Thursday, April 30, 2009

Coming Attractions June 2009

Coming Attractions for June -
Click on the link to reserve your copy now!

Rogue Forces by Dale Brown

Knockout by Catherine Coulter

Medusa by Clive Cussler

Roadside Crosses by Jeffery Deaver

Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner

Skin Trade by Laurell Hamilton

Relentless by Dean Koontz

Matters of the Heart by Danielle Steel

Beyond Agatha Christie

Mysteries have always been my favorite genre, and British mysteries are what I guess you might call my favorite sub-genre. However, much as I love reading and re-reading Agatha Christie, I'm always on the lookout for something new. Recently I have branched out into mysteries that not only feature faraway locations, but are also translated into English from the original language. I just finished Woman with Birthmark, a great revenge tale by Swedish author Hakan Nesser, featuring Inspector Van Veeteran. (Imagine a Stockholm based 87th precinct.) I wish an audio version were available so that I could hear how all the Swedish town names were pronounced. I'm also reading a very funny fiction book, Doghead, by Morten Ramsland, translated from the Danish. It came highly recommended by my friend and former co-worker, Jeanne, who I can always count on for great suggestions.

Have you read any good mysteries lately? If you're looking for something a little bit different, try some of these books and broaden your horizons.

Murder on the Leviathan - Boris Akunin (Russian) - Inspector Erast Fandorin
The Paper Moon - Andrea Camilleri (Italian) - Inspector Montalbano in Sicily
A Widow in Copacabana - L.A. Garcia-Roza (Portugese)
The Spoke - Friedrich Glauser (German)
Bethlehem Raod - Batya Gur (Hebrew)
The Final Bet - Abdelilah Hamdouchi (Arabic) - Casablanca
Double Blank - Yasmina Khadra (French) - Algiers
A Not So Perfect Crime - Teresa Solana (Catalan) Spain

Linda Knorr - Readers' Services

Monday, April 27, 2009

Play the Game

Did you ever watch the $10,000 Pyramid Game Show? It was popular in the 70's. I wish I could say I just know of it from reruns, but I watched it real time and it was a favorite. Basically, the game involved word clues being given by one team member to the other team member who had to guess the category that all the clues fell into. (At least that's how I remember it.) So let's play.

Here are the clues:

Hobby Farms
Going Bonkers
Mental Floss

If you've browsed the magazine collection on the 3rd floor you may have guessed. These are five of the hundreds of magazine titles we have. Our collection is vast and varied with a strong emphasis on popular offerings. The titles listed above are new(ish) and illuminating. I should have added Paste to that list. I initially thought it had something to do with crafts but it doesn't. It is actually an artsy entertainment magazine with an emphasis on the new and hip.

I grab The Week and Mental Floss to read in the break room when I'm too hungry to read Gourmet or Bon Appetit. The Week is a news digest that is more concise than Newsweek and Time but with equivalent breadth. Mental Floss is described as an intelligent read, but not too intelligent. Lots of lists and odd ball facts. Perfect for game show lovers.

Share your thoughts on favorite magazines. We evaluate the magazine collection every Spring and your opinions help us decide what to add and what to remove.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Quotable Author

A few days ago, I was flipping through a favorite book to find a passage I especially love. It made me think I need to keep what is referred to as "a commonplace book." A commonplace book is: "A personal journal in which quotable passages, literary excerpts, and comments are written" (The American Heritage Dictionary). You sometimes come across the term in older novels or biographies of historical figures.

I already keep something like a modern version of the commonplace book. It's just a computer file where I keep favorite quotes or passages from books I love. (Unfortunately, more often than not, I don't take the time to add a favorite passage, and so I still find myself thumbing through books.) I began this habit after attending a play with a line I wanted to remember. It's from the Arthur Miller play The Last Yankee:

"We are in this world and you're going to have to find some way to love it. . . . I'll say it again, because it's the only thing that's kept me from going crazy--you just have to love this world."

Sometimes my favorite quotations from books are first person passages that so perfectly capture a character's speech that the character comes alive. It's like she's standing next to you, telling you her story. One such character is Ellen Foster, the young motherless heroine of Kaye Gibbons novel of the same name, who wants to adopt a mother:

"Now I had accumulated $166 dollars to offer my new mama-to-be. That is not a fortune, but you don't find many girls with that much cash to offer up front for room, board, and some attention. I figured it would let her know right away that I mean business."

