Evanston Literary Salon: Ethics in Non-Fiction for Kids

Folks, if you missed this past Saturday’s Literary Salon on the highly charged topic of ethics in nonfiction for children, you are in luck.  Panelists Barbara Rosenstock, Sally M. Walker, Candace Fleming, and Judith Fradin were amazing, and unafraid to tackle some of the thorniest topics surrounding the field today.  The whole thing was captured in a live feed and we have the video.  It may be a bit quite at times, but that’s the nature of the game.  At the very least, you may wish to check it out to see what you think.



American Crime Story: O.J. and the Literary Aftermath

I was weeding the fiction the other day and I was in the “D” section.  Nothing much to report there.  A lot of authors that used to be hot but that aren’t really read much anymore.  And as I was looking through the books, I pulled out one with a familiar name attached.  “Christopher Darden”.  I confess I had to look at his author photo to see if it was really him, but lo and behold it was.  A former prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial, Darden’s star has recently risen with the popularity of the television mini-series American Crime Story.  If you’re anything like me you’ve been watching it with the strangest sense of deja vu.  It’s one of those rare 1990s historical dramas that somehow manages to capture the time period perfectly.

This discovery of a Darden novel piqued my curiosity.  Did any of the other players in the O.J.case have books of their own?  Lord howdy, yes they did!  Here then is a list of each participant and the books associated with them.

Run of His Life

This is the book that American Crime Story is based on.  So just in case you doubt whether or not a convenience store clerk really did make comments to Marcia Clark when she was purchasing Tampax, now you have your answer.  Put your own copy on hold here (but be prepared for a little wait – it’s popular!).

By Christopher Darden

In Contempt

If anything has come out of American Crime Story it’s an overwhelming sympathy for Christopher Darden.  Yet long after the trial the man was all but forgotten.  In 2014 when ABC News did a Where Are They Now? piece, Darden was left out of the roster entirely.  Darden has written both fiction and non-fiction since the Simpson verdict.  Really, each person involved in the trial seems to have written at least one book on their experiences.  Darden’s is best described this way: “Presents an unflinching look at what really took place behind the scenes of the O.J. Simpson murder trial, from the starstruck judge who let celebrities into his chambers and a dysfunctional jury, to the intimate relationship between Darden and Marcia Clark.”  Put the book on hold here.


I don’t know if I can necessarily forgive Entertainment Weekly for the cover blurb, “A literary dream team” but maybe that’s just me.  Darden actually co-wrote a fair number of thrillers.  This one is described as, “A young attorney at one of the West Coast’s leading, predominantly African-American law firms, Mercer Early is handed the seemingly routine case of an L.A. cop accused of shooting and killing his wife, a case complicated by two more police officers who kill their spouses, prompting an investigation that draws Mercer into a dangerous conspiracy.” Put the book on hold here.

By Marcia Clark

Without a Doubt

Rarely has a prosecutor received more intensive scrutiny than Ms. Clark experienced in the midst of the O.J. trial.  After sitting dormant on our library shelves for years, Ms. Clark’s memoir about her experiences during the trial take you there.  By the way, most of the books I’m mentioning today are long out-of-print.  You would have thought the publishers would have reprinted them with the success of the television show, but no.  That’s why we need libraries, kids!  Okay, diatribe over.  You can put the book on hold here.


Unlike Darden, Clark dove into the thriller genre headfirst and kept on producing.  This is just one of her many titles.  Feel free to place The Competition on hold here and also consider placing on hold Guilt by Association, Guilt by Degrees, and Killer Ambition.

By Johnnie Cochran


If American Crime Story has done anything for us it’s lent a kind of fascination about the key players.  Cochran was a name well known to me but I hadn’t really thought much about his life before the series came out.  As it happens we have two different Cochran biographies in the EPL system.  You can place Journey to Justice on hold here.

Lawyer's Life

And you can place A Lawyer’s Life on hold here.

