On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks

On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks

On the Move is a fitting title for the final memoir of neurologist and author Oliver Sacks, who passed away in August 2015, just months after its release. On the Move is a lively and occasionally melancholy recounting of Dr. Sacks’ life. Growing up the youngest of four sons born to Jewish doctors in England, […]


Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch

Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch

You may remember Rachel Dratch from her years on Saturday Night Live as she brought a host of wacky characters to life, including her most memorable, Debbie Downer. Or… you may not even know who she is. Unlike her SNL counterparts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Dratch’s career did not quite skyrocket once she’d left […]


Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I love autobiographies by funny women. And as much as I love reading them, I enjoy listening to them even more. There’s just something about hearing one of your favorite comediannes tell you about her life in her own words, in her own voice. Amy Poehler’s Yes Please was a fun listen. What makes the […]


Mind Your Manors by Lucy Lethbridge

Mind Your Manors by Lucy Lethbridge

Still pining for Downton Abbey? Still dreaming of leading a posh life wearing gorgeous clothes, sipping tea in those elegant rooms? This book may be the antidote. Remember how the TV series showed us quite a bit of life below stairs? Ah, but it only touched the surface (dust-free, no doubt) of how much backbreaking, […]


The Defender by Ethan Michaeli

The Defender by Ethan Michaeli

  I knew The Defender was highly influential in Chicago, especially on the south side, but I didn’t know about its national reach. For much of the 20th century the newspaper was near the epicenter of the nation’s social and political turbulence. It swayed the elections of Chicago mayors, of course, but also the elections […]


Little Black Dress by Shannon Meyer

Little Black Dress by Shannon Meyer

LBD. Little black dress: a fashion concept both simple and complex that’s rich with possibilities. This is a truth “modern” designers (think Chanel and later) grasped to the benefit of thousands and thousands of women who wonder what to where…anywhere. Black was originally a color of mourning that arose from pagan ritual practice and the […]


Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America by François Weil

Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America by François Weil

First, this book isn’t a ‘how to’ manual on genealogy. Instead it’s a slightly academic work on the ‘why’ of genealogy in the United States from Colonial America to the DNA-testing era of our century. Weil’s thesis is fascinating: Americans’ search for identity through genealogy has firm roots in the desire to improve their social […]


King of the World by David Remnick

King of the World by David Remnick

Remnick opens the story on February 25, 1964, when Muhammad Ali was twenty-two and about to face the fierce heavyweight champion Sonny Liston: “for the first and last time in his life, [Ali] was afraid.” It’s a shrewd distillation of a historic moment. Not many expected Ali to win–just as not many expected him to […]


Into the Magic Shop by James R. Doty

Into the Magic Shop by James R. Doty

Doty had me at the first sentence: “There’s a certain sound the scalp makes when it’s being ripped off the skull-like a large piece of Velcro tearing away from its source.” It’s good that I was gripped right away because this story of a boy born to poverty, with an alcoholic father and severely depressed […]


“Most Blessed of Patriarchs” by Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf.

“Most Blessed of Patriarchs” by Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf.

When I was growing up my politically centrist parents sometimes called me Jefferson. They idolized him as a broad-minded small-government hero and wanted me to do likewise. So I did, having no idea what that meant. Decades later I’m less a fan of his politics–for the moment I’m in the corner of his rival, Alexander […]