"She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain."
-- Louisa May Alcott
Kory Stamper has one of the most enviable jobs I can imagine: she's a lexicographer for Merriam-Webster, helping to choose and define words that appear in America's most popular dictionary. Thrill as she traces the origin of the phrase "dope slap"! Laugh as she makes peace with the word "irregardless"! Stamper is anything but a stuffy academic, and this lighthearted look at her career and the dictionary industry is an absolute pleasure.
Back in print at long last! Booked to Die is the first in a series of hard-boiled crime novels featuring cop-turned-rare-bookseller Cliff Janeway. It's a dark, violent mystery full of fascinating details about the rare book trade. In other words, absolutely my cup of tea!
Possibly the greatest real-life adventure ever! It’s the riveting story of the naval cruiser USS Indianapolis, torpedoed after delivering the bomb that would be dropped on Hiroshima. Fans of Jaws may recognize the events described but won’t be prepared for the astonishing details. Terrifying, maddening, and ultimately very moving. A GREAT READ!
An R-rated summer action/comedy blockbuster in book form! Shane Kuhn knows to keep the story moving in this acidly funny “handbook” for employees of Human Resources, Inc.,a training ground for assassins disguised as lowly corporate interns/ Graphic violence, vulgar language, rampant drug use, and kinky sex all add to the ambience. Delightful fun for a certain sensibility!
“What if you could live life over again? And again? And again?” Jeff Winston, the hero of this compulsively readable novel, dies in the very first sentence...and wakes up in his 18-year-old body in his college dorm room, his memories of his just-ended life completely intact. Jeff ends up caught in an endlessly repeating life loop, never quite living the same life twice, and along the way, he realizes that he is not the only one replaying. A GREAT read!
The editors at mental_floss magazine have produced yet another entertaining volume sure to provoke laughter and discussion. In chapters such as “Ignore the Naysayers,” “Impress your Mother-in-law,” and “Bend the Laws of Science,” our intrepid researchers present the steps required to become a teen idol, stop global warming, brew a lifesaving cuppa joe, get out of jury duty, and much more. What sets this book apart from its imitators is 1) it actually is well-written and has a sense of style, and 2) the amount of research that’s gone into each entry. A great gift for the recent graduate wondering how to make it in this bad ol’ world.
A wonderfully funny, subversive little novel. Two enterprising children decide to kill the boy’s uncle... before he can kill them. It features a great supporting cast of characters, including a furious champion bull with murder in his heart, and a much put upon cougar who only wants to be left alone. It’s quite unlike anything I’ve ever read, but I’ll venture to say that if you like Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm, you’ll enjoy this newly resurrected gem.
The Sterns have the best job EVER: they travel the USA in search of great diners, cafes, truck stops, and the like, and they write about their discoveries. This brand-new edition of more than 800 restaurant reviews from around the country (38 in CA. alone!) is a hash house connoisseur’s dream.
When Junior Thibodeau is still in utero, he receives an ominous message from a mysterious source: "Although to you we may seem quite knowledgeable, even omniscient, we in fact know only one thing for certain, which is this: thirty-six years, one hundred sixty-eight days, fourteen hours, and twenty-three seconds from now, on June 15, 2010, at 3:44 p.m. EST, a comet that has broken away from the Kuiper Belt near Neptune will impact the Earth with the explosive energy of 283,824,000 Hiroshima bombs." Junior thus lives his whole life with the knowledge of humankind's certain demise, and the big question is, especially as the only person on the planet armed with this information, does anything he does, that anyone does, really matter?
Author Ron Currie, Jr. answers that question in the book's title, yet Junior's rocky journey to understanding the big question is what makes Everything Matters! so funny, odd and heartbreaking. He, his troubled parents, his baseball prodigy older brother Rodney, and Amy, the girl he has loved since they watched the space shuttle explode together, take turns telling the story; each has a unique voice and a very different take on what is going to happen. And what is going to happen isn't necessarily what you think it might be: Currie takes a foregone conclusion and spins it into something gratifyingly unexpected.
A crumbling mansion and an upper crust family in decline are at the center of the mesmerizing and unsettling events in “The Little Stranger.” Leisurely, atmospheric, and slightly ominous, this post WWII-era novel, set in Warwickshire, is a haunted house story that may or may not be a ghost story. Waters resists easy answers in this superbly –written tale of a dying way of life.
