Tag Archives: young adult

Chicago’s Favorite Books of 2015

CBR_Logo2Chicago’s literary community is full of readers and writers, authors and agents, editors and publishers, publicists and marketers … a bevy of bibliophiles who read plenty of books during the course of any given year. We wanted to see what people have been reading, and so we asked a bunch of them what their favorite books of 2015 were. Some of their favorite books have local twists, others don’t, but they’re all favorites of some of the area’s finest literary forces. What you’ll find here is an interesting mix of titles for children, young adults, and grown-ups from some of the luminaries of Chicago’s lit scene. In addition to our Best Books of 2015 list (which will come out next week), our Summer 2015 Preview, our Fall 2015 Preview, and our 2015 Holiday Reading Guide, this list of a dozen titles proves to be yet another source of good reading.

So here goes: some of Chicago’s Favorite Books of 2015, brought to you by some of the area’s literary faves.


Layout 1Atlas of an Anxious Man
by Christoph Ransmayr
University of Chicago Press

1094Imagine if W. G. Sebald went on a trip around the world and you’d pretty much have this book. Atlas of an Anxious Man is a memoir, history, travelogue, and seemingly everything else imaginable, written in near-perfect prose and struggling with what it means to be human,
no matter the geography.
Noah Cruickshank, marketing manager, Open Books


before I go

Before I Go
by Colleen Oakley
Gallery Books

Mary Kubica-9

Before I Go tells the story of a young woman trying to find a new wife for her husband before she dies of cancer. Equal parts heartbreaking and humorous, I cherished Oakley’s endearing and true-to-life characters and truly admired the way she was able to bring joy to such a dark theme; she’s a gifted storyteller. An uplifting tearjerker that drew me in from the very first page.
Mary Kubica, bestselling author of The Good Girl and Pretty Baby


Binary Starbinary star
by Sarah Gerard
Two Dollar Radio


I read and reviewed nearly a hundred books in 2015 for our blog, but Sarah Gerard’s Binary Star easily stands out as one of the most memorable. Published by our neighbors in Ohio, the rapidly ascending indie press Two Dollar Radio, this semi-autobiographical tale recounts the sometimes darkly humorous horrors that come with twenty-something hipsters trying to grow up, in this case woven around a coast-to-coast road trip by a dysfunctional couple while our female narrator also struggles with an eating disorder. Poetic in its prose and like a trainwreck in its plot, this is a great example of all the daring things an indie publisher can get away with that mainstream presses can no longer afford to take a chance on.
Jason Pettus, owner, Chicago Center for Literature and Photography


bone-gapBone Gap
by Laura Ruby
Balzar + Bray
dana-kaye-headshot-croppedBone Gap is a beautiful work of magical realism, set in a rural town, about a girl who is kidnapped and the boy who witnessed the crime, but can’t seem to identify the kidnapper. Ruby has a unique and poignant voice, telling a story that’s both quiet and deceivingly high-concept.
Dana Kaye, founder of Kaye Publicity, Inc.


cover_girl_waits_with_gun_amy_stewartGirl Waits With Gun
by Amy Stewart
Houghton Mifflin

Kate Hannigan Head Shot small

This is historical fiction at its finest. Girl Waits With Gun tells the story of the real-life Kopp sisters, who in 1914 find their quiet world upended after their buggy collides with the automobile driven by a bullying local factory owner. After the sisters—sturdy Constance, pigeon-obsessed Norma, and the theatrical Fleurette—demand he set things right, the local bully begins a campaign of intimidation to scare the sisters off. But instead of backing down, the Kopps gloriously fight back. Stewart’s sly humor hooked me from the first pages, and I adored the unconventional charms and strengths of Constance and her sisters. An absorbing, fun read.
Kate Hannigan, author of the middle-grade historical detective novel The Detective’s Assistant (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2015)


Daoud_MeursaultInvestigation-260x390The Meursault Investigation
Kamel Daoud
Other Press
_DSC0374 - Version 2The protagonist of this novel is Harun, the brother of ‘the Arab. Musa (with no name in The Stranger) is killed by Meursault, Albert Camus’s anti-hero in The Stranger. The opening line of The Stranger is “Mother died today.” Kamel’s The Meursault Investigation opens with “Mama is still alive today.” It is Daoud’s homage to Camus and a wonderful retelling of the story from the Arab’s perspective.
Syed Afzal Haider, senior editor, Chicago Quarterly Review, and author, To Be With Her


Needneed 20550148
 Joelle Charbonneau
Houghton Mifflin
SC-5 bmp (9)
High School students join a new social networking site that grants them what they most Need, but as they soon learn, that gift comes with a hefty price. I found the story compelling—it reminds me of Lois Duncan’s thrillers for teenagers. So I recommended it to my twelve-year-old son, Alex, and he’s halfway through it already. I asked him what he thought and said, “I really just want to know what comes next!”
Susanna Calkins, author of The Masque of a Murderer (Lucy Campion mysteries/Minotaur-St. Martins)


nightingale 9780312577223The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah
St. Martin’s Press
Libby Hellmann
I couldn’t put it down. So sad. And brave. And surprising. In books about World War 2, we tend to overlook the fact that people in the occupied countries suffered as well. This was a gentle but
poignant reminder.
Libby Fischer Hellmann, author of The Incidental Spy,
a WW2 Novella


