Thursday, April 13, 2017

popular fiction and bookgroups

The next RART meeting will be at Emmet O’Neal Library on Wednesday, June 14th at 9am and the topic up for discussion will be literature in translation.

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The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
"The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind....Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction."--Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love--and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.
Michelle, Irondale

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Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed in 2009 a grand home for sale, unoccupied for nearly sixty years, he stumbled through a surprising portal into American history. Empty Mansions is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the Gilded Age opulence of the nineteenth century with a twenty-first-century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, at the time of her death at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen in decades. Though she owned palatial homes in California, New York, and Connecticut, why had she lived for twenty years in a simple hospital room, despite being in excellent health? Why were her valuables being sold off? Was she in control of her fortune, or controlled by those managing her money?

Dedman has collaborated with Huguette Clark's cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., one of the few relatives to have frequent conversations with her. Dedman and Newell tell a fairy tale in reverse: the bright, talented daughter, born into a family of extreme wealth and privilege, who secrets herself away from the outside world.

Huguette was the daughter of self-made copper industrialist W. A. Clark, nearly as rich as Rockefeller in his day, a controversial senator, railroad builder, and founder of Las Vegas. She grew up in the largest house in New York City, a remarkable dwelling with 121 rooms for a family of four. She owned paintings by Degas and Renoir, a world-renowned Stradivarius violin, a vast collection of antique dolls. But wanting more than treasures, she devoted her wealth to buying gifts for friends and strangers alike, to quietly pursuing her own work as an artist, and to guarding the privacy she valued above all else.

The Clark family story spans nearly all of American history in three generations, from a log cabin in Pennsylvania to mining camps in the Montana gold rush, from backdoor politics in Washington to a distress call from an elegant Fifth Avenue apartment. The same Huguette who was touched by the terror attacks of 9/11 held a ticket nine decades earlier for a first-class stateroom on the second voyage of the Titanic.

Empty Mansions reveals a complex portrait of the mysterious Huguette and her intimate circle. We meet her extravagant father, her publicity-shy mother, her star-crossed sister, her French boyfriend, her nurse who received more than $30 million in gifts, and the relatives fighting to inherit Huguette's copper fortune. Richly illustrated with more than seventy photographs, Empty Mansions is an enthralling story of an eccentric of the highest order, a last jewel of the Gilded Age who lived life on her own terms.
Michelle, Irondale

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A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know each other. When Chicky Starr decides to take an old, decaying mansion set high on the cliffs overlooking the windswept Atlantic Ocean and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, everyone thinks she is crazy. Helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the house) and Orla, her niece (a whiz at business), Stone House is finally ready to welcome its first guests to the big warm kitchen, log fires, and understated elegant bedrooms. Laugh and cry with this unlikely group as they share their secrets and—maybe—even see some of their dreams come true. Full of Maeve’s trademark warmth and humor, once again, she embraces us with her grand storytelling.
Michelle, Irondale

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.
Judith, Homewood

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them. 

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
Judith, Homewood

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The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo
From a bright new talent comes this debut novel about a young woman who travels for the first time to her mother’s hometown, and gets sucked into the mystery that changed her family forever
Mattie Wallace has really screwed up this time. Broke and knocked up, she’s got all her worldly possessions crammed into six giant trash bags, and nowhere to go. Try as she might, Mattie can no longer deny that she really is turning into her mother, a broken alcoholic who never met a bad choice she didn’t make.

When Mattie gets news of a possible inheritance left by a grandmother she’s never met, she jumps at this one last chance to turn things around. Leaving the Florida Panhandle, she drives eight hundred miles to her mother’s birthplace—the tiny town of Gandy, Oklahoma. There, she soon learns that her mother remains a local mystery—a happy, talented teenager who inexplicably skipped town thirty-five years ago with nothing but the clothes on her back. But the girl they describe bears little resemblance to the damaged woman Mattie knew, and before long it becomes clear that something terrible happened to her mother, and it happened here. The harder Mattie digs for answers, the more obstacles she encounters. Giving up, however, isn’t an option. Uncovering what started her mother’s downward spiral might be the only way to stop her own. Hilarious, gripping, and unexpectedly wise, The Art of Crash Landing is a poignant novel from an assured new voice.
Judith, Homewood

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Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before. In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.
Judith, Homewood

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our StarsMe Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?
Judith, Homewood

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The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
An interesting mix of romance gained and lost and a nail-biting survival story!  Dr. Ben Payne is on his way back to his patients and a very complicated situation with his wife.  Ashley Knox is on her way back to her fiancé and the final few tasks before the big day.  A snowstorm and a heart attack intervene and now Ben and Ashley are injured and stranded in the High Uintas Wilderness – one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States.  The experience will change both of them forever.  The film adaptation, starring Idris Elba andKate Winslet, is due out in theaters in October 2017.
Holley, Emmet O’Neal

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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin.  Having never worked a day in his life, and now confined to a tiny, dreary attic room, watches the next several decades in Russian history pass by his front door.  You’d think he’d be lonely and isolated, but the Count is a wily individual and manages to make his mark in heartwarming and unexpected ways.
Holley, Emmet O’Neal

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Half-sisters Effia and Esi, never knowing one another, are separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver.  What follows are exquisite near-vignettes of each succeeding generation of these women, giving the reader a small porthole view into the ties, known and unknown, that tie relatives together and the flavor of the time and place in which they live.  The author was born Ghana, was raised in Huntsville, AL, and now lives in Berkeley, CA.  The sections of the book set in the coal mines of Pratt City, AL resonated authentically.
Holley, Emmet O’Neal

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The Girl Before by JP Delaney

SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

EMMA
Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

JANE
After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.
Leslie, Homewood

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Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out―three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list―her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon found that rock bottom was a familiar place. In the midst of crisis, she knew to hold on to what she discovered in recovery: that her deepest pain has always held within it an invitation to a richer life.

