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.

Stupid and Contagious

titleCrane, Caprice. Stupid and contagious. 2005 (Fiction Crane.C)

Caprice Crane’s debut novel,Stupid and Contagious, initially piqued my curiosity because: 1) Ms. Crane is the daughter of Tina Louise (remember “Ginger” from Gilligan’s Island?); 2) the cover title refers to Nirvana’s most awesome song “Smells Like Teen Spirit”; and, 3) the cover design (to your left) showing the kids sitting on the retro-green couch with orange shag carpet at foot is pretty cool.  So I started reading Stupid and contagious and—despite some early reservations—continued on through the very end. I really liked this book!  The story involves a lovable loser, “typical guy” Brady Gilbert who’s struggling to make money at his floundering record company, Sleestak Records; his psycho neighbor, Heaven Albright, is struggling as a waitress after losing her high-paying PR job in Manhattan. Stupid and Contagious is totally a fluff-romance novel: perfect popcorn for the brain if you’re going on vacation or doing the beach. But best of all, Stupid and Contagious is not just a very funny book, author Caprice Crane proves herself to be refreshingly clever, too. (Russ K., Ref.)



So Much Pretty


Hoffman, Cara. So Much Pretty. 2011. (Mystery Hoffm.C)

So Much Pretty, by Cara Hoffman, is a mystery with heavy themes: physical and sexual violence, lost innocence, corporate wrongdoing, and revenge, to name a few. It's also a novel about three women: Wendy White, a young waitress who has disappeared from the small, upstate New York town of Haiden; Stacy Flynn, a reporter looking for a big story about the environmental impact of the large dairy farm that is Haiden's primary employer; and Alice Piper, a teenaged genius living in Haiden with her quirky, back-to-the-earth parents. 

Wendy's disappearance provides Stacy with a different big story to pursue: violence again women and society's unwillingness to take a stand against it. Told from multiple viewpoints and jumping around in time, the story of how Stacy's articles galvanize Alice feels a little disjointed, and Alice's extreme precociousness sometimes reads as obnoxious. Despite that, this novel is as suspenseful as it is disturbing and nearly impossible to put down. (Genevieve)


The Vow

TheVow_main The Vow. 2012 (DVD 791.4372 Vow)

A cute couple falls in love, gets married, lives a life of bliss, then gets in a car accident and the wife loses her memory.  It’s a story we’ve seen before, but maybe not with as attractive characters.  This is based on a true story and love does conquer all in the end, as a classic rom-com should, but it is kind of flat.  The “til death do us part” husband gives up a little too quickly and the amnesiac wife is not all that charming after her brain is addled.  I kept thinking while watching this that Rachel McAdams was playing the same role she did in The Time Traveler’s Wife; the adorable artsy one-of-a kind charmer.  You want them to end up together, but more so you want her to remember him and this epic love they shared.  One of those happens, one does not. (Kim - Reader's Services)




The Grey

the-grey-posterAUThe Grey. 2012 (DVD 791.4372 Grey)

This movie was advertised as a mixture of Alive and 127 Hours.  So think plane crash, survival, and horrible circumstances where people are forced to cut off their own body parts and eat fallen comrades.  This IS NOT that movie.  I love…nay LOVE Liam Neeson in his transition from heavy-hitting leading man dramatic roles to his unlikely turn as a hardcore action hero.  This movie lacks both the gravity of Neeson’s dramatic talent and the kick-butt revenge seeker from Taken.  It is a short film at an hour and a half and begins with a bar fight, which leads to a plane crash, which leads to the survivors adrift in the arctic being hunted by a pack of wolves.  No one eats the cadavers and no one cuts off an arm.  There are quite a few wolf attacks, but the wolves themselves look like they could be straight out of the Twilight movies.  After wolf fights and heartfelt talks about mortality, the film just ends with no conclusion.  All in all, I wanted more.  More blood, more death, more gore, more man on wolf action, and more Irish brawler Liam. (Kim - Reader's Services)     



The Calculus Wars


Ackroyd, Peter. Newton. 2006. (B Newto.I)

Bardi, Jason. The Calculus Wars. 2006. (515.09 Bar)

Hellman, Hal. Great Feuds in Mathematics. 2006. (510.9 Hellm.H)

My two middle-school kids are learning algebra and geometry, which I discovered I mostly remember.  But they’re heading toward calculus, which I discovered I had mostly forgotten.  So I started re-educating myself.  While getting re-educated I learned the remarkable story behind calculus.

But first:  What is calculus?  In simple terms, it’s the mathematics of changing values.  In less simple terms, it’s the set of tools for calculating “momentary” values like acceleration, deceleration, or slopes of curves (that’s differential calculus), and the related set of tools for calculating “cumulative” values like area, volume, or work (that’s integral calculus).

In metaphorical terms, it’s the song of the universe.  I think of algebra as the words, and geometry as the music. Combine them and you get the song: the song of motion, engineering, physics, medicine, statistics, business, computers, even sports—any field in which problems can be mathematically modeled, and in which optimal solutions are desired.

Read more: The Calculus Wars


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