We want to help you find your next favorite book… Librarians aren’t just experts at helping answer all of your questions, but they always have great recommendations for what to read next…
Our newest Reference Librarian, Michelle Williamson, is talking about two unique titles today… One is an acclaimed novel from 2016, and the other is a sensational show that you can the first two seasons of, here in our circulating collection.
- “Sweetbitter” by Stephanie Danler
First-time novelist Stephanie Danler exquisitely intertwines young Tess’s coming-of- age story with the mental and physical hazing of her first restaurant job. After moving to New York from her small hometown, Tess is hired as a back waiter at an unnamed Manhattan restaurant (Danler worked at Union Square Cafe, famed restaurateur Danny Meyer’s first place). Simone is the first employee to captivate Tess; she’s worked there for years and is a fount of wisdom when it comes to food and wine. Simone also has a oddly close relationship with bartender Jake (brooding and handsome, of course). Slowly Tess is let into the world of the restaurant: its routines and secrets, its pleasures and vices. However,
Sweetbitter is not necessarily a plot-driven book. Sure, Tess matures as her naivete erodes, but Danler’s real strength is poetic prose. For instance, “some tomatoes tasted like water, and some tasted like summer lightning.” Or Simone’s ominous advice when Tess complains of being hungry: “Appetite is not a symptom. It cannot be cured. It’s a state of being, and like most, has its attendant moral consequences.”
- “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (tv series, individual seasons circulating on DVD)
Type-A attorney Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) runs into her boyfriend from high school summer camp on the street in New York City. This encounter with Josh Chan (winningly played by Vincent Rodriguez III) gives Rebecca warm fuzzy feelings and fills her with nostalgia for simpler times. When Josh tells Rebecca he’s moving back home to West Covina, California, Rebecca hatches a plan to move there as well. Once in West Covina, Rebecca downsizes her life by getting a job in a more laid-back law firm (owned by Darryl Whitefeather) and meets Paula Proctor, a paralegal who’s suspicious of Rebecca’s motivations for joining the firm. Sardonic bartender Greg Serrano and deadpan neighbor Heather Davis round out the group of Rebecca’s new acquaintances.
Have I mentioned the singing? Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is full of musical numbers that put the show’s deceptively smart, warts-and-all humor on full display. “Settle for Me” has Greg imploring Rebecca to forget about Josh and get in a promisingly dysfunctional relationship with him. It’s all the more entertaining that the song is shot in black-and-white with Greg and Rebecca dancing a-la Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
As the season progresses, Bloom delivers a powerhouse performance and the sly, witty themes of the show reveal that the entire cast of characters is more nuanced and compelling than your average sit-com.