Love Warrior is the story of one marriage, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible for any of us when we refuse to settle for good enough and begin to face pain and love head-on. This astonishing memoir reveals how our ideals of masculinity and femininity can make it impossible for a man and a woman to truly know one another - and it captures the beauty that unfolds when one couple commits to unlearning everything they've been taught so that they can finally, after thirteen years of marriage, commit to living true―true to themselves and to each other.

Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life.
Leslie, Homewood

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The Widow by Fiona Barton
There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now her husband is dead, and there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now her husband is dead, and there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…
Leslie, Homewood

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The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry
When a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween night, Salem's chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem’s most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed "The Goddess Murders," in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, is guilty of murder or witchcraft.

But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?
Leslie, Homewood

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All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani
Adriana Trigiani, the New York Times bestselling author of the blockbuster epic The Shoemaker's Wife, returns with her biggest and boldest novel yet, a hypnotic tale based on a true story and filled with her signature elements: family ties, artistry, romance, and adventure. Born in the golden age of Hollywood, All the Stars in the Heavens captures the luster, drama, power, and secrets that could only thrive in the studio system—viewed through the lives of an unforgettable cast of players creating magic on the screen and behind the scenes.

In this spectacular saga as radiant, thrilling, and beguiling as Hollywood itself, Adriana Trigiani takes us back to Tinsel Town's golden age—an era as brutal as it was resplendent—and into the complex and glamorous world of a young actress hungry for fame and success. With meticulous, beautiful detail, Trigiani paints a rich, historical landscape of 1930s Los Angeles, where European and American artisans flocked to pursue the ultimate dream: to tell stories on the silver screen.
The movie business is booming in 1935 when twenty-one-year-old Loretta Young meets thirty-four-year-old Clark Gable on the set of The Call of the Wild. Though he's already married, Gable falls for the stunning and vivacious young actress instantly.

Far from the glittering lights of Hollywood, Sister Alda Ducci has been forced to leave her convent and begin a new journey that leads her to Loretta. Becoming Miss Young's secretary, the innocent and pious young Alda must navigate the wild terrain of Hollywood with fierce determination and a moral code that derives from her Italian roots. Over the course of decades, she and Loretta encounter scandal and adventure, choose love and passion, and forge an enduring bond of love and loyalty that will be put to the test when they eventually face the greatest obstacle of their lives.

Anchored by Trigiani's masterful storytelling that takes you on a worldwide ride of adventure from Hollywood to the shores of southern Italy, this mesmerizing epic is, at its heart, a luminous tale of the most cherished ties that bind. Brimming with larger-than-life characters both real and fictional—including stars Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy, David Niven, Hattie McDaniel and more—it is it is the unforgettable story of one of cinema's greatest love affairs during the golden age of American movie making.
Leslie, Homewood

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A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott
Julie Crawford left Fort Wayne, Indiana with dreams of being a Hollywood screenwriter. Unfortunately, her new life is off to a rocky start. Fired by the notoriously demanding director of Gone With the Wind, she’s lucky to be rescued by Carole Lombard, whose scandalous affair with the still-married Clark Gable is just heating up.

As Carole’s assistant, Julie suddenly has a front-row seat to two of the world’s greatest love affairs. And while Rhett and Scarlett—and Lombard and Gable—make movie history, Julie is caught up in a whirlwind of outsized personalities and overheated behind-the-scenes drama … not to mention a budding romance of her own.
Leslie, Homewood

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Speak by Louisa Hall
A thoughtful, poignant novel that explores the creation of Artificial Intelligence—illuminating the very human need for communication, connection, and understanding.

In a narrative that spans geography and time, from the Atlantic Ocean in the seventeenth century, to a correctional institute in Texas in the near future, and told from the perspectives of five very different characters, Speak considers what it means to be human, and what it means to be less than fully alive.
A young Puritan woman travels to the New World with her unwanted new husband. Alan Turing, the renowned mathematician and code breaker, writes letters to his best friend’s mother. A Jewish refugee and professor of computer science struggles to reconnect with his increasingly detached wife. An isolated and traumatized young girl exchanges messages with an intelligent software program. A former Silicon Valley Wunderkind is imprisoned for creating illegal lifelike dolls.

Each of these characters is attempting to communicate across gaps—to estranged spouses, lost friends, future readers, or a computer program that may or may not understand them. In dazzling and electrifying prose, Louisa Hall explores how the chasm between computer and human—shrinking rapidly with today’s technological advances—echoes the gaps that exist between ordinary people. Though each speaks from a distinct place and moment in time, all five characters share the need to express themselves while simultaneously wondering if they will ever be heard, or understood.
Mary Anne, BPL Southern History

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GENERAL DISCUSSION:  Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Wood
A rich and informative exploration of our age-old obsession with “making life.”  Could an eighteenth-century mechanical duck really digest and excrete its food? Was “the Turk,” a celebrated chess-playing and -winning machine fabricated in 1769, a dazzling piece of fakery, or could it actually think? Why was Thomas Edison obsessed with making a mechanical doll—a perfect woman, mass-produced? Can a twenty-first-century robot express human emotions of its own?

Taking up themes long familiar from the realms of fairy tales and science fiction, Gaby Wood traces the hidden prehistory of a modern idea—the thinking, hoaxes, and inventions that presaged contemporary robotics and the current experiments with artificial intelligence. Informed by the author’s scientific and historical research, Edison’s Eve is also a brilliant literary, cultural, and philosophical examination of the motives that have driven human beings to pursue the creation of mechanical life, and the effects of that pursuit—both in its successes and in its failures—on our sense of what makes us human.

