Archive for July, 2016

The Way Back Machine – 1969

The Way Back Machine is ready to take another trip, so let’s venture back to 1969. It was a big year for big events – you might remember Woodstock, or the Manson murders, or the Miracle Mets, but there were a few other things happening as well:

  • Led Zeppelin releases its first two albums (Jan and Oct).
  • Legend Judy Garland dies (Jun).
  • Sesame Street premieres (Nov).

In case you want to see what else we were interested in, check out these titles from the New York Times Best Sellers list from the week of July 27, 1969. Groovy.



1. The Love Machine by Jacqueline Susann

2. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth

3. The Godfather by Mario Puzo

4. Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov

5. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

6. Except For Me and Thee by Jessamyn West

7. The Pretenders by Gladys Rockmore Davis

8. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

9. The Goodbye Look by Ross MacDonald

10. New Moon Rising by Eugenia Price



1. The Peter Principle by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull

2. Jennie by Ralph G. Martin

3. Between Parent & Teenager by Haim G. Ginott

4. The Kingdom and the Power by Gay Talese

5. Ernest Hemingway by Carlos Baker

6. The Making of the President 1968 by Theodore H. White

7. An Unfinished Woman: A Memoir by Lillian Hellman

8. A Long Row Of Candles by C.L. Sulzberger

9. The Money Game by “Adam Smith”

10. The 900 Days by Harrison E. Salisbury


Take Ten: You Can Do Magic…

Those of us living here in the Magic Valley tend to equate magic with water. After all, we’d be a land of lava rocks and sagebrush if Perrine and his investors hadn’t crafted an irrigation system to water our high desert. But our list today deals with a more ‘common’ idea of magic – that of using mysterious forces to influence our surroundings. The following books all deal with magicians, whether they are simple sleight of hand practitioners or if they practice on a more mystical level. Regardless of your choice, you’ll probably find that the outside world seems to disappear as you’re reading… without even waving a wand.


The Bullet Trick – Louise Welch

  • Delighted when his agent books him for a series of Berlin cabaret appearances, mentalist and conjurer William Wilson soon finds himself in over his head thanks to some dangerous after-hours work and dark secrets from his past.

Carter Beats the Devil – Glen David Gold

  • In 1920, Charles Carter, known as Carter the Great, who became a master illusionist out of loneliness and desperation, creates the most outrageous stunt of all, involving President Harding–one that could cause his downfall.

Dreams and Shadows – Robert C. Cargill

  • Swapped for a changeling by the Bendith Y Mamau when he was just an infant, Ewan Thatcher grows up in the Limestone Kingdom — a magical realm located, oddly enough, just outside of Austin, Texas. But Ewan isn’t the only human to end up in this mythical place. Thanks to the intervention of the djinn Yashar, young Colby Stephens gets his wish: to become a wizard. But life in the Limestone Kingdom is far from paradise: scheming gods and fairies have their own plans for their mortal wards.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke

  • In nineteenth-century England, all is going well for rich, reclusive Mr Norrell, who has regained some of the power of England’s magicians from the past, until a rival magician, Jonathan Strange, appears and becomes Mr Norrell’s pupil.

The Magicians – Lev Grossman

  • Harboring secret preoccupations with a magical land he read about in a childhood fantasy series, Quentin Coldwater is unexpectedly admitted into an exclusive college of magic and rigorously educated in modern sorcery.

The Magician’s Assistant – Ann Patchett

  • After the death of a homosexual magician, his female assistant journeys from Los Angeles to Nebraska in search of the man’s hidden past and discovers his estranged family, as well as the love she has always been denied.

The Magician’s Lie – Greer Macallister

  • Arden is a famous illusionist whose show involves sawing a man in half, but one night, she grabs an axe instead of a knife and her husband is found dead under the stage. Can Arden, an expert at deception, get away with murder–or is she really innocent? Recommended to anyone who likes historical fiction, strong women characters, and surprisingly twisty plots.

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

  • A fierce competition is underway, a contest between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in “a game,” in which each must use their powers of illusion to best the other. Unbeknownst to them, this game is a duel to the death, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

The Paper Magician – Charlie Holmberg

  • Bound to a magic she never wanted, a young apprentice falls deeper into its mysteries when she must use everything she’s learned from her master in order to save him, and his heart.

Zig Zag Girl – Elly Griffiths

  • Investigating a murder committed in the style of a famous magic trick, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens reconnects with an illusionist friend from World War II to uncover links to their special ops service.


Annotations are from NoveList Plus, a great database that provides even more cool book and author information. Log in to NoveList Plus using your TFPL card.

Summer Reading 2016 Challenge: Books into Movies

Ready for another Summer Reading challenge? This one is not too hard, I promise!

