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.

Complete Poems

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Parker, Dorothy. Complete Poems. 1999. (811.52 Parke.D)

My colleague Russ Johnson's call for poetry in April (for EPL's "Off the Shelf" blog) pushed me to check out poets I hadn't read before, Parker among them.  I knew her only from her irritated New Yorker quips and essays.  This collection has some of that spirit, but also wonderfully musical pieces, some of them almost sentimental. Still, the best stuff is rendered in Parker's unlucky-in-romance voice, such as this short piece called "Comment": Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song, / A medley of extemporanea; / And love is a thing that can never go wrong; / And I am Marie of Roumania.  (Jeff B., Reader's Services)

 

The Burgess Boys

titleStrout, Elizabeth. The Burgess Boys. 2013. (Fiction Strou.E)

You can't go home again. Or, rather, as Elizabeth Strout counters in her most recent novel, you can't leave home...not really. Nor can you be unaffected by family turmoil no matter how far away you move. When teenage Zach, living with his divorced mom Susan in the tiny, claustrophobic town of Shirley Falls, Maine, gets himself into a maelstrom of trouble with the law and his community, Tim and Bob Burgess, his two uncles, must suddenly pay attention to the sister and hometown they have tried not to think about or bother with too much as they live their comfortable (Tim) or get-along (Bob) lives in New York. Both are lawyers--Tim is take-charge, sure of what to do; Bob is more the hand-holder type, never quite sure what to do, but more willing to just be there for everyone. Long-ago a family tragedy set these three siblings on the paths to their current lives and the way they view each other. Strout's skill at reeling out the story and the fine touch she uses in developing her characters makes this book a pleasure to read.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)

   

The Signature of All Things

titleGilbert, Elizabeth. The Signature of All Things. 2013. (CD Fiction Gilbe.E)

I listened as I walked and I often walked a lot farther than I had originally intended. Juliet Stevenson's voice is soothing and powerful, lending a hypnotic aura to a compelling tale of self-discovery and scientific discovery. It is the age of reason and Alma Whitaker, born to the richest man in Philadelphia in 1800, is immersed in studies of the classics and of the natural world. Alma's driving force is her curiosity, her need to know why and how. She craves love, too, but, unlike her beloved mosses which she can pin under a microscope, she cannot pin down the right man. Alma's life and adventures cover a good part of the nineteenth century and the known world and we're privileged to accompany her on her journey.

(Nancy E., North Branch)

 

   

Rabid

titleWasik, Bill and Murphy, Monica. Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus.  2012. (614.563 Wasik.B)

Growing up in the 50s, in a "little houses" development near some empty land that became prairie-like in the summer, one thing that could drive us kids to cowering in our houses was word that a rabid dog was roaming the neighborhood. Sometimes it was just a rumor; sometimes the police drove through the streets warning residents that there really was a sick dog around. And once, there was a kid who was bitten by a suspected rabid dog, and we agonized vicariously over the horrid series of shots (in his stomach!) he had to get. So, naturally this book caught my attention.

Read more: Rabid

   

Silver People

titleEngle, Margarita. Silver People. 2014. (YA Fiction Engle.M)

Sad prose poetry, poignant and colorful, marks the story of the building of the Panama Canal from the points-of-view of the imported laborers, the indigenous people, a few of the bosses, and the natural inhabitants of the forest: the trees; frogs; birds; monkeys. Mateo is eleven, fleeing a brutal father in Cuba when he falls for the false advertisements put out by the building company. The laborers try to hang on to their dignity while working under brutal conditions for a company that pits nationality against nationality, white against non-white, class against class. Mateo, who loves to draw, meets an herbalist, a brave and gentle native girl, and befriends Henry, a Jamaican digger. They bring solace to each other in this beautiful but dangerous place.

(Nancy E., North Branch)

   

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