Saturday, June 28, 2008

Music Under the Stars (and not far from the stairs, on the 3rd floor)

It’s Grant Park and Ravinia season—a chance to enjoy classical music, as well as other forms of music, under the stars!

If you’re new to classical music, or you just want to get the most out of a classical music concert, listen to CDs of the compositions before you attend a concert to deepen your understanding and enjoyment of the music. For example, if you’re planning to attend pianist Simone Dinnerstein’s performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations at Ravinia on August 25th, you can check out our copy of her critically acclaimed CD of the Goldberg Variations and listen to it beforehand. We also own Glenn Gould’s recordings of the Goldberg Variations. He recorded the work twice, in 1955 and 1981, and both are included in The Complete Goldberg Variations, 1955 and 1981. Want even more variety? We also own Rosalyn Tureck’s and Vladimir Feltsman’s performances of this elegant Baroque masterpiece.

Listening to multiple interpretations of a composition can be illuminating. For example, in Glenn Gould’s recording of the Goldberg Variations you might hear melodic threads that you never noticed in other recordings. While we don’t own multiple versions of all classical compositions, we do own many, and listening to new artists perform old favorites can be a joyous experience.

If you ever have difficulties locating a CD, please don’t hesitate to ask for assistance at the Readers' Services desk. And don’t forget to stop by the third floor between now and July 27th to enter our Classical Music Trivia Contest, which changes weekly!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Books and Brackets

The warm weather has arrived and the action at Midsummer Madness is heating up faster than a vinyl car seat. If you haven’t come across the Midsummer Madness phenomenon on the third floor, I highly encourage you to do so as this past week has seen the most action to date. Located near the Readers’ Services desk, it’s a tournament that pits authors against one another, and the only deciding factor in this fierce competition is your vote! The ballots are at the display; all you have to do is check out the author brackets and pick the one you prefer in each match-up.

This past week saw the closest competition yet: Clive Cussler edged out W.E.B. Griffin in a highly anticipated first round match-up while Stephen King narrowly escaped an early exit at the hands of Harlan Coben. After cakewalks by James Patterson in Week 1 and Nora Roberts in Week 2, it was good to see some stiff competition. This week offers some terrific choices: Anne Rice vs. Joyce Carol Oates and Patricia Cornwell vs. Jodi Picoult, among others.

Will Jayne Ann Krentz continue her Cinderella run past the next round? Will James Patterson ever meet his match? Their fate lies in your hands. Also, at the end of Not Just Summer Reading 2008 (after July 27) we will draw a ballot at random from all those cast throughout the entirety of Midsummer Madness for a grand prize. So vote early and vote once a week. Come up to the third floor and support your favorite author!

Friday, June 20, 2008

With Malice Toward None

There was an election approaching. Many thought the nation was at a crossroads, and that this presidential race might change the direction of the country. There were many well known candidates, but the one who took his party's nomination was a previously unknown politician from Illinois. He rose quickly to prominence in the party, due largely to his eloquence and his debate skills.

Does this sound familiar?

I am not referring to Barack Obama, but to Abraham Lincoln and the election campaign of 1860. I was struck by the similarities between that election campaign and the current one. I also noted that we are approaching several Lincoln-related anniversaries; the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth and the 150th anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. I recently traveled to Springfield to experience the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. If anyone is interested in Lincoln or in museums in general, I highly recommend a visit. The facilities are state of the art, and the exhibits are captivating. I left the museum having learned more about Lincoln than I ever had in school, and I was inspired to learn more.

When I returned I checked out several books about Lincoln. I suggested the library lead a book discussion of a Lincoln biography and I later learned that the Des Plaines Public Library has a number of programs coming up to commemorate those anniversaries.

The book I chose for discussion is With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen B. Oates, a very thorough and well-written book. The discussion will take place on Tuesday, September 2nd at 10AM. Registration is required and books are available at the Readers' Services Desk one month prior.

I also strongly considered choosing the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin because it was also well-written and well-reviewed and dealt more directly with the election campaign. And though I highly recommend the book, I thought it a little too vast for our discussion.

