Silvia Rodriguez’s Best Reads of 2016

My name is Silvia Rodriguez, and I’m a Venezuelan globetrotter.  I arrived in Evanston around four years ago with my family, and since then have expanded with the birth of our second son, a true Evanstonian.  We too have become Evanstonians by adoption, as this town has welcomed us with open arms.  We love our community, which I think can always become stronger with contributions from all of us.  I feel connected by being involved in volunteerism for causes I feel strongly about (race inequality, social justice).  As a former book editor, I am glad we have such an amazing local library.  I have always used library services extensively everywhere I have lived, but EPL has by far been my favorite.  We are loyal, die-hard users!

1)  Neuro Tribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman (2015)

This book is a great reminder that so much about what happens throughout history is deeply influenced by chance, by luck, by circumstance. Silberman’s meticulous research shows how a series of events led to one line of research prevailing over another resulting in the concept and imagery of autism we sadly share nowadays: that in which autistics are portrayed as less able, less valuable humans to society, as expendables. I am hopeful that with the work of disability self-advocates (Silberman does right in mentioning some in his book) and revisionist titles such as this, society will shift toward a more just and ethical idea of autism and the many contributions autistic citizens can bring to us all.

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Laurence Gonzales’s Best Reads of 2016

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Photo by John German

My name is Laurence Gonzales.  I was born in St. Louis, grew up in Houston and San Antonio, and live today in Evanston.  I am the author of numerous books including Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why and it’s sequel, Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience.  This past year I was appointed a Miller Scholar at the Santa Fe Institute, and my book Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival was adapted by the House Theatre of Chicago into a play that ran for a two months at the Chopin Theatre.

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1)  Annals of the Former World by John McPhee (1998)

It’s hard to believe that this book about geology is a page-turner, but it is.

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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.

 

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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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Hilde Kaiser’s Best Reads of 2016

image1My name is Hilde Kaiser.  I live in northwest Evanston where I am a Jill-of-all-trades: writer, lead parent, certified Nia instructor, student of earth medicine, knitter, film buff, and home baker, with a bundle of volunteer work thrown in (all in the domain of parenting, education, and personal development). My idea of heaven is reading a book at the Evanston lakefront with a little something to eat from Hewn bakery.  As an avid reader (75 books so far this year) I am grateful for our area libraries and their superb programming (hey, how about Our Mutual Friend for Mission: Impossible?). My secret confession is that my favorite thing to read is “The Traffic Guy” column in The Round Table.

1)  Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton (2016)

I’m not above choosing a book by its cover, and the lush, evocative, and eccentric portrait of its subject, Margaret Cavendish, convinced me to pick this novella up, knowing nothing about it.  It’s so pretty.  It’s one of my favorite books of the year because I’m still thinking about this poetic, experimental, slightly odd gem of a historical novel that deserves lots of readers.  “Mad Madge” was a 17th-century proto-feminist who was one of the first women to publish under her own name and to earn a living by writing.  She also dressed herself on her own terms – crowds assembled to see what she was wearing when she went out for walk.  There’s a fab article in the New Yorker on the book as an example of “archival historical fiction” (as opposed to “realistic historical fiction”).  Which is another way of warning you this book is anything but straightforward, but it is one-of-a-kind, like its subject.  And the language is oh-so-pretty, like the cover.

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