Posts Tagged ‘earnest’

Bossypants

November 7, 2012

Bossypants book coverTitle: Bossypants

Author: Fey, Tina

Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Biography, Memoir

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 272

Geographical Setting: Pennsylvania, Virginia, Chicago, New York

Time Period: 1970’s to Current Times

Plot Summary: With this hilarious and engaging autobiography, Tina Fey can add clever writer to her list of accomplishments.  Bossypants tells the story of Fey’s life along with her personal advice and general thoughts.   It tells the story of her awkward upbringing in Pennsylvania before moving on to her embarrassing college/theater years as well as her time with Second City, SNL and then her current role as creator and star of 30 Rock.  Fey’s road to success is told in a straightforward manner while also remaining humorous.  There are stories about the people she has worked with through improv and television shows, and she shares intimate stories without being too gossipy.  She shares personal essays on topics such as motherhood and the treatment of women in charge.  Her conversational style pulls the reader in, and you might find yourself wishing you could hang out with her.  Tina Fey manages to be self-deprecating while remaining endearing and it is a fast read.  A great read for those seeking a witty, lighthearted and fun memoir.  Readers who enjoyed her style might want to check out the audiobook version of this autobiography, which Tina Fey herself narrates skillfully.

Subject Headings:  American wit and humor, Women comedians, Women television personalities, Fey, Tina 1970-, Saturday Night Live (Television program), Motherhood-Humor, 30 Rock (Television program), Celebrities-humor

Appeal: Witty, observant, self-deprecating, autobiographical, conversational, candid tone, humorous, sarcastic, insightful, pop culture references, clever, straightforward, earnest, easy pace, inventive, chatty style, unpretentious, engaging

Three Most Relevant Appeal Terms: Witty, Insightful, Candid

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother by Allison Pearson

A novel that was made into a movie, this book deals with the issue of balancing family and work as hedge fund manager and mother of two Kate Reddy tries to do.   A humorous, moving tale that is a great book for readers who enjoyed Tina Fey’s thoughts on trying to be a successful mother and boss.

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

Enjoy this Women’s Lives and Relationships novel whose main character could almost be Tina Fey/Liz Lemon.  It follows television writer Ruth Saunders who is living in Los Angeles along with her sassy grandmother Rae, who raised Ruth after a violent crash that killed her parents and left young Ruth with gruesome facial scars.   Ruth’s dream comes true when her autobiographical sitcom is picked up by a large network.  But the dream is not such a fairytale, as Ruth must deal with egotistical actors, difficult show executives, a crush on her boss and her grandmother’s upcoming wedding.  A witty and charming novel that has a smart, witty protagonist who screams Tina Fey and deals with workplace social issues mentioned in Bossypants.

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

A fascinating read with a self-deprecating, witty style that Fey could enjoy.  Judd Foxman is jobless and living out his depressing life in the basement of a crappy house.  He is newly separated from his wife who he caught having an affair in the most outlandish yet amusing way, but must return home to his crazy dysfunctional family to sit shiva after the death of his father.  An intimate, candid tale of a family full of flawed characters and hilarious moments with each other.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein

A nonfiction book that explores the dark side that can lurk in the world of young girls’ princess fascination.  Here is a subject for those interested in the motherhood advice given by Tina Fey, and maybe even a great read for Tina herself.  Orenstein explores the troubling aspects of the princess phenomenon and early sexualization messages given to girls.  Her research takes her to places including Disneyland, American Girl Place, a Miley Cyrus concert and a child beauty pageant.  An engaging read for anyone trying to raise girls or fascinated by the subject.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Loved reading a biography by a comedy star and want even more? Then this similarly styled memoir should fit the bill.  Comedy writer and star of NBC’s The Office and now The Mindy Project, Mindy candidly talks about growing up as a chubby Indian girl in Massachusetts, her road to comedic fame as well as her thoughts on life, love and friendship.  Enjoy some more humorous tales on comedy writing, television show business and the awesomeness of food.