On the WayCyn+Vargas+-+On+The+Way
by Cyn Vargas
Curbside Splendor
McNair Headshot HiRes
In this compelling collection of contemporary short stories, Cyn Vargas plumbs the depths of loss, need, family, desire, and otherness, in situations great and small. Here is the man who works at the DMV and longs for the new driver behind the wheel; here is the daughter whose mother disappears while they are on a family trip to Guatemala; here is the young woman who comes face-to-face with her first abusive, then absent father at her grandmother’s funeral. There is no sugar coating on these stories, and that is part of what I love most about them. That, and the beautiful, straightforward voice and sense of story, the way Cyn lures me in with the ease of her storytelling, the way she holds me in the pages, reading, reading, reading, satisfied, but still (like her characters) wanting more.
Patricia Ann McNair, author of The Temple of Air


pretend-i-m-deadPretend I’m Dead
by Jen Beagin
Northwestern University Press
mare049 copy2Meet Mona, a twenty-four-year-old house cleaner. She falls in love with a heroin addict, she moves away, she meets odd characters, such as the hippies next door who build their own instruments and make their own “music.” I simply couldn’t put this book down; Beagin creates characters and situations so vividly, you can see them. Like the hippies—I could hear their awful music. Through Mona’s journey, she uncovers some deep-buried secrets. You’re crying for her and laughing through this book.
Mare Swallow, Executive Director, Chicago Writers Conference


Searching for Sundaysearching for sunday
by Rachel Held Evans
Thomas Nelson
Author photo 2-M
Fatigued by the culture wars, hypocrisy, and scandals, Rachel Held Evans lost interest in attending church but could never fully let go. In this timely, beautifully written book, Evans echoes the cry of her millennial peers as she wrestles with her uprooted faith and searches for a spiritual home. It’s difficult to leave the evangelical world because it is uniquely gifted at forging committed, generous community; but when that generosity does not extend to friends who are LGBTQ, feminists, immigrants, and from other disenfranchised corners of society, it’s difficult to reconcile the divide. I loved reading this book because, as a former evangelical, I could identify with the tension Evans describes.
Deborah Lee, author of Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women and Queer Christians Are Reclaiming Evangelicalism (Beacon Press, 2015)


And, although a writer shouldn’t necessarily insert herself into her own feature, one of my own favorites of 2015 …

fractureFracture: Life & Culture in the West, 1918–1928
by Philipp Blom
Basic Books
kelli-christiansenThe period between the wars (i.e., WWI and WWII) fascinates me, that strange mix of peace and optimism with war mongering and unfinished business. Philipp Blom divides this period into two spans: postwar and prewar, focusing on everything from music to technology to politics, noting that “progress and innovation were everywhere met with increasing racism and xenophobia.” Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. A great read for history buffs—and for anyone who wants to understand both the times we’ve lived through and the times we’re living in.
—Kelli Christiansen, founder bibliobibuli, Chicago Book Review, and Chicago Publishing Network


So, what’s your favorite? Chime in with your favorite book of 2015. The 25th person to comment noting their favorite book of this year will win a $25 bookstore gift card to start 2016 off with a good book!

Happy Holidays—and Happy Reading!

—Kelli Christiansen



Filed under feature

Superstition + Science: A Love Story

CBR_Logo2Alchemy’s Daughter
by Mary A. Osborne

A thoughtful, intelligent addition to the young adult genre, Alchemy’s Daughter by Mary A. Osborne proves that a star-crossed love story can also teach history, science, and spirituality.

Well-rounded and real characters fill up Osborne’s picture of medieval Italy. In the fourteenth-century village of San Gimignano, a young girl studies alchemy. Santina Pietra is the daughter of a wealthy cloth merchant who dabbles in alchemy during late nights spent in his attic. Santina eavesdrops on her father and his young friend, Calandrino. She becomes enthralled both with the magical idea of turning metals into gold and with the captivating Calandrino.

alchemy's daughterAs Santina experiences a striking tragedy in her youth that transforms her mind and heart, she seeks solace in her studies of ancient texts and in conversations with Calandrino. The young scholar becomes her tutor, and the two like-minds find themselves embedded in a forbidden love story.

When forces beyond her power seek to separate the two young lovers, Santina feels abandoned and seeks out the companionship of the village midwife. Through a long and challenging apprenticeship into midwifery, Santina comes to believe in a truer form of alchemy that perhaps doesn’t turn metal into gold, but points to the enlightened soul as the final destination. She believes that the study of science may lead to the elixir, or the philosopher’s stone.

Through hardship, Santina develops strength. When faced with a problematic birth thought to be impossible to overcome without death as a result, she and the midwife choose science and spirituality over superstition. This decision leads them both into danger as the villagers brand science as witchcraft.

Santina’s journey into adulthood leads her through the darkest of times, where the strength of her mind determines her fate, not a rescue by a white knight. She experiences the plague sweeping through Italy, and she endures with bravery, treating the ill and being cast once again as a witch for saving lives with a mixture of science and spirituality.

While Alchemy’s Daughter resonates with readers of historical fiction, Renaissance literature, and the YA genre, Osborne succeeds most in writing a work of fiction that entertains as well as enlightens. Readers can feel good about recommending this novel to the young adults in their lives as Santina’s story has the ability to inspire and provoke thought while still weaving in an exciting love story.

