Thursday, February 11, 2016

Discover Will

People in this area have a don't-miss cultural opportunity this month: to see the First Folio or "the book that gave us Shakespeare." The First Folio is making the rounds in the U.S., and the only location in Illinois that will have it on display is the Lake County Discovery Museum, located in Wauconda. Admission is free for this exhibition that runs through February 28.

The First Folio is a compilation of many of Shakespeare's plays that was published in 1623 to preserve his work after death. Find out more about the exhibit and accompanying programs.

Read more about the Bard or one of his works. Discover Will this winter!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Recommended Read: Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton

This is the kind of book to read when you're looking for something sneakily soulful. Photographer Brandon Stanton has put together a fascinating book based on his blog. Stanton went around New York City and took portraits of people and includes a usually short, often very personal, quote from the subjects. He elicits some intimate information from these people. Although the book isn't laid out in a particular order, he often juxtapositions entries that are connected by theme of the subjects' statements or because the subjects have similarities in life circumstance.

The photos are lovely, but it is the quotes that ultimately resonate. Some statements are devastating ("I found my mom's meth stash when I was four." "What'd you do with it?" "I ate it."). Some statements are insightful ("My ex-girlfriend seemed to love me a lot more than I loved her, so I made the mistake of thinking I didn't love her." or "For the longest time, I was so focused on being deaf in my left ear that I almost forgot my other ear was perfectly fine."). Some statements are complicated and lengthy, others are simple and to the point (an older gentleman states "It takes a hell of a lot of pills to keep me going."). It doesn't matter that these people live in New York. These are lives and stories one could find in any city or town. It's good to be reminded of our humanity sometimes.

Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton
Find it in the catalog!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

"Barbara the Slut" and Other Favorite Fiction of 2015

This year I got back into reading fiction. I took a break for a while because I was trying to seem sophisticated and knowledgeable by only reading biographies and critically acclaimed nonfiction. Needless to say that got really boring really quickly.   

Packer's splintered narrative style and rich characters made The Children's Crusade one of my favorite titles to hit shelves this year. Families, by definition, are dysfunctional. Mine is, and my best friend’s is, and you’d be lying if you said yours isn't. And that's the ugly truth. In Packer’s latest family saga, Bill Blair’s four children (one unwanted) navigate their way through a precarious childhood in an attempt to keep their misguided mother, Penny, from falling off the deep end. Set in what is now Silicon Valley, The Children's Crusade jumps around in time and point-of-view — not in a needlessly confounding way, but as a way to intensify another one of its themes: that the four Blair children (like all children) each came fully loaded at birth with their own idiosyncratic temperaments. 

While we’re on the topic of dysfunction, let’s talk about my group of friends: and yours, too, for that matter. Separately, we’re messy people each leading very different lives. Together, we’re still messy people leading very different lives who just happen to appreciate each other’s quirks. Lisa Lutz explores the dynamics of friendship in her 2015 novel How to Start a Fire which follows three college friends through the treacherous territory that is adulthood. Kate Smirnoff (like the vodka), Anna Fury, and George Leoni met in 1993, when all three were students at UC Santa Cruz. Freshman roommates Kate and Anna found George passed out on the lawn outside a party they had all attended. The girls quickly become friends and are bound together for life after a traumatic experience in their mid-20s.  

We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh 
It’s rare to find a novel that’s both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Letty Espinosa is suddenly handed responsibility for her two children, 6 year-old Luna and 15 year-old Alex, after her parents (the children's former caregivers) return to their childhood home in Mexico. At first, Letty struggles with the inevitable challenges that motherhood presents, fumbling her way through a series of bad decisions before she gains her footing. Diffenbaugh paints an eye-opening picture of modern day San Francisco for readers; she introduces us to the immigrant families who are hoping to build a life for themselves by working three jobs and living in devastating poverty, simultaneously holding their families together.     

Act of God by Jill Ciment 
A mysterious, luminescent mold infestation spreads through Brooklyn in the summer of 2015, sparing no New Yorker in its path. The ‘supermold’ is first discovered in the apartments of a rowhouse, entwining the lives of its residents: the elderly twin sisters, Edie and Kat, one a retired librarian, the other a failed bohemian; Vida, a middle-aged actress; and Ashley, an 18-year-old Russian au pair discovered hiding in Vida’s closet. The narrative shifts between the four women as they’re evacuated from their homes, until Edie eventually dies from spore inhalation and Kat is left to face the entire bizarre situation alone with only the company of a crazy cat lady and the unbearable grief that came with the loss of her twin sister. The novel is in some ways a character study and, in others, a play on science fiction in its entirety. Ultimately, it’s weird and that’s what I liked about it. Plus--the cover is really pretty.  


Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes 
Living can be a distressingly solitary activity and Holmes explores this hard truth with unexpected poignancy, subtlety and humor. Her characters are students and urbanites and rule-breakers and quarter-life-crisis-havers, some of whom own dogs or want to. Holmes is so skillful at characterization — weaving in specific details that illustrate everyday desires, failures and striving — that I was suddenly skeptical when I came to "My Humans," the third-to-last story in the book, which is told from the point of view of a dog. “My Humans", however, is every bit as moving as the other stories in the collection and while not perfect it tells us just as much, if not more, about human nature than the stories actually narrated by people. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

For Karen Kingsbury fans

Is Karen Kingsbury one of your favorite authors? Did you know that a Hallmark Channel movie was based on her book The Bridge? Part one will air again on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 8 pm. To learn more go to :

Thursday, October 29, 2015

New Non-Fiction Hitting the Shelves

Here is a selection of new non-fiction titles that have recently hit our shelves:

The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking With Pleasure by Alana Chernila. Beautifully photographed cookbook that encompasses from scratch pantry items to dinner dishes.

Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We "Catch" Mental Illness by Harriet A. Washington. Examines the connection between our bodies' affect on our brain and mental health.

My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts by Laura T.
Coffey. First off, how can you resist this book cover? You can't. And the inside is just as sweet. If you love animals, not just dogs, you'll enjoy this quick read.

Near and Distant Neighbors: A New History of Soviet Intelligence by Jonathan Haslam. "A uniquely comprehensive and rich account of the Soviet intelligence services," according to the book jacket. For the Russian history or spy enthusiasts among us.

Works Well with Others: An Outsider's Guide to Shaking Hands, Shutting Up, Handling Jerks, and Other Crucial Skills in Business That No One Ever Teaches You by Ross McCammon. Who couldn't use help with deciphering others?

Write Back Soon!: Adventures in Letter Writing by Karen Benke. This book celebrates hand-written letters with trivia, ways to help you begin anew with this lost art, tips and more.

Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. Packed with photos (including some how-to photos) this cookbook would help you expand your ethnic dish repertoire.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Stress Less

The library has the ability to create a space that is comfortable and safe and provides great resources to help connect people and ideas within the community. Enhancing the Fox River Valley Public Library District's community is one of the library's most important functions.How does our library do this? I have come to the conclusion, after my few short years as a professional librarian, this quest comes from within. The love and self-care we do each day contribute to how we take care the people around us. Especially, in today’s world we focus on flat screens, books, and other devices that only stimulate a portion of our brains and bodies in this vast wide world. We tend to forget to take care of ourselves by enticing our senses, meditating, stretching and moving our bodies, and relish in not only the joy but experience the ways in which we learn. 

What are ways you do self-care or self-nurturing on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis?
Would your self-care improve if you were involved in a group to come up with ideas, share tips, and create an environment where self-care is something that is valued and emphasized?

Here are some things to do on a daily basis:

Cup of Tea
Express yourself
Vision Boards

For more self-care tips here is a website with more information:

Fox River Valley Public Library District is hosting a few free classes coming up in December, January, February focusing on self-care. Please register online or by phone. Space is limited. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Celebrate Family History Month @ Your Library with Try-It! Illinois

Via Twisted Twigs on Gnarled Branches

October is Family History Month, don’t ya know, and starting your genealogy journey has never been easier thanks to Try-It! Illinois. The Illinois State Library, in collaboration with multiple e-resource providers, launched Try-It! Illinois in 2001 to give Illinois residents the opportunity to explore an extensive list of resources that aren’t always available to them otherwise. This year, the trial will run from October 1, 2015 through November 30, 2015. The trial includes a variety of genealogy and family history research tools including MyHeritage Library Edition and FOLD3 Library Edition. For more information on how to access the trial, stop by the Information Desk. Heck, you can even give us a call at (847) 428-3661.

In addition to resources already offered to Library patrons free of charge, access to these additional databases can make a world of difference for genealogists. For example, FOLD3 is a subscription-based service that provides users with access to US military records, including the stories, photos, and personal documents of men and women who served. During the trial, these military records are available to view free of charge. 

Getting Started on Your Family Tree

The easiest way to start researching your family history is by writing down what you already know on a pedigree chart. Start with yourself and work backwards. Fill in your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents and so on. Use a pencil so you can erase. When you are finished, it will be easy to tell which ancestors are missing. Record birthplaces and birth dates too as you will need these to locate records.
Brothers, sisters, parents, and other family members are valuable research tools. They might have new information to add to your chart, or at least be able to confirm what you’ve gathered so far. Again, keep in mind the importance of gathering dates and locations as you will need these in your future research. You will want to fill in a family group chart to keep track of who was married to whom and how many children they had. Family group charts and other useful forms, like the pedigree chart I mentioned above, can be found on Ancestry.
When you're ready to begin searching for vital and census records online, Ancestry is the best place to start. You can access Ancestry for free from the Library. Happy researching!

Via Twisted Twigs on Gnarled Branches