#TBT: Miles Davis: 90th Birth Anniversary of the Cool

Miles Davis

Even if you don't think you like jazz, I bet you've heard of Miles Davis. As one of the most important musicians of all time, jazz or otherwise, his music and influence can be seen everywhere. For example, Davis' Kind of Blue can be heard in movies like Pleasantville and television shows like The Wire. […]

Read More

Through the Eyes of Vietnam Veterans

Source: Library of Congress, Carol M. Highsmith

Years ago, a Vietnam veteran I knew was asked how long he served in Vietnam. Instead of estimating in weeks or months, he rattled off the precise number of days. I was struck by the intensity of his response—as if the experience remained close to his thoughts—and it inspired me to learn more about the […]

Read More

Superb Short Stories

suburban home

It's sometimes easy to overlook short stories because they often do not get as much attention as novels. Yet, every now and then I come across collections that blow me away and get me excited about short stories all over again. The eight stories in One More Year focus on the lives of immigrants in the […]

Read More

Caught Reading: Perkolator Coffee, May 2016

Source: Toshihiro Oimatsu, Wikimedia Commons

Some people seem to function just fine without a cup of coffee in the morning. I am not one of those people. Thankfully, I am not alone. Chicago has many wonderful coffee shops catering to folks like me in need of a strong Americano. And what goes with coffee? A good book. Here's what I caught you reading […]

Read More

Springtime in the Chicago Wilderness

Goslings at Wolf Lake, Chicago. Source: Leslie

Chicago has a surprising amount of wilderness for a big city. Our yards and alleyways come alive in Hunting for Frogs on Elston, and Other Tales From Field and Street, a collection of Jerry Sullivan's columns from the Chicago Reader. He discusses wild animals, plants and their habitats with love, sympathy and humor. For example, you […]

Read More

6 Books by Asian/Pacific American Writers

The Guest Cat

Have you read books by Asian/Pacific American writers lately? To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I've rounded up six of my favorites. The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide is about a childless couple in their thirties, a small rented cottage, a garden that blooms different flowers all year, ailing friends and acquaintances and Chibi, the neighborhood cat. Set in the late 80s […]

Read More

Bring Nurses a Treat During Nurses Week

Assorted nurse theme cookies

The American Nurses Association celebrates National Nurses Week from Nurses Day, May 6, to May 12, Florence Nightingale's birthday. Nurses work crazy hours, help fight disease and advocate for their patients, making it a caring, but complicated profession. The Bureau Labor of Statistics estimates employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 16 percent between […]

Read More

Marshall Field and the Gilded Age

MF Dome

Renee Rosen has written an interesting biographical novel: What the Lady Wants. Through the eyes of socialite Delia Caton, Marshall Field and his social set come alive. Though twenty years separate their ages, Delia and Marshall turn to each other for relief from their unhappy marriages and scandalize Chicago society. But as much as this is […]

Read More

Books About Elephants To Never Forget

Elephants 1

Elephants have held a special fascination for humans for millenia. Worshipped as gods, feted as performers, trained as workers, they have a special relationship with people. These three books deal with that relationship in its myriad forms. The Tusk That Did the Damage by Tania James is a luminescent book. The story shifts between three perspectives. Emma is a […]

Read More

#TBT: Happy Birthday, John Waters!

John Waters at the Edinburgh International Film Festival

Filmmaker, writer and photographer John Waters turns 70 this Friday, April 22, so for this Throwback Thursday, let's take a look at his long career. Waters got his start making wild transgressive camp movies in the 1970s. Using a cast of regulars and a Baltimore setting, his black comedies featured desperate people doing outrageous things. In Pink […]

Read More