Archive for the ‘Best Seller’ Category

The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1

December 5, 2012

Title: The Walking Dead Compendium (Vol.1 issues 1-48)

Author: Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn

Genre: horror, comic

Publisher: Image Comics

Publication Date: 2009

Pages: 1088

Geographic Setting: Georgia

Time Period: Post Apocalyptic

Series: yes- Walking Dead

Summary: Officer Rick Grimes and his family, as well as a rag-tag group of refugees, have to survive in a zombie infested world.

Subject Headings: zombie apocalypse

Appeal Terms: tense, suspenseful, dystopian world, horrific, supernatural, comic to tv show, survival, graphic, detailed, post-apocalyptic, zombies, bloody, atmospheric, character centered, dark, gritty, violent.

My Three: suspenseful, horrific, survival

Similar Fiction:

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (Crown:NewYork, 2006)
A Survivor-eye’s view of the conflict between zombies and humans. If you want a book that is a cross between fiction and nonfiction, and has a touch of history, this is one to try.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (Quirk Books, 2009)
The Jane Austen classic with a twist. For those who want to try something different when moving away from the tried and true.

Zombie, Ohio by Scott Kenemore (Skyhorse, 2011)
Told from the zombie’s point of view, Peter Mellor, a college professor, tries to solve his own murder. Interesting because the main character can still pass for human.

Similar Nonfiction:

So Now You’re a Zombie: A Handbook for the Newly Undead by John Austin (Chicago Review Press, 2010)
Like the title says, this is a guide to being a zombie. Not meant to be taken seriously, but could be a nice reference book.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols by Michael P. Spradlin (William Morrow Publishing, 2009)
A spoof of favorite Christmas songs filled with zombies and other horrific bits. If you liked Nightmare Before Christmas, try this one for giggles.

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks (Three Rivers Press, 2003)
What started out as the basis of an SNL skit turned into a fully comprehensive guide to surviving a zombie attack. Deadpan humor and extremely detailed. Bonus points that this is written by Mel Brooks’ son.

Name: Jennifer

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Seventh Son

December 5, 2012

Seventh Son

Author: Orson Scott Card

Title: Seventh Son

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: July 1987

Number of Pages: 241 pgs.

Geographical Setting: Northwestern American Territory

Time Period: Late 18th to early 19th century

Series (If applicable): Tales of Alvin Maker Series; Book One

Plot Summary: Alvin Junior is the seventh son of a seventh son. Such a birth brings to one great powers, even those of a Maker. Evil forces however, are set on killing the child before he can reach adulthood and realize his true potential as a seventh son of a seventh son. This evil force, known as the Unmaker, uses those around Alvin in attempts to kill the child, including his father and Reverend Thrower. There is hope for young Alvin though, a young girl has been acting as a guardian angel, watching over him. She is known as a torch and can see the heartfires in everyone around her. This young girl, along with the help of Taleswapper and Alvin’s family, will help Alvin learn how to best use his powers and relinquish the forces of evil.

Subject Headings: Magic; Healing; Good and evil; Frontier and pioneer life; Maker, Alvin; Guardian angels; Nineteenth century

Appeal: Brothers and Sisters, Historical Figures, Good Vs. Evil, Alternative American Frontier, Religion, Builds in Intensity, Folklore, Fantasy, Hexes, Magic, Guardian Angels, Late 18th to early 19th century

Three appeal terms that best describe this book: Magic, Good vs. Evil, Alternate American Frontier

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Storytelling : An Encyclopedia Of Mythology And Folklore edited by Josepha Sherman  (2008)

If you liked reading about different types of myths and Folklore found in Seventh Son, then you may want to check out his book. It’s a compilation of different Myths and Folklore stories told throughout the world. In these stories you will hear about both good and evil creatures that live among us (so to speak).

2. Children of the West: family life on the frontier by Cathy Luchetti (Apr 2001)

Like in Seventh Son, this book shows you what life was like, for families, back in the early 19th century. Alvin and his siblings worked hard each day to put food on the table even with the help of their special knacks. Read about the daily life and activities of real people who grew up during this time.

