75-Years Ago: Remembering Pearl Harbor

On December 7th, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked in a surprise military strike by Japanese forces.  This year marks the 75th anniversary of the attack.  For those of you looking to brush up on your knowledge in that area, have no fear.  We’ve a list of all the newest books on the subject.  As you might imagine, a lot of books have come out recently to commemorate the anniversary.  Reserve them today:

All the Gallant Men: An American Sailor’s Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor by Donald Stratton


In this extraordinary never-before-told eyewitness account of the Pearl Harbor attack–the only memoir ever written by a survivor of the USS Arizona–ninety-four-year-old veteran Donald Stratton finally shares his unforgettable personal tale of bravery and survival on December 7, 1941, his harrowing recovery, and his inspiring determination to return to the fight.

Countdown to Pearl Harbor: The Twelve Days to the Attack by Steve Twomey


A fascinating look at the twelve days leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor–the warnings, clues and missteps–by a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter.

Dawn of Infamy: A Sunken Ship, a Vanished Crew, and the Final Mystery of Pearl Harbor by Stephen Harding


As the Pearl Harbor attack began, a U.S. cargo ship a thousand miles away in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean mysteriously vanished along with her crew. What happened, and why ?

Eve of a Hundred Midnights: The Star-Crossed Love Story of Two World War II Correspondents and Their Epic Escape Across the Pacific by Bill Lascher


The unforgettable true story of two married journalists on an island-hopping run for their lives across the Pacific after the Fall of Manila during World War II–a saga of love, adventure, and danger.

Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy by Eri Hotta


A groundbreaking history that considers the attack on Pearl Harbor from the Japanese perspective and is certain to revolutionize how we think of the war in the Pacific.

Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness by Craig Nelson


Published in time for the 75th anniversary, a gripping and definitive account of the event that changed twentieth-century America–Pearl Harbor–based on years of research and new information uncovered by a New York Times bestselling author.

Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II by Albert Marrin


On the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor comes a harrowing and enlightening look at the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II– from National Book Award finalist Albert Marrin.  Today, America is still filled with racial tension, and personal liberty in wartime is as relevant a topic as ever. Moving and impactful, National Book Award finalist Albert Marrin’s sobering exploration of this monumental injustice shines as bright a light on current events as it does on the past.

And for those of you looking for pertinent DVDs:

75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor


From the facts that are widely known to the unsung heroes, this 75th anniversary set delivers the definitive chronicle of the attack on Pearl Harbor. With combat footage, gripping personal accounts, and detailed historical analysis, six documentaries explore one of history’s most devastating events.



Even More Chicago Literary Awards! The 2016 CWA Book Awards


Sharp-eyed reader Lynn Haller was quick to point out in my last post (The Chicago Review of Book Awards) that the newly founded Chirbies are not the only game in town.  For the past six years the Chicago Writer’s Association has produced its own awards as well.

Lynn also mentioned that, “Evanston’s own Randy Richardson is the president of CWA, if you’re looking for an Evanston connection.”  I think it is fair to say that I am always looking for an Evanston connection.  Thank you, Lynn!

And the awards go to . . .

Award for Fiction, Traditionally Published
The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay


Honorable Mention:
Swarm Theory by Christine Maul Rice
The Fugue
by Gint Aras


Award for Fiction, Non-Traditionally Published
A Bitter Pill to Swallow
by Tiffany Gholar


Award for Nonfiction, Traditionally Published
The Defender by Ethan Michaeli


Honorable Mention:
Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence and Identity by Alison Flowers

Award for Nonfiction, Non-Traditionally Published

Hugh Hefner’s First Funeral and other True Tales of Love and Death in Chicago by Pat Colander


Here’s an extra note from the CWA website about the awards ceremony:

This year’s ceremony will also feature the second annual presentation of CWA’s Spirit Award (formerly called the Lifetime Achievement Award) to Don Evans, author, editor, founder of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, and a tireless advocate for Chicago literature and the people who make it.

Award winners will be honored at a ceremony on Jan. 14, 2017 at 7 p.m. at The Book Cellar, 4736-38 Lincoln Ave., in Chicago’s Lincoln Square.
Authors will read from their award-winning books and will have copies available for purchase and signing.
This event is free and open to the public. Please join us for a festive evening!

The Chicago Review of Books Awards


This one’s going out to those of you who may have wondered why all the major book awards seems to come from places other than Chicago.  Considering the breadth and depth of the literary landscape here, it’s a bit shocking that we have so few awards to name off the top of our heads.  Introducing the Chicago Review of Books Awards.  As they say on their website about the awards:

“. . . the Chicago Review of Books—in partnership with Chicago’s independent bookstores—wants to recognize Chicagoland authors and help them reach more bookshelves across the city, the country, and the world.

This fall, the inaugural Chicago Review of Books Awards (‘Chirbys,’ for short) will celebrate the best books published in 2016 by writers in the Chicago Metropolitan Area.”

They go on to mention that the winners in each category will be announced live on December 8 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Volumes Bookcafe in Wicker Park, at a free public awards ceremony and book signing that will feature panel conversations between some of the authors in each category about their books, writing process, and Chicago inspirations.