Another beloved passage is from my all-time favorite novel, The Song of the Lark, about the struggles and artistic growth of Thea Kronborg, a determined and talented minister's daughter from Colorado who matures into a great artist and opera singer. Here, following one of her performances, her former piano teacher, Harsanyi, is asked about her:

"Yes, Harsanyi. You know all about her. What's her secret?"
Harsanyi rumpled his hair irritably and shrugged his shoulders.

"Her secret? It is every artist's secret,"--he waved his hand,--"passion. That is all. It is an open secret, and perfectly safe. Like heroism, it is inimitable in cheap materials."

Granted, I don't entirely agree with Harsanyi. I think great artistry is a result of talent and hard work as well as passion. But I still love the line, especially the declaration that passion is "inimitable in cheap materials."

What are some of your favorite passages from books? Do you have a favorite quote or piece of dialog?

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Love You Kenneth the Page

I've always been a fan of the comic character actor. They always play the second banana, the sidekick, the best friend, the dumb friend, the mother-in-law, the nosey neighbor, the secretary - the list goes on and on. One part they never play, however is the lead. And who wants to be the lead anyway? - they never get the belly laughs.

It could be argued that Art Carney as Ed Norton was the first great character actor on television. Ed was the original goofball best friend and he made Ralph Kramden even funnier. Ethel and Fred Mertz weren't bad. They were a touch less crazy than the star of the show Lucy Ricardo, and thus created one of the staples of sitcom relationships: the star/lead is a nut and the surrounding cast is sane. (The opposite structure is also prevalent - the lead is reasonable but the rest of the cast is wacky. Think The Andy of Mayberry show as an example.)

As I was perusing our television DVD collection, I couldn't help but smile at so many of my old friends. There's George Costanza and Kramer. Frazier and Lillith. Frank Burns and Hot Lips Hoolihan. Mr. Burns is a character actor, but not Homer. How about Cartman or Towelie?

Currently, my vote goes to almost everyone on 30 Rock but especially Kenneth Ellen Parcel, an NBC page. Played by Jack McBrayer who has Chicago connections, Kenneth is a country bumpkin who refuses to allow the cynicism of New Yorkers tarnish his love of his job or his high opinion of mankind in general. I can not stop laughing at him.

I do have an all-time favorite t.v. sitcom character but I thought I'd open the floor to your votes before I reveal my own. For your consideration, may I suggest a few names, all of which you can see again in the DVD section of your local library:

Lou Grant
Phyllis Lindstrom
Rhoda Morgenstern
Ernest T. Bass
Hawkeye (he's probably a lead though)
Mr. Carlton
Larry and my other brother Larry
George Costanza
Cosmo Kramer
Lakta Gravas
Ted Baxter
Vinnie Barbarino

I've left my all-time favorite off the list, eager to hear your favorites instead. Here's a clue, however. Kenneth and he have a lot in common.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Stories We Hear, The Stories We Tell

One of the more heartwarming parts of our job is selecting books and delivering them to patrons who for health or other reasons cannot make it to the library.

One 88-year-old patron has a passion for painting watercolors. She loves receiving books about Vermeer and Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as the latest bestselling suspense thrillers.

Another 91-year-old patron enjoys reading the latest biographies of political, business and literary icons, as well as literary fiction.

And there is a man who reads love stories with his wife to help take their minds off of the cancer she is bravely fighting.

Your stories and passions inspire me. And seeing how you handle the difficult situations you go through moves me.

In that spirit we also offer memoir writing workshops for seniors. In June we will start a series for older men, with hopefully a course for women following later in the year. These six-week courses help seniors get their stories down on paper so they can be passed on from generation to generation.

If you are interested in our memoir workshops or if you know someone who might benefit from our homebound delivery service, please have them contact us at 847.376.2809.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Perhaps the word traitor is too harsh. But when you have a favorite series, and that author branches out to start writing a new series (though still writing the original), do you feel betrayed?