3. The arrow and the cross: a history of the American Indian and the missionaries by John Upton Terrell. (1979)

This book recounts how missionaries form the Protestant and Catholic church set out to convert the Native Americans to their own religion and the resistance they received from them. In Seven Sons, Alvin is visited by a Native American Indian who wishes to show him the ways of good. Reverend Thrower wants to fulfill his duty and see to it that a church is build and those in down renounce their beliefs in magic. This book will also give you a good insight on what can be expected in the second book of the Alvin Maker series, Red Prophet.


Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Armageddon’s Children by Terry Brooks (Aug 2006)
If you liked reading a story about a young boy who possess powers to save the world from evil you may want to check out this book. Set in a futurist United States, where evil forces enslave survivors of the ruined country, one man sets out to find a child that could save them all.

2. The Briar King by Gregory J. Keyes (Dec 2002)
An evil force of death is reawakening. A monk realizes that the text he is translating contains ancient curses meant to awaken this evil. Only a special lineage can prevent the evil’s take over. Those who have the power to stop this evil fight for their lives. If you like reading a story about good vs evil, a small few banding together to save the world, and folklore, than this book is for you.

3. New Spring by Robert Jordan (Jan 2004)
If you liked reading about the fate of the world resting in the hands of newborn boy, then this book is sure to please. After hearing that a boy born of prophecy, and destined to lead the world against the dark Shadow forces, two men set out to find and protect the infant known as the Dragon Reborn.

Name: Madison Gailus

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

December 5, 2012

Author:  Wes Moore

Title:  The Other Wes Moore:  One Name, Two Fates

Genre:  Non-Fiction, Biography/Memoir

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  233

Geographical Setting:  primarily in Baltimore (MD), the Bronx (NY), and Wayne (PA)

Time Period:  1982-2010

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:  In 2000, Wes Moore read a series of stories in the newspaper about a robbery/homicide in Baltimore; one of the young men arrested and convicted of the crime was also named Wes Moore.  Wes contacted the man, who was serving a life sentence in prison, and discovered through their letters and conversations that they shared much more in common than a name alone.  As boys, both had lived in poor neighborhoods, were fatherless, struggled in school, and had run into trouble with the police- yet their paths would diverge and lead to different ends.  Alternating between their stories, this insightful and thought provoking book follows the lives of the two boys named Wes Moore as they grow up, exposing readers to various factors that would influence their choices and opportunities (or lack thereof).  An extensive resource guide of over 200 youth-serving organizations across the country is provided at the end of the book.

Subject Headings:  Biography/memoir, African Americans, Childhood & youth, Baltimore (MD), Social conditions, Urban life, Family relationships, Life choices, Criminal activities, Prisoners, Education, Military service.

Appeal:  Character-driven, Coming-of-age story, Reflective, Thought provoking, Inspiring, Life choices and expectations, Second chances, Memoir, African American characters, Family relationships, Single-parent households, Mother-son relationships, Mentors, Leadership, Urban street life, Drug dealing & gangs, Baltimore (MD).

Three appeal terms that best describe this book:  Character-driven, coming-of-age story, urban life.

Similar Authors and Works:

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.  Readers interested in learning more about the social justice inequities exposed within The Other Wes Moore may want to read this title- it addresses issues surrounding the high rates of incarceration for people of color in our country’s prison system.

2.  The Beautiful Struggle:  A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  Both The Other Wes Moore and this memoir are coming-of-age stories about African-American young men, set in Baltimore, and involving life expectations, choices, and consequences.

3.  My American Journey by Colin Powell.  In his book, Wes Moore describes Colin Powell’s memoir as being influential in his life, and more specifically in his decision to join the military.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.  Muchacho by LouAnne Johnson.  The Other Wes Moore and this novel are both thought provoking, inspiring, coming-of-age stories in which young men struggle to overcome their circumstances.

2.  Yummy:  The Last Days of a Southside Shorty written by Greg Neri and illustrated by Randy DuBurke.  A graphic novel based upon a gang-related murder that happened in Chicago in 1994, this title could be a good match for readers who found the violence, drug selling and gang life depicted in The Other Wes Moore to be compelling.