William Alexander once at the perfect loaf of bread – crispy, chewy, sweet and yeasty – and he vows to recreate it. The result is 52 Loaves, a yearlong experiment in baking, in which Alexander bakes the same loaf of bread week after week, tweaking his ingredients, techniques, cooking time, and so on. He grows and grinds his own wheat. He builds and earth oven in his backyard. He travels to France to bake his single loaf in the oven of an ancient monastery. And somewhere along the way he figures out, in the words of Voltaire, that perfect is the enemy of good. Funny, exasperating, and very entertaining!
Aimee Bender’s novel is a sweet-tart saga of a family full of secrets. Nine-year-old Rose Edelstein can taste the feelings of those whose cooking she eats; her mother is having an affair; and her older brother Joseph is dealing with… something. Only Mr. Edelstein seems not to be coping with some mystery – or is he? Simply and beautifully written, a bit reminiscent of Myla Goldberg’s Bee Season, it’s a fine, dreamy read.
How can you be lonely when you have four wives, twenty-eight children, a devoted dog, and the possibility of a new mistress? Golden Richards, the inept-at-everything title character, manages to feel utterly alone even while surrounded by the chaos that is his life. Told alternately by Golden, Trish, his fourth and youngest wife, and Rusty, his lovably aggravating son, The Lonely Polygamist is funny and heartbreaking, richly written by a superb storyteller.
British Grant is obsessed with a place that would terrify most Yanks: Mexico's Sierra Madre mountains. Populated with drug lords and drunkards, more than three hours from any law enforcement, the Sierra Madres are also fiercely beautiful and physically challenging. Grant learns firsthand how such beauty and ugliness can co-exist.
Absolutely my favorite book in the whole world, and one I never tire of recommending! True love, battles to the death, daring chases, sword fights, wrestling giants, pirates, killer spiders -- this book is non-stop action, and extremely funny to boot. The movie is entertaining, but the novel is far superior. Not to love it is . . . inconceivable.
A sort of Da Vinci Code for book lovers, this story of a heretofore undiscovered Shakespeare manuscript is exciting, smart, and good-humored; as much as I liked the thrilling hunt, the passages about the antiquarian book trade were my favorites.
A superb real-life adventure tale! In 1925, famed explorer Percy Fawcett disappeared in the Amazon Basin during his quest to locate an ancient, fabled South American city he called "Z." No one knows what happened to him; rumors abound, but he and his party were never seen again and no remains were ever found. New Yorker staff writer David Grann learned of Fawcett's last great adventure and set out to see if he could solve the twin mysteries: What happened to Percy Fawcett, and did the great city of Z ever exist? The result is thrilling, harrowing & thought-provoking. Highly recommended!
Sort of The Secret Garden for grown-ups, Australian novelist Morton’s sophomore effort is a romantic (in the broadest sense of the word), quietly dramatic saga of family secrets that spans four generations and two continents. The mystery at the heart of the story is not too hard to figure out, but it’s Morton’s ease with which she moves backward and forward in time to tell her story that really proves captivating.
British historian Mortimer has written an engaging history of 14th century England with a twist: it’s presented as a travel guide for modern-day visitors. In it, he offers readers suggestions for what to wear, what to eat, where to stay, how much to expect to pay for things, how the medieval legal system works, and more. The “travel guide” aspect is more than a gimmick: Mortimer constantly reminds readers that what seems alien and occasionally barbaric to our modern sensibilities was everyday life to our forebears. Truly a unique presentation of a fascinating period in history!
Film historian Basinger takes a detailed and wide-ranging look at the fabled Hollywood studio system, focusing on both major stars (Lana Turner, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn) and actors who were huge in their day but are perhaps less well-known now (Deanna Durbin, Jean Arthur, Wallace Beery). My favorite chapters deal with "malfunctions" -- actors who were given every opportunity to become stars but failed -- and "bonuses" -- actors never expected to make it big but who somehow caught on with the public. Rich, juicy, opinionated, and thoroughly researched, The Star Machine is a bonanza for any film love.