Reading Room Blog
When Philip and his brother Francis were small boys, their knightly father and beloved mother were slain in front of them. The enemy soldiers were about to do likewise to the children, when a monk from the neighboring priory intervened, promising God’s wrath would descend on the soldiers should they continue their slaughter of innocents. The soldiers stood down.
For such was the power of the Church in the 12th century that even bloody-minded men-at-arms would take heed of a religious man’s words.
Life in small town Nevada, Iowa, in the late 1990s has never promised much. Everything is pretty much a stone's throw away from the residents' houses, including the popular Video Hut. Although a brand-spanking-new Hollywood Video nearby is threatening Video Hut's profits, it seems to still have its regular flow of customers. A job at the Video Hut is good enough for 22-year-old Jeremy, who lives with his father, an independent contractor. Both work endless hours to avoid painful thoughts of Mom, who died six years before in a car accident.
But, things are not what they seem in Nevada, Iowa. Not at all.
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Twin Peaks (1990-1991) - It is happening again.
Twin Peaks is an American television serial mystery-drama created by Mark Frost (The Equalizer) and David Lynch (Blue Velvet) that premiered on April 8, 1990, on ABC. The series was renewed for a second season that aired until June 10, 1991. It follows an investigation headed by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) into the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, Washington. The show's unsettling tone and supernatural elements are consistent with horror films, but its campy, melodramatic portrayal of quirky characters engaged in dubious activities draws on American soap operas. Like much of Lynch's work, it is distinguished by offbeat humor and surrealism.¹
Twin Peaks is often regarded as one of the greatest television dramas in the 1990s. It's cult following over the years has made the show even bigger. Unfortunately in 1991, the show recieved declining ratings due to the prolonged idendity of the killer and ABC insisted that it be revealed. Ratings did not improve and the show was cancelled. A full length feature film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was released in 1992, that serves as both a prequel and epilogue to the series. In 2014, the television network Showtime announced that the series would return for one season, scheduled to premiere on May 21, 2017. The miniseries is written by Lynch and Frost, as well as directed by Lynch. Many original cast members, including Kyle MacLachlan as Agent Cooper and Sheryl Lee as Laura Palmer, are returning. To watch the cast talking about making the show again 25 years later, watch the trailer at the bottom of the book recommendations.
If you're looking forward to the revival of Twin Peaks as much as I am, you may want to read books similar to the eerie and surreal tone of the series. Here are a few suggestions:
Summer is quickly approaching and a favorite nighttime activity of many approaches: stargazing. Whether you're gazing alone or with others, The National Geographic Pocket Guide to the Night Sky of North America is the book to have with you.
If you love comics and want to be entertained, you really need to check out Christopher Irving’s (words) and Seth Kushner’s (pictures) Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics. It’s a bright and brilliant introduction to the people who brought stories of brave deeds to American audiences through their work. Here’s a snippet from his sketch on Will Eisner (The Spirit):
Cooking with Coconut: 125 Recipes for Healthy Eating offers a plethora of methods to use the delicious coconut fruit in an wide assortment of recipes.
The coconut is considered to be one of the most versatile plants in existence. The fruit, fiber, and tree sap can be processed and used in multiple ways. Coconut "meat" can be eaten green, ripe, or dried. Coconut water (the liquid found inside the fruit) and milk (coconut water mixed with coconut "meat" to make it thicker) can be healthy for cholesterol levels. Using coconut products in your everyday meals may not only be a healthier choice, but it may help you feel better about what you're eating.
Stephen King is best known for his terrifying and macabre horror novels. Many of his sadistic stories have grazed the minds of readers over the years. King loves to leave an uncomfortable impact on the psyche of his readers through nightmare-fueled characters such as the evil Pennywise, the Dancing Clown in IT (1980); the vicious vampire Kurt Barlow in 'Salems Lot (1975); and, of course, the dangerously haunted Overlook Hotel in The Shining (1977).
One of his epic, long-lasting creations is The Dark Tower series. Last year, Columbia Pictures announced that it's releasing a movie based on The Dark Tower series, starring Idris Elba as Roland and Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black. To King's fans' dismay (and delight, in some cases), the film will not be an adaptation of first installment, The Gunslinger. Instead, it will be a quasi-sequel to the whole series, following the ending of the last book, The Dark Tower. It will be released August 4, 2017. Check out the first offical trailer below.
Author Jennifer Wright studies plagues. Often individuals ask if she studies "modern" plagues, such as using your cell phone too much. But in her new book Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them, she reveals that her interest lies within the history of plagues where you break out in sores and turn feverish. The kind of plagues that kill you.
2017 falls during the 100th anniversary of World War I, and The Summer Before the War is the perfect novel to remind us of the world-changing conflict’s impact. In the novel, England is in the midst of fighting the Great War. For the small town of Rye in Sussex, all of the moral complexities of that war are realized. Helen Simonson is a master of gentle and sometimes fierce satire in this comedy of manners, as she was in her first novel, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.
The first three parts of The Summer Before the War have a lighter tone as the characters are gently satirized for their foibles. There is nostalgia for the Edwardian innocence still left in the town of Rye, but cruel prejudice and gossip also reside in the town. All the characters seem like good people, but Helen Simonson cleverly reveals their flaws. Beatrice Nash enters the scene as the first female Latin “master” for the local grammar school. Beatrice has recently lost her father, whom she idolized, but she will not bow to the dictates and restrictions of how her family and society want her to lead her life, so she must earn her way.