Initiating Inspiration Book Group at the Waltham Public Library

The Waltham Public Library is introducing a New Book Group, Initiating Inspiration.

The purpose of this book group is to offer a thoughtful mixture of self-empowering and spiritually inspired pieces of literature which are read and then discussed in a welcoming, safe and social setting.  Initiating Inspiration, through agreed upon book choices, is meant to be equal parts inspirational learning and casual fun. We meet every other month on Monday evenings at 7:15 pm.

Meeting Schedule
Monday, January 29: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Monday, March 26: Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
Monday, May 21: How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton M. Christensen
Monday, September 24: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Monday, November 26: The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz

Food for thought and food to snack on at all of our meetings!

Questions?  Contact Louise at 781-314-3429





2018 Saturday Morning Book Club

Little Fires Everywhere Radium Girls Nutshell

New for 2018 – a Saturday morning book club! Join us Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. for a cup of coffee and a lively discussion. Books are available at the First Floor Circulation Desk during the month before the meeting. The book club is open to everyone. No registration required.

2018 Reading List

March 10
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons

April 12
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

May 19
Lonely City by Olivia Laing

June 9
The Sea by John Banville

July 21
Marlena by Julie Buntin

August 18
Nutshell by Ian McEwan

September 8
Faith by Jennifer Haigh

October 20
Radium Girls by Kate Moore

November 17
Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

December 8
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Staff Reads — New Year 2018!

Book Projector Treble Clef

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  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow: It took me 6 weeks, but I’m glad I finished it. Reading it I realized how little has changed since the American Revolution: fake news, political backstabbing, scandals – it’s all there in Hamilton’s time.
  • The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs: This was a great companion piece to the Chernow book, because the novel is historically accurate, but the info is more easily digested in fiction form.
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett: I was somewhat reluctant to read this, because I didn’t enjoy Bel Canto. But, only 1 chapter in and I’m hooked. The writing is often funny and the characters interesting. Looking forward to seeing what happens!


  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders: I really enjoyed this science fiction/fantasy/romance hybrid in which science and magic come together to either save or end the world. Protagonists Patricia and Laurence felt very real, with relatable flaws. The tone is both humorous and foreboding and I missed Patricia and Laurence when I finished the novel. This is a good read alike for those who enjoyed the fantastical elements and doomed love story in The Night Circus or for those who appreciated humor along with the world ending in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
  • Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: This plot-driven historical novel was a quick read and left me wanting to know more about “orphan trains”. The novel alternates between present day and the first half of the 20th century. I found the historical moments more compelling.
  • Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (audiobook): While I’ve always appreciated Springsteen’s songs, I am not one of his super fans and would never think to read his memoir, until a member of one of my (non Waltham Public Library) book clubs suggested it. To my surprise, I did enjoy hearing about his tales of early performances, growing up in New Jersey, and his family. Springsteen is a good storyteller and a good narrator (once I got over the fact that I thought he sounded like someone imitating him).
  • The Viceroy’s House (DVD or Netflix): This historical film is set in 1947-1948 and is the story of the independence and partitioning of India/Pakistan. I’m ashamed that I didn’t know much about this moment in history before I watched this film and look forward to reading The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India’s Partition which inspired director, Gurinder Chadha.


