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 Ocean at the End of the Lane

titleGaiman, Neil. The Ocean at the End of the Lane. 2013. (Fiction Gaima.N)

Did it happen? What did happen? Who was he then and who were the Hempstocks? What were the Hempstocks? What did happen? A middle-aged man returns to his hometown for a funeral. He is drawn to a house down the lane from where he lived as a young boy. He finds old Mrs.Hempstock still there. She doesn't look any different than when he was friends with her daughter but, of course, he was seven then so everyone looked old. Didn't they?

(Nancy E., North Branch)

 

You Are Not a Stranger Here

titleHaslett, Adam. You Are Not a Stranger Here. 2002. (Fiction Hasle.A)

Like in any sunlit walk, the shadows highlight the beauty of the day. In these eight stories, sadness and compassion intertwine, heightening the tension. Each character is trying for a connection despite mental illness or physical distress or emotional pain. Mania, depression, suicide of a loved one, loneliness afflict the individuals portrayed and yet they carry on, longing for peace. Beautiful and sad, these stories spiral around the reader.

 (Nancy E., North Branch)

 

   

Girl Walks Into a Bar

titleDratch, Rachel. Girl Walks Into a Bar: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle. 2012. (B Dratc.R Dratc.R)

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 the iconic late night NBC show. In fact, it pretty much stalled. There were a few small movie roles here and there, as well as her initial, yet ill-fated casting as Jenna on 30 ROCK (A never aired pilot episode featuring Dratch was filmed before the role was taken over by Jane Krakowski).  In this wonderful autobiography, Dratch fills us in on not only her life before SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE—her childhood in Lexington, Massachusetts, her college years at Dartmouth, her time in Chicago doing improv at Second City— but also, what she’s been doing since leaving— namely, dating a string of less-than-stellar guys before finally finding a good one and, at the age of 43, accidentally getting pregnant. Dratch is incredibly grounded and writes in a way that is extremely relatable. Her tales about the highs and lows of Hollywood and fame are funny and insightful, as is the recounting of her journey into the unexpected world of motherhood. I was a fan of Rachel Dratch long before reading this book (I was lucky enough to see her at Second City before she joined the cast of SNL), but her honesty and candor in this autobiography only made me admire her all the more. (Jeny, Reader’s Services)

 
   

My Name is Lucy Barton

titleStrout, Elizabeth. My Name is Lucy Barton. 2016.

How does this brilliant novelist (Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award Finalist, O.Henry Prize among others) manage to write about a successful novelist whose work I would never want to read?  Young mother, wife and fledgling author Lucy Barton is in the hospital for nine weeks recovering from surgery.  Exhausted and bored, Lucy is surprised when the mother whom she hasn't seen in nine years appears at her side, summoned by Lucy's husband. In the dark, they speak of people they knew, avoiding any mention of the poverty and embarrassment that filled their family's life or of Lucy's present life. Lucy mentions, apologetically, to her mother that she has published a couple short stories and sensing her mother's discomfort, immediately diminishes her accomplishment. Lucy's manner of speaking is repetitive and deprecating and I can't imagine voluntarily reading the stories she writes. But I learn a lot about humanity from the stories Elizabeth Strout writes.

 Nancy E., (North Branch)

   

Yes Please

titlePoehler, Amy. YES PLEASE. 2014. (CD 791.45028 Poehl.A)

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 audio version of this book especially wonderful is the guest appearances by other celebrities that we all know and love: Carol Burnett, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, Seth Meyers and features voice over from Amy’s own parents. The last chapter is performed live during a one night-only event at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade in Los Angeles. While I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book as much if I had read it in its paper form (it’s a bit scattered and disjointed and at times feels more like a self-help book than an autobiography), listening to it was wonderfully entertaining. This is a great pick if you’re going on a summer road trip and looking for a funny book to help pass the travel time. (Jeny, Reader’s Services)

 

   

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