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Posts tagged 'Humor'

New People by Danzy Senna

 

New People by Danzy Senna

New People ambitiously combines comedy of manners with literary thriller. It is a character-driven novel that explores issues of mixed race, love, and infatuation, while examining what it means to be black. It also looks candidly at a mother-daughter relationship in which a daughter is never quite black enough to suit her mother. Issues inherent in adoption and the impact of parental expectations permeate the book.

Set in the late 1990s, New People features a young, upwardly mobile couple, Maria and Khalil, who are planning their wedding. Khalil is a mixture of black and Jewish, and Maria is the light-skinned, adopted daughter of a single mother. Khalil is starting his own dotcom company; Maria is finishing her dissertation on the Jonestown Massacre. Having met in college, they are in love with each other and in what they represent—“the King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom.”

Thriller  Sara Picks  Racial Identity  Literary  Humor  Fiction

12/05/17
 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I read this book in two days, but now I almost wish I had taken more time because I really miss Eleanor! She is delightful, and the book is a well written, page turning novel.

Main character Eleanor is a lonely, single 29-year-old Scottish woman who insists that she is completely fine. She observes strict routines of week days at work (same clothes, same job, no interaction with anyone) and weekends alone with large quantities of vodka and pizza. She speaks formally, with an antiquated speech pattern and vocabulary that keep regular people at arm’s length. And she is fine. Until she develops a school girl crush on a rock’n’roller whom she dreams of meeting. A necessary work interaction with Raymond, the grubby new geek in IT, begins to thaw her icy heart, and leads her to consider that maybe, just maybe, she could begin to allow some tiny change, even some people, into her life.  To the author’s credit, the Raymond-inspired character development is not based on “the knight in shining armor riding up on a white horse” scenario, but rather, a unique friendship that leads Eleanor to look into her very unhappy childhood and see how it has restricted her. Issues with her “Mummy” are alluded to in their weekly Wednesday night phone call, but not elucidated (through the skill of a patient therapist) until the very end of the book, creating a pleasant suspense.

Nancy Picks  Humor  Fiction  Contemporary  British Fiction

09/21/17
 

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

 

Cover of "Sourdough" by Robin Sloan Sourdough by Robin Sloan is probably the most enjoyable—and purely readable—book I’ve read this year. It’s an adventure, a puzzle, a glimpse into the future, and a celebration of food. And I learned a lot about bread, which usually doesn’t happen with the books I read.

Lois Clary programs robots at a San Francisco startup. After work, she orders the soup and sandwich combo from the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall that two brothers of indeterminable ethnicity run. Sadly, the brothers must return to Europe (visa issues) but as a parting gift, they give Lois their starter—the living bacteria culture that gives sourdough bread its signature taste. Desperately seeking a hobby, Lois bakes some bread, and discovers she has quite the knack for it. While tasty, the loaves are a little strange. Are those faces in the crust? And late at night, is the culture…singing? Lois doesn’t have time to worry about these peculiarities, as she starts supplying her work cafeteria with sourdough. Soon, she finds herself working at a strange sort of farmers market where other gourmands are hard at work fusing technology and food. But will the culture behave long enough for Lois to make a living from baking? And just who is this Mr. Marrow that bankrolls the project?

Sourdough is Robin Sloan’s second novel, following the perennial librarian favorite Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore. The two books share some DNA: they both feature hapless geeks who find themselves at the intersection of a rustic craft and the latest technology, while a mysterious organization watches over the whole operation. Anyone who liked Mr. Penumbra will enjoy Sourdough, and vice versa. Oh, and like Mr. Penumbra’s the cover glows in the dark. Check it out!

Jake Picks  Humor  Fiction  Contemporary

 

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

WaxmanGardenJust in time for summer reading, this paperback was published May 2, 2017

An uplifting story about a garden; planted, nourished, and enjoyed by a broad cast of varied, likeable, realistic quirky characters. Young widow Lilian, an illustrator, has been asked to take a 6 week gardening class at The Los Angeles Botanic Garden, in preparation for illustrating a series of boutique vegetable guides for the venerable Bloem Garden Company. Not a gardener, Lilian reluctantly arrives at the first Saturday morning session class with her two daughters, and Lilian’s very supportive sister Rachel in tow. Also in the class are some of the most enjoyable characters I’ve read about in a long time. At the head of the garden project is attractive in every way Edward Bloem, head of his family garden supply company, and commissioner of Lilian’s illustrations.