We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy by Yael Kohen

Get an overview of the history of female comedians within this last half century including the witty Tina Fey.  It traces female comedians and their struggle to conquer a male-dominated world, from Phyllis Diller in the 1950s to current comedians like Chelsea Handler and the women of SNL.  Enjoy this inside look at the evolution of female comedians and the personal interviews with the people involved.

Name: Margita Lidaka

Ghost World

August 8, 2012

Author: Clowes, Daniel

Title: Ghost World

Genre:  Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 1998

Number of Pages: 80

Geographical Setting:  Unnamed American town

Time Period: Early 1990s

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca Dopplemayer are best friends who have recently graduated from high school.  The graphic novel follows them through their transition into adulthood over the summer.  Their town is full of cheesy diners and record stores that never have what they want and the girls long for something, anything to excite them.  Both girls are pessimistic, but Enid revels in making people uncomfortable, especially her friend Josh.  As the days go by, the girls begin to drift apart as they grow ever more aware that their friendship is not built to last.

Subject Headings:  Graphic Novels, Female Friendship, Teenage Girls

Appeal:  Measured Pace, Contemplative, Earnest, Edgy, Melancholy, Flawed Characters, Eccentric, Open-Ended, Character-Centered, Urban Setting, Heavy Profanity, Conversational, and Informal

3 terms that best describe this book:  Melancholy, Heavy Profanity, Character-Centered

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist by Alvin Buenaventura (editor)

An in-depth look at Daniel Clowes’ art and stories, the book includes some of his most famous works and some never before seen pieces.  For those who liked the art of Ghost World, this book is a great companion.

The 1990s by Mark Oxoby

This nonfiction book looks at American popular culture throughout the 1990s.  While Enid and Rebecca would probably have scoffed at the majority of people and events mentioned in the book, it is important to see what sort of world the girls were living in.

Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels by Scott McCloud

Focusing on comics as a literary medium, this book combines information on why you should create a comic and how to do it.  Fans of Ghost World who want a chance to tell their own story will appreciate McCloud’s authoritative voice and helpful tips.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Sleepwalk and Other Stories by Adriane Tomine

A collection of the first four of Tomine’s series comic series Optic Nerve, this book follows different characters that seem well-adjusted on the outside, but on the inside are struggling to make connections with those around them.  Set in a similar time period (late 80’s, early 90’s) to Ghost World, Sleepwalk also looks to explore the subtleties of human nature.

I Never Liked You by Chester Brown

This graphic novel steps away from the female protagonists of Ghost World, but keeps with the alienated youth theme.  The story follows Chester and his group of friends as they grow up.  While the art and dialogue seem simple on the surface, the story underneath is anything but.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis tells the author’s story of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.  Through her eyes, we see the toll it takes on her family and her country.  While Marjane’s adolescence and adulthood is very different from the girls’ in Ghost World, the irreverent tone and desire for more is found both.

Name: Erin Sloan

Sacred Stone

February 23, 2012

Author: Clive Cussler (and Craig Dirgo)

Title: Sacred Stone

Genre: Adventure

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 406

Geographical Setting: Greenland, Iceland, United States, Europe, High Seas

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): The Oregon Files

Plot Summary:  A 50,000 year-old radioactive meteorite has just been unearthed in the remotest reaches of Greenland by a clandestine archeological team.  When the team is murdered and the meteorite goes missing, it’s time to call the Corporation.  Headed up by the enigmatic and fearless Juan Cabrillo, the Corporation is made up of two dozen or so of the most highly skilled individuals ever to have come out of the military, intelligence, and special-ops communities.  Disguised as a rusty cargo ship, the Oregon serves as the super high-tech floating command center for the group.  When governments around the globe encounter threats too advanced or sinister for their own people to handle, much less their citizenry to ever find out about, it’s the Corporation that gets the call.  In tracking down the meteorite, Cabrillo and his crew discover and must attempt to thwart not only a plot to reduce Western cities to radioactive rubble, but also a scheme to eradicate Islam from the face of the earth by way of poisoned prayer rugs.  A breakneck race against the clock ensues as the Corporation must call upon their every resource, as well as every bit of luck, in order to stop annihilation on a global scale.