  • Choosing Civility by PM Forni: Hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s an inspiring short read that answers the question, “Why shouldn’t I beep at that (guy)!” in a smart way.
  • Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording: I’m embarrassingly late to this party, but Hamilton is worth the hype. Technically I’m listening to it, but it’s all good because I am also reading the Alexander Hamilton bio from Chernow which is 800 pages.
  • Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller: I’m a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, and Miller does the entire series proud with this homage to Laura’s mother, Caroline. The Little House series is great for any age, but for grown ups who’ve already read through the series a million or so times, this is an excellent read (Laura Ingalls Wilder society approved too!). Related, I have a hold on: Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser. It’s also getting great reviews and should be a nice companion piece for the grown up Little House fans.
  • Origin, the latest Dan Brown. THE LATEST DAN BROWN. Remember The Da Vinci Code? I don’t believe in being late to work, but one time I was late to work (YEARS AGO) because I could not put down The Da Vinci Code. So I have high hopes for Origin.
  • It’s All Relative : Adventures up and down the World’s Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs: Jacobs is pretty funny. In his latest, he attempts to connect us all on one huge family tree.
  • L’appart : The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home by David Lebovitz: Because Paris (and French food, culture and an apartment reno).
  • Everything Is Awful : And Other Observations by Matt Bellassai: This guy is really funny and I like his videos, so how bad can the book be?
  • The Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines: I know, shiplap, but honestly, it wasn’t the worst thing I read. This would not be a terrible gift if you know someone who loves the show.
  • Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball: The genius behind America’s Test Kitchen is now focusing on Milk Street – and this cookbook follows that journey. It’s awesome and beautiful and everything you hope for from a cookbook.
  • The Hating Game by Sally Thorne: The most fun, cute, fluffy, love story I’ve read, and it’s very well-written. If love and joy are your thing, you will love this book. If hate and misery are your thing, read this book.

Doreen: Fredrik Backman’s The Deal of a Lifetime: Moving short story.


  • Broadchurch – Season 3 (Netflix): This well-written, well-acted British drama is quietly devastating. Season three could be watched as a stand alone but builds on events that occurred in seasons one and two so I recommend starting at the beginning.
  • G.L.O.W. (Netflix): Set in 1980s L.A. about a group of women (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) selected to be part of the first women’s wrestling league. As a child of the 80s (and fan of the WWF in my childhood), I am a bit biased but the season finale was one of the best television episodes I watched all year.
  • Insecure (DVD): Full disclosure: the language may be a bit off-putting but the writing on this show is outstanding. I am slightly obsessed and desperately awaiting a season three release date. This one is binge-worthy.
  • Sex Object by Jessica Valenti: Published in 2016, this bracing and relevant memoir is a must-read for anyone who’s paying attention. #metoo #feminism
  • Evicted by Matthew Desmond: Along with Sex Object (see above) and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, this is a must-read. (editor’s note: We’ll be reading this at the Waltham Public Library book club on February 15 and 21.)
  • Smitten Kitchen Every Day: This new collection from well-known blogger Deb Perelman contains a recipe that got my kids to eat brussel sprouts and like them.

Pat O.:


  • Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed: Interesting if a bit icky feminist dystopia story.
  • There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins: YA thriller/horror novel with some great moments of suspense!
  • The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman: A wonderful companion novel to Practical Magic. Her writing is so beautiful and full of magic!
  • Watched Mindhunter on Netflix.
  • Watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime.

Louise: I am currently reading Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. This is a Teen Book, technically speaking, but this 59 year young librarian is enjoying every minute. Our main character, Aza, is a very bright sixteen year old who has OCD. Her best friend, Daisy, wrotes Star Wars fan fiction and can tell you everything you need to know about wookies and whether or not they should get involved with humans. The two of them are trying to solve the mystery of a wealthy friend’s father’s disappearance. The characters are beautifully drawn and the plot is compelling. Get on the list for this one!

Mary V.:

  • Bibliomysteries compiled by Otto Penzler: This is a collection of short mystery stories all of which have something to do with books. Some of them are very good.
  • The Face of Deception by Iris Johansen: This is the first book in a series about a forensic artist. This first book was very good and involves a sitting president and his conspiring minions.
  • The Other Woman’s House by Sophie Hannah: An insecure woman suspects her husband of cheating on her. As she tries to discover the truth, she encounters more trouble than she can handle. It has a very surprising ending.
  • I am finishing The Liars’ Gospel by Naomi Alderman. This is a novel that takes place in the early first century after the crucifixion of Christ.
  • I am watching all of the Midsomer Murders for the third time and enjoying them as much as I did the first time.



