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.

Still Life With Bread Crumbs

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Quindlen, Anna. Still Life With Bread Crumbs. 2014. (Fiction Quind.A)

The title of Anna Quindlen’s latest book intrigued me, especially after seeing a recent exhibit of American still life paintings at the Art Institute last year. But this still life is a photograph described as “a vaguely Flemish composition of dirty wine glasses, stacked plates, the torn ends of two baguettes, and a dish towel singed at one corner by the gas stove” which launched Rebecca Winter’s famed career. Now at age 60, her star is fading, her money dwindling, and her family floundering. Subletting her expensive Manhattan apartment, she rents a dilapidated cabin in upstate New York and begins the process of reinventing her life and finding new inspiration for her artwork, as well as becoming involved with some of her interesting new neighbors. Despite a somewhat pat outcome, this was an insightful and satisfying read. After all, a story about "une femme d’un certain age” who discovers herself and finds love to boot – what’s not to like? (Laura, Reader's Services)

 

Fran

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Woodring, Jim. Fran. 2013. (741.5973 Woodr.J)

Jim Woodring is a psychedelic, trance-inducing treasure. His wordless graphic novels tell dreamlike stories of strange, blissful creatures in bizarre, exotic lands. I follow their escapades over and over and always find something at which to marvel. (Heather N., Reader's Services)

 

   

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

titleZevin, Gabrielle. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. (Fiction Zevin.G)

This book is adorable. It's a story about a widowed book lover who sells and talks books with other book lovers. He adopts a precocious two-year old who is abandoned in his store by a desperate mother who cannot care for her and wants her to grow up surrounded by and loving reading. Filled with endearing characters and literary references, this quick read is cute, improbable, charming.

(Nancy E., North Branch)

   

Maud Martha

titleBrooks, Gwendolyn. Maud Martha. 1953. (Fiction Brook.G)

The language in Gwendolyn Brook's only novel for adults is lyrical and lovely though the simple story is of an every woman living her daily life, being courted, marriage, childbirth, disappointments, friendship.  In short poetic chapters, Maud Martha is a keen observer of the family and neighbors, racism and love that surround her.  Set in Hyde Park, Maud Martha makes the best of life that she can in this polished gem.

(Nancy E., North Branch)

   

The American Way of Death Revisited

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Mitford, Jessica. The American Way of Death Revisited. 1998. (393 Mitfo.J)

Here's the classic anatomy of our society's funeral and cemetery industries, revised and expanded. In 1963, the first edition of this exposé was a best-seller, prompting legislation aimed at reform. Thirty-odd years later, Mitford found that well-intended laws had had little effect: the deck is still stacked against the bereaved, who are often misled, manipulated, pressured, and worse. Some funeral directors even continue to push hard (and bill heavily) for embalming, claiming falsely that it's a legal requirement and the responsible choice. But beyond blaming directors and their lobbying arms, Mitford broadly faults a culture resistant to the reality of death and focused on status. (How else to view embalming and fancy caskets?) That culture of self-deception, Mitford argues, is the main driver of the high emotional and economic costs of U.S. funeral practices. (Jeff B., Reader's Services)

   

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