Subject Headings: Terrorism – Prevention; Relics; Mercenary troops; Ship captains; Meteorites; Greenland; Suspense fiction; Erik the Red; Elton John.

Appeal: colorful, concise, straightforward, fast-paced, dangerous, dramatic, earnest, foreboding, menacing, intense, action-oriented, layered, conclusive, violent, contemporary, provocative, confident, confrontational, clandestine, energetic, swaggering, tense, urgent, volatile.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: action-oriented,

straightforward, fast-paced.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

 

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Ranulph Fiennes.

Fiennes “recounts his exploits as an explorer-adventurer, including traveling the Nile in a Hovercraft, four thousand miles of wild river journey in Alaska and Canada, and an overland trek to the North Pole” (Novelist), and that’s just a warm-up in a remarkable life filled with a remarkable number of near death escapes.  This work would do well with the reader enamored by the self-sufficient and ever resourceful adventurer character Cussler seems fond of placing in his novels (and probably thinks himself along those lines as well).

Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA’s Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda by Robert Wallace H. Keith Melton, Henry R. Schlesinger and George J. Tenet.

This title is a collection of some of the harrowing and clandestine operations embarked upon by the CIA since the beginning of the Cold War, and also of the high-tech espionage tools and weapons invented to help agents to live to spy another day.  Spycraft would have wide appeal for any Adventure fan but especially with Cussler’s legions, what with his love of Bond-ish high-tech gadgetry.

SEAL Team Six by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin.

These are the guys who killed Bin Laden, rescued those people from the Somali pirates, and seem to be the go-to guys anytime the US government needs anyone saved, dead, or captured.  Wasdin was a Team Six sniper and gives a rare insider’s view into the grueling training and harrowing and deadly missions of this elite squad.  If Juan Cabrillo and the Corporation were real (and hopefully they aren’t) they would be rife with former Team Six people.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

By Order of the President by W.E.B. Griffin

At the behest of the President, Special Forces Major Carlos Castillo assembles a secret team of operatives to investigate a missing airliner in this terse, fast-paced action thriller.  Big appeal is here for the reader who enjoyed the more militaristic aspects and machinations of the Corporation and Sacred Stone.  Fans of the Dirty Dozen/Magnificent Seven archetype of every person in the gang having a special skill (like the Corporation) would like this as well.  This is the first book in a series.

Jaws by Peter Benchley

As Cussler’s novels all seem to be water-bourn in some manner, it would seem a natural choice to suggest the granddaddy of aquatic adventure and danger and his masterwork.

The Lion by Nelson DeMille

Former NYPD detective John Corey is now a special agent for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force and must track down a notorious Libyan terrorist hell-bent on murder and destruction.  Another natural choice for Cussler fans, this time in line more with the anti-terrorism aspects of Sacred Stone.  This is also part of a series.

Name: Bill S.

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

December 1, 2011

Author: Julie Powell

Title: Julie & Julia [sound recording] : 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen

Genre: Non-fiction; Food Writing

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 5 sound discs: digital; 4 3/4 in.

Geographical Setting: New York, New York

Time Period: current day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Julie Powell is a 29 year old living in New York City who is fed up with her dead end secretarial job and depressing apartment in Queens.  In an attempt to find deeper meaning in her life, Julie takes up an ambitious project: she resolves to cook the 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a single year.  To document what she calls “The Julie and Julia project,” she begins writing a blog that captures not only every frustration encountered in following each recipe to exaction but also one that reveals aspects of her marriage, her friends, and her wry observations about daily life.  This memoir delivers a more fleshed out version of events than her blog but still retains its chatty, observant, and hilarious tone.  This inspiring and encouraging book is well written and honest.   It is as much about the character of Julie and her relationships as it is a food memoir that that conveys the challenges and triumphs of a novice young cook attempting masterful French cooking in a tiny New York apartment.

