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Fiction: Inspired by Reality TV

For ideal summer viewing, you can’t top the curiously addictive appeal of reality television. It can also make for deliciously sudsy storytelling — just ask anyone currently tuning in to UnREAL, a new series that exposes the dark, twisty manipulations from both sides of the camera on a Bachelor-style dating program. This sparked our thinking: what other fiction is built on different types of competition shows?

 

Like this?
Cover of American Idol
Try this! Cover of Elimination Night

 

 

Elimination Night (provocatively attributed to “Anonymous”) shines a comic spotlight on star-making shows like American Idol, and half the fun is drawing direct lines to real-life counterparts! Sasha King is a new producer who is forced to juggle the demands of celebrity judges, unstable contestants, and divas of all stripes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like this? Cover of The Amazing Race
Try this!Cover of Lost and Found

 

 

For globe-trotting adventure mixed with a grand-scale scavenger hunt, join the teams of Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst. Told from the point of view of multiple contestants, the fast-paced action and dramatic antics will have you racing to the finish line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like this?
Cover of Trading Spaces
Try this!
Cover of Room for Improvement

Double your reality-TV pleasure with Stacey Ballis’s Room for Improvement and see what happens when you work the DIY angle along with the search for romance. Chicago interior designer Lily Allen is thrilled to work on Swap/Meet, a home makeover show that matches singles looking for both a room re-do and new love potential, but she isn’t immune to the drama in this fun, frothy, and sexy send-up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like this?
Cover of Deadliest Catch
Try this!
Cover of Primal Waters

 

 

If high-stakes action is more your speed, dive into Primal Waters by Steve Alten. A renown adventurer is invited to join Daredevils, a televised survival series which may be grossly underestimating the dangers the players will have to face. Read for the suspense, the adrenaline, and did we mention shark attacks?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like this?
Cover of 1900 house
Try this!
Cover f The Corset Diaries

 

 

Those who romanticize the past may wish they could join the cast of A Month in the Life of a Victorian Duke, a show in which contemporary folk attempt to live for weeks on an authentically retro estate. Giving up modern conveniences may almost be worth the prize, especially if you are cast opposite a dashing Englishman. In The Corset Diaries by Kate MacAlister, the costumes aren’t the only thing that make it hard to breathe!

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on July 23, 2015 Categories: Books, Humor, Lists, Movies and TV, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Romance

Movies and TV: The Prettiest Ugly Girl / La Fea Más Bella

La Fea Mas Bella DVD coverTelenovelas, Latin American soap operas, are among the most popular forms of entertainment in the world. Everything is exaggerated:  high drama, intense emotion, and broad caricature are broken into installments to keep family viewers coming back for more. La Fea Más Bella (The Prettiest Ugly Girl) is a story that aired for 300 episodes in Mexico about an intelligent but comically unattractive young woman who lands her first real job. When the business is in danger, her boss uses her crush on him to secure the company, and both are changed by all that follows. An edited DVD set is available for those curious how one of the 17 versions of Ugly Betty played out in another country.

Browse our collection of International TV Series to discover other programs popular around the globe. Don’t forget: Watching a World Language DVD is a bonus step for the 2015 Adult Summer Reading Program. Sign up to participate and try something new!

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on June 29, 2015 Categories: 2015 Summer Reading, Humor, Movies and TV, Romance

Fiction: The Commitments by Roddy Doyle

Commitments book coverJimmy Rabbitte knows his music. He may not have a single note of musical ability, but he has the passion to form a band with guys who do, and the new sound of “Dublin soul” is born. The Commitments by Roddy Doyle is about the world’s hardest working band, one energized by the songs of James Brown, Sam Cooke, and Otis Redding. The characters are scrappy, rude, and hilarious, and the familiar tale of an underdog group’s rise and fall is reborn as something fresh and real. Steeped in local color, youthful ambition, and the sheer joy of making music, this short novel is a great option for anyone in the mood for something other than the typical beach reads.

Rock-and-roll fiction is one way to turn up the volume on your summer reading. Sign up today for Read to the Rhythm and start earning chances toward fab prizes that will make you want to dance!

