Hugo Award Nominees
Posted April 28, 2011
The nominees for the Hugo awards were announced last week. This prize for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy has been around since 1953. The very first Hugo for best novel went to The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester. Last year there was a tie for best novel. Fans simply couldn't decide between China Mieville's City and the City and Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl. (Browse the list on our web site.)
Another interesting piece of trivia about the Hugo surrounds the history of its trophy. While the trophy always features a finned Hugo rocket, the rest of the design varies from year to year. You can see photos of all the past trophies at the official Hugo site. We're partial to the design from 2007.
Now on to the nominees! We have listed those for best novel below. You can find the complete list on the 2011 World Science Fiction Convention, dubbed Renovation, website. The popular publishing blog, GalleyCat, posted a "mixtape" of sorts for many of the nominees. It’s a compilation of free samples of works by these writers. What a great place to start if you’re looking to dip your toes in the world of sci-fi and fantasy.
Who knows? You may gain a vested interest when the winners are announced on August 20th, 2011 at the Hugo Awards ceremony at Renovation in Reno, Nevada.
Poetry Fest 2011
Posted April 26, 2011
Please join us this Saturday, April 30, 2011 for Poetry Fest, a free daylong festival of poetry readings, workshops, performances and discussions at the Harold Washington Library Center. This year we will welcome Nikki Giovanni at 2 p.m. in the Pritzker Auditorium for a reading and book signing. Giovanni is the author of more than 30 books for adults and children, including Black Feeling, Black Talk, her first book of poetry published in 1968. Her autobiography, Gemini, was a finalist for the National Book Award. One of Oprah Winfrey's 25 "Living Legends," Giovanni received the Langston Hughes Medal for Poetry and was also the recipient of the 2007 Carl Sandburg Literary Award presented each year by Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Public Library Foundation.
The Royal Wedding
Posted April 21, 2011
With Britain's royal wedding just more than a week away, Prince William and Kate Middleton aren't the only ones with a party to finish planning. For those of us not among the 1,900 on the guest list, we'll need to make our own festivities. Here in Chicago, royal watchers and wedding buffs will toast the lovebirds at watch parties and events (most in the afternoon and evening of Friday, April 29).
For folks who can't wait that long to start celebrating the soon-to-be newlyweds, television coverage on this side of the pond starts before dawn. While the hour may seem altogether undignified, it wouldn't be a proper English party without tea, scones and clotted cream. Find recipes for tea, crumpets and other essentials.
To get in the mood for the nuptials, you can brush up on the couple's romance with William and Kate: The Love Story or William & Kate: A Royal Love Story. And, of course, you mustn't attend the wedding without a hat. Find inspiration for your ensemble in Hats: An Anthology, The Century of Hats: Headturning Style of the Twentieth Century and Hats: Status, Style and Glamour.
Posted April 19, 2011
Please join us at the Harold Washington Library Center this Wednesday at 6 pm as we continue our celebration of the spring One Book, One Chicago selection, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Acclaimed theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss will discuss how scientists are exploring the possibility of parallel universes using Neverwhere and its otherworldly setting of London Below as a starting point. With his earlier works including The Physics of Star Trek, Krauss is no stranger to unveiling the science in pop culture. He also recently shed light on the work of another renowned physicist in Quantum Man: Richard Feynman's Life in Science. With such a knowledgeable speaker this is sure to be an engaging and fascinating event.
Caught Reading on the CTA: Brown Line Edition
Posted April 14, 2011
It's been a while since we've noted what you're reading on your daily commute. We've noticed a lot of you with e-readers, but nearly as many still toting the old-fashioned book (which makes it much more convenient for us to catch what you are reading). We were pleased to see you immersed in a graphic novel, The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames and illustrated by Dean Haspiel, and intrigued when we spotted a copy of Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern by Joshua Zeitz. We noticed popular new titles like The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, along with titles that are likely to provide great fodder for discussion such as Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward L. Glaeser.
