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.

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)




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)


This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

titlePatchett, Ann. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. 2013. (B. Patch.A Patch.A)

A charming, sometimes laugh aloud, always touching collection of essays originally written as magazine articles, this book reminded me of Lay's Potato Chips.  There was no way I could read just one.  I would finish reading The Best Seat in the House or The Sacrament of Divorce or Do Not Disturb, think about it for a while and then look to see how long the next one was before deciding whether to turn out the light and go to sleep or to read it. I would always choose to read it. You should read it, too.

(Nancy E., North Branch)



titleRowell, Rainbow. Landline. 2014. (Fiction Rowel.R)

Would you go back to change something in your past if you could, despite the possible butterfly effect?  The chance for a redo both frightens and excites Georgie, a TV comedy writer in a struggling marriage in this beach read with a supernatural twist.

Having chosen to stay and write a spec script with her longtime partner instead of accompanying her husband and children on the their Christmas vacation, Georgie's guilt drives her to stay at her mother's home instead of her own empty house. There she discovers her old rotary phone which seems to connect her with her then boyfriend/now husband.  What will be the consequences for their future? This is a cute story though I prefer Rowell's young adult writing.

(Nancy E., North Branch)


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