Category Archives: Uncategorized

Readying the Boat

book coverWe are getting excited about all our April events for The Boys in the Boat!  If you haven’t read it yet, there are a lot of copies (i.e. short waiting list) at the Library if you put it on hold. If you would like to own a copy, please visit our partner, Town House Books, who is offering a 10% discount when you show your library card!

If you’re not sure if this is the book for you, or if you have read it and would like to learn more, listen to this great interview with the author by Librarian Nancy Pearl.




Charity Checkup

Americans tend to do much of their charitable giving at the end of each year.  If you are planning to make charitable contributions before the end of 2015, or sometime in the future, you might consider checking out any charity with one of the “charity watchdogs.”

There are three major watchdogs: Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator and Charity Watch.  These organizations evaluate charities and help you donate wisely.

Wise giving allianceThe Wise Giving Alliance is supported by the Better Business Bureau.  Its webpage states “donate with peace of mind.  We monitor charities so you don’t have to.”  Charities are evaluated on a number of standards, including fundraising expenses, program expenses, complaints and board oversight.

Charity navigatorCharity Navigator allows you to browse charities by various categories (e.g. animals, education, environment, international, etc.). They evaluate more than 8,000 charities.

Charity watchCharity Watch gives charities a grade ranging from A to F.  There is a list of top-rated charities.  These charities spend at least 75% of their funds on programs and meet governance benchmarks, in addition to other criteria.


giving thanksThings I’m thankful for at the St. Charles Public Library…

The best work environment ever.  Books, books and more books

–and the people who love them.

Patrons who challenge me with requests for obscure titles and stimulating conversations about mutually-loved books.  I learn something new every day.

A year of great reading–everything from Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk to Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher.

The dedicated members of our 2nd Tuesday AM and PM Book Discussion Groups. Our conversations are always enthusiastic and enlightening.

So, thanks, everyone!  I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Awarding Excellence

For readers who turn to lists of award-winners to help them answer that perennial question of “What should I be reading?” there’s an important new award in town – the Andrew Carnegie Medals of Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction.  Honoring Andrew Carnegie’s deep belief in the power of books and learning to change the world, the Andrew Carnegie Medals were made possible by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York on the occasion of the foundation’s one-hundredth anniversary, and are co-sponsored by Booklist  magazine, published by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA).

The Andrew Carnegie Medals will recognize the best fiction and nonfiction published in the United States during the previous year.  An annually appointed selection committee of library professionals from around the country who work closely with adult readers is chaired by uber-library Nancy Pearl (author of the popular Book Lust series), and includes three editors from Booklist magazine and three former members of the RUSA Notable Books Council.

In May, Pearl announced the shortlist of finalists, which was comprised of 50 titles culled from 2011’s Booklist Editor’s Choice and RUSA Notable Books lists. The awards will be presented at the ALA Annual Conference on June 24, 2012, in Anaheim, California.  The winners in each category will receive a $5,000 cash award.

So, without further ado, here are this year’s finalists.  How many of them have you read?

Nominees for the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Excellence in Fiction 2012

St. Charles Public Library IL - Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell




Nominees for the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Excellence in Nonfiction 2012

St. Charles Public Library IL - Catherine The Great by Robert K. Massie

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable

Beach Reads

Whether you’re actually heading to a beach or just imagining yourself there, some books (and their covers!) to get you started:

Beach Trip by Cathy Holton   Life's A Beach by Claire Cook   The Beach Trees by Karen White

Beach Season by Lisa Jackson   Love Finds You in Sunset Beach Hawaii by Robin Jones Gunn   Beach Lane by Sherryl Woods

Beach House Memories by Mary Alice Monroe   Beach Folly by Dorothea Benton Frank   The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri


A Wild Read

As I sit here in the relative comfort of the climate-controlled library, on a sturdy, ergonomically-engineered chair, with access to hi-speed Internet and, of course, all the wisdom of the Western world around me, I am about as far removed from Cheryl Strayed as a human could possibly be.

