Lake Forest Reads

Read with Lake Forest Library

Why We Read

We are happy you have decided to read with your family, friends, neighbors, and us! Lake Forest Library Reading Programs are designed to encourage shared reading experiences, thoughtful discussions, and meaningful community connections. For students, reading outside of school also helps enhance their academic abilities and reduce loss of skills over school breaks.

In addition to reading, our reading programs often invite you to attend Library programs, complete fun activities, or tackle other challenges to enhance your reading journey. Not to mention prizes!

On this page you'll find details about a specific reading program. All programs can be completed using paper logs -OR- online using the Beanstack app. If you have any questions about the program or using Beanstack, please contact us by calling 847.234.0636 or emailing

Using the Beanstack App

Absolutely! The Library continues to provide paper logs for all reading programs. They are available to download and print below, or you can pick them up at the Children's Circulation Desk or Adult Reference Desk.

  1. Download the free Beanstack app from your device's app store.
  2. Open the app and select "At my library, school, or bookstore."
  3. Select "Find a site."
  4. Search for "Lake Forest Library" and select it from the search results.
  5. Create your Beanstack app account using your email address and making up a password.
  6. *Tip* You can add multiple readers to the same account (such as your partner or children), and every reader can join different challenges.
  7. Select "Challenges" and join the current challenge.

If you prefer, you can create a Beanstack account and access open challenges in your browser by visiting the Library's Beanstack page at

If you don’t remember if you have an account, contact us by calling 847.234.0636 or emailing

  1. Open the Beanstack app or visit in your browser.
  2. Select "Sign In" and enter your email address and password.
  3. Select "Challenges" and enroll in the current reading program.
  4. Begin reading, completing activities, and logging your progress!

If you forgot what email address you used when creating your Beanstack account, contact us by calling 847.234.0636 or emailing

  1. Open the Beanstack app or visit in your browser.
  2. Sign in.
  3. If you have multiple readers on the same account (such as you and your children), you can switch between readers by tapping or selecting your name, initials, or profile image.
  4. In the app, tap the big plus sign ➕. If you're using the browser, select "Log reading and activities."
  5. Follow the prompts to enter your achievements.

You can always ask your Lake Forest Librarians for help. Contact us by calling 847.234.0636 or emailing

In the app:

  1. Tap the gear icon ⚙
  2. Tap help

In your browser: Info coming soon.


Lake Forest Reads

One Book, One Community

Since 2012, Lake Forest Reads has encouraged Lake Foresters to come together and read one book with the purpose of fostering literacy, a culture of reading, and a sense of community. Lake Forest Library and community partners present a month-long series of events and activities focusing on themes in the novel, culminating in a Meet the Author event. We encourage you to deepen your experience with the book by attending events and hosting your own book discussions!

Lake Forest Reads 2022


2022 Selection

Jump to: Events & DiscussionPartnersPrevious Selections

"What an important book this is … So brilliantly sketched is this brilliant woman that you will find yourself both infuriated by the misogynistic battles she faces and inspired by the intellectual achievements she manages to secure regardless. A must-read for anyone interested in science or forgotten heroines." —Kate Moore, New York Times bestselling author of The Radium Girls and The Women They Could Not Silence

"Benedict adeptly brings forward another accomplished, intriguing, and unjustly overlooked or oversimplified real-life woman in a welcoming and involving historical novel." —Booklist


About the Book

She changed the world with her discovery. Three men took the credit.

Rosalind Franklin has always been an outsider—brilliant, but different. Whether working at the laboratory she adored in Paris or toiling at a university in London, she feels closest to the science, those unchanging laws of physics and chemistry that guide her experiments. When she is assigned to work on DNA, she believes she can unearth its secrets.

Rosalind knows if she just takes one more X-ray picture—one more after thousands—she can unlock the building blocks of life. Never again will she have to listen to her colleagues complain about her, especially Maurice Wilkins who'd rather conspire about genetics with James Watson and Francis Crick than work alongside her.

Then it finally happens—the double helix structure of DNA reveals itself to her with perfect clarity. But what unfolds next, Rosalind could have never predicted.

Marie Benedict's powerful new novel shines a light on a woman who sacrificed her life to discover the nature of our very DNA, a woman whose world-changing contributions were hidden by the men around her but whose relentless drive advanced our understanding of humankind.

