Staff Picks

Philly Fiction: a collection of short stories highlighting Philadelphia as a city of literary inspiration

"Philly Fiction covers all the bases in an eclectic collection that exposes the city at its worst and its best. A friend of mine recently said that Philadelphia hasn’t found its soul. I will send him this collection as Philly Fiction reveals the city's soul with all its bumps and bruises."

--G. Emil Reutter

Read More »

Life (BBC Series)

This enthralling BBC series examines "the lengths living beings go to to stay alive," in the words of Sir David Attenborough. Aided by breathtaking high-definition cinematography, the makers of Planet Earth explore the more colorful strategies the world's creatures employ to procreate, evade predators, and obtain nourishment. 

 

Read More »

Psychocandy

 Psychocandy was released in 1985, and marks the debut album for The Jesus and Mary Chain. The biggest influences for the Jesus and Mary Chain were punk legends The Velvet Underground and The Stooges, and also pop legends Phil Spector and Brian Wilson. The resulting sound is dark and bare, but ladened with sugary melodies. On Psychocandy, they implement just one style, one trick if you will, but oh man it is a great one. The feedback is turned up as high as it goes, and the echo is plentiful. With this album, The Jesus and Mary Chain caused a movement in shoegazer and britpop, as more and more bands began to use the echo sound that is so perfect on this album. 

Read More »

Bobos in Paradise

Do you work for one of those visionary software companies where people come to work wearing hiking boots and glacier glasses, as if a wall of ice were about to come sliding through the parking lot? If so, you might be a Bobo. In his bestselling work of "comic sociology," David Brooks coins a new word, Bobo, to describe today's upper class -- those who have wed the bourgeois world of capitalist enterprise to the hippie values of the bohemian counterculture. Their hybrid lifestyle is the atmosphere we breathe, and in this witty and serious look at the cultural consequences of the information age, Brooks has defined a new generation.

Read More »

I Will Be

 The gum-smacking gutter pop of Dum Dum Girls' full-length debut I Will Be is a rough-edged cinderblock that’s been blasted off of Phil Spector’s sweepingly dramatic “Wall Of Sound” productions of the early ’60s. The state-of-the-art grandness of those pre-Beatles girl-group hits has been scuffed up and shattered, but the feisty attitude and relentlessly catchy hooks remain as indestructible as ever... I Will Be always sounds erratically adolescent in the best possible sense.

Read More »

Year of Wonders

When an infected bolt of cloth carries plague from London to an isolated village, a housemaid named Anna Frith emerges as an unlikely heroine and healer. Through Anna's eyes we follow the story of the fateful year of 1666, as she and her fellow villagers confront the spread of disease and superstition. As she struggles to survive and grow, a year of catastrophe becomes instead annus mirabilis, a "year of wonders."
 
 

Read More »

If You're Feeling Sinister

  Whimsy and preciousness are an integral part of If You're Feeling Sinister, along with clever wit and gentle, intricate arrangements -- a wonderful blend of the Smiths and Simon & Garfunkel, to be reductive. Even if it's firmly within the college, bed-sit tradition, and is unabashedly retrogressive, that gives Sinister a special, timeless character that's enhanced by Stuart Murdoch's wonderful, lively songwriting. Blessed with an impish sense of humor, a sly turn of phrase, and an alluringly fey voice, he gives this record a real sense of backbone, in that its humor is far more biting than the music appears and the music is far more substantial that it initially seems. Sinister plays like a great forgotten album, couched in '80s indie, '90s attitude, and '60s folk-pop. 

Read More »
Republic, Lost

Republic, Lost : How Money Corrupts Congress--and a Plan to Stop It

In an era when special interests funnel huge amounts of money into our government-driven by shifts in campaign, trust in our government has reached an all-time low. More than ever before, Americans believe that money buys results in Congress, and that business interests wield control over our legislature.  With heartfelt urgency and a keen desire for righting wrongs, Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig takes a clear-eyed look at how we arrived at this crisis: how fundamentally good people, with good intentions, have allowed our democracy to be co-opted by outside interests, and how this exploitation has become entrenched in the system.  