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories Not For the Nervous
Once again Alfred Hitchcock gathers together a cold-blooded collection of his fiendishly brilliant friends for some group shock-therapy. This time it's a fear-for-all gala where only gourmet suspense and well-chilled mysteries are served -- and only the nervous are invited. To the Future by Ray Bradbury; River of Riches by Gerald Kersh; Levitation by Joseph Payne Brennan; Miss Winters and the Wind by Christine Noble Govan; The Man With Copper Fingers by Dorothy L. Sayers; Twenty Friends of William Shaw by Raymond E. Banks; The Other Hangman by Carter Dicson; Don't Look Behind You by Frederic Brown; No Bath for the Browns by Margot Bennet; The Uninvited by Michael Gilbert; Dune Roller by Julian May; The Dog Died First by Bruno Fischer; The Substance of Martyrs by William Samerot.
Mary Anne, BPL Southern History

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories That Scared Even Me
Collection of scary and macabre fiction from a variety of genres. It includes the entire text of John Wyndham's novel of alien invasion, Out of the Deeps, and 24 short stories by American or British authors, all written in the 20th century. Authors represented include T. H. White, Donald E. Westlake, Theodore Sturgeon, Thomas M. Disch, Ellis Peters, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Margaret St. Clair, Algis Budrys, and Gerald Kersh.
Mary Anne, PBL Southern History

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GENERAL DISCUSSION:  The Vanishing by Tim Krabbé
When Saskia Ehlvest, a young Dutch girl, disappears from a rest stop along a highway in rural France, her lover, Rex Hofmann, cannot accept her disappearance and embarks on an obsessive search for her that spans years. This book was adapted to film in the Netherlands in 1988 and in America in 1993.

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The Godfather by Mario Puzo
I read this novel because I’d seen the movie of the same name many times and wanted to further explore this sinister mafia world. But you need have no interest in the movie (or the sequels) to like this. It’s a world unto itself. The story has a powerful drive and captures you fully. Don Corleone, his family and his henchmen command a world of lived-in evil. It’s oddly invigorating to journey in this world, knowing somewhere back in your head it’s not real and you can go back to the relatively ethical real world at any time. That is, you can leave if you can stop reading, which a lot harder than you’d think.
Richard, Central Fiction

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The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman
Anyone who lived through the 1980s may find it impossible—inconceivable, even—to equate The Princess Bride with anything other than the sweet, celluloid romance of Westley and Buttercup, but the film is only a fraction of the ingenious storytelling you'll find in these pages. Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that's home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.”
Ken, Leeds


During our discussion of bookgroup picks, there was general interest in knowing what books garnered awful discussions.  We agreed that reasons varied, from bad writing all the way up to the equally frustrating occasion when everyone just loves it and there’s nothing to talk about.  What books have bombed in your book groups?  Comment here or friend RA Reading on Facebook!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

humor and parody

The next RA Roundtable meeting will be Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 9am at the Homewood Library.  We’ll be talking about bookgroup picks and popular fiction, so bring a couple of titles and share with us!

Upcoming events in which you may be interested:

The Homewood Library is hosting a Jane Austen-Regency Ball on Saturday, February 18th, 7pm-9pm.  Tickets are $15 per person and must be purchased in advance.  For reservations, call 205-578-8280 or email jasna.alabama@gmail.com.

The annual Friends of the Library book sale at Emmet O’Neal Library will take place the last weekend in February.  Member of the Friends may attend the preview party on Thursday, February 23rd. The sale is open to the public Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, February 24-26.

Today, we shared humor and parody books.  It was a fun, and funny, meeting!

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Jen Lancaster is one of my favorite humorous essayists/memoirists!  She has all of the snark of Sedaris or Handler with slightly less cursing. Her blog is hilarious and she’s pretty active across most popular social media platforms.  I haven’t yet tried any of her fiction, but I adore her memoirs.

Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office

Bright Lights, Big Ass: A Self-Indulgent, Surly, Ex-Sorority Girl’s Guide to Why It Often Sucks in the City, Or, Who Are These Idiots and Why Do They All Live Next Door to Me?

Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, Or, Why Pie Is Not the Answer

Pretty in Plaid: A Life, A Witch, and a Wardrobe, Or, the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase

My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict’s Attempt to Discover If Not Being a Dumb Ass is the New Black, Or, A Culture-Up Manifesto

Jeneration X: One Reluctant Adult’s Attempt to Unarrest Her Arrested Development, Or, Why It’s Never Too Late for Her Dumb Ass to Learn Why Fruit Loops Are Not For Dinner

The Tao of Martha: My Year of Living, Or, Why I’m Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog

I Regret Nothing: A Memoir
Holley, Emmet O’Neal

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We all know the story of the "selfless" tree that gave all she had just to make sure a young boy was "happy".  Snore. This is a different tree. This is a different boy. This is a very different book.
The Taking Tree is not so happy when the boy takes her twigs to pick on his sister, or takes her apples to sell for college (she's an oak tree for goodness sake), or when he cuts off her branches to build a house that he burns for insurance money. And the boy is not sorry at all. Ever. In fact, he's kind of a jerk. And the boy asks for more, and more, and more until the oak tree is so fed up she just can't take it any longer. While another story might end sweetly with an old man sitting on a stump. This one does not.
Michelle, Irondale

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Do you love networking to advance your career? Is adulthood an exciting new challenge for which you feel fully prepared? Ugh. Please go away.

These casually drawn, perfectly on-point comics by the hugely popular young Brooklyn-based artist Sarah Andersen are for the rest of us. They document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, and dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life. Oh and they are totally not autobiographical. At all.

Adulthood Is a Myth presents many fan favorites plus dozens of all-new comics exclusive to this book. Like the work of fellow Millennial authors Allie Brosh, Grace Helbig, and Gemma Correll, Sarah's frankness on personal issues like body image, self-consciousness, introversion, relationships, and the frequency of bra-washing makes her comics highly relatable and deeply hilarious.

Find more of her hilarious comics on her blog, Sarah's Scribbles.
Michelle, Irondale

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The Hunger Pains: A Parody by The Harvard Lampoon
The hilarious instant New York Times bestseller, The Hunger Pains is a loving parody of the dystopian YA novel and film, The Hunger Games.  