Who is Cheryl Strayed, you ask?  She is the gutsy, strung-out, effusive, dejected, brave, strong, and, ultimately, triumphant author of a new memoir entitled Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.

I am the anti-Cheryl Strayed not because she is an author and I am a librarian.  I am the anti-Cheryl Strayed because she endured a grueling, physically and mentally challenging 1,100-mile hike along the rugged Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) when she was 22.  All by herself.  Because she wanted to.  The most physical discomfort I am willing to tolerate is a relatively low thread count on my sheets.

I can and did relate to Strayed’s mind-boggling memoir because I once hiked the East Coast equivalent of the PCT – the Appalachian Trail — when I was about Strayed’s age, which was a looong time ago. Full disclosure:  I only hiked about 20 miles of it, and I had my husband with me. But I still have nightmares about the ill-fitting hiking boots I was forced to wear, and I haven’t been able to choke down a granola bar since.

Ill-fitting boots figure prominently in Strayed’s memoir, and are an apt symbol of all the hardships she endured.  Never mind the wind.  Never mind the rain. Strange animals, strange people. Filtered water, faulty equipment.   And we will not talk about the bathroom facilities (or lack thereof).

But Strayed took them all on.  She was a woman on a mission.  At the time she took her first footstep on the PCT, her life was out of control.  Her mother had recently died; she was newly divorced and trying to extricate herself from an abusive relationship and a dangerous flirtation with heroin.  Hiking the PCT would be her way of atoning, of trying to figure out if climbing the continent’s highest peaks would help her overcome her life’s low points.

Fans of adventure and travel memoirs as well as those of personal growth (think Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love or Mary Karr’s Lit) will enjoy this candid, captivating, and courageous woman’s account of a daunting but determined spiritual, emotional and physical journey.



What’s on Your Hold List?

One of my favorite parts of the day is checking the Holds Area at the library. Unless I’ve looked at my notifications, I have no idea what I’ll find available for me to take home! It feels like Christmas. Since I’m always adding titles to my reserve list, the anticipation is delightful.

What’s waiting on this particular librarian’s hold list, you’re wondering? Here’s a small sampling…

Quiet: Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking 155.232 CAI

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin (July 2012)

The Thing About Jane Spring (CD audio) by Sharon Krum

Ashfall by Mike Mullin (YA)

You too can reserve any of these titles.  Click on the “Place Hold” option located to the right of the item record in the Aquabrowser catalog, or feel free to contact us directly to request books.



Printers Row


Printers Row, the Chicago Tribune’s new publication, debuted just three weeks ago. It presents broad coverage about books and literature from around the country with a distinct Chicago perspective. The journal (advertisement free) includes essays, book lists, reviews and recommendations from some of the Tribune’s favorite writers: Rick Kogan, Elisabeth Taylor, Julia Keller and Chris Jones. Author interviews/essays, local area book club insights, and an original piece of literary fiction are a few of the features in each weekly edition.

Printers Row is available at Readers Services to read while you are in the Library. Catch up on the latest from Chicago’s literary world, and let us know what you think about this exciting resource from the Trib!


PS The St. Charles Public Library has already been mentioned in Printers Row thanks to our very own Carol H. who had the first published Letter to the Editor!

Staff Reads

Still Life   Louise Pennystill.jpeg

First in the Inspector Gamache Three Pines series. Well developed, believable characters, a carefully plotted mystery and a vivid sense of place (Quebec) are  evident in Penny’s books. Think Agatha Christie and Donna Leon with deeper psychological overtones and a world that is enchanting and real. Great for a winter evening…

Shelter   Harlan Cobenshelter.jpeg

Harlan Coben’s first YA novel featuring Mickey Bolitar is fast-paced suspense with believable “odd ball” teen characters who become friends in order to solve the mystery of a classmate’s disappearance.

