Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lake Forest Library Book Club Guide

We had a great time meeting and mingling with local book clubs at last week's Book Club Reception. We created a handy guide for running a book club, so we thought we'd share it here. A paper copy of this guide is also available at the Library.

How to Start A Group: 
  • Many book clubs are made up of people of similar ages and stages in life, but it's interesting to note that those groups that have a range of ages and/or a mix of men and women often say how much they value the different perspectives.
  • Decide how many people you want in your book club and keep it to that number. It is hard to have a meaningful discussion with 40 people. 8-15 people is a good amount to strive for to start.
  • Decide when you will meet and for how long. If meeting monthly is too much, meet every six weeks or every other month. 
  • Decide on a theme and tone for the club. Will you read mostly mysteries, literary fiction, inspirational, nonfiction?
  • Decide where you’ll have your meetings. Rotating members' houses? Panera? If you're holding meetings at members' houses, do they provide food and beverages? 
What Not to Do:

  • Don’t start the discussion by asking if people liked the book.
  • Don't pick War and Peace for your first meeting.
  • Don’t expect each member to buy a new, hardcover title each month. See what's available at local libraries, Overdrive and 3M ebook services, and paperback.
  • Don’t skip the meeting because you didn’t read the book. You can still come and contribute. Do not keep apologizing…and read the next book! 
 Choosing Titles: 
  • Have each member give an anonymous list of books they liked with a short summary. Drop into a bowl or bag and at the end of each meeting pull out a title for the next meeting or meetings. Or ask members to anonymously write down titles and summaries, then have the group vote on the ones they want to read.
  • Some clubs pick the next title at the end of the meeting, others like to plan several months out. Find what works best for your group.
  • When deciding on a book, make sure it offers topics for discussion. Books that will stimulate a good discussion may contain: complex plots or characters, complicated conflicts, inspiring storylines, hanging endings, controversial subject matter, periods of history, or social commentary.
  • If reading a book is too time consuming, try podcast or long form magazine articles for discussion.
  • If your group needs a break, try watching a movie based off of a book from time to time.
  • Set a page number limit for your group and stick to it. You want to make sure people have enough time to read the book. 350-400 pages is a good maximum amount. 


  • Allow time for socializing in the beginning. It is going to happen either way, so just build it in to the schedule. Make a set time limit of 30-45 minutes so that it doesn’t consume the whole meeting.
  • If you’re hosting, begin with a brief summary of the book and the characters. It may have been a couple of weeks since some members have read the book.
  • Don't feel you have to talk about each question! If the group doesn't have a lot to say about a topic or doesn't seem interested in the question, move on to a question that gets them talking. Or better yet, see if any one in the group has a question they'd like to discuss.
  • Give everyone an opportunity to speak before moving on to the next question, but don't force everyone to answer every question. If someone continually dominates the discussion, consider discussing it later with them in private.
Some Fun Ideas:
  •  Fake it till you make it! Nail your literary buzzwords. Like wine-tasting, uttering a few literary buzzwords make you seem bookish. Talk about things like: symbolism, undertones, structure and, of course, the human condition.  
  • Plan a meeting at a park, beach, or restaurant for a change of pace.
  • If you’re hosting, make food that pairs with your book theme. For example, A Tale for the Time Being is set in British Columbia and Japan so maybe make an appetizer with fish or seaweed salad.
  • Find music to play that accompanies the theme of the book. Don’t play it so loud that it distracts the group.
  • As you read each novel, jot down page numbers and passages that moved you.
  • Share the work! The host for that month may select a number of questions, write each on an index card, and pass them out. Each member takes a card, then asks the group the question.
  • If you're leading the discussion and you have the time to do so, reasearch a little about the author, a subject in the book, the time period, etc. It will enhance the discussion and everyone's understanding of the book.  
Online Book Club Resources:
  • Lit Lovers:
  • Penguin Random House:
  • ALA Book Discussion Groups:
  • Reading Group Guides: 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Read-Alike Monday: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett is one of the great novelists of our time, and her latest, Commonwealth, lives up to the quality of writing we've come to expect from her. If you liked Commonwealth and want to read a similar book now, try one of these next.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.


