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.

The Arab of the Future


Sattouf, Riad. The Arab of the future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984: a graphic memoir. 2015 (B Satto.R Satto.R)

There is something about graphic memoirs that enable readers to immerse themselves in another’s life, both visually and through stories and—in the case of this book—with vivid descriptions of smells and sounds. A new world can open up, and that is exactly what happened to me when reading this book. Sattouf’s memoir of his young childhood spent in France, Libya, and Syria is one of the best that I have read in years. This is a complex book. It is often sweet but also disturbing. It is a very personal story but also casts light on larger world issues. The section on Syria is especially unsettling. Here, in a small village, Sattouf meets his extended family. The first Arabic word he learns from his violent cousins is yehudi, “Jew”—the ultimate insult. Syria is shown as broken but, at the same time, it is place that Sattouf’s father loves—both because his family is here and because he cares deeply for the country and its people. A bestseller in France, this book is the first of a trilogy. I can’t wait for the next books to come out.  (Heather R.)


Everything, Everything

titleYoon, Nicola. Everything, Everything. 2015. (YA Fiction Yoon.N)

Seventeen year old Madeline lives in a bubble, suffering from Severe Combined Immunodeficiency. She has not left her house since she was a sickly infant, seeing no one in real life except her mom and her nurse. Each has to spend an hour in a decomtamination chamber before entering the house. Madeline's school is online, her books her only friends. Her father and brother were killed in an accident when she was tiny so she and her mom only have each other. Until a new family moves in next door, a troubled family with a hot son Madeline's age, Madeline has understood that the limitations on her life are for her own good. Soon she is IM'ing with Ollie and wondering if life without a life is worth living. How much is she willing to risk to touch him, to breathe fresh air, to escape from herself? What will happen to her, to her mom, if she steps outside?

(Nancy E., North Branch)


Behind the Scenes at the Museum

titleAtkinson, Kate. Behind the Scenes at the Museum. 1995. (Fiction Atkin.K)

If you loved Life After Life, if you were engrossed by A God in Ruins, then do as I did and heed Laura H.'s review and read Kate Atkinson's first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Here are sown the seeds that will one day produce the fully ripe fruit of her later novels. Listen to these lines from the penultimate paragraph, "... any day now I intend to begin work on a grand project...There will be room for everyone-for they all have a place amongst our branches and who is to say which of these is real and which a fiction? In the end, it is my belief, words are the only things that can construct a world that makes sense." Her multi-level worlds reflect and reveal what to us is real.

(Nancy R., North Branch)



Passionate Journey


Tompson, Marian Leonard. Passionate Journey: My Unexpected Life. 2011. (B Tomps.M Tomps.M)

"Breastfed." It's a word that editors used to avoid. But thanks partly to Marian Tompson, co-founder of La Leche League (and an EPL patron), it's a widely-used word and a commonplace in our culture.

In this autobiography Tompson writes in ordinary prose about what began as an ordinary life. She was "just a wife and mom" ... who happened to start a breastfeeding discussion group that exploded into La Leche League. (Why this name? Partly to avoid the word "breast.") Since 1956, when membership comprised seven friends in the Chicago-area support group, LLL has grown to several million members in over sixty countries.

Read more: Passionate Journey


The Girls of Atomic City

titleKiernan, Diane. The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II. 2014. (940.53082 Kiern.D)

It's 1942. Imagine you've just been hired by the US military to work on something top-secret only referred to as "The Project" helping to develop something only referred to as "It." You're sent to a town in the middle of almost no place built solely for this purpose called Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where you and about 75,000 other workers from all backgrounds and educational levels do anything from menial labor to sophisticated chemical testing without really knowing why. Your job as a cubicle operator is to sit at a panel of six or seven dials making minute adjustments all day long. You don't know what your girlfriend in the next cubicle is doing, nor do you dare ask. You haven't a clue about what the folks one floor up are doing or what those in the basement of this vast, thrumming structure are up to. Kiernan's account of the lives of nine women who worked at Oak Ridge occasionally drifts into the realm of melodrama, but this fascinating book reaches well beyond the lives of these women to tell the story of the Manhattan Project and our race to build an atomic bomb.

Read more: The Girls of Atomic City


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