2018 Waltham Public Library Book Club Selections

The Underground Railroad In the Country We Love House of Names

Announcing the 2018 reading list for the Waltham Public Library Book Club!
Choose to come on Thursday evening at 7:15 pm or Wednesday morning at 11:00 am. Books are available at the First Floor Circulation Desk during the month before the meeting. The book club is open to everyone. No registration required. And we always provide snacks!
Print this list!

Staff Reads — November 2017

Book Projector Treble Clef

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Kerry: Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan. Amazing book!

Louise: I just finished listening to Daniel Palmer’s book Trauma on my Libby by Overdrive App. The library was fortunate to have Daniel present as part of our National Novel Month Programming. This book is a medical thriller that takes place in the Boston area. Daniel’s father was Michael Palmer and Daniel completed this book after his father passed away. I could not put this book down and recommend Trauma to all medical thriller lovers. If you like ER, Robin Cook or Tess Gerritsen, look no further. Fans of Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series will also enjoy this book as we have a nefarious plot going on that our hero needs to stop for the sake of its innocent victims.


Janet Z.

  • From a Room: Volume 1 by Chris Stapleton / Music CD: This album was voted the Country Music Association’s Album of the Year. Am not even a country music fan and I loved it!
  • Hunger by Roxane Gay / Audio Book on CD: Ms. Gay is a gifted writer and narrator. The NY Times review (7/14/17) describes this work well . . .
    “At its simplest, it’s a memoir about being fat — Gay’s preferred term — in a hostile, fat-phobic world. At its most symphonic, it’s an intellectually rigorous and deeply moving exploration of the ways in which trauma, stories, desire, language and metaphor shape our experiences and construct our reality.”
  • Girl Up by Laura Bates: Amazon describes this book as “an empowering survival guide [that] provides no-nonsense advice on sex, social media, mental health, and sexism that young women face in their everyday life—from one of the emerging leaders in the feminist movement.”

Lisa: I am listening to Hamilton the Musical and enjoying a new television show called Wisdom of the Crowd where a tech savvy group creates an app that uses public input to solve crimes.


  • A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl: The world of comic cons, as seen through the eyes of former science fiction TV star, Valerie Torrey, her son, Alex, Brett, a comic illustrator, and Gail Pope, a comic book writer writing for fictional versions of Marvel and DC. The setting of the three different conventions is a character, itself, and provides descriptive detail for those who are not familiar with the world of cons and fandom. Not everyone’s backstory was as compelling as others, but I enjoyed this novel, regardless. As someone who has enjoyed more than my share of science fiction television shows, I recognized a lot of elements in Valerie’s show, Anomaly.
  • Speaking of such television shows, I listened to audiobook versions of the new X-Files: Origins prequels in which readers meet teenage versions of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. In Agent of Chaos by Kami Garcia and read by Will Damron, 17 year old Mulder, through the help of his two friends, Gimbel and Phoebe, try to solve the murder and kidnappings of some local children. In Devil’s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry and read by Emma Galvin, 15 year old Dana Scully is having images regarding the gruesome death of some of her schoolmates and enlists the help of her sister, Melissa, and new friend, Ethan. Though the books take place around the same time and only a few miles away from each other, there are no scenes in which teenage Mulder and Scully run into each other. I was bracing myself for it and was relieved that neither author deigned to do that. That being said, there are a few too many coincidences, one of which that both Mulder and Scully spend time in a new age store called Beyond, Beyond, which was crucial in both of their mysteries. The books are entertaining, though, and I think the authors captured each character’s on screen personality. That being said, I have read X-Files fanfiction that centered on Mulder and Scully in their pre-FBI days that I have enjoyed more.
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: I read this beautifully written novel on the enthusiastic recommendation of my co-worker, Nancy D. This family saga, starting in 18th Ghana, starts with the story of two half sisters, Effia and Esi, who have never met and whose paths in life diverge. Esi is sold into slavery and taken to America, while Effia remains and marries a White British soldier. Each chapter tells the story of the following generations through the eyes of one of the children. The writing is very lyrical and is both hopeful and discouraging, if that makes any sense. This is a good readalike if you like other family sagas such as Roots by Alex Haley and The Family Orchard by Nomi Eve. If you enjoy reading fiction about Ghana, you may also like Kwei Quartey’s mystery novels.
  • The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, read by Carol Bilger: We were very lucky to host Anita Diamant at our library, last week. She was a gracious and thoughtful speaker. I’m embarrassed to admit that while I read The Boston Girl and Good Harbor, I had never read her first novel. So far, I’m enjoying the story of Dinah, a minor character from the Bible and daughter of Leah and Jacob. As with other Diamant novels, the story centers on the strength and friendship of the women and expands on their roles, some of which were almost footnotes in biblical history.


