Wendy Fink’s Best Reads of 2016

wendyMy name is Wendy Fink.  My husband Matt and I have raised our three children in Evanston (where we have resided for almost 30 years).  I like to read, knit, cook, scrapbook and exercise.  I volunteer at EPL and ETHS regularly.

1)   A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (2014)

I relished the delightful character development of Ove from a depressed bitter man seeking to check out of life into a warm giving grandfather figure in his Swedish community.  The simple narrative style and sparse dialogue work well to mimic Ove himself. Continue reading “Wendy Fink’s Best Reads of 2016”

Tyler Leach’s Best Reads of 2016

tyler-leachMy name is Tyler Leach.  I am the Middle School Latin teacher at Baker Demonstration School, which draws many of its students from the Evanston community.  While my book choices trace back to my love of language, my hobbies revolve around a love of family, music (listening and playing), food (cooking and dining out), and sport.  I am a transplant to the Middle West from the Northeast, and my wife Emily (born and raised in Evanston) and I currently live in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood with our two sons Henry and Palmer.



1)  Aeneid by Virgil, translated by Stanley Lombardo (19 B.C., 2005)

For those who have never read the Aeneid, Lombardo’s translation makes the text accessible to a modern audience, and the theme of the poem is easily relatable to the story unfolding in modern day Syria.  Having attempted to translate Virgil’s work myself, I cannot help but marvel at Lombardo’s keen ability to bring the text to life while all the while remaining true to its classical roots.  For anyone who has the time and interest, Lombardo’s translations of the Iliad and Odyssey are real gems, too.

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Michelle Cohen’s Best Reads of 2016

notes-from-no-mans-landMy name is Michelle Cohen.  I live in Evanston with my husband and two children.  When I’m not designing lush gardens and landscapes for my clients, I can usually be found reading a book, or at the very least, talking about them.

1)  Notes From No Man’s Land by Eula Biss (2009)

Intimate and nuanced essays about living in a racist society.  Essential reading.

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Chris Skoglund’s Best Reads of 2016

Photo by Katie Barthelemy

My name is Chris Skoglund, and I am the librarian at Willard Elementary School in Evanston, where I have worked for almost thirteen years.  I am an avid reader of books for both children and adults (which made picking only five books really difficult), so I consider myself to have the best job in the world!

1)  Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (2016)

An extraordinary mix of historical fiction and science fiction, this novel drew me in and would not let me go.  Full of elegant imagery and characters that will linger in your mind long after the story is finished, each element worked seamlessly together.

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Marcus Campbell’s Best Reads of 2016

marcus-campbellMy name is Marcus Campbell.  I am the Assistant Superintendent and Principal at Evanston Township High School.  I have been at ETHS for 15 years and started my career there teaching English.  I love to read and enjoy the food scene.

1)  The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Dubois (1903)

I always read something each year from the list of canonical black texts.  I find these readings informative in that many of these texts written long ago are still applicable today.


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Eric Robb’s Best Reads of 2016

eric-robbMy name is Eric Robb.  I am a resident of Evanston and work as an associate teacher at Baker Demonstration School.  Outside of my teaching duties, I volunteer for the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club – an organization that supports triathletes with disabilities.  My duties include fundraising as well as guiding and supporting athletes with a diverse array of disabilities toward their athletic goals.  I spend what free time I have left playing either guitar, bass guitar, or piano.



1)  A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)

This is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read, so much so that this was actually my second time reading through it.  Toole’s main character, Ignatius Reilly, who considers himself a great misunderstood genius of his time, provides a perfect mixture of highbrow humor and slapstick comedy.

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Patricio Rizzo-Vast’s Best Reads of 2016

patricioMy name is Patricio Rizzo-Vast.  I love using the libraries, doing yoga and working out in the gym.  I also write poetry and paint.  I teach Spanish and Latino/Latin American Studies. 

1)  The Pursuit of Ruins: Archaeology, History, and the Making of Modern Mexico by Christina Bueno (2016)

A local Evanston author who spent more than 15 years doing research on Mexican anthropology and the creation of the Mexican Museum of Anthropology, one of the best in the world. The book is very interesting and informative about the complexities of Mexico.

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Emilie Hogan’s Best Reads of 2016

headshotMy name is Emilie Hogan, and I have lived in Evanston since 2005.  I am very happily married to my wonderful spouse, Bill Hogan, and the mother of four terrific daughters ages 15, 12, 10 and 8.  I am the Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement for the Frances Willard Historical Association, a Board member of Books & Breakfast, and a community organizer, activist and volunteer.  My hobbies are reading and CrossFit and my passion is learning new things.  I am an endlessly curious person!  I absolutely love the Evanston Public Library, and it is one of my very favorite places in town along with Bennisons, Boltwood and the Frances Willard House.

1)  Kindred by Octavia Butler (1979)

This is the story of a woman who travels back in time to help her ancestors on a slave plantation.  The story will challenge your thoughts about family loyalty and keep you on the edge of your seat from the first sentence.

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NU’s Scientific Image Winners @ EPL


The twelve stunning winners of Northwestern University’s 2016 Scientific Images Contest are making their annual EPL stop as they tour Chicagoland.  Selected by a panel of artists, scientists, and community leaders, the eye-popping images were captured during wide-ranging scientific research and “invite you to enjoy both the aesthetics and innovation of NU Science.”  As a bonus, this year’s exhibit also features artwork by ETHS students inspired by NU’s research-based images.  Prints of the NU images are available for purchase, and you can catch the show at the library through January 15.  You can also learn more about the contest by visiting HELIX – an online magazine produced by NU’s Science in Society.

Jay Robinson’s Best Reads of 2016

3_headshot-2016-jayMy name is Jay Robinson.  I am an industrial designer for Robinson Design – my own consultancy firm that creates interiors for private aircraft. Five years ago I moved with my family from Andersonville to Evanston, and I couldn’t be happier to be part of this amazing community. In my spare time I enjoy reading, cooking, listening to podcasts, and obsessing over home improvement projects.

1)  Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (2015)

This is a sprawling, old-school hard-science-fiction novel packed to the gunwales with ideas. Set before and after a freak event creates a cataclysm on Earth, it subjects its characters to a gantlet of perils which they must overcome with wit, determination, and limited resources. A good one for fans of The Martian.

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