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Staff Pick: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Larry staff picks photoThe World Without Us describes the relationship between humans and nature using science with a dash of philosophy to imagine what would happen if the earth was suddenly without us. The human impact on nature and the restorative abilities of the earth are clearly explained in this pop science read.

By Readers' Advisor on January 21, 2014 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Picks by Larry, Staff Picks

Movies and TV: Trashed

Trashed DVD coverThe Earth has the possibility of becoming a garbage heap. In the documentary Trashed, Jeremy Irons narrates the problems and solutions to modern waste management while he travels from open air heaps in Lebanon to modernized dumpsites in the U.S. Broken down into “Land”, “Air”, “Water”, and “Solutions”, Irons guides the viewer through issues like groundwater pollution, birth defects, and oceans becoming a slurry of toxins – all caused by the world’s lax landfill regulations. With easy solutions, like more stringent fines on those who fail to recycle, Trashed lays out not only problems, but attainable solutions. If you like Jeremy Irons’ golden baritone or movies that are good for watercooler talk in the morning, try Trashed.

By Readers' Advisor on January 16, 2014 Categories: Movies and TV, Nonfiction

New: Fiction and Nonfiction

Every Friday the Library will bring you two short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.

For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.

Get your reading glasses on, because here we go!

New: Fiction Books

Mercy Snow book cover

What I Had Before I had you book cover

Andrew's Brain book cover

Today I am a Boy book cover

Invention of Wings book cover

Under the Jeweled Sky book cover

Still Life with Bread Crumbs book cover

What We've Lost is Nothing book cover

New: Nonfiction Books

Short Guide to a Long Life book cover

Thing I've Learned from Dying book cover

Empire of Necessity book cover

Accidental Universe book cover

Talk about a Dream book cover

Polio Wars book coverLittle Failure book cover

Body Counts book cover

By Readers' Advisor on January 10, 2014 Categories: Books, New Arrivals, Nonfiction

Nonfiction: Brassaï: Paris Nocturne

Brassai: Paris NocturneBrassaï moved to Paris in 1924. He slept all day and roamed the streets at night, photographing the moonlit Montparnasse quarter and beyond. Street toughs grinned broadly for him, prostitutes coyly raised thinly-lined eyebrows, and young couples necking on benches ignored the photographer entirely. Brassaï may have been called boring by his friend (and famed writer) Henry Miller, but his work is everything and anything but dull. There are no grittier, livelier images of Depression-era, European nightlife than what Brassaï captured. If you like black and white gangster movies, unflinching photography, or just want a conversation-starter of a coffee table book, try Brassaï: Paris Nocturne.

By Readers' Advisor on January 9, 2014 Categories: Books, Nonfiction

Staff Pick: The Ghost Army

Joyce Staff Picks photoThink you know WWII history? You might be surprised! The Ghost Army explains how the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops – made up of artists, sound technicians, and radiomen – created the grand illusion of American troops that held the line against German forces in major battles of the war. Amazing!

By Readers' Advisor on January 7, 2014 Categories: Movies and TV, Nonfiction, Staff Picks

Movies and TV: Bob Ross: The Happy Painter

Bob Ross the Happy Painter DVD coverAnyone who clicked through the TV channels from 1983 – 1994 surely crossed paths with Bob Ross. You know:  Bob Ross – the painter with the soft voice and the big afro. His 30-minute PBS show, The Joy of Painting, taught amateur artists how to landscape paint using the wet-on-wet oil painting technique. Ross brought a positive mental attitude, humor, camp, and easy-to-follow methods of art-making to the public. Bob Ross: The Happy Painter explores how Ross starring in a TV commercial for local painting classes turned into a 15 million dollar empire. Celebrities like Terrence Howard, Jane Seymour, and Brad Paisley discuss Ross’ life and legacy in this feel-good documentary.

By Readers' Advisor on January 2, 2014 Categories: Movies and TV, Nonfiction

Book Discussion Questions: Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott

Sin in the Second City book cover

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


Title: Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul
Author: Karen Abbott
Page Count: 356
Genre: Nonfiction
Tone: Engaging, dramatic, well-researched


1. Do you see the Everleigh sisters as criminals?

2. The sisters elevated their craft. Down another path in history this elevation could have led to legalization and taxation of prostitution in Chicago. How different do you think Chicago would be were that to have happened?

