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Staff Reads September 2018

Book Projector Treble Clef

Dana:

  • How to Stop Time by Matt Haig: Matt Haig is one of my favorite authors, and he didn’t disappoint with this, his most recent novel. It’s about a man who ages at a far slower rate than the average human, so while he looks to be in his 40s, he was actually born in the 1500s. It’s a great combination of history, romance, and science fiction, with dashes of mystery and adventure. And it’s now on my “To Read Again” list.
  • The Dry by Jane Harper: I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book if it hadn’t been for my book club. I’m still not sure how I felt about it. I didn’t love it, but it was suspenseful enough to keep me flipping pages til the end.
  • The Wave by Todd Strasser: A novelization of a true story of a high school history teacher’s experiment with fascism gone awry. I found the book to be pretty badly written, but the story itself is a good wake-up call for how easy it can be to get swept up in a movement.
  • You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson: A collection of essays about race, gender, and pop culture by comedian Phoebe Robinson. It made me laugh and also made me think, which is always a good combination!
  • Listening:

  • I really love the CD collection at our library! This month I’ve been revisiting some classics, like David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders f and XX by Rage Against the Machine as well as new releases by old favorites like In Your Own Sweet Time by The Fratellis.
  • Also, in an attempt to lighten up my generally political podcast-filled commutes, I’ve started listening to the Ride Home Reactions podcast . Each episode is about 20 minutes of movie reviews, recorded on the podcasters’ ride home from the theater. It’s fun, and they have great insights!
  • Watching:

  • Ready Player One: Oof, I did not like this movie. I enjoyed the book so much and it just did not do the book justice. Maybe if I hadn’t read the book first I would have liked it, but I’m just glad I didn’t spend the money to see it in the theater!
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Netflix)
    A super cute movie based on the YA novel of the same name. I read the book before watching, and think they did a great job staying true to the story. I felt a little torn while reading the book, but the movie made me Team Peter for sure.

Mary V.:

  • Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz: This is two mystery stories in one book. The first mystery takes places decades ago and is similar to an Agatha Christie mystery. The second murder takes place in the present time. I had never read this author, but I did like this book.
  • The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz: A woman enters a funeral home to plan her funeral and is killed shortly thereafter. The author has placed himself in the book. He is recruited by a private investigator to shadow him during the investigation and the write a book about it.
  • A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo: An Amish teenager commits suicide by hanging herself in her family’s barn. A little later, another Amish teenager is found burned to death in his family’s barn. This is the newest Kate Burkholder mystery and Kate is hampered by silence in the Amish community as she strives to find answers and connections.
  • The Grell Mystery by Frank Froest: This is a mystery in the Detective Club series. It takes place and was written in 1913. There are too many characters. I was so confused about who everyone was that I gave up and asked by brother James who committed the murder. I rarely don’t finish a book I start, but I was not enjoying this one.
  • The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz: This is a Sherlock Holmes mystery. If you like Sherlock Holmes, I think that you would like this.
  • Desolation Mountain by William Kent Krueger: This is the newest book in the Cork O’Connor series. A US senator from Minnesota is travelling to Cork’s hometown of Aurora to attend a town meeting about restarting mining on the Native American reservation in Aurora. The senator is against mining the land and there is a group in favor of it. Her private plane goes down on Desolation Mountain. The government insists that it is pilot error, but Cork is suspicious and believes that there is a conspiracy to hide the truth when several Native Americans who were first at the crash scene are missing.
  • The Shadow of His Wings by Father Gereon K Goldmann: This is an autobiography of a Franciscan seminarian who was drafted into the German army. He was allowed to be a non-combatant, but had harrowing experiences on the battlefield as a medic. It is story of a man who believes in the power of prayer. He manages to practice his faith and be ordained a Franciscan priest in spite of great obstacles. He was held as a prisoner of war for more than two years and suffered great deprivations during captivity. He was falsely accused of being a Nazi, but through determination. prayer and effort was exonerated.
  • The Cabin at The End of the World by Paul Tremblay: This novel takes place in northern New Hampshire. Seven year old Wen is vacationing at a lakeside cabin with her dads, Andrew and Eric. She is looking forward to her eighth birthday party when four strangers arrive and terrorize the small family by breaking into the cabin wielding horrible hand made weapons and making unreasonable demands. It is very violent and eerie, but I could not stop reading it. There are occasional flashbacks to relieve the ongoing blood and gore.

