Chicagoans to Receive National Medal of Arts Award

July 23, 2014

joan harrisThe 2013 National Medal of Arts, the government’s highest award for artists and art patrons, will be presented by President Obama to 12 honorees on July 28. Among the recipients are Chicago philanthropist and arts patron Joan Harris “for supporting creative expression in Chicago and across our country, and historian Darlene Clark Hine “for enriching our understanding of the African American experience”. Other medal winners include novelists Julia Alvarez, and Maxine Hong Kingston. For the complete list of awardees see this short article in the Chicago Sun-Times.


Jane Austen, Popular in Any Format

December 11, 2013

10artsbeat-jane-articleInlineA watercolor portrait of Jane Austen commissioned by her nephew in 1869 sold for $270,000 at Sotheby’s on Tuesday. The anonymous private collector who purchased it called the portrait “the most important likeness of Jane Austen ever to appear on the open market.” The painting by James Andrews was taken from a pencil portrait by Austen’s sister Cassandra and is thought to be the “only confirmed portrait of Austen made before her death in 1817.” The pencil portrait is owned by the National Gallery in London. You can read more in this NYT article.


A Salute to Philip Roth – An American Master

March 13, 2013

13philip-1-articleLargeCelebrations are in the works to help commemorate Philip Roth’s 80th birthday next week (March 19). For those of us who can’t get to Newark for the $35 bus tour traveling to places recalled in his books, or who weren’t invited to the literary party given by New York magazine, we can look forward to the new American Masters film Philip Roth: Unmasked which  has its world theatrical premiere beginning today at Film Forum in New York City and premieres nationally Friday, March 29 on PBS stations. Although Mr. Roth grants very few interviews, he allowed a journalist to spend 10 days interviewing him on camera, culminating in this 90-minute documentary–which will be purchased for the library collection.  You can read the entire NYT article here. And check out the EPL catalog for books by and about the Philip Roth.


Gore Vidal, 1925-2012

August 1, 2012

Prolific author, playwright, actor, and raconteur died Tuesday from complications of pneumonia at the age of 86. A versatile writer, he published 25 novels (The Golden Age, Lincoln, Myra Breckinridge to name a few), two memoirs and several volumes of essays. He also wrote plays, television dramas, and screenplays, including the the movie adaptation of his friend Tennessee Williams’s play Suddenly, Last SummerHis best known and most successful play was The Best Man which ran for 520 performances on Broadway and then became a successful film in 1964 starring Henry Fonda. He also ran for Congress in 1960, encouraged by his friend Eleanor Roosevelt. And although he lost, “he received more votes in running for the seat than any Democrat in 50 years”. The New York Times has an in-depth obituary in today’s paper, including his famous run-ins with William F. Buckley and Norman Mailer. Fascinating article.


To Goodread or Not

September 15, 2011

I’ve flirted with Library Thing, and the I’m Reading app on Facebook, but when it all comes down to it; no one wants to have to deal with another online resource. Why would I want to remember one more user name, or have to deal with another password? For a long time, I felt this way about Goodreads.  I knew I was supposed to use it—I mean, I was a librarian for Pete’s sake!  Yet, I resisted.  I think the magic moment happened when I was trying to figure out what to read next, and I discovered their lists. You know that feeling of floating through a bookstore, browsing section by section with a latte in your hand, just excited to find that next big read that will keep you up all night? Continue reading “To Goodread or Not”

Return of the Independent Bookstore?

August 1, 2011

Best-selling author Ann Patchett is opening a new bookstore in Nashville, Tennessee to “connect with true book lovers”. According to Karen Hayes, who has teamed with Patchett to sell books: “There are times where even when it’s convenient to read on your e-reader, you want that printed word, you want that piece of art. You want it on your shelf. You want it in your hands. It just means something so special.” Patchett will be joining the ranks of several other well-known authors who own bookstores: Larry McMurtry, Louise Erdrich, and Garrison Keillor. Read more in this recent Chicago Sun-Times article.

Laura, Reader’s Services

National Book Festival Celebrated in Wash, D.C.

October 7, 2010

Despite the intense heat (over 90 degrees!) many people turned out to join in the Library of Congress‘ 10th Annual National Book Festival on Sept. 25, 2010 held at the Mall in historic Washington, D.C. ( For those of you who haven’t been there, this is a wonderfully large, public space where people are encouraged to enjoy the Smithsonians (19 free world class museums) lining the walkways of  the area between the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building. I highly encourage you to make the trip.)

Anyway, please check out the Library of Congress’ website explaining the programs for children and adults.  Plenty of exciting events were planned: book signings, dozens of author talks and appearances, and children’s and teen activities. The lineup of authors was quite impressive, for instance, famous children’s author, Rosemary Wells ( of the Max and Ruby series) was there along with fiction writers Ken Follett, Diana Gabaldon, and Pulitzer-winning historian David Remnick! That’s a small sample! You could even vote for your favorite author. Enjoy browsing-

Shira S.

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