Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis (2011)

As a funny follow up to his book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine which examines the causes of the U.S. stock market crash of 2008, Michael Lewis’s Boomerang takes the reader on a wild ride to all the countries hardest hit by the financial crisis

Starting in Iceland, then traveling to Greece, Lewis winds his way through several countries before returning to the U.S. to offer a view of some of the most economically precarious cities and states. Each country “when locked in the dark with a lot of money,” as he puts it, chose to spend the money in vastly different ways, and a lot of it had to do with the culture of each country.

This book, which includes an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger, is a wonderful romp through the dramatically different problems facing countries as a result of the economic crisis. Michael Lewis is the Bill Bryson (A Walk in the Woods) of economics writers, and you will be pleased to walk with him through this fun tale.
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The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) PG

The Outlaw Josey Wales stars Clint Eastwood as a Missouri farmer whose family is brutally murdered by Union soldiers and who refuses to surrender when the war is over. Josey Wales is a feared gunslinger who “lives by the feud,” and as he is hounded by the same men who killed his wife and child, he unwillingly picks up other outcasts (two Indians, some ambushed settlers, and a mangy dog), who grow to become his new family.

Beyond being a classic Western with plenty of action, this movie boasts an excellent script—every word is a quote. Josey’s Indian companion gives some mild comedic relief in this tale of life and death, of revenge, of starting a new life. It is my favorite movie.

For a look back on the film, check out this article from TCM. Find other classics westerns available at the library.
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The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (2008)

The White Tiger is a dark and funny novel which plunges the reader deep into the underbelly of modern India, a place where people are still very much prisoners to their own caste. The story unfolds as a series of letters to a Chinese official, and it is this device which brings the main character to life, revealing his wit, his flaws, and his deepest inner thoughts. We follow Balram through his daily life which is so oppressively frightening on the one hand but presented in such absurd scenarios that I actually laughed out loud.

Well written, and exploding with symbolism, the story is really about Balram’s struggle for freedom—freedom from “the Darkness” where most people live in subhuman conditions. It is a quick read, and after the first chapter, you won’t be able to put it down.

And since it’s such a quick read, those of you in your 20s and 30s should read it this weekend and join our GenLit Book Discussion Group on Monday, July 16 at 6:30 at Taste of India in Willowbrook. Get your copy of The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga today.

Up

Up (2009) PGUp begins with Carl Fredricksen as a boy meeting the love of his life, Ellie, and shows them dreaming about traveling to the mysterious Paradise Falls in South America. The movie fast forwards through scenes of their beautiful life together, all the while their dream of traveling eludes them. When Ellie dies, and Carl is about to be ordered by the court into the Shady Oaks retirement home, he escapes by tying thousands of balloons to his house and floating to South America. Now that Ellie is gone, Carl just wants to be left alone. Unfortunately, Russell, a local scout trying to earn a merit badge for helping the elderly, is pulled into the adventure, too.

They head for Paradise Falls and end up battling the famous explorer Charles Muntz who is trying to capture a rare bird assisted by his band of dogs who can talk with the help of special collars. After a shaky start, Russell and Carl become close friends who look forward to spending time together. Up is a wonderful story about chasing one’s dreams, but more importantly, it is about making new dreams and never giving up on life.

The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) R
The Shawshank Redemption is a movie about hope. Adapted from a short story by Stephen King, it follows the life of banker Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, who is sent to prison for murdering his wife and her lover. Prison life is initially quite harsh for Andy, and he has little motivation to keep on living. Andy perseveres in large part because his friendship with Red (Morgan Freeman) allows him to bring some normalcy to his life behind bars. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Morgan Freeman).
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The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride (1987) PG
The Princess Bride has action, comedy and romance all wrapped up in the ultimate adventure fairy tale. Adults and children will enjoy this classic film that features sword fighting, revenge, an evil prince, a giant, mythical beasts, and, of course, true love. Actors include Cary Elwes, Robin Wright Penn, Mandy Patinkin and Andre the Giant.

Thank You for Smoking

Thank You for Smoking (2005) R
Thank You for Smoking is the funniest movie I have seen in over a decade and, interestingly, does not have a single scene of anyone smoking. The story follows Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), big tobacco’s lobbyist, who argues in favor of smoking in some of the most difficult and ridiculous situations, while at the same time trying to act as a responsible role model for his twelve-year-old son. Though not a smoker myself, I could not help rooting for Nick and laughing out loud as he tries to support the tobacco industry during its final days of popularity. It includes a hilarious cameo by Rob Lowe, as well as appearances by Robert Duvall, Sam Elliott, William H. Macy, J.K. Simmons and Katie Holmes.
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Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson

Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson (2004)
Deep wreck diving is an extreme sport with a myriad of dangers. When two divers discover an unidentified wreck off the coast of New Jersey, they risk everything to uncover the name of the mysterious vessel.

See what The New York Times has to say about the book or listen to the author on NPR.

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand (2001)
Laura Hillenbrand makes horseracing fans out of everyone. More than simply a biography of a horse, this book portrays the spirit of a sport as it tells the tale of an owner, a jockey and a thoroughbred champion that captivated the nation.

Check out the 2003 movie based on the book and the PBS website that features original radio broadcasts, an interview with Hillenbrand, and more.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (1998)
An unlikely duo attempts to tackle the over 2000 mile hike that is the Appalachian Trail. Laugh out loud as they trudge through the wilderness toward a very distant goal.

According to a January 2008 articleRobert Redford plans to produce and star in a movie adaptation.

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger (1997)
October 1991 produced one of the most devastating storms to hit the North Atlantic. Follow the crew of the Andrea Gail as it struggles for survival in tumultuous seas and learn how the rescue attempts of other ships caught in the Perfect Storm went horribly wrong. Also check out the 2000 movie based on the book.

The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb

The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb (2004)
They said that the four minute mile could never be broken, that it just was not physically possible. Three athletes competing from separate corners of the globe raced against the clock and each other to prove them wrong.

Listen to an interview with the author and Roger Bannister (NPR) or watch the memorable races from May 6, 1954 (BBC) and August 7, 1954 (CBC).

Monster of the Midway by Jim Dent

Monster of the Midway: Bronko Nagurski, the 1943 Chicago Bears, and the Greatest Comeback Ever by Jim Dent (2003)
Before multimillion dollar contracts, television and injured reserve lists, professional football players often played while hurt for little money with no motivation other than the desire to win. Monster of the Midway traces the history of a fledgling league struggling to survive through the exploits of one of its toughest competitors.

Check our catalog for other books and movies about the Chicago Bears.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (1997)
Few endeavors conjure up an image of adventure more vividly than the thought of scaling Mount Everest, the highest summit on Earth. Jon Krakauer details the rigors of high altitude mountain climbing and the ill-fated expedition that would claim the lives of eight people.