Seana: Seana is reading Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds and The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn. She’s re-reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Staff Reads — October 2017

Book Projector Treble Clef

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  • Rituals by Kelley Armstrong: 5th book and conclusion in the Cainsville series. Urban Fantasy about a young woman who solves mysteries. Along the way she finds out she’s adopted and part fae. I’ve enjoyed these characters so much that I was very sad that this was the last book in the series.
  • UNSUB by Meg Gardiner: Intense thriller follows a young detective as she tries to stop a serial killer.
  • The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka: I loved this book! Not only was the mystery interesting, but I can’t get enough of Roxane Weary, the young, tough PI. I’m anxiously awaiting the next one.
  • The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison: A fever has killed off most of the world’s women and children. Told from the perspective of a surviving midwife, we are taken on a journey across a ravaged country where it is not safe to be a woman. If you like post apocalyptic fiction with strong female characters you might like this. And there’s a sequel!
  • It: I can’t stand the book, but I absolutely loved the movie currently out in theaters.
  • Battle of the Sexes: Dramatization of Billie Jan King’s tennis match against’ Bobby Riggs. Shot on 35mm film, it actually felt like it was filmed in the seventies. I enjoyed it so much!
  • Victoria: The recent BBC/PBS drama starring Jenna Coleman as a teen Queen Victoria has me captivated.
  • Hotel Beau Sejour: Belgian drama currently on Netflix (which you can view by checking out a Roku a the library!). Belgian teenager Kato wakes up at the small Hotel Beau Séjour to find a bloody corpse in the bathtub – her own.

Nancy D.:

  • Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda: Fabulous domestic thriller narrated by the narcissistic, possibly psychopathic husband and centered around a trip he and his wife take to their lake cottage for the best day ever. A real page turner!
  • Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker: Very good missing persons thriller involving two teenage sisters, one of whom may or may not be an unreliable source of information.
  • Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker: A twist on Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, this novel tells the story of Mr Rochester, from his early childhood through to the end of the original novel when he and Jane Eyre are married, I loved the book up until it got to the part of Rochester’s life when he meets Jane Eyre. Then I got a bit bored and lost interest, maybe because I knew the original story from that point on. However, I truly loved getting to know and more fully understand the handsome, brooding Edward Rochester!
  • Speaking of Jane Eyre, if you want to revisit the movie (DVD), I recommend the 1983 version in which Timothy Dalton plays Mr. Rochester. He’s simply the best.
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (audiobook): I highly recommend this character-driven story involving several families in a seemingly picture perfect upper middle class suburb, whose lives slowly start unraveling when several characters defy the unspoken rules and standards.
  • The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne (audiobook): A heartfelt and heartbreaking thriller whose protagonist is the daughter of a man who years before kidnapped her mother as a teenager and forced her to live with him in a wild marsh in upper Michigan for 14 years, until both mother and daughter (who was born in the wild marshland) escape and the father is caught and put in jail. The story goes back and forth in time between the time when the daughter lived in the woods with her mother and father, and later in life when the mother is dead and the daughter has a new life with her husband and two young daughters in Michigan near the marsh where she was raised. The novel opens with us learning that her father has just escaped from prison and the daughter knows she is the only one who has the skills to track him down again.
  • Shin Gojira: Shin Godzilla: I really enjoyed this Japanese remake of the Godzilla movie. What I like about this version is that it primarily focuses on the overwhelmed and under-prepared bureaucracy that tries to control and contain the out-of-control catastrophe that is the monster.