Subject Headings: Powell, Julie.

Child, Julia. Mastering the art of French cooking.

Women cooks Anecdotes.

Cookery, French Anecdotes.

Audiobooks (Abridged).

Appeal: compelling, easy, engrossing, earnest, heartwarming, hopeful, humorous, lighthearted, optimistic, thoughtful, upbeat, quirky, realistic, well developed characters, character-centered, domestic, accurate, contemporary, details of cooking, chatty, candid, conversational, engaging, informal, witty, descriptive, informative, entertaining,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: engaging, witty, entertaining

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Flinn, Kathleen. The Sharper Your Knife, the Less you Cry: Love, Learning and Tears at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School.  Like Julie and Julia, this book is a memoir that centers on cooking.  The author recalls how she changed careers and attended Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.  Like Julie and Julia, the author recalls humorous anecdotes, explores love relationships, and uses cooking as a metaphor for life. 

Reichl, Ruth. Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table. Like Julie and Julia, this is a memoir that is centered on food.  It recounts the life and career of the restaurant critic from The New York Times.  Like Julie and Julie, this is a heartwarming account that takes place in New York, features a strong woman character and contains humorous anecdotes and recipes.

Wizenberg, Molly.  A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table. Like Julie and Julia, this memoir was derived from a popular blog that recounts the author’s life in terms of cooking and recipes.  Also like Julie and Julia, the author’s accounts are sometimes touching and sometimes humorous in this charming account.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Bender, Aimee.  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.  Rose Edelstein has the ability to taste the emotions of others when tasting their cooking.  Like Julie and Julia, this novel is a witty, offbeat account of a woman’s relationship with food and with loved ones.

Esquivel, Laura.  Like Water for Chocolate: a Novel in Monthly Installments, with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. Tito, a doting daughter who cooks every meal for her parents in Mexico, finds love and herself through her cooking.  Like Julie and Julia, this is a witty story that centers on cooking, love relationships, and contains recipes.

Mileti, Meredith.  Aftertaste, A Novel in Five Courses: In this novel, Mira Rinaldi is a New York City restaurant owner whose life is in a shambles.  Like Julie and Julia, this novel contains many descriptions of delicious food and recipes and features a strong female character who overcomes personal struggle and gains self-worth through cooking.

Name: Meghan M.

Blankets

November 30, 2011

Author: Craig Thompson

Title:  Blankets

Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir

Publication Date: 2011

Number of Pages: 592

Geographical Setting: Midwest

Time Period: 1970’s – Present Day

Plot Summary:  The story follows Craig’s life starting with him as a child dealing with ultra-religious conservative parents in a poor household.  The love/hate relationship he has with his younger brother is both funny and heartwarming, and includes some of the most touching parts of the story.  As Craig grows up religion plays a big part in his life.  It is on one of the trips to winter bible camp that he meets his first love Raina.  His questioning of religion and his experiences with things such as young love are major themes throughout the book and are what mold him into the man he is today.  The novel concludes with Craig as an adult, no longer a Christian, walking through the snow by himself musing over his life.  The heavy black and white art of the book is expressive as Craig uses the simplicity of the two colors to highlight the emotions of the scene.  Backgrounds seamlessly move from dark and ominous to light and free flowing as the emotions change.  The last line of the book elegantly summarizes the feeling of the novel as a whole, “How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface, to make a map of my movement no matter how temporary.”

Subject Headings: Thompson, Craig, 1975-, Teenage boys, First loves, Evangelicalism, Brothers, Church, camps, Compulsive behavior in men, Childhood, Teenage artists, Teenage boy/girl relations, Separated, friends, relatives, etc., Belief and doubt, Artistic ability in children, New experiences

Appeal: Moving, compelling, bittersweet, candid, compassionate, earnest, emotionally-charged, evangelistic, gentle, heartwarming, introspective, nostalgic, thoughtful, familiar, introspective, realistic, well-drawn, character-centered, accessible

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: moving, nostalgic, emotionally-charged

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic  by Alison Bechdel

When Alison Bechdel was in college her father was killed by a car while crossing the road.  In this autobiographical work the narrative revolves around her father’s death and, a few months earlier, Alison learning her father was gay.  The book digs into Alison’s past to uncover her father’s secret life and the strings that connect father to daughter.  An emotionally charged graphic memoir that will appeal to fans of Blankets with its beautiful depiction of daily American life.