3.  Slam! by Walter Dean Myers.  Both Wes Moore and the main character (Greg Harris) of this novel are African-American young men who come from tough, city neighborhoods and have to adjust to life at new, mostly white, schools.  In both stories, the young men find supportive mentors who help open their eyes to life’s possibilities.

Name:  Nicole

The Casual Vacancy

December 5, 2012

casualvacancycoverAuthor: J.K. Rowling

Title: The Casual Vacancy

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 512

Geographical Setting: English village of Pagford

Time period: Present day

Genre: Black humor; Satirical fiction

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: In the quiet village of Pagford, chaos ensues after the unexpected death of Barry Fairbrother leaves a vacancy on the parish council. The local election that follows exposes secrets, causes intense battles between families and community members, and leads to unexpected revelations that may change their lives forever.

Subject Headings: City council members – Death – Fiction. Local elections – Fiction. Country life – England—Fiction. England – Fiction. Black humor (Literature).

Appeal: Character-centered, detailed setting, bleak, thought-provoking, engrossing, unsettling, strong language, humorous, multiple points of view, closely observed characters, political

Three appeal terms:  Character-centered, bleak, thought-provoking

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge

Readers who are seeking another bleak read with self-absorbed characters might enjoy An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge. This darkly humorous book also takes place in an English village and involves a bickering town council. The book also centers on young actress Stella, who takes on the job of assistant stage manager at a reparatory theatre company in Liverpool and finds romance with the director of the show.

Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis

For another darkly humorous, satirical fiction tale that takes place in England, readers should check out Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis. This satire pokes fun at modern society and culture in this story of thug Lionel Asbo, who looks out for his nephew Desmond Pepperdine. While Desmond just seeks a quiet and simple life without any trouble, his uncle’s criminal lifestyle has always gotten in his way, but Desmond has no idea how much worse it will get once Lionel wins big in the lottery.

Every Day is Mother’s Day by Hilary Mantel

Like The Casual Vacancy, Every Day is Mother’s Day is a character-driven book with a darkly humorous tone. This book focuses on medium Evelyn Axon, her daughter, Muriel, and their social worker, Isabel Field, as they all confront their own problems and dark secrets.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

J.K. Rowling: A Biography by Sean Smith

Author J.K. Rowling made a huge name for herself with her legendary Harry Potter series, and had fans eagerly awaiting the release of The Casual Vacancy, her first book for adults. These fans might want to check out a biography about Rowling and learn more about the life of their beloved author. J.K. Rowling: A Biography is the full-length story of her life based on research, interviews, and evaluations of her novels by author Sean Smith. Readers will learn about Joanne Rowling before she became the best-selling author she is today, and the experiences that helped lead her to where she is now.

A Treasury of Royal Scandals: The Shocking True Stories of History’s Wickedest, Weirdest, Most Wanton Kings, Queens, Tsars, Popes, and Emperors by Michael Farquhar

Readers who enjoyed the secrets and scandals exposed in fictional work The Casual Vacancy might enjoy reading about actual scandals and true stories of notorious rulers in history. Some of these include Catherine the Great, King George III, and Joanna the Mad.

The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm by Juliet Nicolson

In The Casual Vacancy, politics and social classes played a big role in the story. Readers might enjoy this book because it discusses English society during a period of time in 1911 and covers milestones such as the crowning a new king and paralyzing strikes in the British industry. Also, this book is told from many points of view, much like readers get several different character’s perspectives in The Casual Vacancy.

Name: Melissa Apple

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

October 17, 2012

Author: Sylvia Plath

Title: The Bell Jar

Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Lives and Relationships, Bestsellers

Publication Date: 1963 (England), 1971 (USA)

Number of Pages: 216

Geographical Setting: New York, Massachusetts

Time Period: Six months in 1953

Plot Summary:  This is a semi-autobiographical novel related to the author’s life. She killed herself shortly after it was published. This is a coming-of-age story of a 20-year-old woman as she discovers herself and her desires, just as any college student does. Esther Greenwood was going to college on a scholarship when she got accepted for a special internship with a fashion magazine in New York for the summer. The book describes her relationships with her family, friends, colleagues, and psychologists in a descriptive manner. As this melancholic story progresses, Esther slowly loses her mind to mental illness and eventually attempts to commit suicide. The lyrical and poetic writing is a must read for fans of literary fiction. It is an excellent book to recommend for those interested in studying psychology or going through their own quarter life crisis.

