by Libba Bray
A group of teen beauty queens are stranded on a mysterious island after their plane crashes on the way to the Miss Teen Dreams Pageant, an event sponsored by the equally mysterious Corporation. Miles from home and with only a dwindling supply of lip gloss, the girls learn how to survive, live together as a community, take down terrorists, and finally ask whose Teen Dreams are they fulfilling–theirs or the Corporation’s?
Hilarious commercial breaks,courtesy of the Corporation itself, give the story the ambience of so-called reality TV. Bray’s humor is at once light and dark, and always on target. This isn’t just a book for teenage girls.
The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern
“The circus arrives without warning” and with that opening line you are swept into Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. This book has been described as “marvelous,” “a love story on a grand scale,” “an enchanting read” and something that “you will not want to leave.” It’s all true. I was on the waiting list for two months…..was it worth it?? Absolutely. I was completely enthralled by Morgenstern’s sleek circus world and her descriptive language allows the story to be played out like watching a movie unfold.
If you enjoyed the movie The Illusionist with Edward Norton or The Prestige with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, both stories of rivalry, love and illusionists set in Victorian times then you will love The Night Circus.
Come to the Main library on the evening of January 26th and wear your red rêveur scarf for what promises to be an enchanting evening with the book’s author Erin Morgenstern. The reception will start at 6:15pm followed by the author discussing her book.
If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to read more this year, let me suggest that you do a catalog search for New York Review Books Classics. What will come up is a diverse and wonderful series of books whose only common denominator is that they have been rescued from oblivion and re-issued in lovely trade paperback editions. The bizarre (and addictive) thing about this series is that no matter what I’ve chosen, it’s as if someone has handpicked the book especially for me.
Wish Her Safe at Home
by Stephen Benatar
The interior life of an unreliable narrator. (1982)
The Dud Avocado
by Elaine Dundy
The madcap adventures of a young American expat in Paris in the 1950′s. (1958)
by Caroline Blackwood
A widow is preyed upon by a wheelchair-bound con man, with surprising results. (1984)
Hons and Rebels
by Jessica Mitford
The autobiography of the hilarious, rebellious, adventurous Mitford sister (not Nancy). (1960)
by John Edward Williams
Reminded me of Richard Yates’ stories of suburban angst and marital discord, with some Midwestern Booth Tarkington thrown in. (1965)
Here are my picks for best albums of 2011. Please sound off and list your own picks in the comments!
First time Grammy nominees Cut/Copy released one of the best dance albums of the year.
Essential Track: Need You Know
by The Horrors
The Horrors have reinvented themselves yet again on their third album, this time going for a late 80′s post punk sound.
Essential Track: I Can See Through You
by The Wild Beasts
Dreamlike guitars, galloping drums, and hedonistic lyrics sung in falsetto, The Wild Beasts can’t be tamed!
Essential Track: Bed of Nails
Ghost Wave: The discovery of the Cortes Bank and the biggest wave on Earth
By Chris Dixon
Why do I like books about surfing? I don’t know…I really don’t. But there seems to be something about them that just pulls me in. In 2010, I thought The Wave by Susan Casey was the best book I read all year (here’s what I really thought).
And here I am again, finding myself inexplicably pulled into the barrel of another beauty (see what I did there…ok, just checking). Cortes Bank is a shallow reef due west of San Diego, CA, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Because it is so shallow and because there is nothing to dissipate the energy of the waves, Cortes Bank is home to what is arguably the world’s largest rideable wave. (Check out a great video here).
The first part of the book is a little slow. Dixon digs up info on everyone who ever saw the Cortes Bank and it can get a tad tedious (unless you’re really interested in a shipwreck or how to build your own nation). However, once the surfing starts, you won’t want to put the book down. First we watch as Mike Parsons sets the world record for surfing an estimated 66′ monster his first time out at Cortes. Then we meet Greg Long, who some have named the heir apparent to Hamilton’s wave riding throne. If someone is going to surf a 100′+ wave someday, Long is going to be on the short list of men who will try.
Surfing is such a transient sport. No two waves are alike, which makes each big ride more exciting than the last. It also makes finding big swells challenging. And if you do find them, will the weather be good enough to ride? Big wave riders dedicate their lives to mastering giant waves and doing what they love.
I love big surf books. Big waves, no matter how beautiful terrify me, but give me a book about big waves, and I’m happy as a clam. (Pun intended?)
Look out 2012 – we just started the year and already I’ve a got a contender for best book.
The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman the Horse That Inspired a Nation
By Elizabeth Letts
This is a sweet story about an honest and hard working man who saves a plow horse bound for the glue factory. Harry de Leyer discovered that he had gotten not only a calm and steady horse with a heart of gold but a horse that had an amazing ability to jump, an ability that took man and horse all the way to the 1958 National Horse Show. No one took the grey plow horse or his immigrant owner seriously until the slow steady horse cleared all his jumps…
Author Elizabeth Letts, has written a warm hearted book that tells the story of the de Leyer family, the history of show horse competitions, America in the 1950s and most of all the story of Snowman the horse. Fans of Black Beauty, Secretariat, Seabiscuit and horses in general will enjoy this story of the little plow horse that could.
The Sisters Brothers
by Patrick deWitt
Is there a typo in the book title? No, Sisters is the last name of Charlie and Eli, brothers and gunslingers who are the stars of Patrick deWitt’s second novel. As the cover reveals, this book is a Western, but it’s a tale essential for anyone who appreciates a well-written story.
The Commodore has hired Charlie and Eli to assassinate the prospector Herman Kermit Warm, so they set out on a horseback journey from Oregon to San Francisco. Along the way the brothers encounter a grizzly bear, drink coffee brewed from dirt, get cursed by a witch, drink way too much brandy, and discover the benefits of dental care. Eli’s heart isn’t in the killing anymore, but how do you break away from your brother and the only life you’ve ever known?
The Sisters Brothers was shortlisted earlier in 2011 for the Man Booker Prize, and recently won the Governor General’s Award for fiction, one of Canada’s most prestigious literary prizes. And it makes my top ten list of best books of the year! Download a copy of the ebook for your Kindle or other ereader, or go for the printed version or traditional audio book. -crystal