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.

NPR Classic Driveway Moments

titleNPR. NPR Classic Driveway Moments. 2010. (CD 791.44 NPR).

Two hours of our drive to central Michigan flew by as we listened, laughed, and cried with the storytellers on this two disc set of previously broadcast stories from All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Several were unforgettable:  My So-Called Lungs, Laura Rothenberg's diary of two years in her early twenties living with cystic fibrosis; Amy's Answering Machine, a compilation of Amy Berkowsky's mother's embarrassing and hilarious messages left for Amy on her answering machine; Hitching a Ride with Junior McGee, about an unexpected ride at 150 miles per hours with a  joyous wild man; or Misunderstood Song Lyrics which made you want to pitch in with your own. We can't wait for our next drive to try another  Classic Driveway Moments CD.

(Nancy E., North Branch)


Lucky Us

titleBloom, Amy. Lucky Us. 2014. (Fiction Bloom.A)

It is lucky for us that Amy Bloom writes novels with single-minded characters steamrolling over the other less driven characters on the way to their self-interested goals because they are just plain shocking fun. Oddball families form, dissolve, reform in order to survive their quirky situations.  In 1939, recently discovered half-sisters Iris and her faithful sidekick Eva, flee their wayward, selfish father to head to Hollywood where Iris is going to be a star. Nothing goes as expected for long. Iris discovers women, Eva finds servitude and friendship. With a fast-moving, ever evolving storyline, we're never sure where we're going but are certain we want to go along for the ride.

(Nancy E., North Branch)


The Red Garden

titleHoffman, Alice. The Red Garden. 2011. (CD Fiction Hoffm.A)

At the foot of the Berkshires in Blackwell, Massachusetts, generation after generation of intrepid or foolhardy or lonely descendants of the first settlers live out their lives, their fates entwined by shared history. Wanderers appear and stay in Blackwell, or like Johnny Appleseed, continue on their way leaving a bit of themselves behind. In these fourteen chronological tales, from the founders who survived the first winter due to the bravery of a young woman from England through the American wars and the wounded who returned or never left, every day life looks miraculous and magical like the garden where everything that grows turns red.

(Nancy E., North Branch)


Silent Witness


Silent Witness. 2014 (DVD TV Silent Season 1)

I’m a big fan of Amanda Burton (The Commander, Helen West Casebook) – she brings authenticity and vulnerability to all her roles. And in this forensic thriller series she’s superb as brilliant London University professor and pathologist Sam Ryan. With her unfailing ability to find clues from the bodies both at the scene of the crime and during the autopsies, she’s usually one step ahead of the police in solving the murders. In this debut season she deals with some very disturbing cases, including the tragic death of a six-year-old girl; a ritualistic murder, and the death of a man in a police cell. Just as fascinating as the cases though is Dr. Ryan herself. As the series evolves, we learn about her past, including the death of her father from an IRA bomb, and her relationships with her family and former lover. Although the series began in 1996, Season 1 has just been released on DVD - and as one reviewer so aptly noted: "this series knocks the socks off of any CSI or American clone." (Laura, Reader's Services)




The Rental Sister

titleBackhaus, Jeff. The Rental Sister. 2013. (Fiction Backh.J)

Hikikomori are a phenomenon in Japan, adolescents and adults who refuse to leave their rooms to engage with the world. Thomas, burdened by enormous guilt, has retreated to his bedroom in his New York apartment for three years. His patient wife, lonely and sad, has tried for those three years to bring him back out. Finally, she hires a young Japanese woman to entice Thomas to leave his room. Megumi brings her own terrible sadness to the task, including the pain from her older brother's withdrawal and her mother's subsequent flight. These two broken people need to help each other heal in order to reengage with family and friends.

(Nancy R., North Branch)


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