Laura:

  • You’re on an Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir by Parker Posey: I really wanted to like this stream of consciousness by one of my favorite independent actresses but I couldn’t get into it. The writing style reminded me of the pseudonymous, Libby Gelman-Waxner, whose columns were funny, but much shorter.
  • The Babysitters Club Graphic Novels by Raina Telgemeier and Gale Galligan, based on the original series by Ann M. Martin: I was obsessed with the Babysitters Club back in the day and was very excited when Raina Telgemeir adapted four of the titles into graphic novels, about 12 years ago. Telgemeier’s original four titles have been re-issued and Gale Galligan has taken over the reins and produced some of the later titles. In Mary Anne Saves the Day (Telgemeier), Claudia and Mean Janine (Telgemeier), and Dawn and the Impossible Three (Galligan), the two graphic novelists do a good job of staying true to the original books while also avoiding the factors that make Ann M. Martin’s series dated. There are also some original plot points, indicating that the graphic novels could be heading in a new and different direction. If you can’t get enough of The Babysitters Club nostalgia, I also recommend checking out The Babysitters Club Club Podcast, Arglefumpph Book Reviews on Youtube, and Babysitters Club Snark-Fest on Live Journal.
  • Ship It by Britta Lundin: Claire is a fan fiction writer who writes slash fiction about her OTP (that’s one true pairing for you shipping and/or fan fiction neophytes) from her favorite show, Demon Heart. A PR disaster ensues when she asks Forest, the lead actor, about it at a convention and he insists that his character is not gay. Claire soon finds herself involved in the show, and she and Forest start to learn more about themselves and their perception of others. A great look at fan culture as well as identity. This is a good readalike for fans of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl.
  • On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder: Yale history professor Snyder outlines 20 ways to combat tyranny using examples from twentieth century history. Very thought provoking.
  • I’ve been checking out some cookbooks and trying new recipes:

  • Pimp My Noodles by Kathy Kordalis: I’ve made Soy Eggs and look forward to making Ten Minute Ramen and Quick Prawn Laska.
  • The Great British Bake Off: Perfect Cakes and Bakes to Make at Home by Linda Collister: I’ve made the Maple Walnut Biscuits and the season 7 technical challenge, Viennese Whirls. Warning! The latter is very sweet!
  • I Love Pumpkin: I look forward to making Pumpkin and Mushroom Soup.
  • Mary Berry Everyday: I worship at the altar of Mary Berry! There are too many tempting recipes in this book to list!

Debora H.:

  • The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian: I read this in 4 days; I simply couldn’t put it down. This is Chris Bohjalian at his best – think Midwives, not The Night Strangers. Because this author always does his homework, I learned a lot about flight attendants…and alcoholics. The novel is about Cassie Bowden, a flight attendant who drinks so much, she often has black out periods where she has no memory of what she’s done. She wakes up one morning in Dubai to find the man she slept with the night before murdered next to her. This is a tense thriller that will keep you up at night.
  • Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen: This book is both sweet and sad and I loved every lyrical word of it. Harry Crane’s wife dies in a freak accident and to escape, he heads to Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains to literally live in the trees. There he meets a little girl, Oriana, who has lost her father and together with Oriana’s mother, Amanda, the two help each other reenter the world of the living. The power of libraries features big as well, something of course well appreciated by me.
  • Electric City by Elizabeth Rosner: I read this book because I grew up with the author. I recommend this book because it’s a great read. Electric City is the nickname for Schenectady, NY and the author deftly moves back and forth in time between a 1965 coming of age story about Sophie Levine and the mostly untold story of 1919 scientist Charles Steinmetz, the inventor of the first electric car. This is a story of both the individual characters and the city they inhabit.

