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.

Last Call at the Oasis


Last Call at the Oasis.  2011.  (DVD 333.91 Last)

Participant Media, the company behind such eye-opening documentaries as An Inconvenient Truth and Food, Inc., turns its attention to the growing water crisis. The core problems--supply and safety--are explored very emotionally, with particular outrage toward chemical companies. Climate change is another basic driver of the looming tragedy. Written and directed by Jessica Yu--and dedicated in part to Yu's husband Mark Salzman (author of Iron and Silk, among other fine works).

(Jeff B., Reader's Services) 


Catfish Alley

titleBryant, Lynne. Catfish Alley. 2011. (Fiction Bryan.L)

1931 is not an easy time to be black in Clarksville, Mississippi. The community of slave descendants is tightly knit, supportive and protective of their own but really bad things still happen. In 2002, Roxanne Reeves, a white woman who is the director of the annual Antebellum Plantation Tour in the town, is responsible-much to her dismay-for developing a tour that will include spots in the town important to the African-American community. Grace Clark, elderly black citizen of Clarksville who has a powerful memory, leads Roxanne through the stories of the black community, introducing the white community to the invisible people in their midst. For readers who loved The Help.

(Nancy E., North Branch)


Signed, Sealed, Delivered

titleSankovitch, Nina. Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing. 2014. (808.6 Sanko.N)

As a chilld of the 60s, I was expected to write letters: thank you notes, bread and butter letters (go ask a 20-something if they know what those are), letters home from college when a long-distance phone call was reserved for catastrophic or highly-exciting-in-a-good-way news, and, my favorites--letters to my pen pal in New Zealand. I don't think I even came close to the expressive, meaningful, entertaining letters that Sankovitch presents in her delightfully written treatise on the art and impact of letter writing. She takes us on a journey of people's innermost feelings as they write home from the front to a beloved financée, or write fan letters to celebrities they'd love to meet, or pen mildly erotic love letters to the person they are already married to. We learn that people are idiosyncratic in their writing. The Lindbergh baby kidnapper was identified by his repeated use of misspelled words, his odd phrasing (he was not a born English speaker), and his penmanship.

Read more: Signed, Sealed, Delivered


A Fall of Marigolds

titleMeissner, Susan. A Fall of Marigolds. 2014. (Fiction Meiss.S)

Intertwined stories about heartbreak and rebirth weave through the early twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Clara, a nurse, is a survivor of the Manhattan Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911. She is hiding from her pain by working and living on Ellis Island, a land of in-between. Taryn is a 9/11 widow, working in a fabric store in Manhattan, avoiding telling her daughter, with whom she was pregnant, what she witnessed on that day. A vividly woven challis scarf connects the two women, tying their stories together.

(Nancy E., North Branch)


Under the Wide and Starry Sky: a novel

titleHoran, Nancy. Under the Wide and Starry Sky. 2013. (Fiction Horan.N)

Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife Fanny loved each other deeply. Already married when she first met him, Fanny kept the sickly author, ten years her junior, alive far longer than he was expected to live by her devoted nursing and fierce protectiveness. She traveled with him across three continents and several South Sea islands in their search of a place where his lungs could heal and he could write. They were each strong-willed, temperamental, compelled to create art. Though themselves often impoverished, they helped support other family members and friends for years. When she fell into mental illness, he nursed her to health with his love poems. She gave up many of her dreams to care for him and he risked his health to do the same for her. Neither their love nor their lives were uncomplicated.

(Nancy E., North Branch)


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