Check It Out Category: Lists

Music: Your Fall Soundtrack

With fall here it’s time to surround yourself with the sounds of autumn. What songs do you have lining your days? For a mix of slower, laid-back tunes, try these!

Bon Iver album coverFor Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver
Song: “Re: Stacks”

Passenger All the Little Lights album coverAll the Little Lights by Passenger
Song: “Things That Stop You Dreaming”

Breaking Dawn Soundtrack album coverBreaking Dawn Part 1 Soundtrack
Song: “From Now On” by Sleeping at Last

Wish You Were Here soundtrack coverWish I Was Here Movie Soundtrack
Song: “Cherry Wine (Live)” by Hozier

List: Books Set in Bulgaria

Bulgaria and US flagsThis week the Library added nearly 50 books in Bulgarian to our shelves, establishing it as the 15th language represented in our adult World Language collections. If you are curious about Bulgaria but are limited to reading in English, choose one of these to learn about the past, present, and imagination of this inspiring nation.

 

Making of June book coverThe Making of June
by Annie Ward
Leaving her idyllic home in California to follow her husband to Bulgaria, production assistant June finds herself abandoned in a country on the verge of civil war.
Shadow Land book coverThe Shadow Land
by Elizabeth Kostova
Twentysomething Alexandra heads to Bulgaria to teach English and attempt to escape the pain of losing a family member. She ends up searching for a family when she realizes she accidentally kept one of their bags after helping them on her first day in the country.
Street Without a Name book coverStreet Without a Name: Childhood and Other Misadventures in Bulgaria
by Kapka Kassabova
Recalling her childhood in Bulgaria under Soviet rule and her family’s escape when the Berlin Wall came down, the author describes her return to see how her homeland has changed since it became a member of the European Union.

 

Solo book coverSolo
by Rana Dasgupta
A portrait of a century through the story of a hundred-year-old blind Bulgarian man by way of both life lived and life imagined. Denied his real passions, Ulrich instead dreams of what could have been, and we follow his fantasy children, born of communism but making their way into a post-communist world of celebrity and violence.
Baba Yaga Laid an Egg book coverBaba Yaga Laid an Egg
by Dubravka Ugresic
Stories connected to the myth Baba Yaga describe a writer’s journey to Bulgaria to find peace with her mother’s fading memory, the true reason behind three friends’ trip to a resort, and a folklorist’s explanation of the myth.
Elusive Mrs Pollifax book coverThe Elusive Mrs. Pollifax
by Dorothy Gilman
On a simple courier assignment to deliver eight forged passports to a mysterious underground in communist Bulgaria, lovable CIA agent Mrs. Pollifax ends up putting a dictatorial general in prison, corrupting the agency’s last Bulgarian contact, and even storming the equivalent of a Bulgarian bastille to rescue a supposedly dead American. (Kirkus)

List: Our Staff’s Favorite Graphic Novels

Whether you are an avid reader of graphic novels or want to try one out for the first time, look no further than this post for a list of 15 of our library staff’s very favorite titles! This eclectic mix offers fiction and nonfiction, science fiction, steampunk, humor and the avant-garde. It is sure to provide more than a few gems for your reading pleasure.

For those of you just starting out with graphic novels, here are four good places to start:

Both Denise T. and Carol M. suggest Persepolis, the graphic autobiography by Marjane Satrapi depicting her childhood up to her early adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution. Carol says, “I remember watching the Iranian Revolution in 1979, but Marjane Satrapi’s story gave me the perspective of someone about my own age who lived through it. The graphic novel format was an inspired way to show how society changed after the Islamic Republic came to power.”

 

 

 

Donna S. recommends the conclusion of U.S. representative John Lewis’s true story of his personal experience of the civil rights movement. Donna says, “I found March Book Three an interesting reminder of the early civil rights movement in America. This is a National Book Award winner.”