DSC_0051 - Version 2

Author Mary A. Osborne

Alchemy’s Daughter asks questions of its readers, encouraging an interactive read that goes beyond the fast-moving plot line. What would have happened, readers may wonder, if superstition had never stood in the way of science? Had progressive women and men not been killed as witches and heretics but praised as leading minds, what might the world look like in the twenty-first century? These questions challenge readers to see themselves in a wider world view, opening minds to the turmoil of history and the potential for the future.

Santina’s mentor, the aging and persecuted midwife, continues along the path that she knows to be her purpose regardless of the mounting dangers. On the first night of their meeting, Santina approaches the midwife looking for advice and perhaps a potion to cure her young, broken heart. The midwife tells Santina that she must focus on herself before she can fully love someone else. She asks Santina, “How big do you want your life to be?” It’s a question Osborne herself asks of her readers. Alchemy’s Daughter presents an engaging journey into a forgotten past, and in doing so offers up a coming-of-age story that transcends genre.

Mary A. Osborne lives and writes in Chicago. Alchemy’s Daughter is her second novel. When not writing adventures of the Alchemy Series, Osborne hosts alchemy parties that mix a bit of fun with art and inspiration. These parties focus on spiriting teenage girls to realize their ambitions and turn them into life goals. For more information on her alchemy parties, visit Osborne’s alchemy website at mysticfiction.com or check out her author site at MaryAOsborne.com for blog updates from the author.

Four-Star Review

May 2015, Lake Street Press
Historical Fiction/Young Adult
$16.95, paperback, 280 pages
ISBN: 978-1-936181-17-9

—Reviewed by Mindy M. Jones


Filed under fiction

Chicago Book Review’s Summer 2015 Preview

CBR_Logo2A hammock, a tall glass of something cold, and a book. That sounds like pretty much the perfect summer day.

With so many books coming from so many local authors and publishers, you can fill your beach bag with a summer-full of reading material (from your local bookstore, of course) and #ReadLocal all season long.

Here at Chicago Book Review, we once again asked area publishers to share information about some of their hottest upcoming titles. The result is CBR’s Summer 2015 Preview, a month-by-month listing of some of the most exciting books coming out from local authors and local publishers between now and Labor Day. In the list below, you’ll find information about books covering an interesting array of subject matter, fiction and nonfiction, for adults, young adults, and children alike. CBR’s Summer 2015 Preview promises something for every reader—books from local authors and publishers that are sure to please, whether you’re at the beach, at the cottage, or hanging out on the back porch or at the pool.

Happy Reading!

Almost Crimson_CoverAlmost Crimson

by Dasha Kelly
$15.95, paperback,  300 pages
Curbside Splendor: Fiction
From a young age, CeCe copes with her mother’s crippling depression, their severe poverty, an absentee father, and her own insecurities. With gorgeous language, a vivid cast, and an eye for poignant detail, Dasha Kelly brilliant debut tells the story of CeCe’s struggle to break free from codependency and poverty to find confidence and success in life and love.

Big Venerable
by Matt Rowan
$14.99, paperback, 258 pages
Chicago Center for Literature and Photography: Short Stories
A darkly surreal yet absurdly funny short-fiction writer, Matt Rowan has been a Chicago local secret for years. This latest collection of pieces, all of which originally appeared in the pages of the CCLaP Weekender in 2014 and ‘15, is set to garner him the national recognition his stories deserve, a Millennial George Saunders who is one of the most popular authors in the city’s notorious late-night literary performance community.

Bowie on Bowie 9781569769775Bowie on Bowie: Interviews and Encounters with David Bowie
by Sean Egan (Ed.)
$28.95, hardcover, 432 pages
Chicago Review Press: Music/Biography
Bowie on Bowie presents some of the best interviews David Bowie has granted in his near five-decade career. Each featured interview traces a new step in his unique journey, successively freezing him in time in all of his various incarnations, from a young novelty hit-maker and Ziggy Stardust to plastic soul player, 1980s sell-out, and the artistically reborn and beloved elder statesman of challenging popular music.

chicago-and-its-botanic-gardenChicago and Its Botanic Garden: The Chicago Horticultural Society at 125
by Cathy Maloney
$35, hardcover, 280 pages
Northwestern University Press: Local Interest
Chicago and Its Botanic Garden: The Chicago Horticultural Society at 125 is a lushly illustrated and thoughtful history of the Society and its evolution from a producer of monumental flower and botanical shows, through a fallow period, to the opening in 1972 of the Chicago Botanic Garden, a living museum and world leader in horticulture, plant science and conservation, education, and urban agriculture. Author Cathy Jean Maloney combines meticulous scholarship with a flair for storytelling in a narrative that will delight everyone from casual strollers of the grounds to the volunteers, professionals, and scientists who compose the influential society.

Cuba’s Racial Crucible: The Sexual Economy of Social Identities, 1750–2000
by Karen Y. Morrison
$80, hardcover, 372 pages
Indiana University Press: Cultural Studies
Cuba’s Racial Crucible explores the historical dynamics of Cuban race relations by highlighting the racially selective reproductive practices and genealogical memories associated with family formation. Karen Y. Morrison reads archival, oral-history, and literary sources to demonstrate the ideological centrality and inseparability of race, nation, and family, in definitions of Cuban identity.

detective's assistantThe Detective’s Assistant
by Kate Hannigan
$17, hardcover 368 pages
Little, Brown for Young Readers: Children’s Fiction
Hyde Park resident Kate Hannigan’s latest is The Detective’s Assistant, which tells the story of eleven-year-old Nell, who comes to live with her remarkable aunt, Kate Warne, America’s first woman detective, and joins her on wild adventures.

