A recent trend in guidebooks is the "before you die" list of things to do or see. Thus we have "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," "1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die," and "1001 Gardens You Must See Before You Die."
I am not a fan of this concept. When deciding on leisure activities, do you really need that kind of pressure? But I did enjoy St. Louisan Amanda Doyle's new book "100 Things to Do in St. Louis Before You Die."
Rarely has a book, teen fiction or otherwise, stayed with me the way this marvelous John Green novel has since completing it. Friend after friend recommended this book to me. Often this recommendation came with the warning, "the book is amazingly awesome. Get the tissues." Right away I began to empathize with characters to the point where I wondered...Did John Green know these families? Is this actually one of those non-fiction books that's been categorized as fiction with names changed in an effort to "protect the innocent?" The author's note assures us. No, this is fiction. The medicine used to help the cancer patients in the novel is a figment of his imagination. This is a true pity.
Many think that summer reading clubs are just for kids, but SLCL offers programs for all age groups, including adults. This year's Adult Reading Club asks participants to read six books over a 12-week period. Signing up is easy and can be done online.
Mention of the Inquisition frequently brings up memories of Monty Python or Mel Brooks's singing portrayal of Torquemada in "History of the World." However, the real story, while arguably less entertaining, is much more fascinating. "God's Jury: The Inquisition and the making of the Modern World" By Cullen Murphy discusses the three separate operations of the Inquisition throughout history and the fact that there was never really one program that can be accurately termed "The Inquisition." While the author tries to weave stories of inquisitorial practices into modern history with some bias, the volume of historical information does make this an interesting read. A historical footnote of interest, the Vatican bureaucracy overseeing what was known as the Inquisition remains in operation and was named the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition until as recently as 1904.
--Michael B., Jamestown Bluffs Branch
In "My Ideal Bookshelf," readers of every walk of life give us insight into what books would sit on their ideal bookshelf. Artist Jane Mount and Editor Thessaly La Force do a great job of making us see the titles on the shelves. Each page of the book is filled with hand drawn illustrations of book spines chosen by the contributors, which include Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Chabon, Alice Waters, James Patterson, Jennifer Egan and Dave Eggers among others. There are many different titles featured in the book, as evidenced by the eclectic mix of contributors. The last page of the book is blank for the reader to start dreaming of their own ideal bookshelf. Enjoy!
--Laura Thomas, Weber Road Branch
Many of us take a trip over the summer with family members or friends. Why not take a road trip with your book discussion group? A St. Louis County Library book discussion kit can take your book group on a journey and you never have to leave the city. The book kit has a copy of the book for each member plus a readers' guide in case you get lost along the way.
"Detroit: An American Autopsy" by Charlie LeDuff is a horrifying account of how one of the largest American cities of the 20th century has turned into a dysfunctional madhouse in the 21st. Do not read this book if you are depressed because you may just come out feeling much worse.
I picked up this book and replaced it on the shelf several times before I finally decided to give it a chance. I am so happy that I chose to read this particular book. "Up Jumps the Devil" chronicles Lucifer's existence since leaving Heaven and inhabiting Earth. He has been here since the dawn of creation, so he has seen and experienced all that humanity has endured.
The book mainly chronicles the Devil's interaction with three rock musicians from the late 1960s to the present, but does delve into his past existence. For the most part, Poore's Devil has resided in America and the novel highlights several notable exchanges the Devil has with historical figures, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Pocohantas, and JFK. This work of fiction not only reveals what could be the work of the Devil in human history, but also how humans themselves have wreaked havoc on the planet and each other. I found the book to be entertaining and thoughtful, and quite humorous.
--Keir H., Cliff Cave Branch