At the heart of the book is the theme of change, and each of the gardeners experience change in their own way. The new beginnings of the title refer not only to newly planted and growing vegetables, but change that comes over everyone in the group, and new directions that their lives will take.

Each chapter begins with a short and interesting little tutorial on how to plant the fruits or vegetables for the week’s project (disclaimer: I am not a gardener, and enjoyed these lessons!). The author writes with such quirky dry humor, that I really did laugh out loud reading this book.

Nancy Picks  Humor  Contemporary

06/21/17
 

Mystery Reader Picks: Be Quiet!

Are you mystery reader this week in your child’s school?  In our blog column “Mystery Reader Picks” we would like to offer you book suggestions for your school visit.  Our librarians recommend favorite read aloud choices for kindergarten through 3rd grade.  Check back every other week for a new title and stop by or give us a call for many more selections.    

Mystery Reader Picks:

Be QuietBe Quiet!

by Ryan T. Higgins 

2nd and 3rd Grade 

This tongue-in-cheek book is about the creation of an artistic wordless book.  Through humorous interjections and downright silly exchanges Rupert mouse and his friends write the least wordless book ever.  It is so “loud” with words on every page that poor Rupert is defeated in his attempt to create a book where he will be the star in a visually stimulating wordless book.  Read to 2nd and 3rd graders for a huge guffaw!!  Pair with the Book with No Pictures and the truly wordless books Flashlight or Journey

 

Mystery Reader Picks  Humor  Eva's Picks  3rd  2nd

 

Mystery Reader: Life On Mars

Are you mystery reader this week in your child’s school?  In our blog column “Mystery Reader Picks” we would like to offer you book suggestions for your school visit.  Our librarians recommend favorite read aloud choices for kindergarten through 3rd grade.  Check back every other week for a new title and stop by or give us a call for many more selections.    

Mystery Reader Picks:

LifeOnMarsLife On Mars 

by Jon Agee 

K - 2nd Grade 

Jon Agee does it again.  If you liked It's Only Stanley, and who wouldn't, you will enjoy Agee's whimsical space exploration-centric Life on Mars.  A lone astronaut sets out to prove that there is in fact life on Mars.   He is disappointed, but wait! Not so fast...  

Large images with high contrast colors and a sparse planetary landscape make this the perfect book to read aloud to a group.  Children and adults alike will be drawn in by the humor in both the text and the pictures of this charming book.

Mystery Reader  K  Humor  Eva's Picks  2nd  1st

 

Mystery Reader:One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree

Are you mystery reader this week in your child’s school?  In our blog column “Mystery Reader Picks” we would like to offer you book suggestions for your school visit.  Our librarians recommend favorite read aloud choices for kindergarten through 3rd grade.  Check back every other week for a new title and stop by or give us a call for many more selections.    

Mystery Reader Picks:

eucalyptus treeOne Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree        

by Daniel Bernstrom; pictures by Brendan Wenzel

K - 2nd Grade 

Rhythmic text and a boy who outsmarts a snake are two excellent reasons to read this humorous book aloud.  If that is not enought to entice young readers and adults, the comedic growing reptilian stomach in the tradition of "There Was an Old Woman who Swallowed a Fly" will lead children to shout out predictions as to how the boy might escape the belly of the snake. For added fun have the kids repeat the refrain "One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree" after you, a little bit louder each time.          

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Picture Books  Mystery Reader  K  Humor  Eva's Picks  Animals  2nd  1st

 

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

SempleSemple’s new novel is a witty social satire and a poignant look at middle age. Its main protagonist, Eleanor Flood, is taking a self-critical look and not liking what she sees. A transplant from New York and former career woman, she now lives in Seattle as the wife of a famous hand surgeon. Her only intellectual stimulation comes from private poetry lessons she takes from a local poet. So she gets up one morning and promises herself, “Today will be different.”

