Staff Profile

Mary Simon

Adult Services Librarian

Patron Engagement

Mary is seen at the Reference, Reader Services, and AV desks. She assists with Bookmatch and Screenmatch, as well as creating lists on a variety of subjects.


Lists

Feel Your Best At Any Age

Trying to look good no matter what your age is a constant struggle for many of us. Wardrobe and makeup know-how, as well as exercise and nutrition can make dramatic differences. This list can get you started looking and feeling better, no matter your age!

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Skin Care Blues

Many of us suffer from skin issues, whether it's acne, psoriasis, sun-damage, eczema, rosacea, and the inevitable wrinkles. Several excellent manuals written by board-certified dermatologists are available to assist sufferers. Don't be discouraged. Many new breakthroughs--from lasers, to peals and injections--can help with the physical and psychological concerns you may have from dealing with these issues. Kim Kardashian, recently diagnosed with psoriasis, can benefit from my list and so can you.

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Tale of Two Portlands

Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine: opposite ends of the country & opposite ends of the spectrum. Portland, Oregon is the stuff of Portlandia--youthful, funky, creative, outlandish, home to craft beer, outdoor adventures, renegade art, and little free libraries. Then there's Portland, Maine--coastal community, New England sensibilities, established institutions (like outdoor outfitter L. L. Bean and the finance industry), charming, friendly, and quaint. Having been to both many times, I drew up this list to document the similarities and differences of the communities. Could these stories have been told in the other Portland, or are they so steeped in regional qualities, and characteristics that they could only take place in their Portland?

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Parties Gone Bad

We all love a good party. Many of us also love watching a good party go bad with sometimes dire, oftentimes hilarious consequences.

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Iceland: Land of Fire and Ice

A list of both fiction and nonfiction selections reflecting the culture, climate, history, and beauty of this Scandinavian country. Of all the Nordic countries I've visited (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland), Iceland holds the strongest draw for me due to its raw, rugged beauty and landscape; its solitude (unless you're living in Reykjavik); its healthy, active lifestyle; and its sheep, horse, goat, and chicken populations--all intrinsic to the country life and lore. Not to mention the great Sagas, the Viking history, trolls, troll-houses, and the abundant, relaxing geothermal watering holes. These titles will give you the idea, but they're only the proverbial "tip of the iceberg."

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Shred the Gnar

Snow will soon be falling (we hope) and now is the time to get ready for the fun with simple exercises to help tone and refine the muscles you'll need for the season ahead. And to get you into the mood, I've included some fiction titles so you can think about the adventures ahead at the lodge, on the trails, and in the woods.

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Nordic Noir

Here are some TV series that tell the dark side of life in Scandinavia--specifically Denmark and Sweden. Always intriguing, full of colorful, eccentric characters, with a good helping of local color and history; a blend of police procedural as well as political intrigue. Yes, you will be reading subtitles but the series are thought-provoking, and extremely well-scripted and acted. Warning: you will get hooked and yes, they are so much better than Criminal Minds, CSI, and Elementary. BBC quality throughout.

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Speaking from Inside

Who knew there were so many stories where the narrator speaks from an enclosed, interior space! (Ok, I might be taking some liberties with "interior" but you'll see what I mean.) If you're claustrophobic, this might not be the list for you.

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25 Years of Beauty with Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown has been in business for 25 years. The Chicago-area native grew up in Wilmette, graduated from New Trier High School, and went on to establish an international makeup empire. For many of us, she is the woman to turn to for advice on skin care, makeup tips, and just plain healthy living. She embodies a brand that represents candor and lack of artifice.

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Forks Over Knives

This whole-food diet is centered on whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plants. It embraces fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; and it excludes or minimizes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil. The movement started with a documentary film which explored the possibility that people changing their diets from animal-based to plant-based can help eliminate or control diseases like cancer and diabetes. A proliferation of books on the subject ensued. Here's my personal best for you to peruse!

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Bird Watching

This list of all things ornithological was inspired by my bird watching hobby. We are fortunate we live in an area that has such an abundance of birding locations, as well as the bird watching courses offered at the Botanical Gardens, community colleges, and through municipal ecology centers. I encourage anyone interested in this subject to investigate these sources, but this list will get you started.