Kerry: I’m reading What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. It’s a quick read but a thought provoking one. What would we do if we lost ten years of our memory? The main character finds herself in a completely different world in 2008, thinking it is still 1998, newly married and expecting her first child. Ten years, a divorce and three kids later she tries to put the pieces of the puzzle back together. The story unfolds in a unique yet relatable way. Great read for a rainy day!

Ashley:

Kim:

  • Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay: The story of a family and their interaction with four strangers in the remote woods of northern New Hampshire. This book is dark and terrifying. You probably won’t see the next move coming…even if you think you might know what’s next some of the time, you’ll still feel dread until what’s done is done, and even after.
  • I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid: What a story. Can’t say much without giving it away. Worth reading in one sitting, and I’m considering rereading it. Once you know the ending you’ll want to start it over too. Like it says on the back of the book “you’ll be scared but won’t know why,” and yea, you should be. The book offers a lot of philosophical discussion and elements but is firmly rooted in the horror camp.
  • Hereditary (DVD/Bluray): This is the story of a family dealing with death and spirits. A slow burn that remains moody and eerie throughout. And though the film takes its time, you get to know the family and the payoff is worth it. I loved that the film didn’t spell everything out for the viewer or give some big backstory to tidy up the story at the end. You get small moments and bits of backstory, and it is just enough to give the story meaning. I also love that this film didn’t go for the cheap thrills and tropes that are often in horror movies. The acting was excellent (except for the older brother’s cry) and there’s zero camp.
  • The Year of Less by Caitlin Flanders: A memoir of the author’s attempts to live without shopping for a year while traveling and saving more. You’ll want to revisit your budget after. I loved it and if you have any interest at all in these types of challenges, it’s a great read.

Louise:

  • The Humans by Matt Haig: This delicious, delightful touching novel was recommended to me by our archivist and I loved every moment. The creative premise is that there is a mathematician who has made a great mathematical breakthrough that is considered to be a threat to the universe. The Vonnodorians, an advanced civilization devoid of mortality, emotions, bodies and other annoying human tendencies, send one of their own down to become Professor Andrew Martin. His mission? To destroy anyone who may have come into contact with this theory. However, the impostor Professor begins to lose his distaste for all things human. He becomes attached to the Professor’s family, his dog, peanut butter, Emily Dickinson and more. This novel is creative, funny, heartwarming, absorbing. Highly recommended even to people who don’t usually read speculative fiction or who don’t understand the theory of prime numbers.
  • Fear by Bob Woodward: I bought this book on the day it came out. I don’t usually buy books because of my awesome position in the library but somehow, my hand reached for the book. The book is interesting and seems very factual so far. Worth getting on the list simply because Bob Woodward has so much credibility. The chapters are short and very subject specific.
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: This was recommended to me first by an awesome library colleague and than by another awesome library colleague. One recommended the book format and then the other recommended the audiobook format. I went with the audiobook because the narrator, Jim Dale, is an amazing reader and I had to drive to Maine. Jim Dale could read the back of a cereal box and hold my interest and this book is much more interesting than any cereal box. The quality of the writing, the narration and the story are all superb. Harry Potter Fans will love this book. It would make a very interesting and entertaining movie but I don’t know that this is in the planning.
  • My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh: Ottessa had me at Eileen and she still has me with this darkly funny, quirky novel. The main character is beautifully drawn. She decides to take a year off with the aid of the most bizarre you.psychiatrist ever. If you like your novels unusual, beautifully written and funny, this is the one for you.
  • The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekanan: My colleague, Mary V. has already recommended this novel but I have to chime in. I listened to the audiobook and I wanted my commute to be slow. I hated getting out of the car to go into the house because it meant that I had to stop the audio book. Loved the mystery in this book trying to figure out what the truth was. If you like psychological fiction, look no further.
  • Electra: A Delphic Woman Novel by Kerry Greenwood: What an entertaining exploration of the story of Electra, daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon. Greenwood posits about the psychological scarring that Electra and Orestes experienced. (I can not reveal her theory because it will spoil the book for you). She does a good job making her female characters three dimensional and understandable. Cassandra gets a good outcome in this entertaining novel and we get to watch the gods and goddesses at work which is most amusing and, sometimes, horrifying. Recommended.
  • The Real F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thirty Five Years Later by Sheila Graham: I love reading about Scott and Zelda and this book by his gossip columnist lover does not disappoint.
  • Hellfire Club by Jake Tapper: Great novel by a talented CNN anchor. Tapper’s thriller takes place during the McCarthy era and we watch some of the corruption in the political arena in this creative and interesting novel. Sure, some of it might stretch credulity, but hey, this is a work of fiction people. Very enjoyable.

