March 2014 Archives

How well do you know your spouse?

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Jean Hanff Korelitz's addictive and disconcerting mystery You Should Have Known will make you wonder...

Grace Reinhart Sachs, a therapist in Manhattan, contends that there's no good reason for women to keep choosing the wrong men, if they'd just listen to their instincts. She's about to publish a book, titled 'You Should Have Known', with advice on how to spot a creep on the first date and move on. Of course, she is happily married to a faithful and adoring man.

While preparing for the requisite media blitz of publishing a book, she's also helping her son's exclusive private school with fundraising efforts. When she learns that one of her fellow committee members was brutally murdered in her apartment she starts to feel extremely tense and unsettled. Making matters worse is that her husband, who left to attend a conference, is unreachable.

The police question all the members of the fundraising committee, but circle back to speak with Grace several times. As information related to the violent crime and her missing husband are uncovered she finds she may have failed to heed her own counsel.

Jacki @ Central

What advice were people looking for 100 years ago?

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It's a very simple idea: a woman receives a notebook with newspaper clippings from the Bintel Brief, a long-running letter column in turn of the century Yiddish newspaper The Forward. When she opens this notebook, the ghost of Abraham Cahan springs to life and they read the columns as they interact in the present. This is the charming premise of Liana Finck's graphic novel A Bintel: Love and Longing in Old New York.

Finck adapts 11 letters-to-the-editor, using a different style based on the content of the letter. The illustrations vary wildly from blocky and dark to spacious and delicate. The tone of the book is lovely and heartfelt, perhaps because she is a character in the narrative. As she reads The Bintel Brief, she gets to know centuries of New York immigrant Jews and she gets to know Cahan himself. It can also be difficult to interest younger people in 100 year old advice columns when there is so much else to read, see, and do. Especially when that advice was written in a Yiddish newspaper! Finck breathes new life into these columns. Plenty of life was there before, but I'm not sure they had an audience.

Every story in the book actually appeared in The Forward. These are real problems real people wrote in about. They are all a bit sad, but not in an outright weepy way. People sought advice about missing husbands, thieving neighbors, and embarrassing spouses; but at the core they're all very respectful and earnest. Many people were haunted by the ghosts of the old world, which never seems to be far from their minds. The letters are borne from the everyday hardships of immigrant life, which is sometimes quite bleak but at the same time poignant and hopeful. These letters can tell you as much about peoples' lives at that time than any article about working conditions, poverty, or immigration ever could.

If you read this book and you want more (as I did), you can read the original columns in A Bintel Brief: Sixty Years of Letters from the Lower East Side to the Jewish Daily Forward.

Allie @ Central

The Hardcore Truth by Bob 'Hardcore' Holly

hardcoretruth.jpegI've read (and reviewed) more than a few pro wrestler autobiographies, so I usually know what to expect from them. Yet when I sat down to read The Hardcore Truth by Bob 'Hardcore' Holly, I wasn't entirely certain what I was in for. Bob was never 'the guy', in the World Wrestling Federation or even when it became World Wrestling Entertainment. Yet he was with the biggest American pro-wrestling company for fifteen years, which isn't a minor achievement given how fast talent can get chewed up and spit out by that industry. What I knew of the man was mainly his on-screen persona, a tough-as-nails, you-better-respect-me badass from Alabama. He'd also grabbed attention on MTV's reality show Tough Enough, when he clobbered a would-be wrestler during a practice match hard enough to leave his opponent with a black eye and busted lip.


When I started reading The Hardcore Truth, it became quickly obvious that Bob wasn't holding back. A lot of wrestler biographies are published while they're still with the WWE, going through an editing process that's designed to protect the image of the company. Here, Bob lays out exactly what he thinks of everyone, from the Stone Cold Steve Austins to the Paul Londons of the wrestling world. Whether or not you agree (and you'll probably be doing some of both), you know what you're getting is his honest view on things. That's what makes Bob's book so refreshing, really. It's not super flashy and a little unrefined, but it's also honest and to the point just like the man himself.

While much of the book is spent talking about his wrestling career, you get some interludes where Bob gets to talk about his two other main loves: racecars and dirt bikes. These passages help paint a better picture of the man as more than just his wrestling persona, and give you interesting insight to a man who lasted so long in a dog-eat-dog industry. Each time he touches on one of the many tragic wrestling deaths that affected him in his career (Owen Hart, Mike 'Crash Holly' Lockwood, Eddie Guerrero) it hits hard, especially when you read about his own coping methods.