Subject Headings: Depression, Suicidal Behavior, Psychological Fiction, College Students

Appeal terms:  leisurely-paced, introspective, psychological, emotionally charged, melancholy, detailed, realistic, character-centered, timeless, classic, lyrical, literary

Three appeal terms: character-centered, psychological, and literary

Similar Authors and Works:

Fiction-

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger- A reviewer has compared Sylvia Plath’s book to Salinger’s Franny. Both books are about the experiences of female college students during the same time period.

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen- This book is about an 18 year old that spent two years living in a psychiatric hospital, in 1967, that Sylvia Plath may have spent time in.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender- This book is a young adult fantasy. It is about a girl that can taste the true emotions of the person who made her food.

Non-Fiction-

Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis: Advice from Twentysomethings Who Have Been There and Survived by Alexandra Robbins- This is a guide for those that are lost and confused as they become adults in order to help them get through their quarter life crisis.

No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One by Carla Fine- This book offers advice for those who have lost family members due to suicide. The author’s husband was a doctor who committed suicide.

Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir by Lauren Slater- This is the memoir of a woman that had a psychological problem in which she was a compulsive liar. The character, Esther Greenwood, regularly lies in The Bell Jar.

Name: Rachel Fischer

Swamplandia!

August 8, 2012

Author:  Karen Russell

Title:  Swamplandia!

Genre:  Literary Fiction/Best sellers

Publication Date:  2011

Number of Pages:  416

Geographical Setting:  Florida Everglades

Time Period:  late 20th century (1980’s)

Plot Summary:  Thirteen-year-old Ava loves the alligator-wrestling life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades.  When her mom—the theme park’s main attraction– dies, the family’s way of life is threatened.  The father goes to the mainland on a business venture; her sister falls in love with a ghost and disappears; and her big brother, Kiwi, gets a job at a rival park called The World of Darkness.  Ava sets out with the eccentric bird-man on a mission through the magical swamps to save her sister, but then she has to save herself.

Subject Headings:  Girls-fiction; Motherless families-fiction; Amusement parks-fiction; Alligators-fiction; Everglades (Florida)-fiction.

Appeal: offbeat, witty, mystical, lyrical, quirky characters, vivid, imaginative, detailed setting, strong sense of place, compassionate, uneasy, changing points of view (two).

3 terms that best describe this book:  imaginative, lyrical, strong sense of place.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Florida Everglades by Connie M. Toops

History of the Florida Everglades, which is where Swamplandia takes place.

Crocodiles and Alligators of the World by David Alderton

Information on origins, evolution and distribution, courtship, reproduction, and many individual species paint a thorough portrait, with maps of their habitats.  References and pictures.  Besides wrestling them, Ava has a pet alligator baby.

The Enduring Seminoles:  From Alligator Wrestling to Ecotourism by Patsy West

Seminole Indians (mentioned in Swamplandia) and economic culture; Florida history, culture and tourism.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai

A young postal worker in a small Indian town, Sampath, climbs into a guava tree and becomes unintentionally famous as a holy man, setting off a series of events that spin increasingly out of control.  Humorous, offbeat and strong sense of place.

Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Similar to Swamplandia, because the teen girl is surviving without help of adults, there are descriptions of nature, and a similar writing style.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

A zookeeper’s son, Pi Patel, sets sail for America, but when the ship sinks, he escapes on a life boat and is lost at sea with a dwindling number of animals until only he and a hungry Bengal tiger remain.  It’s a journey with animals and literary.

