Month: February 2012

Check It Out Blog

Donna S.’s Pick: Already Home

Donna S staff pick photoSusan Mallery’s Already Home follows a couple who searches for the daughter they gave up for adoption thirty-two years previous. The only problem is that their daughter has a life of her own and plenty of problems without having to deal with her birth parents…especially when one has cancer.

Lessons in Happiness

Hector and the Search for Happiness book coverOne day a dissatisfied psychiatrist decides to travel around the world to determine what makes people happy.  Throughout his journey, he writes down the wisdom he gleans from those he meets and observes.  Sometimes he enjoys his adventures, such as when he is introduced to a lovely young woman and they “do what people do when they are in love.”  Other episodes are not as light (he is kidnapped and held for ransom in Africa), but he finds teachable moments in all.  Hector and the Search for Happiness, an international bestseller, is often compared to The Little Prince in its simple storytelling and thoughtful reflections.  François Lelord’s little book reminds us: “it’s a mistake to think that happiness is the goal.”

The Freak Power of Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson once said, “If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.” Thompson made his crazy work for him. His life and writing led him everywhere from riding with the Hells Angels to ingesting copious amounts of illegal drugs in Vegas while sports reporting for Rolling Stone.

If you’ve never heard of Hunter S. Thompson, start with his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, then watch the movie starring Johnny Depp.

LISTS: Mistresses

Royal Harlot book coverThe other woman, a shack-up honey, a kept woman, one’s inamorata…there are plenty of names for mistresses throughout history. Who do you side with? The mistress or the wife? Does it all depend on the story?

For a roll in the fictional hay with mistresses aplenty, click here.

Taking Up Serpents

Salvation on Sand Mountain book coverDennis Covington, reporter for the New York Times, was sent to cover the attempted-murder trial of an Alabama preacher. The preacher was the leader of a holiness snake handling church and supposedly used rattlesnakes to try and kill his wife. Eventually, the case closed, the preacher got ninety-nine years, and Covington couldn’t let go of the ecstatic Pentecostal culture he found. He went to more and more snake handling church services trying to devise why and how people use these dangerous reptiles in their worship. Salvation on Sand Mountain is Covington’s record of how he became an insider in this unique, fervent form of faith.

Patty’s Pick: Down by Law

Patty staff picks photoA pimp, a DJ and an Italian tourist escape from prison, only to get lost in the Louisiana swampland surrounding it. Jim Jarmusch’s minimalist portrayal of the down-and-out is at its best in Down by Law. How could it go wrong? It stars Tom Waits, Roberto Benigni and John Lurie.

Let the Game Begin

Ready Player One coverNot many books can boast the clever balance of humor, action, nostalgia, touches of romance, and overflowing wit that characterizes Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  One of the top books of 2011, the story of the ultimate online Easter egg hunt (with real world consequences) blends adventure and heart in a way that makes it unthinkable for you to stop playing.  In an inspired bit of casting, Wil Wheaton voices the audiobook, and his reading is both strong and tinged with droll amusement.  A noble quest wrapped in pop culture references, Ready Player One is the perfect escape.  What are you waiting for?  Engage!

If You Like Downton Abbey…

Over 11 million people watched the first season of the British period drama Downton Abbey, were you one of them? The Emmy-award winning story of the noble Crawley family and the staff who served them, continues in season two.

If you loved Downton Abbey and don’t know what to read while you wait for your season two hold to come up, click here!

LISTS: Beautiful Scenery

A River Runs Through It DVD coverRobert Louis Stevenson said, “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” That’s fine and good for folks who can up and quit their jobs to vagabond around the world, but what about for the rest of us?

Click here for documentaries and movies that feature stunning scenery that will carry you away from the Chicagoland area.

The Thousand Year War

The Forever War book coverEarth’s first interstellar war started after human space colonists were mysteriously and brutally attacked by the Taurans, an incommunicable alien race. The war is seen through William Mandella, a brilliant physics student drafted into an elite military unit. In Joe Haldeman’s Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel, The Forever War, William’s four years of service actually spans twelve centuries through the side effects of near-lightspeed travel and time dilation. Not only does William have to deal with the tedium, blood and bureaucracy of war, but with the futureshock of returning to a home nothing like he remembers. Haldeman effectively tackles time travel, PTSD and sexual politics in what is widely regarded as one of the best science fiction books ever written.