Americans in Paris
Posted June 30, 2011
Woody Allen's movie Midnight in Paris is currently in theaters and is surprising many by becoming the long-working director's biggest hit in a quarter-century. Why? We think it might have something to do with the romance of Americans in Paris, a major theme of some recent hits in print, too.
Consider Paula McClain's The Paris Wife, which proved to be one of the biggest hits of early 2011. It tells the story of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson. Library Journal called it early: "Colorful details of the expat life in Jazz Age Paris, combined with the evocative story of the Hemingways' romance, result in a compelling story that will undoubtedly establish McLain as a writer of substance." Booklist called it "an unsentimental tribute to a woman who acted with grace and strength as her marriage crumbled," and Kirkus simply called it a "pleasure to read." Readers agreed, to say the least.
More recently, famed historian David McCullough published The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, 1830-1900, and readers can't get enough. (Are you seeing a pattern?) Rather than the usual focus on the 1920s, McCullough freshens things up with a look at Paris several decades before that. Kirkus raved: "A gorgeously rich, sparkling patchwork, eliciting stories from diaries and memoirs to create the human drama McCullough depicts so well." And if that isn't enough for you, we've pulled together a list of more books on the topic. Enjoy!
Lunch in Paris: a love story, with recipes by Elizabeth Bard
Bohemian Paris: Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse, and the birth of modern art by Dan Franck
Americans in Paris: life and death under Nazi occupation by Charles Glass
Americans in Paris: a literary anthology ed. by Adam Gopnik
A Moveable Feast: the restored edition by Ernest Hemingway
The autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
Two lives: Gertrude and Alice by Janet Malcolm
The Beat Hotel: Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Corso in Paris, 1958-1963 by Barry Miles
And the show went on: cultural life in Nazi-occcupied Paris by Alan Riding
Paris noir: African Americans in the City of Light by Tyler Stovall
Fourth Sparks and Grill Marks
Posted June 28, 2011
The 4th of July is just around the corner. Many of us will be breaking out the grill and having friends over to celebrate. We have plenty of books that can help your summertime festivities be the most talked about of the season.
Chicago's own award-winning chef Rick Bayless's Fiesta at Rick's has many great recipes that are sure to wow your crowd. He starts with a variety of twists on the tried and true cookout favorite – guacamole, including a toasted pumpkin seed guacamole and a tomato and bacon guacamole. Yum! To further liven up the party there are plenty of recipes for tasty libations- everything from mojitos and margaritas to tamer "soft" drinks are included.
Need ideas for the grill? Rick's got you covered with a whole chapter entitled "Live-Fire Cooking, Fast and Slow." The recipes range from the hardcore Oaxacan-style lamb pit barbecue to the simpler grilled pork tacos al pastor.
For more tips and recipes for your next summer gathering check out some of the titles below:
Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book by Chris Lilly
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining by Cheryl and Bill Jamison
The Deen Bros. Get Fired Up: Grilling, Tailgating, Picnicking, and More by Jamie and Bobby Deen
Low & Slow: Master the Art of Barbecue in 5 Easy Lessons by Gary Wiviott with Colleen Rush
Porch Parties: Breezy Drinks and Easy Ideas for Outdoor Entertaining by Denise Gee
Weber's Time to Grill by Jamie Purviance
Posted June 23, 2011
The Poetry Foundation will be having the long-awaited Open House at its new facility this weekend, and there will be readings by poets such as Elizabeth Alexander, Sandra Cisneros, Billy Collins, Robert Hass, Edward Hirsch, and Kay Ryan. Many events are at capacity, with wait lists available. Garrison Keillor will dedicate the new site.
Recently, Poetry Foundation president John Barr and Poetry editor Christian Wiman were ranked at numbers one and ten, respectively, on New City's annual "Lit 50" survey of the Chicago literary scene. (Of course, we're proud that the Library came in at number two, represented by our Commissioner.) Thanks to a large donation back in 2002, the foundation has also created quite a stir in the poetry world, and the Tribune recently reported on recent controversies. Strange to think of poetry making such waves, but that sounds like a good thing.
Book Beats: Summer Reading Program
Posted June 21, 2011
This year's summer reading program for adults is in full swing. We're rockin' the music theme this year. We have many great related titles in both fiction and nonfiction to suit all readers. You can check out the resource guide for an expanded list of recommended reads as well as a list of events and programs throughout the city that celebrate the diverse musical talent the city has to offer.