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AI - Artificial Intelligence

Robots, androids, replicants—"smart" machines with emotional intelligence, capable of empathy and human understanding—serve as the backdrop for many movies, books, and TV shows. Here's a selection of some of the classics as well as new interpretations of this same theme.

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Gut Problems

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there are between 2.4 and 3.5 million annual physician visits for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in the United States alone. This list provides resources which I have found especially helpful for dealing with these types of autoimmune ailments. I am not a physician but I can tell you that I have found comfort and relief by incorporating practices and advice from these books.

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Hygge: Get Cozy the Danish Way

Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is Danish for cozy, warm or homey. It is also a national pastime in Denmark, one that is expressed in homespun pleasures involving candlelight, knitted socks, coffee, cake, family, and friends. It's a good way to cope with long, dark winters too. Read the books on this list and soon you'll be hyggling in your hyggekrog (cozy nook).

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The 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Summer of Love

In 1967, thousands of free-spirited dreamers (hippies) congregated in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco near Golden Gate Park to initiate a cultural revolution. That revolution would create some of the era's most memorable music, art, fashion, and literature. Stroll down memory lane and relive, or discover for the first time, the Summer of Love. Be sure to wear flowers in your hair!

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Diversity and Inclusion of the Disabled

In a recent interview, Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin reminds us that while diversity is a "beautiful, wonderful thing," people with disabilities are often not considered part of the diversity mandate. The titles on this list examine the various portrayals of deaf, blind, and mute individuals.

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100th Anniversary of the Birth of JFK

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has announced a year-long celebration to honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of President John F. Kennedy. To commemorate his centennial year, I've put together this list to inspire others to find meaning and inspiration in the enduring values that formed the heart of the Kennedy presidency.

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Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist/Art Institute of Chicago

When most people think of Paul Gauguin they think of exotic locations like Tahti and beautiful, sensuous women. But Paul Gauguin was so much more! The Art Institute of Chicago's exhibit which runs June 25 through September 10, 2017, allows viewers to experience the full breadth of Gauguin's creativity. My list embellishes the viewer's understanding of Gauguin, his life, his contributions, and his place in art history.

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33rd Chicago Gospel Festival June 1& 2, 2018

Before you start stomping your feet and clapping your hands at this year's Gospel Festival, take a look at this list of CDs and books that will enrich your experience of this world-class event.

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Vietnam War Remembered

This week Ken Burns and Lynn Novick launched a ten-part PBS film documentary series, The Vietnam War. For those of us who lived through this turbulent time, we look forward to seeing Ken Burn's take on a conflict which deeply divided the country. This list compiles fiction and nonfiction titles which deal with a range of issues relating to the war.

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Thanksgiving Delights

Want to make your 2017 Thanksgiving memorable? Carve out some time for relaxation. This list includes fiction and non-fiction books, movies, cooking, and music CDs that will inspire and uplift you—and maybe even earn you the title of true entertaining whiz. Enjoy!

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Nor'Easters

Recent storms on the East Coast got me thinking about books and movies that either describe blizzards or are something you would want if you were seeking shelter from a storm. So cuddle up with your favorite blanket, stoke the fire, put the kettle on to brew up a "cuppa,", and browse these recommendations.

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Quilts as Something Other Than a Cover-up

The Art Institute of Chicago's current exhibit, "Making Memories: Quilts As Souvenirs," inspired me to consider the role quilts play in Americana. Judy Chicago certainly has the right idea by expanding the meaning and importance of quilts and quilting. My recommendations reveal the ways we have come to accept that quilts transform our dreams, longings, and history.

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Lagom: Culture of Enough

Last year I compiled a list on hygge, the Danish expression for cozy, warm, and homey. This season, I want to highlight a new trend which many Americans are embracing (including Oprah): lagom, which means "just the right amount."

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Underwater Beauty: Shedd Aquarium's Special Exhibit

Oceans, lakes, and rivers are filled with unusual and stunning creatures. Many of us never get to see what beauty lies beneath the surface. Chicago's Shedd Aquarium is the best place to see these strange and bizarre creatures. But before you head to the museum, take a glance at the gems we have in our collection. It will enhance your visit.