On October 5th, the Des Plaines Public Library is hosting the Lincoln-Douglas Debate: An abridged version of the fifth debate that was held on October 7, 1858 in Galesburg, Illinois. It will be presented by Michael Krebs and Larry Diemer. On November 23rd, nationally-acclaimed folksinger and songwriter Chris Vallillo will bring Abraham Lincoln to life from his birth in Kentucky in 1809 through his tragic death in 1865 in a program called Abraham Lincoln in Song. Registration for both programs is required.

Monday, June 16, 2008

More Summer Reading Suggestions!

A couple more summer reading suggestions!

Check out Grub by Elise Blackwell, inspired by George Gissing’s 1891 novel New Grub Street. Set in New York City, this imaginative update concerns the literary strivings of several (mostly) twentysomethings. Blackwell turns her satirical eye on writing conferences, hacks, absurd literary theories and more.

Another fun read—but one with some depth, too—is How to Be Good. Nick Hornby hilariously addresses the question of how to be a good person when a formerly cynical newspaper columnist morphs into an excessively altruistic do-gooder, whose new lifestyle alienates his wife and daughter. (Just be patient with the first 50 pages or so, as it doesn’t really hit its stride until DJ GoodNews shows up.)

Feel free to chime in with your own suggestions or to let us know your thoughts on any of the titles and authors mentioned here on Positively Ellinwood Street!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oooooh, our first comment! Summer reading suggestions, you say? First, here are seven big books coming in July (go ahead and click on the links to place your holds in the catalog):

Hit and Run by Lawrence Block
Swan Peak by James Lee Burke
Damage Control by J. A. Jance
Silent Thunder by Iris Johansen
Tribute by Nora Roberts
Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva
The Last Patriot by Brad Thor

We always keep this list of Coming Attractions for next month at the third floor desk. If you want a treasure trove (over 300 !) of staff recommended titles, visit our Staff Picks Database.

About that July list; Hit and Run is fourth in a series; maybe you'd rather start with the first book, Hit Man? Or if you'd like another drily witty crime novel, why not try the Dortmunder series by Donald Westlake? And if you like Iris Johansen, you might also like the romantic suspense novels of Tami Hoag and Catherine Coulter.

Or if you're curious what kids are reading these days, check out the summer reading lists of our local high schools at the bottom of the library's teen page.

I just returned Here If You Need Me, the lovely, droll and moving true story of the first chaplain in the Maine Game Warden Service. Several of the staff just read and raved about Wit's End by Karen Joy Fowler, a story about a young woman who goes to live with her godmother, a best-selling mystery writer who has doll-sized crime scenes all over her house, and whose characters may or may not be real people. I could (and will) suggest books all day long, so I'll stop, but if none of these are to your taste, please email us and we'll come up with other suggestions. Stop by the desk too, we're all more than ready to talk about books!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

No signup, no obligation - we've set the Adult Summer Reading Club free! That’s right, in 2008 we’re offering Not Just Summer Reading – NJSRC. Last summer we kept offering the summer reading program to passersby, and lots of people with stacks of books and audiobooks in their arms, said, “No, thanks, maybe next time, I like reading what I want, etc.” On the other hand, our trivia contests were really popular, and we had many happy winners of great prizes.

So this year, the third floor staff (Roberta, David, Laura, Linda, Cheryl, Joel and Cathy) took a slightly different approach. There’s no sign up sheet, no reading list, no promise to read at least three books. What we do have are five different contests for you to enter. Look around the floor – there’s literary trivia of famous names and pseudonyms, classical music and rock trivia, a movie crossword and a wild Midsummer Madness face-off of famous authors. Can James Patterson take Stuart Woods? Will Danielle Steel knock out Fern Michaels? You tell us!

For the diehards, we have Book Bingo. Just stop at the third floor desk every time you read a book in one of the Bingo categories and get your card stamped. Read books in five categories across, down or diagonally, and then drop your Bingo card in the box for a chance at a great prize.

Anyone 14 or over can play, any or all of the contests. (If you're under 14, we've got a summer reading program for you too) Every contest will have a prize like an AMC gift card or a Border’s gift card. And they’re all just plain fun! That’s NJSRC – won’t you join us?