Good Reads for Winter

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Ideastream Staff Recommendations:

From Bridget De Chagas, Producer of The Sound of Ideas&reg
I recently read Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica (did you catch the show we did with him?). I thought it was very amusing and an accurate depiction of working in restaurants.
I loved, loved, loved The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. It was a fabulous memoir (I must like memoirs - reading about other people's lives). I definitely encourage people to read it.
I really enjoyed was Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. It’s about a saintly father who does the unexpected to help save his oldest son. Beautiful story told through his young daughter’s eyes.
Right now I'm reading My Lobotomy: Howard Dully's Journey. Sadly, it's the story of a 12 year old boy whose parents couldn't love him and resorted to drastic measures.
I'm excited to start The Night of the Gun by David Carr. It's a memoir of The New York Times columnist's life as a crack addict.

From Regina Brett, Friday's Host of The Sound of Ideas®
Mister Pip, a novel by Lloyd Jones
In the Woods, a mystery by Tana French
Here if You Need Me a memoir by Kate Braestrup

From David Kanzeg, Director of Programming
Here are some of my faves:
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie; Translator-Ina Rilke
The Emperor's Giraffe: And Other Stories Of Cultures In Contact by Samuel P Wilson
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W. Tuchman
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro

From Nancy Tatulinski, Senior Engineer
I am reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It is about a little girl in Nazi Germany during WWII. The narrator is “Death.” The subject matter is horrific…but the writing is superb. Visceral descriptives, intense personifications. A well crafted use of language. I am anxious to finish it, but with the narrator being Death, I don’t expect a happy ending.
I have also read Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It is the story of a woman’s plight in Afghanistan. Again, not a pleasant story, but beautifully written.
On a lighter note, I read Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani. It is the story of a female pharmacist’s search for the meaning of her life in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. There are endearing, comical characterizations and humorous circumstances. I enjoyed this book so much, I bought the next two books in the series to read.
I have just started The Story of Edgar Sawtelle but haven’t read enough to say much about it. It is good so far!

From David Molpus, Executive Editor
There are many great books I've bought but have not yet found time to read. Two in that category topping my shelf are:
The Sportswriter by Richard Ford. One reviewer describes the main character as one who “suffers from incurable dreaminess, occasional pounding of the heart, and the not-too-distant losses of a career, a son, and a marriage.” Darkly enticing, eh?
Giants of the Earth by Ole Edvart Rolvagg. A classic novel about pioneer life in the upper Midwest. I figure reading this one will help me understand my Minnesota in-law family and the grit they bring to life.

From Jewel Moulthrop, I-Connects Coordinator
Best book I read this year was The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. A great story and a terrific writer--beautiful use of language and imagery. This is his first and only novel, so I'm currently reading the writers Wroblewski admires: Margot Livesey and Joan Silber.
Note to David Molpus: Stop whatever you're doing and pick up The Sportswriter, and then the others in the Frank Bascombe trilogy - Independence Day and The Lay of the Land. Happy reading!

Bob Ethington's Personal Recommendations:
Roberto Bolano – 2666, a novel
Marilynne Robinson – HOME, a novel
Dexter Filkins – THE FOREVER WAR
Jon Meacham – AMERICAN LION – ANDREW JACKSON IN THE WHITE HOUSE
Doris Kearns Goodwin – TEAM OF RIVALS – THE POLITICAL GENIUS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Jonathan Alter – THE DEFINING MOMENT – FDR’S HUNDRED DAYS AND THE TRIUMPH OF HOPE
Nelson Aldrich – GEORGE BEING GEORGE (oral bio of George Plimpton)

Listener Suggestions:
Erin Naso: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont. Loved this book because it takes the sometimes extraordinary task of writing and breaks it down into manageable parts. Though the main emphasis is writing, the book can really be geared to nearly any kind of task in life: tackling debt, trimming the waistline, starting a new career or working toward a larger goal that seems to be an enormous undertaking at first.
My favorite fiction book by far is About the Author by John Colapinto. Fantastic writing with a really twisty-turny plot. It’s a story that is akin to looking in a three way mirror as the story continues to develop. It’s one of those books that at the end you become depressed because it is over and are sure no other book will ever compare. Last I heard, Colapinto wrote for Rolling Stone Magazine.