  • I just watched Little Evil on Netflix (which you can watch on one of our Rokus!), a funny movie and perfect for this spooky time of year!
  • Also on Netflix is The Crown. I’m just starting to watch this, but it’s really interesting to learn about the somewhat modern history of England that I really had no idea about. And I always love a period drama!
  • I’m also re-reading the Harry Potter series, and I’m currently on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’s amazing to see how much detail and planning went into these books! I love them just as much as I did the first time reading them as a kid.

Pat A:


  • I was obsessed with The Crown and Stranger Things on Netflix. (View Netflix shows by checking out one of our Rokus)
  • I also recently read The Hating Game which was a modern day romance novel and kind of adorable – it reads like a teen movie.
  • I also read the American Housewife short stories by Helen Ellis which are well written and a light read.

Mary V.:

  • I just finished I Know A Secret by Tess Gerritsen. This is the newest Rizzoli and Isles book. As usual, it was hard to put down. I know a little bit about the lives of the saints, but I must say that I have never seen the kind of religious art that is described in this novel.
  • Scientology Murders by William Heffernan: This is the second book in the dead detective series. It was OK, but I wonder how much the author exaggerated about the Church of Scientology.
  • Sulfur Springs by William Kent Krueger: This is the newest book in the Cork Corcoran series. It takes place in Arizona which is a big departure from Minnesota.
  • No Middle Name by Lee Child: This is a collection of short stories. If you like the Jack Reacher books, you will enjoy this.




  • I am reading the children’s book, Hi! Fly Guy in preparation for our upcoming 1st & 2nd grader Book Club in November.
  • I am enjoying the new seasons of Madam Secretary and This is Us, enjoying the relationships between the characters.
  • When my turn for one of the library’s new Rokus comes, I plan on binge watching The Crown on Netflix.


  • Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee by Noralee Frankel: I’m a big fan of the Broadway musical, Gypsy, the (highly fictionalized) story of the rise of Gypsy Rose Lee and her overbearing stage mother, Mama Rose. There have been a rash of biographies of the former Louise Hovick, over the last few years, and I’m determined to read all of them! There are some elements that I recognize from the musical, but not surprising, there is more to Gypsy Rose Lee’s story. She was an extremely intelligent woman who was ahead of her time, in many ways. My one struggle is that whenever her mother, Rose, makes an appearance, I can’t help but picture Ethel Merman!
  • Eight Flavors by Sarah Lohman (audiobook from Overdrive): Gastronomy historian and creator of the blog, “Four Pounds Flour“, Sarah Lohman tells the history of food in the United States through the prism and history of eight flavorings, spices, etc. These flavorings include black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha. Lohman is delightful as an author and narrator. However, I give you a warning. Do not read or listen to this book while you’re hungry!
  • The Big Sick: I very much enjoyed this loose adaptation of the real life relationship between comedian, Kumail Nanjiani, and his wife, Emily Gordon (Gardner in the film). This movie maintains the right balance between pathos and humor, and there is a lot to which the viewers can relate.