By F. Lee Bailey


Part of what I’ve enjoyed about American Crime Story is the plethora of 1990s actors on display.  From John Travolta to David Schwimmer to Nathan Lane it’s like I’m back in the era of Battlefield Earth, Friends, and The Lion King.  Speaking of Lane, he’s been stealing the show as F. Lee Bailey.  Mr. Bailey’s own book hadn’t circulated in our system in a while but thanks to the show he’s back on top.  Place a copy on reserve here.

By Robert Shapiro


Back in the day the Library Journal review of Shapiro’s book said of it, “His excellent book . . . penetrates the innermost workings of the defense team.”  Place your copy on reserve here.

By Alan Dershowitz


Say what you will about Dershowitz, the man is prolific. Sometimes I feel like he publishes a book a year.  Reasonable Doubts was the only title he wrote about the O.J. case, so it may be worth looking at.  You can place a reserve here.


Consider this one if you want to hear him talk about his life and cases.  Place a reserve here.

And no, sorry. Robert Kardashian didn’t pen any books that you can read.  Though, if you really want to, you could place a hold on Faye Resnick’s really, truly, awful Nicole Brown Simpson bio here.

From the Lost and Found Files: The Case of the Mosaic Mermaid

Assistant Circulation Manager Kimberly Hegelund is a Library Detective.  Not in the official sense, mind you.  She doesn’t put on a badge and a deerstalker cap when she does her work.  She does, however, do some amazing detection that would floor Sherlock Holmes himself.  After hearing about some of her latest adventures I persuaded her to type one of them up as a blog post to share with you, my gentle readers.  I call this one The Case of the Mosaic Mermaid.

Take it away, Kimberly!


When people imagine libraries they think of librarians and rows of books, DVDs and CDs just begging to be borrowed and experienced. What they don’t think of are the other people who keep the library running. Maintenance, IT, Purchasers, and then there is me-the person in charge of the Lost and Found. I find pieces of people’s lives and make it my goal to get all belongings back in their hands as soon as possible. From laptop chargers to wallets to baby’s blankets, I do all that I can to ensure that nothing that is lost remains unfound.

When I say all things, I mean all things. I want to tell you a story; just the other day one of our clerks was emptying the outside book drop and sorting them away when she found a set of pictures at the very bottom. Unfortunately, it seemed they had been returned with your books and in the process, fallen out. But luck was in my favor! The business that had printed your pictures for you had conveniently printed your last name on the back. So now my job was in full swing and I had a goal to find you and return your pictures.

Mosaic MermaidWe live in a world where technology gives me so many tools to locate you. I started with the basics, a Google search, but was unable to find anyone with your name in the state of Illinois. The White Pages were just as unhelpful. I started looking at the pictures again; maybe one of you had a college hoodie on, or just a state identifier? That’s when I saw it. I never thought to look in the background! A majestic mosaic mermaid and Navy ships! You’re by an ocean….I search for the mermaid statue and lo and behold, Norfolk, Virginia! I return to Google to continue my search. No luck, but I was determined.

Facebook-ing (oh yes, I went there) and I finally find you. I confirm with my colleagues that this is you in the profile picture. Colorado! Wow. A google search leads me to a work number, but unfortunately, it is your day off. I leave my name and contact information and eagerly wait to hear back from you. The week goes by; nothing. I enjoy my weekend off and return on Monday to a post-it note that you’ve called. Thankfully you’ve left your personal number and I call you back.

Our conversation is pleasant and light hearted and you tell me about your trip to meeting up with your Nursing school girlfriends in Norfolk. You share some of your memories and that is part of why I enjoy this job so much. You tell me these photos actually belong to your girlfriend who lives in Evanston (that explains it!) and provide her information and thanks me profusely.

Memories back in the hands of the owner and I am able to relax. There’s something extremely fulfilling about returning things to their rightful owners. It’s a job where everyone gets to experience some happiness along with some mystery. My job is interesting and constantly providing new experiences and stories. I truly hope you enjoyed joining me for this one.