The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
The Turners live on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house sees thirteen children get grown and gone—and some return; it sees the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit's East Side, and the loss of a father. Despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs, the house still stands. But now, as their powerful mother falls ill and loses her independence, the Turners might lose their family home. Beset by time and a national crisis, the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called back to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts might haunt—and shape—their family's future.

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Two brothers bound by tragedy; a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past; a country torn by revolution. A powerful new novel--set in both India and America--that explores the price of idealism and a love that can last long past death.

Growing up in Calcutta, born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead of them. It is the 1960s, and Udayan--charismatic and impulsive--finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty: he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother's political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America.

But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family's home, he comes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind--including those seared in the heart of his brother's wife.

 Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique
In the early 1900s, the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half brother, now faced with an uncertain identity and future. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them.

Chronicling three generations of an island family from 1916 to the 1970s, Land of Love and Drowning is a novel of love and magic, set against the emergence of Saint Thomas into the modern world. Uniquely imagined, with echoes of Toni Morrison, Gabriel García Márquez, and the author’s own Caribbean family history, the story is told in a language and rhythm that evoke an entire world and way of life and love. Following the Bradshaw family through sixty years of fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, love affairs, curses, magical gifts, loyalties, births, deaths, and triumphs, Land of Love and Drowning is a gorgeous, vibrant debut by an exciting, prizewinning young writer.

Shining Sea by Anne Korkeakivi
A novel about the complicated world of a family in California over years to come, after the sudden death of the father. Opening in 1962 with the fatal heart attack of forty-three-year-old Michael Gannon, a WWII veteran and former POW in the Pacific, SHINING SEA plunges into the turbulent lives of his widow and kids over subsequent decades, crisscrossing from the beaches of southern California to the Woodstock rock festival, London’s gritty nightlife in the eighties to Scotland’s remote Inner Hebrides islands, the dry heat of Arizona desert to the fertile farmland of Massachusetts. Beautifully rendered and profoundly moving, SHINING SEA by Anne Korkeakivi is a family story, about the ripple effects of war, the passing down of memory, and the power of the ideal of heroism to lead us astray but also to keep us afloat.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Jennifer E. Smith's Windfall


 On a recent rainy Wednesday evening the Lake Forest Book Store was filled with fans listening to YA author Jennifer Smith discuss her new book Windfall and her path to writing popular, well-received novels for teens.  Smith is a native of the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff area, graduating from Lake Forest High School in 1999.  After several years in the publishing industry, she decided to devote herself to writing full time, with increasing success.  She now lives in NYC, counting many other authors, such as Jenny Han and Jay Asher, as friends and sounding boards.  Her books have been translated into 30 languages and she recounted several memorable book events abroad: “In the Philippines authors are treated like rock stars!”  In response to questions, Smith said she likes to write about “what if” scenarios, or hinge moments, when life can completely change in one moment or event.  She had wanted to write about lotteries for a while (the central “what if” in Windfall) but couldn’t get quite the right angle.  At first, she considered two families who live next to each other and how winning would affect them.  But then came the idea of focusing on one winner, an older teen (Teddy) who is just figuring what to do with his adult life, complemented by a girl friend (Alice) who secretly loves him  but not what he does with his new wealth, and you have a best seller.   Smith thinks Windfall was the hardest book for her to write so far, and she does go deeper than in previous books into philosophical issues of luck, fate, adaptability and change.  “Is all change good?” wonders Alice.  “Maybe just all change can be good.”
Other books by Jennifer E. Smith

  Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between.  High school sweethearts Clare and Aidan spend the night before they leave for college reminiscing about their relationship and deciding whether they should stay together or break up.


