Friday, October 31, 2008

The Lump of Coal

Author: Lemony Snicket

First line: The holiday season is a time for storytelling, and whether you are hearing the story of a candelabra staying lit for more than a week, or a baby born in a barn without proper medical supervision, these stories often feature miracles.

Why you should read this book: The author best known for his thirteen part chronicle on the most miserable perils that could possibly befall to a trio of hapless orphans turns in an uplifting miracle story comprising equal parts sarcasm and wide-eyed wonder. The eponymous lump of coal who, "like many people who dress in black...was interested in becoming an artist," sets out to seek his fortune in a world of facade and artifice. A treatise on creating joy and small miracles in a harsh, uncaring universe.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You've ever received a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Alien Sex

Edited by: Ellen Datlow

First line: This far into the twentieth century, writing science fiction or horror about sex is a tricky proposition.

Why you should read this book: A wide-ranging anthology by a wide range of authors, comprising stories whose themes are sexual, although not necessarily sensual or explicit in nature. Bestiality, xenophilia, and supernatural creatures are represented among the stories. Of note are Larry Niven's cult favorite, "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex," a non-fiction style essay about the difficulties inherent in Superman procreating, and Harlan Ellison's tongue-in-cheek, "How's the Night Life on Cissalda," about interdimensional sex, but all the stories in this collection achieve their own level of unique and creative success.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You believe sex should only occur between one man and one women under the auspices of the church.

Monday, October 13, 2008

No Dessert Forever!

Author: George Ella Lyon

First line: Boo!

Why you should read this book: When a little girl is unfairly chastised for her brother's misbehavior, she exacts her vengeance on a rag doll. Imagining herself in her mother's place, she lays upon dolly all the unfair punishments in the world until her adopted power trip culminates in justice and forgiveness. A nice look at perspective and redemption from a position of powerlessness.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You would never punish your child unfairly.

Keeping up with Grandma

Author: John Winch

First line: My grandma and grandpa were always busy with their hobbies.

Why you should read this book: Here's a story whose ridiculousness will appeal to children while its reality will speak to adults. Grandma, tired of baking cakes, decides to drag Grandpa, kicking and screaming into a life of extreme adventure. Grandpa, however, has difficulty with mountain climbing, bronco busting, and bobsledding.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Your spouse is starting to bore you. Or scare you.