Go to the 2022 title in the catalog to borrow

Photo Credit: Anthony Musmanno

About the Author

As a young woman, Marie Benedict was gifted a book by a treasured aunt—who also happened to be an English professor—that opened her eyes to the hidden world of women’s stories and voices that lurked in the shadows of the past. The epiphany she experienced while immersed in this particular book, The Mists of Avalon, is one she hopes to share with the readers of her own books, as she unearths important but unknown, historical women from the detritus of the past and brings them into the light of modern-day where their very contemporary contributions and issues can be explored.

Marie's route to authorship was circuitous—involving a decade as a commercial litigator in New York City and failed aspirations at becoming an archaeologist—but now that she’s arrived, she is wasting no time in writing her narratively connected series of historical novels, that began with The Other Einstein, the story of Einstein's first wife, a physicist who made important contributions to his theories, continued with Carnegie’s Maid, the tale of an Irish immigrant woman who influenced Carnegie's transformation into the founder of free libraries, and persists with The Only Woman In The Room, the story of the brilliant inventor Hedy Lamarr.

Lady Clementine (Jan 2020) is the story of the incredible Clementine Churchill and was an instant international bestseller. Her next novel, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie was published in January of 2021, and her first co-written book, The Personal Librarian, with the talented Victoria Christopher Murray, in June of 2021. Her latest novel, Her Hidden Genius, was published in January 2022. Coming in January, 2023 will be The Mitford Affair.

Marie, a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College and a cum laude graduate from the Boston University School of Law after which she practiced as a commercial litigator in New York City for a decade, lives in Pittsburgh with her family. Writing as Heather Terrell, Marie also published the historical novels The Chrysalis, The Map Thief, and Brigid of Kildare.

Read · Discuss · Attend

Jump to: This Year's SelectionPartnersPrevious Selections

Upcoming Events

This event is in the "Adults" group.
This event is in the "Teens" group.

Further Reading & Resources

"How We Rise," a conversation between author Marie Benedict and the niece of Dr. Rosalind Franklin
Helix magazine, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science

Discussion Guide for "Her Hidden Genius" by Marie Benedict curated by your librarians.

Writing Contest


  • Submit your typed entry by September 30, 2022, using the form below.
  • Entries must be between 2,000 and 10,000 words.
  • Entries must involve some theme from “Her Hidden Genius,” (women in science, DNA, Paris, London, physics, chemistry, x-rays, etc.).


  • Your entry published on the Library’s blog and promoted on social media
  • A personalized, signed copy of “Her Hidden Genius”
  • A $50 gift card to Lake Forest Book Store
  • Two front row seats to all Lake Forest Reads author events

Submit Your Entry

Thank You to Our Partners

Jump to: This Year's SelectionEvents & DiscussionPrevious Selections

Previous Selections

Jump to: This Year's SelectionEvents & DiscussionPartners

In 1986, Henry Lee joins a crowd outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has discovered the belongings of Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during World War II. As the owner displays and unfurls a Japanese parasol, Henry, a Chinese American, remembers a young Japanese American girl from his childhood in the 1940s—Keiko Okabe, with whom he forged a bond of friendship and innocent love that transcended the prejudices of their Old World ancestors. After Keiko and her family were evacuated to the internment camps, she and Henry could only hope that their promise to each other would be kept. Now, forty years later, Henry explores the hotel’s basement for the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long‑lost object whose value he cannot even begin to measure. His search will take him on a journey to revisit the sacrifices he has made for family, for love, and for country.

Go to the 2021 title in the catalog to borrow

Explore details from the 2021 program

It begins with a mystery. Sylvie, the beautiful, brilliant, successful older daughter of the Lee family, flies to the Netherlands for one final visit with her dying grandmother—and then vanishes.

Amy, the sheltered baby of the Lee family, is too young to remember a time when her parents were newly immigrated and too poor to keep Sylvie. Seven years older, Sylvie was raised by a distant relative in a faraway, foreign place, and didn’t rejoin her family in America until age nine. Timid and shy, Amy has always looked up to her sister, the fierce and fearless protector who showered her with unconditional love.

But what happened to Sylvie? Amy and her parents are distraught and desperate for answers. Sylvie has always looked out for them. Now, it’s Amy’s turn to help. Terrified yet determined, Amy retraces her sister’s movements, flying to the last place Sylvie was seen. But instead of simple answers, she discovers something much more valuable: the truth. Sylvie, the golden girl, kept painful secrets ... secrets that will reveal more about Amy’s complicated family—and herself—than she ever could have imagined.