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on June 25, 2015 Categories: Books, Humor

Book Discussion Questions: Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Cover of Where'd You Go BernadetteTitle: Where’d You Go Bernadette
Author: Maria Semple
Page Count: 330 pages
Genre: Humorous Fiction
Tone: Offbeat, Exuberant

Summary:
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

1. How did the epistolary format impact your reading? Did it make it more intimate?

2. Much of the beginning of the book focused on Bernadette’s relationship with Audrey Griffin. What did you think of Audrey? Why do you think she and Bernadette didn’t get along?

3. What did you think of Bernadette and Bea’s relationship?

4. When Bernadette “escaped” from the intervention, she asked Audrey to send all the emails to Bea, and said “I know it’s a lot, but she can handle it. I’d rather ruin her with the truth than ruin her with lies.” What did you think about that?

5. Did Audrey’s character change or did we just get a new perspective?

6. Did your opinion of Bernadette change when you found out she was a successful architect?

7. Paul Jellinak brought up the point that Bernadette only created 2 houses and both were for herself. Do you think she could have had a career in architecture with actual clients?

8. Who’s fault was it that the 20 mile house was destroyed? Did Bernadette have any extenuating circumstances in regards to her actions?

9. Ellie Sito criticized Bernadette for not being tough enough. She would knit as she worked. Do you think woman then or now need to take on male stereotypes to be successful?

10. Why didn’t she fix up her house in Seattle?

11. Did you find any of this novel to be spiritual?

12. In an email to Manjula, Bernadette was discussing how much she disliked Canadians because of how everybody was equal. She said, “Some people are extraordinary and should be treated as such”. What do you think of this statement?

13. Why do you think Bernadette didn’t discuss her feelings of failure with her husband? Why did she write that soul-bearing letter to Paul Jellinac instead?

14. What did you think of Paul’s response: “Are you done?  You can’t honestly believe any of this nonsense.  People like you must create.  If you don’t create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society.”

15. What did you think of Elgin Branch’s character? Was there enough meat to him?

16. What were your thoughts on the TED talk?

17. Do you think Elgie loves Bernadette now? Did he love her in the past?

18. Elgie was furious with Bernadette for denuding the hillside and causing the cave-in that destroyed the Griffens house. Why was he so furious? Was he right to be that mad?

19. Why was Elgie so bent on getting Bernadette committed?

20. During the intervention, Elgin let Soo-Lin stay. What are your thoughts on that? Would you have done the same?

21. Why did Dr. Kurtz resign after the intervention?

22. What does the future hold for Bernadette and Elgie’s marriage?

23. How do you think Bernadette will react to Soo-Lin’s pregnancy ?

24. Do you think that there are any true victims in the novel, if so who and why?

25. What did you think of VAV (victims against victimhood)?

26. Do you identify with any of the characters?

Other Resources:

Lit Lovers’ Reading Guide
Book Club Companion Discussion Questions
Video Interview with Maria Semple
Q and A with Maria Semple
Semple’s exploration of Microsoft

If you like Where’d You Go Bernadette, you might like…

Cover of The Financial Lives of the Poets Cover of Man at the Helm Cover of The Family Fang

 

 

 

 

The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter
Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on June 10, 2015 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Humor

2015 Audie Award Finalists

The Audie Awards: 150 finalists and only 30 winners. On Thursday, May 28th the Audio Publishers Association will declare which exceptional audiobooks will be crowned Audie Winners for 2015. Enjoy a taste of the finalists below, and stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen desk on the second floor to let us know who you think should win this year’s Audie Awards! The categories and finalists below only scratch the surface, so make sure to peruse the other categories. The Awards Gala hosted by Jack Gantos will be Livestreamed on Thursday, starting at 6:30pm.

Fiction

Cover of Us
Us

by David Nicholls

Cover of Written in My Own Heart's Blood
Written in My Own Hearts Blood

by Diana Gabaldon

Cover of The Invention of Wings
The Invention of Wings

by Sue Monk Kidd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nonfiction

Cover of Furious Cool
Furious Cool

by David Henry and Joe Henry

Cover of Being Mortal
Being Mortal

by Atul Gawande

Cover of Deep Down Dark
Deep Down Dark

by Hector Tobar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantasy

Cover of The Queen of the Tearling
The Queen of Tearling

by Erika Johansen

Cover of Cress
Cress

by Marissa Meyer

Cover of The Emperor's Blades
The Emperor’s Blades

by Brian Staveley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History

Cover of Enduring Courage
Enduring Courage

by John F. Ross

Cover of In the Kingdom of Ice
In the Kingdom of Ice

by Hampton Sides

Cover of A Spy Among Friends
A Spy Among Friends

by Ben Macintyre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humor

Cover of You Can Date Boys When You're Forty
You Can Date Boys When
You’re Forty

by Dave Barry

Cover of The Disaster Artist

The Disaster Artist

by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

Cover of Food: A Love Story
Food: A Love Story

by Jim Gaffigan

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on May 22, 2015 Categories: Audiobooks, Awards, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction, Humor, Nonfiction