Winning means wealth, fame, and a life of therapy losing means death, but also fame! This is The Hunger Pains. When Kantkiss Neverclean replaces her sister as a contestant on the Hunger Games—the second-highest-rated reality TV show in Peaceland, behind Extreme Home Makeover—she has no idea what to expect. Having lived her entire life in the telemarketing district’s worst neighborhood, the Crack, Kantkiss feels unprepared to fight to the death while simultaneously winking and looking adorable for the cameras. But when her survival rests on choosing between the dreamy hunk from home, Carol Handsomestein, or the doughy klutz, Pita Malarkey, Kantkiss discovers that the toughest conflicts may not be found on the battlefield but in her own heart . . . which is unfortunately on a battlefield.
Jon, Avondale

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Straight from the library--the strange and bizarre, ready to be checked out!  From a patron's missing wetsuit to the scent of crab cakes wafting through the stacks, I Work at a Public Library showcases the oddities that have come across Gina Sheridan's circulation desk. Throughout these pages, she catalogs her encounters with local eccentrics as well as the questions that plague her, such as, "What is the standard length of eyebrow hairs?" Whether she's helping someone scan his face onto an online dating site or explaining why the library doesn't have any dragon autobiographies, Sheridan's bizarre tales prove that she's truly seen it all.

Stacked high with hundreds of strange-but-true stories, I Work at a Public Library celebrates librarians and the unforgettable patrons that roam the stacks every day.
Jon, Avondale

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Fans of Ron White’s "perfectly-phrased everyman gripes and raunchy, grinning asides*" will find much to appreciate here. He riffs on everything from obnoxious designer sunglass salesmen to his wife’s wealthy but stingy family, and he revisits some of his most famous characters, such as his troublesome dog Sluggo ("He ran away all day. He was gone for ten hours. So, to punish him, when he came home I took him for a walk."). Best of all, White’s hilarious material is accompanied here by clever artistic interpretations, courtesy of illustrator Matthew Shultz.
Jon, Avondale

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From the wickedly hilarious pen of Southern humorist Celia Rivenbark comes a collection of essays that brings to mind Dave Barry (in high heels) or Jeff Foxworthy (in a prom dress).

Step into the wacky world of "womanless wedding" fund-raisers, in which Bubbas wear boas. Meet two sisters who fight rural boredom by washing Budweiser cans and cutting them into pieces to make clothing. Learn why the word snow sends any right-thinking Southerner careening to the Food Lion for extra loaves of bread and little else.

Humor columnist and slightly crazed belle-by-birth Celia Rivenbark tackles these and other lard-laden subjects in Bless Your Heart, Tramp, a hilarious look at Southern---and just plain human---foibles, up-close and personal. So pour yourself a glass of sweet tea and curl up on the pie-azza with Bless Your Heart, Tramp.
Jon, Avondale

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Holidays in Heck by P.J. O’Rourke
P.J. O'Rourke is one of today's most celebrated political humorists, and has been hailed as "the funniest writer in America" by both Time and The Wall Street Journal. Two decades ago he published the classic travelogue Holidays in Hell, in which he traversed the globe on a fun-finding mission to what were then some of the most desperate places on the planet, including Warsaw, Managua, and Belfast.

In Holidays in Heck, P.J. embarks on supposedly more comfortable and allegedly less dangerous travels--often with family in tow--which mostly leave him wishing he were under artillery fire again. The essays take O'Rourke on a whirlwind of adventures, beginning at the National Mall in Washington, which he describes as having been designed with the same amazing "greatest generation" aesthetic sensibility that informed his parents' living room. We follow him as he takes his family on a ski vacation (to the Aspen of the Midwest--Ohio--where the highest point of elevation is the six-food ski instructor that his wife thinks is cute). And later he experiences a harrowing horseback ride across the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.

The result is a hilarious and often moving portrait of life in the fast lane--only this time as a husband and father.
Jon, Avondale

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What Dave Barry did for the men's movement in his Complete Guide to Guys and for foreign relations when he did Japan he now does for . . . everything in America. The rapacious observer of Tupperware ladies and leisure concept salesmen sounds off on:

Football--Football is more than just a game. It is a potential opportunity to see a live person lying on the ground with a bone sticking out of his leg, while the fans, to show their appreciation, perform "the wave."

Sailing--There's nothing quite like getting out on the open sea, where you can forget about the hassles and worries of life on land, and concentrate on the hassles and worries of life on the sea, such as death by squid.

Gambling--Off-Track Betting parlors are the kinds of places where you never see signs that say, "Thank You for Not Smoking." The best you can hope for is, "Thank You for Not Spitting Pieces of Your Cigar on My Neck."
Jon, Avondale

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Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan, who’s best known for his legendary riffs on Hot Pockets, bacon, manatees, and McDonald's, expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children—everything from cousins ("celebrities for little kids") to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”). Dad is Fat is sharply observed, explosively funny, and a cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.
Jon, Avondale

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Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
Eaten in your car so you wouldn’t have to share with your children? Gotten hungry while watching a dog food commercial? Does the presence of green vegetables make you angry?

If you answered yes to any of the following questions, you are pretty pathetic, but you are not alone. Feast along with America’s favorite food comedian, bestselling author, and male supermodel Jim Gaffigan as he digs into his specialty: stuffing his face. Food: A Love Story is an in-depth, thoroughly uninformed look at everything from health food to things that people actually enjoy eating.
Jon, Avondale

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Go the F*** to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
Go the F*** to Sleep is a book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don’t always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland. Profane, affectionate, and radically honest, it captures the familiar—and unspoken—tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night.

Read by a host of celebrities, from Samuel L. Jackson to Jennifer Garner, this subversively funny bestselling storybook will not actually put your kids to sleep, but it will leave you laughing so hard you won’t care.
Samuel, Springville Road

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You Have to F***ing Eat by Adam Mansbach
From the author of the international best seller Go the F*** to Sleep comes a long-awaited sequel about the other great parental frustration: getting your little angel to eat something that even vaguely resembles a normal meal. Profane, loving, and deeply cathartic, You Have to F***ing Eat breaks the code of child-rearing silence, giving moms and dads new, old, grand- and expectant, a much-needed chance to laugh about a universal problem.