3. Do you think sex work was empowering or exploitive to the butterflies? Explain. Do you think sex work was empowering for other brothel house workers?

4. Do you think more women were “white slaves” or prostitutes during this era?

5. Would you have considered becoming an Everleigh butterfly?

6. Why do you think the sisters outshined their competition so fiercely?

7. Do you think there was a stronger sister?

8. Why do you think the sisters didn’t ever (re)marry?

9. Was there a madam in this book you admired?

10. What about a madam you hated?

11. Are there any heroes in this story?

12. What about villains?

13. What do you think of the reformers’ techniques? Were they effective?

14. What do you think of Ernest Bell, the preacher? Did you find him more often in the wrong or in the right?

15. What did you think of Clifford Roe, the lawyer obsessed with white slavery?

16. Some folks believed that brothels and prostitution kept “respectable” women safe from rape and the “baser” fantasies of their husbands. What is your reaction to this?

17. Were you surprised by the caliber of patrons at the Everleigh Club? (Ex: Edgar Lee Masters, Theodore Dreiser, the Prince of Prussia, etc.)

18. How did the Everleighs handle racial issues at their club?

19. Do you think people’s sexuality has changed all that much since the Everleighs’ time?

20. Do you think the Everleigh sisters would be successful today? How do you think their business might be different?

21. Does this book mirror present day society at all?

22. Would you have wanted to live in Chicago during this era?

23. Sin in the Second City is a work of nonfiction. Do you think you would’ve enjoyed it more as a novel? Why or why not?

24. Has your perspective of sex workers changed? Elaborate.

25. What is one story you can take away from Sin in the Second City and use for cocktail party chatter?


Other Resources

Sin in the Second City website
Book discussion questions at Reading Group Guides
Claire Zulkey interviews Karen Abbott
Freakonomics interviews Karen Abbott
Windy City Writers interviews Karen Abbott
New York Times review of Sin in the Second City


If you liked Sin in the Second City, try…

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
The Girls of Murder City by Douglas Perry
The Last Madam by Chris Wiltz

Devil in the White City book cover     Girls of Murder City book coverLast Madam book cover

By Readers' Advisor on January 1, 2014 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Nonfiction

Lists: Instructional Dance DVDs

Ballroom Dancing Made Easy DVD coverThe New Year is almost upon us and resolutions are on everyone’s brains. Maybe, just maybe, 2014 can be the year that you finally give yourself the time to learn how to dance. Watching Dancing With the Stars is ok…but what if you could dance like the stars?

Click here to see a list of instructional dance DVDs.

By Readers' Advisor on December 27, 2013 Categories: Lists, Movies and TV, Nonfiction

Nonfiction: I Got Schooled by M. Night Shyamalan

I Got Schooled book coverM. Night Shyamalan wants you to be interested in education reform. The director who made The Sixth Sense, The Village, and other Hollywood blockbusters, has become an armchair education expert. I Got Schooled is the accumulation of Shyamalan spending five years funding non-partisan studies on how to close the achievement gap in the United States. In this quick, conversational read, Shyamalan outlines five keys to succeeding schools. These keys range from eliminating underachieving personnel to keeping kids in the classroom longer. If you like breezy reads that make you think long after you’ve put them down, try Shyamalan’s idealistic I Got Schooled.

By Readers' Advisor on December 19, 2013 Categories: Books, Nonfiction

Movies and TV: Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present

Marina Abromovic: The Artist is PresentMarina Abramović is a New York-based performance artist. Her art examines bodily limits, passion, violence, and identity. Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present is a documentary that follows Abramović during her 2010 Museum of Modern Art installation. MOMA celebrated Abramović’s 30-year career by recreating her most famous performance art pieces and showcasing a new, 90-day installation. Over 750,000 people attended the show. Abramović’s performance art is not always easily understandable. Much of the time – especially early in her career – it seemed shocking…but through shock the artist forces us to engage, to pause, to question, to be in a moment. If you like art documentaries or movies that put you in a thinking mood, try Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present.

By Readers' Advisor on December 12, 2013 Categories: Movies and TV, Nonfiction