Epileptic by David B.

When David is 9 his older brother begins to suffer from epileptic seizures of devastating frequency and intensity.  The family moves from traditional treatments, which do no good, to mysticism, which fairs no better.  Eventually his brother embraces his illness as it gives him the excuse to never have to deal with adult life.  David’s parents grow more and more upset as all options to treat their son disappear one by one.  Meanwhile David withdraws into his artwork to have conversations with his growing posse of imaginary friends.   Similar to Blankets with the relationship the two brothers had with each other.

Stitches  by David Small

Stitches is the memoir of David Small telling the story of his childhood in 1950’s Detroit.  His mother is a stern woman with a dark mood who expresses her feelings with soft coughs and the slamming of cabinet doors in the kitchen.  His father is a cold silent radiologist who believes in the power of science so much he treats his son’s sinus problems with doses of x-rays.  When David is 11 a lump on his neck is discovered but because of a tight family budget he is not treated right away.  After his father gets a promotion his parents go on a spending spree; buying a new car and lavish furniture to keep up the pretense that they are part of the upper class.  It is not until David is 14 that his parents finally bring him in to get the growth removed.  When he wakes up not only is the growth gone but so is his Thyroid and half his vocal cords.  This leaves him with a gash on his neck, “slashed and laced back up like a bloody boot”, effectively making him a mute.  Through this experience David tries to find his voice physically and mentally while dealing with a largely unattached and emotionless family.  A graphic memoir that will tug at the heartstrings of the most hardened reader.   David, just like Craig in Blankets, finds his true voice while struggling to leave the shadow of his family’s beliefs.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson

This story has been told before; struggling artists in New York just trying to make it in this crazy world.  What Alex Robinson does with the story is brilliant.  Every character is so well fleshed out you would swear you had met them before in your own life.  There are no good guys and no bad guys in this story, just real people with real problems doing the best he or she can.  The feel of the story and the realistic characters will appeal to fans of Blankets.

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

The story starts with Polyp whose apartment was recently set on fire due to a freak lightning strike.  He manages to salvage some things from his apartment and goes as far away from his old life as possible.   Obsessed with his past and what led him to such a miserable existence Asterios begins his new life as a mechanic and starts to, even though he doesn’t realize it at first, let go of his old life and renew himself.   Will appeal to people who enjoyed the setting of Blankets

Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine

A collection of four stories from Adian Tomine’s Optic Nerve series.  Slice of life stories all taking place in California and starring twenty-somethings trying to find love, or just any sort of human connection.  The title story is about a boy who has a crush on the cute girl behind the counter of his local general store.  Every day he buys a greeting card from her but never musters up the courage to actually ask her out until it’s too late.  His womanizing neighbor starts going out with her and all the boy is left with is a large pile of cards and a broken heart.  Adrian’s characters are flawed everyday individuals filled with insecurities and misguided intentions that no one would notice in a crowd.  Tales of love lost and romance gone wrong will appeal to fans of the love story in Blankets.

Name: Jason Rock

Stitches: A Memoir

August 10, 2011

Title:  Stitches

Author: David Small

Genre: Graphic Novel

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 329

Geographical Setting: Detroit

Time Period: 1951-1990

Format:  Hardcover

Plot Summary:  This is a gripping memoir written by children’s illustrator David Small. It tells of his childhood in Detroit growing up in a dysfunctional house where member of his family had their own language for dealing with the uneasiness. There was coughing or slamming draws, hitting a punching bag, banging on drums and getting sick. At age eleven a growth is discovered in David’s neck. It takes three years before anything is done about it and what happens after will change David’s world forever. A memorable story that causes you to feel sad and perplexed at these uncaring parents while standing up and cheering for this young man’s fight to survive and thrive. David Small conveys the menacing atmosphere and the challenging youth he faced through his illustrations but the graphic format helps to make the difficult subject matter more readable.