English Language Learning Reading Club 2018 Meetings

Keep Calm and Keep Reading

The library is pleased to offer an English Language Learning Reading Club. Are you learning English? Do you love to read? Join us for a monthly reading discussion group as we read and discuss selected American Short Stories. We meet one Wednesday a month at 7:15 pm (19:15). This group is recommended for intermediate and advanced speakers.
If you have any questions, please call Laura at 781-314-3435.
2018 Meeting Dates

  • Wednesday, October 17, 7:15 pm: “The Monkey’s Paw”. Read it or listen to it!
  • Wednesday, November 14, 7:15 pm: “The Ransom of Red Chief”. Read it or listen to it!
  • Wednesday, December 19, 7:15 pm: “To Build a Fire” by Jack London. Read it or Listen to it!

Staff Reads — August 2018

Book Projector Treble Clef

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Lisa

  • I’ve read Who Was Alexander Hamilton? We read this book from the bestselling biography series for our latest Children’s book club. It was interesting and informative.
  • I also watched the PBS American Experience episode on the Chinese Exclusion Act and learned, to my surprise, the extent of the laws that prevented Chinese immigration and citizenship in the 1800s and 1900s.
  • I also have been watching old episodes of the $25,000 Pyramid (the Dick Clark era ones). My sister and I like to skip to the part where the contestants are at the pyramid. It is also interesting to see the clothes and hairstyles from the 80s.
  • I read Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons and Corduroy for one of my recent Storytimes with a button theme. This is my favorite Pete the Cat book as it incorporates math in a fun way while teaching kids that it’s okay if things aren’t perfect. It turns out the girl who gives Corduroy a home is named Lisa. I don’t know too many Children’s books with a character named Lisa. It’s just another reason for me to like this classic.

Laura:

  • The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar: Nour who is escaping Syria with her mother and sisters, tells the legend of Rawiya, a mapmaker’s apprentice who disguised herself as a boy and who follows a similar route to Nour and her family. This sad and gripping novel is frightening and hopeful, at the same time.
  • They Come in all Colors by Malcolm Hansen: The book opens in the late 1960’s when the narrator, fifteen year old Huey, is getting in trouble for an altercation with a fellow student and former friend. As Huey, whose mother is African-American and father is white, waits for his punishment, he recounts his story going back to his early childhood in the south and how he ended up in New York City. Set in the backdrop of the civil rights movement and how it resonated both in the North and the South, this character driven book is a good look at identity and subtle and not so subtle racism. Gripping and powerful.
  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang: This romance tells the tale of Stella, a successful economic forecaster on the spectrum who hires a male escort to learn how to act in a relationship. It’s easy to see where this gender reversal of Pretty Woman is going but it’s still enjoyable. The two main characters have a lot of agency and it’s always refreshing to have diversity in romance novels. Stella is on the spectrum and her love interest, Michael, is Vietnamese-American.
  • A Bintel Brief: Sixty Years of Letters from the Lower East Side to the Jewish Daily Forward: This book is a collection of the advice letters sent to the Yiddosh language newspaper The Forward and served as an inspiration for Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters column. I read a graphic novel about the history of this column a few months ago, so it was great to read the letters.
  • The Peanuts Movie: I love the entire Peanuts gang, and it’s nice to see Charlie Brown kind of catch a break, for a change. I don’t understand why he still tries to play football with Lucy!