The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic
by Jessica Hopper
$17.95, paperback, 250 pages
Featherproof Books: Essays/Criticism
With this premiere volume, spanning from her punk fanzine roots to her landmark piece on R. Kelly’s past, The First Collection leaves no doubt why the New York Times has called Hopper’s work “influential.” Not merely a selection of two decades of Hopper’s most engaging, thoughtful and humorous writing, this book serves as a document of the past twenty years of American music making and the shifting landscape of music consumption. Through this vast range of album reviews, essays, columns, interviews, and oral histories, Hopper chronicles what it is to be truly obsessed with music, the ideas in songs and albums, how fantasies of artists become complicated by real life, and just what happens when you follow that obsession into muddy festival fields, dank basements, corporate offices or court records.

Henry Ford's PlanHenry Ford’s Plan for the American Suburb: Dearborn and Detroit
by Heather B. Barrow
$38, hardcover, 230 pages
Northern Illinois University Press: History
Around Detroit, suburbanization was led by Henry Ford, who not only located a massive factory over the city’s border in Dearborn, but was the first industrialist to make the automobile a mass consumer item. The example of the Detroit metropolis asks whether the mass suburbanization, which originated there represented the “American dream,” and if so, by whom and at what cost.

In the All-Night Café: A Memoir of Belle and Sebastian’s Formative Year
by Stuart David
$15.95, paperback, 208 pages
Chicago Review Press: Music
Determined to make his living writing stories and songs, Stuart David had spent several years scraping by on the dole in his small, industrial hometown. Then he had the fateful idea to learn bass guitar, and to head for Glasgow in search of like-minded artists. In the All-Night Café describes his fortuitous meeting with the group’s cofounder Stuart Murdoch in a course for unemployed musicians. It tells of their adventures in two early incarnations of Belle and Sebastian and culminates in the recording of their celebrated debut album, Tigermilk.

circus rose metal pressIn the Circus of You: An Illustrated Novel-in-Poems
by Nicelle Davis and Cheryl Gross
$14.95, paperback, 105 pages
Rose Metal Press: Fiction
In the Circus of You is a deliciously distorted fun house of poetry and art by Nicelle Davis and Cheryl Gross. Both private and epic, this novel-in-poems explores one woman’s struggle while interpreting our world as a sideshow, where not only are we the freaks, but also the onlookers wondering just how “normal” we are—or ought to be. Davis’ poetry and Gross’ images collaborate over the themes of sanity, monogamy, motherhood, divorce, artistic expression, and self-creation to curate a menagerie of abnormalities that defines what it is to be human.

The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey: Memories from the Farm of My Youth
by Alan Guebert (with Mary Grace Foxwell)
$17.95, paperback, 152 pages
University of Illinois Press: Essays
“The river was in God’s hands, the cows in ours.” So passed the days on Indian Farm, a dairy operation on 720 acres of rich Illinois bottomland. In this collection, Alan Guebert and his daughter-editor Mary Grace Foxwell recall Guebert’s years on the land working as part of that all-consuming collaborative effort known as the family farm. Guebert’s heartfelt and humorous reminiscences depict the hard labor and simple pleasures to be found in ennobling work, and show that in life, as in farming, Uncle Honey had it right with his succinct philosophy for overcoming adversity: “the secret’s not to stop.”

madman 9781613730188The Madman and the Assassin: The Strange Life of Boston Corbett, the Man Who Killed John Wilkes Booth
by Scott Martelle
$24.95, hardcover, 240 pages
Chicago Review Press: History
Union cavalryman Boston Corbett became a national celebrity after killing John Wilkes Booth, but as details of his odd personality became known, he also became the object of derision. Over time, he was largely forgotten to history, a minor character in the final act of Booth’s tumultuous life. And yet Corbett led a fascinating life of his own, a tragic saga that weaved through the monumental events of nineteenth-century America. The Madman and the Assassin is the first full-length biography of Boston Corbett, a man thrust into the spotlight during a national news event and into an unwelcome transformation from anonymity to fame, and back to obscurity.

the stock theifThe Sock Thief
by Ana Crespo
$16.99, hardcover, 32 pages
Albert Whitman & Co.: Children’s
Felipe doesn’t have a soccer ball. So, when it’s his turn to take one to school, he uses a little bit of creativity… and a few socks. Felipe is the sock thief, but finding socks is not that easy and the neighborhood pets make it even harder. Felipe wonders if he’ll play soccer with his friends today or if he will be caught by a tattle-tale parrot.

Twilight of the Idiots
by Joseph G. Peterson
$14.99, paperback, 228 pages
Chicago Center for Literature and Photography: Short Stories
Just as the doomed sailors of Homer’s Odyssey fail to heed one or the other of these maxims, and end up getting turned to swine or lured to their peril by the singing sirens, so too do the doomed characters in Joseph G. Peterson’s new collection of stories fail idiotically in one way or another and end up, like those ancient sailors, facing the prospect of their own mortal twilight. Set mostly in Chicago and by turns gruesome, violent, comic, lurid, and perverse, these stories are suffused with a metaphorical light that lends beauty and joy to the experience of reading them.