Subject Headings:  Graphic Novel, Memoir, David Small, Children’s Illustrator

Appeal:  engrossing, chilling, dark, stark, uneasy, introspective, domestic, conversational, thoughtful, bittersweet, earnest, foreboding, unique

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: thoughtful, bittersweet and uneasy

Similar Authors and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

My Voice: A Physician’s Personal Experience with Throat Cancer by Itzhak Brook MD – A personal story covers three years of the author’s life during which he faced throat cancer and the loss of his vocal chords.

Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrator Talk to Children About Their Art by Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art – For any reader of Stitches who would like to learn more about children’s book illustrators other that David Small.

Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Making Comics, Manga, Graphic Novels and Beyond by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden – If reading Stitches piqued your interest in how a graphic novel is made then this is the book for you.

3 Revelant Fiction Works and Authors:

  The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – A story of a dysfunctional family that will appeal to readers of Stitches. Also it is a memoir. Bleak, uneasy and bittersweet

Once You Go Back by Douglas Martin – A story about a young man trying to find himself despite his dysfunctional family. Poignant, heartbreaking and thoughtful

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – This book would appeal to the reader who enjoyed Stitches due to its dark story and its teen male main character. It also appeals to the reader of a graphic novel due to the stories connection with the found photographs in the book.

Name:  Mary Othic

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

April 20, 2011

Author: Julia Alvarez

Title: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

Genre: Latina; Women’s Lives; Audiobook

Publication Date: Written in 1991, Recorded in 2006

Duration: 8 discs/9.5 hours

Geographical Setting: Dominican Republic and New York City

Time Period: 1956-1989

Plot Summary: The experience of the Garcia family, particularly the four daughters, is told through a series of short stories in reverse chronological order.  The family emigrated from the Dominican Republic after the Trujillo Revolution and settled in New York City.  The first part of the novel is about the adult lives of the four daughters and focuses on their relationships with men.  The second part is about the experience of recent immigrants in New York and the difficulties associated with assimilation.  The final third is about the political tension that the Garcia find themselves involved in and their subsequent emigration.

Subject Headings: Dominican-American Fiction; Immigrant Experience; Coming-of-Age; Women’s Lives and Relationships; Domestic Fiction

Appeal: deliberate, relaxed, compassionate, earnest, homespun, moving, multiple points of view, realistic, sympathetic, character-centered, family-centered, episodic, chatty, issue-oriented, authentic

3 terms that best describe this book: compassionate, family-centered, and episodic
3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

The Militarization of Culture in the Dominican Republic, from the Captains General to General Trujillo by Valentina Paguero – An historical look at the emergence of military rule in the Dominican Republic leading to Trujillo’s dictatorship, which led to the Garcia’s emigration.

Hispanic Immigrant Identity: Political Allegiance vs. Cultural Preference by George I. Monsivais – An examination of the identity issues that Hispanic immigrants face, similar to those that the Garcia girls struggle with in Alvarez’s work.

Sister Knot: Why We Fight, Why We’re Jealous, and Why We’ll Love Each Other No Matter What by Terri Apter – A study of the relationships that exist between sisters with sections on empathy, jealousy, and identity incorporating various perspectives.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

America Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood by Marie Arana – The coming to terms with a dual heritage and intimate portrayal of family members is reminiscent of Alvarez’s work.

True Colors by Kristin Hannah – The story of three sisters who are raised by their status-conscience father as they mature to adulthood. The sibling relationships are similar to the Garcia girls.

Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham – Four generations of the Stassos family are chronicled in this novel of identity.

