Posted April 30, 2009
Every year we vow to take spring cleaning to heart and really transform our living spaces. With the weather finally warming, but plenty of rainy days still putting a damper on our outdoor plans, we’ve decided to finally tackle our dust bunnies and overflowing closets. It’s all a bit daunting, but that’s why we’re going to do what we always do when we have a big task ahead of us — consult the experts. Who better to start with than the queen of all things domestic, Martha Stewart? Her Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in your Home is bound to get us off on the right foot. Another tried-and-true favorite is The Complete Household Handbook: The Best Ways to Clean, Maintain & Organize Your Home from the folks at Good Housekeeping. For some tips on some more environmentally friendly ways to tidy our spaces there’s Deirdre Imus’ Greening Your Home. Finally, we think we might need to dig deeper and go beyond cleaning and really add some order to our homes with Peter Walsh’s How to Organize Just About Everything. Have we inspired you to take on your own spring cleaning? You can find more tips and tricks in the titles below.
The Complete Clutter Solution: Organize Your Home for Good by C.J. Petersen
How Clean is Your House? by Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie
Knack Clean Home, Green Home: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Eco-Friendly Homekeeping by Kimberly Delaneye
Real Simple: Cleaning by Kathleen Squires
Real Simple: The Organized Home by Kendell Cronstrom and the editors of Real Simple
Posted April 28, 2009
This week the big headlines have been about the global spread of swine flu, the latest infectious disease to join the ranks of SARS and avian flu as a cause of concern for the public and public health officials alike. In the wake of AIDS and the Ebola virus, Laurie Garrett’s The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World out of Balance and Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone became bestsellers in the mid-1990s. More recently, several more books have advanced our understanding of the issues. Following is a short list of some of the most notable books about epidemiology and the modern world:
The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry
The Monster at our Door: the Global Threat of Avian Flu by Mike Davis
Betrayal of Trust: the Collapse of Global Public Health by Laurie Garrett
Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It by Gina Kolata
The Ghost Map: the Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic and How it Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World by Steven Johnson
When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed by Howard Markel
The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston
A Dickens of a Good Read!
Posted April 23, 2009
The novels and stories of Charles Dickens are perennially popular. Many have been adapted into films, the term “Scrooge” is often used for a miserly person, and the opening line from A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” is one of the most recognized in English literature. It is not surprising then that this literary giant would be featured in other writers’ works, and recently Mr. Dickens has made several noteworthy appearances. Dan Simmons’ most recent novel not only features Charles Dickens as a character, along with the venerable author Wilkie Collins, but the title of the book, Drood, refers to Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Fans of Collins’ and Dickens’ work will enjoy the authentically Victorian tone of this eerie thriller. Narrated by Wilkie Collins and featuring the goulish Drood, Kirkus notes it is a “suspenseful and spooky descent into the last days of Charles Dickens, who expired before he could complete his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”
Matthew Pearl’s novel The Last Dickens also revolves around Dickens’ final, unfinished novel. Shortly after Dickens’ death in 1870, his American publisher attempts to uncover the mystery behind the author’s unfinished work in a quest that leads him to England and India. Kirkus notes, “A rousing yarn of opium, book pirating, murder most foul, man-on-man biting and other shenanigans—and that’s just for starters.” Charles Dickens also makes an appearance in Richard Flanagan’s forthcoming novel Wanting, about explorer Sir John Franklin and his wife, Lady Jane. Dickens becomes obsessed with Franklin’s failed 1845 expedition, which involved an Arctic shipwreck and charges of cannibalism. After writing a defense against these charges, Dickens begins collaborating with Wilkie Collins on a stage adaptation of the events called The Frozen Deep. “Flanagan’s prose is beautifully crafted, at once elegant and astonishing,” according to Library Journal.
For those of you who are more interested in Dickens’ novels, we highly recommend the satirical, dark and wonderfully plotted Bleak House, or browse our catalog for more writings by Dickens. Perhaps you are interested in something by Dickens’ real-life friend and collaborator Wilkie Collins, such as The Moonstone, arguably the first detective novel, or the ghostly mystery The Woman in White.
Holocaust Remembrance Day
Posted April 21, 2009
April 21 is the internationally recognized Holocaust Remembrance Day known as Yom Hashoah in Hebrew. That date is designated by the Hebrew calendar and corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on that calendar. It marks the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Every year the United States Holocaust Museum recognizes this day with a week of programs and events. This year the commemoration runs from April 19 through April 26. On April 23, there will be a national ceremony at the Capital Rotunda. President Obama will be the keynote speaker and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel will also deliver remarks. The theme of this year’s days of remembrance is Never Again: What You Do Matters. We have put together a list of titles in honor of this year’s commemoration.