So what are the books up for contention that you should know?  Here’s the full list (with special notes on which of the authors live or work in Evanston):

Best Fiction

Jesse Ball, How to Set a Fire and Why

Wesley Chu, Time Siege

Gina Frangello, Every Kind of Wanting

Abby Geni, The Lightkeepers

Mary Robinette Kowal, Ghost Talkers

Christine Sneed, The Virginity of Famous Men: Stories (<— She lives in Evanston!)

Best Creative Nonfiction

Chris Abani, The Face: Cartography of the Void (<— Mr. Abani is a Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University)

Ethan Michaeli, The Defender

Natalie Y. Moore, The South Side

Toni Nealie, The Miles Between Me

Mary Wisniewski, Algren: A Life

Zoe Zolbrod, The Telling (<— Lives in Evanston!)

Best Poetry

Kevin Coval and Nate Marshall, 1989: The Number

Tony Fitzpatrick, The Secret Birds

Phillip B. Williams, Thief in the Interior

Abigail Zimmer, child in a winter house brightening

Best Debut

Kim Brooks, The Houseguest

Jessica Chiarella, And Again

Maryse Meijer, Heartbreaker: Stories

Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning

Martin Seay, The Mirror Thief

T. Sean Steele, Tacky Goblin


Somewhat disappointingly there is no children’s or YA category yet, but I’ve confidence that that will have to change in the future.  In the meantime, enjoy the books and stay tuned for the winners!

How Do Evanston Residents’ Reading Habits Compare to the Country?

Ever wonder what sets Evanston, IL apart from the rest of the nation?  While other parts of the country go gaga over one book or another, can the same be said for our little corner of the world?  Curious, I decided to do some comparisons between the top selling books according to Publishers Weekly this week vs. the books in our library system that have the highest patron demand.  The results may surprise you.  First off, the nation:

Top Fiction Sellers in America Right Now

1. The Whistler by John Grisham

2. Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

3. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

4. A Baxter Family Christmas by Karen Kingsbury

5. Escape Clause by John Sandford

6. Order to Kill by Vince Flynn

7. Sex, Lies & Serious Money by Stuart Woods

8. The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks

9. The Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

10. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

And now, here are the top fiction titles at Evanston Public Library based entirely on holds placed on titles at this moment in time.

Top Fiction Titles at Evanston Public Library

1. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

2. The Whistler by John Grisham

3. The Trespasser by Tana French

4. Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

5. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

6. Night School by Lee Child

7. The Mothers by Brit Bennett

8. The Wangs Vs. the World by Jade Chang

9. Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich

10. No Man’s Land by David Baldacci

So a couple thoughts on this comparison.  First and foremost, you’ll see that A Baxter Family Christmas is heavily sought after in the rest of the country.  I’ll purchase Christmas fiction for that reason, but I can tell you that when I’m weeding dead fiction (fiction that hasn’t circulated once in over 3 years) Christmas books clog my list.  Nobody in Evanston really looks forward to them.

Second of all, The Blood Mirror?  Really?  Did not see that one coming.

Third, the Evanston books don’t really have as many cult authors or series on them as the national list.  Read into that what you will.

And on the nonfiction side of the equation . . .

Top Non-Fiction Sellers in America Right Now

1. Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten

2. The Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines

3. Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

4. Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms by Tim Tebow and A.J. Gregory

5. Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain

6. Jesus Always: Embracing Joy in His Presence by Sarah Young

7. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

8. The Broken Way: A Daring Path Into the Abundant Life by Ann Voskamp

9. 100 Days of Real Food: Fast & Fabulous: The Easy and Delicious Way to Cut Out Processed Food by Lisa Leake

10. Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal That Undid Him, and All the Justice that Money Can Buy by James Patterson, John Connolly, and Tim Malloy


How does Evanston compare?  Well, here are out top nonfiction titles with the most holds:

Top Non-Fiction Titles at Evanston Public Library

1. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

2. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

3. Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver

4. Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived Joyous Life by William Burnett

5. Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer

6. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

7. Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten

8. Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal That Undid Him, and All the Justice that Money Can Buy by James Patterson, John Connolly, and Tim Malloy

9. Killing the Rising Sun: How American Vanquished World War II Japan by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

10. In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice From Over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney

Looking at these titles, I can see a couple things right off the bat.  Religious titles, while they do well at EPL, are not the most requested books here.  O’Reilly’s books really do circulate on a regular basis.  Also, inspirational title do well but aren’t what we might call circ-busters.

Now interestingly enough, there’s another way to look at our popular books.  We could look at the titles that circulated the most at EPL this week.  These lists aren’t perfect, since they’re reliant on the number of copies we have and not necessarily demand, but I think you’ll find them an interesting alternative way to look at what’s popular at EPL.

Fiction Titles That Circulated the Most This Week:

1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

2. The Nest by Cynthia Sweeney

3. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

4. The Girls by Emma Cline

5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

6. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

7. My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

8. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

9. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

10. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah


Nonfiction Titles That Circulated the Most This Week:

1. The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper

2. Gratitude by Oliver Sacks

3. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two by Jack Thorne

4. The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

5. It Gets Worse by Shane Dawson

6. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

7. White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

8. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

9. Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson

10. Furiously Happy by Jenni Lawson