-Mike Monahan

The Vast Fields of Ordinary

April 19, 2011

https://i2.wp.com/glbtrt.ala.org/rainbowbooks/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/nickburd.jpeg
Author:
Nick Burd

TItle: The Vast Fields of Ordinary

Genre: GLBTQ, Multicultural, Young Adult

Publication date: 2009

Number of Pages: 309

Geographical Setting: Iowa

Time Period: Present Day

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Dade is drowning in a sea of unhappy: seventeen, hiding his sexuality, family teetering on the brink of ruin and stuck in Cedarville, Iowa.  Dade recognizes himself as gay, but he hasn’t told his parochial school teacher mother or businessman father–they’re going through a rough patch in their marriage and don’t notice much, anyway.  He’s been in a sexual relationship of sorts with his only friend–Pablo Soto, star quarterback with a girlfriend.  As the story opens, Dade tells Pablo he loves him; Pablo responds by slapping him until he takes it back.  Dade distances himself from Pablo and meets Alex, a drug dealing guy who connects with an undiscovered part of Dade.  His progress continues when Dade meets Lucy, a lesbian who is who she is and is unafraid of that.  Through Alex and Lucy, Dade begins to see that he’s got hope in himself and his future; he’s changing for the better.  The  change is not without teenage debauchery; the three of them have a summer laced with drinking, drugs and going to clubs.  When Pablo meets Alex at a party, he becomes increasingly jealous because he wants to have Dade for himself. Pablo’s behavior leads to a dramatic twist and Dade realizes he’s got to make changes in his life before he can truly embrace his future.

Subject Headings: Iowa, Midwest, Teenage Males, homosexuality, Drugs, dating and Sex, Abuse, Marriage, Divorce, Coming Out

Appeal Terms: Unhurried, Bittersweet, Candid, Emotionally-Charged, Earnest, Moody, Flawed Characters, Authentic, Issue-Oriented, Contemporary, Accessible, Colloquial, Colorful

3 Terms that Describe this Book: Contemplative, Midwestern, Coming of Age

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Queer and Questioning Teens by Kelly Huegel: Dade may have been able to better face challenges if he had this book of straightforward experiences by his side.

Iowa: The Spirit of America by Diana Landau: Get to know the state that Dade can’t wait to get out of!

The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy by Robert Leleux: A coming of age story where Dade may have found a kindred spirit–an eccentric mother, a distant father and eventually meeting his life partner, Michael.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors: 

Someday this Pain will be Useful to You by Peter Cameron:  This story is about a teenage boy who is trying to do the opposite of Dade–he deals with life by moving to a small town to forget his troubles.

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf: A story about a dysfunctional family living in Iowa and learning how to cope with family challenges.

Less than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis: This story reflects the experience of a college freshman coming home to see his family after his first semester of college…Dade may benefit from this after coming home from college for the first time.

–Jennifer Hovanec

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

March 30, 2011

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Author: Dale Carnegie
Title: How to Win Friends & Influence People
Genre: Non-Fiction, Psychology
Publication Date: Original 1936; Revised, 1982
Number of Pages: 260
Geographical Setting: United States
Time Period: 20th Century

Plot Summary: This is the classic “how-to” book for understanding and improving communication between yourself and others, whether it be in the business world, or with a spouse.  Carnegie originally wrote this book at the end of the Great Depression, with intent to help inspire those he felt were bored by other ‘self-improvement’ books, and its last revision was in 1982.  With classic and timeless advice in dealing with difficult people and situations, persuading others with techniques to help you achieve success, the overall theme is reminding us to treat people with respect and courtesy. Carnegie provides countless examples of situations to illustrate his theories and offers real world advice on how people reading the book can use it in their lives.  Different sections include “Fundamental Techniques in Dealing with People,” “Six Ways to Make People Like You,” “How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking,” and “Be a Leader.”  Following each section is a concise recap with key points to consider and remember.  An index at the end of the book allows the reader to quickly look up by name, a particular example.

