All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir Manifesto

This memoir manifesto is a must read.  George M. Johnson takes us through growing up as a Black Queer boy and how different moments and people in his young life shaped who he is today.  George shares very intimate moments of this life; from traumas he experienced, his first time having sex and to his deep relationship with his grandmother.  He discusses his Black and Queer identities and how in some situations he minimized aspects of them.  George’s candidness, passion and honesty create a very thought provoking and engaging read. 

All You Can Ever Know

Nicole Chung tells a beautiful story of the mystery of her birth and adoption simply and with deeply considered truth. Trans-racial adoption was both a great gift and also a burden for her. Terrific writing. (Ms. Chung is a magazine editor by day.) I especially loved her description of motherhood and birth preparation and how it stirred her up to investigate her own birth family. When pregnant with my second, I too needed to go on a (different) journey of self discovery and vulnerability and this book captures that. Masterful.

How to get this book during the Stay at Home Order?

  1. It is available in paperback! Use Booked, Bookends & Beginnings or Page 1, all Evanston-based small businesses, by ordering on their sites.
  2. It is instantly available as a downloadable ebook or eaudiobook. Need help with Hoopla? Need a library card to check out on Hoopla?

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka

A heartfelt new memoir from Jarrett Krosoczka, of Lunch Lady fame, this book is about growing up without parents because of their drug abuse and being raised instead by grandparents. Jarrett Krosoczka traces his life from his birth to his high school graduation, not sparing the reader the hard realities of living first with a drug addict and then with grandparents. However, his grandfather sends him one summer to art school and of course it makes all the difference. Hey, Kiddo, is certainly the best graphic novel I read this year — Printz award material! Don’t miss this one.

A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance by Marlena De Blasi

Writer/chef Marlena De Blasi tells the incredible and captivating story of her late-in-life romance with and marriage to a Venetian bank manager, Fernando, who fell in love with her the moment he saw her in the Piazza San Marco. Although he didn’t have the courage to speak to her, a year later when she returns to Venice, he decides fate has placed her in his path. He pursues and eventually convinces her to leave her life in the U.S. and marry him.

De Blasi doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges of marrying a non-English speaking Italian but neither does she downplay the charm and romance of her new husband and her new city. Her descriptions of Venice and what life is like as a resident rather than a tourist are fascinating and richly told. I especially loved her amusing stories about the food vendors at the Rialto market. It’s a warm and honest story, told with humor, insight, and charm. I can’t wait to read her next book!

The Folded Clock : a Diary by Heidi Julavits

The Folded Clock is a diary of sorts, but not one that follows standard chronology. Like memory itself it jumps around in time but with so much wit and insight that it makes no difference. The experience of reading it is like peering into the mind of a funny, insightful, honest friend who shares her thoughts about life, parenting, writing, marriage, aging, youth, friendship and much more. Highly recommended.

A House in the Sky : a memoir by Amanda Lindhout

This gripping memoir tells the tale of a young Canadian woman, a budding journalist, who was kidnapped and held for ransom by Muslim insurgents in Somalia in 2008. It’s a harrowing story of survival that had me biting my fingernails as she and her photographer friend escaped but were recaptured; as they strove to survive abuse, starvation, isolation and never-ending fear. The title refers to the coping mechanism Amanda used to survive mentally. She imagined “a house in the sky” where she could rest, and be safe and sane in the midst of her nightmare.

Virginia Quiñonez’s Best Reads of 2016

December 29, 2016

virginia quinonezMy name is Virginia Quiñonez, and my partner and I just moved to Evanston this fall. Besides reading, I love hiking, music, and film festivals. I work at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

1) The Time in Between by Maria Dueñas (2012)

This is one of my favorite books in recent years. A classic romance and mystery novel with a different kind of heroine.

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An Interview with Poet Amy Newman

December 2, 2016

amy-newman1If Amy Newman’s On This Day in Poetry History is topping your must-read list, you’re certainly not alone. Poetry lovers here at EPL have been clamoring for a copy since the summer, and demand for her follow-up to Dear Editor only continues to grow. Described as a “dazzling new collection” by the NY Times, On This Day in Poetry History finds Newman exploring the lives of poetry heavyweights such as Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Berryman in search of that elusive “moment when a person becomes a poet.” A wholly innovative mix of biography and stunning verse, Newman’s latest showcases what Image praised as her “true mastery [of the] ability to play with language.” We recently spoke with the Northern Illinois University professor via email about rediscovering poetry in Manhattan, the history and allure of the “Confessional” poets, the challenges of biographical poetry, and how her favorite poem from the book came into being.

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An Interview with 'The Ghost in My Brain' author Clark Elliott

November 1, 2016

clark-elliottOn the rainy evening of September 27, 1999, Dr. Clark Elliott was en route to DePaul University to deliver a lecture when his car was rear ended at a Morton Grove stoplight.  Shaken but seemingly uninjured, Elliott continued on to DePaul’s campus unaware he’d suffered a concussion that would dramatically alter his life.  In his remarkable new memoir The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get It BackElliott details the harrowing effects of his concussion along with his remarkable recovery almost 10 years later with the help of two cutting-edge Chicago doctors.  This Monday, November 7th you can hear Dr. Elliott discuss The Ghost in My Brain when he visits EPL’s 1st Floor Community Meeting Room at 7 p.m.  In anticipation of his visit, we recently spoke with him via email about the debilitating concussion symptoms he fought to overcome, brain plasticity, the groundbreaking work of Drs. Donalee Markus and Deboray Zelinsky, and the reasons he wrote his book.

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Football Season Starts So Pick Up Some Pigskin Related Reading

September 10, 2015

That smell in the air?  It’s the scent of footballs whizzing through the air at a rapid rate.  It may still be warm outside but football season is fast upon us.  And what better way to celebrate than reading the latest gridiron-related publications out this year?  Here are the latest books on our shelves, ready for you to punt over the circulation desk and into your home:

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