Reading Room Blog

01/20/2014 - 9:48am

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark: "In 1947, American historian and veteran of WWII, Martin Mitchell, wins a Fulbright Fellowship to document the end of British rule in India. His wife, Evie, convinces him to take her and their young son along, hoping a shared adventure will mend their marriage. Martin and Evie find themselves stranded in a colonial bungalow in the Himalayas due to violence. In the house Evie discovers a packet of old letters, which tell a strange and compelling story of love and war involving two young Englishwomen who lived in the same house in 1857. Drawn to their story, Evie embarks on a mission to piece together her Victorian mystery. "  

If you enjoyed The Sandalwood Tree, here are some other titles you may enjoy:

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
The story begins in 1962. On the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies a tall, thin woman approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, an American starlet, and she is dying. The story begins again today when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studios back lot, searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier. 
 

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson
Autumn 1928. Three young women are on their way to India, each with a new life in mind. Rose, a beautiful but nai?ve bride-to-be, is anxious about leaving her family and marrying a man she hardly knows. Victoria, her bridesmaid couldn't be happier to get away from her overbearing mother, and is determined to find herself a husband. And Viva, their inexperienced chaperone, is in search of the India of her childhood, ghosts from the past and freedom. Each of them has their own reason for leaving their homeland but the hopes and secrets they carry can do little to prepare them for what lies ahead in India. 

01/07/2014 - 4:02am
Mayhem, Murder, and Minnesota: The Films of the Coen Brothers

Joel and Ethan Coen might be the two finest filmmakers working in America today. There are few directors who have captured more entertaining, accurate, or varied instances of the American experience.

Nearly all of their films center around some sort of crime or illicit behavior. Sometimes the protagonist is the perpetrator. Other times he is a victim or an unwitting bystander sucked into the chaos. Almost always though, the protagonist is a fool.

01/08/2014 - 11:54am
The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Jon Ronson sees insanity all around him. Partially that is because as a journalist he is drawn to write stories in which people engage in erratic behavior. It is also because he has learned The Psychopath Test, and he cannot stop administering the 20-point checklist to everyone around him.

Item 1: Glibness/superficial charm

Item 2: Grandiose sense of self-worth

Item 3: Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom

Item 4: Pathological lying

And, so on. From a rude concierge at a hotel to the CEO of a giant corporation, no matter where Ronson looks, everything's coming up psycho.

12/31/2013 - 10:39am
CRRL Picks: At the Movies

My family and I saw The Hobbit just before Christmas. It was entertaining, but ... the book was better! We've pulled together a list of books that have been made into movies: CRRL Picks: At the Movies

See what you think.  Is the book better than the movie?  Let us know!

12/31/2013 - 4:02am
Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow

Ragtime, by E. L. Doctorow, swirls through 1906 America with a breakneck stream-of-consciousness pace more frenetic than most historical fiction. A densely-constructed ensemble piece that alternates between fictional and real life figures of the age, the thoroughly modern novel amazed critics and readers alike upon its publication in 1975.

12/24/2013 - 4:01am
Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant is like the funny pages for literature and history majors. Each strip is an exploration of a famous writer, characters from his works, or a notable person from history. Rather than treating these figures with reverence, Beaton usually takes them down a peg or two.

12/23/2013 - 4:02am
Battling Boy by Paul Pope

Battling Boy has twelve t-shirts, each with a different creature emblazoned on the front. Apparently, they give him his powers, but he does not quite know how to use them yet. You see, Battling Boy is in training to be a superhero.

This fact does not offer much solace to the people of the planet Arcopolis. Their children are routinely being kidnapped by a wretched gang of monsters, led by a mummyish kingpin named Sadisto. They used to not have to worry about this sort of thing as much, back when Haggard West was their planet's superhero. Too bad Haggard West is now dead.

12/18/2013 - 4:02am
1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die edited by Steven Jay Schneider

The first time I ever saw 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die sitting on a shelf in a now defunct bookstore, I immediately seized it, plopped down on the the floor and began...counting. Yes, yes, I'm a tad obsessed. Still, to find out that there are so many worthy movies out there waiting to be viewed is so exciting. I saw the mighty tome as a map leading to vast amounts of buried treasure.

12/04/2013 - 4:01am
CRRL Collection Showcase: Science Fiction

If you want to read a science fiction novel that favors intelligent, subversive writing with unique twists, try one of these novels. Many are critically acclaimed and highly influential within the science fiction genre. Most of their authors have been honored as Grand Masters of Science Fiction. If you are a science fiction fan, I strongly recommend you check out some of these books from our collection.

11/26/2013 - 4:02am
RASL: The Drift by Jeff Smith

RASL: The Drift deals with alternate universes. Worlds that are just like this one, with only the slightest differences. Looking for those small clues is sometimes helpful, sometimes upsetting, and this is especially true if you are not entirely sure what dimension you are in.