A deeply moving story of family, secrets, identity, and longing, Searching for Sylvie Lee is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive portrait of an immigrant family. It is a profound exploration of the many ways culture and language can divide us and the impossibility of ever truly knowing someone—especially those we love.

Go to the 2020 title in the catalog to borrow

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for a Chicago art gallery, is about to pull off a coup, bringing an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDs epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico's funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico's little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago epidemic, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways the AIDS crisis affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. Yale and Fiona's intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of 80s and the chaos of the modern world, as both struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.

Go to the 2019 title in the catalog to borrow


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina's World.

"Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden."

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

Go to the 2018 title in the catalog to borrow

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there's only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates' bullying, but before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao's only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao's drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Full of Ozeki's signature humour and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

Go to the 2017 title in the catalog to borrow

From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia, an exhilarating novel about marriage, creativity, art, and perception.

Fates and Furies is a literary masterpiece that defies expectation. A dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation. Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.

At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it.

Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart.

  • Finalist for the National Book Award
  • Finalist for the Kirkus Prize
  • NPR’s Morning Edition Book Club Pick
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Foreign rights sold in 20+ countries

Go to the 2016 title in the catalog to borrow


Meet the Devohrs: Zee, a Marxist literary scholar who detests her parents' wealth but nevertheless finds herself living in their carriage house; Gracie, her mother, who claims she can tell your lot in life by looking at your teeth; and Bruce, her step-father, stockpiling supplies for the Y2K apocalypse and perpetually late for his tee time. Then there's Violet Devohr, Zee's great-grandmother, who they say took her own life somewhere in the vast house, and whose massive oil portrait still hangs in the dining room.

The Hundred-Year House unfolds a generational saga in reverse, leading the reader back in time on a literary scavenger hunt as we seek to uncover the truth about these strange people and this mysterious house. With intelligence and humor, a daring narrative approach, and a lovingly satirical voice, Rebecca Makkai has crafted an unforgettable novel about family, fate and the incredible surprises life can offer.

Go to the 2015 title in the catalog to borrow

Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the United States to find work. Recently, it has dawned on her that he isn't the only man who has left town. In fact, there are almost no men in the village—they've all gone north. While watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides to go north herself and recruit seven men—her own "Siete Magníficos"—to repopulate her hometown and protect it from the bandidos who plan on taking it over.

Filled with unforgettable characters and prose as radiant as the Sinaloan sun, Into the Beautiful North is the story of an irresistible young woman's quest to find herself on both sides of the fence.

Go to the 2014 title in the catalog to borrow

It is Tokyo in 1939. On the Street of a Thousand Blossoms, two orphaned brothers are growing up with their loving grandparents, who inspire them to dream of a future firmly rooted in tradition. The older boy, Hiroshi, shows unusual skill at the national obsession of sumo wrestling, while Kenji is fascinated by the art of creating hard-carved masks for actors in the Noh theater.

Across town, a renowned sumo master, Sho Tanaka, lives with his wife and their two young daughters: the delicate, daydreaming Aki and her independent sister, Haru. Life seems full of promise as Kenji begins an informal apprenticeship with the most famous mask-maker in Japan and Hiroshi receives a coveted invitation to train with Tanaka. But then Pearl Harbor changes everything. As the ripples of war spread to both families' quiet neighborhoods, all of the generations must put their dreams on hold—and then find their way in a new Japan.

In an exquisitely moving story that spans almost thirty years, Gail Tsukiyama draws us irresistibly into the world of the brothers and the women who love them. It is a world of tradition and change, of heartbreaking loss and surprising hope, and of the impact of events beyond their control on ordinary, decent men and women. Above all, The Street of a Thousand Blossoms is a masterpiece about love and family from a glorious storyteller at the height of her powers.

Go to the 2013 title in the catalog to borrow


The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history--the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth. From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin led Union cavalry troops on a wild, 12-day chase from the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia, while the nation, still reeling from the just-ended Civil War, watched in horror and sadness.

Based on rare archival materials, obscure trial transcripts, and Lincoln’s own blood relics Manhunt is a fully documented, fascinating tale of murder, intrigue, and betrayal. A gripping hour-by-hour account told through the eyes of the hunted and the hunters, it is history as it’s never been read before.

Go to the 2012 title in the catalog to borrow