Spring Book Awards Recap
Posted June 30, 2009
The end of the year is clearly the most popular time for book awards, with the ever-proliferating top 10 lists and arguments over the year’s best. In fact, it gets to be a bit much. But the spring season actually boasts plenty of interesting book awards, albeit more quietly. Here’s a summary of recent winners, in case you’ve missed any.
International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas
Man Booker International Prize (for lifetime achievement, given biennially)
Pull Out the Grill!
Posted June 25, 2009
The temperature is rising, and the grills are out. Whether you’re a barbeque novice or looking to expand your grilling repertoire this summer, the Chicago Public Library has plenty of cookbooks with grilling recipes that will cause your neighbors to peek over to see what’s cooking. The recently published Weber’s Way to Grill covers nearly everything from working with charcoal to making sauces and rubs with recipes from the traditional to the internationally inspired. Cook’s Country Best Grilling Recipes includes regional favorites from across the nation as well as a primer for beginners. If you are itching to break out of the burger and steak rut, try Mario Batalli’s Italian Grill or Pizza on the Grill. Or if you happen to be a burger lover, try Bobby Flay’s Burger, Fries and Shakes. Booklist notes, “In addition to the expected standards, Flay offers a spicy Oaxacan burger with simplified red mole sauce; a trattoria burger with mozzarella, tomato and basil; and a Greek burger crowned with feta cheese, olives and yogurt sauce.” No doubt those burgers will impress your friends and family, and with the help of BBQ Bash, which is both a cookbook and an entertaining guide, you might be inspired to pull together a great backyard celebration.
Posted June 23, 2009
Summer is finally here and, more importantly, the city’s farmers’ markets are open for business. If you’re anything like us, you look forward to this time every year when you can stroll through your favorite market and pick up a juicy fruit snack for lunch or an exotic veggie to whip up for dinner. If you’re at a loss as to what to do with those beautiful beets you picked up or the leafy Swiss chard you couldn’t resist, we have some books to help you out. Eating Well in Season: The Farmers’ Market Cookbook and The Farm to Table Cookbook: The Art of Eating Locally both offer up great recipes to make the most of your finds.
If you find yourself walking away with more than you can possibly consume, why not try your hand at canning? Check out Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It: and Other Cooking Projects for some tips on how to make that freshness last well beyond the summer months. Has the sight of all that earthy goodness got you wanting to try your hand at growing something? Try Fresh Food from Small Spaces for how-to help on growing your own herbs, vegetables and fruit, and for those looking for that real agrarian experience, it even discusses raising chickens and honeybees.
If perusing all of these markets have got you thinking about farming and eating locally, check out some of the titles below that explore everything from urban farming to Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) and memoirs from those who have tried their hand at the Green Acres lifestyle.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting by Michael Perry
Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter
Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen by Anna Lappe
Plenty: One Man, One Woman and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon
Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture by Elizabeth Henderson
The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese by Margaret Hathaway
Surf’s Up! Summer Books Preview
June 18, 2009
Disappointed in the weather recently? Then it may cheer you to be reminded that summer officially begins Sunday. Speaking of which, have you ever noticed how many summer books feature summer weather or vacation destinations in their titles? Yes, those wiley publishers know what they’re doing. But summer books include far more than just those delicious and breezy bestsellers. We’ve rounded up a diverse sampling (and only a small sampling) of books coming this June, July and August to appeal to all your summer moods. A few highlights include a highly anticipated sequel by the late Stieg Larsson, the last collection of stories from story master John Updike, the long overdue return of Pat Conroy, the latest from Chicago author Billy Lombardo and a rare non-doorstop from Thomas Pynchon (dig that neon surf board cover).