Nashville Chrome by Rick Bass
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Beautiful Maria of My Soul by Oscar Hijuelos
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The Piano Teacher by Janice Lee
You Don't Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem
Chinaberry Sidewalks by Rodney Crowell
The Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones:Sound Opinions on the Great Rock 'n' Roll Rivalry by Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot
Decoded by Jay-Z
Life by Keith Richards
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks
Talking to Girls about Duran Druan: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield
Don't Miss This: 1990
Posted June 9, 2011
In 1990, Oscar Hiljuelos was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love about two brothers who immigrate to America in 1949 with dreams of becoming mambo stars. Publishers Weekly noted that "Hijuelos's pure storytelling skills commission every incident with a life and breath of its own." The novel was later adapted into a film. We also recommend checking out Hijiuelos's Beautiful Maria of My Soul, a return of sorts to The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love.
Bonnie Raitt took home a Grammy for Album of the Year for Nick of Time, which took a spot on Rolling Stone's 500 Best Albums of All Time list. It was also the year that Sinead O'Connor released I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got that also made Rolling Stone's 500 Best Albums list. The album included the chart topper "Nothing Compares 2 You," which was originally written by Prince in the 1980s for the funk band The Family.
Also that year, Driving Miss Daisy took home the Academy Award for Best Picture. Originally a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, the playwright Alfred Uhry adapted Driving Miss Daisy for the screen with impressive results. Denzel Washington took home the Best Actor Award for Glory, the first of two Oscars he would eventually win. And the popular movies Ghost and Pretty Woman were released.
Posted June 7, 2011
There are so many excellent titles to look forward to this summer: a new title by Jennifer Weiner, a new Stephanie Plum installment, and a new Benjamin Black title, all of which would make great companions to a lazy day at the beach. We've combed the reviews of forthcoming titles for some recommendations for all types of readers.
For those who lean towards the literary, we recommend Ann Patchett's forthcoming State of Wonder, which received starred reviews from both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. Pharmacologist Marina is sent to the Amazon to research a colleague's death in this novel, which Kirkus noted is "Thrilling, disturbing and moving in equal measures—even better than Patchett's breakthrough Bel Canto." With praise like that, it is sure to be a winner.
If fast-paced science fiction is more your thing, we recommend that you pick up Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson. Set in the near future, it's a chilling look at the destructive potential of artificial intelligence. Booklist called it a "frenetic thriller" and noted that Wilson "is skilled in combining cutting-edge technology with gripping action scenes."
We think that Conqusitadora by Esmerelda Santiago should find a place in the beach bags of historical fiction fans. Ann Cubillas, an adventurous young Spanish women inspired by her Conquistador ancestors, goes to Puerto Rico with her husband to run a sugar plantation in this epic that Publishers Weekly called a "Puerto Rican Gone With the Wind."
Have a hankering for some psychological suspense? We recommend picking up Before I Go to Sleep, a debut novel getting some serious buzz. Christine, an amnesiac, begins to wonder who she can trust in this page-turner. It's been called a "pulse-pounding thriller," "chilling" and "compellingly hypnotic" and received several starred reviews. We suspect some readers might finish it in one sitting.
And finally, for those who enjoy a little quirkiness in their stories, we suggest The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, a fictional account of the life of Lavinia "Vinnie" Warren Bump, the wife of Tom Thumb and a popular P.T. Barnum attraction. Publishers Weekly calls Vinnie an "effervescent narrator with a love of life and a grand story worth the price of admission."
Printers Row Lit Fest
Posted June 2, 2011
Sunny days are forecasted for this weekend. Why not head outdoors and check out the Printers Row Lit Fest? Booksellers will be out on and around Dearborn, from Congress to Polk. There will also be plenty of author events and the like for both adults and kids.
We are happy to be hosting several noteworthy programs at the Harold Washington Library Center. Some highlights include former One Book, One Chicago author Colm Tóibín on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. On Sunday at 3:00 p.m. we expect a good crowd for an event with writer Terry McMillan. Other programs to look forward to include: Marcus Sakey in conversation with Sean Chercover on Saturday and a Midwest Paranormal panel with Laurell K. Hamilton, Christina Henry and Chloe Neill on Sunday.