Loyola Walking with JesusWalking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church
by Pope Francis
$22.95, hardcover, 160 pages
Loyola Press: Religion
In Walking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church, Pope Francis’s own words lead us to the answer. Francis urges us to make Jesus central in our individual lives and in the collective life of the Church—to walk toward him, and ultimately to walk with him at all times and in all places. Each chapter of this book helps us put one foot in front of the other as we move ever closer to God and to our neighbors through the sacraments, prayer, evangelization, the gifts of the Spirit, and service to others.

A Big Enough Lie
by Eric Bennett
$17.95, paperback, 296 pages
Northwestern University Press: Fiction
By turns comic, suspenseful, bitingly satirical, and emotionally potent, A Big Enough Lie pits personal mistruths against national ones of life-and-death consequence. Tracking a writer from the wilds of Florida to New York cubicles to Midwestern workshops to the mindscapes of Baghdad—and from love to heartbreak to solitary celebrity—Bennett’s novel probes our endlessly frustrated desire to grab hold of something (or somebody) true.

centralia 978-1-4143-9041-3Centralia
by Mike Dellosso
$14.99, paperback, 400 pages
Tyndale: Fiction
Peter Ryan wakes up on a typical morning only to find his house empty, his wife and daughter nowhere to be found. His world is shattered after a phone call to a friend confirms the impossible: his wife and daughter died in a car accident he does not remember. Haunted by faint memories and flashes of details, Peter becomes convinced that something isn’t right and begins to question reality. When he discovers a note in his daughter’s handwriting, strange memories begin to surface that cause him to second-guess nearly everything he once believed. Suddenly armed men show up at Peter’s home, turning the mysterious puzzle of his past into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. On the run and unsure whom to trust, Peter has to discover what’s real and what isn’t … before he loses everything.

The Cultivated Life: From Ceaseless Striving to Receiving Joy
by Susan S. Phillips
$17, paperback, 256 pages
InterVarsity Press: Christian Living
Sociology professor and spiritual director Susan Phillips walks us through the “circus” of our cultural landscape to invite us into a cultivated life of spirituality. If we want to accept the invitation to return to the garden, then we must face down the temptation to live life as spectators of the circus that plays on around us. We want to be rooted and grounded in Christ, but are pushed toward constant work, alternating between performance and spectacle. Cultivation requires a kind of attentiveness that is countercultural to our age of distraction.

Culture of Terrorism 9781608463985.01Culture of Terrorism
by Noam Chomsky
$23, paperback, 269 pages
Haymarket Books: Current Events
Using the Iran-contra scandal as an example, Chomsky shows how the United States has opposed human rights and democratization to advance its economic interests.

cupcake cousins 2Cupcake Cousins: Book 2, Summer Showers
by Kate Hannigan
$17, hardcover, 240 pages
Disney–Hyperion: Children’s Fiction
The cousins are back, this time for their aunt’s baby shower. But meddling big sisters, a lost family heirloom, and summer storms might soak their big plans. Do Delia and Willow have what it takes to win the County Fair baking contest and save the day?

Dead Letters Sent: Queer Literary Transmission
by Kevin Ohi
$27.50, paperback, 320 pages
University of Minnesota Press: Literature
By exploring how transmission of a minority sexual culture is intertwined with the queer potential of literary and cultural transmission, Dead Letters Sent builds a persuasive argument for the relevance of queer criticism to literary study.

caillebotte 9780226263557Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye
by Mary Morton and George Shackelford
$60, hardcover, 272 pages
University of Chicago Press: Art
This lush companion volume to the National Gallery of Art’s major new exhibition, coorganized with the Kimbell Art Museum, explores the power and technical brilliance of Caillebotte’s oeuvre. The book features fifty of Caillebotte’s strongest paintings, including post-conservation images of Paris Street; Rainy Day, along with The Floorscrapers and Pont de l’Europe.

Model Airplanes Are Decadent and Depraved: The Glue-Sniffing Epidemic of the 1960s
by Thomas Aiello
$35, paperback, 260 pages
Northern Illinois University Press: History
Thomas Aiello tells the story of the American glue-sniffing epidemic of the 1960s, from the first reports of use to the unsuccessful crusade for federal legislation in the 1970s. Just as quickly as it erupted, the epidemic stopped when the media coverage and public hysteria stopped, making it one of the most unique epidemics in American history.

Mozos: A Decade Running with the Bulls of Spain
by Bill Hillmann
$15.95, paperback, 200 pages
Curbside Splendor: Memoir
With a journalist’s ear for detail, master-storyteller “Buffalo” Bill Hillmann narrates his decade-long journey of self-discovery, exploring his transformation from wasted ex-Golden Gloves champ lost in street brawls and cocaine deals on the Chicago streets to running with a world-renowned crew of mozos, masters in the art of running with the bulls. Includes a first-hand account of his infamous goring.

music makkai 9780525426691Music for Wartime: Stories
by Rebecca Makkai
$26.95, hardcover, 240 pages
Viking: Fiction
Highly acclaimed Chicago-area author Rebecca Makkai, author of The Hundred-Year House and The Borrower, returns with a highly anticipated collection of short stories marked with her signature mix of intelligence, wit, and heart. Makkai has been anthologized four times in The Best American Short Stories as well as The Best American Nonrequired Reading. These wide-ranging and deeply moving stories—some inspired by her family history—will delight her many fans, as well as readers of Lorrie Moore, Jim Shepard, and Karen Russell.