It's no secret that I love Carola Dunn's mystery series staring Daisy Dalrymple. I wrote in my previous blog entry that it's my go to beach read. When I read that she was coming out with a new series I admit I was excited. I like her writing style and the description of the book was intriguing. The first title in the series is Manna From Hades. Publishers Weekly called it "this lively first in a new cozy series ... introduces Eleanor Trewynn, a plucky widow who runs a charity shop in the village of Port Mabyn." Much like Daisy tends to do, Eleanor soon stumbles upon a body. The review in Booklist said "Dunn has a knack for writing meatier-than-usual cozies with strong female characters, and she has another charming winner here."

Well that's great. But what about Daisy? According to Carola's website, she's still working on Daisy books. But frankly, Carola is not young. And I worry about a future where there will be no more Daisy books. I feel her time should be spent writing the series I most enjoy (I know-so selfish!). While I'm going to read this new book (gotta support your favorite author), I can't help wishing it was a new Dalrymple book.

How do you feel? Do you support your favorite author no matter what? Bitterly complain that as their number one fan they should aim to please you? Or are you indifferent?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Please Don't Take Our Newspapers Away

Last week the Chicago Sun-Times joined its only major rival the Chicago Tribune in declaring bankruptcy. The Sun-Times spokesperson assured the public that the paper will continue but we all know nothing good will come of this for the devoted newspaper reader. The Tribune promised not to compromise its quality either and look what happened. Now, major news stories sit next to humor pieces and the text is dwarfed by photographs instead of the other way around. And not that the Sun-Times is the bastion of quality and originality. I have a friend who calls it the "AP" paper because it seems all the articles have been purchased from the Associated Press instead of written by Sun-Times journalists, who, presumably have been laid off. Whatever their faults though, I still love these papers.

A newspaper is one of the greatest inventions of mankind, right up there with the wheel, fire and Spanx. Think about it. A group of incredibly smart people observe events occurring around the globe, choose the most important and write it up in short articles for you every single day. There it is - the world - and it's literally on your doorstep every morning. How could anything be more convenient?

As for depth and breadth of coverage, both papers cover local, national and international news. Throw in sports, business, entertainment and my favorite - the Wednesday Food section in the Trib. This is where cooking meets commerce - the recipes are as important as the grocery and wine store ads.

Most importantly, it's the journalists in newspaper that do the investigative reporting, not AP reporters. Without our local investigative reporters in Chicago, none of our politicians would be indicted or presently serving out their jail sentences.

How much does this wonder of information and convenience cost? - the change in your pocket.

Some of my friends argue that we still get the news, only the format has changed. They like the internet better and remind me that in cyberspace, the news is reported as it happens, not the next morning. And for most publications, news is free on the internet. But did you ever try to read an entire newspaper on the computer??? Did you ever try to find a specific article or ad that you had previously seen in the paper??? Did you ever try to balance your laptop and your cup of coffee in your bed on Sunday morning???

Which brings me to the real point of why I love newspapers: it's the ritual of the thing. The stealth moves on the back porch so my neighbors won't see me in my pajamas as I search for the paper; the wafting aroma of the fresh pot of coffee perfectly synchronized with its removal from the plastic wrap; the quiet interrupted only by the sound of a page turning; the thousands of conversations with friends and family starting with the phrase "Did you read in the Trib today?...." Make your Dell do that.

So please help me save the newspapers. Renew your subscription, or better yet, meet me on the third floor of the library to peruse our collection of local, national and international papers. Here's a sampling of what we have:

The Chicago Reader
Des Plaines Journal
Gujarat Times
Wall Street Journal
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Investors Business Daily
Washington Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Tribune
Daily Herald
USA Today
Washington Post
Philadelphia Inquirer
Tampa Review
Arizona Republic
New Russian Word
Los Angeles Times
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
New York Times
New York Post
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Financial Times
India Today
The Onion

Friday, April 3, 2009

May Coming Attractions

Bestsellers arriving soon - place your reserves now!

Home Safe byElizabeth Berg

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child

The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly

The Language of Bees by Laurie King

Mr. and Miss Anonymous by Fern Michaels

The 8th Confession by James Patterson

Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston

Wicked Prey by John Sandford