Here are a few other books we caught you reading recently:
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Lauren Hillenbrand
Swamplandia by Karen Russell
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen
Civil War Sesquicentennial
Tuesday April 12, 2011
One hundred and fifty years ago this week, the American Civil War began. This momentous anniversary is being observed with various programming throughout the nation, including right here at Chicago Public Library. Don't miss the terrific new exhibit, In Service to the Union: Civil War Artifacts, on display now at the Harold Washington Library Center. And check out our Civil War digital collections online without leaving the comfort of your living room. Looking for something to read about this awe-inspiring time in our history? Looking for more information on the topic? Be sure to check out our Popular Topics page on the Civil War, along with the accompanying recommended reading list.
And we should mention at least a couple of the very newest standouts in this evergreen publishing niche. First, America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation by David Goldfield has received outstanding attention. Kirkus called it, "Not just a reappraisal of the Civil War, but an exemplary cultural study of 19th-century America." Meanwhile, Publishers Weekly praised it in a starred review as "an ambitious, engrossing interpretation with new things to say about a much-studied conflagration." Then there's The Civil War: a Concise History by Louis P. Masur. If you just want to get an overview of the war and not sign up to reenact battles in full costume, consider this new history, which Booklist praises as "an immaculate overview that quickly gets to the heart of the matter." Rest assured, there are lots more exciting new titles coming this year on the topic as citizens reflect once again on where we've been and how far we've come.
Evening of Modern Fairy Tales
Posted April 7, 2011
Please join us tonight at the Harold Washington Library Center* for the first of many events to celebrate our latest One Book, One Chicago selection, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. This evening authors Lydia Millet and Kate Bernheimer will delight our audience with readings of modern fairy tales and conversations about the form.
Lydia Millet's most recent novel, How the Dead Dream, received rave reviews. Publishers Weekly gave it exceptionally high praise: "Millet proves no less lyrical, haunting or deliciously absurd in her brilliant sixth novel … Millet's latest unfolds like a beautiful, disturbing dream." Her most recent work, Love in Infant Monkeys: Stories, was equally acclaimed and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Kate Bernheimer is founder and editor of the Fairy Tale Review and the author of a collection of eight fairy tales entitled Horse, Flower, Bird. She is also the editor of the anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, a collection of new fairy tales by contemporary writers including Neil Gaiman.
These ladies clearly know their stuff when it comes to the monstrous and magical. It's sure to be an evening of wonderful storytelling and conversation!
*Please note that while that online registration is now closed, there is still plenty of space available. Come on down!
Posted April 5, 2011
With The Troubled Man, Henning Mankell leaves readers with the last installment of the Kurt Wallander series, which is so popular that it is currently translated into 45 languages. It has also been adapted for screen, most recently in the BBC's Wallander starring Kenneth Branagh. The mystery series started over two decades ago, and American readers have been enjoying it since the English translation of Faceless Killers in 1997. The Troubled Man is the tenth installment, and fans are both excited – it been nearly a decade since the last full-length Wallander book – and saddened that this is farewell for the Inspector.
The all-too-human, often gloomy detective was created by Henning Mankell, who recently noted, "I don't even particularly like the man…He's not someone I'd invite to dinner." Ironic, since both the author himself and his fans have, indeed, spent quite a bit of time with him; but really, Wallander's flaws are part of his appeal. In the final book, Mankell has said that Wallander "is not actually solving a case. The case is himself." On some level, that statement seems true of all Wallander books, which are both gripping police procedurals and an exploration of the protagonist: his relationships, his drinking, his health. Here Wallander, now into his sixties, is excited by the birth of his granddaughter, struggling with his memory, and finding himself pulled into solving the disappearance of his daughter's father-in-law. We are confident that The Troubled Man will live up to fans' expectations: It has received starred-reviews from both Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and The Guardian has stated that "The Troubled Man is a first-rate whodunnit. But it's also a quiet, considered and respectful farewell; a meditation on a life honestly if imperfectly lived."