Inspiring Novels about Labor Activists for Labor Day

My favorite bumper sticker is both witty and true: UNIONS: The Folks That Brought You the Weekend. The five-day work week. Collective bargaining. Safe working conditions. Labor activists fought for all these and more to improve workers' lives. Want to learn more about the labor movement's fascinating history? Check out these inspiring novels featuring union…
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Pilsen: Explore ‘Coolest’ Neighborhood Through Photos, Fiction, Film

Pilsen is on Forbes' 12 Coolest Neighborhoods Around The World list, alongside other “up-and-coming" communities.  Praised for attractions including its popular murals and “cutting-edge culture and art,” Pilsen is also the subject or setting of three books, as well as an inspiring documentary—so you can explore the neighborhood vicariously before you visit. Brimming with photos…
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Sara Paretsky and Chicago’s Fiercest Detective, V.I. Warshawski

This post is part of our occasional series Chicago Authors on eBooks, but Sara Paretsky's titles are also available in print, as noted below. Beloved fictional detective V.I. Warshawski emerged during a meeting between Sara Paretsky and a less-than-beloved boss over 35 years ago. As “Fred” droned on and Paretsky censored her “unprintable” thoughts, the…
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The Black National Anthem and the Multitalented Men Who Wrote It

James Weldon Johnson is often called the Renaissance Man of the Harlem Renaissance—with good reason. The author of the novel The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored Man, he was also a respected poet, newspaper columnist, diplomat and the first black leader of the NAACP. But he is perhaps best known for writing the lyrics to the stirring…
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Beautiful: The Carole King Musical OR How to Write a Hit Song with the Help of a Library Book

Before Carole King’s songs were recorded by Aretha Franklin, The Monkees and Amy Winehouse, before she released her chart-topping, mega-selling album Tapestry, and before she was named a 2015 Kennedy Center honoree, she was a teenage mother in Brooklyn, struggling to make a living in the music business. She was—and remains—brilliant, though at 18 that brilliance had…
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Great American Playwright Arthur Miller on the 100th Anniversary of His Birth

On the 50th anniversary of Death of A Salesman's Broadway premier, Arthur Miller fans packed a Manhattan bookstore for a rare appearance by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright. A teenage girl a few feet from me surveyed the fire-hazard of a crowd and said with awe: It’s like he’s Madonna or something. Although famous for his appearance before the…
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