Books

Herein lie the answers to the tiny funny questions about tiny funny books posted in the tiny funny lobby of HUGE Theater during the Tiny Funny Women Fest.

What are you reading now?

Casual Vacancy- J.K. Rowling

When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

The Brain That Changes Itself- Norman Doidge

An astonishing new science called “neuroplasticity” is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. In this revolutionary look at the brain, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D., provides an introduction to both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they’ve transformed. From stroke patients learning to speak again to the remarkable case of a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, The Brain That Changes Itself will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human nature, and human potential.

The Dragon Tattoo Series- Stieg Larsson

(Book 1 in the Series, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared without a trace more than forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to try to discover what happened to her. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist recently sidelined by a libel conviction, to investigate. Blomkvist is aided by the pierced and tattooed computer prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption on their way to discovering the truth of Harriet Vanger’s fate.

The Sun Magazine

The Sun is an independent, ad-free monthly magazine that for more than thirty years has used words and photographs to invoke the splendor and heartache of being human. The Sun celebrates life, but not in a way that ignores its complexity. The personal essays, short stories, interviews, poetry, and photographs that appear in its pages explore the challenges we face and the moments when we rise to meet those challenges. The Sun publishes the work of emerging and established artists who are striving to be thoughtful and authentic. Writing from The Sun has won the Pushcart Prize, been published in Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays, and been broadcast on National Public Radio. The Sun invites readers to consider an array of political, social, and philosophical ideas and then to join the conversation. Each issue includes a section devoted entirely to writing by readers, who address topics as varied as Telling the Truth, Neighbors, Hiding Places, Second Chances, and Gambling. From its idealistic, unlikely inception in 1974 to its current incarnation as a nonprofit magazine with more than 70,000 subscribers, The Sun has attempted to marry the personal and political; to honor the genuine and the spiritual; to see what kind of roommates beauty and truth can be; and to show that powerful teaching can be found in the lives of ordinary people.

The Happiness Advantage- Shawn Achor

Our most commonly held formula for success is broken. Conventional wisdom holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we’ll be happy. If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. This isn’t just an empty mantra. This discovery has been repeatedly borne out by rigorous research in psychology and neuroscience, management studies, and the bottom lines of organizations around the globe.

Splendors and Glooms- Laura Amy Schlitz

The master puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, is so expert at manipulating his stringed puppets that they appear alive. Clara Wintermute, the only child of a wealthy doctor, is spellbound by Grisini’s act and invites him to entertain at her birthday party. Seeing his chance to make a fortune, Grisini accepts and makes a splendidly gaudy entrance with caravan, puppets, and his two orphaned assistants.
Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are dazzled by the Wintermute home. Clara seems to have everything they lack — adoring parents, warmth, and plenty to eat. In fact, Clara’s life is shadowed by grief, guilt, and secrets. When Clara vanishes that night, suspicion of kidnapping falls upon the puppeteer and, by association, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall.
As they seek to puzzle out Clara’s whereabouts, Lizzie and Parse uncover Grisini’s criminal past and wake up to his evil intentions. Fleeing London, they find themselves caught in a trap set by Grisini’s ancient rival, a witch with a deadly inheritance to shed before it’s too late.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother- Amy Chua

At once provocative and laugh-out-loud funny, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother ignited a global parenting debate with its story of one mother’s journey in strict parenting. Amy Chua argues that Western parenting tries to respect and nurture children’s individuality, while Chinese parents typically believe that arming children with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence prepares them best for the future. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua’s iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, the Chinese way – and the remarkable, sometimes heartbreaking results her choice inspires. Achingly honest and profoundly challenging, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is one of the most talked-about books of our times.

Truth in Comedy: The Manual of Improvisation- Charna Halpern, Del Close and Kim Johnson

The ‘Harold’, an innovative improvisational tool, helped many actors on the road to TV and film stardom, including George Wendt (Norm on Cheers). Now it is described fully in this new book for would-be actors and comics. The ‘Harold’ is a form of competitive improv involving 6 or 7 players. They take a theme suggestion from the audience and ‘free associate’ on the theme into a series of rapid-fire one-liners that build into totally unpredictable skits with hilarious results. The ‘Harold’ is a fun way to ‘loosen up’ and learn to think quickly, build continuity, develop characterizations and sharpen humor.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

 But Come Ye Back- Beth Lordan

For thirty-some years, Lyle has made a life for his family working as an accountant. But when he retires, his Irish-born wife, Mary, wants to leave America and go home — where the ocean is near and the butter has flavor.

