Book Lovers

By the Numbers
James Richardson

This noteworthy book of poems (finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry) is not your typical book of poetry (then again, what is typical in poetry?). Richardson is supreme practitioner of the aphorism, what he calls 10 second essays. They look like short prose poems and are mostly in a conversational voice, but they are certainly wise (which goes to show that not all poetic things need to come in pretty packages). Richardson writes more than aphorisms, though, spending the first section focusing on mythological gods re-imagined in present circumstances and the last section focusing on what lies beyond us as we get older (and what lies in and out of our reach). These poems are quite readable and thought-provoking, with some stream of consciousness and fragmentation mixed in to the longer poems. Recommended for anyone who doesn't like to have to go to the dictionary every other line, but also likes to think and feel something.

Sep 20, 2011
Andy
CHEW Vol. 1: Taster's Choice
John Layman & Rob Guillory

Tony Chu is a Cibopath.  This means he can take a bite of something and know its background.  If it's a fruit, he would see how it was harvested, where it grew, etc.  Or, being an agent in the Special Crimes Division of the FDA, Tony can take a bit of a corpse and see who committed the murder and why.  CHEW Vol. 1: Taster's Choice is the first in the dark and funny series about fighting crime.  Be sure to follow Tony's adventures with CHEW Vol. 2: International Flavor and CHEW Vol. 3: Just Desserts.

Sep 14, 2011
Andrea
Safe Area Gorazde
Joe Sacco

Intense and gut-wrenching are the best words to describe Joe Sacco's graphic novel depicting what happened during the Yugoslav wars.  Gorazde was a small town of Muslims who were overtaken by Bosnian Serbs.  Many people were slaughtered during the ethnic cleansing that took place.  In Safe Area Gorazde, for those of us who were too young to remember the fighting in the early 1990s or who were just too distant, we get a visual look at all the horrors of man's brutal inhumanity to their own neighbors.

Sep 14, 2011
Andrea
The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposter
Mark Seal

The story of Clark Rockefeller hit the headlines a few years ago when he was arrested for kidnapping his own daughter.  After the arrest, the true identity of Clark Rockefeller was finally exposed after 30 years of careful conning.  This man who assumed several different identities and fooled his way into the country's most elite clubs and high-end financial institutions on Wall Street was actually born in a tiny German village.  His obsession with America spurred him to fly over on a student visa, never to return to his previous life and home.  

In The Man in the Rockefeller Suit, Mark Seal gives us a hard-to-put-down true-life thrilling account of the path that this great imposter took, including a connection with a missing couple from California in the 1980s.

Sep 11, 2011
Andrea
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter
Seth Grahame-Smith

Not being a big fan of vampires but liking Abraham Lincoln, I thought I'd give Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter a try.  In Grahame-Smith's version of Lincoln's life, Abe isn't quite the honest guy we thought he was.  His big secret is that he hunts and kills vampires.  When his mother dies because of a failed deal with a vampire, Abraham Lincoln finds his true calling.  His vampire mentor, Henry Sturges, knows that Lincoln is destined for great things in his life and possibly, afterlife.  After reading this book, you just might take a different look at the real causes for fighting for the Union and freeing of the slaves.  An entertaining read and destined to hit the movie theaters in June 2012.

Sep 6, 2011
Susan
Physics of the Future - Michio Kaku
Physics of the Future
Michio Kaku

In this fascinating book, physics professor Michio Kaku extrapolates on current trends in science and technology to predict what we will see within the next thiry years as well as all the way to 100 years from now.  He discusses the future of computers, artificial intelligence, medicine, nanotechnology, energy, space travel and wealth.  Some of his interesting predictions include contact lenses that allow us to access the internet and nanobots that course through our veins to easily repair our ailments.  It appears very clear that technology is only accelerating and the future is coming sooner than we think.

Sep 1, 2011
Kristy
Blindness
Jose Saramago

In an unnamed city, a man stops his car at a traffic light and loses his sight. A man helps him home, and is struck blind a few hours later. His wife takes him to an eye doctor, who loses his sight later that evening, along with everyone else in his office. This blindness quickly spreads throughout the city. As more and more lose their sight, the blind are quarantined in an effort to control the contagion, though it eventually spreads throughout the city. One woman retains her sight as those around her lose theirs, and is left as the only one to witness as everything around her breaks down in the panic that engulfs her city. A beautifully written tale of hope in a time of helplessness.

Sep 1, 2011
Anonymous
Self-Made Man
Self-Made Man
Norah Vincent

Norah Vincent is not a cross-dresser or transgendered, but she decides to live 18 as a man to see what it's really like.  She gets herself into a variety of interesting situations in order to learn how differently people perceive her as a man, as well as how her new identity affects how she sees the world.  She joins a bowling league, becomes a salesman, goes on dates, attends a men's retreat and even spends some time living with monks in a monastary.  Norah "comes out" eventually to the majority of the people she meets about her undercover book identity and surprisingly many of them are understanding and amused with her experiment.

Aug 22, 2011
Kristy
The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb
Melanie Benjamin

She may have been small in size but she had big dreams and even bigger ambitions.  Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump wanted to see the world and, more importantly, wanted to be remembered.  She embarked on her journey with a river showboat company but hit the big time when she hooked up with P.T. Barnum and General Tom Thumb to become the sensations of the Civil War era.  Told as a fictional memoir, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb is a compelling story about very compelling people.

Aug 22, 2011
Susan
Zorro: the Legend Begins
Isabel Allende

This fun, adventure tale is the story of Diego de la Vega’s (aka Zorro) early years. We meet Diego’s parents (a nobleman, former soldier in the Spanish army and a female, Indian chieftess) as well as his lifelong companions (his soul brother, Bernardo, and good friend, Isabelle). We go on numerous high-flying adventures as he crosses the ocean, is welcomed into the secret La Justicia society, and learns tricks from a gang of gypsies. We even see him fall in love and lose that love (along the way earning a most diabolical enemy). Most of all, we see the young man mature into the dual personality of Diego, the foppish and fragile  gentleman, and Zorro, the brave, athletic, wise-cracking man of the mask. This story isn't all action jackson, though, as it also explores the many perspectives and influences which shaped  the hero. A fine read for any time of year.

Aug 19, 2011
Andy

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