50/50

50/50 Book Cover 50/50
Gordon-Levitt, Joseph
Comedy Films
2011
DVD

Adam tries to maintain an optimistic outlook in the face of the reactions of his best friends and his mother to the news that has a fifty-fifty chance of surviving cancer.

RECOMMENDED BY: Emily Meloche

Part comedy, part drama, 50/50 will make you both laugh and cry.  Realistically depicting the struggles of being a young adult with cancer, 50/50 has stellar performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anna Kendrick among others.  Heartfelt without being sappy, and more funny than sad, it’s a movie I won’t forget.  Rated R for language, sexual content, and some drug use.


Fables: Legends in Exile

Fables: Legends in exile Book Cover Fables: Legends in exile
Bill Willingham, Lan Medina,
Comics & Graphic Novels
Vertigo
December 1, 2002
128

Follows the adventures of storybook and nursery rhyme characters who live side-by-side with humans.

RECOMMENDED BY: Emily Meloche

What if all of the classic fairy tale characters lived among us, hiding in plain sight?  Bill Willingham’s comic, Fables shows just that.  Driven from their homeland by the mysterious “Adversary,” groups of fairy tale characters were forced to settle in a block of New York City, living secretly in the midst of humans.  In the pages of the comic, Willingham shows both how they deal with their day-to-day problems (Jack Horner keeps stealing things, Rapunzel’s hair grows at an alarming rate, Snow White’s sister, Rose Red has gone missing) and their larger fight against the Adversary


Y: The Last Man

Unmanned Book Cover Unmanned
Brian K. Vaughan
Comics & Graphic Novels
Vertigo
2003-01
126

The series that has taken the US by storm comes to the UK in the first of an all-new Titan graphic novel series! From writer Brian K. Vaughan (Swamp Thing, The Hood) and up and coming artist Pia Guerra comes a view of a dystopian society where suddenly - and without warning - a mysterious plague kills every living creature on the planet with a Y chromosone...in other words, no more men! Except one. Amateur escape artist Yorick Brown has somehow survived. It's now a very different world, and his unique status is far from privileged. If they can't exploit Yorick, the new world powers may just decide his usefulness is at an end!

RECOMMENDED BY: Emily Meloche

In Brian K Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man, something has caused all of the men in the world to die—all the men, that is, except Yorick a recent college graduate, amateur magician, and monkey owner.   The world has become a dangerous place for everyone; half the population has died, and in their deaths left the country in shambles—roads are gridlocked, communication avenues have all but dried up, the Secretary of Agriculture has become president, and the country is beset with food shortages and paranoia.  Yorick, unsure of why he and his monkey are the only beings with Y chromosomes to survive, journeys across the country in search of answers and a way to contact his girlfriend, Beth.  As hokey as the premise sounds, the entire 10-volume collection is a gripping, thought-provoking, and even funny series.


Ant Farm

Ant Farm Book Cover Ant Farm
Simon Rich
Humor
Random House Incorporated
2007
139
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/272140.Ant_Farm_and_Other_Desperate_Situations

A humorous compilation of essays offers an imaginative look at the comic extremes of serious circumstances, pondering such issues as what would happen if murderers, who had gotten into heaven by accepting Jesus, encounter their former victims.

RECOMMENDED BY: Emily Meloche

Simon Rich, former president of the Harvard Lampoon and the youngest writer Saturday Night Live ever hired, was still an undergrad when his first book,Ant Farm was published.  Ant Farm, a collection of super-short absurd situations and musings, reads like pitches for SNL sketches, and is literally—pardon the cliché— laugh-out-loud funny.


I Was Told There’d Be Cake

I was Told There'd be Cake Book Cover I was Told There'd be Cake
Sloane Crosley
Humor
Riverhead Trade (Paperbacks)
2008
230

Offers a humorous look at human fallibility and the vagaries of modern urban life by detailing such offbeat situations as the despoiling of an exhibit at the Natural History Museum, the provocation of a boss, and siccing the cops on a mysterious neighbor.

RECOMMENDED BY: Emily Meloche

Sloane Crosley shares biographical essays, all imbued with her wry sense of humor.  From explaining why she has a drawer full of plastic ponies to going through the miseries of a first job, Crosley has both the twenty-something humor and self-absorption that are reminiscent of the HBO show Girls.


Then We Came to the End

Then We Came to the End Book Cover Then We Came to the End
Joshua Ferris
Fiction
Little, Brown
March 1, 2007
400

This wickedly funny, big-hearted novel about life in the office signals the arrival of a gloriously talented new writer. The characters in Then We Came to the End cope with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, secret romance, elaborate pranks, and increasingly frequent coffee breaks. By day they compete for the best office furniture left behind and try to make sense of the mysterious pro-bono ad campaign that is their only remaining "work."