The music that would play whenever Bob Holly came to the wrestling ring always started with a sound clip of him saying 'How do like me now?' After having read his book, I took away a new found respect for the man, and felt enriched for the experience. So to answer that previously posed question, it seems that I like Bob Holly quite much indeed.

Tim @ Central

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Albrect Durer (1471-1528) was a master German painter and printmaker of the Renaissance period. In 1494 Durer went to Italy where he was introduced to the works of some of Italy's greatest Italian Renaissance painters - Giovanni Bellini, Andrea Mantegna, Antonio Pollaiuolo, and Lorenzo di Credi. Durer ceaselessly studied, sketched and experimented with different methods of printmaking. He became a prolific printmaker almost singlehandedly launching prints from inconsequential mass produced pictures to works of fine art desired by the greatest patrons of the arts.

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Dürer's Drawings in Colour, Line & Wash: A Selection of 56 Facsimiles of the Originals Preserved in the Albertina Collection at Vienna was edited with an introduction and descriptive text by Campell Dodgson and was printed in 1928.

Dürer's Drawings in Colour, Line & Wash is available as a reference item, so while you can't check it out and take it home, you are most welcome to enjoy this beautiful book at the Central Library in the Art, Music and Recreation department.


Valerie @ Central

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Imagine coming to terms with your life and realizing that you are boring and everything bad that has ever happened to you was of your own doing. This is what happens to Liam Pennywell in the Anne Tyler book Noah's Compass. After suffering a head injury, Liam becomes obsessed with gaining back his lost memories of the night of the accident. He has plenty of time to do this, as he was recently forced into retirement at sixty. Instead of regaining that small amount of memory back he instead must deal with the memories he does have left - those of his divorce, his first wife's death. While dealing with these past memories and the emotions they conjure, he must also deal with his present issues, like a new romance, living with this teenage daughter, and forming a relationship with his grandson. As he goes through these new experiences, while reconciling his old memories, he starts to question how today will be remembered tomorrow. Though a mundane book on the plots surface, it explores questions of how much control we have over the past as well as the future.

Meredith @ Central

Eat Your Heart Out with Morro & Jasp

morrojasp.jpgChances are, you've never heard of Morro and Jasp. They just so happen to be two colorful and kooky Canadian clowns (say that three times fast) that have been delighting audiences for several years; not to mention the fact they've also been winning awards and accolades at a variety of Fringe Festivals. A collaborative act between performers Heather Marie Annis (Morro, as in 'Tommorow' without the To) and Amy Lee (Jasp, and not the lead singer of Evanescence) as well as director Byron Laviolette, Eat Your Heart Out with Morro & Jasp is their first book, and it is an absolute delight.

So for those of you I've not already lost on the sheer concept of 'cookbook created by Canadian clowns', let me tell you more about this charming culinary codex. Instead of sections based on main ingredient or even cooking style, Morro and Jasp (as the authors are the clowns, not the performers) have chosen to break up the book by emotion. Lazy, playful, romantic (followed immediately by heartbroken, of course), each section comes with a variety of recipes. Some of the recipes are more for comedy than cooking (the Sexy Seductive Souffle is the funniest of the lot, and consequently is also the most inedible), but they all please in their own way. Mixed in with the recipes are a variety of silly poems, cartoons drawn in the margins, pages from Morro and Jasp's diaries, all sorts of great little bits that really pile on the unique charm of it all.

So for those of you who like your cooking to come with a heaping helping of fun, why not check out Eat Your Heart Out with Morro & Jasp? It's sure to put a smile on your face, assuming you don't suffer from Coulrophobia.

Tim @ Central

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee

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On Such a Full Sea is about a future America where society is strictly organized by class, and long abandoned urban areas have become labor colonies. Descendants of those brought over years ago from ruined provincial China make up the labor class. They work to provide perfect produce and fish to the exclusive villages that surround the labor settlement. When the man she loves vanishes, Fan, a female fish-tank diver, leaves her home. Her journey to find him takes her into dangerous territories rampant with crime, to a faraway village that will become legend to those she left behind.