Subject Headings: NonFiction; Success; Persuasion, Psychology; Leadership; Business Communication

Appeal: fast paced, conversational, practical, introspective, self-improvement, persuasive, inspiring, useful, realistic, communicative, straightforward, influential, educational, earnest, psychology, leadership, classic, timeless

3 terms that best describe this book: communication techniques, business advice, human behavior

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

  • Think Like a Champion by Donald Trump is a collection of Trump’s most profound essays on dealing with business challenges, life struggles and his view on how to achieve success through what is called an “informal education.”
  • Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in life) by Cathie Black; Black is the president of the Hearst Magazine empire, and through this motivational book, shares her secrets to success geared towards women in business.  She discusses negotiating and leadership while describing ways to better achieve balance at home and work.
  • Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, also the author of the bestseller, Blink.  In this book, he identifies the qualities of successful people, posing theories about the cultural, family, and idiosyncratic factors that shape high achievers with examples in business and popular culture.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

  • Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra is a fictional account of the life of the Buddha, written for western readers, traces his spiritual journey while explaining how his experiences and teachings have changed the world and continue to influence every facet of life.
  • Playing With Boys by Alisa Valdes-Rodriquez is a story of three Latin-American women in their late twenties, including an actress, a suburban mother, and a music manager, and the tales of their success and failures of their relationships and business lives in Los Angeles.
  • Company by Max Barry is a fictional and humorous satire of the corporate world told from the perspective of Stephen Jones, who works at the the Zephyr Holding Building, and where he finds a company defined by its lack of clarity, a building numbered in reverse, and an invisible CEO.

–Jennifer Peterson

American Born Chinese

June 23, 2010

American Born Chinese - cover

Author: Gene Luen Yang

Title: American Born Chinese

Genre: Fiction; Chinese-American

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 233

Geographical Setting: Ancient China; various typical American locations, such as high schools

Time Period: mythological China; current

Series: NA

Plot Summary: Three seemingly disparate storylines brilliantly converge in an impactful and meaningful truth in Gene Luen Yang’s, American Born Chinese. The story follows the lives of Jin Wang, a Chinese-American boy having difficulty fitting in at school, the Monkey-King, the king of all monkeys and a master of kung-fu who has his sights on the attainment of godhood at all costs, and Danny, a popular guy in high school who is beset by his stereotypical and embarassing cousin from China, Chin-Kee, who happens to ruin Danny’s life every time he visits. The art is precise, focused heavily on cartoon and the immaculate use of line, and it deftly collaborates with an emotionally vibrant and wise tale of the desire to be someone else.

Subject Headings: Graphic Novels; Chinese-Americans; Stereotypes; Racism; Social Accpetance; Mythology – Chinese;

Appeal: Compelling, bittersweet, earnest, magical, thoughtful, introspective, vivid, complex, mythic, timeless, natural, poetic.

Three terms that best describe this book: Timeless, Thoughtful, Magical.

Similar Authors and Works:

Non-Fiction –

Iris Chang – The Chinese in America: A Narrative History: A thorough narrative recounting of the history of Chinese immigration to America since 1850, from the author of The Rape of Nanking.

Ann Marie Flemming – The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam: A biography, in graphic novel format, of the great Chinese magician, entrepreneur, impresario, and world-traveler, Long Tack Sam.

Claude Helft – Chinese Mythology: Stories of Creation and Invention: Heavily illustrated by color paintings, Helft interprets 8 creation myths of China.

Fiction –

Jeanette Ingold – Paper Daughter: Maggie Chen, a Chinese-American high-school student, investigates the mysterious hit-and-run accident that killed her father while coming to grips with her ethnicity.

Jordan Sonnenblick – Zen and the Art of Faking It: Zen Buddhism provides Sun Lee with an opportunity to no only make himself known in his new school, but also to re-invent his identity.

Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki – Skim: All the trials and tribulations of high-school life seen through the eyes of Skim; an Asian-American into Goth and Wicca at an all-girls school in Toronto, Ontario.

Name: Garrett Gottschalk