 

 

 

 

Donna C. recommends the YA title, Thoreau at Walden by John Porcellino, which uses Thoreau’s own writings to tell the story of his time experimenting with living an unconventional life in the woods. Donna says, “This is a lovely and very accessible way to approach both the writing of Thoreau and the graphic novel medium, for teens and adults alike.”

 

 

 

 

Anne S. recommends The Gettysburg Address by Jonathan Hennessey. “Hennessey uses text and pictures to illustrate the complexities and beauty in the Gettysburg Address while also giving a clear and concise overview of the driving forces which helped to develop the United States during its first 150 years. P.S. It’s also a great graphic novel for the person who ‘does not read’ graphic novels!”

 

 

 

If you’re looking for something further off the beaten path, try one of these staff suggestions:

Cathleen B. recommends Descender, Book 1, by Jeff Lemire, the sci-fi story of a robot boy whose life is in jeopardy in a universe where androids are forbidden. Cathleen says, “This series start is inventive and suspenseful and sad and sweet, but the gorgeous watercolor art is what truly won my heart.”

 

 

 

 

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman is a metaphysical tale of mythology and history, following the mistaken capture and imprisonment of Dream, who controls the dream world. Janine S. recommends this, saying, “It’s smart, emotional, and relevant with some of the greatest and most interesting characters I’ve encountered in all of my reading.”

 

 

 

 

Kelda G. suggests Stitches by David Small. “A best-selling and highly regarded children’s book illustrator comes forward with this unflinching graphic memoir. Remarkable and intensely dramatic, Stitches tells the story of a fourteen-year-old boy who awakes one day from a supposedly harmless operation to discover that he has been transformed into a virtual mute―a vocal cord removed, his throat slashed and stitched together like a bloody boot. From horror to hope, Small proceeds to graphically portray an almost unbelievable descent into adolescent hell and the difficult road to physical, emotional, and artistic recovery.”

 

 

 

Joe C. recommends yet another science fiction story, Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn. This is a story about a world in which only two males exist, Yorrick Brown and his pet monkey. Joe says, “It is a brilliant and clever alternate history premise: what would happen if all the men died?”

 

 

 

Mary S. suggests Adulthood Is a Myth by Sarah Anderson. “A very funny portrayal of the everyday occurrences that plague us.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chelsea L. says, “My more recent favorite graphic novel is The Flintstones by Mark Russell. It is remodeled for the 21st century, hysterically funny, and grown-up version of the quirky Flintstones and their town of Bedrock.”

 

 

 

 

Anthony A. suggests Blankets by Craig Thompson. “At once powerful and tender, this beautifully rendered autobiographical coming-of-age epic graphic novel grapples with the intense emotional transformation of a young man experiencing first love, disillusionment, spiritual awakening, and the growing realization and acceptance of all the things that are beyond his control.”

 

 

Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke is the suggestion of Jenny M. “While there were moments where I could see myself so vividly in Radtke’s memoir and it felt strange to see pieces of me on someone else’s page, this was also an impressionable exercise in peeking into seeing how someone else comprehends and makes sense of life.”

 

 

Mary D. suggests Grandville by Bryan Talbot, saying, “Grandville is a steampunk, Victorian noir, suspenseful graphic novel full of anthropomorphic characters and beautifully drawn artwork.”

 

 

 

 

 

Claire B.’s favorite is Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown. Claire says, “I thought this book was beautifully illustrated and a thorough, fascinating explanation of what happened in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.”

 

 

 

 

David Mazzuchelli’s Asterios Polyp follows a middle-aged teacher and architect who relocates from New York City to Midwestern small town. John M. recommends it “because of the elegant way form mirrors theme throughout.”