Fiction: I Take You by Eliza Kennedy

Cover of I Take YouIn the course of the week before she’ll be hitched, Lily must finish up wedding planning, groom a lost cause for an emergency deposition, and try to figure out if she actually loves her fiancé, Will. Between Lily’s eclectic family containing her mother, two step-mothers, and a philandering father, Will’s uneasily impressed parents, and a weather-phobic wedding planner with a poor memory, the peculiar cast of Eliza Kennedy’s I Take You are up for a wild time. Lily’s breezy humor, boozy adventures, and knack for trying to sleep with every attractive man she sees throws a wrench in what could have possibly been a beautiful wedding week.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on May 7, 2015 Categories: Books, Humor

Book Discussion Questions: The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore

Cover of The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-EatTitle: The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat
Author: Edward Kelsey Moore
Page Count: 369 pages
Genre:  Women’s Lives and Relationships
Tone: Humorous, Moving, Relational

Summary from publisher:

Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat diner in Plainview, Indiana, is home away from home for this inseparable trio.  Dubbed the “Supremes” by high school pals in the tumultuous 1960s, they’ve weathered life’s storms for over four decades and counseled one another through marriage, children, happiness and the blues. Now, however, they’re about to face their most challenging year yet.

Proud, talented Clarice is struggling to keep up appearances as she deals with her husband’s humiliating infidelities; beautiful Barbara Jean is rocked by the tragic reverberations of a youthful love affair; and fearless Odette is about to embark on
the most terrifying battle of her life.  Join these strong, funny women as they gather each Sunday at the same table at Earl’s diner for delicious food, juicy gossip, occasional tears and uproarious laughter.

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

1. What did you think when you realized Odette was speaking with her dead mother?

2. If you were regularly visited by the ghosts would you tell anyone? If so, whom would you tell?

3. What did you think of Mrs. Roosevelt? Why do you think Moore chose Mrs. Roosevelt? Did this add to the story in your mind? Did it bother you to see her as kind of a goof or were you amused?

4. Author Edward Kelsey Moore said, “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat is rooted on fond memories I have of a childhood spent eavesdropping on the women of my family as they talked at family gatherings. Even when I was too young to fully understand the often very adult subject matter of their conversations, I was struck by how quickly the topics veered from heartbreakingly tragic to wildly hilarious….. My intention in writing The Supremes was to celebrate the joy of true friendship and to invite readers to remember the funny, strong and smart women in their lives.”

Did he accomplish this?

5. Does he do a good job conveying the feelings of women accurately? Were there certain points in particular that you thought he captured any of the women’ thought lives very well?

6. The book went back and forth between Odette narrating and scenes described in the third person.   Did that work for you? Why do you think Moore chose Odette to narrate? How would the book have been different if narrated by Clarice or Barbara Jean?

7. How do you think the structure added to the story? (moving back and forth from character to character and through the decades) How did it detract?

8. What character and/or story were you drawn to the most?

9. In the reviews many people commented that they had trouble remembering who was who. Did you have trouble distinguishing between the characters?

10. Much of the book takes place at Earl’s diner with Earl being a guiding source in the background. His character is never fully explored though and we don’t really get to know Earl. Why do you think Moore did that?

11. All three friends had unusual circumstances around their births. What were they and how were they important to their identity? Why was this important to the story?

12. Moore is an African American and the three women are African-American as well. How important is race to this story?

13. How does growing up black in a small town in the 70’s impact their lives? (how they walk home, who they hang out with, small town: grownups who know them, knowing people’s habits)

14. Is it easy to envision some of the relational aspects of the book working in a story with three white women?

15. How does Moore illustrate the mother daughter tension throughout the story? All of the women expressed a fear of becoming their mother. Who do you think ended up being most like her mother?