Name:  Sonia Reppe

 

Gone Girl

August 8, 2012

Author: Gillian Flynn

Title: Gone Girl

Genre: Psychological Suspense

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 415

Geographical Setting: North Carthage, Missouri and the Missouri Ozarks

Time Period: Present Day

Series:  No

Plot Summary: BrilliantAmy and handsome Nick are anything but the ideal couple they appear to be. After losing their jobs and moving from New York City to North Carthage, Missouri to care for Nick’s ailing parents, Nick and Amy find nothing rewarding in this rural and provincial burg. On their fifth anniversary, Amy vanishes . . . or does she? Resentment and jealously shatters their world and explodes into a game where people’s lives are the chess pieces. Alternating voices, told in first person, reflect Nick and Amy’s particular points of view. The story moves at a brisk pace, conveying a dark and disturbing tone. There are so many twists and turns in Nick and Amy’s version of events that the reader doesn’t know whom to believe.  The unpredictable accounts recorded by these unreliable narrators produce a feeling of unease adding to the suspense.  This is a riveting and spine tingling story from beginning to end.

Subject Headings: Murder suspects – Fiction, Missing women – Fiction, Conflict in marriage – Fiction, Husband and wife – Fiction, Married people – Fiction, Crimes against women – Fiction, Deception – Fiction, Secrets – Fiction

Appeal: builds in intensity, deliberate, engrossing, creepy, disturbing, suspenseful, emotionally-charged, menacing, paranoid, detailed, multiple points of view, intricately plotted, character driven, episodic, layered, strong language, rural, contemporary, journals, clever, pretentious

3 terms that best describe this book: builds in intensity, character driven, suspenseful

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Howatch, Susan. The High Flyer; Carter Graham, a successful lawyer, is married to Kim Betz, also a lawyer, who fits into her plans perfectly. Carter feels that everything is just perfect for her when Sophie, Kim’s first wife, reveals some disturbing secrets about Kim making Carter realize that she doesn’t know her husband at all. Full of suspense, this is a character-driven story where Howatch weaves together stories involving the occult, blackmail and murder. This is a suspenseful and compelling read.

Walters, Minette. The Breaker; The mysterious death of a young woman found on a beach and a seemingly drugged and wandering child lead the police of Dorset into a tangled web of lies, trying to discover who brutally killed Kate Hill-Sumner, yet let her young daughter go free. Suspense builds in intensity and deliberately in this intricately plotted and character-driven nail biter.

Watson, S.J. Before I Go to Sleep; This fast-paced yet chilling story tells of a woman who has an impaired memory and can’t make sense of the divergent tales told to her by the man she thinks is her husband and the journal she has kept, but can’t remember. The story is filled with psychological suspense, crammed with twists and turns leading to an unpredictable outcome.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Covington, Dennis. Cleaving: The Story of a Marriage; Presented using alternate voices, the couple recounts the struggles they encountered in their twenty year marriage and their search for spiritual redemption. This book provides a constructive counterpoint to the chilling game playing of Amy and Nick.

Flook, Maria. Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod; This edgy true-crime story imparts the unsolved murder of fashion writer Christa Worthington in her Cape Cod home in 2002. According to one attorney, “The more the police investigate her life, the uglier she gets.” People and secrets are revealed in a deliberate yet nonjudgmental way, presenting clear characterizations of the individuals involved. This is a chilling tale of suspense.

Gottman, John Mordechai. Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America’s Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship; This primer offers ten principles to help couples examine their relationship. The author conveys thoughtful and practical advice for couples to use in a variety of situations, before those problems escalate.

Name: Patty Daniel

Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table

August 8, 2012

Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table

Author: Ruth Reichl

Title: Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table

Genre: Nonfiction; Memoirs; Autobiographies (Best Seller)

Publication Date: 1998

Number of Pages: 282

Geographical Setting: New York and Connecticut

Time Period: 1950’s

Plot Summary: Ruth Reichl, Gourmet magazine’s editor-in-chief and restaurant critic for The New York Times, writes memoirs about her childhood written under the umbrella of food and cooking. Cooking was her escape from her dysfunctional family, but especially in dealing with her mother who suffered from a mental illness. Although it sounds like this book should be sad and tragic, the stories are told in an amusing and heartwarming way. This novel is set at a relaxed pace as you get to know Ruth as well as the many other descriptive and engaging characters.

