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December 2006

Librarians’ Choice 2006 · Audiobooks, Music, and Movies

Audiobooks

cover of Field Notes from a Catastrophe:  Man Nature and Climate Change Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man Nature and Climate Change
Elizabeth Kolbert
Expanding on a three-part series originally written for The New Yorker, Kolbert investigates the implications of recent changes found in the earth’s climate. Interviews with experts and environmentalists are interspersed with fascinating reports from places where climate change is already affecting the natural world-Greenland, Alaska, Iceland, the Netherlands.

cover of Thunderstruck Thunderstruck
Erik Larson
Larson’s latest book revisits a theme—the bizarre connection between a genius and a madman—that he explored so successfully in The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. This time, the setting is the Edwardian era and the principal figures in the criminal chase are Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, a mild-mannered American physician accused of murdering his wife, and Guglielmo Marconi, the Italian inventor of wireless communication.

cover of The Night Gardener The Night Gardener
George Pelecanos
When the body of a teenager is found in a community garden, homicide detective Gus Ramone is struck by the similarities between this case and a series of murders that occurred twenty years ago involving young victims left in neighborhood parks. Could the “Night Gardener” be on the prowl again? Ramone persuades two of his former partners to track down the serial killer who managed to elude them twenty years ago.

cover of The Glass Castle The Glass Castle
Jeanette Walls
by Julia Gibson, both narrator and author affect a tone of detachment that cause the listener to see a deplorable tale through the eyes of an optimistic child. Life was a grand adventure, as the family roamed the American west, until the luck ran out (or was squandered) and the family was forced to return to the West Virginia town that Mr. Walls tried so hard to escape. There, with both parents debilitated by alcoholism and depression, the Wall children were left to fend for themselves. This is a tender story of a child's belief in her parents and the resources children will use to escape duplicity once they have been let down.

cover of The Book Thief The Book Thief
Mark Zusak
Death narrates the story of Liesel, a young girl living outside Munich, who takes refuge from the horrors of war by losing herself in books taken from the trash and stolen from Nazi book burnings. Both adult and teen readers will enjoy this moving story about the power of books and reading.

Music

cover of Over and Over Over and Over
Erin Bode
With warm and lush vocals, Erin Bode jumped onto the pop-jazz scene as a new reflective singer and songwriter. This disc is a hybrid of jazz, pop and folk, featuring covers and originals.

cover of Once Again Once Again
John Legend
The latest disc from Grammy winner John Legend offers listeners soulful, intense selections such as “Save Room,” and “Maxine.” Paired with his best duet partner—the piano—Legend proves his musical chops are still in perfect form.

cover of Voice of the Violin Voice of the Violin
Joshua Bell
You don’t have to be a classical music fan to enjoy the beautiful, soaring work of this violin virtuoso. Bell recorded some of the world’s best-loved classical themes for this chart-topping CD.

cover of Eccentric Soul: The Big Mack Label Eccentric Soul: The Big Mack Label
In the 1960s, Detroit’s Big Mack label allowed anyone who walked in off the street the opportunity to make a record for $14.95. Unsurprisingly, the sound of those recordings was pretty raw and unpolished, but the performances were energetic and represented an eclectic mix of genres (doo-wop, instrumentals, soul pop, etc.). Eccentric Soul showcases some of these hidden treasures.

cover of Powder Burns Powder Burns
Twilight Singers
Former Afghan Whigs front man and Cincinnati native Greg Dulli returns to the music scene with his best work in a decade. Although Dulli gets personal with intense songs that address his former drug addiction, he also offers listeners plenty of great guitar work, catchy hooks, and danceable grooves.

cover of Turntable Matinee Turntable Matinee
Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys
This six-piece Southern Californian band continues to put out fun, catchy songs that remain faithful to music of the past. With Rockabilly as a founding base, their sound incorporates Folk, Bluegrass, Western Swing, Cajun, and Mariachi influences. This album is a tribute to the beloved vinyl record in the era of iTunes.

