March 16, 2010

The Sun Suggests: Books for Break

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“The Garden of Forking Paths”Jorge Luis Borges

For those looking for a quick mind-melt on the ride back from school, this short story from everyone’s favorite Argentine is a beautifully sculpted pondering on the essence of time and its possibilities within the frame of a surprisingly gripping narrative. In the story, Borges tells of a German spy trying desperately to complete a mission before his impending capture. Along the way, however, Borges’ character discovers time as a linear pattern, with the possibility of infinite splits and regressions folding back onto themselves — a theory, many have noted, that could describe types of digital media yet to be invented when Borges wrote the story in 1941. A beautifully-written glimpse into a number of possible worlds, this story remains one of the most thought-provoking pieces I have ever read.

— Graham Corrigan

Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy Dave Hickey

In this essay collection, Hickey writes on a variety of art and popular culture — he discusses the art market, the implications of the arbitrary valuing of intellectual property, and the isolated model of supply and demand; he writes about his home in Las Vegas, and questions whether perhaps blatant inauthenticity is in fact more authentic than attempted authenticity; and he recollects and considers the significance of cartoons, hallucinogens and psychedelic culture and the wonder that is Chet Baker. Though thoughtful and smart, these essays are fun and quick reads, and they stand-up even when fragmented and read individually. Perfect reading for trains, planes and other means of transportation, as well as just general good reading.

— Ruby Perlmutter

Me Talk Pretty One DayDavid Sedaris

On the list of “161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do,” reading a David Sedaris novel should be a close #162. Me Talk Pretty One Day is by far one of the most hilarious novels that you will ever read. Sedaris has a certain warped, twisted view of the world that is entertaining and completely eye-opening. Sedaris makes you laugh out loud, chuckle, chortle, guffaw, giggle and occasionally snort. (So read with caution and chose carefully who you sit next to.) From boycotting words with the letter “s” to avoid speech therapy class, to describing his family — who are as dysfunctional as the word itself — to moving to Paris with his boyfriend, where he not only does not understand the language, but spends his afternoons in the safety of an American movie theatre, Sedaris’ life is anything but boring. If you’re looking to add a little spice to your spring break, this uproarious novel cannot disappoint.

SepulchreKate Mosse

Kate Mosse’s newest novel, Sepulchre, is a captivating tale that traps its readers in a labyrinth of intrigue. The tale intricately intertwines two time periods, the 19th century and present-day, and two protagonists. Léonie Vernier is simply a curious young Parisian girl in 1891, who unlocks a mystery far bigger than she can imagine. In the present-day, Meredith Martin, a young American woman, travels to France to research the life of Claude Debussy and to find out more about her biological mother. What she finds links her story to Léonie, and she sets out to uncover the missing pieces of her family’s history. The novel is an enchanting combination of suspense, secret romance and voodoo with a dash of French culture. For those readers seeking an escape from the humdrum monotony of home or campus-life this spring break, or for anyone who wants to get lost in a book for a few hours in the sun, Sepulchre is a brilliant page-turner.

— Heather McAdams

The “Millenium” SeriesStieg Larsson

The “Millennium” series is a series of three equally exciting and gruesome mystery novels written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson and published posthumously. Though the subject matter is decidedly depressing, Larsson’s straightforward style, vivid characters and excellent sense of plot make them some of the most engaging and satisfying mysteries out there. They might prove too grim for a beach vacation, and too heavy to fit in a carry-on (at least some editions), but if you’re planning to stay home they are the perfect Spring Break reads.  If traveling to Europe, the extra weight in your suitcase might even be worth it, as Larsson’s trilogy has already taken the continent by storm, and has even been made into a series of feature films yet to be released in the States. A good conversation starter? I think “ja,” “oui” or “si”. Start with the first book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and see whether or not you’ll find it possible to resist diving right into the second two novels — The Girl who Played with Fire, and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.  — Hannah Stamler

Loose GirlKerry Cohen

Loose Girl is Cohen’s first memoir and the story packs quite the punch. Cohen grew up feeling like she was never enough, a feeling exacerbated by her parent’s divorce. Low on self-esteem Cohen began trolling for men to fill the void within her at a young age, but it was never enough. Loose Girl is a quick read, but, make no mistake, it’s very introspective.

Chelsea Chelsea Bang BangChelsea Handler

Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang is Handler’s 3rd book in 5 years. Her first two, My Horizontal Life and Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea were hysterical tales of Handler’s childhood and young adult life, respectively. Bang Bang has been garnerin positive reviews and is currently one of the highest selling books in the country.

Series Finale: The Rise and Fall of the WB and UPN NetworksSusanne Daniels and Cynthia Littleton

A must read for anyone who grew up watching The WB and UPN. Series Finale details the drama that occurred behind the scenes and provides insight into the merger between the two networks. Daniels, who was with The WB from its inception, eventually serving as the network’s president, offers a look behind the curtain that’s both intriguing and uniquely candid.

— Wesley Ambrecht