If It Weren’t for Shakespeare…Ten Book Titles That Quote Shakespeare

Cover of The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet by Myrlin A. Hermes. Portrait of Hamlet seen as a young renaissance artist/poet.

William Shakespeare had that certain type of genius. He could basically steal from disparate sources and make something brand new. He is said to have lifted from Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, The Danish History of Saxo Gramaticus' Gesta Danorum, Seneca, Plutarch, Giovanni Boccacio, Arthur Brooke (or Broke,) Thomas Kyd, and local folktales. But, it's as if he invented the […]

Read More

That’s Not My Western

That's Not My Western

America loves a simple western. Maybe we'll cheer for a hero, or maybe we'll be gutsy revisionists and cheer for an antihero. Whatever the case, we get to have a grand old time watching strangers shoot each other. There are books out there, however, which take the American West and make it the mystery that called […]

Read More

Get Ready for Winter

The winter solstice, or official start of the season, is December 21. Here are some resources for all ages to help make your winter great! For younger children, Denise Fleming's The First Day of Winter is a cute variation on "The 12 Days of Christmas," counting up common items you might experience on the first […]

Read More



Do you enjoy ukulele music, the films of Wes Anderson or stick figure drawings? Have you ever made your own terrarium or scoured garage sales for knickknacks which look like they were owned by your great-grandmother? Then congratulations, you belong to the world of twee. But before you feel too proud of yourself, you're not the only […]

Read More

Civility Will Prevail: Matthew Quick’s Novels for Adults

paper airplane 1

Matthew Quick is best known for The Silver Linings Playbook, his first novel and one that has been turned into a movie, Silver Linings Playbook.  In these works, Pat Peoples is recently released from a mental institution where he was committed after an explosive argument with his estranged wife. He still loves her, she's moved on.  Peoples starts compulsively working out and […]

Read More

Artists as Heroes in Fiction

Source: budzywudzy, Flickr

Kavalier and Clay, the main characters in this year’s One Book, One Chicago selection, create larger-than-life comic book heroes like the Escapist. But in many of my favorite novels, creators themselves are the heroes, especially young artists struggling to find their way. Willa Cather once characterized them as the “hungry boys and girls who tramp […]

Read More

Read Tomorrow’s African American Classics Today

Author Percival Everett Source: elenatore, Flickr

Long before African American History Month was widely celebrated, my third-grade teacher brought African American history to life and into the classroom. I still remember him standing us in a circle and teaching us “Lift Every Voice and Sing," the Black National Anthem. (Thank you, Mr. Ruff!) I still celebrate African American History Month—these days […]

Read More

Discover Great Stories with These Annual Anthologies

featured image

I might never have discovered two of my favorite short story writers, Amy Bloom and Tim Gautreaux, if not for The Best American Short Stories anthology. The Best American Short Stories series (BASS) was hip to Bloom and Gautreaux long before The New Yorker, anthologizing stories by both before either published a book. BASS is […]

Read More

Moran More

caitlin moran 1

Caitlin Moran made a splash two years ago with her book of essays, How to Be A Woman. While better known in England than here in the States, her body of work so far will hopefully rectify that. How to Be a Woman goes roughly in chronological order, from Moran's burgeoning adolescence in Wolverhampton to contemplating her mortality […]

Read More

Walter Mosley, Philosopher

Walter Mosley 2

While Walter Mosley is best known for his Easy Rawlins mystery series, he has written some excellent stand-alone fiction as well. I just finished The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey on audio and loved it. Ptolemy Grey is 91, and slipping into dementia in his cluttered apartment. Robyn, not exactly a relative, but not exactly not, cares for Ptolemy […]

Read More