Subject Headings: Reichl, Ruth; Cooking; Growing up; Food habits-United States; Recipes

Appeal: character-driven, relaxed pace, amusing, bittersweet, heartwarming, inspirational, nostalgic, candid, conversational, descriptive, dialect-rich, engaging, lush, hopeful, thoughtful, imaginative, clever, colorful, metaphorical

3 terms that best describe this book: heartwarming, descriptive, and character-driven

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber – If you enjoy reading memoirs about food and culture and liked the relaxed pace and amusing nature of Tender at the Bone, you may enjoy this book.

2.    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver- If you enjoy reading memoirs about food and are interested in finding out more about locally grown foods, you may enjoy this read alike.

3.      Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell – If you enjoy reading autobiographies about food and cooking,and appreciate a book with a conversational and humorous tone just like Tender at the Bone, you might want to try this book. (Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs – If you like reading humorous stories about a chefs and cooking set in a relaxed pace, you may enjoy this book.

2.      Corinna Chapman Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood – If you enjoy reading engaging mysteries about food and cooking, this series might appeal to you. (First book in the series is Earthly Delights.)

3.      The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender – If you liked the character-driven nature of Tender at the Bone, but would like to try something a little bit more offbeat and lyrical, you might want to try this book.

Name: Patty Prodanich

The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War

August 8, 2012

The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War

 

Author: James Bradley

Title: The Imperial Cruise: A Secret History of Empire and War

Genre: Nonfiction; History Writing (Best Seller)

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 387

Geographical Setting: United States, Japan, East Asia, and Pacific Ocean

Time Period: 1905

Plot Summary: This book covers the historical cruise from the Pacific Islands to the continent of Asia made by defense secretary Taft and President Teddy Roosevelt’s famous daughter Alice along with other political figures of the time. This book reveals the prejudicial views of some of the most prominent leaders of the United States and exposes some tragic foreign policy decisions concerning Asia and the Pacific Islands. Although some may argue with some of the views or opinions presented in the book, it is well documented with over 30 pages of “Notes” at the end. It is filled with historic details including maps and original photographs from the time. This book has a journalistic tone, and is quite insightful and compelling.

Subject Headings: Roosevelt, Theodore; Taft, William H.; United States. Navy-Cruise; Imperialism; Diplomacy; War; Twentieth Century

Appeal: scholarly, compelling, journalistic, densely-written, sobering, insightful, investigative, thought-provoking, historical details, political, informative, well-researched, disturbing

3 terms that best describe this book: insightful, journalistic, historic details

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      Habits of Empire by Walter Nugent – If you enjoyed the historical perspective of the Teddy Roosevelt presidency in The Imperial Cruise, you may like this book that covers a broader range of American imperialism.

2.      Alice by Stacy Cordery – If you would like to find out more about Teddy Roosevelt’s famous daughter Alice who joined the historical cruise, you may enjoy this book.

3.      In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines by Stanley Karnow – If you would like to read more about the history of the Philippines especially as related to the events in The Imperial Cruise, you may like this one.  

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.      Taft by Jason Heller – This plot-driven novel is about William Taft entering the 2012 election. If you enjoyed reading about Taft in The Imperial Cruise, you might enjoy this fiction novel.

2.      Cuba by Stephen Coonts – If you like to read about American imperialism set against a historical backdrop, you may like this book.

3.      To The Last Man by Jeff Shaara – This fiction novel is set during World War I. If you enjoy reading stories about politics and wars, you may enjoy this one.

Name: Patty Prodanich

Shopgirl by Steve Martin

August 8, 2012

Author:  Steve Martin

Title:  Shopgirl

Genre:  Literary Fiction, Bestseller, Audio Book

Publication Date:  2000

Number of Pages:  130 (4 CDs, 4 hours)

Geographical Setting:  Beverly Hills, CA

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series (If applicable):  n/a

