Happy National Grammar Day!

You’ve had your decorations up for weeks, and now the big day is finally here.  That’s right, it’s National Grammar Day, and tonight spell checkers and proofreaders from coast to coast will be celebrating into the wee hours.  In honor of this momentous day, we asked a few EPL regulars the following:

What is your biggest grammar pet peeve?

Linda“In our house, we’re constantly hearing ‘me and so-and-so’ instead of ‘so-and-so and I.’  We’re always correcting each other.”

— Kathy Henke, a 13-year Evanston resident and mother of 3

 

 

Marney“When someone uses mixed verb tenses in a sentence.”

— Marley Haller, an NU grad living in Evanston since 2003

 

 

Volunteer“Prepositions at the end of a sentence!  Also, saying ‘me and him went to…’  Eek!  That’s like nails on a blackboard for me.”

— Sheila McGuire, an EPL volunteer and 15-year Evanston resident

 

 

If you’re making National Grammar Day resolutions, try the following books to help you reach your goals, but for now… let the festivities begin!

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Football Season Starts So Pick Up Some Pigskin Related Reading

That smell in the air?  It’s the scent of footballs whizzing through the air at a rapid rate.  It may still be warm outside but football season is fast upon us.  And what better way to celebrate than reading the latest gridiron-related publications out this year?  Here are the latest books on our shelves, ready for you to punt over the circulation desk and into your home:

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The More the Scarier

Boo!

Okay, okay, we get the picture.  Vampires and zombies… they’re pretty scary.  What with their blood sucking and flesh feasting, glamoring and lurching, death defying and multiplying it’s really no wonder they’ve cornered the market in creepy.  But if variety is truly the spice of the afterlife, at this point you’re likely dying for something new on your Halloween reading list.  So to help you diversify your diet of literary horror, we’re featuring all those terrifying ghosts and ghouls left lurking in the shadows while the vampires and zombies hog the limelight.  We’ve got witches, and we’ve got ghosts.  We’ve got killer clowns, shape-shifting crows, and even… could it be…  Satan!  So lock your doors, turn on the lights, and try to be brave.  These bloodcurdling books are chomping for a chance to scare you sideways: Continue reading “The More the Scarier”

There’s More Than Crime in Scandinavia

If you’re a connoisseur of fine Scandinavian crime fiction, 2011 has given you plenty more to enjoy.  Back in March, for instance, genre forefather Henning Mankell wrapped up his wildly-popular Kurt Wallander series with The Troubled Man, and a mere two months later rising star Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman finally hit U.S. shores.  Now with Hollywood’s take on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hitting theaters in just a few short days, crime fiction lovers are likely giddy with their good fortune.  But what if you’re not a fan?  What if you’ve yet to acquire that particular taste for dark Nordic mysteries?  Well worry not, gentle reader, for there’s more than one dish cooking in Scandinavia’s literary kitchen.  Truth be told, the Scandinavian lit scene is a veritable smorgasbord of top-notch sci-fi, satire, historical and literary fiction, horror, and more.  So don’t delay in sampling Scandinavia’s full fiction menu.  The following list will get you started, but there is still plenty more to discover.

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Happy National Coffee Day!

If you’re looking to justify your second or sixth cup of coffee this morning, then my friend, you’re in luck.  Today from Philly to Phoenix and St. Paul to San Antone java junkies are hoisting their ceramic mugs high in celebration of National Coffee Day.  For the next twenty-four glorious hours, you can feel free to throw caution to the wind and make that extra coffee run, upsize to the venti, and drink in all the holiday cheer.  Chances are good, however, that after sipping Americanos all afternoon you’ll need some way to occupy your time as you lie awake into the wee hours humming with caffeine.  So as our holiday gift to you, allow us to present the following coffee-related books and movies in honor of today and your future sleepless night.  Without question, these histories, mysteries, travelogues, and thrillers are sure to become part of your Coffee Day traditions for years to come.

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An NU Alumni Sampler

NU alum Charlton Heston

All dressed up in its purple best, Northwestern University celebrated last week as it sent a new graduating class out into the world, and odds are good this won’t be the last you hear of them.  Over the years, you see, NU has become a veritable assembly line of notable alums – a fact comedian Stephen Colbert duly noted during his much-anticipated commencement address. “Northwestern’s alumni list is truly impressive,” said the 1987 NU grad.  “This university has graduated bestselling authors, Olympians, presidential candidates, Grammy winners, Peabody winners, Emmy winners – and that’s just me.”  All kidding aside, though, he’s right.  From Saul Bellow and Cloris Leachman to Steve Albini and Dan Chaon, Wildcat grads are clearly an accomplished bunch.  So to honor their achievements both past and future, we present the following eclectic list of books, movies, and music from some of Northwestern’s talented very own.  Enjoy, and stay tuned.  The list is growing.

