Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, Chvrches (i.e., Churches with a “v” instead of a “u”) have crafted a synthpop masterpiece in their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe. I enjoyed this album so much that I quite honestly could not remove this album from my CD player. The songs are catchy to the point of infectious, and the energetic dance-inspired beats and the ethereal vocals are perfectly offset by the reflective, oftentimes melancholy, lyrics. Think Passion Pit, M83, Depeche Mode, and 80s-influenced electropop to get a general impression of what this band sounds like, but I suggest you check it out on your own if you have even the slightest interest in this music scene. The songs “The Mother We Share,” “We Sink,” and “Lies” come highly recommended as possible entry points.
If you are a fan of CBS’s hit sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, there is a very good chance you will enjoy Graeme Simsion’s hilarious and heartwarming novel, The Rosie Project. The book’s narrator and protagonist is Don Tillman, a 39-year-old genetics professor whose social awkwardness, lack of empathy, emotional shortcomings, and rigid need for rules and routine (think Big Bang’s Sheldon Cooper) are more likely to be clear indicators of an undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder rather than just cute personality quirks. With his 40th birthday soon approaching and still unmarried, Don embarks on the Wife Project, creating a 16-page, double-sided questionnaire that will connect him to the perfect woman. Unfortunately, the young, beautiful, and free-spirited woman he meets through the project—Rosie Jarman, a bartender at a local gay bar—is totally unsuitable; yet he struggles to understand why he can’t tear himself away from her, even going so far as to assist her with discovering her biological father. While I don’t typically read romantic fiction, I was truly moved as Don slowly realizes that he has strong feelings for Rosie. Think of The Rosie Project as Sheldon Cooper finds love and you will have a good idea of what this book is like.
Brain on Fire (available at Acorn and through SWAN) is a true story about a New York Post reporter (Cahalan) who suddenly began experiencing serious health issues in her early twenties with no apparent cause. Cahalan was admitted to the NYU Medical Center when her symptoms began to include seizures and psychosis. Her symptoms resembled someone possessed, and many with her condition may have been deemed just that. While she was in the hospital for a month with no firm diagnosis, she has little to no memory of that entire time. Finally, a doctor came up with a cause of her illness just in the nick of time—a recently discovered, rare illness that affects the brain. Cahalan uses her experience as a journalist to reconstruct her time in the hospital through interviews and records, and she recounts her experiences pre- and post-illness in this very interesting memoir. Cahalan’s story reminds us of how fragile, yet resilient, the human body can be.
For some of us, after we’ve spent hours and hours writing an essay or a short story or even an email, we become invested in the words written on the page. After it is finished and we’ve clicked “submit,” we read it again one more time, just in case. During that final review, we find a typo and we are devastated. After all of that time spent perfecting our work and the countless proofreads we did, still we allowed one misplaced letter, one extra comma, one too many spaces to slip past our radar. In this book, Drummond helps relieve some of that devastation by revealing typos that have a much more lasting effect than our emails, such as NASA documents, legal reports, and even lottery tickets. If you’re looking for a good laugh, Just My Typo is a must-read. It is available at Acorn and through SWAN.