Feature Films

cover of Capote Capote
Directed by Bennett Miller from a screenplay by Dan Futterman, this biographical film depicts Truman Capote’s struggle to write his most famous book, In Cold Blood, the first “non-fiction novel.” The heart of the film is a series of intense interviews between Capote and one of the killers, Perry Smith. Capote is both fascinated by this seemingly creative person—a loner like Capote—whose sketches document their interviews, and compelled to string along his subject with false promises in order to acquire as complete a picture of the murderer as possible. Philip Seymour Hoffman won an Academy Award for Best Actor; while Futterman, Miller, and Capote were all Oscar nominees.

cover of Hidden (Cache) Hidden (Cache)
When a talk show host and his wife receive videotapes shot from outside their townhouse, they are initially perplexed. Who is sending the tapes? And why are they being watched? Their mystification turns to panic and paranoia as the tapes become increasingly personal and sinister. This wonderfully creepy and cerebral French thriller was named best movie at the 18th European Film Awards and stars seasoned French actors, Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil. In French, with English or Spanish subtitles.

cover of Junebug Junebug
Recently married, a Chicago art dealer travels to North Carolina to meet her new in-laws in this tender, thoughtful examination of the complexities of family life. Independent filmmaker Phil Morrison has crafted a minor gem due largely to the performance of Amy Adams (which was recognized with an Academy Award nomination) as a ditsy sister-in-law starved for knowledge of the bigger, wider world.

cover of Lady Vengeance Lady Vengeance
Framed for the kidnapping and murder of a young boy, Geum-ja spent thirteen years in prison. Now that she’s free, Geum-ja is on a single-minded quest to hunt down those who betrayed her. Lady Vengeance is the third entry in Chan-wood Park’s trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy) of stylish, violent films about obsession and retribution.

cover of The Squid and the Whale The Squid and the Whale
Director Noah Baumbach delivers a painfully honest (and frequently very funny) semi-autobiographical film about the emotional fallout experienced by two brothers when their parent’s marriage falls apart. Although Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney do a terrific job as self-absorbed middle-class New York intellectuals, Owen Kline, who plays twelve-year-old Frank, nearly steals the show.

Documentaries and Miniseries

cover of Charlie and Lola Charlie and Lola
The charming adaptation of Lauren Child’s award-winning picture books revolves around the relationship between Lola and her older brother Charlie. This is great selection for the family to watch together—adults will appreciate the humor, imaginative visuals, and nostalgic view of childhood, and kids will enjoy the affectionate give and take between Lola and Charlie.

cover of Bleak House Bleak House
The BBC’s engaging and vivid interpretation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel about the travails of three orphans is overflowing with eccentric characters and enough plot twists and turns to keep the 21st century viewer completely engaged. Featuring a screenplay written by Andrew Davies (known for his work on the highly regarded 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice) and spectacular acting from the mostly British cast, this production is not to be missed!

cover of Digging for the Truth Digging for the Truth
Ever dreamed of being an archaeologist? Then you won’t want to miss this series! Josh Bernstein and his crew travel to exotic corners of the world in search of information about mysteries and treasures of the ancient world. You’ll search for the Ark of the Covenant, the lost tribe of Israel, King Solomon’s mine, and of course…the Holy Grail.

cover of Island at War Island at War
This Masterpiece Theater miniseries dramatizes the 1940 invasion and subsequent occupation of the British Channel Islands by Nazi forces. The Channel Islands, located just off the coast of France on the edge of the English Channel, were not defended by mainland Britain and became the only British territory to be occupied by the Germans during World War II. An interesting treatment of a little-known chapter of World War II.

cover of Neil Young: Heart of Gold Neil Young: Heart of Gold
Academy award winning director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) directed this extraordinary concert film of Young’s 2005 performance at Nashville's storied Ryman Theater. Accompanied by an all-star supporting cast, including his wife Pegi, Emmylou Harris, Ben Keith, and the Fisk University Jubilee Singers, Young performs songs from Prairie Wind and classics (“Old Man,” “I Am a Child,” etc.) from his back catalog. A fine companion piece to Stop Making Sense, Demme’s groundbreaking concert film featuring The Talking Heads.