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By Deborah Dowley Preiser

Contributor

An amazing variety of books are written and published by Oak Park and River Forest authors. As winter settles in and you look for books to keep you company, consider reading some of these titles produced by your neighbors. The following gave presentations on their books at (or sponsored by) the Oak Park Public Library during 2013: 

Elizabeth Berg: New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg, a longtime Oak Park resident, has published more than 20 novels in her career. In 2013, she told the story of four women who venture into their pasts in order to shape their futures and fates. In Tapestry of Fortunes, Berg once again demonstrates her deep understanding of women's language, loves and abiding friendships. "Maybe Freud didn't know the answer to what women want, but Elizabeth Berg certainly does," said USA Today. 

Joseph Berton: Retired District 97 art teacher Joe Berton has devoted hundreds of hours since his boyhood to researching the life of T. E. Lawrence, the British Army officer renowned for his liaison role during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign and the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule, 1916-18. Berton has visited and met the current owner of the English home of his hero. He has also lectured at Oxford at the T. E. Lawrence Symposium and published journal articles on Lowell Thomas, the photographs of Harry Chase and on the Imperial Camel Corps. For his book, T. E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt: An Illustrated Guide, Berton assembled more than 250 black-and-white and color images from public archives and private collections. These photographs show actual Arab robes worn by Lawrence, uniforms and weapons of Arab and Turkish soldiers, details of Bedouin clothing, and saddles used by troops on camels, and other visual resources, important for military historians, figure modelers and Lawrence enthusiasts. 

Jim Bowman: Company Man – My Jesuit Life, 1950-1968, memoir by the former religion editor of the Chicago Daily News (and OakPark.com blogger).

Lee Brooke: Zig-Zagging Through Life – Light-Hearted Recollections, a memoir

Doug Deuchler: The longtime Oak Park educator, journalist, theater reviewer, stand-up comedian, tour guide and film historian, produced Legendary Locals of Oak Park for Arcadia Publishing. This volume begins with Joseph and Betty Kettlestrings, who came from Yorkshire, England, in the 1830s and became Oak Park's first white settlers. The book profiles popular authors like Alex Kotlowitz and the aforementioned Berg, artists including Jonathan Franklin and Chris Ware, newsmakers, business entrepreneurs, showbiz personalities and scientists. Legendary Locals reads like a "Who's Who" of Oak Park history. 

E.C. Diskin: The Green Line (Wells Street Press), novel by a local attorney (set on the Lake Street el)

Robert Elder: A decade of reviewing films for the Chicago Tribune gave Elder access to many film directors, an opportunity which he used well to write The Film That Changed My Life: 30 Directors on Their Epiphanies in the Dark, published in 2011, followed by The Best Film You've Never Seen: 35 Directors Champion the Forgotten or Critically Savaged Movies They Love in 2013. In this book, filmmakers defend their choices. These films, they argue, deserve a larger audience and their place in movie history reconsidered. The filmmakers are the perfect hosts, suggests Elder, often "setting the tone, managing expectations, and giving advice about how you should watch each movie. They're often brutally honest about a film's shortcomings or the reasons why it was lost in the first place." The Best Film You've Never Seen is not only a guide to some badly overlooked movies but a bold attempt to rewrite film history.

Tavi Gevinson: Founder and editor-in-chief of an online teen magazine — and the youngest author on this list — issued the second volume of her Rookie Yearbook last fall. Gevinson, finishing her senior year at Oak Park and River Forest High School, started her personal blog, "Style Rookie," in 2008 when she was 11. Within two years, the blog was averaging 50,000 hits per day. In September 2011, she launched "Rookies," a website for girls like her: teenagers interested in fashion and beauty but also in dissecting the culture around them through a unique teenage girl lens. Rookie broke one million page views within its first six days. 

Garrett Glass: After retiring from his long, successful career as a banker, Glass spent several years poring over scriptural, archaeological and related research by scholars interested in the historical Jesus. In 2013, he published his first book of fiction, a series devoted to Jehoshua (the original Hebrew name for Jesus). Book One, titled Signs and Wonders, guides the reader through the first 25 years after the execution of Jesus. Soon he'll be publishing the second book in the series, Jehoshua: Conflagration, and in October last year, he published his first non-fiction book, covering God, religion and other matters, titled, Who Cut God's Hair? For more information, see www.jehoshuathebook.com.

Janis Clark Johnston: Drawing on decades of her own work with children and families as well as her research, Johnston, Ed.D., produced a practical map for parents to learn about themselves and from their children. It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development includes tips, stories and exercises to help guide parents through the developmental stages of their children and illustrates how we can make each moment count, one interaction at a time. Johnston earned her doctorate in Counseling Psychology and a master's degree in School Psychology from Boston University. In 2011, she received the Founder's Award in appreciation for her dedication to the mission of Parenthesis Family Center in Oak Park. Earlier, Sarah's Inn honored Johnston with a Community Spirit Award for her support of teen dating violence prevention/intervention programming for local high school students.  

Melanie Kupchynsky: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra violinist teamed up with her childhood friend and journalist, Joanne Lipman to write an emotional, triumphant story about her father, Jerry Kupchynsky. Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations shares stories about this unusual public school music teacher. Known as Mr. K, he arrived in the U.S. as a hard-working immigrant from the Ukraine. He became a hard-driving violin teacher who yelled and stomped and screamed, making generations of students become better than they ever dreamed possible. Melanie and her husband, a musician for the Lyric Opera, raised three children in River Forest, all of whom now play the violin. Good music genes in that family! 

Paul Moroney: Dan Quinn – The Odyssey of an Irish Lad (Xlibris), novel based on growing up on the West Side

Barbara Ransby: Oak Park author and scholar, Barbara Ransby, Ph.D., University of Illinois Chicago, explored the amazing life and work of Eslanda "Essie" Cardozo Goode Robeson in her book, Eslanda: The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson, published by Yale Press. Robeson's career and commitments took her many places: colonial Africa in 1936, the front lines of the Spanish Civil War, the founding meeting of the United Nations, Nazi-occupied Berlin, Stalin's Russia, and China two months after Mao's revolution. She was a woman of unusual accomplishment — an anthropologist, a journalist, an advocate of women's rights, an outspoken anti-colonial and antiracist activist, and an internationally sought-after speaker. Yet historians for the most part have confined Essie to the role of Mrs. Paul Robeson, a wife hidden in the large shadow cast by her famous husband. In this book, biographer Ransby refocuses attention on Essie, one of the most important and fascinating black women of the 20th century.

Ken Trainor: The longtime Wednesday Journal editor, reporter and columnist, interviewed 27 men and women who were studying in Rome in the 1960s during Vatican II, a watershed event in the history of the Church, which has drawn renewed interest because Pope Francis has drawn inspiration from Vatican II. He shares what he learned in Unfinished Pentecost: Vatican II and the Altered Lives of Those Who Witnessed It.

Al Gini: River Forest author Al Gini shared stories from his book "Ten Virtues of Outstanding Leaders" on Oct. 24 at the Oak Park Public Library. Gini co-authored the book with Ronald M. Green to show how an individual's character, and especially their virtue, is the defining factor for an "outstanding leader."

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