Saturday, October 31, 2009

For Laughs

I have found lately that I’ve been reading some pretty serious books dealing with grim issues. So I lightened things up a bit with the Discworld novel Maskerade. It turned out to be just what I needed. I found it quite humorous, and I don’t know anything about opera.

Discworld is a series of novels by British fantasy writer Terry Pratchett. It is called Discworld because the planet is actually a flat plane resting on the backs of four enormous elephants which are standing on top of Great A’Tuin, the giant star turtle. Satire and parody are used to poke fun at a variety of subjects. These have included other literary genres, such as the police procedural or fairy tales. Other books have done humorous takes on music, religion, the film industry, and Christmas.

There are more than thirty novels in the series so far, but most of these are self-contained stories. They can be grouped together based on the main protagonist, however. For example, some books feature the “good” witch Granny Weatherwax, while others the Ankh-Morpork City Watch and still others follow the misadventures of the incompetent wizard Rincewind. If you are in the mood for a light, funny story in which even Death himself can get some laughs, I would try one of these

- J.K.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Upcoming Holiday Fiction

Halloween is just around the corner, but it's not too early to start on Holiday Fiction. In fact, some Holiday fiction has already started to come in at the library. Whether you're in the mood for a romance, something inspirational, cozy or a good Christmas mystery, many of your favorite bestselling authors have something special for the holiday season. Most of these titles are on order or already in, so reserve a copy today to ensure that you read them before the holidays are over!

A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor
A wealthy and depressed man bound for Christmas in the tropics is abruptly summoned home to North Dakota to visit an ailing aunt, arriving just in time to be trapped there by a blizzard.

The Christmas Cookie Club: a novel by Ann Pearlman
On a snowy December night, 12 women meet for a cookie exchange, where they tell stories of the cookies they baked, tales that are emblematic of the year that has just passed and focus on sisterly love and conflict.

Merry, Merry Ghost by Carolyn G. Hart
When a determined heir moves to block a wealthy woman's attempt to include her newly discovered grandson in her will, it is up to good-intentioned ghost Bailey Ruth Raeburn to protect a little boy, foil a murderer, and save Christmas.

One Week in December by Holly Chamberlin
Reunited with her family for the holidays, Becca Rowan, fueled by loneliness and longing, makes a shocking announcement that brings up long-buried resentments, secrets, and guilt, which challenges her own preconceptions about family and love.

Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs
Prim librarian Maureen Davenport lives for Christmas--and there's nothing more magical than Christmas on Willow Lake. Finally getting her chance to direct Avalon's annual holiday pageant, she's determined to make it truly spectacular. But it might just require one of those Christmas miracles she's always read about if her co-director-- recovering former child star Eddie Haven--has his way. Is he trying to sabotage the performance to spite her? Or is she trying too hard to fit the show into her storybook-perfect notion of Christmas?
(part of the Lakeshore Chronicles series)

A Christmas Promise: a novel by Anne Perry
When a younger fellow orphan is imperiled by her uncle's murder and the disappearance of a family donkey, Gracie, Charlotte Pitt's maid, aids the child's search for both the killer and the donkey.

Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs
Dakota Walker--along with her father, her grandparents and her mother's best friend, Catherine--visits her Gran for the Christmas holidays in Scotland, where the family members reminisce about Dakota's mother, Georgia, from Georgia's childhood to her blissful time as a doting new mom.
(from the Friday Night Knitting Club series)

Black Friday: a Maggie O'Dell novel by Alex Kava
Maggie O'Dell leads an investigation into the bombing of the nation's largest shopping center, uncovering paranoia, racism and a sinister secret agenda that extends to the highest ranks of a white-collar lobby group. As retailers count down to Christmas Eve, Maggie knows that infiltration is the only option--even though the cost could be huge.
(part of the Maggie O'Dell series)

The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber
Thirty-three-year-old Cassie wants a husband and kids, and she turns to Simon Dodson, a professional matchmaker for help. Dodson assigns her three tasks to complete, and despite a number of comical mishaps, Cassie completes them all. Her Christmas match turns out to be a wonderful surprise.

