Staff Picks

Staff Review Jan 28, 2009

Told in drawings, comic book style, this book chronicles the period of Arnoldi’s life between the birth of her daughter and her enrollment in college. Arnoldi’s purpose was simply “to help single moms feel worthy to pursue their rights to an equal access education and provide them with the information to do that.” What I appreciate about the book, however, is that is shows a recipient of public assistance using that assistance to make a better life for herself and her child.

Staff Review Jan 28, 2009

Think you aren’t smart enough to read a book about black holes? Think again. After astronomers pick up a faint radio signal, they send a starship out to find its source. Because it will take five generations to complete the mission, Icarus was born on the Proxima, and will die on the Proxima. Until one day he ventures out on his own to explore a black hole, with results he didn’t anticipate.

This big board picture book is a great format to tell a story involving a complex subject. Perfect for kids and adults alike.

Staff Review

Secret Origin

Rated by Josh N.
Jan 27, 2009

Hi there! My name is Josh, and I've been reading superhero comics as long as I can remember. Eventually, I wanted to read the stories that influenced superheroes, which led to my discovery of pulp magazines and other thrilling adventure stories. I began reading about characters like Doc Savage, the Shadow, the Scarlet Pimpernel and Captain Future. I began reading writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, E.E. "Doc" Smith and H.P. Lovecraft.

Staff Review Jan 26, 2009

Despite setbacks of his own making, Ralph Chang is ultimately successful in achieving his goal of a PhD in engineering. He marries Helen, a woman his family would have approved of, and despite some odd ideas about love and marriage, starts a family. He, Helen, and his sister Theresa all live quite happily, surrounded by "typical Americans". Until American-born Chinese Grover enters the picture. With Grover comes prosperity and happy times, but also imbalance and confusion.

Staff Review Jan 21, 2009

In this remarkable story, Dempsey takes birdwatching (which, in his words, serves the social use of “keeping those nerdy kids who have no chance of ever making a real friend out of already overcrowded bars”) and makes it cool. While I probably won’t immediately invest in a pair of binoculars, Dempsey has effectively instilled an appreciation of a pastime to which I had never given a single, solitary thought. On the one hand, the sub-title of this book pretty much sums it up. But on the other, it says nothing.

Staff Review Jan 13, 2009

When Amanda, an up and coming yogini and Idiot guide writer, is sent to India by her publisher to study enlightenment and how to get it, it’s like a dream come true. But after chasing enlightenment from Ashram to Ashram, guru to guru, Amanda wonders if “enlightenment [is] just the booby prize, the thing you went after when what you really wanted didn’t work out.”

Staff Review Jan 8, 2009

“Normally, I do not associate the words “happiness” and “database,” but this is different”. Thus Eric Weiner begins his journey with a visit to The World Database of Happiness in the Netherlands. Upon being told that he may not like what he finds, Weiner admits that “while we may not be able to differentiate fine shades of happiness among countries, surely we can say that some countries are happier than others.” And he proceeds with his research.

Staff Review Dec 29, 2008

In Cooked, Jeff Henderson tells an inspirational story of triumph over the odds. While growing up in the inner city, he is attracted to the wealth of neighborhood hustlers. Soon he is running drugs himself and making huge sums of money. At 24 he's arrested and spends ten years in prison where, while working as a dishwasher in the prison kitchen, Jeff discovers a passion that ultimately saves him.

Staff Review Dec 24, 2008

"I realize that I'd remembered only the good exotic it was...because with time blocking out the bad, memory is always bound to be a bit naive and stupidly optimistic." Guy Delisle returns to China for the second time to oversee an animation department and while the experience for him is excruciatingly boring (he can go for days without speaking to anyone) his sharing of those three months is simultaneously interesting and laugh-out-loud funny. Having worked in animation for 10 years, his illustrations are brilliant as well.

Staff Review Dec 23, 2008

When I started reading this book I thought it a little too literary for my taste and spent too much time toggling between the book and my dictionary. It is at heart, a philosophical novel, with characters who read Marx and The German Ideology, while others contemplate Japanese suppuku. My opinion changed on exactly page 108 with a misplaced comma. Renee Michel, who is the concierge at an apartment building inhabited by wealthy people, finds this an underhanded attack.