nys3cover1400The New York Stories
by Ben Tanzer
$14.99, paperback, 224 pages
Chicago Center for Literature and Photography: Short Stories
In 2006, celebrated author Ben Tanzer began working on a series of short stories all set in the fictional upstate New York town of Two Rivers, most of them published in various literary journals over the years and eventually collected into three small volumes: Repetition Patterns (2008), So Different Now (2011), and After the Flood (2014). Now for the first time, all thirty-three of these stories have been put together into one paperback edition, highlighting the long-term planning of themes and motifs that Tanzer has been building into these pieces the entire time. Featuring dark character studies of childhood, middle age, and (lack of) grace under pressure, these stories are considered by many to be among the best work of Tanzer’s career, and voracious fans of his short work will surely be pleased and satisfied to have these small masterpieces collected together into one easy-to-read volume.

Paper Lantern
by Stuart Dybek
$14, paperback, 224 pages
Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux: Fiction
Operatically dramatic and intimately lyrical, grittily urban, and impressionistically natural, the varied fictions in Paper Lantern (now in paperback) all focus on the turmoil of love as only Dybek can portray it.

Road Trip cover - 1000Road Trip
by Lynette D’Amico
$12, paperback, 94 pages
Twelve Winters Press: Fiction
Myra Stark and Pinkie drive a 1984 Plymouth Turismo through Minnesota and Wisconsin, and along the way they pick up a battered hitchhiker, follow a detour into the darkly comic Stark family history, and veer off track more than once as they consider their complex past. Road Trip is a narrative of disappointment and failed rescues; about the ghosts that haunt us and the relationships we leave behind.

sensing chicago 9780252080753Sensing Chicago: Noisemakers, Strikebreakers, and Muckrakers
by Adam Mack
$25, paperback, 184 pages
University of Illinois Press: Regional Interest
In Sensing Chicago, Adam Mack lets fresh air into the sensory history of Chicago in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by examining five case studies: the Chicago River, the Great Fire, the 1894 Pullman Strike, the publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, and the rise and fall of the White City amusement park. His vivid recounting of the smells, sounds, and tactile miseries of city life reveals how input from the five human senses influenced the history of class, race, and ethnicity in the city. At the same time, he transports readers to an era before modern refrigeration and sanitation, when to step outside was to be overwhelmed by the odor and roar of a great city in progress.

Still Throwing Heat: Strikeouts, the Streets, and a Second Chance
by J. R. Richard and Lew Freedman
$25.95, hardcover, 256 pages
Triumph Books: Sports
A flame-throwing star with the Houston Astros, J. R. Richard was at the top of his profession when he inexplicably began complaining of arm weakness in 1980. Initially scoffed at because he continued approaching 100 mph on the radar gun, everything changed when Richard collapsed while playing catch with a teammate—later diagnosed as a life-threatening stroke. The shocking development ended Richard’s major league career and set off a chain of events that led to the former All-Star being homeless by the mid-1990s. J. R. Richard tells that story now in his own words, including the highs and the lows of his brilliant athletic career, the difficulties that befell him on and off the field, abandonment by those he counted on after his stroke, the despair of losing everything, and his ultimate redemption and giving back to the community.

summer cooking 93284100005720LSummer Cooking
by The Chicago Tribune Staff (Eds.)
$24.95, hardcover, 224 pages
Agate Surrey: Cooking
Summer Cooking: Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Picnics, Patios, Grilling and More is a one-of-a-kind guide for preparing delicious food that perfectly complements these warm summer days. Curated from the Chicago Tribune‘s extensive database of kitchen-tested recipes, this collection of portable appetizers, quick salads, grilled entrées, creative sides, and refreshing cocktails are ideal for anywhere the summer season takes you.

the time 978-1-4143-9984-3The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told
by Dikkon Eberhart
$15.99, paperback, 320 pages
Tyndale: Memoir
As the son of the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Richard Eberhart, Dikkon Eberhart grew up surrounded by literary giants. Dinner guests included, among others, Robert Frost, Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg, W. H. Auden, and T. S. Eliot, all of whom flocked to the Eberhart house to discuss, debate, and dissect the poetry of the day. To the world, they were literary icons. To Dikkon, they were friends who read him bedtime stories, gave him advice, and, on one particularly memorable occasion, helped him with his English homework. Anxious to escape his famous father’s shadow, Dikkon struggled for decades to forge an identity of his own, first in writing and then on the stage, before inadvertently stumbling upon the answer he’d been looking for all along—in the most unlikely of places. Brimming with unforgettable stories featuring some of the most colorful characters of the Beat Generation, The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told is a winsome coming-of-age story about one man’s search for identity and what happens when he finally finds it.

by Bert Ashe
$15, paperback 256 pages
Agate Bolden: African-American Studies/Autobiography
This witty, illuminating, and deeply personal account of black male identity deals with an African-American professor’s mid-life experiences when he decides to lock his own hair, and also weaves in a cultural and political history of dreadlocks.

Dime Stories
by Tony Fitzpatrick
$29.95, hardcover, 175 pages
Curbside Splendor: Essays
Originally published as columns in Chicago’s Newcity magazine, the sixty essays and corresponding full-color artwork in Tony Fitzpatrick’s Dime Stories celebrate a life spent passionately devouring stories. Fitzpatrick’s work is as masterfully provocative as long-time fans have come to expect and subjects range from bird watching and getting tattoos, to walking his dog Mr. Cooch and dealing museum-collected art.

