Staff Choices

Posted by kensey on 07/15/12
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"Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey To Ultramarathon Greatness" is written by Scott Jurek, who first came to widespread public attention in Christopher McDougall's hugely popular "Born to Run."  You may remember him as the ultramarathoner who lets out a loud howl before the start of every race. I had the pleasure of hearing McDougall and Jurek speak (and howl) a few months ago at Fleet Feet Sports in Chicago, where the duo was promoting Jurek's book. Because the authors were together, I was primed to think that these books were related. Excited for a narrower but deeper continuation of "Born to Run," I eagerly picked up "Eat & Run," only to find out that they were nothing alike.
 
"Eat & Run" is best described as a memoir with recipes. Jurek grew up a traditional Minnesota boy and through endurance running and changing life philosophies, became a vegan. He credits both his vegan diet and his mental toughness for his ability to regularly run 50 to to 100-mile races. For the memoir portion, he recounts his struggles with his mother, who suffered from multiple sclerosis; and his father, with whom Jurek has a tough relationship. And of course he tells stories of the difficulties he's faced on various ultra trails and overcoming them to achieve personal bests. The poignant memories of his parents are the most moving part of the book. A time or two, he gets philosophical to the point of being unrelatable. Regardless, it's still fascinating to get a glimpse into the mind of someone who can run nine-minute miles for a hundred miles straight.
 
The main difference between Jurek and McDougall is that McDougall is a writer and Jurek is not. McDougall often made compelling points whereas Jurek is simply an interesting person. Despite feeling mislead about how similar these books would be (am I the only one who thinks even the covers look similar?), I'd still say Jurek's book is worth reading. "Born to Run" made me want to get out and run a marathon despite not having run an entire mile since high-school gym class. And while Jurek's book did not inspire such a feat, it did at least make me feel I could give lentil burgers a chance.
Non-Fiction
Posted by iTones on 07/14/12
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This is a grown-up coming of age travel story with plenty of spice and dark humor. The narrator dream walks through a playground of a world, where nothing seems like it can kill him. He's an anti-hero who, I suspect, a lot of adult readers won’t really get. It revolves around the powerlessness of a young idealist in a crushingly capitalistic world.  I, for one, can get behind this book because of the narrator's sense of humor about life and death.

He travels aimless, looking for meaning while still trying to remain his own free agent. If you’ve ever seen the movie I <3 Huckabees, this is a similar philosophical journey. In the plot: he steals from a non-profit which he helped co-found and uses the money to buy tickets to Japan. Once there, he promptly starts making a mess of his friend’s life by having too good of a time.

If you enjoy travel tales or stories with tomfoolery and unsavory vices you’ll find a lot to like about Lights Out. It may also give you some perspective on the downtrodden experience of youth in today’s uncertain world.
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 07/13/12
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This sophisticated horror story was not written for an uneducated audience.  It is hip 'n' happenin' and yet old-fashioned.  It is tragic, yet uplifting.  It has humor, yet is remorseful.  It is simply...well written.
 
Duncan is a British born author who studied philosophy and literature.  In this, his 7th novel, the protagonist is Jake, the last werewolf.  Werewolves have survived for over 1000 years.  Jake's dilemma is whether to surrender himself to two factions that are trying to capture him alive, flee from his human tormentors, or possibly commit suicide.  All of which are not pleasant thoughts.
 
Adding to Jake's displeasure is the fact that his only trusted human companion of fifty-plus years, Harley, has been kidnapped, tortured, and killed.  This action forces Jake to take a stand and confront some of his hidden fears and suppressed memories.  While mourning this loss and weighing feelings of self-destruction, Jake Marlowe stumbles upon the only thing left in life worth living for...Love!
 
Duncan's 3rd novel I, Lucifer is currently being developed for film. 
 
The sequel to The Last Werewolf is Talulla Rising.
Posted by kto on 07/12/12
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This show will make you laugh. I mean it. No. I really mean it.
 
Imagine if you will that the shows Friends and The Big Bang Theory had a baby… That’s Coupling. Specifically, Coupling is the risqué tale of six British 30somethingers and the painfully silly situations that arise when exes become best friends and love is never quite where you expect it to be.
 
I first discovered the edited version on, of all places, WTTW late one boring night. Since then it has been a struggle for me to find laugh out loud comedy of the sort that only people like the brilliant Steven Moffat writes (e.g. Doctor Who, Sherlock, etc.). 
 
Reliable sources say that the main characters are actually based on Moffat and his wife. Oh, and the unedited versions like the ones on the DVDs are much, much funnier. Enjoy.
 
4.5 / 5 stars!
 
 
Posted by jfreier on 07/07/12
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Quinn Colson is returning home to Jericho, Mississippi, to attend the funeral of his beloved uncle Hamp, when Quinn arrives he is shocked to learn Hamp's was ruled a suicide.
 
Quinn who is on leave from Afghanistan sets out to find what really happened to Hamp, with the help of his old war buddy the one armed "Boom" and the new sheriff old crush Lillie Virgil, the three stir up a hornets nest in good ole Jerciho.
 
The town filled with rednecks, meth dealers, a good ole boy network that runs the town tries to stop them at all turns, a well plotted and thrilling new series from Mr. Atkins.
 
