Readers' Services

The Readers’ Services staff can help you find specific materials and can offer reading suggestions. Please phone (847) 448-8620 for assistance. Use Novelist, to find reviews, reading guides, and reading lists for fiction lovers.

We Are Our Brains

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Swaab, D. F. We Are Our Brains: A Neurobiography of the Brain, from the Womb to Alzheimer's. 2014. (612.82 Swaab.D)

The premise of D.F. Swaab’s book We Are Our Brains is perfectly reflected in its title: thanks to inherited genes and hormones washing over our fetal brains, our future characteristics, talents and limitations are largely established by the time we’re born. By adulthood, there is little about our brains that can be modified. Swaab, an internationally renowned neuroscientist, explains how mother and unborn child ‘work together’ for a successful birth; if they don’t, the child’s development may be thwarted. Swaab shows how gender identity and sexual orientation are predetermined by hormones in the womb. He delves into adolescent and adult brains; how brain damage alters personalities and creates fascinating illusions for the afflicted (schizophrenia, autism, and a host of unusual conditions).  Lastly, Swaab explores human morality (it’s an animal thing), religiosity (determined by genes and the brain); and the ‘Near Death Experience’ (just the brain shutting down). We Are Our Brains is an excellent read; highly recommended. (Russ K., Ref.)

 

 

The Lunchbox

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The Lunchbox. 2014. (DVD Foreign Hindi Lunchbo)

DVD Foreign Hindi Lunchbo

The system of delivering lunches in Mumbai India is so famous Harvard Business School did a study on it. Every day wives make hot home-cooked lunches which are picked up by bicycle delivery men (dabbawallahs) to bring to their husbands in offices all over the city. Up to 250,000 lunches are delivered that way every day without a hitch. But In Ritesh Batra’s debut film one lunchbox is delivered to the wrong man – and what a good thing for us and him. Neglected and lonely wife Ila makes special meals (which look so delicious you can almost taste them) for her husband which get delivered to dour, middle-aged Saajan by mistake. A series of heartfelt handwritten notes are sent back and forth in the lunch box – a correspondence that evolves into a sharing of confidences. We know from the expressive faces of the two main actors exactly what they’re feeling – and we sympathize with them. This isn't your traditional romantic comedy, though - it's a bittersweet and moving film with an unexpected ending. I loved it.

(Laura, Reader's Services)

 

   

The Divorce Papers

titleRieger. Susan. The Divorce Papers. 2014. (Fiction Riege.S)

Dr. Daniel Durkheim, successful and self-important pediatric oncologist, is suing his wife, Maria (Mia) Mather Meiklejohn Durhkheim, blond heiress, for a divorce. We know because we see the summons which was served to her in a popular "ladies who lunch" restaurant. In the Epistolary 2.0 (author's description) debut novel, letters, emails, court filings fly. Legal pleadings, heartfelt pleadings, legal discovery documents, shocking discovery documents, legal threats, personal threats, drunken threats, love notes, personal notes, doctors' notes fill us in on the story. Thank goodness it's 1999 so we are spared texts, Twitter and Facebook. Sophie Diehl, young, single criminal lawyer in a small firm, is pressed into service as a fledgling divorce lawyer in a "meet cute" way. We watch as, against her will, she is drawn into Mia's and Daniel's battles. Doesn't she have enough of her own problems? Not for the recently divorced, but perhaps for those contemplating divorce is this amusing, cautionary tale.

(Nancy E., North Branch)

   

Black Seconds

titleFossum, Karin. Black Seconds. 2007. (Mystery 2007)

9-year old Ida Joner is missing. She'd left her house to ride her bike to the candy kiosk a mile or so away. This happens at the get-go in Fossum's chilling tale, and you know something horrible is going to happen. In fact, Fossum's method of playing out the story doesn't really keep you in the dark: you meet the prime suspects--a local character, a mute, autistic man and his elderly mother; you follow Inspector Sejer's thinking on the troubling case and how doubts keep creeping into his mind; and even the parallel plot lines wave large red flags about connections to the case. Slowly and carefully, Fossum builds tension, and you can't help but try to figure out whodunit. I know I did. Was I right? Ah, there's the rub--Fossum is not only good at basic plot and character development; she's a master of the unexpected twist in the tale.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)

   

Scott & Bailey

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Scott & Bailey. 2013. (DVD TV Scott Season 1)

In this BBC series newly available on DVD the personal lives of the detectives are just as interesting as the crimes they solve. Detective Inspectors Janet Scott and Rachel Bailey work for the murder investigation team at the Manchester Metropolitan police force. They’re great at solving murders, but dealing with their own problems – not so much. Single and involved with a married barrister Janet Scott is the younger of the two; Rachel Bailey is unhappily married with two daughters. Each case they work on is separate but we eagerly follow their personal stories throughout the series. I really like the interaction between Scott and Bailey - friends as well as colleagues, they often disagree but are supportive and honest with each other. Great acting and scripts and involving situations make this the best female cop series since Cagney and Lacey. EPL has Season 1; Season 2 is on order. (Laura, Reader's Services)

 

   

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