Jacki @ Central

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Since its founding in 1948, Israel has been at the center of the crisis in the Middle East. Discussing the country's longstanding troubles is difficult and often fraught with emotion. Max Blumenthal's Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel is a book that is stirring up emotions on all sides of the issue. In it, Blumenthal provides a history and analysis of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians residing in the Occupied Territories. He gives Palestinians and activists supporting their cause a voice to share their everyday struggles. He also attends meetings and protests of far-right factions of Israeli society and exposes their illiberal and even racist tendencies. Wherever you stand on the Israel-Palestine issue, Blumenthal's book is well worth reading. It will challenge anyone's preconceived notions on the topic.

Brett @ Central

St. Patrick's Day Recommendations 2014

Today is St. Patrick's Day, a day that is technically a Christian feast day in honor of the patron saint of Ireland, but has somehow turned into a day where you drink beer with artificial coloring, have strangers kiss you because of your probably dubious 'Irish' heritage, and physically accost those who have committed the foul crime of not wearing the color green.

So in honor of St. Patrick's Day, we present not a list of books about Ireland (there are many), about St. Patrick himself (also more than a few), or even drinking or the cuisine of Ireland. Instead, we present a few specially selected library items that have something to do with a Patrick of varying sorts. It has just as much to do with proper St. Patrick's Day as Chicago's annual war against natural water colors.

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First, we present the fictional Patrick (there are many fictional Patricks, but for this list here is the one), Patrick Bateman in Bret Eason Ellis' American Psycho. A disturbing black comedy tale drenched in bloody murder and transgression, with the occasional break to discuss 80's pop music. So it's much like your average St. Patrick's Day party (and also like your average St. Patrick's Day party, this one is not for kids).



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Secondly, here are some athlete Patricks, starting with Danica Patrick the great racecar driver. Her book Danica - Crossing the Line has her telling her own story, letting you in on exactly what it took to become the first female driver in Indy 500 history. Then there's basketball great Patrick Ewing, whom we know from his time with the New York Knicks. But did you know he wrote a children's book about painting in 1999?


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For the acting Patrick, while the illustrious Patrick Stewart would make an excellent and Shakespearean choice, we shall have to put baldy in a corner and instead highlight his highness, the Saint Patrick of the Cinema, Patrick Swayze. From Point Break, to To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar, to his autobiography The Time of My Life, there's a little something for everything when it comes to Swayze.




nameofthewind.jpgFinally, we humbly offer the author Patrick, Wisconsin's own Patrick Rothfuss. A man born in Madison and raised on Tolkien, McCaffery, and C.S. Lewis, his debut (in-progress) fantasy trilogy The Kingkiller Chronicle has won awards and counts amongst its fans the living legend George R. R. Martin. Not to mention the fact that the main character is a musical ginger-haired gentleman, so he's like the fantasy equivalent of Irish! For those of us who also grew up with our minds in Pern, Middle Earth, or Narnia, Rothfuss manages to contribute meaningfully and excellently to the field of fantasy fiction with his books.

So let's be honest, what's more Irish than this list? Okay, maybe don't answer that question. Remember to enjoy your St. Patrick's Day responsibly, and read more books!

Tim @ Central

Grow Your {Crafty} Business!

Are you a fabulous crafter looking to share your skills and make a little cash? We want to help! The books below cover everything from branding and merchandising your crafts, the ins and outs of setting up an Etsy business and even guidance on creating legal forms. Click on the book covers to check availability and place a hold. Find even more books by clicking here.

As always, our Business librarians are here to help answer those "stumper" questions. Call us at (414) 286-3051 or stop by one of our monthly Small Business Resources programs. Happy crafting!

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Kristina @ Central

Too soon for a good beach read?

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The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand explores how the death of friends can affect people differently. This beach read does a good job of examining love and death from a variety of angles, allowing readers to become fully invested in the story. When Greg and Tess MacAvoy, a young couple with children dies unexpectedly, the lives of their friends (three other married couples) are changed in various ways. Some choose to go on as if nothing happened, some are irreversibly shattered and some choose to recommit to their own lives. The couple leaves behind secrets and relationships that must be explored by the remaining friends. The book is told through multiple points of view and the author does an excellent job bringing it all together at the end.

To read Connie's review click here.

Meredith @ Central

Who is Pusheen?

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I Am Pusheen the Cat by Claire Belton

The everyday life of Pusheen the Cat is chronicled in a series of ridiculously adorable comic drawings. Pusheen is cute, chubby, extremely lazy, and has toes that look like beans. She enjoys lying completely still, exercising her imagination, and modeling the latest human mustache fashions. This is her first journey from the animated webcomic to the printed page.

