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Race in America

At times it is important to formally communicate the library's mission and values--a recent communication from one of our patrons confirmed this need.  As a [...] Continue…

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Resolve to read more in 2020.

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Book Reviews

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails
Sarah Bakewell
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4 Stars

At the Existentialist Café is an engaging look at the lives and work of the individuals associated with the twentieth-century intellectual movement known as existentialism. Beginning in the 1930s, philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty examined “questions of human identity, purpose, and freedom.” Their influence extended to the liberation movements of the 1950s and ‘60s, and author Sarah Bakewell makes a convincing case for existentialism’s relevance in our fractious contemporary times. Bakewell blends biography and historical context with readable philosophy, making existentialism’s complex ideas accessible to the reader. Covering over seven decades, Bakewell arguably packs too many colorful personalities into one book. Nonetheless, At the Existentialist Café is a stimulating investigation into existentialism and an entertaining dramatization of the lives devoted to the movement.

-Brian
Posted 11/12/2020

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
Michael Finkel
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3 Stars

The incredible true story of a man living isolated in the wilderness for 27 years, The Stranger in the Woods is a fascinating account of survival and solitude. In 1986, at the age of 20, Christopher Knight suddenly left the modern world and disappeared into the Maine woods. For nearly three decades, he had virtually no human interaction and survived by stealing food and supplies from nearby vacation homes. Author Michael Finkel provides compelling details about Knight’s inventive survival techniques and living conditions (which included freezing winters). When Knight is forced to return to the world, the reader is invited to consider ethical issues and what it means to be a member of society.

-Brian
Posted 10/20/2020

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values
Robert M. Pirsig
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3 Stars

Thought-provoking and complex, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance tackles the age-old human question of how to live. Interwoven with a narrative of an autobiographical cross-country road trip undertaken by a father and his son, the author Robert M. Pirsig investigates such ideas as values, technological progress, and craft, particularly in regards to the process of motorcycle maintenance. Ostensibly a “novel,” the unnamed narrator attempts to reconcile his past and present selves; however, these interior monologues are often confusing. Additionally, the dense philosophical discussions feel digressive and don’t always flow with the personal road trip narrative. Nonetheless, Pirsig’s ambitious book has moments of insight and illustrates why it has remained an inspirational classic for nearly half a century.

 

-Brian
Posted 10/16/2020

Train Dreams
Denis Johnson
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5 Stars

While brief in length, Train Dreams is an atmospheric novella that resonates deeply with its haunting lyricism. Through spare prose, author Denis Johnson presents Robert Grainer, an itinerant laborer whose spirit is tested by heartrending loss and the profound changes of early 20th-century America. Blending history, fiction, and magic realism, Johnson evokes nostalgia for the Pacific Northwest, a setting that serves as a mirror for the struggles and contemplative solitude of Grainer. It is a compact book whose mysteries stay with the reader, much like a strange but realistic dream.

-Brian
Posted 9/25/2020

The Last Odyssey
James Rollins
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4 Stars

With just enough facts from the scientific and historical records, James Rollins writes an enthralling story that leaves the reader wondering “what if?”  Pick up this newest installment from one of my favorite series.  Fast-paced and intricately plotted with well-developed and believable characters this novel was hard to put down and takes you to the gates of Hell and back.

-Michelle
Posted 8/17/2020

Devolution
Max Brooks
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4 Stars

Intensifying and believable, Max Brooks’s novel reads like it’s a true account. Written in journal form, Kate shares the horrors that follow a volcanic eruption as her isolated community takes on what she always thought was a myth. Plot-driven, dramatic and gruesome with courageous and spunky characters, this is a novel that was hard to put down

-Michelle
Posted 8/17/2020

The Silent Wife
Karin Slaughter
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5 Stars

Where to begin…if I didn’t love Karin Slaughter so much I’d be scared to death of her! This is the 10th book in her Will Trent series, and it was worth the wait. Intensifying and intricately plotted, this book was impossible to put down, but beware, it will keep you up at night. A gruesome look into brutal crimes against women, it is not for the faint at heart. After investigating a brutal crime scene, Will soon realizes and he must must look at the past in order to solve the present and for that, he will need help from Sara and her painful memories. Gritty, engaging, suspenseful and violent, this is one not to miss.

-Michelle
Posted 8/17/2020

Carnegie's Maid
Marie Benedict
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3 Stars

Lady’s maid to Mrs. Carnegie, Clara Kelly lives her life holding a big secret.  Sent to America by her family in order to work to help the keep their farm in Ireland, a series of unforeseen circumstances lands her in a position to do just that.  Likeable and sympathetic, readers will fall for Clara and root for as she navigates unfamiliar territory and spurs Andrew Carnegie to become a true philanthropist.

-Michelle
Posted 8/17/2020

Readers Advisory Staff

Looking for that great new read? The Villa Park Public Library has a fantastic Readers Advisory staff that is happy to recommend novels. Whether you’re looking for new authors like your old favorites, or you’re ready for something completely new, our RA staff is here to help. They run reading groups and book discussions to help make reading a more social experience. These folks know their stuff!

Looking for a Recommendation?

If you’re looking for a recommendation you can contact one of the readers advisory staff.

Amity
Favorite genres:
Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult Literature, Books about unusual animal friendships
Amity’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
Brian
Favorite genres:
Classic Literature, Film, and Philosophy
Brian’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
Denise
Favorite Genres:
Mysteries, Graphic Novels
Denise’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Erin
Favorite Genres:
Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Young Adult Literature
Erin’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
John
Favorite Genres:
Alternate History Fiction, Suspense
John’s bookshelf on Goodreads
kandice k
Kandice
Favorite Genres:

Chick Lit, Suspense, and Mysteries

Michelle
Favorite Genres:

Historical Fiction, Psychological Thrillers
Michelle’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Nancy
Favorite genres:
Literary Fiction and Regional American History.
Nancy’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
sean_final
Sean
Favorite Genres:

True-life biographies, Non-fiction
Sean’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Sandy
Favorite Genres:
Fantasy, Film

Suzanne
Favorite genres:
Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult Literature
Suzanne’s bookshelf on Goodreads.

 

 

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