen Fiction

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder book cover If you’re a teen looking for a story you can really relate to – whether it ties into your personal struggles, your latest drama with your friends or your school musical these books will fulfill that need.

Click here to get reading.