Although the action takes place over 24 hours, the character’s past life comprises most of the book. She and her sister, Ivy, lost their mother to cancer and were raised by their father--a bookie and a drinker. In a more serious paragraph, Eleanor gives us insights into her daily struggles:

For those of you who aren’t children of alcoholics, hear me now and believe me later: It’s the single determining factor in your personality. I don’t care if you get straight A’s, marry a saint, and break the glass ceiling in a male-dominated profession, or if you bounce around from failure to failure with pit stops in cults and nuthouses: if you were raised by a drunk, you’re above all the adult child of an alcoholic. For a quick trip around the bases, it means you blame yourself for everything, you avoid reality, you can’t trust people, you’re hungry to please (p. 46).

Eleanor raises herself and her sister--their co-dependence continuing through their adult years. The rift that occurs within that relationship has repercussions that echo long after the event and affects all aspects of her life.

Sara Picks  Humor  Family Relationships  Contemporary  Chick Lit

10/26/16
 

Everybody's Fool by Richard Russo

RussoRusso is a master at depicting small-town America--in particular, the economically depleted town of North Bath in upstate New York. Once a thriving mill town, its factory has long been shut down.  Its denizens subsist on odd jobs and assorted blue collar employment.

We were first introduced to this fictional place in Nobody’s Fool, published in 1993. That book focused on Sully—one of the great anti-heroes in contemporary American fiction.  The character was modelled on Russo’s ne’er-do -well father. Both a womanizer and a gambler, Sully is a WWII vet who returns from the war forever changed. His story continues in Everybody’s Fool, published in May of this year. The sequel resumes ten years after Nobody’s Fool ends. Sully is now in his 70s and ignoring a correctable heart condition. His son Peter is divorced and the young grandson we met in the previous book is starting college.  Rub Squeers, the mentally challenged man who dotes on Sully, now has a namesake—a dog Sully has rescued and renamed “Rub” to cause confusion. We again meet Ruth, Sully’s married lover, her obese husband who collects junk for a living, and her daughter, who waits tables at her mother’s diner and pulls extra shifts at the bar. Her ex-husband, Roy Purdy, has just gotten out of prison after serving time for assault and is bent on revenge.

Yet Sully, who loomed larger than life in the first novel, is not the focus of attention in the sequel. That role is left to police chief, Doug Raymer—an insecure and depressed man who obsesses over his wife’s infidelity and untimely death. It is through him that the book drives its title; Raymer believes everyone in town knew of the affair—everyone but him.

Everybody’s Fool is more than a continuation of the richly drawn characters introduced in Nobody’s Fool. The latest novel gives the reader a deeper look into their hardscrabble lives and sympathetically paints the bad luck and poor choices of the protagonists.  Moreover, it explores the nature of evil in a way that the first book did not.  Once again, Richard Russo has proven himself to be a masterful writer who depicts the price of human foibles with sensitivity, compassion, and above all, humor.

Sara's Picks  New York  Modern Literature  Humor  Contemporary  American Literature

06/08/16
 

Mystery Reader: Are We There Yet?

Are you mystery reader this week in your child’s school?  In our blog column “Mystery Reader Picks” we would like to offer you book suggestions for your school visit.  Our librarians recommend favorite read aloud choices for kindergarten through 3rd grade.  Check back every other week for a new title and stop by or give us a call for many more selections.    

Mystery Reader Picks:

Are We There YetAre We There Yet? by Dan Santat

2nd and 3rd Grade 

How many times have you heard this question?  "Are we there yet?" If you are like me you probably cannot count that high.  Caldecott medalist, Dan Santat takes us on a colorful journey right from the inside cover of the book until we reach the final destination(grandmother's house).  Car ride boredom leads to great flights of fancy reminding us that a whole lot can happen when kids are left to rely on their imagination for entertainment.  Children will get a huge kick out of the humorous images and thought bubbles and the way in which the book must be rotated to be read.          

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Picture Books  Mystery Reader  Irreverant  Humor  Eva's Picks  3rd  2nd