16. Clarice stayed with Richmond in part because of her mother’s expectations of how a lady should behave. Barbara Jean marries Lester and we read that it was hearing her mother’s voice that led to her break up with Chick. Granted, she’s a teen when this happens, but at what point in a woman’s life does her mother stop being to blame for what she does or says?

18. Did Barbara Jean make a wise decision to not stay with Chick? Do you think it was the right one for her? Was it fair of her to marry Lester while she was in love with someone else?

19. We don’t get access to the inner thoughts of James, Lester and Richmond. In what ways did Moore show us what kind of men each of them are and what they value?

20. Moore shows us inside their three different marriages. Was there love in each of these marriages? How would you describe their relationships?

21. In high school Clarice seemed to have the prize boyfriend, yet years later it is when she sees James try to style Odette’s hair that Clarice gains the determination to leave Richmond. Why do you think this moment was a game changer for her?

22. How did people respond to Clarice’s decision to move out? How did you respond?

23. Why does Barbara Jean find that good memories weigh as much as the bad and need to be drunk away?

24. All three friends seem to be in different places in their spiritual life. What is going on with them? How is religion handled in the story?

25. What did you think of Odette’s initial decision to keep her diagnosis to herself?

26. Leaning Tree is a small town. In what ways does this book show the good and bad of living in a small town?

27. Who were your favorite secondary characters?

28. The diner itself served as a character. What impact do you think it had on the overall story, the characters and the community?

29. What did you think about the ending? Did it fit well with the rest of the story?
Other Resources

Covers of the International Editions
Reading group guide
Video of Edward Kelsey Moore on The Supremes
Q&A with Edward Kelsey Moore
Interview with Edward Kelsey Moore

If you liked The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, try…

Cover of Far From the TreeCover of Who Asked You? Cover of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Far From the Tree by Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant
Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

 

 

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on April 8, 2015 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Humor

Fiction: Stealing Adda by Tamara Leigh

Stealing Adda book coverAdda Sinclair is a successful romance novelist known for her skill with male characters. If only that insight translated into real life! Her husband left her for her arch-rival, a pretty-boy cover model is more interested than she is, and the attractive publisher with plans to brand her books for male readers keeps her off-balance. What’s a girl with writer’s block and too little romance in her personal life to do? In Stealing Adda, it will take a public scandal, multiple misunderstandings, and a spiritual awakening to illuminate what’s most important. Author Tamara Leigh has created a funny and relatable heroine who comes to realize that roadblocks in life might serve a higher purpose and that perhaps she has it in her to write her own happily ever after.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on January 12, 2015 Categories: Books, Humor, Romance

Fiction: Comfort and Joy by India Knight

Cover of Comfort and JoyFollowing Clara through three Christmases, from 2009-2011, Comfort & Joy gifts its readers with all of the humor of dysfunctional families who mean well, a mother-in-law that wears see-through nightgowns, and the ever changing dynamics between husbands and wives. Every year Clara wants to make Christmas perfect, and while throwing a messy family together with wildly different neighbors does not equate to the perfection Clara hopes for, she does create holiday magic without sugarcoating the realities and imperfections of life. In the same vein as Bridget Jones’ Diary, India Knight explores the chaos of Christmas with all of the love, warmth, and anxiety that comes with the holiday season.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on December 18, 2014 Categories: Books, Humor

2014 Goodreads Choice Award Winners

Goodreads is a social media website readers can use to keep track of what they have read or want to read and interact with friends. Every year Goodreads hosts the Goodreads Choice Awards in which readers vote for what they consider the best books in different categories are. This year, there were over 3 million votes cast! Check out some of the winners below.

 

Cover of Landline Cover of The Opposite of Loneliness Cover of We Were Liars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction: Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Nonfiction: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
Young Adult: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Cover of The Martian Cover of Written in My Own Heart's BloodCover of The Book of Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction: The Martian by Andy Weir
Romance:
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
Fantasy:
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Cover of The Romanov Sisters Cover of This Star Won't Go Out Cover of Red Rising

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History and Biography: The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Memoir and Autobiography: This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl
Debut Goodreads Author: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Cover of Yes Please #Girlboss Cover of Make it Ahead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humor: Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Business: #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
Food and Cookbooks: Make it Ahead by Ina Garten

 

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on December 5, 2014 Categories: Awards, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction, Horror, Humor, Literary, Romance