The Social Evil in Chicago, A Chicago History Classic

Picture of a dance hall

On April 5, 1911, the Chicago Vice Commission released The Social Evil in Chicago. The unusually diverse Commission included religious leaders, doctors and representatives of social service agencies. Members included a rabbi, an African--American and two women. Unlike most 400-page government reports, the report became an instant best seller. The second edition came out April […]

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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 […]

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Have Some Fun With Science Fiction Action!

Orion Space Flyer 1

Sometimes I get tired of reading serious books on serious themes and need to cleanse my reading palate. These science fictions novels are good for when you don't want to completely turn your brain off, but want some fun with your literature. Koko Takes A Holiday by Kieran Shea roars out of the gate and doesn't […]

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Twisted Fairy Tales

Rapunzel Robot, flickr user ittybittiesforyou

Once upon a time, there was a story about a princess. Does this story sound familiar to you? It's the beginning of a familiar fairy tale, one you've been told over and over again since you were little. But this time, there is something just a little bit different. Add a new twist and suddenly everything […]

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Thank YOU Elephant & Piggie!

Source: Cristina Camargo, CPL

Let’s celebrate Thank-O-Rama month with the famous duo that showed us the true meaning of friendship and the person behind all the wonderful adventures these two shared. THANK YOU Mo Willems for bringing Elephant & Piggie to us.  You gave my beginning reader stories that he proudly and joyfully read aloud. Thank you for helping […]

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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 […]

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Politicians, activists, blowhards, pundits, loudmouths and the like all pretend to think they're on the vanguard of a glorious revolution. One quick dip into history proves it's all been done before. Just when you think you've been inspired, you hear about someone who was led by the messages of angels. Donald Spoto's Joan follows Joan of Arc […]

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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 […]

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Books for Opera Buffs

Civic Opera 1

Chicago Lyric Opera recently announced its next season, and while only subscriptions are currently on sale (tickets for individual performances become available in July), this is a good time to look at recent novels that involve operas and those who sing them. The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee is as full of drama and incident […]

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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 […]

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