  • The Girl With Seven Names: Escape From North Korea by Hyeonseo Lee: Growing up in North Korea is hard. One has to give proper homage to the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung, founder of the country and the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il. This is a constant in North Korean life and woe to the one whose portraits of the Great Leader and the Dear Leader are not properly cared for. Officials wearing white gloves inspect the portraits which citizens must clean with a special government issued cloth. There are rules of conduct, of dress, of deportment, all of which must be followed. Bribes can sometimes get you out of a jam. Sometimes there is not enough food to feed a family and people starve. There are those who are punished for misdeeds by public hanging. One must be careful with one’s speech because there are people who will inform on you and your whole family could be punished. Suicide is illegal and if it is committed, your whole family can be punished….unless you pay the right bribe to the right person and get the death certificate changed.
    Still, growing up in North Korea, one takes this as a normal way of life. Hyeonseo Lee says that she had a happy childhood. She was loved and cared for. The teachings in North Korea are that it is the best place in the world to live. Still, Hyeonseo Lee was curious to see the larger world. She arranged to get taken across the river dividing N. Korea from China, and from there, she planned to stay with relatives for a few days, which turned into months, which turned into years. The Girl With Seven Names tells of the author’s journey out of North Korea and of her struggle to get her mother and brother out as well. Hyeonseo Lee is a brave woman who continues to speak out about the plight of those in the country that still has a place in her heart.
  • The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin: This is technically teen fiction but this adult loved it. I was hooked from the first page. Here is an excerpt from the first page: “For example, I have to admit that I don’t want you to know any details about happened when our mother kidnapped you-so long as you’ve forgotten it, anyway. So long as you’re not having screaming nightmares or something.” This is a great excerpt for you, the potential reader, because it will tell you whether or not this is the kind of novel you want to read. My response was yes! Give me more. I was off to a weekend in New Hampshire and this seemed like my kind of vacation book. (Now, now, I don’t always read this sort of novel, although, this one is great.)
    The narrator, Matt, is living in a three family in Southie with his mother and his two sisters. Downstairs lives his mother’s sister, Aunt Bobbie. Aunt Bobbie hides behind food and is of no real help to Matt and his sisters. This is also true of Matt and Callie’s father, Ben, who is paying child support to Nikki but who is not providing any other help to them or to their youngest sister, Emmy who has a different father.
    Early in the book, Matt goes to a local Cumberland Farms with his sister Callie and sees a man who he wants to get to know. This man, whose name we learn is Murdoch, gets between a bullying father and his son. He explains to the son that “It’s wrong for anybody ever to hurt you. No matter who does it, it’s wrong. Can you remember that?” Matt, who is thirteen at the time of this encounter immediately becomes obsessed with this new hero. He knows his first name but that is all. His sister Callie does some amazing internet searching and comes up with Murdoch’s last name.
    This is great because now Matt can befriend Murdoch. Except that his mother finds the name and phone number and inserts herself into the equation. Nikki has a genius for causing chaos and fear wherever she goes. She starts a relationship with Murdoch which brings hope to the three children. However, once she reveals her true colors as a parent, Murdoch pulls away and everything changes from here. The children have now had their hopes of some kind of normal life dashed. However, things begin to change as Nikki wreaks more and more havoc.
    The novel is a National Book Award Finalist and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist. Read this book if you like excellent writing, a gripping plot, well developed characters, and some local color since it takes place in Southie. This book can appeal to teens and to adult readers as well.
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman: I am currently reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Hey, all of you Harry Potter Fans. Fear not. This is right up your alley. Not only that, but it is pure delight. Let me just share a fabulous quote with you:
    “To make matters worse, some of the books had actually become migratory. In the nineteenth century Brakebills had appointed a librarian with a highly Romantic imagination who had envisioned a mobile library in which books fluttered from shelf to shelf like birds, reorganizing themselves spontaneously under their own power in response to searches”
    This book features a special school for the magically inclined and it is so fun to read; it is like a little bit of heaven to add to your day. You will savor every moment I guarantee. If you like magic, if you like creativity, if you like humor, this is the book for you!

Staff Reads — Labor Day 2017!

Book Projector Treble Clef

Liz: Two things I’ve read, recently. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, and The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn. Vastly different genres, but both fantastic.

Janet Z.

