Rosie Roche’s Best Reads of 2014

rosieMy name is Rosie Roche.  I have lived in Evanston for 8 years and have worked for the city and NU as an educator and teaching artist. I have 2 young boys who love the library and ask to visit at least once a week. I have never seen such an impressive public library and consider it a gem in Evanston’s crown in terms of inviting space, helpfulness of staff and breadth of collection.

1) The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel (2014)

Her mastery is to write short stories that are intriguing and compelling to read and – in a way that is hard to pinpoint – leave the reader unsettled and disturbed. I see images from the stories at the most unexpected times, many months after reading them. She is so cutting in her condemnation that I wince and laugh to read them.

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Jeremy Elsberg’s Best Reads of 2014

spoonerMy name is Jeremy Elsberg, and I’ve lived and worked in Evanston for the past couple years.  I work as a remodeler and handyman mostly in Evanston as About Space Remodeling & Construction.  I have no more hobbies; I have 2 kids under 4.

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1) Spooner by Pete Dexter (2009)

Throughout the book, I was drawn into the events that the main character (Spooner) experienced, constantly wondering if they really happened the way he explained it (I believe its somewhat of a memoir) but also wondering how he ended up getting handed the plate he did.  I found myself wanting to read on probably because of the same reason there are gapers’ blocks on the Edens but also because, through it all, Spooner comes out not only alive but maybe even a little more resilient.

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Paul McComas’s Best Reads of 2014

UnpluggedAuthorShotMy name is Paul McComas, and I came to Evanston in 1983 after growing up in Milwaukee; these remain my two favorite cities. I’m the author of five books: two short-story collections, Twenty Questions (1998) and the award-winning Unforgettable: Harrowing Futures, Horrors, & (Dark) Humor (2011); two novels, Unplugged (2002) and Planet of the Dates (2008); and the award-winning novella Fit for a Frankenstein (2013), coauthored by Greg Starrett. My next two books are also collaborations: Logan’s Journey, a sequel-novel to Logan’s Run, coauthored by LR author William F. Nolan; and Edgar G. Ulmer: A Life on Film, coauthored by David Luhrssen. Since 1998, I’ve taught writing, literature, and film at multiple levels and numerous sites, including the University of Chicago and Northwestern, Lawrence, and National-Louis universities. I founded the teen-suicide-prevention program Rock Against Depression, and I serve on both the National Leadership Council and the Speakers Bureau of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. I enjoy writing songs and playing bass and guitar in a couple of benefit bands, but most of all I enjoy spending time with my wife Heather and our rescue greyhound, Sam.

1) Accidentally on Purpose by Michael York (1992)

Always one of my favorite actors, Michael York has in recent months become a crucial collaborator (we’ve co-founded a charity program) and a dear friend. He’s also become one of my favorite authors. I’m currently reading his fine 2000 collaboration with Adrian Brine, A Shakespearean Actor Prepares, but have finished and thus can fully and enthusiastically endorse his 1991 autobiography Accidentally on Purpose. Continue reading “Paul McComas’s Best Reads of 2014”

Kevin Coughlin’s Best Reads of 2014

kevin_coughlin_picMy name is Kevin Coughlin.  I moved to Evanston from St. Louis in 1974 to attend Northwestern and lived at the dormitory next to the Evanston library for 4 years.  I got as far away as about 3 miles – across from the 400 Theater in Rogers Park – with each subsequent move bringing me back closer to where I started (about 4 blocks from EPL the past 17 years).  I have worked in marketing research for 34 years with a nice side benefit being a train commute for many of those years – a great place to read.  My other main hobby is listening to books while I walk my dog, walk to the train, etc.

1) Mink River by Brian Doyle (2010)

Magical, full of eccentric characters and life lessons, lots of humor and at least a few allusions to James Joyce. I can’t wait to read it again.

