Month: October 2012

Check It Out Blog

First Chinese Author Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Big Breasts and Wide Hips book coverThe Nobel Prize in Literature for 2012 has been awarded to writer Mo Yan, “who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary.”  One of his most recent novels, Big Breasts & Wide Hips, uses the story of a rural gynecologist to explore the ramifications of China’s single-child policy.  Red Sorghum: A Novel of China, often credited as Yan’s best known book in the West, follows three generations of a family set during a turbulent time in the country’s history.  The first Chinese author to be named as a Nobel laureate was lauded by the committee as one who has “created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition.”


Wonder book coverBarb of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends Wonder by R.J. Palacio:

Wonder is a beautifully written novel filled with characters that touch your heart. Auggie Pullman was born with severe facial deformities. He learned to hide from the alarmed stares of others. Auggie has always been home-schooled, but entering the fifth grade, his parents have enrolled him in a private school. Predictably, Auggie has some terrible experiences at school when a bully tries to turn the other kids against him, but luckily he has loving parents, a sister, and caring teachers to help him along the way. This is a thought-provoking, fast read and a great book to open up discussions about love, support, and judging people on their appearance.

He who Rocked Stadiums of 70,000 People

Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, died on November 24, 1991. He was one of rock and roll’s most flamboyant and powerful front men. He was known to have said, “A concert is not a live rendition of our album. It’s a theatrical event.”

To see a more personal view of one of the most glamorous, dashing performers of all time, check out Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury by Lesley-Ann Jones.

LISTS: Quests, Secrets, and Intrigue

The Physik Book of Deliverance Dane book coverBooks, parchment, scrolls, letters…these things will always be intriguing when found tucked away in dusty boxes, attics, and archives. They are especially mysterious and enthralling when they’re full of secret information, conspiracies, and supernatural knowledge that lead a character on dangerous exploits.

If you liked National Treasure, but want a darker story in book form, click here.

How the Son of a Haitian Slave Became a French General

The Black Count book coverThe Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, by Tom Reiss, details the life of Alex Dumas – father of the famed French novelist Alexandre Dumas. The elder Dumas inspired much of his son’s most famous work, such as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. He began his life as the son of a blackguard aristocrat and a slave woman in Saint-Domingue and rose to the rank of general over 50,000 men in the French Army. Reiss has created a fascinating page-turner out of one of history’s forgotten heroes – whose downfall came only after Napoleon himself began to get jealous of this dashing, talented Dumas fellow.

Secrets and Lies

The 500 audiobook coverYou’d be hard-pressed to find a review of The 500 that doesn’t compare it to The Firm by John Grisham, but that’s not bad company to be in. Chock full of the same high-stakes action and intrigue, this debut suspense thriller is set in the world of political lobbyists, as experienced by a young associate with a checkered past. What begins as an assignment to “get close to” a young congressman soon balloons to involve a Serbian war criminal, his seductress daughter, a Supreme Court justice, and some dire suspicions about his own bosses. Can Mike beat them at their own game, or will he be another victim of their sinister dealings?  Narrator Jay Snyder fuels the adrenaline with emotional pacing and dramatic character readings.

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.

LISTS: Rockabilly Music

Psychobilly Box CD coverWell, be-bop-a-lula, do you like rockabilly? Rockabilly is where country music meets rock ‘n roll. It was popularized in the 1950s by such legends as Bill Haley, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, and Elvis Presley – and it sure isn’t dead!

Click here for contemporary and classic rockabilly music that will get you wailin’ and wigglin’.