Pat A.:

Debora H.:

  • Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult: A story about how race colors every facet of life in this country – and how differently we perceive that inequality. Told in three voices in a gripping, page turner style, it is the story of Ruth Jefferson, an African American nurse who is fired from her job when a patient dies; Turk Bauer, the white supremacist who refuses to let Ruth care for his son; and Kennedy McQuarrie, the white lawyer who defends Ruth at trial.
  • The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian: Another story told in three voices, the plot revolves around what happens when a bachelor party goes horribly wrong and two men are killed. The two men, it turns out, are handlers for the two young prostitutes who have been trafficked into sexual slavery from a young age. The most compelling voice is that of Alexandra, one of the prostitutes, and we learn how she was tricked into leaving home with a man who then began trafficking her. Like so many of Bohjalian’s books, this one is well researched and has a lot of eye opening – and painful – information about human trafficking.
  • Lovers of historical fiction will find these books by Pam Jenoff – The Kommandant’s Girl and The Diplomat’s Wife – hugely satisfying. The first is set in Poland during WWII and is the story of a Jewish woman who is able to escape the ghetto and live as a non-Jew. She gets a job working for a Nazi and begins helping the resistance by giving them information she has access to. The second book is set just after WWII ends and is about a woman who survived the concentration camps only to find she has to hide from her past.
  • I love anything by Michelle Moran who has written about ancient Egypt: Cleopatra’s Daughter, The Heretic Queen, and Nefertiti; 18th Century France:Madame Tussaud; and most recently India: Rebel Queen and Mata Hari’s Last Dance.

Mary V.:

  • Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar: One of the slaves of Martha Washington, Ona Judge, escaped from the Washington household when the President and Mrs.Washington were living in Philadelphia. Her escape was successful which was a very rare occurrence. The author relies on the oral testimony of Ona Judge who told her story at the end of her life and before emancipation.
  • Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson: I liked this mystery because it takes place on Beacon Hill in Boston.
  • Girl in Disguise by Greer MacAllister: This novel is based on the life of a nineteenth century woman who was the first woman to be hired by the Pinkerton Detective Agency.
  • Revenge in a Cold River by Anne Perry: This is the latest William Monk mystery
  • Someone Wants You Dead by Dick Bartlett: Dick Bartlett is a local author. This was an enjoyable mystery that takes place in New England, mostly in Rhode Island. If you are looking for some light reading, borrow this book and support a local author.
  • Cruel Mercy by David Mark: This is the latest Aector McAvoy mystery. This one is different because it takes place in New York City where Aector has gone to find a missing brother-in law.
  • The Ripper’s Shadow by Laura Joh Rowland: This is another novel based on the murders contributed to Jack the Ripper. I thought it was very well done.


  • March Trilogy by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell: This compelling graphic novel trilogy details the 1960’s Civil Rights movement as seen through the eyes of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee’s and future Congressman John Lewis. The books work well as either an introduction to those less familiar with this part of history or as a complement to what budding historians have already learned. I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Congressman Lewis and Mr. Powell speak at the American Library Association Conference in June.
  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (Audiobook on CD narrated by the author): This is a beautifully but not sentimentally told memoir by the current host of The Daily Show. Noah, the son of a black woman and a white woman, discusses growing up during and after apartheid in South Africa. Noah is witty and thoughtful and brings an interesting perspective to the complicated topic of race relations. I recommend the audio version to get Noah’s full effect.
  • The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon: This lovely teen/young adult novel hits so many emotions. It’s sad, hopeful, and romantic, and has managed to become one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. The book is told in alternating points of view between Natasha, a Jamaican-American teenager whose family is about to be deported and Daniel, a Korean-American boy who is trying to live up to his parents’ expectations. The two cross paths one day and have a great effect on each other’s lives. Although this is Natasha and Daniel’s story, secondary and (seemingly) minor characters get their due and contribute, strongly, to the book. This may sound corny but I wanted to hug this book!
  • Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed by Sonia Choquette: If you loved Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Wild by Cheryl Strayed and are looking for a readalike, this memoir by a woman who found herself with a pilgrimage hiking el Camino de Santiago in France and Spain will be right up your alley. The book came alive for me when Choquette described all of the fellow pilgrims and travelers she encountered on the way.
  • The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant (Downloadable Audiobook read by Linda Lavin): This novel, set in Boston during the early part of the twentieth century, is a great celebration of female friendships, empowerment, and family. I really enjoyed the story of Addie Baum, who details the story of her late childhood and early adulthood to an unseen granddaughter. Anita Diamant is known for writing strong female characters and this book is not an exception. Linda Lavin’s narration is wonderful!