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Tchaikovsky at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater

Playwright, pianist, and actor Hershey Felder is known for bringing musical greats like Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, and Franz Liszt to life with his engaging and acclaimed solo shows. His latest subject is Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky—not only considered one of Russia's greatest composers, one of the greatest composers of all time. Check out these selections before or after the performance and enrich your experience.

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Leonard Bernstein at 100

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great American musician, conductor, composer, and music educator, Leonard Bernstein. With so many local organizations paying tribute to this phenomenally creative artist, it is appropriate to take a look at his vast catalog of contributions. Included in this list are CDs, DVDs, and books to round out our tour of all things Bernstein.

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Evanston Literary Festival 2018

Running May 12 through 20, 2018, the Evanston Literary Festival brings books to life. Guests include: Daniel Kraus (The Shape of Water), Audrey Niffenegger, Eddie Campbell, Charles Johnson, Nadine Strossen, Angela Morales, Ricardo Rowan Phillips, Sofa Samatar, and others. Coordinated specifically to coincide and partner with the Northwestern Spring Writers' Festival in mid-May, the festival casts a spotlight on the fantastic selection of literati (including readers, writers, and publishers) in and around the Evanston area.

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Movie Nights at Ravinia 2018

This summer Ravinia is bringing us a great selection of movies which will be broadcast on large screens throughout the park. The amazing part is that the music scores will be played by live orchestras! Plan to hear some of the best film music composed by Bernard Herrmann, John Williams, and John Corigliano played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Philharmonic.

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On the Basis of Sex: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Supreme Court Judge, exercise enthusiast, opera lover, advocate for equality, mentor to hundreds of female attorneys, role-model for many women—Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) strikes fear and wonder into the hearts of many. This list views her through a variety of different lenses.

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Difficult Paths to Education

For many students, a formal education has not been easy to acquire. This may be because of political and equity reasons, weather-related delays or problems, gang-targeted school routes, families not valuing the importance of education, or learning challenges. This list examines the issues for those who have difficulty acquiring the education they so inherently deserve. My hope is that all of us come to appreciate and understand the priceless nature of education so many of us take for granted.

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Opioid Epidemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 115 people in the U.S. die each day after overdosing on opioids. The Midwest has been hit particularly hard by this epidemic. Across the country, from rich neighborhoods to rural enclaves, it seems that no community has been spared the horror of this epidemic. It was caused, in good part, by doctors, seeking to help patients manage pain. Several publications now address the history and devastation of this epidemic, as well as responses by pharmaceutical companies, the federal government, faith leaders, and community activists. [Supplement: Public libraries are helping communities respond to the devastation. The Public Library Association (PLA) and OCLC are producing eight case studies of varied communities in which the public library is playing a role in responding to the opioid crisis.]

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Highlights of Ravinia Pop Concerts, 2017

Ravinia is the oldest outdoor music festival in the country. And, it's right here in our backyard, so take advantage of this great resource. Before you pack your picnic basket, be sure and check out this list to enhance your enjoyment of this summer's popular music lineup. With so many great artists performing in a relaxed, idyllic setting, you will find this the perfect summer retreat. Enjoy!

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Music by Featured Artists at Ravinia, June-mid July 2019

Ready to relax, engage with friends and neighbors in the beautiful setting we call Ravinia? Chicagoan's suffer through what sometimes seems to be an endless winter, so the Ravinia schedule is relished every year. Who doesn't long to hear some of the great stars of today, see some of the finest dancers, or view movies accompanied by the world-famous Chicago Symphony? Preview or embellish your enjoyment of this year's presentations, and get out and support and enjoy great, live music.

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The 20 Campiest Fashion Movies

The first Monday night in May, all eyes turn to New York City and the annual Met Gala. Celebrities and fashion insiders descend upon the Metropolitan Museum of Art and, this year's exhibition was framed around Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay Notes on "Camp." Bolton found Sontag’s writings so timely with what is going on culturally and politically that, “[he] felt it would have a lot of cultural resonance.” In light of the Met theme, I have put together a list of the most absurdist, out-of-this-world, exaggerated, futuristic, cheeky costume designs used in movies!

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