A perfect gift book like the smash hit Go the F*** to Sleep (over 1.5 million copies sold worldwide!), You Have to F***ing Eat perfectly captures Mansbach's trademark humor, which is simultaneously affectionate and radically honest. You probably shouldn't read it to your kids.
Samuel, Springville Road

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Bob Odenkirk is a legend in the comedy-writing world, winning Emmys and acclaim for his work on Saturday Night Live, Mr. Show with Bob and David, and many other seminal TV shows. This book, his first, is a spleen-bruisingly funny omnibus that ranges from absurdist monologues (“Martin Luther King, Jr’s Worst Speech Ever”) to intentionally bad theater (“Hitler Dinner Party: A Play”); from avant-garde fiction (“Obituary for the Creator of Madlibs”) to free-verse poetry that's funnier and more powerful than the work of Calvin Trillin, Jewel, and Robert Louis Stevenson combined.

Odenkirk's debut resembles nothing so much as a hilarious new sketch comedy show that’s exclusively available as a streaming video for your mind. As Odenkirk himself writes in “The Second Coming of Jesus and Lazarus,” it is a book “to be read aloud to yourself in the voice of Bob Newhart.”
Maura, Trussville

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The instant New York Times bestseller from author, comedian and actor Patton Oswalt, a “heartfelt and hilarious” (USA TODAY) memoir about coming of age as a performer during the late 1990s while obsessively watching classic films at a legendary theater in Los Angeles. “[Oswalt has] a set of synapses like a pinball machine and a prose style to match” (The New York Times).

Between 1995 and 1999, Patton Oswalt lived with an unshakable addiction. It wasn’t drugs, alcohol, or sex: it was film. After moving to Los Angeles, Oswalt became a huge film buff (or as he calls it, a sprocket fiend), absorbing classics, cult hits, and new releases at the famous New Beverly Cinema. Silver screen celluloid became Patton’s life schoolbook, informing his notion of acting, writing, comedy, and relationships.

Set in the nascent days of LA’s alternative comedy scene, Silver Screen Fiend chronicles Oswalt’s journey from fledgling stand-up comedian to self-assured sitcom actor, with the colorful New Beverly collective and a cast of now-notable young comedians supporting him all along the way. “Clever and readable...Oswalt’s encyclopedic knowledge and frothing enthusiasm for films (from sleek noir classics, to gory B movies, to cliché-riddled independents, to big empty blockbusters) is relentlessly present, whirring in the background like a projector” (The Boston Globe). More than a memoir, this is “a love song to the silver screen” (Paste Magazine).
Maura, Trussville

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Anyone who saw an episode of Saturday Night Live between 1999 and 2006 knows Rachel Dratch. She was hilarious! So what happened to her? After a misbegotten part as Jenna on the pilot of 30 Rock, Dratch was only getting offered roles as “Lesbians. Secretaries. Sometimes secretaries who are lesbians.” 

Her career as a female comedian at a low point, she suddenly had time for yoga, dog-sitting, learning Spanish—and dating. Dratch reveals the joys and terrors of putting herself out there in a quest to find love and then becoming a mother in an undreamed-of way. With riotous humor, she recounts breaking the news to her bewildered parents, the awe of her single friends, and romance and coparenting with her baby-daddy, John.

Filled with great behind-the-scenes anecdotes from Dratch’s time on SNL, Girl Walks into a Bar . . . is a funny book with a refreshing version of the happily-ever-after story, full of sensitivity, candor, and plenty of comic relief, as only Rachel Dratch can tell it.
Maura, Trussville

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When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives. 
Judith, Homewood

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Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel
From the water's surface, it's a simple exercise: a dog's leap, a splash, and then a wet head surfacing with a ball, triumphant. 

But beneath the water is a chaotic ballet of bared teeth and bubbles, paddling paws, fur and ears billowing in the currents. From leaping Lab to diving Dachshund, the water is where a dog's distinct personality shines through; some lounge in the current, paddling slowly, but others arch their bodies to cut through the water with the focus and determination of a shark.

In more than eighty portraits, award-winning pet photographer and animal rights activist Seth Casteel captures new sides of our old friends with vibrant underwater photography that makes it impossible to look away. Each image bubbles with exuberance and life, a striking reminder that even in the most loveable and domesticated dog, there are more primal forces at work. In Underwater Dogs, Seth Casteel gives playful and energetic testament to the rough-and-tumble joy that our dogs bring into our lives.
Judith, Homewood

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Underwater Puppies by Seth Casteel
The world fell in love with swimming canines in Seth Casteel's first book, Underwater Dogs. Now, in more than 80 previously unpublished portraits of underwater puppies, we see man's best friends at their most playful and exuberant. Each vibrant and colorful underwater image shows off the wild and sublime range of emotions of puppies, cute and irresistible to the very last.
Judith, Homewood

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"F" stands for "funny" in this perfect gift for students or anyone who has ever had to struggle through a test and needs a good laugh. Celebrating the creative side of failure in a way we can all relate to, F in Exams gathers the most hilarious and inventive test answers provided by students who, faced with a question they have no hope of getting right, decide to have a little fun instead. Whether in science (Q: What is the highest frequency noise that a human can register? A: Mariah Carey), the humanities (Q: What did Mahatma Gandhi and Genghis Khan have in common? A: Unusual names), math, or other subjects, these 250 entries prove that while everyone enjoys the spectacle of failure, it's even sweeter to see a FAIL turn into a WIN. 
Judith, Homewood

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Photographs by Stefan Hagen 
With more personality than most people have to spare, New York artist Sloane Tanen's tiny yellow chickens negotiate the tricky modern world, filled with three-headed blind dates, menacing KFCs, playground popularity battles, and annoyingly crowded yoga classes. They perch amid doll furniture, in scenes photographed in glorious color and brilliantly captioned- and their lives will strike you as strangely familiar...Charming, spiky with off-kilter wit (or waxing jobs gone terribly wrong), and somehow larger than life, these chickens win the hearts of all who behold them. 
Holley, Emmet O’Neal

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Join these fluffy, yellow, surprisingly human protagonists as they face a new series of dilemmas in their exquisitely crafted, miniature settings. Whether playing the online dating game, trying couples therapy, dealing with uncooperative children, discovering the melancholy of middle age, dreaming of a better life, or finally grasping the golden (or at least bronze) ring, these chickens encounter everyday troubles and triumphs as painfully recognizable as they are hilarious. Clever, charming, and endlessly entertaining, Going for the Bronze is a brilliant follow-up to a wholly unique bestseller.
Holley, Emmet O’Neal




Thursday, February 2, 2017

2017 Hoover Book Clubs

Selections for the Fiction Book Club may be found here

This book club has two seatings!  First Thursdays, 10am to noon, and second Thursdays, 10am to noon.