A must read for fans of the T.V show Justified.
Mystery
Posted by Ultra Violet on 07/06/12
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For about three years people I respect have been telling me that I have got to read Christopher Moore, yet whenever I would read the synopsis of one of his books, I was left uninspired. The other day as I walked past the New Fiction display, I was caught by a dazzling blue cover with Christopher Moore's name on it and an image of Toulouse-Lautrec and and a mysterious woman. I snatched it up and read what it was about and I was hooked. I have barely put it down since.
 
It is a love story and a thriller that mixes a supernatural element with the story of the impressionist painters, Whistler, Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir and others. I was particulary taken with the way that Moore can write rather irreverent, even bawdy humor and balance it with tender, honest emotion. The characters are intense and very real. If Moore isn't a painter himself, he must have done a lot of research to gain such insight into the relationship a painter has with paint and color.
 
Although they couldn't be more different in tone, I think this book would be a great companion to Susan Vreeland's Luncheon of the Boating Party about Renoir, and Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay.
 
Christopher Moore has won yet another new fan. I will certainly be reading more of him in the future. Leave me a comment if you have a favorite book by him to recommend to me.
Posted by nkimphil2. on 06/28/12
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Author and film maker Nora Ephron passed away on June 26 at the age of 71(see Chicago Tribune tribute).  In her book, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (2006), Ephron wrote,
 
“Reading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.”
 
To explore material by Ephron you can find books and movies in our catalog.  A temporary display of her books and movies can also be found by the checkout line at the library.
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 06/27/12
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As Adam Sandler would say:  "...Not too shabby..."  This best describes this first published novel of  S. J. Watson. 
 
Shabby, at best, could  also describe the heroine’s memory.  Chris wakes each day with no memory of her past.  For over 20 years, her days begins in a panic.  Where is she?  Who is she? Why can't she remember anything?   Who is the man in bed next to her?
 
Each dawn, the man in bed next to her patiently explains to Chris that he is Ben, her husband.  He carefully outlines the traumatic past that she has survived and the resulting time-life-loop in which Chris' memory is stuck.  Imagine what this must feel like to experience!  
 
The lone, good outcome of this daily experience is that it's not like a nagging, horrific nightmare.  She has little or no memories of her past, so each day is news to her.  She discovers through Ben's daily narratives that she has spent a lot a time in hospitals and her prognosis is not good.   Over the years, doctors have not measured much change in her condition. 
 
One day a doctor contacts her and says that he has been secretly working with Chris for some time and feels that she may one day get better.  He encourages her to start a daily diary, hide it from Ben each night before they sleep, and then the doctor will tell her the next day the hiding place so that Chris can read and more easily assimilate her past.
 
Since no character in the story is without flaws and trust-worthy, the reader is constantly assessing the exposition and attempting to seek some truth.  Chris might have been in a car accident.  She might have had best friend who is since estranged.  Ben might have once divorced her.  She might have had a son who died in a war.  The list goes on.
 
This is a difficult book to write, but not that difficult to read.  There is a lot of redundancy that is to be expected since Chris's memory must be reassembled each day like a house of cards.  The final product, this book, withstands any gust of wind.  Looking forward to his next novel.  Watson's webpage can be found here:  http://www.sjwatson-books.com/.
Posted by roseh on 06/22/12
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Ah-Kim Chang moves with her mother from China to New York City in the 1990's. Her journey removes her from the life she enjoyed and takes her farther away from the memories of her father who died in China. Ah-Kim becomes Kimberly. A new name marks the beginning of her journey filled with translation, transition, and transformation.
 
Kimberly and her mother are sponsored by her mother's sister. Aunt Paula tells them they are very lucky to be getting the apartment waiting for them. Promises of a good job and home, however, are soon replaced by the reality of sweatshops and slums.

Kim is a very bright eleven year-old but the language barrier is enormous and she fails miserably at first. In addition to school, she takes on the burden of helping her mother finish her sewing job since they get paid per completed garment. Although this work was illegal, Kim's mother felt nothing could be done except to pay off their debt and move on since her sister, Aunt Paula, was the owner of the sweatshop.

The story continues through the years as Kim navigates through the tween and teen years, and into adulthood.
Girl In Translation is a story of determination, family, relationships, and survival.

This novel is a work of fiction, however, Jean Kwok, the author, shares similarities with Kim. Jean also immigrated to the United States and worked in a sweatshop as a child. See an interview with Jean Kwok:
 
Posted by kensey on 06/20/12
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In Dan Ariely's new book,  The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty : How We Lie To Everyone - Especially Ourselves, he explores cheating, lies, and human nature by looking at psychology experiments. If you liked the more famous Freakonomics books or those by Malcolm Gladwell, you'll enjoy Dan Ariely, who makes you rethink your "morality" when it comes to cheating and lying - but in a totally entertaining way!
 
 
For those of you who shy away from non-fiction, this book (and previous books by the author) is incredibly readable and fun - Ariely is charmingly self-deprecating - and reading him is like hearing stories from an old friend who just happens to be a behavioral economist. If you don't want to commit to reading the entire book, I highly recommened you at least check out Dan Ariely's blog or twitter, where you can get fascinating snippets from the social psychology world in pop form.
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
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