Plot Summary:  Mirabelle Buttersfield is a sad, lonely, and clinically depressed twenty-eight-year-old Vermont native who sometime ago moved to California with aspirations of becoming an artist but now works in the glove department at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills.  Withdrawn and almost friendless, Mirabelle’s life consists of “selling things nobody buys anymore,” commuting to and from her apartment, feeding her cats, taking antidepressants, drawing pictures of dead and dying things, visiting art galleries, and occasionally meeting up with Jeremy, an unambitious and inept young man she met in a laundromat who stencils logos onto amplifiers for a living.  Her life begins to change when Mr. Ray Porter, an enormously wealthy, handsome, and debonair gentleman nearly twice Mirabelle’s age, buys her a pair of expensive gloves and asks her out for dinner.  Although Ray Porter is charming, suave, and genuinely cares about Mirabelle, he makes it perfectly clear that he does not intend on maintaining an exclusive relationship with her.  Despite this revelation, Mirabelle continues this dead-end relationship for quite some time until Jeremy, who has undergone a dynamic transformation with the help of self-improvement books, reenters her life.  Shopgirl is a brief and bittersweet meditation on loneliness, relationships between men and women, and the human capacity for change, containing a vivid cast of closely-observed characters that are sympathetic, somewhat offbeat, and occasionally amusing.  The author’s style is witty, thoughtful, and concise, and deftly matches the book’s unique tone, which is at times funny, reflective, melancholic, dramatic, and romantic.  On audio book, Steve Martin’s reading accentuates the novella’s melancholy tone, making Mirabelle’s depression affectingly palpable and deemphasizing the book’s more humorous moments.

Subject Headings:  Beverly Hills, CA – Fiction; Clerks (Retail Trade) – Fiction; Department Stores – Fiction; Young Women – Fiction; Coming-of-Age Story – Fiction.

Appeal:  Closely-observed characters, sympathetic characters, dramatic, character-driven, details of department store retail, amusing, bittersweet, reflective, introspective, romantic, funny, melancholy, descriptive, thoughtful, concise, witty

3 terms that best describe this book:  Melancholy, reflective, bittersweet

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

            3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

1)  Minding the Store by Stanley Marcus

Stanley Marcus, son of Neiman Marcus co-founder Herbert Marcus, provides a lively and surprisingly readable history of Neiman Marcus and examines what makes the department store one of the best and most well-known retailers around.  Suggested to Shopgirl readers who want to learn more about Mirabelle’s employer.

2)  Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex by John Gray

One of the most famous and most accessible self-help relationship books that people still read today, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus discusses how men and women are different and offers practical advice on how to transform relationships in clear, easy-to-understand language.  This is one of the books mentioned in Shopgirl that Jeremy read to improve himself.

3)  Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity by Stephanie Barron, Sheri Bernstein, Ilene Susan Fort, Michael Dear, and Howard N. Fox

Published in conjunction with a Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s exhibition that explored the ways in which artistic representations of California affect its identity, this book reproduces 400 pieces and 150 cultural artifacts from the exhibit.  Suggested to readers who, like Mirabelle, are interested in art and California art exhibits.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

1)   The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing is a witty, humorous, and insightful collection of seven interlinked stories about Jane Rosenal, her relationships, and her lifelong search for love.  In the title story, Jane memorizes a number of self-help relationship guides and strictly adheres to their advice only to hilarious and disastrous ends.  This book is suggested to readers looking for something funnier than Shopgirl while still addressing men’s and women’s relationships with touching insightfulness and wit.

2)  The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland

It would appear that the only thing that Roger, a middle-aged divorcee and aspiring novelist, and Bethany, a teen goth, is that they both work at Staples.  However, one day, Bethany discovers Roger’s diary, finds that they share similar thoughts about loneliness and mortality, and suggests that they begin writing to each other.  Through these letters, these two characters forge a unique friendship.  Like Shopgirl, this is a darkly humorous, melancholic, and introspective novel about loneliness, featuring characters with failed aspirations trapped in dead-end retail jobs.

3)  The Girl in the Flammable Skirt: Stories by Aimee Bender

This book is a collection of sixteen imaginative, offbeat, and surreal short stories about sexuality, love, and relationships between men and women.  These stories feature a librarian who sleeps with all men who enter the library as a way to fight off grief, a woman whose lover is “experiencing reverse evolution” and now lives in a glass baking pan, a man who comes home from war without his lips, and numerous other odd characters and scenarios.  This unorthodox suggestion would be most appropriate for Shopgirl readers who want to read another book dealing with human relationships but also want to read something less grounded in reality.

Name:  Zach Musil