Check It Out Category: Picks by Larry

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.

Staff Pick: Gulp by Mary Roach

Cover of GulpLarry from Fiction/AV/Teen Services suggests Gulp by Mary Roach

Ever wonder how your body digests the food you eat? Or why when you smell food you can also taste it? Or what really goes on in your stomach and gut? Then this book is for you. In Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, author Mary Roach explains the entire process of eating and digesting in great detail. Sounds gross? It’s not at all. The author’s witty writing style along with the use of layman’s language in a smooth flowing (no pun intended) narrative makes the book both a fun and fascinating read. Did you know we produce two types of saliva? And what exactly are gastric juices? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? This book will answer these questions and more.

Looking for more books featuring stories of the human body? Try…

Cover of StiffStiff
by Mary Roach
This humorous yet engrossing book tells the story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

Cover of Fantastic VoyageFantastic Voyage
by Isaac Asimov
An elite team of medical and scientific professionals are miniaturized to enter the bloodstream of a top government scientist afflicted with a stroke. Their mission is to perform an emergency surgical procedure to save the man’s life.












Cover of FeedFeed
by M.T. Anderson
Computers are now small chips implanted in the human brain and controlled by your thoughts. While there are benefits to always being connected to the network there’s also a price to pay.

Cover of I Sing the Body Electric and Other Short StoriesI Sing the Body Electric
by Ray Bradbury
The title story features a made-to-order android, created to care for the children of a widowed man. It’s the story of a family and a machine with all the attributes of a human being except for one: it is perfect.

Cover of Altered CarbonAltered Carbon
by Richard Morgan
Death is nearly obsolete as human consciousness can be downloaded into a new body. Former UN envoy Takeshi Kovacs is “resleeved” into a body for the specific purpose of proving that the body’s death was not suicide but murder.

Staff Picks: Warming Up by Mary Hutchings Reed

Picture of LarryCecilia is talented but depressed and unsure of what to do with her life.  As she struggles with questioning her worth, abilities, and purpose she befriends a homeless, runaway teenager that conned her out of sixty dollars. The well-crafted plot with its twists, secrets, and steady build-up to the end makes the book a page turner along with finely developed characters.  With its warmth and satisfying outcome, Warming Up by Mary Hutchings Reed is a pleasure to read.

Staff Pick: Elizabeth and Hazel by David Margolick

Picture of LarryDavid Margolick describes the lives of two girls in the famous photograph from Little Rock Central High School’s desegregation in 1957: a stoic African-American girl walking on the first day of school followed by a white girl, her face distorted as she screams racial epithets. Elizabeth and Hazel is a thought provoking and memorable exploration of how this experience affected their lives in attempts to reconcile the painful, traumatic experience within themselves and with each other.

Staff Pick: Zealot by Reza Aslan

Picture of LarryZealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth is a readable discussion of the historical and social context of a time in Palestine that nurtured and gave rise to many prophets, preachers, and self-proclaimed messiahs.  Jesus, who was born in this milieu, is discussed as a life shaped, developed, and affected by the world around him. Reza Aslan’s fascinating book provides a greater understanding of how Jesus’ life and ministry fits into the historical time and was sustained to this day.