Home for Christmas by Andrew Greeley
Years after abandoning his childhood sweetheart, Pete Kane becomes a distinguished army captain and experiences a transforming near-death experience after a bomb attack, a situation throughout which he is encouraged by an old friend to rekindle his past relationship.

Plum Pudding Murder: a Hannah Swensen mystery by Joanne Fluke
When Larry Jaeger, the owner of the Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot, is murdered, bakery owner Hannah Swensen, during the busiest time of the year, must sift through a wealth of suspects before a murderous Scrooge strikes again.
(part of the Hannah Swensen mysteries series)

We have many more, including some bestsellers from past holiday seasons, including an oldie by goodie - a riot, and my personal favorite Christmas fiction:

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
Luther and Nora Krank have decided to set sail on a Caribbean cruise on December 25th and skip Christmas. They are about to discover that their decision brings enormous consequences--and isn't half as easy as they imagined.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Life-Changing Reads

Books have the power to change lives. It is amazing the difference that one book can make in an individual's life. Books convey powerful messages and send us on a path to self-discovery. Is there such a book or maybe several that have influenced your life and made a life-changing impact? If you'd like to share your testimonials, please post to the Readers Services blog.

If you'd like to read about books that have changed the lives of others, consider the following excellent resources:

The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books that Matter Most to Them by Roxanne Coady and Joy Johannessen, eds. This is a collection of personal recollections of famous people in various walks of life about the books that changed their life. Their favorites may encourage a quick perusal or generate a must-read list. Some of the pivotal titles are the Bible (Senator Joe Lieberman), To Kill a Mockingbird (author Wally Lamb), Atlas Shrugged (Nelson DeMille), and Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (Sebastian Junger). Most moving are the remembrances of books that "saved" someone or made him or her feel less isolated or unusual (e.g., book critic Maureen Corrigan on David Copperfield).

The Book That Changed My Life: Interviews With National Book Award Winners and Finalists by Diane Osen, ed. Osen compiles 15 interviews with National Book Award winners and finalists exploring how their reading has helped shape their lives and their art. A primary bibliography and list of works influencing the author follow each interview. There are expected sources on several writers' lists as well as less obvious influences.

Remarkable Reads: 34 Writers and Their Adventures in Reading by J. Peder Zane, ed.
Authors fill in the blank: "the most ___________ book I ever read" with superlatives like most memorable, enchanting, dangerous, daunting, exotic, devastating, classiest, wisest, disappointing, etc. This exciting little volume contains surprising selections and diverse sensibilities and will delight anyone who has ever loved a book.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Goodreads is the largest social network for readers in the world. 2,500,000 members have added over 60,000,000 books to their virtual bookshelves. I am hooked on the concept because it helps me keep track of my reading and I can more easily recommend books to friends and patrons. Others use it to keep a list of what they want to read; some don't post books but still enjoy the reviews and comments. My favorite feature is that an email is sent directly to you when a friend posts a book. It is heartening to know that my Goodread friends enjoy the same books that I do.

The founder, Otis Y. Chandler, a software engineer, has loved reading since his early discovery of the Hardy Boys. And the idea sprung from his wanting to know what his friends were reading. Goodreads has a blog for their employees where I learned that potential members can register with their Facebook or Google login credentials.

In addition, now provides Goodreads reviews to help users evaluate materials with fellow readers’ comments. Goodreads reviews can be found in the “Reviews” section alongside WorldCat, weRead, and Educational Media reviews.

You'll probably think of other ways it can accelerate your reading life.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Portable Books Three Ways

Listen to books while you exercise, clean your house or drive to work with one of these formats that are available at the Glenview Public Library. In addition to the traditional audiobook on cassette or cd, we have two formats that may be new to you.

If you consider yourself a technophobe and have difficulty with technology you might want to try a Playaway. Playaways are portable mp3 players pre-loaded with a book. Once you have supplied a battery and headphones, all you have to do is press play and you are ready to go. You can find these at the Library on the lower level right next to audiobooks on cassette and cd. It really doesn't get any easier than this! Click for a list of titles.