Selections for the NovelTea Book Club may be found here

Join us on the first Sunday of each month from 3-4pm for Sunday NovelTea, our version of book group lite!  Tea and cookies from East 59 Cafe will be served during a lively discussion of our book of the month.  Come read with us! For more information, call 205-444-7820.

Selections for the Nonfiction Discussion Group may be found here

Night meetings are the 4th Thursday of each month, 7-9pm, in the Administration Conference Room. One book is discussed each session.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

art and oddsized books

Mark your calendars for the next RART meeting on February 8, 2017 at the Springville Road Library.  The topic up for discussion will be humor and parody books, fiction or nonfiction…the choice is yours!

In other news, long-time RART member April Wallace is leaving the PLJC!  There will be a reception in her honor at the Pinson Library on Monday, December 19 from 1pm-5pm.  Make time to go and wish her well in her new adventure!

We met in the Southern History department of the Birmingham Public Library downtown for a discussion of art and oversize books.  We kicked off our meeting with a visit to the rare book room to see two of their most prized oversize books: the Catesby “Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands" (circa mid-1700’s) and a volume of the Blaeu royal atlas of the world (circa 1600’s).  Afterward, we retired to the Southern History offices to discuss our own oversized and art books.



(reviews obtained from amazon.com unless otherwise noted)

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The Romantic Egoists: A Pictorial Autobiography from the Scrapbooks and Albums of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli, Scottie Fitzgerald Smith, and Joan P. Kerr

This pictorial autobiography of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald documents two lives that have become legendary. The book draws almost entirely from the scrapbooks and photograph albums that the Fitzgeralds scrupulously kept as their personal record and provides a wealth of illustrative material not previously available. Minnesota; a photograph of the country club in Montgomery, Alabama, where the two met; reviews of This Side of Paradise; poems to the couple from Ring Lardner; snapshots of their trips abroad; Fitzgerald's careful accounting of his earnings; a photograph of the house on Long Island where The Great Gatsby was conceived; postcards with Fitzgerald's drawings for his daughter. These rare photographs and memorabilia combine into a narrative augmented by selections from Scott's and Zelda's own writings, conveying the spirit of particular moments in their lives.
Holley, Emmet O’Neal

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The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated, Uncensored Edition by Oscar Wilde; edited by Nicholas Frankel

The Picture of Dorian Gray altered the way Victorians understood the world they inhabited. It heralded the end of a repressive Victorianism, and after its publication, literature had—in the words of biographer Richard Ellmann—“a different look.” Yet the Dorian Gray that Victorians never knew was even more daring than the novel the British press condemned as “vulgar,” “unclean,” “poisonous,” “discreditable,” and “a sham.” Now, more than 120 years after Wilde handed it over to his publisher, J. B. Lippincott & Company, Wilde’s uncensored typescript is published for the first time, in an annotated, extensively illustrated edition.

The novel’s first editor, J. M. Stoddart, excised material—especially homosexual content—he thought would offend his readers’ sensibilities. When Wilde enlarged the novel for the 1891 edition, he responded to his critics by further toning down its “immoral” elements. The differences between the text Wilde submitted to Lippincott and published versions of the novel have until now been evident to only the handful of scholars who have examined Wilde's typescript.

Wilde famously said that Dorian Gray “contains much of me”: Basil Hallward is “what I think I am,” Lord Henry “what the world thinks me,” and “Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.” Wilde’s comment suggests a backward glance to a Greek or Dorian Age, but also a forward-looking view to a more permissive time than his own, which saw Wilde sentenced to two years’ hard labor for gross indecency. The appearance of Wilde’s uncensored text is cause for celebration.
Samuel, BPL Springville Road

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The Case of Alan Turing: The Extraordinary and Tragic Story of the Legendary Codebreaker by Eric Liberge; illus by Arnaud Delalande

Alan Turing, subject of the Oscar-winning 2014 film The Imitation Game, was the brilliant mathematician solicited by the British government to help decipher messages sent by Germany's Enigma machines during World War II. The work of Turing and his colleagues at Hut 8 created what became known as the "bombe" which descrambled the German navy's messages and saved countless lives and millions in British goods and merchandise.

Despite his heroics, however, Turing led a secret life as a homosexual. After a young man with whom he was involved stole money from him, he went to the police, where he confessed his homosexuality; he was charged with gross indecency, and only avoided prison after agreeing to undergo chemical castration. Tragically, he committed suicide two years later.

Authors Liberge and Delalande used once-classified information only available in 2012 to create a biography that is scientifically rigorous yet understandable for the lay reader. It's also a meticulous depiction of World War II, and an intimate portrayal of a gay man living in an intolerant world.
Delving deeper into Turing's life than The Imitation Game, this graphic novel is a fascinating portrait of this brilliant, complicated, and troubled man.
Samuel, BPL Springville Road

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The American Revolution: A Visual History
The American Revolution will transport you back in time and onto the frontlines. This complete overview of the war brings all the action to life, from the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party to the Declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Paris.

Beginning with the first stirrings of colonial resistance, The American Revolution presents illustrated accounts of every major military action and comprehensive timelines for every stage of the war. Revealing first-person accounts by soldiers and civilians and profiles of the war's main protagonists, from George Washington to Benedict Arnold. Gallery spreads feature collections of weapons and uniforms, and feature sections detail the politics of the war, such as the treatment of prisoners and the revolution's implications for women, Native Americans, and African Americans.

