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 […]

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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 […]

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Civility Will Prevail: Matthew Quick’s Novels for Adults

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Discover Great Stories with These Annual Anthologies

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 […]

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Moran More

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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 […]

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Walter Mosley, Philosopher

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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 […]

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A City of Neighborhoods: Fiction Set in Chicago

In his book, Chicago: A Biography, Dominic Pacyga writes: “There seems to be a different Chicago around every street corner, behind every bar, and within every apartment, two-flat, cottage, or bungalow.” Those contrasting views of the city, especially Chicago’s many neighborhoods and its residents, have been well-represented by writers. Readers have had the opportunity to […]

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May Is Get Caught Reading Month!

Get Caught Reading

The month of May has been known to cause a little bit of spring fever. People get caught skipping work or class, making excuses to get out of commitments, driving a little too fast with windows down and "Happy" by Pharrell blasting on the radio (wait, is that just me?). May also happens to be […]

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