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.

Sketches: New and Old

Twain, Mark.  Sketches: New and Old.  1996 (originally 1867-75).  (Fiction Twain.M)

Mark Twain helped pave the way for many serious writers--Ernest Hemingway famously commented that all modern American literature comes from Huckleberry Finn.  But Twain also broke ground in comic short fiction and non-fiction, setting the stage for great humorists like Ian Frazier, David Sedaris, Dave Barry, and even Jon Stewart.  This great collection contains some classics--but many more that I had never heard of.  (Jeff, Reader's Services)


American Vampire

Snyder, Scott. American Vampire (Vol. 2). 2011. (Graphic Novel Snyder 2)   

If you prefer evil, bloodthirsty vampires to undead eye candy, the second book in this truly scary graphic novel series is not to be missed. Following up 2010's tag team debut with Stephen King, Snyder continues the violent tale of vampires Skinner Sweet and Pearl Jones - a fierce new American breed of fanged fiend that draw power from the sun.  While Pearl has settled down to a quiet California life with her human love Henry, Sweet is as cunning and ruthless as ever.  Haunting 1930's Las Vegas, the notorious outlaw stops at nothing to fend off his ancient European night rivals while staying one step ahead of the fascinating sheriff and vampire hunter Cash McCogan.  With bold, black-and-red artwork by Rafael Albuquerque and Mateus Santolouco, American Vampire is a smart, gruesomely imaginative story virtually guaranteed to give horror, noir, and Western fans a sleepless Halloween night.   

Russell J (Readers' Services) 


The Space Between Us

Umrigar, Thrity. The Space Between Us. 2007. (Fiction Umrig.T 2007)

For those who love the lush, eloquent style of contemporary Indian literature, Thrity Umrigar’s novel The Space Between Us is a must read.  This provocative and disturbing story centers on the relationship between two women—an educated middle-class woman, Sera, and her illiterate servant, Bhima.  Sera’s happily-married daughter is pregnant; but so is Bhima’s unmarried granddaughter.  Sera has often rescued Bhima from crisis during the 25 years of Bhima’s faithful employ…how will she help Bhima now, with her granddaughter in this untoward predicament? Umrigar writes beautifully about the two women’s complex relationship in a society where rigid class structure and gender taints and complicates each relationship. (Russ K., Ref.)


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


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