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.

Miss Spitfire:Reaching Helen Keller

Miller, Sarah Elizabeth. Miss Spitfire. 2009. YA Fiction Mille.S

Although written as a young adult book, Miss Spitfire will certainly appeal to an adult audience as well. The book tells the story from Anne Sullivan's point of view of the month long period of time when she first met Helen Keller and unlocked her world through language. Although fiction, the book is based upon true events taken from Keller's biography The Story of My Life, published when she was just 22 and a student at Radcliffe College. Especially interesting in her biography are the many letters that make up the last portion of the book. It is incredible to see her already composing letters just a few months after meeting Anne Sullivan. Both Miss Spitfire and The Story of My Life are worthwhile readings of two amazing lives.

Rika G.


The Water's Edge

Fossum. Karin. The Water's Edge. 2009. (Mystery Fossu.K) 

As I work my way through a nice long list of Scandinavian crime writers, I'm finding Norway's Karin Fossum's books especially satisfying. Inspector Sejer and his assistant Jakob Skarre (think Inspector Lewis and Sergeant Hathaway) take on the investigation when the body of a eight year old boy is found dumped in the forest near Huseby, a small Norwegian town outside Oslo. The child does not have a mark on him, but his shorts and shoes are missing. A local couple out for a Sunday stroll discovered the body, and may have seen the killer leaving the area. 

Read more: The Water's Edge


I Am J

Beam, Chris. I am J. 2011. YA Fiction Beam.C.
J, born Jennifer, has known for a long time that he was born in the wrong gender. After years of hiding his secret from his parents and classmates and hiding his changing body under a chest binder and big clothes, J finally decides to run away from home and live as the male he has always longed to be. Although the main plot line deals with J's life as a transgender teen, the book also covers universal challenges of just being a teenager. Beam, also the author of Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers, is a reliable author who knows her subject matter well and writes an engaging story of a young person trying to figure out who he is and who he wants to be. I Am J is an important book, not only for upper age young adults, but also for any parent who is raising a teen today. 

Rika G.


The Art of Racing in the Rain

Stein, Garth. The Art of Racing in the Rain. 2008. Paperbk Fiction Stein. 

Your dog looks up at you with his big-brown eyes and you wonder what on earth is he thinking? Well Enzo, the narrator of the book and a dog, will let you know. On the eve of his death, Enzo tells the story of his life. Stein weaves together a fun, funny, but also sad story of Enzo as well as a story of his family and the hard times they face. Fans of Marley and Me will love this book.

Rika G. 



Women of the Silk

Tsukiyama, Gail. Women of the Silk. 1991. (YA Fiction Tsuki.G.)

Pei, a young rural Chinese girl, is deposited at a silk factory (more like a group home for apprentices) when her parents become too poor to care for her. She cautiously navigates her new life among the other girls, finding her emotional footing with the help of a few loyal friends. This silk factory in the 1920's is more than a workplace, and under Auntie Yee's close supervision, the workers become like a family, for better and for worse. Tsukiyama can deftly evoke a mood with the barest minimum of words strung together, much the way I envision the bold strokes painted by a Chinese calligrapher. This first novel is not as finely nuanced as a later book, Dreaming Water, however, Women of the Silk will take you on a very rewarding journey all the same.

Shira S. (Reader's Services)


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