Fiction: Comfort Reads

We wouldn’t be readers if we didn’t find respite in our books. Though stories may be opened in the hope of thrills, experiences, or discoveries, often a well-chosen book is claimed as a port in the storm of tough times. The next time your spirit hungers for cozy and reassuring, try (or revisit) one of these comfort reads:

I Capture the Castle book coverI Capture the Castle
by Dodie Smith
Story of a bright 17 year old girl living in semi-poverty in an old English castle, told through her journal entries. By the time she pens her final entry, she has “captured the castle”– and the heart of the reader– in one of literature’s most enchanting entertainments.
Little Prince book coverThe Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
An aviator whose plane is forced down in the Sahara Desert encounters a little prince from a small planet who relates his adventures in seeking the secret of what is important in life.
Cranford book coverCranford
by Elizabeth Gaskell
A comic portrait of early Victorian life in a country town which describes with poignant wit the uneventful lives of its lady-like inhabitants, offering an ironic commentary on the separate spheres and diverse experiences of men and women.

 

Jonathan Livingston Seagull book coverJonathan Livingston Seagull
by Richard Bach
More concerned with the dynamics of his flight than with gathering food, Jonathan is scorned by the other seagulls in this story perfect for those who follow their hearts and who make their own rules.
The Princess Bride
by William Goldman
A classic swashbuckling romance retells the tale of a drunken swordsman and a gentle giant who come to the aid of Westley, a handsome farm boy, and Buttercup, a princess in dire need of rescue from the evil schemers surrounding her.
Pride and Prejudice book coverPride & Prejudice
by Jane Austen
Human foibles and early nineteenth-century manners are satirized in this romantic tale of English country family life as Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters are encouraged to marry well in order to keep the Bennet estate in their family.

 

At Home in Mitford book coverAt Home in Mitford
by Jan Karon
Longing for change in the face of burnout, Episcopal rector Father Tim finds his lonely bachelor existence enriched by a stray dog, a lonely boy, and a pretty neighbor.
Hobbit book coverThe Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit, lives comfortably in his hobbit-hole until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to take part in an adventure from which he may never return.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
by Alan Bradley
Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, begins her adventure when a dead bird is found on the doorstep of her family’s mansion in the summer of 1950, thus propelling her into a mystery that involves an investigation into a man’s murder where her father is the main suspect.

 

 

List: If You Like Ready Player One

 

We’re just six months away from the film adaptation of Ernest Cline’s 2011 dystopian novel, Ready Player One. The story takes place in the not-too-distant future, 2044, in a world that’s been blighted by environmental excess, forcing most people to live in poverty. The only respite is the online virtual reality of Oasis, which is a world unto itself. It is in this Oasis that Wade Watts searches for a real-life treasure left posthumously by an eccentric businessman. But the closer he comes to finding it, the more dangerous Wade’s life becomes. If you enjoyed the book, here are three others you may want to check out as well.

 

For the Win by Cory Doctorow is another novel set in the near future and also centers around a multi-player online world. In this story the the world economy has gone online. Goods such as gold are mined virtually, then sold and traded around the world. The gold farmers try to assert their rights, but the wealthy elite are not willing to let them go…at least not without a fight.

Widely considered to be the original cyberpunk novel, William Gibson’s 1984 classic Neuromancer is another story of people living impoverished lives in a high tech world. Henry Case capitalizes on his advanced computer prowess by earning a living hacking into systems to steal information he then sells. But when he crosses the wrong line he pays for it dearly, violently thrust from the virtual world seemingly for good. Danger, crime and subterfuge consume the cyber world once again in this book which still resonates on all levels more than three decades after it was originally published.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson is set in a 21st century United States no longer united, but instead divided among corporations, with varying degrees of safety and freedom. Blurring lines between the virtual world and the physical one, people and their computer avatars are beginning to be infected with a mind numbing virus that affects them in both worlds. Seemingly average guy Hiro Protagonist is in fact a highly evolved warrior prince in the virtual world, and he along with equally tech savvy YT must track down the source of the infection before it’s too late.

 

Taylor Swift References in Songs

With the announcement of Taylor Swift’s latest album coming out November 10th and a new single out, Taylor Swift is intentionally back in the public eye. As a celebrity and singer that writes about her own experiences with people, it is not surprising that there would be songs written about her.

