Staff Picks

Tavis Smiley's Newest Book

Published on Monday, October 10, 2011

Fail Up!Tavis Smiley has come out with a new book: Fail Up! In it, he offers words of wisdom on everything from humility to cheating to grace.

Published on Wednesday, April 13, 2011

book cover, Reading ReflexThis book by Carmen and Geoffrey McGuinness presents a comprehensive system that helps parents teach their children how to read, but it can also be used with teens and adults. The method gives detailed lesson plans that teach the necessary components of learning how to read. Students will learn all the necessary letter combinations needed to sound out words, and they learn these through patterns and not through memorizing rules.

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Published on Thursday, March 31, 2011

book cover, Let the Great World SpinSet against the backdrop of Philippe Petit’s legendary walk across a thin wire stretched between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann intertwines the life stories of 10 ordinary and extraordinary New Yorkers.

From the flamboyant lady of the street, Tillie, to the zealous priest who watches out for the welfare of the downtrodden, the characters come to life, and their lives interconnect in this novel, which is harrowing and uplifting at the same time.

Published on Wednesday, March 30, 2011

This book is an entertaining and often salacious account of the first 12 emperors of the Roman Empire.

A secretary to Hadrian (117 - 138 C.E.), Suetonius also had access to the imperial archives. If only half of what he describes is true, modern scandals pale in comparison to the bizarre activities of imperial Rome.

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Published on Friday, March 25, 2011

American Gods, coverEvery few years I reread Gaiman's epic fantasy novel about what happens when the "old gods"--Odin, Anubis, Kali, and their ilk--get frustrated with their lack of worshippers in the modern world. 

The old gods wage war on the new "American" gods that have replaced them, such as technology, celebrity and the media, all hilariously personified. 

Published on Thursday, February 24, 2011

book cover, Battle Cry of FreedomWith the upcoming sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, James McPherson's Pulitzer Prize-winning book is a must read for all Civil War aficionados and budding historians.

McPherson does an excellent job of plainly explaining the events of war and leaves the reader with a better  understanding of the events that led to this bloody conflict.

If you read only one book on the history of the Civil War-–this is your book.

Published on Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gulliver Foyle scours the galaxy for the crew of the ship that left him for dead in outer space, first so he can find out why and second so he can kill them. 

Mix that with people who can teleport just by thinking about it, and a world redesigned to accommodate that lifestyle, some echoes through time and a prophetic poem by William Blake, and you've got a wonderful sci-fi ride. 

Absolutely great!

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Published on Friday, November 26, 2010

book cover, EmbersI read a certain book several years ago that continues to haunt me. It is called Embers by the Hungarian author Sandor Marai.

It haunts me because it is really all about one brief moment when a decision is made, most likely based on love, that changes three peoples' lives forever. It is particularly rich because of the intersecting themes--friendship, romantic love, loyalty and the passage of time. It is a deep and moving book that anyone could relate to on some level.

Published on Friday, August 13, 2010

book cover, MakersCory Doctorow's novel is a hysterical post-cyberpunk satire of the tumultuous relationship between technology, the world economy, postmodernism and corporate America. 

In a future that could be five minutes from now, a Silicon Valley journalist, two hacker engineers working in a Florida junkyard, and a mildly insane business tycoon change the world economy, build up massive fortunes, then lose it all within a decade; and all this comes before they create a new series of rides made from the hollowed-out remains of malls and Walmarts across the country, and launch a new cottage industry--in litigation against supermassive corporations. 

Published on Friday, June 25, 2010

book cover, No Great MischiefAlstair MacLeod's novel contrasts Alexander MacDonald’s semi-charmed life with the lives of his less fortunate older brothers who are forced to fend for themselves when their parents perish on the ice in an accident near their home in Nova Scotia. 

MacDonald escapes a desperate life of working in the Canadian uranium mines like his kin, and is now a successful dentist.  He reflects on his life, home and family history while on a trip to Toronto to look after the needs of his aging alcoholic brother.