Dana:

Louise:

  • The Rabbi’s Daughter by Reva Mann is a well written memoir that chronicles a young woman’s search for meaning and belonging. Reva grew up in London, the daughter of an Orthodox Rabbi and his stylish wife. Her sister was born handicapped and sent to a home, a source of pain for the entire family. Reva often feels shut out by her parents and the loss of her sister is never discussed or processed by the family. Reva rebels and has some misadventures with drugs and promiscuity. She decides to become a doula to help women have healthy birth experiences. Ms. Mann goes to school in Israel and becomes captivated by a deeply religious community. She marries a man from this community and still feels unfulfilled. Her husband is so absorbed in the precepts and tenets of his religion that Reva feels shut out even in this world. She has three beautiful healthy children and still, there is something missing. Read this book to find out how this bright and lively woman comes to terms with her self, her community and her family.
  • Falling Into The Fire: A Psychiatrist’s Encounter With The Mind In Crisis by Christine Montross: Ms. Montross chronicles some of the different patients that she works with as a psychiatrist in a hospital and in her private practice. Her analysis is thoughtful and she describes various issues such as body dysmorphia, ingesting objects, suicidality, catatonia and more. This is a deeply insightful and fascinating book by a compassionate doctor who writes beautifully.

Debora H.:

  • West With the Night by Beryl Markham: The language of this memoir is downright delicious, but when I got to the part about using her plane to track elephants in order to help hunters, I had to put it down. Still, it was a magical read.
  • The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers: This is the perfect summer read – fast-paced, engrossing, and well told. It’s the story of a Bernie Madoff-like character, Jake, and his wife, Phoebe, and the lives they lead built upon the lies he’s created. Phoebe is a mostly sympathetic character and, because the author alternates points of view, you see Jake’s side as well – and he’s not a one dimensional bad guy. You see the complexity of life – and love.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu: I used my free month and paid for one more just so I could see Season 2 of this impossible to ignore TV series. Like a bad car accident, I was drawn in week after week to see what new horrors were visited on Offred and her fellow handmaids. The hardest part of watching this show is seeing how easily it could really happen here, in this country.

Aurora:

  • Guardian of the Dead was a delightful combination of modern world, relatable characters, and mythology. Karen Healey brings the reader into a New Zealand that is fully realized and makes sense even with the mythological aspects and invented school. Though there are many amazing aspects of this book, the believability of small details – about the characters, places, mythology – was particularly well done.
  • Giants Beware! got some laughs for the antics of Claudette, the heroine determined to slay a giant. The accompanying cast of characters and adventure made this graphic comic an entertaining, light-hearted, and quick read.
  • Wonder Woman: What a wonderful film. I don’t know what I can say that about it that hasn’t already been said, so do yourself a favor and watch it (again)!
  • Thor: Ragnarok manages to have the main character lose almost everything, and yet I still want to watch it again. Even though Ragnarok, the Norse end-of-times, is a story that has been told for thousands of years, this movie keeps the viewer guessing and engaged. The new characters are all entertaining and make you want to know more about them, the witty lines that are a hallmark of Marvel films do not disappoint, and even if the rest of the film didn’t measure up (which it definitely does!), it would be more than worth the 2+ hours just to watch the sibling relationship between Loki and Thor.
  • The Librarians is a fantastic show, and I don’t just think that because I am one! The balance of entertaining plot, nerdy references of all varieties, interesting characters, and an excellent cast creates an show that always leaves me waiting for the next episode or season!

Kim:

  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara: Obviously, when someone dies before completing their work, it’s a complicated situation. I am very glad this book was released after McNamara’s passing but I do wish it had been more carefully edited. The topic of the Golden State Killer is fascinating and McNamara was a great writer. You feel the tension and the dread of the time.
  • The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich: Two narratives combine around the author’s experiences. One of a child molester/killer, and one of the author’s own experience of being molested and knowing her perpetrator.
  • Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin: I love pop-science reads and this is a fun one. If you’re interested in how habits are formed, this is a good place to start. Rubin accounts for differences in motivation to discuss why and how people make habits stick.
  • How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein: I also love history and this is a super easy read. You could just flip through to the chapter about your state if you wanted. Stein is a great writer, he makes a topic that could be too academic/dry into something really interesting. The bits of history that we can discern from our borders is just so fascinating.
  • Sharp Objects: So dark. Amy Adams is a boss. Not sure if she’s a hero or an anti-hero yet.
  • Who Is America: This show is hilarious with the kind of trolling you expect from Sascha Baron Cohen. It can be heartbreaking to reflect on the honest reactions he gets out of people, but it’s worth the watch and the laughs.
  • I’m also rewatching The Wire for the umpteenth time. If you haven’t seen it, what’s stopping you?
  • The Sinner– Definitely an interesting role for Jessica Beil and I wasn’t sure about it (not big on USA?). But it has a great rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Bill Pullman is a lead, and it came to Netflix, so I gave it a shot. With such an unreliable narrator, you won’t see where it’s going (or at least, I didn’t). It’s definitely weird, very dark, and well done.
  • Drake- Scorpion
  • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit- The Nashville Sound
  • St. Vincent- Masseduction

