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.

Darcey Bussell

titleDarcey Bussell: Darcey's Ballerina Heroines and A Ballerina's Life. 2014. (DVD 792.8 Darcey)

Calling all ballet geeks! If you'd like an intelligently organized and sharply observed overview of ballet history and the ballet world, plus a closer look at five outstanding prima ballerinas, Darcey Bussell, former principal with England's Royal Ballet, could not be a better spokesperson. She retired in 2007 but is still very much involved in the dance world. She's the charming narrator of this documentary twin-set which is graced with a rich stock of photos and film (even some very old footage, sans the herky-jerky timing, of Pavlova). The camera work is generous. So often in dance documentaries, you are only given a few seconds to catch a glimpse of a variation. Here Bussell lets the camera linger and you really can relish what's on the screen. The second part ("A Ballerina's Life") is her story and it's more talky than the first part. She was promoted very early in her career, but always felt insecure. I can't imagine why. The footage of her rehearsing and performing shows a spectacular dancer.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)




The Detectorists


The Detectorists. 2015 (DVD TV Detecto)

I checked out this low-key BBC series as a break from all the gritty crime dramas I've been watching. Accustomed to tense, action-packed series, I almost started to doze - nothing much was happening at first, or so I thought. But I was wrong. This quirky story follows two of the most unlikely but endearing leading men ever. Calling themselves "detectorists", amateur metal detectors Lance and Andy are sure there is buried Saxon treasure on a neighboring farmer's land. Despite finding mostly junk (ring-pulls from soda cans, etc) they persist in their quest. Toby Jones plays Lance who is still obsessed with his ex-wife; Mackenzie Crook (writer/director of this series) is Andy who lives with his beautiful but exasperated girlfriend. Throw in rival detectorists (the Antiquisearchers), the oddball members of the detectorist club, the mad farmer with his invisible dogs, and a pretty newcomer to the club and you have the ingredients for a very charming and delightful comedy. (Laura, Reader's Services)



The Jewish State


Herzl, Theodor. The Jewish State. 1988 (originally published 1896). (305.8924 Herzl.T)

At age thirty-five, nine years before he died in his native Austro-Hungary, Theodor Herzl published this nationalist manifesto. Though he judged his own arguments "ancient," the book generated immediate acclaim and controversy.  His last decade was spent traveling from capital to capital to build support.

Arguing that Jews possessed a nationality, and that they could not truly assimilate in Europe--"we are drawn to those places where we are not persecuted, and our appearance there gives rise to persecution"--Herzl pushed for an independent state, either in historic Palestine or in Argentina. Supporters of existing Zionist movements allied themselves. Establishment Jewry rejected his ideas as a misguided threat to integration.

Was his vision inspired? Irresponsible? Both? Hard to say. What's undeniable is the impact of this book and Herzl's subsequent tireless efforts. He laid the groundwork, literally, for later events that produced the modern nation of Israel.

Read more: The Jewish State


The Three-Body Problem


Liu, Cixin. The Three-Body Problem. 2014. (Science Fiction Liu.C)

This best-selling science fiction novel, originally published in Mandarin in 2006 by the popular Chinese author Cixin Liu, has only recently been released in English by Tor Books. Liu writes what can best be described as “hard” sci-fi, meaning his prose is riddled with mathematical equations and terms lifted from physics textbooks.  Though some of the images and scientific concepts will appeal to scientifically-informed readers, other chapters of the book – particularly those placed in a virtual reality computer simulation – assume the aura of a dream. This leads to a rather disjointed, inchoate narrative flow.  Undoubtedly, this may be attributed to the difficulty of translating from Mandarin. At one point a revolutionary shouts, “We shall persevere like the stubborn grass that resprouts after every wildfire!” These slightly askew phrases unfortunately disorient the English-speaking reader from an otherwise intriguing plotline. (Greg C., North Branch)


The Lunar Chronicles Series


Meyer, Marissa. Cinder. 2012. YA Fiction Meyer.M

Meyer, Marissa. Scarlet. 2013. YA Fiction Meyer.M

Meyer, Marissa. Cress. 2014. YA Fiction Meyer.M

Meyer, Marissa. Winter. 2015. YA Fiction Meyer.M

I wouldn’t consider myself a science fiction/fantasy fan, per-say, although I have recently been drawn to a lot of the teen dystopian fiction that has become popular after the success of the Hunger Games books. The Lunar Chronicles is a fantastic series with wonderfully written characters and a richly developed futuristic world. And even though it is geared towards teens, the story is one that can be enjoyed by adult fantasy fans as well. Each of the four books is a loose take on a classic fairy tale: Cinder (Cinderella), Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel) and Winter (Snow White).


Read more: The Lunar Chronicles Series


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