Pick up a book, any book, that has been made into a movie or a television show. Easy, peasy, lemon-squeezy – am I right? In fact, to make it even simpler, here’s a personally recommended list of books (and below that, a list of even more choices).

What’s the catch, you say? Well, all you have to do is write a 5 page essay comparing your book to its film and contrasting the ways in which…. just kidding! Read and relax and enjoy the rest of your summer :).


11/22/63 – Stephen King

King’s novel takes readers back in time – via a wormhole – to try and stop JFK’s assassination. The novel is a big read, but it moves fast, and the alternate history aspects are fascinating. (Watch the miniseries starring James Franco on Hulu).


84, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff

Can a book be both heartwarming and snarky? If so, this is it. A memoir, told in letters, between a feisty NY reader and a stuffy British bookseller. And, with a movie that stars both Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins, you can’t go wrong.


Catch Me if You Can: The Amazing True Story of the Youngest and Most Daring Con Man in the History of Fun and Profit – Frank W. Abagnale

Read the book for the incredible details of Frank Abagnale’s true life of crime and deceit, then watch Spielberg’s movie for the stunning cinematography and the performances of Tom Hanks and Leo DiCaprio.


A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Read this classic out of season for a twist; the humor and heart still shine through even if it’s not snowing! Then, watch whatever version of the movie – muppets, animated, Patrick Stewart-ified – you love most.


The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje

One of my favs – both the movie and the book. Ondaatje is lyrical, and this love story, set in Italy during WWII, offers a great escape from the busy-ness of summer. The movie, which won an Academy Award for Best Picture, is also worth a view.


Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season Living Among the Wild Turkey – Joe Hutto

If you haven’t seen the Nature documentary, My Life as a Turkey, you should definitely watch this fascinating account of one man and his attempt to raise a brood of wild turkeys in Florida. Then, pick up the book for more insight and Hutto’s great sketches.


The Leftovers – Tom Perotta

What happens after the Rapture comes and people disappear? How do the survivors deal with loss, love, and the fear of the unknown? Perrotta’s book is not necessarily about the spirituality of the moment, but of the reality. (The HBO miniseries uses the book as a basis, but goes beyond Perrotta’s original story.)


The Martian – Andy Weir

Read this book, about an astronaut left alone on Mars, first – it’s way funnier than the movie. Then buckle down with the movie, starring Matt Damon, to get an incredible visual experience of what “stranded on Mars” means.


The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith

If you’re looking for a fun, light read, check out the first in McCall Smith’s set of stories about Botswana’s dedicated and intrepid female detective, Precious Ramotswe. The first few books in the series have been made into an excellent BBC/HBO miniseries.


Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout

This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel features a number of linked short stories revealing the personality and story of a somewhat cantankerous Maine woman. The title character is portrayed by Frances McDormand in the Emmy Award-winning miniseries.


The Spies of Warsaw – Alan Furst

If you haven’t read Furst before, Spies is a good place to start. This espionage novel – set just at the cusp of WWII – combines the best aspects of the genre: a somewhat mysterious spy, a number of close (and missed) calls, and the possibility of a romance. When you’re done reading, check out the BBC miniseries. (The jazz soundtrack is excellent!)



As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride – Cary Elwes

Okay, so this one wasn’t a book first, but it’s a great behind-the-scenes look at what happens when you make a movie from a beloved book (which you should also read, by the way). Elwes explores the cast, the scenes, and the extraordinary story of how such a small film blossomed into a cult classic. An awesome way to spend a summer afternoon or two!


And for more books into movies, here’s a list from Goodreads. Read on!

Great Online Resource: IndieFlix

Last year we began a subscription to a video streaming service called IndieFlix. We know there are quite a few of you who have taken advantage of this service, watching everything from independent movies to cool documentaries to quirky classics. For those of you who haven’t tried it out, here’s a handy-dandy list of a few videos you should give a try. (Plus, there are Summer Reading tickets available for using IndieFlix!)

First, surf on over to IndieFlix and create an account (in the top right corner). As long as you have an Internet connection, you’re now ready to stream! And, if you’re interested in one of the movies below, just type the title (or copy and paste it) into the Search field. Have fun!


Combine your interest in documentaries with your love of food in THE BOTANY OF DESIRE.


Get your history doc fix with FORGOTTEN ELLIS ISLAND.

GIRL’S ROCK features teen girls learning rock basics from indie stars.

Love old movies with vintage stars? Watch Danny Kaye in THE INSPECTOR GENERAL.

Ready for some summer “camp”? Watch JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN’S DAUGHTER!

Try THE MESSENGER for a contemporary war drama.

In the mood for a creepy classic? Watch Hitchcock’s thriller PSYCHO.

If you’re looking for a foreign film, start with the classic, THE RED BALLOON.

Get dramatic with Michelle Williams in WENDY & LUCY.