If you own an mp3 player or iPod and are comfortable using it, you have another option for audiobooks. The Glenview Public Library is part of a consortium called MyMediaMall where you can check out digital audiobooks, download to your computer and then transfer them to your mp3 player or iPod. MyMediaMall is open 24/7. To take the Digital Media Guided Tour, click here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The 2009 Anthony Awards

I had the privilege and fun of being present at the Anthony Awards that were presented at Bouchercon. Bouchercon is the largest mystery authors, fans and readers convention in the United States. It was held in Indianapolis this past weekend.

Here are the winners!

Best Novel: The Brass Verdict, by Michael Connelly

Best First Novel: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

Best Paperback Original: State of the Onion, by Julie Hyzy

Best Short Story: "A Sleep Not Unlike Death" by Sean Chercover (from Hardcore Hardboiled)

Best Critical/Nonfiction: Anthony Boucher: A Bibliography, by Jeffrey Marks

Best Children's/Young Adult: The Crossroads, by Chris Grabenstein

Best Cover Art: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, designed by Peter Meselund

Special Service Award: Jon & Ruth Jordan

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees! It was great seeing that there were two Chicagoland connections - Julie Hyzy and Sean Chercover. We knew they were good. Now everyone else knows they are too!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pure Escapism

Looking for something frothy and fun, with amnesia, romance and office politics thrown in for good measure? I’ve just finished reading Sophie Kinsella’s Remember Me, and it’s all of these and more.

After getting in a car accident and receiving a nasty bump on the head, Lexi Smart wakes up in the hospital convinced it’s 2004 and that she’s just missed her father’s funeral. But it’s actually 3 years later, and she no longer has crooked teeth, frizzy hair and a no-good boyfriend. She’s become a ruthless businesswoman married to a drop-dead gorgeous millionaire. At first, Lexi thinks her new life is perfect – she has money, power and a stunning loft furnished with expensive designer furniture and priceless works of art. But then reality sets in – her husband is an uptight control freak and all her friends hate her and Lexi doesn’t like who she’s become.

There are lots of laughs and you’ll cringe at the embarrassing situations Lexi lands in, but you’ll be rooting for her all the way.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Piotr Beczala - Lyric Opera of Chicago Debut

Piotr Beczala, tenor, debuts this month in the title role of Gounod's Faust. He was born in southern Poland and trained in Katowice. Beczala has had many phenomenal debuts before this. In April 2004, he made his debut at London's Royal Opera House as the Tenor in Der Rosenkavalier and in October, 2004, the title role of Faust, then in June 2005 as the Duke in Rigoletto, and in September 2006, Faust. He made his San Francisco Opera and US debut as Lensky in Eugene Onegin. Beczala's La Scala debut came in January 2006 as the Duke in Rigoletto, as well as the Metropolitan Opera debut on December 19, 2006.

In 2007 he was award the Munich Opera Festival Prize for Rigoletto, Der Rosenkavalier and Werther. Beczala sings the role of Alfredo Germont in the Farao Classics recording of La traviata, which was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award.

Lyric Opera of Chicago's director, William Mason, states, "When I first heard Beczala, I was struck most vividly by the clear, beautiful sound he produces, married to an impeccable technique and marvelous artistry.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Revenge of the Spellmans

Laugh out loud with the latest mystery in the Spellman Files series by Liza Lutz. The third in the series, Revenge of the Spellmans which follows Curse of the Spellmans and The Spellman Filescontinues the story of Izzy Spellman and her dysfunctional family. Mom and Dad are co-owners of Spellman Investigations Inc. Somehow Izzy’s near perfect older brother, David, escaped the family business and became a lawyer, but lately he’s been acting uncharacteristically strange. Her younger, teen-aged sister, Rae, typically an academic underachiever, has now aced her PSAT’s. Did she cheat, or is she trying to avoid college so that she can continue working in the family business? And Izzy is recently unemployed and attending court-ordered therapy sessions while on hiatus from the family business. She can’t, however, seem to stay away from the investigative scene.

