Friday, August 27, 2010

Read Alikes and the Power of Readers' Services

So you're browsing the catalog, and that latest must-read bestseller is checked out. Or maybe what you're looking for is owned by another library, but not by us. The van service isn't running right now, and at the moment, the library has put a hold on purchasing new materials. What's a reader to do?

Certainly, you can place a hold on any item we own, and you can also request an inter-library loan through WorldCat, if it's something we don't. The folks here at the Readers' Services desk would be happy to help you with that. But if you just have to have something now, we can help you with that, too. Call us, text us, throw us an email, or come on up to visit us on the 3rd floor. We can suggest a book with a similar feel or style as the one you are eagerly anticipating. We call them read alikes, and we have a lot of them here at our fingertips.

Check out this list of read alikes for four of our hottest titles:

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Click on any title to request that book today!
You never know, the book you choose to tide you over could introduce you to a new favorite author.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Help: The Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year

One of the most popular books at our library and libraries and bookstores across the country is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Set in 1962 in Jackson, Mississippi, The Help is the story of two African-American maids and a wealthy young white woman who bring change to their community, undertaking a risky project to illuminate the experiences of Jackson's African-American maids and the indignities of segregation.

The Tuesday morning book group will discuss The Help on September 7th at 10 a.m. If you'd like to attend, we still have two copies of The Help available for book discussion attendees, and you can register for the discussion and pick up the book at the 3rd floor Readers' Services desk. (If you would like to read The Help but not attend the discussion, you can place a copy on hold here.)

The Help is also the 2010-2011 Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year selection for adults.

What is the Suburban Mosaic Book of the Year program? Founded in 2004, the Suburban Mosaic seeks to foster cultural understanding through literature, book discussions, and other programming in suburban Cook and Lake counties. Participating organizations include libraries, schools and other organizations. If you want to participate, you can attend one of the Mosaic book discussions, plan a book discussion of your own, or simply read the books independently.

This year's theme is Making a Difference, and in addition to The Help, which is the adult selection, there are titles for pre-schoolers through high-schoolers. They are:

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd (high school title)

Back Home by Chicago Tribune book columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Keller (middle school title)

Notes from the Dog by Gary Paulsen (4th-5th grade title)

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (K-3rd grade title)

How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham (Preschool-K title)

Feel free to check out any of these books for yourself or a young person in your life.

For more information about the Suburban Mosaic organization, including information about the books and discussion questions, click here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Writing from Beyond

I was commenting recently about the newest Robert B. Parker western novel, Blue-Eyed Devil. I mentioned that I liked his westerns. I noticed that there seemed to be even more white space on the pages and shorter chapters, which doesn't bother me as much in a western as it does in a suspense novel. The person I spoke with said I shouldn't expect too many more since Parker passed away earlier this year.

My first thought was I wonder how many books he has left. Some authors seem to keep writing from beyond the grave for years or decades. V. C. Andrews still has new books coming out every year even though she died in 1986. Others sometimes pass on their series to a protege, like Lawrence Sanders did, giving his McNeil series to Vincent Lardo.

As far as classics go, one of my favorite Hemingway novels was Islands in the Stream, published posthumously. Many wonder if J. D. Salinger who also passed this year has another book or two waiting to go.

There have been rumors Steig Larsson of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame who died in 2004 has a 4th book waiting to go but legal battles over his estate have kept it from the public. I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Moving Pictures

This week I experienced a touch of humor, humanity and history all in the course of three hours. I could have been reading a wonderful novel, but this time I wasn't reading but walking Michigan Avenue near Millennium Park. Within three blocks there are three photography exhibits installed at three cultural institutions for free*.

Columbia College houses the Museum of Contemporary Photography where there is currently an exhibit of John Baldessari abstract prints. I smiled through the exhibit of photographs decorated with bright circles of color but struggled with the meaning behind the works. Lucky for me the Chicago Tribune was on my heals and a review appeared in the newspaper the next day.

Next stop was a photographic review of San Francisco in the 70's. Chicago born photographer Jerry Pritikin has an exhibit at the Gage Gallery of Roosevelt University. His photographs are of the people of Castro Street and the Gay Rights movement. The producers of the film Milk must have received inspiration from photos like these.

Last on my tour that day was the massive exhibit at the Art Institute, of the prolific and peripatetic photo journalist Henri Cartier-Bresson from the 1930's - 1970s. This photographer captured moving moments of history like the funeral of Gandhi to mundane scenes of a picnic in a park.

*The Art Institute currently has free admission on Thursday evenings.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Give Me a Cold One!

Okay, maybe wishing for winter in August is a bit premature, but when it is this hot and humid for so long, I find myself longing for much colder weather. Lacking actual cool weather, an icy cold adventure is what I want most. Reading Joel's recent PES blog about all of the great new Scandinavian mysteries made me long for another tale filled with ice, snow and deadly cold.