Margaret @ East

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

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The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

Two soul mates discover they cannot come within two feet of one another. Determined to find a cure for their fate, they marry anyway. But, how do you pass the years with a mate you cannot touch? With stories and legends of course! Discover a world of irreverent mythology, all lushly illustrated with Nordic inspired art.

Beth @ East

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown follows Darrow and his fellow Reds as they toil in the brutal mines of Mars, enslaved by the cruel Golds who promise their labor will someday make the surface habitable. Hope for a better future keeps the Reds working, but an incredible tragedy reveals Darrow's entire world is a lie. To expose the Golds' treachery, Darrow is thrust into an epic role of espionage. Can he trick the Golds and save his people?

Suggested for fans of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games and William Goldman's The Lord of the Flies, this has a dark and twisted power of its own that will captivate readers and leave them wanting more.

Beth @ East

You Can't Save the World with Pizza Coupons

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A Highly Unlikely Scenario or, a Neetsa Pizza Employee's Guide to Saving the World by Rachel Cantor

In a future ruled by feuding fast food corporations, where philosophies are expressed through pizza formations and Heraclitan Burger Grills are under attack from neo-Maoist revolutionaries, one Neetsa Pizza employee has been compelled by mysterious forces to abandon his post handling customer complaints and go forth to save the world. An ambitious librarian with a Special Gift joins him on this strange and daunting quest.

Margaret @ East

Bandette in Presto!

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Bandette in Presto! by Paul Tobin, art by Colleen Coover

Bandette, a très chic French thief, steals unique objects of art and literature from the undeserving rich like a modern day Robin Hood in this graphic novel. Using social media, her cute charm, and ninja abilities, Bandette is a fabulously fun role model perfect for any girl who prefers her heroes to wear sensible flats and a functional costume. Presto!

Beth @ East

Treasures of the Rare Books Room: To Be Between by Jody Williams

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Great artists books melt the boundary between books and works of art. They explore the identity of books, how and what we read and the interaction between the reader and what is read.

To Be Between by Jody Williams uses brass, color etched text, and images on handmade and Japanese paper to create a physical sense of what it's like not to fit anywhere. The simplicity and composition of each page really displays the struggle of trying to find a place to be, but never quite getting there. To Be Between is an accordion book that measures 19 inches long and only 2 inches tall. It is number 11 from a limited edition of 75 made in 2002. This book was donated to the Milwaukee Public Library from the George Des Forges Fund.

To view this item, please call the Central Library Art, Music and Recreation Department at 414-286-3071 to arrange a visit.

Valerie @ Central

Redshirts by John Scalzi

redshirts.jpegJohn Scalzi's Hugo-winning book Redshirts is an odd duck, to be certain. As it starts, it seems like an excellent pastiche of the sci-fi phenomena of the 'Red Shirt'. For those not up on their tropes (and haven't gotten themselves trapped reading everything on the site I just linked), the Red Shirt is a character who is introduced solely to die for dramatic effect. In the original Star Trek, it was the plethora of security officers (whose uniform included a red shirt) who went on away missions with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy only to die a horrific death to prove the danger that faced the main characters.

Scalzi's book starts with that concept in a universe that is actually quite closely modeled on Star Trek itself, complete with the seemingly ridiculous high rate of fatalities amongst the lower ranks of the starship the Intrepid. When the characters become aware of this strange and seemingly improbable part of their existence, things start to get even more weird, and even more metatextual.

So here's the thing about Redshirts: if you're not someone really up on your sci-fi tropes, you're not going to have as much fun as someone who knows Star Trek like Montgomery Scott knows the back of his hand (and if you understand that reference, Redshirts is definitely going to appeal to you more than most people). Scalzi takes a lot more clichés, concepts, and the like that have ingrained themselves into our cultural sci-fi subconscious, and he deconstructs them, turns them on their head, smashes them with hammers and then pieces them back together in as funny a way as he can. In a sentence, he lovingly sends up all the dumb things that have become seemingly standard practice in sci-fi, and it's a wonder to read. It gets really weird by the end (and even more bizarre with the three different codas), but as long as you're aware this book will subvert all expectations, you're in for a fun ride. For those up on their sci-fi, definitely check this one out. I even highly recommend the audiobook version, read by Star Trek alumnus Wil Wheaton, as it has excellent comedic timing and makes for a great listen.

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