Dive into Chicago’s past with relevance to the racial issues still facing Chicago and other communities today with this nonfiction read. A Few Drops of Red, sets the stage of all of the different events that led up to the race riots; from immigrants from Europe and southern Blacks coming to Chicago, to the meat packing industry changing and booming. Hartfield introduces a variety of interesting figures like Ida B. Wells – Barnett, a trailblazing Black journalist and advocate or Gustavus Swift who became a giant in the meatpacking industry. The story is laid out well making it a gripping and tense read complete with pictures from the time period.
The Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Project recently announced the 2016 winner of its annual writing competition, and now your list of “must-read” books is officially one title longer. Choosing from the best self-published fiction Illinois writers have to offer, librarians throughout the state selected Geralyn Hesslau Magrady as this year’s winning author for her excellent historical novel Lines–. Set in 1870s-era Chicago and filled with incredible period detail, Magrady’s book explores the historical struggles for workers’ rights and gender equality while tracing the life of Livia Haas – a young German woman who experiences first love and terrible loss while surviving both the Great Fire and the Haymarket Affair. Though her summer is packed with statewide book readings and signings, Magrady recently paused to speak with us via email about her contest experience, her real-life inspiration for Livia Haas, research at the Berwyn Public Library, Emily Dickinson, and what she hopes readers will take away from Lines–.
If you’re looking for something to do next weekend, keep the Printers Row Lit Fest in mind. There will be more than a few literary stars, fun activities, and interesting discussions. After skimming thru the list of events, I would say there’s an even balance between authors, poetry, food demos, and readings for youth, among other types of happenings. Look for the singer Sting, who will be on hand to work on a storytelling project!
Heard on WBEZ this morning a great story about a teacher who decided to open her porch full of books to neighborhood children. The kids are learning about responsibility, community, and reading. Rachel Perveiler’s choice to share books is clearly making a positive impact on those around her.
Worldcon is starting in a few days–this is one of the major science fiction gatherings of writers and fans. The Hugo Awards (World Science Fiction Society) will be announced and you will be able to see a real astronaut! (For those of you who are interested in etymologies, the Worldcon site discusses the roots of common words that originated in science fiction, such as spacesuit.)
Many activities of a space-related theme are planned, such as theater performances, walks, concerts, author appearances, and even a dance. See what’s orbiting around the Hyatt this week! EPL science fiction collection.
The Huffington Post has started a series on the status of libraries in the US. As I read this article, I noticed a quote from an Evanston resident regarding the closure of South Branch! At the heart of the discussion is the acknowledgment that the economy is weak and cities must cut back on expenses, but which jobs and what services should be cut?
Here in the Chicago area City Hall noted public outrage over projected cuts to the city library system. Given back: $ 3.3 million out of a proposed $ 7 million decrease. Another article which details the statewide cuts shows that education and social services took the biggest hits this year in Illinois. On the optimistic side, here’s a blog post on why librarians should adopt an in-your-face attitude like that of Lady Gaga!
Maybe this was naive, but I thought I’d look for noteworthy items on both the corruption of our area (which I was guaranteed to find), as well as material on some truly honest politicians or leaders (totally not guaranteed)!
(Left: click on the clever illustration of Illinois hiding behind corruption for a recent article in Chicago Magazine on Illinois’ reputation.) As far as books at EPL, do-gooders are scarce. The title Grafters and Goo-goo’s caught my eye. A “Goo-goo” refers to a person who’s trying to reform government, or a “good government” type. Curiously, the Daleys seem to evoke awe and pride amidst an awareness of less than honest dealings. Titles like The Winning Ticket or Clout– Mayor Daley and His City, reflect a degree of respect.
While I didn’t find many books on good politicians, I did find an art installation downtown to remind people to “Go Do Good” in six story letters. There also exists a civic initiative called ” One Good Deed Chicago,” to encourage individuals to volunteer their talents to specific programs.
Two years ago Pay to Play was published in response to Governor Blagojevich’s legal woes which lead up to his impeachment, a first in Illinois history. The book received acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly. I discovered a few articles and photo essays in light of Blago’s recent sentencing. During Blagojevich’s trial Judge Zagel pointed out, “Whatever good things you did for people as governor, and you did do some, I am more concerned with the occasions when you wanted to use your powers to do things that were good only for yourself.”
My favorite Chicago quote on this is: We Don’t Want Nobody Nobody Sent, which sums it up tidily.
Do not despair! Good news: according to one magazine Illinois is not the most corrupt state, nor is Chicago the most corrupt city. What a relief! To end on an upbeat note, I would refer you to this link which recognizes contributions made by city employees. My own feeling is that hundreds of public workers try to do a good job every day and remain largely unnoticed, while our attention is absorbed by media-hyped scandals. Unfortunately, some of them, like a corrupt governor, are too big to ignore.
You will be familiar with the names of some of these shops, but when was the last time you visited Myopic Books in Wicker Park or the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop? Read this list of noteworthy Chicago bookstores and consider taking a trip in the next few weeks. Browsing the shelves is always more fun than surfing the Net, isn’t it?
On last Wednesday’s edition of WBEZ’s Eight Forty-Eight, host Alison Cuddy shared the mike with two guests, TribLocal reporter Jonathan Burlington and WBEZ’s Director of Corporate Sponsorship and Business Development, Paul Friedman. Cuddy posed intriguing questions about the current state of budget negotiations in both communities and invited comparisons. There were a number of comments about the question of library funding, and how the two communities might differ in reacting to drastic cuts in hours and service. Listen to the broadcast here.