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December 5, 2013

Throwback Thursday: More Bang for Your Book!

Posted by emily

One of the great challenges of December is figuring out what gifts to get for your loved ones and postman. The best gifts come from the heart (or so your poor friends would have you believe), but if your heart's fresh out of ideas, then might we suggest books? Better yet, beloved books from our childhood? See where I'm going with this? Anyway, check out our latest TBT, and happy holiday shopping!

Virginia Woolf is one of my all-time favorite writers. She's observant, a little eccentric and her writing can be uniquely subtle in a very beautiful and enlightening way. She reminds me of an older generation Joan Didion (sending my birthday love)...and I'm probably not the first to say it. Ms. Woolf may be a little neurotic, but that isn't always a bad thing (despite what people say). I read a lot of her in high school, even wrote my junior year term paper on MRS. DALLOWAY. The Hours, the well-done, spin-off, adaptation-like movie starring people-pleaser Meryl Streep and red-headed stunner Julianne Moore came out around the same time I was intellectually immersed in Mrs. Dalloway's world, so many years ago. You even get to see Claire Danes' self-proclaimed monster of a cry...and no one can turn down that. Needless to say this movie and most importantly, this novel come highly recommended in my book.

Guys, remember when Agatha Christie was synonymous with sleepless nights and a heightened level of daytime anxiety? AND THEN THERE WERE NONE scared my pants off in eighth grade. Sure, it wasn’t real horror, like the Stephen King or R.L. Stine books I was avoiding like my life depended on it (and, back then, it felt like it really did), but there was a creepy psycho-realism and sense of morality taken to dangerous lengths that made AND THEN THERE WERE NONE seriously disturbing. It’s about 10 morally corrupt strangers who find themselves together on an island for mysterious reasons. They find a sinister (TERRIFYING) nursery rhyme hanging on the wall of the house they are sharing, which outlines the sudden deaths of 10 little Indians. One by one, the guests eerily and inexplicably succumb to the same fates as the Indians, until none remains (well, almost none …). It was probably the first book I ever read that presented such a complicated portrait of justice, and the way crime and punishment are not always as tit for tat as we would like them to be.

With my own alma mater gunning for a state championship back home, high school football has been on my mind lately, especially that lay-it-all-on-the-line-right-now feeling that makes you feel for a moment that a 17 year-old scoring a touchdown is the most important thing in the world. No book has quite captured the drama, the emotional stakes, and sometimes unhealthy nature of high school football quite like Buzz Bissinger’s FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, which you may recognize from its vastly different TV show and movie forms. For the book that started it all, Buzz Bissinger spent the 1988 season in Odessa, Texas, one of the epicenters of the sport, and followed the Permian Panthers as they battled their way to the state championship. Framed in the book as a town that doesn’t have much else going for it, Odessa is fiercely dedicated to Permian football, often at the cost of other priorities, such as education and the well-being of its players. Along with searching for the origins of this overpowering love for the game, Bissinger examines the dark sides of amped-up high school athletics, along with the dark sides of Odessa and its history. Meanwhile, at the heart of it all are the players --- these boys who have given their bodies and souls to this game for a brief time in the spotlight and often false future hopes. You won’t find too many sports books on my shelves, but FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS is alongside my other favorite nonfiction. If you have fond memories of your high school team (even if those memories are deeply buried) this book will revive them. It will also disgust you, scare you, thrill you, break your heart, and probably make you miss it all --- just a little.