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SKaiser writesChicago Public Library: Best Books of 2016

We're lucky the staff and librarians at the Chicago Public Library read a lot of books and have the ability to recognize high-quality when they see it. Expand your mind and gift yourself with great books this year with their recently published Best of the Best Books 2016.

"We like to connect with readers in our neighborhoods and take into consideration the opinions of critics and feedback from our readers," said Stephen Sposato, CPL Manager of Content Curation. "We try to select books that will stand the test of time, at least in the short-term, and we feel many of these will be contemporary classics. It's important to aim for a diversity of subjects, genres and reading levels so that hopefully there’s something for everyone."

The top three of the Best Books of 2016: Top Ten include:

1. Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips

At the turn of the twentieth century, Forsyth County, Georgia, was home to an African American community that included ministers and teachers, farmers and field hands, tradesmen, servants, and children. But in September of 1912, three young black laborers were accused of raping and murdering a white girl. In a tale of racial cleansing in Forsyth County, Georgia and testament to the deep roots of racial violence in America, Patrick Phillips breaks the century-long silence of his hometown and uncovers history of racial terrorism that continues to shape America in the twenty-first century. 

2. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

This is an enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families' lives. 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.

3. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Stephen Sposato said his favorite book on the list is Evicted by Matthew Desmond. "It's a brilliant and eye-opening look at the experience of eviction (and poverty) in America. Desmond focuses on Milwaukee but what he learned there can be applied to the experience in cities around the country. Desmond is hugely committed to the issue, having experience eviction in his own life. He’s done ground-breaking research, but it never drags the reading down because his writing brings it home in a personal way by focusing on relatable individuals."

Check in with the Chicago Public Library website as tools and staff picks are routinely shared to suit your tastes. Coming up in 2017 (as part of the One Book One Chicago program -- current selection: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) author events include Lidia Bastianich, Alice Waters and Barbara Kingsolver.

"We put a lot of work into our web site and our branches to help readers discover new books," said Stephen Sposato. "And we love to see patrons recommend books in our catalog using comments and lists. We see it as just another way to put a spotlight on books and reading."

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