Category Archives: Cindy K.

Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith (2012)

The author, Sally Bedell Smith, presents an interesting look at both the private and public sides of Queen Elizabeth II in this biography. Through numerous interviews and never-before-revealed documents, she provides insight into how the second-longest reigning monarch in British history has coped with the challenges facing her country since she ascended to the throne sixty years ago. Very readable.

The queen’s diamond jubilee is being celebrated throughout 2012, with a culmination of special events in early June.

This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman (2011)

Taking place in 2003, this novel tells the story of a Manhattan family enjoying the good life. Their lives, however, are changed forever when their usually responsible fifteen- year-old son forwards a sexually explicit video, received from a classmate and intended only for him. The video goes viral and because his name is attached to the email, he and his family are faced with a series of consequences and repercussions which test their strengths as individuals and as a family. Here is the reading guide for the book.

Check the catalog for This Beautiful Life and search for other books by Helen Schulman.

 

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (2010)
If you’re looking for a novel you can really “sink your teeth into,” you’ll like this story of a liberal Minneapolis family dealing with themselves, each other, and the political climate during the Bush years. Well drawn, multidimensional characters and the author’s smart, sometimes humorous and often irreverent writing, add to the book’s appeal.

Listen Jonathan Franzen discuss his book on All Things Considered and read the New York Times review.

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin (2009)
An immigrant tale set in the early 1950s, Brooklyn follows Eilis Lacey as she journeys from Ireland to New York City to escape economic hardship and begin a new life. This heartwarming coming of age story filled with grit and determination may move too slowly for some, but features interesting characters and lovely writing.

 Brooklyn was the Chicago Public Library’s selection for “One Book One Chicago” in spring 2010. Read more about the book and visit the author’s website.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003)
I loved this novel about the Gonguli family – who left their home in India in the late 1960s to begin a new life in America. It’s a story not only about the immigrant experience, but also about the family ties that bind us all. Beautifully written.

Come join the Novel Idea book discussion of this title on Wednesday, October 14 at 7:30.

Read an interview with the author, preview the book, and explore a reading guide to the book.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (1996)
A memoir about an American college professor and her lover who purchase a deserted villa in Cortona, Italy, and attempt to restore it to its former glory; thus, enabling them to enjoy “la dolie vita.” Along the way they learn to deal with the idiosyncrasies of the local workmen and the slower paced Italian way of life. Much different than the movie, I liked the book more. An added bonus is the recipes she includes.

Read reviews and a summary of the book at BookBrowse.com. You can alos explore the book discussion guide.

The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr

The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr (1995)
This is a coming of age memoir about a young girl growing up in what most would consider to be a dysfunctional family. The family itself, however, cares about each other in their own offbeat way. Proof of the power of love, the book is humorous and touching at the same time.

Visit Reading Group Guides for more about the book, discussion questions, and an interview with the author.

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted by Elizabeth Berg

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted and Other Small Acts of Liberation by Elizabeth Berg (2008)
This collection of short stories deals with women taking chances at all stage of their lives. Some of the stories will have you howling with laughter; others will bring you to tears, but all feature characters and writing that will find a place in your heart.

Today’s the day! Call the Downers Grove Public Library at 630-960-1200 to reserve your tickets for An Evening with Elizabeth Berg on Thursday, May 8. Listen to the author talk about her inspiration for Dream When You’re Feeling Blue, the research, and the response. Berg will read an excerpt, answer questions, and sign books.