Revenge of the Spellmans is filled with side-splitting Spellman family antics and will keep you laughing from start to finish. For a real treat, try listening to the series in audio format. Narrator, Christina Moore, brings the story alive through Izzy’s convoluted therapy sessions and her dysfunctional family and friends, including footnotes and appendixes.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Shanghai Girls

Lisa See does it again! Her most recent novel, Shanghai Girls is skillfully plotted with rich characters plus an exotic location. See tells the story of sisters Pearl and May Chin, born to middle class Chinese parents in glamorous 1937 Shanghai. Both girls are modern, smart and beautiful and are having the time of their lives thanks to their father’s successful rickshaw business. Their lives take a dramatic turn when their father tells them he has gambled away his wealth, and in order to settle his debts, he has sold them as wives to two California brothers. The girls must leave Shanghai immediately and travel to Los Angeles to honor their father’s agreement. Pearl and May set out on a perilous journey amidst Japanese bombs and the horror of invasion by Japanese soldiers. When they reach Los Angeles, they must contend with strangers for husbands and try to adapt to American life. Shanghai Girls is the story of sisters; devoted, best friends who share hopes, dreams and a past. See is an expert storyteller and this novel will not let you down. If you like Shanghai Girls, check out her other titles: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Dragon Bones, The Interior, and Flower Net.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wicked Plants

Have you threatened to poison someone lately? Apparently it is easier to do than you think. (Not that I'm suggesting anything of course!) But in the book, Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart, you can get a lot of information about dangerous plants and their nasty and lethal side effects.

Everything from Castor beans, Arrow poisons and deadly Nightshade is covered here. Stewart and her illustrators make the details very plain. This tree bark will kill you, this plant will try, and this one can be found in every backyard on your block. Hmmm. Maybe a plant identification session of your yard is in order. Stewart makes the seemingly dry topic interesting, informative and entertaining. This well written and researched book is a great resource your botany shelf. Perfect for those mystery writers who are trying to get rid of a character!

This book makes you want to heed what your mother used to say; "you do not know where that's been, don't put that in your mouth!" A very good read.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chicago Tribune's "Printers Row"

What better way to keep track of book related news, reviews and events, than the Books section of the Chicago Tribune which has recently been redesigned to Printers Row! You can check out the online blog version of Printers Row on the Chicago Tribune website. It's a great source for local literary events including author signings, awards, reviews, book clubs and major events. Twitter fans can also follow them at ChiTribBooks. For those hardcore book lovers, you might also want to check out the Books section of The New York Times, which is worth bookmarking in your favorite book related sites, as well!

Print editions for both Printers Row and The New York Times Book Review are kept at our Reader Services Desk, on the desk counter which has our new "Readers Shelf" display.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

National Reading Group Month

October has been designated National Reading Group Month by the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA). Reading groups are demonstrating that great books bring people together, a winning combination. The library offers book discussions for every interest from our newest group Book It! On Friday Nights (nonfiction books) to our long time favorite Travel With Me. Have your own book club? Book Club in a Bag provides the tools your group needs for a great discussion in one easy kit. Celebrate the joy of shared reading.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chicago International Film Festival

The 45th Annual Chicago International Film Festival starts this week on Thursday October 8th. This year's festival kicks off with Uma Thurman's Motherhood and ends on October 22nd with a screening of The Young Victoria. One thing that sets this year's festival apart is that all films will be screened in ONE location, the AMC River East 21. If you're a film buff you won't have to take a car or cab from venue to venue to make it to more than one screening. This is a great opportunity to not only see well regarded first run films on their first trip to the Midwest before wider release, but you can also gain some access to behind the scenes perspectives with appearances from Uma Thurman, Martin Landau, and Willem Dafoe. Of course, you can always do your homework here at the library and check out other films by festival directors (Lars Von Treir, Tsai Ming-Liang, Ken Loach) and actors (Charlotte Gainsbourg, Emily Blunt) to compliment the festival screenings.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Acoustic Soul

I was introduced to India.Arie at Ravinia as an opening act for John Legend. Although she is by no means new to the music scene, she embraces R&B with a touch of hip-hop, but she isn't subject to its stereotypes. The thread that runs through both her music and hip-hop is that it’s a very precise expression of the way she has lived her life. Along with the guitar and beautiful voice, India.Arie plays saxophone, baritone clarinet, french horn, and tenor recorders along with the trumpet. Her personal understanding of the physical, spiritual and emotional aspects of music pervade the album "Testimony; Vol 2 Love Politics". She's a Storyteller, songwriter, singer with music that truly inspires.