Read More »
Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

 Hurry Up, We're Dreaming is the follow up to the John Hughes inspired and critics' favorite Saturdays=Youth. Pitchfork called it, "An unaccountably alive, complete album", giving it an 8.5 rating while, The New York Times, said "The music recalls the pumping beats and keyboard hooks of the 1980's as if through a haze of time, floating in lush echoes that round off the edges."
 
Click here to watch the video for "Midnight City." 

Read More »
The Leopard

The Leopard by Jo Nesbo

At the end of his previous thriller, The Snowman, Jo Nesbo's Inspector Harry Hole was a ravaged mess. At the start of The Leopard, we find Hole hiding away from the world, smoking opium in the squalor of Hong Kong's back alleys. A pretty young police officer drags him reluctantly back to Norway to pursue another serial killer, this one more twisted and vicious than the Snowman. Despite some far-fetched scenes, Hole is a damaged, soulful, and believable character. And Nesbo is proving to be a major talent, an eloquent writer who,, with the end of Steig Larsson's trilogy and the retirement of Henning Mankell's brooding detective Kurt Wallander, seems poised to become heir to the title "King of the Nordic thriller."

Read More »
LiliPUT

LiLiPUT/Kleenex: The Complete Recordings

You can't dispute Liliput's status as pioneers of feminist art-punk. Along with fellow travelers like the Slits and the Raincoats, this (mostly) female Swiss group took advantage of punk's anything-goes attitude and created jittery, spirited pop that was both in step with the times and completely singular. But even if Liliput hadn't paved the way for other guitar-wielding patriarchy-smashers, The Complete Recordings would still prove one thing: They were totally fun. For art-punk historians and adventurous pop fans, The Complete Recordings is as entertaining as it is essential.

Read More »
bossypants

Bossypants

Book on CD format is highly recommended; it's read by the author. Tina Fey’s new book Bossypants is short, messy, and impossibly funny (an apt description of the comedian herself). From her humble roots growing up in Pennsylvania to her days doing amateur improv in Chicago to her early sketches onSaturday Night Live, Fey gives us a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain of modern comedy with equal doses of wit, candor, and self-deprecation.

Read More »

Man-Machine

 The album on which Kraftwerk got serious about their legacy of fusing human flesh and the technology it has inspired into an indistinguishable whole, Man-Machine also ironically embodies some of the band's most endearing contradictions. The case is stated up front with the techno classic "The Robots." The journey continues to worlds both utopian ("Spacelab") and dystopian ("Metropolis"). Then it segues into a bona fide, hook-laden dance track ("The Model"). There's also a downright sentimental cityscape, "Neon Lights." But lest anyone think that Schneider, Hutter, and company are too human, they wrap up the proceedings with the robotic dance-groove of the title track, inspiring dizzy listeners to ponder: Kraftwerk--men or machines?

Read More »

The Marriage Plot

In The Marriage Plot, Eugenides describes a year or so in the lives of three college seniors at Brown in the early 80s. There is Madeleine, a self-described “incurable romantic” who is slightly embarrassed at being so normal. There is Leonard, a brilliant, temperamental student from the Pacific Northwest. And completing the triangle is Mitchell, a Religious Studies major from Eugenides’ own Detroit. What follows is a book delivered in sincere and genuine prose, tracing the end of the students’ college days and continuing into those first, tentative steps toward true adulthood. This is a thoughtful and at times disarming novel about life, love, and discovery, set during a time when so much of life seems filled with deep portent.

Read More »
The Blackberry Bush

The Blackberry Bush by David Housholder

Two babies, —Kati and Josh, —are born on opposite sides of the world at the very moment the Berlin Wall falls. Despite his flawless image, Josh, an artistic and gifted California skateboarder, struggles to find his true role in the world, and his growing aggression eventually breaks him. Kati, a German with a penchant for classic Swiss watches and attic treasure-hunting, is crushed with disappointment for never being “enough” for anyone--—most especially her mother. Craving liberation, Kati and Josh seem destined to claim their birthright of freedom together. After all, don'’t the “chance” encounters transform your life--…or are they really chance?
 

Read More »