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Amie Elliott’s Best Reads of 2014

irvingMy name is Amie Elliott.  I have only lived in Evanston for 4 years but have been visiting from neighboring towns for many more.  I teach high school photography and drawing and love almost every minute of it!  Anyone who loves EVERY minute of teaching is either a first-year teacher or a liar.  Gardening, cooking and sewing take up most of my free time.

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1) A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (1989)

I reread this and still love it.  Funny, charming and fairly gut-wrenching.  Irving can be a bit long-winded sometimes (sorry to his devotees), but this is sharp and concise.

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Mary Cox’s Best Reads of 2014

mary cox 1My name is Mary Cox, and I have lived in Evanston for almost 8 years. I am a personal trainer and most of my hobbies involve moving my body in some way. I love to play tennis, hike, and embrace all that summer has to offer here with my children and husband. When I do relax, it is with a book where I can truly escape and unwind.

1) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013)

Amazing character development with a unique story.  At the end, I felt like I had been a part of the story.

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Lisa Harries’ Best Reads of 2014

harriesMy name is Lisa Harries.  I have lived in Evanston all my life.  I moved into the city for a bit during my 20s, but returned when my daughter became school-aged. I have been a teacher for 19 wonderful years and currently teach 2nd graders at Dewey Elementary School. I love to sleep, shop, read, eat, talk with friends, do jigsaw puzzles, run, and bowl. I try to find something to smile about everyday, usually my teenage daughter and my students help me accomplish that goal. I hope that you find some wonderful books to enjoy during this next year. Happy reading!

1) The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau (2000)

I re-read this book every year to my students because I love it so much. It is about generosity and community. It teachers students how good it feels to give to others and how giving just a little bit of yourself to someone else can help foster a sense of community. It also has BEAUTIFUL illustrations that students enjoy.

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John Bayldon’s Best Reads of 2014

bayldonMy name is John Bayldon, and I have lived in Evanston for 10 years. I am part of a start-up company developing a 3D printer for carbon fiber reinforced materials. I sail and hang out with my kids (at the library….. not the sailing bit….)

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1) Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (2013)

I always love Kate Atkinson’s clean style, and the intuiting things she does with her books.  This one was fascinating from the very start; I just wanted to know what she changed in each life to move the story forward.

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Claire Kissinger’s Best Reads of 2014

claireMy name is Claire Kissinger, and I’ve lived in Evanston for the past three years.  I am a senior at Northwestern majoring in Art History and minoring in Gender & Sexuality Studies, and I work at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art as the Undergraduate Curatorial Fellow and as a Student Docent.  I love working at the Block Museum because it allows me to learn and talk about art with both professionals in the field (artists, curators, preparators, scholars) as well as our patrons who come from a variety of backgrounds.  In my free time, I love to drink coffee, dance, visit museums, and watch movies.

1) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1970)

I loved reading One Hundred Years this summer. The book features an INCREDIBLY extended and unique family and the changes the family undergoes over many years as their community evolves.  My favorite part of reading the book is that it was entirely unpredictable and fantastical, with characters constantly coming in and out of the narrative, always with ridiculous stories.

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Christine Sneed’s Best Reads of 2014

CSauth1My name is Christine Sneed.  I am the author of the novel Little Known Facts, the story collection Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry, and the forthcoming novel Paris, He Said (May 2015).  I am the recipient of the Grace Paley Prize in short fiction, the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award, and the Society of Midland Authors Prize for best adult fiction.  I live in Evanston and teach for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and for Northwestern University.

1) Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff (2009)

There are nine stories in this book, if I remember correctly, and several are based on the lives of real people; Groff is such a lyrical writer, often slyly funny, always interesting. Some of the stories were published in The Best American Short Stories anthology, and she’s also contributed to the O. Henry Prize Stories anthology. Her third book, the novel Arcadia, was on many best-of lists of 2012, and her first book (and first novel), The Monsters of Templeton, was also well reviewed and was a bestseller.

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