Sunday, December 30, 2018

Reading Reflections 2018

The New Year is fast approaching and it's a perfect time to reflect on what I've read over the past year. It's been a great reading year for me! I've read and listened my way across the genres and for the first time in a long time a nonfiction book is my favorite read of the year, American Wolf: a true story of survival and obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee. Here are a few of  my other good reads from 2018.  Maybe you'll find one that peaks your interest. What's your favorite book of 2018?

American Wolf: a true story of survival and obsession the West by Nate Blakeslee
An intimate account of the rise and rein of O-Six, the legendary Yellowstone wolf, describes, how after being hunted to near extinction by the 1920's, conservationists worked tirelessly to restore the species against a backdrop of debates specifically affecting the American West.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Celestial and Roy are newly married with a bright future when Roy is convicted of a crime he did not commit. This is not a heroes vs. villain's tale with a neat resolution. It is a complex, muddled, and thought-provoking story about love, family, and the wide-reaching effects of incarceration.

There, There by Tommy Orange
A large cast of interlaced characters depicts the experience of Native Americans living in urban settings. Perfect for readers of character-driven fiction with a strong sense of place.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Leni and her dysfunctional family embark on a new way of life in Alaska's wilderness in the mid-1970's, hoping this is the solution for her troubled father. In Alaska, each member of the family is tested and when change comes to their community her father's anger threatens to divide the town. This is an exquisitely written novel, descriptive and engaging with well-developed characters and a very strong sense of place.

Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict
Charming, richly-detailed, biographical and historical fiction. In 1860s Pittsburgh, Clara, an Irish immigrant takes a job working as a maid for Andrew Carnegie, with whom she falls in love, and then goes missing.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Glenview Opera Lecture Series II

As we enter the year 2019, we are regaled with the stories, history, and music featuring the operas being presented at the Lyric Opera of Chicago by members of The Opera Lovers Lecture Corps.  Come join other opera lovers on Thursday evenings in the Multipurpose Room from
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm.

Elektra by Richard Strauss (January 24)
As a child, Elektra witnesses the murder of her father, King Agamemnon, by her mother, Queen Clyrtemnestra and her lover Aegisthus.  Elektra lives for the death of her mother at the hands of her brother Orestes.  But he has been killed and Elektra seeks her revenge herself.

La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi (February 14)
Violetta, a desirable Paris courtesan, is sought after by society's most important men, but she's wealthy and perfectly content with her carefree existence - until she meets Alfredo Germont.  Alfredo's father pushes them apart, and although they are reunited in the end, it is much too late.

Ariodante by George Frederic Handel (February 21)
Medieval Scotland.  Ginevra, daughter of the King, is in love and betrothed to Prince Ariodante.  She rejects the amorous advances of the duke of Albany, Polinesso, who then cruelly tricks Ariodante and Ginevra's father into believing that Ginevra is unfaithful.  Aridante attemps suicide and Ginevra is condemned, but after a challenge to a duel by Lucanio, Ariodante's brother, the dying Polinesso admits his plot and the lovers are reunited.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Best of 2018 Fiction

As we come to the end of 2018, we reflect on a year's worth of great fiction writing. There are many lists out there: NPR's Best Books of 2018, Best 10 Books of 2018 by the New York Times, Time Magazine Best Fiction Books 2018, to name a few. Here are some highlights:

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family's chic apartment in Paris's upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
A novel set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris follows the director of a Chicago art gallery and a woman looking for her estranged daughter in Paris who both struggle to come to terms with the ways AIDS has affected their lives.

There, There by Tommy Orange
Twelve Native Americans came to the Big Oakland Powwow for different reasons. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life together after his uncle's death and has come to work the powwow and to honor his uncle's memory. Edwin Frank has come to find his true father. Bobby Big Medicine has come to drum the Grand Entry. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil Red Feather; Orvil has taught himself Indian dance through YouTube videos, and he has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. Tony Loneman is a young Native American boy whose future seems destined to be as bleak as his past, and he has come to the Powwow with darker intentions--intentions that will destroy the lives of everyone in his path.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children--four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness--sneak out to hear their fortunes. Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality. The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Celestial and Roy are newly married professionals leaning in to a bright future when Roy is convicted of a crime he did not commit. This is not a heroes vs. villains tale with a tidy resolution. It is a complicated, messy, moving, and thought-provoking story about love, family, and the wide-reaching effects of incarceration.