Auschwitz: A New History by Laurence Rees
The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition by Anne Frank
Flory: A Miraculous Story of Survival by Flory A. Van Beek
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman
Night by Elie Wiesel
The Pages in Between: A Holocaust Legacy of Two Families, One Home by Erin Einhorn
Resistance: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by Israel Gutman
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
A Mad Desire to Dance by Elie Wiesel
Not Me: A Novel by Michael Lavigne
The Polish Woman by Eva Mekler
Posted April 16, 2009
This week is National Library Week. It is therefore a particularly sad time to note the passing of Judith Krug, the celebrated and tireless advocate for free expression. (Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune) Krug served as the longtime executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation and director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, and she founded Banned Books Week. The obituaries suggest that contributions should go to the Freedom to Read Foundation.
Posted April 14, 2009
April is National Poetry Month, and the Chicago Public Library is hosting a number of poetry events to celebrate, including Poetry Fest at the Harold Washington Library Center on April 25. This year’s event will feature a reading by Rita Dove, former poet laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize winner. Regarding her new book of poetry about a 19th century violinist, Sonata Mulattica, Booklist noted, “Dove delves into the nature of genius and power, class and race, and the consequences of exoticism and lust, creating a unique celebration of art and spirit.” Also check out Dove’s superb 2004 collection American Smooth and other titles by and about her. Poetry Fest will also feature the Poetry Wheel, Poetry Cram, workshops with C.C. Carter and a reading with Proyecto Latina. Please join us for this free, all-day event next Saturday!
We’d also like to highlight a few new books for poetry lovers: Those who missed Elizabeth Alexander at President Barak Obama’s inauguration should check out Praise Song for the Day, the poem she wrote and read to celebrate the event. Nikki Giovanni’s new collection Bicycle Poems is also noteworthy. Booklist states, “Giovanni is a trickster and a sage who folds a lifetime of feelings and discoveries into each poised, swinging and heartfelt line.” Those looking for ideal poems to read aloud should check out the anthology Essential Pleasures edited by Robert Pinsky with over 200 poems that will sound extraordinary to your ears.
Posted April 9, 2009
Those of us who live in Chicago know that there is no shortage of good food to eat in the city. Our chefs are award-winning, and the variety of cuisines available is boundless thanks to the diversity of our communities. But did you know that you can check out cookbooks by some of these very gourmands from the Chicago Public Library? We have the newest from Charlie Trotter, Home Cooking with Charlie Trotter. This world-renowned chef’s restaurant of the same name has become a culinary landmark on Armitage. We also have Grant Achatz’s cookbook, simply titled after his restaurant, Alinea. Achatz has won three James Beard Foundation awards including one for Outstanding Chef in 2008, and Alinea received the highest Zagat ratings in food and service for 2008. You can also find many titles from the master of Mexican cooking, Rick Bayless, including Mexico: One Plate at a Time, which won the 2001 James Beard Foundation award for cookbook of the year. We also have Art Smith’s Back to the Family. Smith is best known for serving as Oprah’s personal chef before he opened his own place, Table Fifty-Two, in the Gold Coast. You can find more cookbooks listed below. For those who would rather dine out, check out some of our guides to the many restaurants the city has to offer.
Chicago Cooks: 25 Years of Food History with Menus, Recipes and Tips from Les Dames D’escoffier ed. Carol Mighton Haddix
The Chicago Diner Cookbook by Jo A. Kaucher
The Chicago Tribune Good Eating Cookbook edited by Carol Mighton Haddix
Ethnic Chicago Cookbook: Ethnic-inspired Recipes from the Pages of the Chicago Tribune ed. Carol Mighton Haddix
The Harry Caray’s Restaurant Cookbook by Jane & Michael Stern
Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless
The Parthenon Cookbook: Great Greek Recipes from the Heart of Chicago’s Greektown by Camille Stagg
Rick & Lanie’s Excellent Kitchen Adventures: Chef Dad, Teenage Daughter, Recipes and Stories by Rick Bayless & Lanie Bayless
Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-class Cuisine by Rick Bayless
Tru: A Cookbook from the Legendary Chicago Restaurant by Rick Tramonto
BlackBook Guide to Chicago: Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Hotels
Hungry? Chicago: The Lowdown on Where the Real People Eat!
