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Weekend Recommendations: Books & CDs

Each weekend,’s staff of whackos will wrack our brains to give you interesting and new things to do over the weekend. Books, movies, whatever. We’ll throw them out, you do with them what you will. And hey…if you have something you want to recommend–whatever it is–drop us a line.

Incidentally, we’ve provided links where we can for you to buy the stuff or find out more if you’re interested, courtesy of those Amazon types.

Hey, come on, we can’t be totally selfless in this, can we?

Audiobook of the Week: The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. When the Oxford English Dictionary was being compiled, correspondents from all over responded…including a Dr. Minor, who provided a crapload of input for the work. Of course, it was revealed later that Minor was a murderer confined to an asylum at the time. Winchester reads his own tale of Minor and the dictionary that he assisted with, and it’s fascinating stuff that seems stranger than fiction. This hits from Harper Audio. (Buy it)

Book of the Week: The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Extreme Edition by Joshua Piven & David Borgenicht. Well, if your life is still in danger, then you can get the even crazier latest title from this line, published by Chronicle Books. Within these pages are everything you need to know for escaping from a giant octopus, biking down a rock face, taking a bullet, driving on four blown tires, and surviving being stranded on a iceberg. Amazingly, these are all things that happen from time to time working for Needcoffee. So this book is a godsend. (Buy it)

Graphic Novel of the Week: The Freebooters by Barry Windsor-Smith. Axus the Great used to be the hero of legend. Now he’s used his legend as collateral to buy a tavern and has basically grown…larger, shall we say. This could be an issue, since his arch-nemesis, Ammon-Gra, may have returned after decades. Can Axus get it together enough to go out and win the day one last time? All of the content Windsor-Smith created for this story via his Storyteller title is available in this Fantagraphics book, and it’s just as good as you might hope. There’s nothing quite like the man’s art. (Buy it)

CD of the Week: Night Beat by Sam Cooke. Cooke has one of the smoothest voices ever. I grew up listening to the classic tracks of his that everybody’s heard: “Cupid” and “Chain Gang” and the like. But I was bereft of the rest of his stuff, which is, in my opinion, better than his radio hits. “Lost and Lookin'” all by itself would make this remastered RCA release worth picking up. But it’s one good track after another, with “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” and “You Gotta Move” along with others. Highly recommended. (Buy it)

Boxed Set of the Week: The Moody Blues Chronicles. The great thing about these Chronicles sets from Universal Music is that–bang–a hole in your music collection is filled just like that. For ten bucks a shot, you get three albums: Days of Future Passed, In Search of the Lost Chord, and On the Threshold of a Dream. Granted, that’s all you get–so if you were looking for a mondo edition, keep looking. But if you just need the songs, go for it. (Buy it)