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Welcome to Books R Us, a recommended reading blog from InfoSoup librarians and users and home to A Year of Listening Dangerously, the 2014 InfoSoup Reading Challenge! Find a great book to read next, add your own reviews, and check out our book related resources such as NoveList and BookLetters.


Title: On Ice
Author: Red Evans

What a wonderful, wonderful book!  I read this on the recommendation of Cindy, one of the librarians at the Gillett Public Library.  She told me it would make me laugh and that it was "a hidden treasure".  Wow, that was an understatement.  I laughed out loud a few times at the hijinks in this book.

The story is told from the viewpoint of young Eldridge Brewer, and the adventures he and Felton Haliday, along with a very odorous flatulent dog have as they transport a deceased friend, wrapped in a tarp and covered in ice in the back of the old Studebaker pickup truck.  The deceased was a dear friend of Felton's from back in the days when they were in a band together.  Together they attempt to transport their beloved friend's body back to Louisiana for a proper burial next to his lost love. 

One of the best scenes in the book involves Wal-Mart, but I won't say more so as not to spoil the plot.  Eldridge (Eldy) is a skinny young kid who is wise and quite brave as they face many obstacles in their journey.

The ending is very touching. I highly recommend this book if you are suffering from the winter doldrums.  It will definitely make your day better!

Author: Bettye LaVette

This autobiography tells the story of Bettye LaVette, a very successful singer who grew up during the heyday of Motown Records in the 60's.  She was the product of a musical set of parents, who partied hardy and drank heavily.  Betty's mother consumed alcohol while she was pregnant with Bettye and it appears that the child inherited her desire to drink, and drink heavily.  Betty's father was her hero, but he drank himself into a series of strokes and died in his 40's, which devastated her. 

She did not enjoy things that children normally do; instead she wanted to get into the adult world as quickly as possible.  She did not do well in school despite being quite intelligent, and preferred to drink and spend time with the people who found their way to her parents' home.  Her mom served food as a way to make a little money to buy booze and keep the family somewhat afloat.  Bettye had a child at 15, married, and then realized she wasn't cut out to be a mother.  Her daughter was raised by her mother and grandmother while Bettye found her success in the music world.  It's a hard look at the music industry, how talented people can be used, and also ventures into the world of prostitution as Bettye tries to support herself.

Originally posted in: APL Picks

White Christmas: the story of an American Song

Author: Jody Rosen

What’s the most popular Christmas song of all time?  Based on record sales, it may well be Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.”  The song was written for a specific situation in a movie, 1942’s “Holiday Inn,” starring Fred Astaire and (of course) Bing Crosby.  The movie was a big hit, but the song really took off due to its popularity among the soldiers and sailors fighting in World War II.  The Christmas of 1942 was the first that millions of young men were away from home and “White Christmas” perfectly expressed their longing for the kind of holiday they used to know.  In this book, the author tells the captivating story of “White Christmas” and its tremendous impact.

Author: John Szwed

Alan Lomax was an American folklorist and ethnomusicologist who was considered to be the most active and influential collector of music in the world. He got his start in the early 1930s while traveling around the country with the purpose of making field recordings at prison farms in the Yazoo Delta with his father, John Lomax. His worldwide recordings cover over 200 cultures. He rubbed elbows with Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger and the legendary Leadbelly. The cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead, welcomed Lomax into her inner circle. Lomax was under investigation during the Red Scare. This is an interesting account but some may be put off by the minute details. Not a page turner but recommended for someone willing to make their way through a dense account of a one-of-a-kind individual or for research purposes.

Author: Marc Eliot

Eliot takes the reader back to Simon’s formative years, the influence of his parents both of whom were musicians, his interest in doo wop music, his love of the Everly Brothers recordings, his close relationship with Arthur Garfunkel, and his transformative solo career experimenting with a variety of innovative rhythms. An extremely detailed, yet readable, chronicle of Simon’s long career.

Author: Peter Doggett

This is a behind-the-scenes, warts-and-all, look at the business and personal lives of four men who changed the world forever through their music. A detailed account of the nightmare world of one court case after another and the multitude of lawyers and accountants trying to manage the Beatles takes away from the candy-coated image witnessed by the public and adoring fans. Travel through John and Yoko’s experience with Primal Scream Therapy, Ringo’s alcoholism, George’s belief in the Hare Krishna, and Paul’s loss of his beloved wife, Linda.

Author: Wilfred Sheed

Sheed covers the musical careers and private lives of prominent and not-so-prominent musicians during the first half of the 20th century, between the horse and buggy and the jet plane. Irving Berlin and George and Ira Gershwin were the biggies but there were lesser-known composers during this time period. We may not be familiar with them but we know their songs. Did you know that Sam Stept wrote Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (with Anyone Else but Me) or that Bobby Troup wrote (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66? Well, now you know. Sheed’s writing style is engaging and opinionated and some readers may find him a bit snobbish and old-fashioned in his assessment of musicians starting with Elvis Presley.

Author: Jennifer Niven

I loved this novel about a very young woman in Appalachia during the time that a highway is being built through the Appalachian mountains. This change is being implemented and accepted (or not) in many ways. Velva Jean falls in love and marries a charismatic preacher boy, Harley Bright, who suffers injuries in a train wreck and whose personality begins to change. He becomes very possessive and suppresses her longings to be and do more. Lucky for Velva, she has a cast of people in her life who encourage her to be herself and recognize her talents. They also encourage her to grab onto her dreams. Some of these people include her brother, Johnny Clay; a Woodcarver who lives high on the mountain; Butch, a blues singer. The predominant ways in which she gains freedom are by learning to drive and making a record(she has a great singing voice). The portrayal of how she goes about being true to herself and rejoicing in where she comes from mirrors the inner struggle that all of us have managed to cope with in one way or another. Very good!

I am Ozzy

Title: I am Ozzy
Author: Ozzy Osbourne

I am a sucker for learning about famous people. In this book, Ozzy seems just as amazed and repulsed about his own life as we are. I found this way of looking at his life, along with him, somehow endearing. There is something so naive and sweet about this man. Just like any life story, there were incidents that made me laugh out loud (like the Vicar story) and occasions that brought a tear to my eye (when he didn't attend his mom's funeral because he knew it would turn into a media circus). And, of course, there is the plain astonishing.

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