RECOMMENDED BY: Emily Meloche

Much like the movie Office Space, the humor of Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to the End probably resonates most with those who have spent time in a traditional office environment, but the jokes are good enough to be appreciated by all readers.  Though there is comedy throughout, midway through the novel there is a shift, giving the story a depth missing from many comedic novels.


Paris I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down

Paris, I love you but you're bringing me down Book Cover Paris, I love you but you're bringing me down
Baldwin, Rosecrans
Travel
Macmillan
2012
305

A self-described Francophile from when he was little, Rosecrans Baldwin always dreamed of living in Paris—drinking le café, eating les croissants, walking in les jardins—so when an opportunity presented itself to work for an advertising agency in Paris, he couldn't turn it down. Despite the fact that he had no experience in advertising. And despite the fact that he barely spoke French. After an unimaginable amount of red tape and bureaucracy, Rosecrans and his wife packed up their Brooklyn apartment and left the Big Apple for the City of Light. But when they arrived, things were not eactly what Rosecrans remembered from a family vacation when he was nine years old.

RECOMMENDED BY: Emily Meloche

A fascinating nonfiction look at the differences between French and American cultures.  Given the chance to work in a Parisian Ad Agency, author Baldwin moves to Paris with his wife.  Though there are many aspects of the Parisian lifestyle that they love, the life of an American in Paris is not all romance.  Baldwin is primarily a novelist, and his unique writing style sets this book apart from the myriad of other travelogues.


Assassination Vacation

Assassination Vacation Book Cover Assassination Vacation
Sarah Vowell
History
Simon and Schuster
2005
258

A tour of key historic sites in America where incidents of political violence have occurred reveals lesser-known points of interest pertaining to each and shares information about how history has been shaped by popular culture and tourism. By the author of The Partly Cloudy Patriot. 100,000 first printing.

RECOMMENDED BY: Emily Meloche

Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation may not be your idea of a perfect trip, but boy is it interesting to follow her vicariously.   Perhaps more like a history book than a travelogue, Assassination Vacation chronicles Vowell’s visits to 13 American cities with ties to Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley’s assassinations.  This funny yet educational book is a real page-turner.  On an assassination kick? Check out the soundtrack of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Assassins.


Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things Book Cover Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things
Alvin Ho
Lenore Look
Juvenile Fiction
Schwartz & Wade
July 8, 2008
176

A young boy in Concord, Massachusetts, who loves superheroes and comes from a long line of brave Chinese farmer-warriors, wants to make friends, but first he must overcome his fear of everything.

RECOMMENDED BY: Emily Meloche

Though he’s happy at home, Alvin Ho is so afraid at school that he can’t even talk. Unfortunately, his troubles don’t end there, since he has a girl as his desk partner, a bully to try to impress, and the consequences of breaking his father’s toy to face.  Instantly likeable, Alvin is relatable, endearing, and, above-all, funny. LeUyen Pham’s black-and-white illustrations only serve to highlight the already full descriptions found in the text—their cartoonish style fit perfectly with the casual tone of Alvin’s narration. Most young readers will understand Alvin’s shyness and his desire to fit in, and will find themselves rooting for him throughout the book. An excellent choice for transitional readers, as its short chapters with a few illustrations make it easy to take breaks and find stopping points—however, it’s unlikely that kids will want to put the book down.


The Grimm Legacy

The Grimm Legacy Book Cover The Grimm Legacy
Polly Shulman
Juvenile Fiction
Penguin
2010
325

Taking a new job at an unusual library that lends out objects instead of books and keeps powerful magical objects from the Brothers Grimm fairy tales in a secret room, Elisabeth embarks on a dangerous quest to clear her name when the magical artifacts begin disappearing. By the author of Enthusiasm.

RECOMMENDED BY: Emily Meloche

Elizabeth is just happy to have the chance to earn some extra money when her history teacher sets her up with a job at the New York Circulating Material Repository. When she discovers that the library is home to several magic artifacts—and that someone may be trying to steal them—the job becomes that much more exciting.  Though readers may not expect excitement from a book where the majority of action takes place in a library, The Grimm Legacy is remarkably fast-paced, avoiding the exposition-heavy descriptions often found in the fantasy genre. The characters are likeable, but rather one-dimensional, making some of their actions predictable. Despite some of the anticipated plot-points, Grimm Legacy is a novel concept well executed.


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