WWI pix 9780226284286The First World War: Unseen Glass Plate Photographs of the Western Front
by Carl De Keyzer and David Van Reybrouck (Eds.)
$65, hardcover, 280 pages
University of Chicago Press: History/Photography
A century after it began, we still struggle with the terrible reality of the First World War, often through republished photographs of its horrors: the muddy trenches, the devastated battlefields, the maimed survivors. Due to the crude film cameras used at the time, the look of the Great War has traditionally been grainy, blurred, and monochrome—until now. The First World War presents a startlingly different perspective, one based on rare glass plate photographs, that reveals the war with previously unseen, even uncanny, clarity.

A Giant Reborn
by Johan Van Overtveldt
$24.95, hardcover, 256 pages
Agate B2: Business/Economics
Acclaimed Belgium-based economic journalist Johan Van Overtveldt, author of The End of the EuroBernanke’s Test, and The Chicago School, makes the case for why the United States will continue to be the world’s sole superpower well into the 21st century, fending off China, Europe, and Russia.

Sourcebooks The Girl Who Wrote 9781492608332The Girl Who Wrote in Silk
by Kelli Estes
$14.99, paperback, 400 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark: Fiction
Inara Erickson is exploring her deceased aunt’s island estate when she finds an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. As she peels back layer upon layer of the secrets it holds, Inara’s life becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before. Through the stories Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake her family to its core—and force her to make an impossible choice. Inspired by true events, Kelli Estes’s brilliant and atmospheric debut serves as a poignant tale of two women determined to do the right thing, and the power of our own stories.

Groove_HaymarketGroove: An Aesthetic of Measured Time
by Mark Abel
$28, paperback, 268 pages
Haymarket Books: Music & Culture
How does music relate to time? How does rhythm express our experience of time? Mark Abel addresses these questions through his account of the rise to prominence in Western music of a new way of organizing rhythm: groove. He provides a historical account of its emergence around the turn of the twentieth century, and analyses why it works musically.

lori-rader-day-author-little-pretty-thingsLittle Pretty Things
by Lori Rader-Day
$15.95, paperback, 298 pages
Seventh Street Press: Fiction
Juliet Townsend is stuck in a dead-end job cleaning at a cheap motel, stealing little pretty things that catch her eye—until her former best friend and rival, Madeleine Bell, checks in. By morning, Juliet is no longer jealous of Maddy—she’s the chief suspect in her murder.

Pretty Baby
by Mary Kubica
$24.95, hardcover, 384 pages
Harlequin (Mira Books): Fiction/Mystery/Suspense
Heidi Wood is the sort of uber-charitable woman that everyone would like to be. On a freezing Chicago morning, Heidi can’t help but notice a homeless teenage girl, shivering, with a crying baby clutched to her chest. Despite the fervent objections of her husband and daughter, Heidi invites the girl and her child to take refuge in their home. As days become weeks, and her husband begins to uncover clues about the girl’s past, it’s clear this person might not be who she claims. But with Heidi becoming more and more obsessed with the baby, she and her family are forced to decide just how far they are willing to go to help a complete stranger.

remember me 7232Remember Me to Miss Louisa: Black and White Intimacies in Antebellum America
by Sharony Green
$36, hardcover 200 pages/$24.94, paperback
Northern Illinois University Press: History
This fascinating study relies on surviving letters, among them those from an ex-slave mistress who sent her “love” to her former master, to uncover the complexities of antebellum interracial relationships and reveal new insights about the era of slavery.

We Speak: Proclaiming Truth in an Age of Talk
by Mike Baker, J. K. Jones and Jim Probst
$16, paperback, 189 pages
InterVarsity Press: Christian Living
Some of us speak out in our workplaces. Others in our schools or neighborhoods. Our audiences may vary in size, but we are all called to witness to Christ in us. Pastor Mike Baker puts it like this: “Jesus himself has commissioned each of us to be a witness for his kingdom. And every believer has a faith testimony—a story of how Jesus has made all the difference—compelling us to be his representatives.” Written in daily devotional style, this book is designed to be an encouragement and support as you identify and add your voice to the chorus.

grad school 9780226280905
57 Ways to Screw Up in Grad School: Perverse Professional Lessons for Graduate Students
by Kevin D. Haggerty and Aaron Doyle
$15, paperback, 208 pages
University of Chicago Press: Education
When it comes to a masters or PhD program, most graduate students don’t deliberately set out to fail. Yet, of the nearly 500,000 people who start a graduate program each year, up to half will never complete their degree. Veteran graduate directors Kevin D. Haggerty and Aaron Doyle have set out to demystify the world of advanced education. Taking a wry, frank approach, they explain the common mistakes that can trip up a new graduate student and lay out practical advice about how to avoid the pitfalls. Along the way they relate stories from their decades of mentorship and even share some slip-ups from their own grad experiences.