Compiled below are a few songs in which it’s surmised by a significant amount of people that the songs contain a reference to Taylor Swift in some manner, whether it’s as overt as saying her name (Kanye West’s “Famous”) or as subtle as a line that seems to mimic the nature of one of her relationships (One Direction’s “History”).

pentatonix album cover

Pentatonix by Pentatonix
Song: “Rose Gold”

One Direction Made in the A.M. album coverMade in the A.M. by One Direction
Song: Perfect”

John Mayer Paradise Valley album coverParadise Valley by John Mayer
Song: “Paper Doll”

 

Sources:

4 Songs That Were Written About Taylor Swift” published by people.com (2016)
“8 Songs That Were Definitely Written with Taylor Swift in Mind” published by teen.com (2016)

School Days…

School is back in session, and there’s no better way to remember your own high school hi-jinks than by watching a movie. Check out these high school classics set in Chicagoland.

Cooley Vocational High School (in a 1964 version of Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood) is the setting for Cooley High, the fictional story of best friends Preach and Cochise. Preach is studious and has his sights set on a writing career; Cochise is the star of the basketball team, and both are ready for a fun adventure whenever the opportunity arises. Sometimes that opportunity presents itself as a chance to skip school and hang out at the zoo, or crash a party, or pursue a girl. But when a group of troublemakers begin to target them, adult realities start to collide with teenage innocence.

 

 

 

Director John Hughes’ name is synonymous with teen drama films, and 1985’s The Breakfast Club is a big reason why. Students at New Trier High School in suburban Winnetka dubbed early morning detention “breakfast club,” and this movie, (filmed in Des Plaines at the former Maine North high school) perhaps more than any other, gave a closeup look at five teen stereotypes of the 1980s – the popular girl, the jock, the geek, the punk and the loner. They find themselves awkwardly thrust together on a Saturday morning, but come to learn some deep things about each other and realize they may all be more multidimensional than their stereotypes would suggest.

 

Teen ballerina Sara Johnson’s life is struck by tragedy, and she decides to give up dance and return to high school in Chicago in 2001’s Save the Last Dance. She soon finds herself learning hip hop, and pairs up with a hip hop dancer named Derek. Romantic feelings develop between them, and Sara confides in Derek about her tragedy and her dream of attending Julliard, while Derek confides that his dream is to attend med school at Georgetown. Their interracial relationship causes backlash from others, and they ultimately must decide whether to follow their dreams or settle for a lesser path that seems predestined.

 

 

It’s the senior year of high school for North Shore student Joel Goodson, and with his exceptional grades and bright path ahead, he feels he deserves to let loose a little while his parents are out of town. Things quickly spin out of control, and Joel must find a way to cover his tracks after a weekend of partying, call girls and criminals results in thousands of dollars in damages to his parents’ Porsche and lavish home (an actual residence located in Highland Park.) Senoritis definitely takes a unique spin in the movie classic, Risky Business.

 

 

Hoop Dreams is the true story of two high school basketball players, William Gates and Arthur Agee, trying to make it to the NBA. Both teens make more than hour-long commutes from their homes in Chicago housing projects to the same high school in Westchester, Illinois that Isaiah Thomas attended. Both teens must find their places within the social structure of the school, which is predominantly white and very different from their own community, and find ways to remain athletically elite while surviving in abject poverty.

 

 

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is another John Hughes’ classic teen drama. Ferris’ idyllic suburb (based on Hughes’ hometown of Northbrook) provides the launching off point for an epic decision to ditch high school (Glenbrook North, circa 1986) and tour around downtown Chicago. To the chagrin of his sister Jeannie, Ferris’ faux sick day garners him the sympathy and support of not only their parents, but almost everyone in their high school, and by the end of the day a full-fledged Save Ferris campaign has engulfed the school. His whirlwind tour takes him and his friends to the Art Institute, The Sears Tower, Wrigley Field and even the German-American parade marching down Dearborn.