Krissy Pigg: My book club recently read a book called The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes. The women in my club loved it. Ironically, I think that I liked it least of all of us - but they really thought it was great. So am I recommending it? I think if someone is interested in popular fiction, this might be a good choice.

Sara Clark: I've just finished John Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga. It has everything: politics, intrigue, romance, etc. all set about 100 years ago. It is surprisingly contemporary and relevant in its perspective on capitalism, materialism, aesthetiticism, but most of all, it has an interlude section entitled "Awakening" which describes the most beautiful and sensitive love affair between an old man in his last days and a beautiful young woman. If you read only that part of the book, you will be amazed.

Julie Stolzer: Why is Twilight such a hit? My 12 year old daughter has raced through the first two books at a stunning speed and I have to admit that I did too! Is it the future of fine American Letters? No-of course not--but anything that can get a 12 year old to read a 500+ page book in less than a week is OK with me. My daughter was never as into Harry Potter as some of her peers (neither was I for that matter) but the Twilight series is her Harry Potter. Why is reading for pleasure derided as low brow? Just read!

John Duckworth (retired elementary teacher), Coventry Township: 3 kids' books: There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom by Louis Sachar - Same author as Holes. Wonderful story with a lesson for grown-ups too.
Downriver by Will Hobbs - Great teenage adventure story but with a girl as the main character.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine - this is NOT the movie!!! Great strong girl character . It retells a familiar fairy tail, but with a lot more depth than any Disney version.
One for everyone - even reluctant readers and people who claim to have no time: God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant - Thoughtful takes on the humanity of God.

John Chipko, Cleveland: This winter I'm finally getting around to reading Satanic Verses. It was a little difficult at the beginning but, once I got into the tempo of it, it's great.

Palli Holubar: I make a practice of giving the authentic original book of film familiar to families. A used book is ideal, one that carries the history of the joy of reading. Pamela Travers' Mary Poppins was not Julie Andrews. In fact, I remember listening to my Father (a children's Lit professor) sympathize with Travers as she cried on phone about the representation, back in the days of expensive trans Atlantic calls. I want kids to know that 101 Dalmations movie only includes 99 dogs...the liver-spotted stray stayed behind at the Darlings to console the humans and she in the end was rewarded with a soul mate, also liver-spotted. Children deserve the authors. Ruth Gannet's My Fathers Dragon is one of the few unadultered books from my childhood.

Joel Nasman: This is the time of year I try to introduce people to authors who write well or biographies about those authors. This year I recommend William Hazlitt: The First Modern Man, written by Duncan Wu and published by Oxford University Press. Hazlitt is one of the greatest prose writers in the English language, and much of what he wrote is just as valid today as it was when written in the first three decades of the nineteenth century. If anyone on your list appreciates a well-wrought sentence, a collection of Hazlitt's works would be welcome.
One of the problems one faces with giving an actual book of Hazlitt's works is the dearth of really good second-hand and antiquarian booksellers in the area, especially on the west side after the closing of 84 Charing Cross books two years ago. Loganberry Books is currently the best in the area.

Faith Tahsin: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, hilarious, be ready to laugh out loud!
Playing For Pizza by John Grisham, just a good story & it keeps your attention, has great detailed descriptions of Italian food.
The Precious Present, Spencer Johnson, just a nice quick read, good for a wakeup call.

Guests: 

Maureen Corrigan, critic in-residence and lecturer at Georgetown University, book critic for NPR's Fresh Air
Karen Long, Book Editor, The Plain Dealer
Bob Ethington, Pop Culture Division Manager, Akron-Summit County Public Library

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