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Fantastic Fiction is a Fantastic Site!

So, the patron has just discovered British author Kate Atkinson, and wants to have a tidy list of everything she’s written, when it was published, a short annotation about each book, an author profile,  and, oh, yes, a photo of Atkinson would be nice, too. Then there’s that other writer, John Grisham, who’s written tons and tons. She’d like the skinny on him, too (that’s for her husband–a real courtroom procedure fan).

It’s not always clear what website to visit to have all that info neatly packaged and easy to access. There are many reader support sites out there, but some are exclusive to one publisher. Just Googling the author produces lots of sales pitches and extraneous sites. Using a library catalog is OK, but one often doesn’t get a straight-shot chronological list, and there’s lots of clicking back and forth to delve into the annotations.

The go-to site for me now is Fantastic Fiction, a comprehensive database of authors published in both Britain and the U.S. Easy to explore and filled with fun stuff–forthcoming books, awards lists, most popular lists, and more–this site is a great resource for readers, librarians, book groups, and teachers. I know I’m gushing a bit here, but I will never again shake in my practical librarian shoes when a patron asks that dreaded, “Do you have a list of all he’s done and when each one came out?”.

Barbara L.

Rockin’ Down Memory Lane

Sample the audiobook read by actor Johnny Depp.

He’s a songwriter, lead guitarist, and founding member of the legendary rock band the Rolling Stones.  He’s an outlaw folk hero, a pirate hipster, and arguably the originator of the decadent “rock ‘n’ roll” lifestyle.  He’s Keith Richards, and it should come as no surprise that everyone is clamoring for a copy of his long-awaited memoir Life.  In fact, given Richards’ penchant for death-defying excess, Life’s most surprising characteristic might be that it’s much more than just a gossipy showbiz tell-all.  Sure, the juicy bits are all there: the drug busts, the infamous Altamont show, his rocky relationship with Mick Jagger.  But, as the NY Times writes, Life is also “a high-def, high-velocity portrait of the era when rock ‘n’ roll came of age…, an eye-opening all-nighter in the studio with a master craftsman…, and the intimate and moving story of one man’s long strange trip over the decades.”  So, if you want to raise a little vicarious rock ‘n’ roll hell, know the secrets of the Stones, and glimpse some music magic, look no further than Keith Richards’ uncommonly candid new book Life.  If you find, however, that this literary concert is temporarily sold out, please don’t be discouraged.  Any of the following critically-acclaimed music memoirs are a great way to pass the time while you wait for Mr. Richards to take the stage.

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A Street Well Traveled

Jim Henson and Frank Oz bring Bert and Ernie to life.

Chances are good you’ve been there before.  It’s a place where the days are sunny, the air is sweet, and the friendly neighbors are on a first-name basis with everyone they meet.  The place is Sesame Street, and this month the PBS phenomenon celebrates its 41st year of educating and entertaining children of all ages.

The show’s story is really quite remarkable.  Conceived around a Manhattan dinner table in late 1966, Sesame Street debuted on November 10, 1969 with the lofty goal of harnessing television’s then untapped potential to teach kids.  With Jim Henson’s Muppets center stage, children nationwide were soon laughing out loud while they learned about letters, numbers, self-respect, and fair play.  But kids weren’t the only ones having a good time.  Part of the reason that Sesame Street currently airs in 140 countries and is viewed by 6 million American preschoolers each week lies in its extraordinary ability to entertain children and adults simultaneously.  The show’s genius is that it can use a Muppet spoof of Mad Men to teach about emotions while getting parents and kids laughing for completely different reasons.  So celebrate the anniversary of this revolutionary program by taking a behind-the-scenes tour through its history with the following books and DVD’s.  And, as a special birthday treat, don’t miss the video clips of Mad Men and True Blood done Sesame Street style.

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A Great Time to be a Zombie

Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be a zombie these days.  With a single-mindedness that only an animated corpse could muster, the zombies have recently risen from the grave to enjoy unprecedented heights of popularity.  But even as they rub rotting elbows with the “beautiful people,” the zombies have always managed to stay true to their rancid, flesh-eating roots.  Sure, they’ve experimented a little on their way to the top.  They’ve dipped a gangrenous toe into classic literature, played slapstick for laughs, and even done a bit of thrilling song and dance.  But the bottom line is that the zombies have earned their stardom by remaining committed to doing what zombies do best.  Namely, they’ve doubled and redoubled their efforts to scare you snotless, and let’s face it, you’ve got to respect their work ethic even as you run screaming from their lurching pursuit.  So this Halloween celebrate the Year of the Zombie with a book that captures all of their consistent creepiness.   In each of the following gory reads, you’ll thank the zombies for keeping it real… real scary.

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