List: Solar Eclipses in Fiction

While you wait down the days to August 21, check out a novel that counts a solar eclipse as a major plot point. Choose from classic, thriller, science fiction, general fiction, historical mystery, or a whole lot of horror. Maybe it’s the dark? 

Strength of the Sun book coverThe Strength of the Sun
Catherine Chidgey
Dolores Claiborne book cover

Dolores Claiborne
Stephen King

He Said_She Said book coverHe Said / She Said
Erin Kelly

 
 

Geralds Game book coverGerald’s Game
Stephen King

Eclipse book coverEclipse
John Banville

Nightfall book cover

Nightfall
Isaac Asimov & Robert Silverberg

Audiobooks for Your Summer Road Trip

“Nothing behind me, everything in front of me, as is ever so, on the road.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Heading out on the open road this summer? The Library has audiobooks that are sure to keep you engaged while the miles fly by.

For a light read, try Someday, Someday, Maybe by Gilmore Girls star Lauren Graham. This is a sweet tale of a young woman trying to keep up her spirits and her bank account while seeking success as an actress in New York City. 8 hrs, 30 minutes (about the time it’d take to get from Mount Prospect to Toronto, Canada)

 

 

 

 

Astrophysics for people in a hurry book cover

 

If it’s an exercise for your grey matter that you want, pop in Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Dr. Tyson gives a crash course in the nature of time, the cosmos and our place in the universe with his trademark wit and accessibility. 3 hrs 30 minutes (enough time to get you to the Wisconsin Dells or Saugatuck, Michigan)

 

 

 

 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is the perpetual sci-fi dystopian adventure bestseller. If you haven’t read it, or even if you have, you’re in for a treat with the audio, read by none other than Wil Wheaton. This is the story of Wade Watts, who escapes the dreary reality of life in 2044 by playing in the virtual reality utopian world of OASIS. By solving puzzles and unlocking clues Wade might be able to find the lucrative treasure hidden within, but he could risk his own life to do so. 15 hrs, 41 minutes (long enough for a drive to New York City or Tallahassee, Florida)

 

 

On the Road book cover

 

And of course, there’s the classic Beat Generation road trip tale, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Chronicling the cross country road trip of Sal Paradise and various friends as they drive toward vague destinations and explore debauchery and philosophical musing in 1950’s-era America. (At 11 hours, it would get you almost to Atlanta, Georgia.)

 

 

 

For more great titles to match your tastes, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen Services desk to get suggestions. Road-tripping with your family? We currently have  a display on family-friendly titles located by the audiobook collection you can take a peek at!

Music: Songs That Make Us Think of High School

Do you ever hear a song and it transports you to a different time and place from your past? With high school graduations in the air, a few staff members of the Library took time to reflect on songs that reminded of them of high school, whether it be a song they listened to nonstop or one that summed up their experience. It was hard to narrow it down to just one song!

Green R.E.M. album cover

Andrea
Song: Stand by R.E.M.

Pretty in Pink soundtrack album coverCathleen
Song: If You Leave by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

Mellon Colli and the Infinite Sadness album coverDonna C.
Song: “Tonight, Tonight” by Smashing Pumpkins

screeching weasel weaselmania album coverEvan
Song: “Hey, Suburbia” by Screeching Weasel

 

Violent Femmes album coverHeather
Song: “Blister in the Sun” by The Violent Femmes

Jimmy Eat World Bleed American album coverJenny
Song: “Hear You Me” by Jimmy Eat World

Crosby Stills and Nash Carry On album coverJoyce
Song: “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills and Nash

Kelda
Song:”Tainted Love” by Soft Cell

inxs Kick album coverNancy
Song: “New Sensation” by INXS

The Best of Don McLean album coverRosemary
Song: “American Pie” by Don McLean

 

Now it’s your turn! Whether you just graduated or graduated decades ago, share what songs make you think of your time at high school by tweeting at us at @MPPLib or by commenting on our Facebook wall.