Reading Room Blog

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

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.

CRRL Picks: At the Movies

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!

Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow

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.

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

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.

Battling Boy by Paul Pope

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.

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die edited by Steven Jay Schneider

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.

CRRL Collection Showcase: Science Fiction

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.

RASL: The Drift by Jeff Smith

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.

Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! by Devo

Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!

Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! Even the title of Devo's debut album shows that this band has a lot of strangeness to unpack. A New Wave quintet from Akron, Ohio, Devo dresses in industrial jumpsuits with goggles and plastic flowerpot helmets on their heads. Stay with me.

The band's main argument and name is based on the idea that human civilization has reached its peak and is actually devolving. I'll let you be the judge of that claim, but I still highly encourage you to check out this incredibly rocking, highly danceable album.

Songs for Drella by Lou Reed and John Cale

Cover to Songs for Drella

Rock music provocateur Lou Reed passed away this week at age 71. Best known for his work with the proto-punk band The Velvet Underground, Reed supplied tough, gritty lyrics while John Cale offered up a dissonant musical journey unlike any heard at the time. Reed and Cale went on to make some transcendent solo albums as well, but my favorite collaboration of theirs will always be Songs For Drella.