 The Geography of You and Me.  Sparks fly when sixteen-year-old Lucy Patterson and seventeen-year-old Owen Buckley meet on an elevator rendered useless by a New York City blackout. Soon after, the two teenagers leave the city, but as they travel farther away from each other geographically, they stay connected emotionally.

This is What Happy Looks Like.  Perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O'Neill meet online when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an e-mail about his pet pig, Wilbur. The two 17-year-olds strike up an e-mail relationship from opposite sides of the country and don't even know each other's first names. What's more, Ellie doesn't know Graham is a famous actor, and Graham doesn't know about the big secret in Ellie's family tree. When the relationship goes from online to in-person, they find out whether their relationship can be the real thing.


   The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.   Hadley and Oliver fall in love on the flight from New York to London, but after a cinematic kiss, they lose track of each other at the airport until fate brings them back together on a very momentous day.

  You Are Here.  Sixteen-year-old Emma Healy has never felt that she fit in with the rest of her family, so when she discovers that she had a twin brother who died shortly after they were born; she takes off on an impulsive road trip to try to discover whom she really is.

  Comeback Season.  High school freshman Ryan Walsh, a Chicago Cubs fan, meets Nick when they both skip school on opening day, and their blossoming relationship becomes difficult for Ryan when she discovers that Nick is seriously ill and she again feels the pain of losing her father five years earlier.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Coffee with Books Suggested Titles

Our first Coffee with Books was today and it was a lot of fun. We met to discuss books we've really enjoyed, as well as books that are new and trending. We thought we would share some of the titles that were discussed.  We will meet quarterly, so look for our next meeting in the Fall newsletter!

Newer Titles:
All our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai | Fiction
Involves time travel and a futuristic 2016 that looks nothing like the one we are living in today. An endearing comedy about family and friendship.
Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout | Fiction
A book about some of the side characters in My Name is Lucy Barton, a collection of short stories of the tragedies and redemptions of people living in small town, Amgash, Illinois.
Beartown by Fredrick Backman | Fiction
Can a junior hockey team hold a community together, and what are the secrets that can tear it apart?
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah | Biography
Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles | Fiction
A wealthy Count is ordered under house arrest in an attic room at a hotel in Moscow in 1922. His reduced circumstances bring him into a world of emotional discovery.
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance | Nonfiction
A former Marine & Yale Law Graduate offers an account of growing up in a poor Appalachian town, which also offers a broader look at the struggles of white working class.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders | Fiction
A fictional account of Lincoln’s reaction to his son, Willie’s death. A story of familial love and loss filled with humor and history, told in a unique format.
Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner | Mystery
The search for a wealthy missing student from Cambridge and the dedicated police detective who seeks to find her.
News of the World by Paulette Jiles | Fiction 
In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, is paid $50 to deliver an orphan kidnapped by Native Americans to her family in San Antonio.
The Nix by Nathan Hill | Fiction
Samuel's estranged mother is arrested for throwing rocks at a Congressman. Samuel goes on a quest to find out about her past and who she really is.
The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge | Fiction
Historic and suspenseful.  What happened to Marina’s H.P. Lovecraft obsessed husband?

