From Coast to Coast: Chicago Authors Stuart Dybek and Thomas Dyja

Thomas Dyja and Stuart Dybek

Stuart Dybek and Thomas Dyja are both award-winning Chicago-born authors. Works by both men have been chosen for the great honor of being a One Book, One Chicago title: We read Dybek's The Coast of Chicago in 2004 and we are currently reading Dyja's The Third Coast.  We’re grateful for their participation in this year’s Carl Sandburg Literary […]

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Top Picks: Saturday Night Live Turns 40

Live From New York book cover

When Saturday Night Live first aired Live From New York on October 11, 1975, no one could have imagined that the show would still be keeping us up 40 years later. With Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner among the original cast, the show succeeded quickly, making these relatively unknown […]

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Using Humor to Cope with Tragedy

Tragedy and comedy masks uploaded from Flickr user Tim Green, taken from Scarbrough Hotel, Bishopgate, Leeds.

When fire spread at Second City Theater, Chicago's premier comedy training school, in late August, the theater sent out a characteristic tweet: "Yes, we know there's a fire. And we're working on it." The following books show how comedy works in all kinds of situations, including tragic ones. In Yes, and, Second City training executives Kelly Leonard […]

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Darkness and Light: The Marriage of Opposites

St Thomas 2

I always relish a new Alice Hoffman book, and I am not disappointed with The Marriage of Opposites; far from it. This is a story of people who defy convention to be their true selves. Rachel always wants her own way, and her father usually lets her have it, until he arranges for her to marry an older man to […]

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Classics of Mars

Mars 2

With the film adaptation of The Martian (one of our picks for Best of the Best 2014) coming out October 1, here's a look at classic Red Planet reads. Novels about Mars have increased by orders of magnitude since the early 1950s when Ray Bradbury published The Martian Chronicles. In Bradbury's seminal work, Man immigrates to Mars after thoroughly […]

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Life Outside the Classroom: Teachers in Fiction

spelling book, school bell and apple

This time of year when all of the city's children are adjusting to a new school year routine, it can be easy to think of teachers as only that… teachers. As if they exist only in the classroom, controlling unruly students and imparting wisdom, knee deep in grade books, lesson plans and homework assignments. Lucky […]

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Chicago Authors Build Legacy of Suspense

Sara Paretsky and Scott Turow

Love reading on the edge of your seat? Let's take a look at two authors sure to keep you there: Sara Paretsky and Scott Turow. These bestselling and prolific authors both call the Chicago area home. We’re grateful for their participation in this year’s Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner, held by the Chicago Public Library Foundation on October […]

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Musicals Based on Books

While Broadway these days often seems to be stuck in a rut, the Off-Broadway scene has given birth to some new works that are injecting the scene with new energy. These brainy, youthful, exuberant musicals are all based on books that, at first glance, would seem to be very unlikely subjects for a hit show, yet that's ultimately […]

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It’s Oktoberfest: Celebrate with German Food and Beer!


The world's largest beer festival is celebrated in Munich from late September through the first weekend of October. Here are a few titles to help you mark this glorious occasion. Julia Skowronek's Biergarten Cookbook has great recipes for roast pork, cheese spaetzle, dumplings, and traditional Bavarian desserts and cakes. For newbies who prefer a modern and […]

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A Guide to Oliver Sacks

Book cover, Awakenings by Oliver Sacks

Neurologist Oliver Sacks passed away last month at the age of 82, leaving behind a tremendous and inspirational body of work. Announcing the return of his cancer in the New York Times earlier this year, Sacks expressed his gratitude for the life he'd been able to live. We're grateful for the wonderful publications he gave us. Sacks was a superb […]

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