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 Knick

titleThe Knick. 2015. (DVD TV Knick Season 1)

All I can say is thank god I was not alive in the year 1900, to be fair though, I don't think I would have survived long even if I had been.  This show is situated around the Knickerbocker Hospital at the turn of the century and its chief surgeon and staff.  Imagine the show House, M.D., but where the drug of choice is liquid cocaine, the procedures aren’t crazy sounding whims but truly crazy, and the racism is not just an offhanded remark.  In the age of robber barons and at the precipice of the modern age, the doctors at the Knick deal with life and death (emphasis on the death).  And along the way, viewers are introduced to Typhoid Mary and modern medicine alike.  The acting is superb, though the directing by the famed Steven Soderbergh is irritating because new GoPro techniques have no place in the operating theater where syringes are glass and suction is done with a hand pump.  Overall, this is a really graphic but interesting show about the birth of modern medicine.  (Kim - Reader's Services)


Woman in Gold


Woman in Gold. 2015 (DVD Drama Woman)

When I was in New York last summer I made a special trip to see Gustav Klimt’s painting The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (known as The Woman in Gold) at the Neue Galerie. Painted in oil and gold on canvas, it took Klimt three years to complete. A glorious work, it’s no wonder it was known as Austria’s Mona Lisa. Just as remarkable is the story of how this painting came to be housed in the Neue Galerie. The fate of Klimt’s 1907 painting is the subject of this 2015 film starring the always wonderful Helen Mirren. The painting had been stolen by the Nazis and displayed in Vienna’s Belvedere Gallery until Maria Altmann (Adele Bloch-Bauer’s niece) sued the Austrian government for ownership. After a lengthy court battle, it was established that Maria Altmann was the rightful owner of Klimt’s painting. In 2006 Ronald Lauder bought it for $135 million for the Neue Galerie’s permanent collection. Although somewhat formulaic, this is a fascinating and ultimately moving account of a still-painful period of history. And check out this article on the scenic artist who recreated the painting for the film. (Laura, Readers Services)


Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

altJonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. 2015. (DVD TV Jonathan)

Part of me wants to move to the UK for their culture, museums, Benedict Cumberbatch, etc., but the other part wants to move just to watch TV.  BBC rocks my world and this series is just the latest example of that.  Based on the book by Susanna Clarke, this show has been described as Harry Potter for adults.  There was once a prophecy that two magicians would return to London to restore English magic.  Now, I never knew English magic was a) a thing or b) in peril, but apparently it was during the early 1800s.  Enter Jonathan Strange, Mr. Norrell, and a fairy king.  It sounds weird, which it is, but I mean that in the best way.  The show is dark and cinematically striking, with intriguing characters.  My only complaint is the ending, which I will not spoil, but to say it was satisfactory would be a lie.  I read online she was working on a sequel, so I can only hope they’ll adapt it into another series to answer all my questions.  (Kim - Reader's Services)




Blumenfeld, Laura. Revenge. 2002. (364.152 Blume.L)

How would you respond if a terrorist shot your father? In 1998, twelve years after a bullet grazed Rabbi David Blumenfeld's scalp in Jerusalem, his daughter Laura (then a Washington Post reporter) set out to confront the gunman. Her book created a stir in many circles. Some readers applauded her triple investigation--into revenge traditions worldwide, into the shooter and his family, and into herself and her own family. Others decried a perceived self-indulgence. Some praised her principal theme of humanism: that terrorists can't stay terrorists if they know the potential victims personally. But many fellow journalists criticized her duplicity in cozying up to the gunman's family without identifying herself.

Read more: Revenge


All My Puny Sorrows

titleToews, Miriam. All My Puny Sorrows. 2015. (Fiction Toews.M)

"Airport, car door, buy a shower curtain, get a divorce" is the mental list Yoli makes on the way to visit her brilliant concert pianist sister Elfie in-once again-the psych ward after her latest suicide attempt. Depression and suicide run in the family. Laughter and clinging tightly to each other are the weapons of choice used by family members to fight the anguish. And words.They love words, flinging them about, shooting them like arrows, humor buoying this poignant story and banishing the darkness.

Nancy E., (North Branch)


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