Older Titles: 
The Cuckoos Calling by Robert Galbraith | Mystery
Detective and army veteran Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide with the help of his new assistant, Robin.
Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans | Fiction
Great Expectations meets Oliver Twist. What is illegal but not immoral? What makes a family?
Destiny of the Republic by Candace Millard | Nonfiction
This account of President James Garfield’s assassination brings back to roaring life a tragic but irresistible historical period.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer | Fiction
Follow nine-year-old Oskar Schell as he navigates New York City on a quest to unlock the secrets of a mysterious key and its connection to his father, who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center.
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls | Biography
This memoir by Jeannette Walls recounts the unconventional, poverty-stricken upbringing Walls and her siblings had at the hands of their deeply dysfunctional parents.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly | Fiction
Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades. 
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris | Biography
A humorous and irreverent memoir. A commentary on life in the rural south as well as what it is like to be an American living abroad in France.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifta Brunt | Fiction
A moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you do not know you have lost someone until you have found them.
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier | Fiction
This book about fossils and friendship tries to answer that question, 'What do women do who don't find the Mr. Darcy of the Jane Austen novels?'
Restless by William Boyd | Fiction
Eva’s life as a spy during World War II is interwoven with the story of her daughter Ruth’s existence as a single mother in Oxford, teaching English as a second language in the summer of 1976.
Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart | Biography
An Iowa co-ed works in New York City during the summer of 1945.
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki | Fiction
From Japan to the Pacific Northwest, a teenager and a writer seek to find what it means to be home.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

How the Library Can Help Your Small Business

It's National Small Business Week, so we wanted to show you how the Lake Forest Library can help your small business.

We have a plethora of databases that can be helpful in running your small business from instructional video subscriptions to directories and more. Learn more about some of our favorite services below. In order to access these databases from home, you'll have to have your Lake Forest Library card number.

Business Source Elite: This database provides access to full-text coverage of top business, management and economics journals and periodicals. These valuable publications cover topics such as accounting, banking, finance, international business, marketing, sales and more. You can access this database from your computer at home or by downloading the EBSCOhost Mobile app.

Lexis NexisUse Lexis Nexis to access company and investment information, and business insights. Search through legal cases (in library only), and see news stories from hundreds of major sources, both foreign and domestic. Access online tutorials from the industry leader in technology training from any computer with an internet connection. Topics range from Microsoft Office to Adobe Creative Cloud. You can even learn to build a website using HTML 5 and CSS in's built in web developer environment. 

 Reference USAA business directory searchable by company name, executive name, business type, sales volume, number of employees, year established, geographic area, and more. Most company profiles include executive lists, links to subsidiaries/parent companies, a list of competitors, links to recent news articles about the company, and links to stock information and SEC reports. Search criteria can be combined to create company lists in either full or brief format.

Regional Business News: database of business journals, newspapers and news-wires covering metropolitan and rural areas of the United States. Full text of most titles, but abstracts for some.

Sorkins Directory of Business and GovernmentProfiles of companies and organizations in the Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City metropolitan areas. Searchable by company, person’s name, industry, location, phone number, or a combination of terms. Includes titles and names of company executives, industry codes, and narrative descriptions. Mini-profiles called “Prospects” are also available.

Wall Street Journal: Editions from 1984- present. Search by keywords and dates or select entire issues by date for browsing. 

Many people who work from home find the Library to be a beautiful space to get away from home for the day and work in another location. The Library is a free, open, and stimulating place to work. The Friends Reading Room is a great place to work if you need complete silence, while the computer area on the west side is nice if you need to speak quietly or work in a small group. We do ask that patrons take phone calls in the Lobby, but only to keep the noise level down for other patrons working in the Library.

The Media Lab could be a very useful space for your business needs. With access to the full Adobe suite, Garage Band, Final Cut Pro, Blendr, Sketchup, photo scanners, iMovie and more the possibilities are endless. Learn more about the Media Lab here.

Here are a few examples of how the Media Lab could help your small business:
  • Create 3D models with Blender and SketchUp
  • Use inDesign to design a new business card
  • Edit photos for marketing purposes using Photoshop
  • Use Adobe Premiere or iMovie to create promotional videos
  • Create motion graphics and visual effects using Adobe After Effects.

The Library has been doing a lot more adult programming lately with some workshops that could help you with your small business. We recently had classes on writing and a workshop on publishing. There's a photography class this Saturday that could help you take better images for marketing. We also have new technology classes every quarter. This quarter we are teaching Digitizing Video and Organizing Files. In the summer we will have classes on Google Drive and iPhone Photography. We are also planning a series of small business workshops for Winter 2017-2018.