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.

Top of the Lake


Top of the Lake. 2014. (DVD TV Top)

Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) gives a terrific performance in this multi-layered, provocative mini- series, written and directed by Jane Campion (The Piano). Set in New Zealand, Top of the Lake’s main story focuses on the disappearance of a 12-year-old pregnant girl, daughter of the town’s drug dealer. Moss (with an Australian accent) plays detective Robin Griffin brought in to help find her – and in the process confronts her own dark and troubling past. There’s nothing conventional about this mystery series: filled with twists and turns, it not only has stunning images of the landscape, but a cast of some very unusual characters, including an almost unrecognizable Holly Hunter as the guru of a woman’s camp. Shown at the Sundance Film Festival, it received high praise for its writing, directing and acting. It’s a very strange mix of genres and I’m not sure everything works but I found it addictive nonetheless. (Laura, Reader's Services)


Borgen (seasons 1-3)

titleBorgen. 2013. (DVD TV Borgen Season 1)

In a nutshell this is "The West Wing" in Danish. Local and global politics, ethics, scandals and more are the substance of this intelligent, finely acted, 3-season series. "Borgen" means castle or fortress in Danish, and the Parliament building is Copenhagen's castle. We meet Brigitte Nyborg in season 1 as the first female Danish Prime Minister, her election a surprising upset. She's got a steep learning curve and the stakes are high. Her private life is turned around and the press is always sniffing around for a bigger story than what's on the surface. In Danish with English subtitles, but many scenes with international dealings are in English (at which the Danes are perfectly fluent). Great series, too bad there won't be a season 4, although it was confirmed that the BBC and HBO were set to begin production on a U.S. remake of the series.

Barbara L., (Reader's Services)


Deadly Outbreaks

Levitt, Alexandra M. Deadly Outbreaks: How Medical Detectives Save Lives Threatened by Killer Pandemics, Exotic Viruses, and Drug-Resistant Parasitestitle. 2013. (614.4 Levit.M)

Wow! Based on the subtitle here, there's a lot of malevolent stuff out there just waiting to get us. So, despite an overabundance of acronyms and chemistry jargon (which I happily glazed over), this book was just my cup of tea. Each chapter told the compelling story of a set of symptoms, inexplicable deaths, and a medical mystery that needed solving pronto. Author Levitt shows us the day-to-day workings of health care professionals, epidemiologists, and researchers who must think both inside the box and outside while racing the clock to prevent greater disasters. Sometimes it's just as simple as noticing a small detail (why, during an outbreak of what was thought to be St. Louis meningitis in Queens, were so many dead birds found?). Sometimes it was a matter of an agonizingly long wait for lab results and then another wait for a second lab to confirm them. If you enjoy this sort of scientific cliff hanger and want something other than politics, the economy, and what to have for dinner to fret over, give this a try.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)


I Am Forbidden

titleMarkovits, Anouk. I Am Forbidden. 2012. (Fiction Marko.A)

If you are ready to die for your religious beliefs, does that make you a righteous person? Are you qualified to teach others your beliefs and judge their actions against yours? In the ultra-orthodox Hasidic communities after World War ll, the imperative to "Be fruitful and multiply" took on a powerful urgency.  If a young woman had thoughts of a life or education beyond the traditional, to act upon it meant she was dead to her family and friends.  Mila was nourished by the community in which she lived, Atara suffocated by it.  Each one, full of love and longing, had to choose what she wanted to be; neither's choice was neat. The repercussions may be felt for generations.

(Nancy E., North Branch)


The Goldfinch


Tartt, Donna. The Goldfinch. 2013 (Fiction Tartt.D)

Theo Decker, a 13-year old boy whose life is forever changed after tragic circumstances clings to the one thing that keeps the memory of his mother alive -a priceless painting of a tethered bird. This dense novel, called “Dickensian” by several reviewers has been on every best-seller list since it was published – and there are 120 reserves on our copies. So does it live up to its hype? Despite its somewhat intimidating length (750 plus pages) and tendency towards excess in the final section, I say yes. Donna Tartt creates fully-realized characters, a story that is completely absorbing and multi-layered, and a richly woven tapestry about art, love, loss, and the randomness of life that you won’t soon forget. Read it.

Read more: The Goldfinch


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