Ethics in Nonfiction for Kids

You know what the kids today are into?  Ethics.  Specifically, ethics in nonfiction.  Could anything be more fun?  Actually, no.  At least, not the way I play it.

As you may know I’ve started a Literary Salon series here in Evanston, IL that focuses primarily on the creation of literature for children and teens.  And as luck would have it, there are a slew of talented locals about who are actually willing to sacrifice a lovely Saturday afternoon with me.  This month I’m pleased as punch to host Candace Fleming (THE FAMILY ROMANOV), Judith Fradin (THE PRICE OF FREEDOM), Barb Rosenstock (THE NOISY PAINTBOX), and Sally M. Walker (WINNIE) for a talk about all the ethical issues surrounding nonfiction for kids these days.  But don’t take my word for it.  Check out this killer poster:

Lit Salon

Bet you wish you could attend.  Bet you wish there was some kind of live video feed you could watch of the talk.  Well, guess what?  There is!  Check out the live Google Hangout here on 3/26 at 2:00 CST.  Yes, come on over (virtually) to see some seriously fantastic women talk on a subject with far reaching ramifications.

Hamilton is Coming! Be Prepared! Read!

MusicalHow much Hamil do we need in the Chicago area?

A Hamil-TON!

Bad joke, bad joke.  You’ll forgive me.  I get a little excited sometimes.  And now we know that the musical Hamilton is slated to arrive in Chicago in September.  Of course, if you’re a fan now then you’re going to need something to read while you wait for the next six months.  You can listen to the entire cast recording of the smash hit Broadway show on Hoopla for free, of course, but your brain needs more.

Recently the site Bookriot published the article “What to Read Now That You’ve Heard Hamilton“.  In the piece author Jesse Doogan outlined all the books you should get under your belt if you want to know more about your favorite cast of characters.  And good news, happy citizens.  Evanston Public Library owns them too.  Here’s the list:

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow


The book that the show is actually based on (note the teeny tiny Hamilton music icon on the cover).  I’ve had to buy multiple copies of this one because folks are just clamoring for it.  Stand in line to get your copy here.

Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg


Doogan mentions two Burr bios that are worth looking at.  Isenberg’s bio is mentioned as being distinctly “pro-Burr”.  Reserve your copy here.

The Heartbreak of Aaron Burr by H.W. Brands


This one focuses far more on Burr’s relationship with his daughter.  Reserve your copy here.

Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation by Cokie Roberts


Good luck finding information out there on the Schuyler sisters.  Thought I’ve no doubt someones’s working on it right now, there isn’t exactly a biography of Angelica, Eliza, and poor almost forgotten Peggy.  They do pop up in this Cokie Roberts book, though.  Reserve your copy here.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell


Pairing Vowell with Hamilton seems pretty inspired.  And Lafayette deserves a little focus, that’s for sure.  While I might have wished that Doogan had pulled something on Hercules Mulligan (seriously, who was that guy?) I think this will definitely do in the meantime.  Reserve your copy here.

Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves by Henry Wiencek


Oh, Jefferson.  A pretty pickle of a founder, that’s for sure.  Doogan thought it neat to include two very different biographies of the man.  Biographies that disagree vehemently with one another.  You’re sure to get two different views of him if you read these.  You can place your copy of the first one here.

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed


Place your copy on the second one here.

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow


Finally, you’ve a lot of Washington biographies to choose from if you want to know more about the General.  Chernow’s biography of Hamilton could be credited as starting the musical in the first place.  Seems fitting that we end here today with his bio of Washington as well.  Reserve your copy here.

Remembering the Negro Leagues

Former NL PlayerThe other day I was looking at the city’s website and ran across this fascinating article: Former Negro League Player Ray Knox Receives Key to the City.

Turns out, we’ve had an honest-to-goodness Negro League baseball player here in Evanston for decades and yet only a few of us knew about him.  As the piece explains, “The Negro Leagues were formed in 1920 in response to Jim Crow laws that banned black players from competing with white teams. This league slowly faded after Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier by playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945.”

