Reading Room Blog

05/14/2014 - 3:00am
Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor

"Stepping in a rhythm to a Kurtis Blow. 
Who needs to think when your feet just go?"

                                                Tom Tom Club - The Genius of Love

Ed Piskor cannot rap or dance. He is no good with turntables or sampling. What Piskor can do is draw, which is why Hip Hop Family Tree is such an important testament to honoring the innovators and pioneers of the culture.

04/30/2014 - 3:01am
Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend

Modern Vampires of the City is perhaps the catchiest, most joyous-sounding album to explore death that I have ever heard. The third release from collegiate prep rockers Vampire Weekend shows emotional and musical growth as lead singer Ezra Koening struggles with his own mortality.

04/22/2014 - 11:52am
You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld

You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, by Tom Gauld, is to literature and history what Gary Larson's The Far Side is to biology and beehive hairdos. Gauld takes on Dickens and Shakespeare with whimsical glee. He muses on the creativity of artists and writers while conjuring ridiculous asides.

04/08/2014 - 6:43am
Picaresque by the Decemberists

An unseen beast trumpets mightily. There is a slight pause, then the drums approach, rolling across the sonic landscape. Picaresque, The Decemberists' densely-textured folk pop album, begins.

03/19/2014 - 3:02am
Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole J. Georges

When a palm reader told Nicole J. Georges that her long-deceased father was very much alive, Nicole's first thought was, "Who does she think she is?" But the psychic was definitely onto something, and Calling Dr. Laura started to take shape.

03/12/2014 - 8:08am
You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me by Nathan Rabin

You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me documents Nathan Rabin's journey into two vastly different but equally mocked musical fan bases. Phish and Insane Clown Posse are about as far away as you can get from each other in terms of sound, lyrics, and subject matter. The one thing that they do have in common is that their fans have very few qualms about conscious-altering substances.

That's how Rabin finds his ticket in. He's been going through some issues lately—actually he's been going through issues his whole life. Lower-class with a foster-home upbringing, Rabin managed to carve a niche for himself in Chicago writing for the A.V. Club, a cultural review publication that belongs to The Onion. Despite that success, it certainly cannot help to be diagnosed bipolar, which is exactly what happened to Rabin on his journey.

02/26/2014 - 3:02am
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

In Born Standing Up, Steve Martin looks back at his comedy career in a way that few artists are able to do. He not only has succeeded in his craft, he also has the luxury of being able to step back from the act and make sense of just what it was all about.

In the 1970's and 80's, Martin attained a kind of success usually reserved for rock stars. He filled up arenas and released number one albums, but  Martin is quick to point out that this was no overnight sensation. He spent his youth trying to break into the entertainment business by working at Disneyland and writing for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

02/19/2014 - 3:01am
My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

First off, yes, it is that Dahmer. Secondly, yes, this book is written and drawn by a man named Derf Backderf.

My Friend Dahmer is much more than just a grisly expose on the teenage life of a future serial killer; it is also a rumination on the culture of 1970's suburbia, where teens were left to their own devices in the wake of divorce or career-minded parents.

03/14/2014 - 3:41pm
Lapsed Catholics and Stray Bullets: The Works of Martin McDonagh

For the past two decades, Martin McDonagh has established himself as a sensational writer of emotional disturbance and darkly funny exchanges in his Irish-set plays and crime-focused films. He may not be a household name, but that name already has an Academy Award and several Tony nominations under its belt. We have a number of his works in the collection worth recommending.

 

Written in the mid-Nineties, The Beauty Queen of Leenane and Other Plays offers a trilogy of stories centered around the same town and immediately shows McDonagh's gifts for cleverly inane banter and simmering tensions.

02/11/2014 - 3:02am
Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

Jim Henson: The Biography approaches the man through his work. This makes sense since, as he was the artist who redefined puppetry, Henson created and entertained almost non-stop for four decades.

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