African American Noir

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Many know Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins series (and if you don't, you should), but what do you do when you've finished Rose Gold and are looking for more? Walter Mosley writes highly atmospheric novels set on the gritty streets of LA in the latter half of the 20th century. His character Rawlins doesn't have a badge, he […]

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Some Modern Chinese History in Novels

CP China

China is in the midst of an economic miracle. Being China, it was a long time coming and has lasted a while. The reinvention of the world's second-largest economy and at the same time that of the Communist Party has had a massive effect on its population. These books bear witness to that. Frog by Mo Yan takes […]

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Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement

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If you're looking for heroes of the civil rights movement, there are the usual suspects, the names that everyone knows: King, Shuttlesworth, Abernathy, etc. But how about the people who were heroes a little more indirectly? Those who were heroes for other reasons, but lent their fame to the cause? I speak of the entertainers. Lena Horne, Nina […]

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Travels for Armchair Detectives

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What with the recent blizzard and subsequent cold snap, most people prefer to be indoors this time of year. If you like mysteries and are fantasizing about being somewhere warm and exotic, never fear: the Scandinavians haven't cornered the market on mysteries in foreign lands. Tarquin Hall writes a charming series set in New Delhi, India. Vish (sounds like […]

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Hooray for the Bookmobile!

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Bookmobiles (or mobile libraries, as they are known in England) serve a vital need in both city and country. Chicago has used them when a branch is shut down for remodeling or rebuilding. However, I am going to be showcasing mobile libraries used in a more rural setting. Two take place in Great Britain, and one in America. […]

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Boston Girl Readalikes

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For those of you waiting for The Boston Girl, I have a few suggestions while you wait. First, let me tell you are in for a treat in Anita Diamant's latest, about a young woman who works her way from tenement child to a social worker. Addie Baum is as old as the century when her granddaughter […]

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Mavis Staples: She’ll Take You There

Mavis Staples

On the occasion of the publication of Greg Kot's I'll Take You There, I thought I'd showcase some Mavis Staples' and the Staples Singers' discography here at CPL. But first, the book: Kot is a journalist for the Chicago Tribune, and it shows in his short chapters and succinct writing. While focusing mostly on the […]

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“Handmaid” Hits 30: Readalikes

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Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale turns 30 this year, and as an avid fan of the book, I'd like to propose some readalikes. For those of you not familiar with Atwood's dystopian story, the United States has been taken over by Christian fundamentalists and (supposedly) biblical rule is the law. There's also a venereal disease going around that makes […]

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God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut: Readalikes

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After visiting the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library over the holidays, I thought it might behoove me to celebrate my fellow Hoosier with a little notice in this blog. Vonnegut wrote several books, none of them very long, and if you like them, I have others to recommend to you. Slaughterhouse-Five: Or The Children's Crusade, A Duty-Dance […]

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Nothing Like a Dame: Judi Dench

Judi Dench

Dame Judi Dench has recently released a new book of photos and anecdotes from her long career: Behind the Scenes. The photographs are both publicity shots and ones from Dench's private collection, documenting both her professional and personal life. The most striking thing I learned from this book was that as a young actor, a […]

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