Killer Summer by Ridley Pearson
Burn by Linda Howard
Swimsuit by James Patterson
Dune Road by Jane Green
Hot Pursuit by Suzanne Brockmann
In the Heart of the Canyon by Elisabeth Hyde
There’s Something about St. Tropez by Elizabeth Adler
Swimming by Nicola Keegan
Deep Blue Sea for Beginners by Luanne Rice
Sand Sharks by Margaret Maron
More Hot Fiction
Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
Matters of the Heart by Danielle Steel
Razor Sharp by Fern Michaels
Relentless by Dean Koontz
Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham
The Strain by Guillermo del Toro
Maneater by Mary B. Morrison
Devil’s Punchbowl by Greg Iles
Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells
Black Hills by Nora Roberts
Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner
Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
206 Bones by Kathy Reichs
Mistress of the Game by Sidney Sheldon
Rules of Vengeance by Christopher Reich
South of Broad by Pat Conroy
That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
Alibi by Teri Woods
Resurrecting Midnight by Eric Jerome Dickey
Summer Reads Beyond the Beach
Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga
My Father’s Tears and Other Stories by John Updike
Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich
Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson
Calligrapher’s Daughter by Eugenia Kim
How to Hold a Woman by Billy Lombardo
Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Once on a Moonless Night by Dai Sijie
Zeitoun by David Eggers
Posted June 16, 2009
Please join us this Thursday, June 18 at 6:00 p.m. for Victoria Lautman’s conversation with author Monica Ali as part of the ongoing series Writers on the Record with Victoria Lautman. A British writer of Bangledeshi descent, Monica Ali was voted one of Granta’s Best Young British novelists in 2003 based on her unpublished work. Her debut novel, Brick Lane, was a bestseller and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The novel was widely praised and Kirkus asserted that Ali “is one of those dangerous writers who sees everything.” The novel was also adapted into a film. Her sophomore effort, Alejanto Blues, is a series of interconnected stories set in a small village in Portugal. In the Kitchen, her latest, centers on the kitchen of London’s luxurious Imperial Hotel, which is staffed by immigrants and a head chef on the brink of a breakdown. Library Journal notes, “With sometimes sly humor, Ali deftly sheds light on the irony of struggling in a land with abundant opportunities.”
Posted June 11, 2009
We are always curious about what people are reading. That’s why we love the “Reading Room” section in O, The Oprah Magaznie. Each month they feature a different author or celebrity and the books that have resonated with them. In the most recent issue we get a glimpse at Julia Ormond’s bookshelf, which covers some vastly different territory including a couple of memoirs, a much-celebrated novel and a non-fiction title dealing with depression and childbirth. You can find these titles and other celeb faves at the Chicago Public Library. And check out the “Reading Room” online to see what else the rich and famous are reading.
Julia Ormond’s bookshelf
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood by Helene Cooper
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
A Deeper Shade of Blue: A Women’s Guide to Recognizing and Treating Depression in Her Childbearing Years by Ruta Nonacs, MD, PhD
Rachel McAdams’ bookshelf
Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
David Boring by Daniel Clowes
Blue Planet Run: The Race to Provide Safe Drinking Water to the World by Rick Smoland and Jennifer Erwitt
Celebrating Koko Taylor
Posted June 9, 2009
Chicagoans are still mourning the loss of Koko Taylor, legendary “Queen of the Blues” and Grammy award winner. But thankfully her achievements and her great vocal talent have been very well documented and preserved for all to cherish.
The natural place to start, of course, is with her albums on CD, including Live from Chicago, Deluxe Edition, Old School, Force of Nature and several more. She was also featured on countless blues music anthologies, including Rough Guide to Chicago Blues, A Chicago Blues Tour and Best of Chicago Blues. An interview with Koko Taylor is included in the book Elwood’s Blues: Interviews with the Blues Legends and Stars by Dan Aykroyd and Ben Manilla; she’s featured in the Chicago Office of Tourism “History of Chicago Blues” tour; and she is featured in Godfathers and sons, an episode of The Blues, the PBS series produced by Martin Scorsese.
If remembering the Queen of the Blues stirs your appetite for more blues music, check out our list of great Chicago blues CDs. Related upcoming event: performance by The Matthew Skoller Band, part of the Library’s Speakin’ of the Blues series.
