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.

A Moveable Feast

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Hemingway, Ernest. A Moveable Feast. 2009. (B Hemin.E Hemin.E 2009)

Paris's literary scene in the 1920s was partly an American phenomenon with such luminaries as Ezra Pound, Ford Madox Ford, and Gertrude Stein at the center.  On the periphery were writers a generation younger, such as Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald.  In this posthumously-published memoir, re-edited and introduced by Hemingway's grandson, the twentysomething Hem is honing his terse style in nonfiction pieces and in observations of his fellow expatriates (Fitzgerald in particular).  Sometimes his now-familiar voice is used in gossip, shrinking both Hemingway and his subject.  Elsewhere, in confessional pieces, the muscular prose carries more heart than we're used to from this author, as in this conclusion to an essay about home life with his first wife: 

“The only one, Hadley, who had no possible blame, ever, came well out of it finally and married a much finer man than I ever was or could hope to be and is happy and deserves it and that was one good and lasting thing that came of that year.”

(Jeff B., Reader's Services)

 

Arne Dahl

titleArne Dahl Season One. 2014. (DVD TV Arne Season 1)

This wonderfully crafted police drama is based on the books by Swedish crime writer Arne Dahl. Led by veteran Chief Inspector Jenny Hultin, the elite "A" Unit tackles mob activities, international sex traffickers, drug dealers and serial killers. Working and family relationships enter into the mix, humorous interludes break some of the tension, but the overall adrenaline level of the story lines and pacing is high and terribly exciting. Unlike many series of this nature produced in the U.S., there is much less use of actual gun play and almost no explosions (so when they happen--wow--hold onto your hat). Fine acting by a nicely diverse group of Swedes, not all blond and blue-eyed, not all male. With 10 episodes, each over an hour long, you can luxuriate in a truly binge-worthy TV series.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)

   

The Math Myth : and Other STEM Delusions

altHacker, Andrew. The Math Myth : and Other STEM Delusions. 2016. (510.71 Hacke.A)

Building on his 2012 New York Times article, journalist Hacker questions some of the oft-repeated jeremiads about contemporary math education: Americans are falling behind economically and strategically because of poor math skills, companies can't find enough skilled workers due to poor math skills, the next generation is lacking in critical thinking and reasoning due to poor math skills. On the contrary, Hacker points out that the dearth in qualified job candidates is due to low salaries, not a small talent pool; that tech and engineering careers may require higher level math to get hired but NOT to perform the work; and that the short sighted focus on coding and computer skills is producing large numbers of unemployed young people with few other qualifications. In interviews with professionals in science, technology, engineering, manufacturing and actuarial work, Hacker reveals that few of these occupations require the advanced algebra, trigonometry, and calculus high school students are now being encouraged to take, and that unrealistic requirements are in fact barring talented students from the better colleges, and excluding them from professions like law, medicine and veterinary. science, as well as from many paraprofessional careers.

Read more: The Math Myth : and Other STEM Delusions

   

Some Luck

titleSmiley, Jane. Some Luck. 2014. (Fiction Smile.J)

This is the first book of Smiley's new trilogy. It's a rich family saga about the Langdon's, salt-of-the-earth Iowa farmers. The book spans the years 1920 to 1952--a grand sweep of American history that offers us a look at how big events (Prohibition, the Depression, droughts, wars, and more) affect this resilient family. In the first chapter--set in 1920--we meet them through the eyes of Frankie, Walter and Rosanna Langdon's firstborn. Smiley takes us inside his little mind and gives us his 5-month old impression of his world, a charming and funny view of a typical Iowa farmhouse. Each subsequent chapter adds a year to the saga, and the focus shifts from person to person as we watch the times change, the children (six altogether!) grow, and see how the relationship between Walter and Rosanna ebbs and flows as life brings its share of hardships, joys and surprises. I applaud Smiley's skill in describing a family and a large chunk of history without subordinating the distinctive characters of the members of this large clan. Each one makes us think about what it was like to live through this era or that event in different ways. Naturally, Frankie's WWII experience is vivid and thrilling, but even small happenings, like the death of a beloved farm horse, are affecting and meaningful. I look forward to the next two books: Early Warning and Golden Age.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)

   

Ruins

titleKuper, Peter. Ruins. 2015. (741.5973 Kuper.P)

This beautifully illustrated graphic novel combines three tales in one. There is the wordless story of Monarch butterfly migration, the drama of a troubled young couple at a turning point in their marriage, and the legends of the conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortés and his soldiers. Samantha and George are spending her sabbatical year in Oaxaca. George recently lost his job as an insect illustrator at a museum, freeing him to begin painting again. Samantha craves a baby while facing ghosts from her past; George is not ready for parenthood and is fascinated by the annual teachers' strike which this year turns violent. The alternately realistic and fanciful illustrations highlight the inner and outer turmoil in their lives. We also see the land and its stories as the butterfly makes its annual pilgrimage from the US to southern Mexico.

(Nancy E., North Branch)

   

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