Mr. Knox is also one of the few dozen Negro League players still alive today.  In celebration, here are some books that honor the Negro Leagues in the best possible way.  Put a couple on hold today:


We begin with some hometown pride. The description of the book reads, “In 1886, a semi-pro team known as the Union Baseball Club was founded in Chicago. Made up of black players under the leadership of Frank Leland, this team worked its way to the top of Chicago’s semi-pro city league, an organization which otherwise included only white teams . . . Covering the years 1870-1953, this heavily researched history includes a detailed account of one of the Negro Leagues’ most legendary teams. A comprehensive biographical dictionary and detailed game log are included.”  Place the book on hold here.

Black Baseball

A cohesive history of Chicago’s long relationship with black baseball.  If you’ve never heard of the West Baden Sprudels or the Zulu Cannibal Giants, now you can correct a great wrong.  Place the book on hold here.

Chicago Baseball

A broader overview of baseball in Chicago as a whole, historically.  Contains information on everything from The Negro Leagues to the major leagues, to the little leagues.  Fairly comprehensive.  Place the book on hold here.

We Are Ship

Though ostensibly written with a younger audience in mind, Kadir Nelson’s paean to Negro Leagues baseball is without a doubt the most beautiful book you’re likely to encounter on the subject.  With infinite care Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through the decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947.  The oil paintings alone are worth the price of admission.  Place the book on hold here.


She was called “the female Jackie Robinson” and in this crazycool memoir you’ll learn how one young woman went from ragtag teams barnstorming across the Dakotas to playing in front of large crowds at Yankee Stadium itself.  When she was 32 she laid claim to the second base position recently ceded by Hank Aaron, who had moved on to the majors.  And that’s just the beginning . . . .  Place the book on hold here.

Need a Book Recommendation? Meet the Answer to Your Prayers

SelectReadsThis is really cool.

Folks, the fact of the matter is that getting good book recommendations can sometimes be a bit tricky.  Now imagine, if you will, that there was a service out there where you could select the kinds of books or authors or genres you like and then you get personalized recommendations emailed to you regularly.

Well aren’t you just the lucky ducks.  Now there is.

Starting today, Evanston Public Library is launching Select Reads.  If you’ve gone to our website or our catalog you’ve probably seen its banner there.  What is it?  Basically it’s a free reader’s service that gives you, the library user, the opportunity to select and receive customized updates of book lists, new arrivals, staff picks and notifications about authors and books that are most important to you.

Starting today you can sign up for SelectReads, New Book Alerts, and Author Check. Here’s what you’ll get in each case:


  • Select Reads – This lets users subscribe to monthly newsletters of books on the topics they care most about.  Maybe you love biographies but we have so many that it can be hard to figure out which ones to read first.  Now you can get a monthly newsletter that sends you suggestions with reviews and author info on precisely what you want to read.  It’s here that you can also find our Staff Picks or go to Author Spotlight, where two authors in whatever genre you prefer are highlighted so that you can find new books to read and love.

NewBookAlerts (2)

  • New Book Alerts – Makes it easy to read about a new book and reserve it with a link to the Library’s catalog.  And it’s completely customizable.  Do you only want to know about new mysteries?  How about new history books?  Maybe you’d prefer knowing what all the new cookbooks are.  Now you can!


  • Author Check – Do you want the inside track on all your favorite authors? Would you like to be alerted IMMEDIATELY when they have a new book out and it’s suddenly appeared in the Evanston Public Library catalog?  Now you can.

To sign up for the Library’s new SelectReads service, visit epl.org or contact the Reader’s Advisory Desk at 847-448-8620 with any questions.

On Beyond the Devil in the White City

“If you’ve ever been trapped in a refrigerator only to have the door flung open just before you black out, you have some sense of what Chicago spring feels like.” – Contrary Motion by Andy Mozina

Happy Chicago Incorporation Day!