The Cat’s Table   Michael Ondaatje

An adult narrator tells of his adventures as an 11-year old boy traveling on an ocean liner from Sri Lanka to England in the 1950s. The child’s perceptions of being abroad ship and the adult world around him are captivating. I enjoyed the reflections of the narrator as a child rather than as an adult.

Naomi’s Gift: An Amish Christmas Story   Amy Clipston

Part of a family-oriented Amish community, 24-year-old Naomi King has given up her dreams of finding true love. But when a young widower stirs surprising feelings in her, Naomi cautiously opens her heart to him and receives an unexpected response.

Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian: With Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers (CD audiobook)   John Elder Robisondiff.jpeg

John Robison (Look Me in the Eye), diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of 40, narrates his book with an enjoyable,strong, engaging voice. His positive, matter-of-fact tone in relaying his life-experiences is inspiring and also reflective of his very analytical way of thinking. An eye-opening look at how aspergerians perceive social situations.

The House at Riverton   Kate Mortonhousriv.jpeg

Set at a great manor house in post WW I Britain, Morton’s story is told primarily from the point of view of Grace, a servant who comes to the Great House at age 14.  It is now 1998, and Grace is recalling events that led to a death on the estate in 1924, and her role in it. Riverton is similar to PBS’s Downton Abbey… same time frame, similar themes and settings.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter   Tom Franklincrolet.jpeg

Set in rural Mississippi, with flashbacks to the 1970’s, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood friends back then. But Larry has been ostracized by the community ever since high school, when his date disappeared and was never found. Larry is still under suspicion 20 years later. Now another girl has disappeared, and Constable Silas is investigating Larry as a suspect… Layers of the past are gradually uncovered. A satisfying read but slow read.

Baking Cakes in Kigali  Gaile Parkinbakcak.jpeg

Parkin’s book reminds me of McCall-Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Angel Tungaraza is a Tanzanian immigrant living in a Ruwandan apartment complex with residents from many cultures. She has her own cake business and tries to match each special cake to a special occasion while also finding time to advise her clients, rear five grandchildren and cope with life in Kigali. Though descriptions are scant and discussion of social issues is not overbearing, the reader is presented with constant references to the aftermath of genocide, AIDS, corruption, and other complexities of daily life. Quick, enjoyable read.

The Swerve   Stephen Greenblattswerve.jpeg

Professor Greenblatt’s book reads like an expanded thesis on the birth of modernity and the Renaissance. The storyline is based upon the discovery of Lucretius’s “On the Nature of Things” by15th century Vatican humanist Poggio Bracciolini.The story line is both fascinating and confusing as Greenblatt often swerves from one topic to another. A worthwhile read for humanities majors and those willing to follow the author’s somewhat plodding style.

The Memory Chalet   Tony Judtmemch.jpeg

The Memory Chalet is a metaphor for author/journalist Tony Judt’s mind from which flows wonderful associations and remembrances throughout his enchanting book. A particular London bus route, the 1968 Paris student riots, road trips across America and rail journeys spill across the pages as the author arranges lifelong reflections for the reader’s enrichment…don’t miss it.



Newbery Winner 2012

Jack Gantos has scored the 2012 Newbery Medal with Dead End in Norvelt. norvelt.jpg

This news made me smile. Gantos is, of course, a children’s author as he wouldn’t have won a Newbery if his books weren’t intended for kids, but there is tangible depth and insight to his middle and high school books that I find very appealing.

A couple of years ago I discovered he’d written a memoir, Hole in My Life, which should be required reading for every teenage boy who might be looking for direction. hole.jpgHole in My Life won the Printz award for excellence in Young Adult literature in 2003. Dead End in Norvelt takes the reader further back in Gantos’ life, to the year 1962, when he was 12 and trying to grow up in a small town in western Pennsylvania. Two memoirs, two major awards – way to go, Jack Gantos!

For more information on Jack Gantos click here.

For a complete list of 2012 Newbery, Caldecott and Printz honorees and award winners click here.