Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mike (and NPR listeners) suggests a hundred SciFi/Fantasy books

Over the summer NPR asked its listeners to nominate and vote for their favorite SciFi and Fantasy books in order to create a list of the 100 best. Summer's over and the list is out. But what fun is a list ranking them? I mean, really--those of you who are fans, could you really choose between JRR Tolkein and George RR Martin? Aren't Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein just as good but in different ways? That's why I ask you to look to the amazing (and funny) flowchart below, taken from the NPR Top 100 list and remixed by the good people at SF Signal, which provides a more nuanced method to deciding what you read next.

You can also take a look at the interactive list at http://www.sfsignal.com/interactive/npr100.htm, which is a good way to keep from losing your eyesight when looking at the tiny print above. I promise, there's going to be something for you on this list!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rob recommends Old Crow Medicine Show

So we were chicken-sitting for our Catskill Mountain friends in early August. They were returning a little early from vacation just so we could overlap a little and actually see each other. I was in my frantic got-to-get-dinner-on-the-table mode and decided to put some music on to ease the process along. I turned on Laura’s CD player without looking at what music she’d selected. It turned out to be Old Crow Medicine Show. What a treat! Who knew? I’d never heard of them. They’re in that nexus of country/bluegrass/rockabilly/folk blues where everyone hears something different. The band has played all the usual places from the Grand Ole Opry to Prairie Home Companion to Late Night with Conan O’Brien. The album we were listening to was O.C.M.S., with a mix of original and traditional songs. “Wagon Wheel” the group’s signature song was adapted with new verses from an unfinished Dylan song. Their other albums have a few clunkers, but you won’t find any on this one.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Food Memoirs

The current explosion of cooking blogs has triggered a renewed interest in food memoirs, including the popular Julie and Julia : my year of cooking dangerously by Julie Powell. Some of my favorites have appeared in previous blog posts. Following are some worth repeating and several additional titles.

A homemade life : stories and recipes from my kitchen table by Molly Wizenberg. Molly offers 50 recipes and lessons from the kitchen and beyond about love and life. Molly's blog, Orangette.blogspot.com, is a showstopping photo essay as well as a food blog.

Eating my words : an appetite for life by Mimi Sheraton. Veteran food writer Sheraton was the New York Times' restaurant critic in the 70's and 80's. Her enthusiastic memoir tells of her adventures as a food lover and journalist.

Tender at the bone : growing up at the table and Comfort me with apples : more adventures at the table by Ruth Reichl. Two delightful memoirs by restaurant critic Reichl.

Trail of crumbs : hunger, love and the search for home : a memoir by Kim Sunee. When tragedy interrupts her life as a 3 year old in South Korea, Sunee is transplanted to New Orleans and adopted by a young couple. Throughout her life, feelings of being an outsider persist and food and cooking are where she finds solace and a sense of belonging.

The tenth muse : my life in food by Judith Jones. From the legendary editor who published Mastering the art of French cooking by Julia Child, a truly inspiring memoir.

Do you have personal favorites? Please share them with us!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sue Recommends Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer

If you haven't placed your request for Jeffrey Archer's new multi-generational family saga--the Clifton Chronicles, Only Time Will Tell, do it today. The series, which is semi-autobiographical, will include 5 books with one released each year. The first book begins the story of Harry Clifton's family with Harry as a young boy in Bristol, England with his widowed mother, Maisie, making great sacrifices to pull him out of poverty conditions and send him to Oxford. In this book ,which spans 2 decades from the end of The Great War to World War II, Archer takes the reader from England to the United States with lots of secrets waiting to be revealed, mysteries to be solved, and relationships between characters that Archer masterfully develops and brings to life so the reader is right there in the story. This is not to be missed.

If you have the opportunity to listen to the audio, Roger Allam works magic with the words as he did with Archer's Prisoner of Birth. You will not be able to get out of the car when you reach your destination if you are listening while driving.

Other multi-generational sagas you might enjoy are Howard Fast's The Immigrants and John Jakes' American Bicentennial Series.

The library has a new Booklist Brochure recommending other multi-generational sagas. Stop by the Reference Desk and pick one up.


Megan recommends: The Hour

The Hour

This series just finished its run on BBC America and it was really well done. If you missed it, borrow the DVD from the Wellesley Free Library. The six hour miniseries is about a news program making its debut on the BBC in the 1950s. Russian spies, MI6, murder, intrigue, ever-present British class issues and _lots_ of smoking and drinking. It's also fun to watch Dominic West (yes, Jimmy McNulty from The Wire) play the show's upper-class anchorman.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What If Science

What If the Earth Had Two Moons?: And Nine Other Thought-Provoking Speculations on the Solar System

by Neil F.Comins

In What If the Earth Had Two Moons, Neil Comins leads us on a fascinating ten-world journey as we explore what our planet would be like under different astronomical conditions. In each case, the Earth would be different, often in surprising ways. The title chapter, for example, gives us a second moon orbiting closer to Earth than the one we have now. The night sky is a lot brighter, but that won't last forever. Eventually the moons collide, with one extra-massive moon emerging after a period during which Earth sports a Saturn-like ring. This and nine and other speculative essays provide us with insights into the Earth as it exists today, while shedding new light on the burgeoning search for life on planets orbiting other stars.

Alternate history looks at "what if" scenarios focusing on important historical turning points and presents a different version based on science, fact and conjecture.
Neil F. Comins has used this formula for Earth's astronomical conditions. Follows on the author's previous, "What If the Moon Didn't Exist?"


Thursday, October 6, 2011

A couple of good comics . . .

Okay, let's admit it:  I'm a nerd.  I'm a librarian, a hot dog enthusiast, and have a regular pull list at my local comics shop.  If you understood that last point then I'm sorry to tell you: you're a nerd too . . . .

But you're a nerd in luck, because I've got a couple of ongoing series recommendations for you, so check it out.

Sweet Tooth
Jeff Lemire, author & illustrator
In this ongoing series from Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics, Jeff Lemire takes the Mad Max approach to a genetic apocalypse for mankind.  Horror sweeps the world as mothers give birth to babies who are a hybrid of human and animal, and death follows in its wake as men and women alike succumb to the incurable disease.  Sweet Tooth, the title character, may be the answer to why it is happening.  Recommended if you’ve enjoyed Brian K. Vaughan’s excellent story of a similar genetic apocalypse, Y: The Last Man.

The Invincible Iron Man
Matt Fraction, author with Salvador Larroca, artist
High on my list of current favorites, Matt Fraction gives us the post-Civil War Tony Stark, a man bereft of his company, wealth, friends and respect; in short, all of the things that made Tony Stark who he is.  But there’s one essential Stark element kept intact—his undefeatable can-do attitude—that provides fuel for the fire as he seeks to rebuild his empire, take on the enemies who brought him so low, and create even better technologies for the benefit of mankind.  The question remains, however: can Stark maintain and not self-destruct?