Kevin Recommends

Master of Reality Cover Image
ISBN: 9780826428998
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Continuum - April 15th, 2008

The 33 1/3 series is a wonderful collection of various writers (some professional, some amateur) writing about a particular album that has made a significant impact on popular music as well as their own lives. The books vary in style. The one for Master of Reality by John Darnielle (lead singer of The Mountain Goats) is the only one written as a novella.

Written from the perspective of a troubled teen undergoing rehab after contemplating suicide, this tale unfolds as a series of journal entries. As the main character tries to explain to his therapist why Black Sabbath's Master of Reality is so important to him, the reader gains insight into what makes this record so special. The story is funny, incisive, and heart wrenching, ultimately accomplishing what the 33 1/3 series sets out to do; showing us how certain records can take on significant meaning in our lives. That an album can be so much more than a simple series of songs.

The Ghosts of Birds Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811226189
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - October 11th, 2016

The essays of Eliot Weinberger are typically not what one thinks of when one thinks "essay". He is a master of taking the traditional essay form and turning it on its head to great effect.

The first section of this book collects his essays that make up AN ELEMENTAL THING. Part prose, part poetry, these essays explore the mystical and ethereal. With great pith, Weinberger explores the mythologies, elements, and histories of humankind. His writing is all at once simple and ornate, giving the reader a sense of cosmic moodiness and curiosity.

The second half of the book collects Weinberger's more traditional essays. A definite highlight is his scathing review of George W. Bush's memoir Decision Points.

I can not recommend this collection enough. Beautifully written, witty, and wry, these essays are sure to imbue the reader with an understanding of human history unlike anything I've ever read.

Chess Story Cover Image
By Stefan Zweig, Joel Rotenberg (Translator), Peter Gay (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781590171691
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New York Review of Books - December 9th, 2005

This novella packs a punch. In only eighty pages, Zweig crafts a compelling and grand tale about the Royal Game — not to mention some of the most romantic descriptions of chess I've ever read. Part allegory, part philosophy, the contest on the board soon represents the ways in which we as humans vie for understanding and purpose. A powerful psychological drama that will leave the reader reeling.