Confession time.

Libraries have this nasty habit they indulge in constantly without so much as a by-your-leave from the public. Now that I’ve mentioned it, you’ll be noticing it all the time so proceed to read what I write with care. You ready?

We like to bug people to read more.

I know, I know! Crazy, right? But it’s just sort of what we do. Plus we have this constant stream of people coming in our doors asking for good book recommendations. What’s a librarian to do?

Illinois Reads to the rescue.  Now excuse me while I drop some knowledge on your noggin.

Reading Facts About Illinois You May Not Have Known

There is an Illinois Reading Council.

There is an Illinois State Library.

There is an Illinois State Librarian named Jesse White who works in the aforementioned State Library.

Altogether these three elements have combined to create what we call Illinois Reads.  And what is that?  Basically it’s a yearly statewide project focused on reading list that features the titles of 36 books in six separate age groupings.

You can see all the books in all the age categories at For our purposes I’ll just post three of the adult recommended titles here today. And yes, indeed, you can get each and every one of these books at the Evanston Public Library (but you knew that already, didn’t you?).

“The Book of Unknown Americans” by Cristina Henriquez
This novel shares the stories of several families, all of Latin American heritage, who share an apartment building in Delaware. Their stories are well told and will sweep you into their joys and sorrows, triumphs and tragedies.

“By the Numbers” by Jen Lancaster
Just when a divorced empty-nester is on the verge of trading in her Victorian Glencoe home for a classy Chicago condo and accepting a promotion she has worked years to achieve, she finds her
nest replenished. An extra bonus for an Illinois reader: visualizing the Illinois towns, streets, and landmarks that inter-sect her story.

“Exoneree Diaries: The Fight for Innocence, Independence, and Identity” by Alison Flowers
The story of the struggles of four individuals, Kristine, Jacques, James, and Antione, who were wrongly convicted and unjustly imprisoned for decades, is a grim reminder of the disadvantage an individual has in the American justice system. This disturbing book examines the difficult lives these four individuals have as they attempt to reintegrate into society and is a reminder to us all of how fragile our personal freedom can be if we are on the wrong side of the criminal justice system.

Betsy Bird

Betsy Bird is the Collection Development Manager of Evanston Public Library. She has been writing for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.