Around the World With Mysteries: Sweden
Posted June 4, 2009
We are on the move again and have decided to touch down in Sweden. In the last several years mysteries from Scandinavia, including Sweden, have made a big splash in the United States. These novels tend to be dark, bleak and violent. Stieg Larsson seems to be the man of the hour with his blockbuster The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the forthcoming sequel The Girl Who Played With Fire. A third installment in the series will be published in late 2009; but as Larsson died 2004, that will conclude the series. However, there is no dearth of Swedish crime fiction to fill the void, so we’ve highlighted some of the best:
The Inspector Kurt Wallander series written by Henning Mankell is perhaps the most popular to come out of Sweden. The series started with Faceless Killers, in which we find Wallander in a bad state: his wife has left him, and he is drinking his way through life. The murder of a farmer and his wife spark an investigation, and some local xenophobia causes complications. The recently published The Pyramid: And Four Other Kurt Wallander Mysteries, a collection of short stories featuring Inspector Wallander set in the time period before Faceless Killers, offers a glimpse of Wallander’s early career. Booklist noted that, “The Wallander series, which Mankell believes should be subtitled ‘novels of Swedish anxiety,’ are essential reading for all crime fiction fans, and this collection adds an indispensable chapter to the saga.” Check out the new BBC adaptation starring Kenneth Branagh as Inspector Wallander.
Searching for another series to dip your toes into? We recommend checking out Hakan Nesser’s Inspector Van Veeteren series. “Amiable Van Veeteren is a sly, cocksure sleuth,” according to Kirkus. Start with Mind’s Eye: Janek Mitter is accused of drowning his wife in the bathtub during an alcohol-induced blackout; he can’t remember anything and is swiftly convicted, but Van Veeteren wonders if the crime is really that simple. Van Veeteren exhibits a moody disposition like Wallander, and the complex crime thrillers in this series will appeal to Mankell’s fans.
There are also a few formidable female sleuths worth mentioning: Detective Inspector Huss is the first in the gritty Irene Huss series by Helene Tursten. Publishers Weekly aptly describes its heroine as “a sympathetic 40-something detective attempting to juggle a demanding job and her family life.” Demanding doesn’t begin to describe the pressure of her job as a detective in the Violent Crimes Unit. In this installment, Inspector Huss is investigating the suspicious suicide of a prominent businessman that leads her to a tangled web of unsavory criminals. The other two installments in this series are The Torso and The Glass Devil.
Another female sleuth of note is homicide detective Ann Liddel, created by Kjell Ericksson. Liddel works for the Uppsala Police Department and her colleagues figure prominently in these novels, which have earned comparisons to Ed McBain’s 87th precinct. The series started with Princess of Burundi and continues with The Cruel Stars of the Night and the Demon of Dakar. We look forward to future installments.
Printers Row Lit Fest
Posted June 2, 2009
Looking for something to do this weekend? Why not check out the Printers Row Lit Fest? This two-day festival is the largest annual literary event in the Midwest. Not only does this yearly celebration of books bring together booksellers from across the country, it also showcases renowned authors and poets. As recently as last year this long-standing Chicago tradition was known as the Printers Row Book Fair, but with over 100 free literary programs scheduled it’s no wonder that it’s been renamed the Printers Row Lit Fest. There will be author events, panel discussions and much more going on in and around Printers Row. The Chicago Public Library is proud to host many wonderful programs at the Harold Washington Library Center. You can find the full schedule of events for Saturday and Sunday online. Tickets for programs at the Library are free, but you must reserve them in advance. Below is a sampling of works from a few of the authors you can catch at the fest.
Trigger City by Sean Chercover
The Broken Window: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel by Jeffery Deaver
The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson
What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng by Dave Eggers
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Love and Obstacles by Aleksandar Hemon
Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard
Netherland by Joseph O’Neill
Good People by Marcus Sakey