Check It Out Category: Picks by Larry

Staff Pick: Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

Picture of LarryIt’s 1976 and a young African American woman, through a power she cannot control, is transported back in time to the antebellum South to rescue from death a distant ancestor, a plantation owner’s son. Dana is called back several times as Rufus grows from a child to an adult. In fact, Dana realizes that her task is to keep him alive long enough to father the daughter that is to begin Dana’s branch of the family tree, meaning her own existence is at stake. This challenge is intensified and more complicated by being a late 20th Century black woman thrust into the early 19th Century plantation/slavery culture. Will she succeed or will her family history be changed forever? Read Kindred by Octavia E. Butler to find out.

Staff Pick- Andy Warhol was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History’s Great Personalities by Claudia Kalb

Picture of LarryAndy Warhol was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History’s Great Personalities is an account of how the possible mental illness of high-profile historical figures may have affected their lives and had an impact on their fame and success. The lives of Andy Warhol, Princess Diana, Abraham Lincoln, Betty Ford and others are reviewed from a psychological perspective revealing how their maladies may have impacted their accomplishments. With the help of experts, biographers, and historical records, Claudia Kalb has written an intriguing narrative that mixes biography and psychology, providing a fascinating perspective on creativity and the human condition.


Staff Pick: Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Picture of LarryTed’s twelve-year-old dachshund, Lily, has been a source of strength for him after his long-term relationship ended in bitterness and loneliness. Now Lily has a tumor shaped like an octopus growing on her head. Ted’s personal struggle caring for his dearest companion as the disease overtakes Lily is a self-realization experience which plays out in real life and in his vivid dreams. Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley is serious and funny, emotional and insightful, and authentic in its depiction of the human experience.

Staff Pick: Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie

Picture of LarryBlasphemy includes some of Sherman Alexie’s classic short stories along with newer tales. The stories challenge the reader’s comfort zones with plots exploring race and ethnicity, culture, stereotypes, alcoholism, diabetes, and personal identity. The settings are in the Pacific Northwest with Native American protagonists. The expertly crafted stories are personal, revealing the characters for who they are and what influenced their lives, making them seem real and reflecting life as it truly is for many.

Staff Pick- Communion: A True Story

Communion A True Story book coverLarry from Fiction/AV/Teen Services suggests Communion: A True Story by Whitley Strieber

Whitley Strieber, better known for his fiction with paranormal, science fiction, and horror themes, wrote a nonfiction book about what he experienced when he was abducted by aliens from outer space.  In Communion: A True Story, the author tells of his haunting and unsettling feelings of lost time and flashback recollections of encounters with strange beings.  Seeking help through medical treatment and hypnosis, he decides that he was recalling what he came to believe were real interactions with extraterrestrials that chose him to be an object of their research.  This book reads like fiction with its well-crafted storytelling, descriptive scenes, and suspenseful tones.  So, is the story really true or just another tale from an imaginative fiction writer?  Read the book and decide for yourself.

Interested in Communion? Try these other stories concerning aliens!

Chariots of the Gods- Unsolved Mysteries of the Past book coverChariots of the Gods?: Unsolved Mysteries of the Past by Erich von Daniken

When this nonfiction book was published, it stimulated public interest in the possibility that we are not alone in the universe.  The author presents his theory that Earth was visited by extraterrestrials that helped ancient civilizations build their magnificent structures and establish their culture.



Invasion of the Body Snatchers book coverInvasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

Mill Valley was a peaceful place before some of the townspeople began to act in ways other than themselves.  As the town’s doctor sees that these distinct but subtle changes in personality are spreading, he realizes that something sinister is happening that will forever change life in the valley.



War of the Worlds book coverWar of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

One of the groundbreaking authors of science fiction presents a story of Mars’ invasion of Earth.  Fine storytelling with action and suspense presents a tale of clashing forces and the fight for survival.



Close Encounters of the Third Kind dvd coverClose Encounters of the Third Kind, DVD

With the peaceful arrival of spaceships from another planet, Roy Neary becomes obsessed with the newcomers from outer space and searches for meaning in this event.




Cocoon dvd coverCocoon, DVD

A group of senior citizens living a mundane life find rejuvenation when visitors with other-worldly powers from a distant galaxy befriends them.

Staff Pick: Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai

Picture of LarryThe oldest son of an eccentric family wants to escape the looming responsibilities of adult life and so he climbs a guava tree and lives there hoping to find peace. It gets complicated when the townspeople start to see him as a holy man. With characters including inept bureaucrats, a spy for the atheist society, and a herd of monkeys, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai will be a delight to read.

Staff Pick- Illinois Terminal: A Traction Time Machine

Picture of LarryEver wonder how rural Illinoisans traveled and shipped products when a single narrow bumpy strip of concrete with crushed rock alongside was considered a state-of-the-art highway? This documentary will tell you how. Illinois Terminal: A Traction Time Machine is a window to a long gone way of travel when the country was more rural and driving a car, if you had one, was not the convenient way to go.