Two hundred and forty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, The American Revolution demonstrates that the story of how America overthrew the British is as meaningful today as it was when the ink was still wet on the parchment. Created in association with the Smithsonian Institution. 
Samuel, BPL Springville Road

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The Great War: July 1, 1916; The First Day of the Battle of the Somme: An Illustrated Panorama by Joe Sacco
From “the heir to R. Crumb and Art Spiegelman” (Economist) comes a monumental, wordless depiction of the most infamous day of World War I.  Launched on July 1, 1916, the Battle of the Somme has come to epitomize the madness of the First World War. Almost 20,000 British soldiers were killed and another 40,000 were wounded that first day, and there were more than one million casualties by the time the offensive halted. In The Great War, acclaimed cartoon journalist Joe Sacco depicts the events of that day in an extraordinary, 24-foot- long panorama: from General Douglas Haig and the massive artillery positions behind the trench lines to the legions of soldiers going “over the top” and getting cut down in no-man’s-land, to the tens of thousands of wounded soldiers retreating and the dead being buried en masse. Printed on fine accordion-fold paper and packaged in a deluxe slipcase with a 16-page booklet, The Great War is a landmark in Sacco’s illustrious career and allows us to see the War to End All Wars as we’ve never seen it before. 24 plates
Maura, Trussville

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Visions of Adventure: N.C. Wyeth and the Brandywine Artists edited by John Edward Dell in assoc with Walt Reed; essays by Douglas Allen, Jr. et al

As famous in their day as the authors whose stories they illustrated, the six artists profiled in this nostalgic collection-N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Harvey Dunn, Frank Schoonover, Philip R. Goodwin and Dean Cornwell-used their unique talents at narrative depiction to bring to life places and times in ways no modern medium has surpassed. Vividly reproduced directly from the original paintings that illustrated the pages of popular books and magazines of up to a century ago, many of the pictures are seen here for the first time, just as the artists painted them. The paintings presented in this handsome volume lured readers to the exciting adventure tales of buccaneers and cowboys, hunters and outlaws, pirate fiction and historical romance written by Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, James Branch Cabell, and other favored writers of the day. Although commissioned to illustrate the written word, these storytelling works of art can stand alone. No text is needed to understand the drama of Howard Pyle's Dead Men Tell No Tales, N. C. Wyeth's The Magic Pool, Frank Schoonover's A Northern Mist, and the dozens of other captivating paintings presented here.
Maura, Trussville

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Harper Ever After: The Early Work of Charley and Edie Harper; Essay by Sara Caswell-Pearce; Introduction and Commentary by Brett Harper; Tribute by Chip Doyle

Charley Harper and Edie McKee met on the first day of school at the Art Academy of Cincinnati in 1940. They studied together, fell in love, survived World War II, married, and embarked on successful careers in art. Today, Charley's work is iconic, known around the world particularly for his images of birds and other wildlife created with simple but accurate geometric forms. Edie's fine art photographs, paintings, prints, designs, and illustrations have earned her lasting respect.
Harper Ever After presents paintings and prints from both artists, from their early art school days until 1960, when Charley created Cardinal, now one of his best-known images. The artists' command of a wide range of styles from realism to abstraction to cubism is not only impressive, it informs the path each took to arrive at their individual techniques. The subjects they chose to depict are just as diverse. Charley's World War II scenes, portraits, and cartoons created while serving in Europe as a private first class are especially poignant.
Maura, Trussville

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101 More Mixed Media Techniques edited by Cherril Doty, Heather Greenwood, Monica Moody, and Marsh Scott

Whether you are an experienced artist or just starting out, you'll discover new, approachable concepts for creating and embellishing your own mixed media art. Inside this book, you'll find a wide variety of versatile techniques, from printmaking and wabi-sabi painting to paper collage and resists. Each technique is presented with simple, easy-to-follow instructions and beautiful examples from talented mixed media artists. In addition to learning new techniques, you'll also discover ideas and inspiration for using the techniques in your own projects. With a plethora of options to choose from, 101 More Mixed Media Techniques has something for everyartist and is guaranteed to spark new forms of creativity!
Jon, Avondale

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The Complete Starter Guide to Whittling: 24 Easy Projects You Can Make in a Weekend by the editors of Woodcarving Illustrated

You can whittle just about anything the only limit is your imagination. It s so easy to get started in this relaxing and rewarding hobby. All you need is a knife, a twig, and this book! We've assembled a team of 12 leading woodcarvers to bring you a complete starter guide to whittling. They present 24 easy whittling projects that you can make in just a weekend, complete with step-by-step instructions, how-to photographs, ready-to-carve patterns, and helpful tips.

Start off with fast and fun projects that build confidence and teach fundamental carving techniques, like a simple flying propeller or a 5-minute owl. Then move on to create whittled wonders like a musical frog or a slingshot. We show you how to whittle complex designs in easy steps, so that you ll soon be carving attention-getting favorites like chain links or the classic ball-in-a-cage.
Jon, Avondale

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Bibliocraft: A Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects by Jessica Pigza; Photographs by Johnny Miller; Photostyling by Shana Faust; Illustrations by Sun Young Park

Voted a Best Book of 2014 by Library Journal
There is untold wealth in library collections, and, like every good librarian, Jessica Pigza loves to share. In BiblioCraft, Pigza hones her literary hunting-and-gathering skills to help creatives of all types, from DIY hobbyists to fine artists, develop projects based on library resources. In Part I, she explains how to take advantage of the riches libraries have to offer—both in person and online. In Part II, she presents 20+ projects inspired by library resources from a stellar designer cast, including STC Craft authors Natalie Chanin, Heather Ross, Liesl Gibson, and Gretchen Hirsch, and Design* Sponge founder Grace Bonney. Whatever the quest—historic watermarks transformed into pillows, Japanese family crests turned into coasters, or historic millinery instructions worked into floral fascinators—anyone can utilize library resources to bring their creative visions to life.
Jon, Avondale

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The New Small House by Katie Hutchison
Smaller is big, says architect and author Katie Hutchison, whose book The New Small House shows those looking to downsize how they can live smartly, economically and environmentally friendly in elegantly designed homes. With 275 gorgeous photographs and 30 detailed illustrations, The New Small House takes the reader on a tour of North America and spotlights small houses in rural, coastal, and in-town locations. The book presents fundamental small-house design strategies, complete with whole-house case studies for homeowners eager to simplify.