  • House: Two Stories: This box set has the first two House movies from the 1980s. If you are a fan of campy/comedy horror from the 80s, you’ll love this. The first House is way better than the second one. I’m going to have to watch the other two movies that are in this series.
  • Sleight: This was a pretty captivating and sad movie by the producer of Get Out.
  • This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong: I loved the first book & movie, John Dies at the End. If you enjoyed that, you should read this.
  • Tranny by Laura Jane Grace: The Autobiography of the singer of Against Me! It is about the band, her life, and her transition from Tom Gabel to Laura Jane Grace. If you have never listened to them, you should! Their older albums from when they were signed to Fat Wreck are available on Freegal.
  • Coffin Hill: A pretty good graphic novel that takes place in Dorchester and Salem. Only three volumes in this series so it is an enjoyable quick read.
  • Streets of San Francisco by Swingin’ Utters: For the last 20 years, they have been one of my favorite punk bands, and I still haven’t seen them live. This is their first album that came out in 1995.
  • Turnstile Comix by The Slow Death: Just a great melodic punk album!
  • Live in Europe by Otis Redding: I rarely like live albums. So few singers perform with the energy of Otis Redding. I’ve listened to this way too many times!


  • The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson: WWI Historical Fiction. Wonderful rich language, character-based. Two thumbs up!
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: E-Book: Woman escapes the horrors of slavery through the Underground Railroad network. Three thumbs up!
  • Wonder by RJ Palacio: E-Book: Life of a disfigured boy. Amazing boy. Shares his feelings and observations of how the world views him. Also told from perspective of family and friends. Three thumbs up!
  • Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance: Audio Book: Memoir of a family in crisis. Describes his Appalachian upbringing and struggles. Thumb up!
  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt: Story about a girl faced with dyslexia. Two thumbs up!
  • Canterbury Sisters by Kim Wright: A Woman’s pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral after her mother’s death. Travels with other women on the journey. They each share their own stories. Was a good light summer read. Thumb up!
  • And lots of great picture books! Here are some recent favorites:
    Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty ??????
    My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook??
    What Do You Do with an Idea by Kobi Yamada ????
    Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford ??????
  • Solar Eclipse August 21st

    Are you ready for the solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st? While Massachusetts is not in the path of totality, which means we won’t get the full eclipse, we will however still get to see a partial eclipse.

    Tips for Safe Viewing

    Only wear special glasses with a solar filter to watch the eclipse. Ordinary sunglasses will not protect your eyes. As the retina does not have nerve ending, you won’t be aware of any damage from the sun for hours, so wearing the proper safety gear is important.

    Always cover your eyes with solar viewing glasses or equipment before you look up at the sun.


    For more information visit these sites

    Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum



    Information About Glasses


    Order glasses here

    Glasses can also be obtained at the Museum of Science store, but you may want to call ahead.

    Watch! Read! Listen! Watch

    WRL logo

    Watch Read Listen Events

    WATCH READ LISTEN is an annual community-wide initiative to encourage Waltham to experience a story together. Our goal is for the whole city to engage in conversation and programming designed to delve deeper into a story, start a dialogue, uncover new perspectives, and mostly, bring people together in an entertaining and enriching way. This year our story is Frankenstein.

    Participate by watching!

    Frankenstein, Boris Karloff The Bride of Frankenstein Scene from The X-Files Frankenweenie Poster

    Watch! Read! Listen! READ

    WRL logo

    Watch Read Listen Events

    WATCH READ LISTEN is an annual community-wide initiative to encourage Waltham to experience a story together. Our goal is for the whole city to engage in conversation and programming designed to delve deeper into a story, start a dialogue, uncover new perspectives, and mostly, bring people together in an entertaining and enriching way. This year our story is Frankenstein.

    Participate by Reading!