Yes, on this date in history (March 4, 1837) Chicago was officially incorporated as a city.  Break out the deep dish pizza and don’t skimp on the hot dogs.

To celebrate this momentous occasion I present to you a plethora of the latest Chicago-related titles.  Whether they are written about Chicago, set in Chicago, or contain a mere souciant of Chicago-esque caperings these are the books you should be reading.  Some of these are so new they aren’t even in our catalog yet (but they will be).

Chicago by Brian Doyle


Library Journal called this book “luminous”.  Kirkus said, “The quiet introspection and cleareyed focus on a vibrant and powerful American city makes Doyle’s (Martin Marten, 2015, etc.) paean to Chicago a literary jewel.” Set at the end of a 1970s summer, the book follows a young man as he moves into an apartment on the north side of the city.  Says the description, “A love letter to Chicago, the Great American City, and a wry account of a young man’s coming-of-age during the one summer in White Sox history when they had the best outfield in baseball,Chicago is a novel that will plunge you into a city you will never forget, and may well wish to visit for the rest of your days.”  On shelves March 29th.  Place it on hold here.

Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography by John Gruber


This one’s pretty neat.  So back in 1942 the Office of War information needed photographs of U.S. railroad operations. Where did photographer Jack Delano head?  To Chicago, of course.  Talk about a rail center!  Here we have 70 of his photos and they are fantastic.  This is more than just a gift book.  It’s a slice of doggone history. Place it on hold here.

Beverly by Nick Drnaso


Chris Ware isn’t the only Chicago-based graphic novelist to grace the comic scene.  Behold Drnaso in all his sexual anxiety wrought glory.  Or, rather, his characters’.  Here’s a cheery description of the book: “Again and again, the civilized façade of Drnaso’s pitch-perfect surburban sprawl and pasty Midwestern protagonists cracks in the face of violence and quiet brutality. Drnaso’s bleak social satire in Beverly reveals a brilliant command of the social milieu of twenty-first-century existence, echoing the black comic work of Todd Solondz, Sam Lipsyte, and Daniel Clowes.” Fun!

The House That Made Me: Writers Reflect on the Places and People That Defined Them by Grant Jarrett


This one’s not out until April but it has a nice hook.  Writers use Google Earth to look down on their childhood homes.  Two in particular, Jeffery Renard Allen and Pamela Erens, return to Chicago’s North Side and South Side, respectively.  As you might imagine, their memories are awfully different, but both represent an authentic Chicago experience. Place your hold on the book here.

The Insane Chicago Way: The Daring Plan by Chicago Gangs to Create a Spanish Mafia by John Hagedorn


Great title, yes?  Here’s the description: “Revealing the hidden and riveting stories of Chicago gangs’ efforts to build structures ostensibly to reduce violence and to organize crime, of the integration of gang and mafia history, and of the central role of police corruption in Chicago’s gangland,The In$ane Chicago Way makes a powerful argument for the need to regard corruption as the bedrock of gang power. It dispels the notion that gang violence can be explained solely by ecological, neighborhood-based processes and sheds light on the current gang situation in Chicago by laying bare its history while raising disturbing questions for researchers, policy-makers, and the public.” Place it on hold here.


The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America

by Ethan Michaeli


I’m including this one, but just to warn you it is incredibly popular right now.  I should buy more copies.  In any case, the title pretty much says it all.  Not only is The Defender the largest and most influential black-owned newspaper in America, it’s also Chicago-based.  The book received copious stellar reviews.  Amazing stuff. Place it on hold (and be prepared to wait) here.



You didn’t hear it from me, but you know Spotlight, the movie that just won an Academy Award for Best Picture?  Did you know it was based on a book from 2002?  Only, see, the book has a different title than the movie.  Here’s the book:


Now as of this blog post, that book is sitting on our shelves, happy as you please, because no one realizes it was connected to Spotlight.  So if you’re curious, now would be the time to place a hold right here.  Go to it, faithful blog readers.