YA Title for Adults to Savor, Too

December 23, 2012

NPR book reviewer Maggie Stiefvater recently noted that 55% of YA (Young Adult ) fiction is read by adults. She goes on to recommend five YA titles “you’ll never outgrow.” Her  favorite among them, and ours, too,  is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  As Stiefvater writes,  “[T]wo girls join the war effort in World War II Britain. During a mission, they’re shot down over France and a lengthy interrogation begins. What sounds like a deeply unpleasant story is actually a frequently wry and astonishingly real portrayal of two best friends. It’s hard, but not harrowing. And most importantly, it has stuck with me ever since I picked it up. It is one thing to love a novel. It’s another for that love to endure for months. It’s the holy grail for this particular reader, and that is why it is my No. 1 read of 2012. “

Olivia and Mary, RA

Dante Still Sings… via John Ciardi

June 15, 2011

A terza rima review of a great translation of The Divine Comedy

Midway in life’s journey, my path unclear,
  I got ’round to Dante in fine translation
  by John Ciardi, translator senza peer.
Ciardi had a songsmith’s ear and keen appreciation
  for the lilting Italian that served Alighieri
  so well in narrating his trek of salvation —
a vernacular narration to more widely carry
  Dante’s Trinitarian faith, plus his fey
  socio-political commentary.
Many translations capture his content, and convey
  his visionary Catholic genius, unfurled
  so confidently; and some find the way
to paint the pictures that leave your toenails curled
  in Hell, then Purgatorio and Paradi-
  so, guided by Virgil through the otherworld.
                                                                  Continue reading “Dante Still Sings… via John Ciardi”

Hi, My Name is Ted

August 14, 2010

Every once in awhile you come across something that is just too good to be described, too amazing to waste the time necessary to convince someone else of why they should care. In these rare instances there is nothing to be done but to grab the person by the shoulders, shake vigorously and shout in their face: “YOU NEED TO SEE THIS!” If it doesn’t take and you are met only with disinterest, confusion, or (most likely) a startled and somewhat frightened countenance, give up and move on. There are way too many people on this hunk of sweaty rock to waste time on the coy holdouts. But I digress. So now, kind reader, to return to my point, please take careful note of the large virtual hands on your shoulders, the strange (and vigorous) shaking sensation convulsing your body, and the intense and intent face of a half-crazed library employee shouting in your face: YOU NEED TO SEE THIS! Continue reading “Hi, My Name is Ted”

African American author and book resources

February 20, 2010

This post was originally published in the February 2010 issue of LibrarySparks.

I met Sharon Draper in a utility closet. Maya Angelou, Angela Johnson, and Jacqueline Woodson were there, too. I talked to Kadir Nelson, Ashley Bryan, and Walter Dean Myers. Yes, and even Christopher Paul Curtis. Can you guess the common thread that led to my encounters with these talented authors and illustrators?

I’m a librarian, but I don’t work in a library. In fact, for the last few months I’ve spent many hours working (quite happily) in a utility closet. Continue reading “African American author and book resources”

Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman

January 27, 2010

A departure from his usual subject matter, Krakauer’s latest chronicles the events that led to Pat Tillman’s tragic death in remote Afghanistan.  While Tillman’s death was initially blamed on an enemy ambush, weeks later the Army released information that suggested he was instead the victim of fratricide – killed by his own men.  Where Men Win Glory explores Pat Tillman’s life and probes the murky circumstances surrounding his death.

In some ways, Where Men Win Glory is much like Into the Wild (1996). In each book, Krakauer tells the story of a unique and perhaps misunderstood young man, who meets an untimely death under unusual circumstances. However, this is where the stories of Chris McCandless and Pat Tillman part ways. To reveal what he believed really happened to Pat Tillman, Krakauer starts with the story of Tillman’s childhood and young adulthood. I really enjoy this aspect of Krakauer’s style and writing. The details about Tillman’s childhood – the good and the bad – really helped create a much more engaging portrait of a man many people may assume was just some jock who enlisted and met an unfortunate end. If I had the same ideas prior to reading the book, Krakauer certainly shattered them. Although I definitely appreciated the glimpse into his character through his journal entries and through the accounts of friends, I did feel there was something missing. Apparently, none of Tillman’s family, except his wife, would interview on the record with Krakauer. Perhaps that explains why, at times, Krakauer’s descriptions of Tillman and his family felt a little flat. Moving beyond his exposition of Tillman, I felt Krakauer provided the reader with an unflinching portrayal of Army life. The book gave me something of an education about the realities of combat.

Where Men Win Glory also had a seemingly unabashed politcal agenda. While Krakauer’s leanings didn’t exactly bother me, I wonder if these rants weren’t just filler to distract from a somewhat thin, subjective telling. Perhaps these are some of the reasons why the book’s publication was originally postponed. I would consider Where Men Win Glory one of Krakauer’s weaker efforts. Yet, aside from these criticisms, I would still heartily recommend Where Men Win Glory to any Krakauer fan. The book still presents a riveting story that is hard to come away from unaffected. Like me, it may leave you lamenting the loss of a unique, talented individual who surely had an exciting future ahead of him.

(Karen H., Reference/Reader’s Services)

The Meaning of Ichiro by Robert Whiting

August 25, 2009

18722009“Americans liked Ichiro because, for one thing, he was a throwback to another time. He had reintroduced them to a style of offense that many MLB fans, accustomed to andro-induced sluggers and tape-measure home runs, had forgotten – an attack based on the single, the hit and run, and intrepid baserunning that had once defined the game.” – Robert Whiting, The Meaning of Ichiro

Robert Whiting’s book, The Meaning of Ichiro: The New Wave From Japan and the Transformation of Our National Pastime is a fascinating look at Japanese baseball – its history, its teams, its roots in martial arts, the tight grip that nationalism and corporate culture hold on players (and coaches), and how the pursuits of physical discipline, athletic perfection, and the “submergence of ego” destroy countless young players, as well as produce stars like Ichiro. You’ll read about Japanese managers who push their players in practice until they bleed, vomit, and collapse. You’ll read about how umpires in Japan are intimidated to change calls (offering insight into why the American rules protecting umps also protect the integrity of the game itself), as well as the details of a tortuous practice routine called “the 1,000 Fungo Drill.”

For those who enjoy reading stories about the clashes between players, agents and the front office, Ichiro has them in spades. Whiting’s book captures the inside negotiations, loopholes, crafty maneuvering, and bitter fights that finally cleared the way for Japanese players like Hideo Nomo and Ichiro to try their hands in America, (where before they were all but bound to Japan for life).

It’s also got stories about Americans in Japan, too. Pick up the book just to read the outrageous chapter in which former Mets manager, Bobby Valentine, leads one of the worst teams in Japan to second place and then gets sacked for it.

The book can get kind of dense, and it only covers the history of Japanese players in America up until 2003 (so you won’t find a mention of Cubs favorite, Kosuke Fukodome), but Whiting’s book is a portrait of how one sport and its fans can represent the nuances, peculiarities, and damning, as well as beautiful, aspects to a nation’s character. If you’re a baseball fan (or interested in Japanese culture) and you want to learn about Japan’s role in transforming MLB baseball into an international pastime, this one covers a lot of bases. (Jarrett D., The Loft)


EPL is on Goodreads

February 7, 2009

gr_logo1Evanston Public Library is now on Goodreads. Are you?? Click on our Goodreads link on the right side of our page to get started. Once you sign up for Goodreads, you can check out our book recommendations, write reviews of your own, start a discussion group, and invite your friends. It’s a fun and easy way to talk about books and find your fellow book lovers. So check it out, and happy reading!

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