Creating a great small house is illustrated in the opening chapter with 10 approaches, including:

borrowed view and daylight
multipurpose spaces
privacy pockets
using quality materials

Twenty-five stunning small houses are profiled in the second part of the book, organized by the nature of their locations.
Jon, Avondale

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Bead Pendants & Necklaces: 20 Beautiful Jewelry Designs by Susan Beal
Fool your friends into thinking your jewelry came from a high-end boutique. But the truth is your jewelry can really be from your kitchen, home office, craft room―wherever you choose to make the stunning pieces in Bead Pendants & Necklaces. You’ll enjoy making the 20 jewelry designs outlined in this imaginative book, and then you’ll love wearing and showing off your new accessories. They look great with jeans and casual wear, and equally fabulous with your best business suits.

Classic, trendy, totally unique―you get 20 jewelry designs in all including:

Drop Pendants made with wood, turquoise, sparkles, teardrops, starbursts, or water lily designs
A Multi-drop Pendant made of amber
Deluxe Pendants with circles of jade or shell
Necklaces such as the “perfectly pink” and the “memoir” design
Lucky Dip Ribbon Choker
And more!

It’s all about the beads―and the value! All 20 designs incorporate beads, so you know the end result can be as colorful and textured as you like. Ideal for just about anyone, from beginner to skilled, Bead Pendants & Necklaces features a fully illustrated techniques section to teach you the basics of jewelry-making. It’s gives you a smart base to build off of so that you can even create your own brand new designs. And because each pattern costs about 50 cents, you’re well on your way to expensive-looking jewelry without having to pay the price.
Jon, Avondale

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Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, From Tabletops to Bookshelves by Emily Henderson with Angelin Borsics; Photographs by David Tsay

The ultimate guide to thinking like a stylist, with 1,000 design ideas for creating the most beautiful, personal, and livable rooms. It’s easy to find your own style confidence once you know this secret: While decorating can take months and tons of money, styling often takes just minutes. Even a few little tweaks can transform the way your room feels.

At the heart of Styled are Emily Henderson’s ten easy steps to styling any space. From editing out what you don’t love to re-purposing what you can’t live without to arranging the most eye-catching vignettes on any surface, you’ll learn how to make your own style magic. With Emily’s style diagnostic, insider tips, and more than 1,000 unique ideas from 75 envy-inducing rooms, you’ll soon be styling like you were born to do it.
Jon, Avondale

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Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art edited by John Fleskes
The best-selling Spectrum series continues with this twenty-third lavishly produced annual. Challenging, controversial, educational, and irreverent, the award-winning Spectrum series reinforces both the importance and prevalence of fantastic art in today’s culture. With exceptional images by extraordinary creators, this elegant full-color collection showcases an international cadre of creators working in every style and medium, both traditional and digital. The best artists from the United States, Europe, China, Australia, South America and beyond have gathered into the only annual devoted exclusively to works of fantasy, horror, science fiction, and the surreal, making Spectrum one of the year’s highly most anticipated books.

Featured in Spectrum 23 are over 300 diverse visionaries. With art from books, graphic novels, video games, films, galleries, advertising and the fine arts, Spectrum is both an electrifying art book for fans and an invaluable resource for clients looking for bright new talent. The entire field is discussed in an invaluable, found-nowhere-else Year In Review. Contact information for each artist is included.

Often imitated, never equaled, Spectrum 23 continues the freshness and excellence that was established over twenty years ago.
Jon, Avondale

GENERAL DISCUSSION:

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This Fabulous Century by the editors of Time-Life Books

Multi-volume reference work published in the late 1960s as a pictorial survey by decade of the American social scene, 1900-1970.

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Vintage Ad Browser
Vintage Ad Browser was created in 2009/2010 and released in 2010, by Philipp Lenssen from Germany, currently living in China. This site aims to collect vintage ads from a variety of sources, including comic books, CD-Roms, websites, APIs, your submissions, book, magazine & comic book scans, and more. At the moment, this site contains 123,311 ads.


Interior Desecrations was once a website, a popular & venerable part of the Institute of Official Cheer – and now it’s a book! From the same fine people who brought you the Gallery of Regrettable Food comes an all-new compendium of pop-culture. It’s fun, it’s cheap, and it makes a great gift for anyone who grew up in a house like this, or made their kids suffer for their decade-long lapse in taste.

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Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy; photographs by Charles Van Schaik

First published in 1973, this remarkable book about life in a small turn-of-the-century Wisconsin town has become a cult classic. Lesy has collected and arranged photographs taken between 1890 and 1910 by a Black River Falls photographer, Charles Van Schaik.


Inspired by the cult-favorite book by Michael Lesy, Wisconsin Death Trip is an eerily dreamlike film about the moral, spiritual, and physical collapse of a small American town in the 1890s. Stricken by economic depression, harsh winters, and a diphtheria epidemic that decimated the local infant population, the citizens of Black River Falls, Wisconsin--primarily German and Norwegian immigrants hoping for a better life in America--fell victim to a rising tide of insanity, murder, arson, and moral breakdown. By creating moody black-and-white reenactments of the horrid events chronicled in Lesy's book (which includes the haunting vintage photographs of the town's official photographer), director James Marsh conveys, through chilling detachment and the subtly sardonic narration by Ian Holm, the impression of sly bemusement, as if Black River Falls was preordained by fate to become a village of the damned. It's both fiendishly macabre and yet strangely compelling, weakened only by Marsh's suggestion (through color sequences of present-day Wisconsin) that things have never really changed since those creepy, ill-fated days when death was seemingly everywhere. Apart from that half-baked attempt at irony, Wisconsin Death Trip is a film you won't soon forget. --Jeff Shannon