An old icy favorite of mine (it's from 1963 and we still have it on the shelf!) is Alistair MacLean's Ice Station Zebra. A British meteorological team is trapped on the polar ice cap and their numbers are slowly being killed off. (You can feel the permafrost coating the snow machines.) An oldie but a goodie.

In the more recent Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child a strange creature is found frozen in the ice at Base Fear. (Don't you love that place name?) Help, the ice is melting and the monster is loose! Maybe it's best to leave sleeping monsters lie?

Isle Royale National Park, on the shore of bitter cold Lake Superior, is the scene of Nevada Barr's book Winter Study. Trapped by a blizzard, with a deadly, eerie, over-sized wolf on the loose, the rangers and scientists may not make it out of the park.

There are so many cold ones to choose from that any frozen blog listing barely cracks the icy surface. But let me give you just one more - 61 Hours - by Lee Child. Our favorite tough guy, Jack Reacher, hitches a ride on a tour bus in the midst of a South Dakota blizzard. With just a light jacket our hero is always cold and that's just the way I want to feel in this hot weather.

What are your favorite icy cold reads for hot summer days?

Posted by Linda K.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's All Scandinavian to Me

During the Viking Age, Scandinavians descended upon the known world with a fury and ingenuity that have echoed down through the ages. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, they are at it again, though this time their influence and contributions are accepted a bit more voluntarily than they were a thousand years ago. I'm referring to the Scandinavian crime novels that are being translated into English at an increasing pace.

The foremost of these in the public eye, of course, is Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Each of these novels are extremely popular and have holding lists, but, just like a good crime novel that has more to the story than first meets the eye, there are more Scandinavian mystery writers out there to be explored. Hopefully you can check these novels out while you are waiting for, after you read, or simply in lieu of, Stieg Larsson's books:

(Please note: the following, with the exception of the standalone Smilla's Sense of Snow, are all the first in a series of novels.)

Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum
Inspector Konrad Sejer and his assistant Jacob Skarre investigate the connection between the mysterious disappearance and reappearance of a little girl and the discovery of a murdered teen in a small town outside of Oslo. This moody police procedural focuses on the psychological impact of those affected by the crime.

Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason
Reykjavík, Iceland, is an insular city with almost no violent crime, making a murder with no apparent motive tough to solve. Reykjavík police detective Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson follows a trail that leads to more murder, long-kept secrets, and a forensic lab that used to house research organs.

Faceless Killers
by Henning Mankell
While investigating a double murder of an elderly couple, Policeman Kurt Wallander battles against xenophobia and his own personal turmoil in an effort to avoid touching off a powder-keg of racial violence. (Though this is technically the first of the series, a set of short stories, the Pyramid, depicts Wallander's life before this novel).

Smilla's Sense of Snow
by Peter Høeg
A careful melding of literary fiction and a mystery thriller, Smilla's Sense of Snow is unsurprisingly about a half Danish, half Greenlandian woman named Smilla Jaspersen who is an expert in the various forms of ice: this is the only predictable aspect of this novel. Smilla becomes obsessed about finding the truth behind the death of a young friend of hers, leading her to a desolate ice-covered island of the coast of Greenland and to a secret that is much larger than she anticipated.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Coming Attractions September 2010

Click on the title to reserve your copy now!

Janet Evanovich

Jeff Lindsay

Sara Paretsky

James Patterson & Howard Roughan

John Sandford

Danielle Steel

Stuart Woods

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Super Highly Covered Media Story

I first noticed the phenomenon in March 2003 with A Ship Made of Paper. A media blitz of enormous proportions hit that month with reviews and interviews with the author Scott Spencer. I hadn't read him before and it seemed like every news outlet was covering his book. I was intrigued more by the exposure than the plot line but read the book. It was a good story filled with discussion potential about love, race and stereotypes. All that coverage and I believe that book never made it to the New York Times Best Seller List.

Now I'm noticing the same phenom with Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story. Not that the Chicago Tribune has reviewed it yet, but almost everyone else has. NPR, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, The Miami Herald, The Dallas Times, and the beloved BookPage distributed here at the library. I'm familiar with Shteyngart as mentioned in a previous blog of mine. He's wry, satirical and writes far fetched stories from an immigrant's point of view. I've got the book in my hand right now. I can't wait to see if it makes the Best Seller list.

While researching and verifying my memory of March 2003, I came across the best seller list of April 2003. The first week of that month a certain book made it to the list and stayed there for years. This book actually accumulated more media coverage after it hit the number one spot than before. Feel free to guess the title. And what drives your book choices- media coverage or a personal recommendation?

Super Sad True Love Story.

A Ship Made of Paper.