Somewhat grudgingly, Lyle agrees, but during their years in Galway, they discover that the surprises of life are not over. Going home is more complicated than butter and the bay, and thirty content years does not mean that a couple is immune to romantic intrigue. In this new life, while Mary and Lyle are rediscovering each other and building a richer life together, an unexpected event forces Lyle to decide where his home truly is.

Told in “quiet stories with emotions like old stepping-stones that have sunk beneath the surface” (Christian Science Monitor), Beth Lordan’s evocative and heartfelt novel explores the complex emotional terrain of mature marital relationships.

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse: A Novel- Louise Erdrich

For more than a half century, Father Damien Modeste has served his beloved people, the Ojibwe, on the remote reservation of Little No Horse. Now, nearing the end of his life, Father Damien dreads the discovery of his physical identity, for he is a woman who has lived as a man. To further complicate his quiet existence, a troubled colleague comes to the reservation to investigate the life of the perplexing, possibly false saint Sister Leopolda. Father Damien alone knows the strange truth of Leopolda’s piety and is faced with the most difficult decision: Should he tell all and risk everything . . . or manufacture a protective history though he believes Leopolda’s wonder-working is motivated solely by evil?

What Book(s) Do You Read Over? 

The Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (July 8, 2000) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Enchanted Forest Chronicles- Patricia Wrede

Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, and Talking to Dragons

Chronicles of Narnia- C.S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Magician’s Nephew, The Last Battle

The Joy Luck Club- Amy Tan

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who’s “saying” the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. “To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable.” Forty years later the stories and history continue.

With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.

Harriet the Spy- Louise Fitzhugh

Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. In her notebook, she writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends. Then Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Before she can stop them, her friends have read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she’s written about each of them. Will Harriet find a way to put her life and her friendships back together?

Enders Game- Orson Scott Card

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.
Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.
Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

Flowers in the Attic- V.C. Andrews

All across America and around the world, millions of readers have been captivated by this strange, dark, terrifying tale of passion and peril in the lives of four innocent children, locked away from the world by a selfish mother.

The Prophet- Kahlil Gibran

Gibran [1887 – April 10, 1931] was a Lebanese American artist, poet, and writer. He is chiefly known in the English speaking world for his 1923 book “The Prophet”, a series of philosophical essays written in English prose. An early example of Inspirational fiction, the book sold well despite a cool critical reception, and became extremely popular in the 1960s counterculture. Much of Gibran’s writings deal with Christianity, especially on the topic of spiritual love. His poetry is notable for its use of formal language, as well as insights on topics of life using spiritual terms. “The Prophet” is of composed of twenty-six poetic essays. The book became especially popular during the 1960s with the American counterculture and New Age movements. Since it was first published in 1923, it has never been has never been out of print. Having been translated into more than forty languages, it was one of the bestselling books of the twentieth century in the United States. Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu.

The BFG- Roald Dahl

The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, or any of the other giants—rather than the BFG—she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!

Gifts from the Sea- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

In this inimitable, beloved classic—graceful, lucid and lyrical—Anne Morrow Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea. Drawing inspiration from the shells on the shore, Lindbergh’s musings on the shape of a woman’s life bring new understanding to both men and women at any stage of life. A mother of five, an acclaimed writer and a pioneering aviator, Lindbergh casts an unsentimental eye on the trappings of modernity that threaten to overwhelm us: the time-saving gadgets that complicate rather than simplify, the multiple commitments that take us from our families. And by recording her thoughts during a brief escape from everyday demands, she helps readers find a space for contemplation and creativity within their own lives.

The Giver- Lois Lowry

Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

Mists of Avalon- Marion Zimmer Bradley

Here is the magical legend of King Arthur, vividly retold through the eyes and lives of the women who wielded power from behind the throne. A spellbinding novel, an extraordinary literary achievement, THE MISTS OF AVALON will stay with you for a long time to come…

The House on Mango Street

Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.

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