The Judas Field by Howard Bahr

The Judas Field by Howard Bahr (2006)
A return to the site of the Battle of Franklin twenty years after the battle brings back bitter and horrific memories to former Confederate soldier Cass Wakefield.

Howar Bahr received the 2007 Shaara Prize for Civil War Fiction. Read more about the prize, about the author, and Bahr's acceptance speech. Check out reviews in the Boston Globe or Washington Post and look at a reading group guide.

The Madman of Bergerac by Georges Simenon

The Madman of Bergerac by Georges Simenon (2007)
It’s France in the 1930s, Inspector Maigret has been shot, and incredibly he solves the case never having left his hospital bed. It’s easy to read the Maigret series because the stories are short and can be read in one day.

Love Me or Leave Me

lovemeorleavemeLove Me or Leave Me by Doris Day (1955)
Doris Day played real life 1920s singer Ruth Etting in the movie of the same name. Here she performs great songs from the early decades of the twentieth century. Songs include the upbeat "Stay on the Right Side Sister" and "Shaking the Blues Away" and lovely ballads such as "I'll Never Stop Loving You" and "Love Me or Leave Me." You can also check out the original movie with Day and James Cagney. Find out Doris Day is more than just "Que Sera Sera."

The Interpreter

The Interpreter (2005) PG-13

Directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, this movie of political intrigue is set at the U.N. and is a thriller. The acting is superb and this “whodunit” has many twists and turns.

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Steel Boat, Iron Hearts by Hans Goebeler

Steel Boat, Iron Hearts by Hans Goebeler (1999)
Written by a submariner in Hitler’s Navy, he relates his account of serving aboard the U-505 submarine as it prowled the Atlantic and ended up being captured by the U.S. (The first ship captured at sea since the War of 1812!) The U-505 is now on display at the Museum of Science and Industry. It is interesting to read about those events from the perspective of the “enemy.”

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (2007)
A novel that succeeds as both historical fiction and crime-thriller, the story contains fascinating details of historical forensic medicine, entertaining notes on women in science (the medical school at Salerno is not fictional) and a wonderful plot with lots of twists.

Four children have been found dead and mutilated. The Jews of Cambridge have been blamed for the murders, the most prominent Jewish moneylender and his wife have been killed by a mob, and the rest of the Jewish community is shut up in the castle under the protection of the sheriff.

King Henry I is invested in their fate because without the taxes received from Jewish merchants, his treasuries would go bankrupt. Hoping to exonerate the Jews, he appeals to his cousin, the king of Sicily, to send his best master of the art of death: a doctor skilled in “reading” bodies. Enter Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, 25, the best mistress of death that the medical school at Salerno has ever produced. Adelia, along with Simon of Naples (a Jew) and Mansur (a Moor), must find the murderer before he can kill again.

A Stronger Kinship by Anna-Lisa Cox

A Stronger Kinship by Anna-Lisa Cox (2006)
This is the story of Covert Township in Southwest Michigan from the 1860s to the early 1900s. Although blacks were always a relative small percentage of the already small population of the area, they were completely integrated into the educational, social, business, and religious lives of the community. Several blacks held elected public offices. The author explores why, in a time when the local people had to go against state law and general national attitude to treat all of their neighbors as equals, they chose to do so.

The author's website contains an 1873 map of Covert Township along with other great information. On NPR's site, you can read or listen to the December 2006 story and view several pictures.

The African Queen

The African Queen (1951)

This classic movie stands the test of time. It has humor, adventure, romance and two American icons of acting. Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart are good alone, but as a team they brilliantly enhance each other. Even if you have seen it before, it’s a reliable night of fun watching and GOOD FOR ALL AGES.

Based on the 1935 novel by C. S. Forester.

The Good German by Joseph Kanon

The Good German by Joseph Kanon (2001)
An American journalist in post-war Berlin tracks down the whereabouts of a former Nazi. Check out the 2007 movie adaptation featuring George Clooney.

John Adams by David McCullough

John Adams by David McCullough (2001)
One of America’s best loved biographers, David McCullough, gives us an intimate picture of one of America’s overshadowed presidents. Adams’ life of integrity, heroism, and warmth shine through is this personal story.

Starting on Sunday, March 16, HBO will air a seven part miniseries based on the book. The drama stars Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, with Tom Hanks serving as executive producer. Go to the movie's website to watch video previews, listen to conversations with the actors or with Tom Hanks and David McCullough, and read descriptions of each of the seven parts of the series.

For more on this Pulitzer Prize-winning book, visit the publisher's website to read a Q&A about the book, listen to a podcast, check out a reading guide, read an excerpt, and much more. The News Hour on PBS has video, audio, and text of McCullough's July 4, 2001, appearance. The New York Times website includes a book review and a list of articles and books about John Adams.

Blood on the Tongue by Stephen Booth

Blood on the Tongue by Stephen Booth (2002)
Narrated by Christopher Kay, this mystery stars the “everyman” of hometown detectives, Ben Cooper. The heart of the story hangs on an airplane that crashed during World War II. The intertwining threads of the plot create a great audio experience.

Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg

Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg (2001)
Author Bragg tells the story of his maternal grandfather, a man he never met, who kept a family going during the depths of the Depression in the deep South.

Check out the New York Times book review. You can also reserve Bragg's latest book -- The Prince of Frogtown -- which will be released in May.

Midnight at the Dragon Café by Judy Fong Bates

Midnight at the Dragon Café by Judy Fong Bates (2004)
This coming of age novel is a wonderfully written, unique and imaginative, first novel. Set in the 1960s, this is the story of a young girl, the daughter of a small Ontario town’s solitary Chinese family, over the course of a summer.

Told through Su-Jen’s eyes, the hard life behind the scenes at the Dragon Café unfolds. Su-Jen’s elderly father and beautiful young mother are unhappy in their marriage. Su-Jen’s mother is miserable in this new small town.

Su-Jen is rapidly adapting to life in Canada and goes through all the ups and downs of a typical 1960s childhood. She develops a friendship with Charlotte, a spirited girl who behaves in a way that is older than her years. There is also tragedy, foreshadowed, yet still a shock when it finally occurs.

The first and last paragraphs of Midnight at the Dragon Café are poignant and are Su-Jen’s reflections on a fate she thinks should have been hers.

Dream When You’re Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg

Dream When You’re Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg (2007)
This novel tells the story of how a loving Chicago Irish family copes with WWII back home in the big city. The book centers around the three daughters who wait for their beaus and fiancées to return home safely from the war. A warm and well-researched depiction of life at home during the war.

Dream When You're Feeling Blue is the 2008 Big Read selection for Indian Prairie and nine other libraries. Check out all of the programs at area libraries in March and April -- you can listen to radio broadcasts, watch movies, learn to swing dance, and see WWII-era personalities come to life. The Big Read culminates with "An Evening with Elizabeth Berg" at Ashton Place on May 8.  

For more information on The Big Read, contact the library at 630-887-8760, visit our website, or read the February 20 Doings article.

Best Man in Grass Creek

Best Man in Grass Creek (2001) PG
Adam Lewis was left standing at the altar three years ago, and ever since he has found it impossible to sit through a wedding without getting a panic attack. Now he finds himself best man to a business associate he barely knows at a wedding held in Grass Creek, Indiana, where the main street is a half block of closed stores and the rehearsal dinner is held at the House of Gravy. Can Adam survive the eccentric locals and make it through the wedding?