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.

To Marry an English Lord

titleMacColl, Gail and Wallace, Carol M. To Marry an English Lord: Or, How Anglomania Really Got Started. 1989. (974.7104 Macco.G)

In Edith Wharton's novel The Buccaneers, we meet a group of young American heiresses, daughters of wealthy and powerful men (but, alas, of families deemed a bit socially declassé by New York's entrenched 400 in the late 1800s in America) who swoop down like a fleet of pirates on British soil to marry the sons of the peerage, thereby gaining themselves a title (take that, Mrs. Astor!) while using their generous dowries to bolster the often reduced finances of these families. Downton Abbey's Lady Cora, daughter of a successful Jewish dry goods merchant and a socially ambitious mother, was just such a buccaneer. In MacColl's and Wallace's fact-packed book, we learn how it all came about. It wasn't that the Brits were any less snobbish. Rather it was the roving eye of the Edward Albert, Prince of Wales, that landed on these well-endowed and lovely ladies. If he liked 'em, his compatriot dukes, earls, baronets and marquesses figured, so should we, especially if they're loaded. Fast forward to the new millennium and here we are still fascinated by the English, especially those of the Gilded Age. This book will take you on a tour of the families, the heiresses, their estates, their fashions and foibles. And it names names: the Churchills, the Vanderbilts, the Colgates and more. It even includes a list of their English manor houses open to the public. Though published 25 years ago, this is very apt reading given the prospect of life after D. A. and the current hugely popular exhibit "Dressing Downton" at the Driehaus Museum.

Barbara L, Reader's Services




Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man

titleClegg, Bill. Portrait of  an Addict as a Young Man: a memoir. 2010. (616.86092 Clegg.B)

Why did he start? Because he's just a guy who couldn't say no. Why did he stop? Because he finally decided he didn't want to die. In between, all the usual happened: he drank, got stoned, drank, got stoned, moved on to crack, drank and did crack together.  He lost hours, days, his lover, family, company. He bounced in and out of rehab. There is nothing glamorous about addiction and Clegg writes flawlessly about what it is like to live it. However, at times I wanted to help put him out of his repetitious misery. Happily, he survived and went on to write a beautiful piece of fiction, Did You Ever Have a Family.

(Nancy E., North Branch)



titleAllan, Tony. Typewriter: The History, the Machine, the Writers. 2015. (681.6109 Allan.T)

I loved my IBM Selectric. It was my daily companion for almost 15 years when I was on the advertising staff of the Montgomery Ward Catalog (ancient, pre-Amazon retailing device). It had a distinctive sound and feel, and the a ribbon cartridge that was the devil to change. This book caught my eye because I knew that many versions of typewriters existed well before the Selectric, which my fellow copywriters and I thought was the state of the art. It actually was the last, best thing before personal computers took over, or nearly so. Tony Allan has given us a cleverly written overview of typewriter history. Vintage photos, ad campaigns, factoids and more flesh out the main body of text (presented in classic and slightly jiggly typewriter font, of course). It's the kind of little book that is the perfect thing to have read should you ever be faced with a Jeopardy category called...Typewriters.

Barbara L., Reader's Services 


Did You Ever Have a Family

titleClegg, Bill. Did You Ever Have a Family. 2015. (Fiction Clegg.B)

The pebble that is dropped in this pond is the explosion of June's home. June is mother of the bride, Lolly. In the house at the time of the explosion is Lolly, her fiance, her father (June's ex-husband) and June's boyfriend. From this disaster, the circles of the affected spread as June, families of the deceased, townspeople, strangers, and others peripherally involved tell their stories of what they knew. Regrets are manifold as the survivors contemplate their complicity in the hurts, unfinished business and secrets that can no longer be rectified. And yet, there is growth and hope in the process of mourning.  Resolution may be possible.

(Nancy E., North Branch)


Slade House


Mitchell, David. Slade House. 2015 (Science Fiction Mitch.D)

Slade House follows the events at Slade House, a house whose entrance is only openable by a special type of person at very specific times. The book spans from 1970, when a boy and his mother made the unfortunate mistake of visiting the house to meet the mysterious Lady Gray, through the ‘90s, when a young college girl disappears at a party at Slade House and her sister tries to look for her years later. David Mitchell does a great job of creating an atmosphere of suspense, even though the reader is aware of the antagonists early on. The reader knows what will happen next and can only watch as Slade House’s victims march to their seemingly inevitable doom as the antagonists draw them in and use their deepest fears, insecurities, hopes, and desires to entrap them. As the novel unfolds, the author allows the readers to catch a wider glimpse into the world of the inhabitants of the Slade House, and the explosive ending is cathartic to say the least. My only criticism of this book is that the author hits you over the head with the big reveal, which makes the antagonist seem like a mustache twirling, cartoonish villain. That said, David Mitchell is an incredible story teller and reading Slade House makes me want to read his other books, particularly Bone Clocks since apparently Slade House takes place in the same world. (Ariel E., CAMS)


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