Month: August 2011

Check It Out Blog

Hangin’ in the Treme

Treme DVD coverSeveral months ago we urged that you treat yourself to the lively rhythms of Treme: Music from the HBO Original Series.  Now we’re back to tell you that if you haven’t checked out the series on DVD, you are missing powerfully good television.  Maybe you’ve avoided stories about post-Katrina New Orleans because they seemed too depressing or too far removed from your own daily trials.  That would be a mistake.  Set against the terrible beauty of a vibrant city in desperate recovery, characters who are far from saintly soldier on, finding hope in small victories and joy in simple pleasures.  Like a multifaceted novel, Treme illuminates the human condition and entertains with spectacle along the way.

LISTS: Book Discussion Hits

The Good Earth book coverAre you looking for sure-fire reads for your book discussion club? Whether your group swans over manageable nonfiction or enjoys picking apart the latest and greatest fiction, we’ve got books for you.

For books that consistently get people talking, click here.


Bringing Back Renaissance Rhythms

Aion album coverDead Can Dance made ethereal, Renaissance pop music. They were an obscure Australian duo, formed in 1981, who brought fourteenth century music to modern life by adding world beats. Aion, their fifth album, is as much Gregorian chanting as it is Middle Eastern mantras and hypnotic choral explosions. This is the kind of music that immediately brings to mind towering, ancient cathedrals, the mysterious gloom of European catacombs and misty, rolling hills at dawn. Dead Can Dance created lush and, at times, melancholy neoclassical – never better represented than by Aion’s album cover itself, a detail of Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Out-of-This-World Entertainment

Blackout book coverThe 2011 Hugo Awards, the leading honor in the field of science fiction and fantasy, were announced this weekend in a culmination of record voter turnout.  The big winner? The one-two punch of Blackout and All Clear, from the always excellent Connie Willis, in which time-traveling historians discover that World War II is spiraling out of control.

Best Novel – Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis

Best Novelette – “The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (included in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Eighth Annual Collection)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form – Inception, written and directed by Christopher Nolan

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form – Doctor Who, “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Toby Haynes

Best Professional Artist – Shaun Tan

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer – Lev Grossman

Colleen’s Pick: One Day

Colleen staff picks photoThis British romantic dramedy provides a snapshot of Dex and Em’s evolving relationship on St. Swithin’s day for two decades. As they develop a deep friendship, they continually miss becoming anything more. Pick up One Day to find out if Em and Dex really do belong together in the end.

LISTS: What to Read after The Help

The Help book coverThere is no denying that The Help is a cultural phenomenon.  With the recent film release reinvigorating interest and debate, Kathryn Stockett’s debut novel is still ripe for discussion.  If you need something to read while you wait your turn, or if you are interested in similar books, try one of these related titles.

Click here for a list of books like The Help.

LISTS: Complex Plots…In Video Games

LA Noire video game coverDo phrases like “complex plots,” “imaginative settings,” “character development,” “outlines and storyboards,” “exposition” and “emotional backstory” make you think of the books you read and films you watch? These terms also describe the best in video game storytelling.

Click here to experience the epic worlds of modern gaming.

Street Lit, 1930s Chicago-Style

Native Son book coverBigger Thomas is a chauffeur for the Daltons, a rich, white family.  Late one night, Bigger carries the Dalton’s daughter, Mary, to her room because she is too inebriated to walk. Mary’s blind mother walks into the room as Bigger puts Mary on her bed. Bigger is terrified. He, a black man, has a young, intoxicated, white woman in his arms…men had been lynched for less. In a panic, Bigger quiets Mary’s drunken muttering by putting a pillow over her head until her mother leaves the room. Only when Bigger takes the pillow away, Mary is dead. Thus starts Bigger Thomas’ downward spiral into crime and punishment in Richard Wright’s classic Harlem Renaissance novel about racial inequality, Native Son.

LISTS: In and Out of Time

Three Junes book coverSometimes a tale cannot be told in but one era. There are intricate stories that require a lengthy telling. These are stories that either alternate between the present and long-gone years or span several generations.

Click here for detailed stories in and out of time.