Staff Reviews

Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run is a Must-Read for Aspiring Musicians


Legacy musicians like Bruce Springsteen don’t enjoy successful, four-decade careers by accident. Part of Springsteen’s longevity can be credited to the quality of his music, with rock albums like Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River still sounding relevant and vibrant as ever today. But Springsteen also appealed to the masses as an American everyman—one who penned songs about small-town romances, grueling shifts at the factory, and the American Dream itself. Songs like “Badlands,” “Born in the U.S.A.,” and “The River” might’ve given listeners a small taste of the songwriter’s working class rootsbut fans have waited decades for the New Jersey rocker to tell his own story. If book sales are any indication, those fans are still interested: Born to Run debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times’ non-fiction bestseller list last week.


In Born to Run, Springsteen gives readers all the details. He explores his childhood in New Jersey, the formation of his legendary E-Street band, the multi-platinum records and arena tours, and a crippling depression that began in his early sixties. Unsurprisingly, Springsteen wrote his memoir much like his music: the language is direct, unpretentious, and lighthearted enough to inject his own brand of humor. The book is an addicting read, both for musical historians and casual fans alike.


Aside from Springsteen’s new memoir, we also have many of his CDs in the JDL system. You can place holds on the following titles today:


Born to Run (Book)

Born to Run (CD)

Greatest Hits (CD)

Live in New York (CD)

The Rising (CD)
Nebraska (CD)

Highly Recommended by Tessa: The Midnight Watch: A novel of the Titanic and the Californian by David Dyer

It took me three tries to finally get into this book, but it was so worth it. The Midnight Watch is a fine work, carefully crafted and rich with images and emotion. Dyer sticks closely to the known and the facts, and these inform the book with poignancy and immediacy.

Over here is the Californian caught up in the frigid darkness and a treacherous ice field, stopped, telegraphing to alert other ships to the danger. Over there is the new and renowned cruise liner telling them to shut up, shut up, shut up, they have passenger messages to send out. Everyone on the Californian goes to bed, leaving their Midnight Watchers to the cold and dark. Everyone on the Titanic wakes up to peril and bitter death.

I originally gave it five stars, but after thinking about it for a week, I lowered it to four. Maybe 4.5. The main character just never became vivid nor central enough for me. Other characters felt out of focus and changing, as if subject to unknown currents. But the sea and the sky are so real and vivid. They feel seductive and dangerous and hard and intense and so much else. “The stillness pressed in…the ice seemed to suck everything from the world.” Daylight brings “a torrent of white light,” a “burning, unforgiving light.” Sunshine becomes a masterful literary device, torturing the vulnerable guilty parties.


This will be an excellent choice for book groups, who will be able to discuss the literary devices expertly wielded in the book, as well as the many issues that arise. The carelessness exposed by this account is breathtaking, even when one knows that radio communication was in its infancy. The lack of oversight and attention to the life boats and evacuation are a glaring contrast to our own overly reactive, overly protective culture. The interplay between the captain’s cold character and the weakness of the third officer are great for discussing how we affect those around us, for good or bad.

Even though it has no love story, no war, only sunshine, tragedy, and cold darkness, this story is one for the ages. “The midnight watch: a time of loneliness, demons and trances.” ~ Tessa 4.5 out of 5 Stars August 2016

Not Recommended by Tessa: Slade House, or any book, by David Mitchell

Over the weekend I finally finished, sort of, reading Slade House. I say sort of because I got bored at the halfway point and skipped towards the end, dipping in and getting bored again before finally finishing. This is very similar to my reaction to Cloud Atlas, also by David Mitchell, which won several awards, including the Nebula Award, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. I gave that book 100 pages—more than usual. Since science fiction is one of my favorite genres, these were both surprising disappointments.


Before writing this review, I scanned Goodreads for several of Mitchell’s books’ reviews, including this one. I was taken aback to find lots of the GR people I follow abandoning Mitchell’s books, too! Some of these readers are literary enthusiasts, some are science fiction fans, but most of them have read a lot of books, both widely and deeply. Therefore, I feel it is justifiable to say these books affect many people as they did me. That is, they don’t affect us. They bore us and fail to pull us into the story or characters.

My main issue with Slade House in particular is the content. Grotesqueries are NOT what I want. I have created a new Goodreads shelf for them, since many current authors seem to be falling into this category. Neil Gaiman, Mitchell, Paulo Bacigalupi, and China Miéville are on the shelf for sure. Also Cherie Priest and James S. A. Corey. (Even though I like Corey’s Expanse series a lot. See my November 9, 2015 review.)

But the biggest problem with Mitchell’s books is his habit of nesting stories. I find them not so much nested as scattered. Mitchell and some literary types think this is great literary mechanism. But most people seem to find Mitchell’s jolting POV changes pretty tiresome. I think he just gets bored (yeah, me, too) with a piece of his own writing and jumps to his next plot outline point. As I said, I jumped, too, about halfway through both the books. There were no surprises and nothing that I couldn’t understand. I just didn’t really care to. Sad, really, cause the guy’s got skills. Not recommended ~ Tessa 2.5 out of 5 stars August 2016

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