The Baghdad Lawyer: Fighting for Justice in Saddam’s Iraq
by Sabah Aris
$26.95, hardcover, 264 pages
Ankerwycke: Memoir
The Baghdad Lawyer is a memoir like no other. The Baghdad Lawyer depicts the challenges of trying to find justice in the shadow of constant political upheaval and the lawlessness this upheaval engenders. It also helps us understand where Iraq is as a country today—post-Saddam, post-Iraq, and in the age of ISIS—and how the events we currently read about in the headlines were seeded years before the world had ever heard of Saddam Hussein. While this book is by and about one of Iraq’s most famous trial lawyers, it is also—perhaps more importantly—about the Iraqi people and the country itself.

by Lindsay Cameron
$26.95, hardcover, 304 pages
Ankerwycke: Fiction
Mackenzie Corbett has always dreamed of living in New York City. Now, almost two years into her job as an associate at a premier Manhattan law firm, she’s living her fantasy—big salary, high-profile deals, cute boyfriend, designer bag on her arm. The giant bags under her eyes from lack of sleep don’t fit into the fantasy, though. To make matters worse, she’s being tormented by a bitter, bitchy senior associate, her cute boyfriend is annoyed she never has time for him, and now she’s stuck on the deal from hell with a partner whose biggest claim to fame is throwing a stapler at a cleaning lady because she touched his ficus plant. In this pitch-perfect, frightening accurate novel, Lindsay Cameron throws back the curtain to this intriguing world exposing the truth about life in Biglaw.

cold war 9781618214195The Cold War: Secrets, Special Missions, and Hidden Facts about the CIA, KGB, and MI6
by Stephanie Bearce
$8.95, paperback, 125 pages
Sourcebooks: Children’s Nonfiction
Learn the true stories of the Cold War and how spies used listening devices planted in live cats and wristwatch cameras. Discover how East Germans tried to ride zip lines to freedom, while the Cambridge Four infiltrated Britain and master spy catchers like Charles Elwell were celebrated. Then make your own secret codes and practice sending shoe messages.

The Great Prince Died: A Novel about the Assassination of Trotsky
by Bernard Wolfe
$18, paperback, 416 pages
University of Chicago Press: Fiction
In The Great Prince Died, Bernard Wolfe offers his lyrical, fictionalized account of Trotsky’s assassination as witnessed through the eyes of an array of characters: the young American student helping to translate the exiled Trotsky’s work (and to guard him), the Mexican police chief, a Rumanian revolutionary, the assassin and his handlers, a poor Mexican “peón,” and Trotsky himself. Drawing on his own experiences working as the exiled Trotsky’s secretary and bodyguard and mixing in digressions on Mexican culture, Stalinist tactics, and Bolshevik history, Wolfe interweaves fantasy and fact, delusion and journalistic reporting to create one of the great political novels of the past century.

Mapping Your Academic Career: Charting the Course of a Professor’s Life
by Gary M. Burge
$16, paperback, 144 pages
InterVarsity Press: Careers/Christian Living
In Mapping Your Academic Career Gary Burge speaks from decades of teaching, writing and mentoring. Along the way he has experienced and observed the challenges and tensions, the successes and failures of the academic pilgrimage. Now, with discerning wisdom and apt examples, he hosts the conversation he wishes he’d had when he started out as a college professor, identifying three cohorts or stages in the academic career and exploring the challenges, pitfalls and triumphs of each.

national jokerThe National Joker: Abraham Lincoln and the Politics of Satire
by Todd Nathan Thompson
$29.50, hardcover, 200 pages
Southern Illinois University Press: Politics
Abraham Lincoln’s sense of humor proved legendary during his own time and remains a celebrated facet of his personality to this day. Indeed, his love of jokes—hearing them, telling them, drawing morals from them—prompted critics to dub Lincoln “the National Joker.” The political cartoons and print satires that mocked Lincoln often trafficked in precisely the same images and terms Lincoln humorously used to characterize himself. In this intriguing study, Todd Nathan Thompson considers the politically productive tension between Lincoln’s use of satire and the satiric treatments of him in political cartoons, humor periodicals, joke books, and campaign literature. By fashioning a folksy, fallible persona, Thompson shows, Lincoln was able to use satire as a weapon without being severely wounded by it.

The Pulp vs. The Throne
by Carrie Lorig
$15.95, paperback, 130 pages
Curbside Splendor: Poetry/Essays
In the boundless and strange The Pulp vs. The Throne, Carrie Lorig collides poetic and essay forms, and rides their cataclysmic energy through extremes of language and expression. Only there can writers and readers alike breathe, think, and grow. These complex, wildly attentive poems and essays form crises of intimacy that join our lives with Lorig’s exploding, essential imagination.

summer shermanThe Summer Sherman Loved Me
by Jane St. Anthony
$9.95, paperback, 144 pages
University of Minnesota Press: YA Fiction
A coming-of-age novel set in the early 1960s in Minneapolis, The Summer Sherman Loved Me is an honest look at the struggles of a twelve-year-old girl that transcends time. As Margaret tries to sort out various relationships in her life, readers join her in a journey discovering what it means to grow up.

stolen legacy.Def.LStolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18, Berlin
by Dina Gold
$26.95, hardcover, 306 pages
Ankerwycke: History
Stolen Legacy is a non-fiction historical narrative centered around a German Jewish family’s legal battle to reclaim ownership of a building stolen from them by the Nazis in the 1930s. The building at Krausenstrasse 17/18 in Berlin was seized by a German businessman with direct ties to the very top of the Nazi Party hierarchy. The book, written by the daughter of one of the original owners of the building, details the history of the Wolff family’s ownership of the building, its confiscation by the Nazis, and the family’s fifty-year legal fight to reclaim ownership of the building, which was finally awarded to them in 2010.

—Kelli Christiansen


Filed under feature