Literary Criticism is Not Boring!

Okay, so literary criticism is boring. If you're not into classic, historic or highfalutin literature, you really don't care what makes something classic, historic or highfalutin. But give it a chance . . . When you find a critic who can actually write, you stumble across a whole new landscape of writers and their words. […]

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Ladies of Dagenham, Unite!

Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins) is nothing out of the ordinary, working at the Ford factory and raising her children with her husband in their blue-collar suburb of London in 1968.  O'Grady works in the all-female section of the plant sewing seat covers, along with 146 other women. What starts out as a dispute over job designation grows into […]

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Challenge Accepted: Learn About ALS

Niles Public Library challenged CPL to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. To meet the challenge, we pulled together some of the best resources about ALS from our collection. We now challenge all Chicagoans to read and learn more about this disease. Maybe you’ve been “called out” and you’re filling your bucket and preparing […]

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Labor Day, Labor History

Well, it's here: Labor Day. The end of summer, when swimming pools close and schools open. But in all this back-to-school hullabaloo, it's easy to forget the origins of the holiday. Labor Day was first instituted at the city and state levels as early as 1885. Federal recognition came in 1894, and the first Monday of September was designated […]

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Technology that changed Chicago: Calling 911. 1877-1900

Previous: 1860-1877 Although the fire telegraph system reached a state of near perfection in 1877, the police alarm system had a number of problems that became apparent in the large labor riots of that year. Communication from the street to stations depended largely upon runners and telegrams from the large businesses with telegraph operators. Communication […]

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Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury!

Ray Bradbury is easily one of the most celebrated authors of the 21st century. I’m willing to say with very good reason. He is the creator of more than 600 works spanning 7 decades. His writing is timeless and every generation can find meaning and relevance no matter the milieu. Bradbury often said he wrote […]

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Are You Prepared for Mayhem?

What would you do if disaster strikes? Are you prepared to survive in a tornado, flood or blizzard? Some of my favorite movies deal with these topics, and usually the main characters do not fare very well when confronted with extreme weather conditions. They always choose to ignore warning signs and are astounded when they […]

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The Problem With Virtue

Often when I read historical fiction, it seems that the 21st-Century world view is imported with the characters.  No more is this true than with the themes of sex and religion.  Fortunately, Marci Jefferson manages to avoid this pitfall in Girl on the Golden Coin. Young Frances Stuart, the protagonist, wishes only to make a good […]

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We’re Off to See the Wizard!

It's been 75 years since Dorothy stepped into the technicolor world of munchkins and flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz, which still ranks as one of the most awesome movies of all time. The film is based on the book by Chicago native L. Frank Baum, with a few details changed. For example, did you know that Dorothy's shoes were […]

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