Street Food Chicago: A Complete Book of Original Recipes, History and Stories About the Most Loved Foods in the City by Michael J. Baruch
The Streets and San Man’s Guide to Chicago Eats by Dennis Foley
Time Out Chicago Eating & Drinking
Where Chicago eat!
Posted April 7, 2009
We conclude our tribute to vampire mania with a list of movies you can really sink your teeth into. (Are you expecting an apology for that one?) Aside from the current fave, Twilight, which needs no introduction from us, there are scads of blockbusters featuring vampires. Of course, Queen-of-the-Vampire-Novel Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles spawned Interview with a Vampire (starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and, in a memorable turn early in her career, Kirsten Dunst) in 1994. More recently, 30 Days of Night took advantage of the long nights in Alaska to tell its story of vampires running amok.
Underworld and Underworld: Evolution depict a world in which vampires are at war with werewolves. The Blade franchise (including Blade II and Blade Trinity), inspired by a Marvel comics character, put the emphasis satisfyingly on action. On the other end of the spectrum, this past year also saw the cult success of a chilling Swedish vampire story (based on a novel) that puts the emphasis on atmosphere and character development, Let the Right One In.
There are countless vampire movies with cult followings, too many to list in one place. But some of the standouts include West Coast-set The Lost Boys, the Western-tinged Near Dark, and more comedic takes such as Fright Night and Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth are in My Neck. Zombie-master George A. Romero created a classic B movie take on vampires with Martin, and David Bowie, Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve teamed for the sexy atmospheric The Hunger.
As with the vampire books, a list of vampire movies always has to come back to the Count. Classic versions of Dracula include the 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi and directed by Tod Browning, as well as Francis Ford Coppola’s take, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The great F.W. Murnau also tackled the story in his revered Nosferatu, a Halloween staple at arthouses to this day. Blacula is a celebrated “blaxploitation” version of the story, and Hammer Film Productions gave the world their take, Horror of Dracula (the American title), in 1957, starring Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. Some garlic salt on your pocorn?
Posted April 2, 2009
We know many of you love vampires: you read Twilight, you went to see Let the Right One In and now you are looking for more to satisfy your supernatural appetite. There are many excellent series and stand-alones for every type of reader, so we decided to highlight some of the most popular.
Fans of mysteries and chick lit should check out the Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris that has recently been adapted into the show True Blood on HBO. The light, witty and humorous series features Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress at a small-town bar in Louisiana with telepathic talents who finds herself spending a lot of time with vampires. In the first installment, Dead Until Dark, Sookie becomes romantically involved with the vampire of her dreams, which might not have been the best idea. We are looking forward to the latest in the series, Dead and Gone, due out in May 2009.
For those who prefer something dark and steamy, check out the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton. During the day, Anita uses her supernatural powers to bring the dead to life and question them on legal issues, but she is also a licensed vampire hunter. Publishers Weekly noted, “Hamilton has endowed her heroine with a charming mix of male bravado, feminine guile and self-deprecating humor.” Not for the faint of heart, the 16th installment in this hot series, Blood Noir, was released last May; or start at the beginning with Guilty Pleasures. Fans of paranormal romance should also be sure to check out Christine Feehan’s Dark Series.
The Vampire Chronicles series by Anne Rice is beloved by vampire fiction fans. The series started in 1976 with Interview With The Vampire, which was adapted into a film starring Tom Cruise. It features Lestat de Lioncourt, an 18th century French nobleman-turned-vampire. Although the series ended in 2003 with Blood Canticle, it remains very popular.
The classic in vampire fiction is, of course, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It has been suggested that Transylvanian-born Vlad III Dracula, or “Vlad the Impaler,” inspired the work. Regardless of that conjecture, we do know that both the historical “Vlad the Impaler” and Dracula provided inspiration for The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. When a teenage girl discovers a cache of letters in her father’s library, he reluctantly reveals his former research into the life of Dracula. Then when her father mysteriously vanishes, she picks up the research where he left off. Booklist notes, “Both literary and scary, this one is guaranteed to keep one reading into the wee hours—preferably sitting in a brightly lit room and wearing a garlic necklace.” This thriller will appeal to fans of historical fiction and classic horror.
Still looking for more? Browse our catalog for other vampire fiction.