Casey:

Mary V.:

  • An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry: This is the latest William Monk novel. Anne Perry delves into prejudice and fear of immigrants. Monk is forced to rethink his investigative techniques so that he won’t be caught up in violent bigotry. Commander Monk has never seen a more gruesome crime scene: a Hungarian warehouse owner lies in his blood soaked office, pierced through the chest with a bayonet and surrounded by seventeen candles. Monk believes that the crime is rooted in ethnic prejudices and he turns to London’s Hungarian community for help with customs as well as the language barrier.
  • Sister Eve and the Blue Nun by Lynne Hinton: This is the latest book in a series. It was entertaining, but I don’t think that I want to read the previous books in the series.
  • Murder on the Serpentine by Anne Perry: This is the newest Thomas and Charlotte Pitt Mystery. I really liked it because Charlotte and her sister, Emily involve themselves in the case. Thomas can’t tell Charlotte anything because he is head of Special Branch and everything he knows is a state secret. He has been asked by Queen Victoria to look into a death. Lack of knowledge does not keep Charlotte and Emily from becoming involved. In the earliest Pitt mysteries, Charlotte and Emily were always interfering and the sisterly bond was always my favorite part of this series.
  • The Disappeared by C. J. Box: This is the most recent Joe Pickett mystery. It involves political corruption and intrigue. It is fast paced, but I didn’t like how it ended.
  • The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs: I could not work my way through the Hamilton biography, so I read a novel about Alexander Hamilton and his wife Elizabeth. It is well written and I believe that it is historically accurate. It did not show James Madison in a positive way and I have always been a big fan of James Madison.
  • The Hamilton Cookbook by Laura Kumin: I never read cookbooks, but I wanted to know how women cooked different things in a fireplace. This book describes the techniques of food preparation and cooking equipment of the late eighteenth century. I wanted to make the lamb stew recipe, but I was unable to find any blanched chestnuts. So, I will make lamb stew the way my twentieth century mother did.
  • The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth: This book is a departure for me since there is no murder. The story involves a neighborhood in Melbourne where three families with young children are surprised when a single childless woman moves into their neighborhood. Everyone has a secret. It sounds dull, but I could not put it down. One advantage of working the ground floor desk is checking in the returned books and finding something different to read.

Deb:

  • I have to say, I jumped into Watch! Read! Listen! with both feet. When the staff first started discussing a title for this year’s Story Experience I started looking into each title on the short list, Hamilton, the musical being one. I started with Chernow’s Biography, the way that Lin-Manuel Miranda (playwright of Hamilton the Musical) did. Not being a student who enjoyed history, I’m pleasantly surprised that I have become an adult who enjoys historical books more than I would ever have imagined. I was dubious about a weighty non-fiction title, but I was pleasantly surprised again and I really enjoyed it. I’m familiar with some of the islands in the Caribbean where Hamilton spent his youth, so that helped to capture me.
  • Then I moved on to Hamilton: The Revolution, Lin-Manuel’s “making of a hip-hop musical”. I was immediately stuck by how brilliant a writer and musician he is; he’s got an extraordinarily clever and quick brain! Having not yet listed to the music of the play, some of this couldn’t make its full impression, but I’m going back to The Revolution again, so I know much more will click for me during a second reading.
  • Then I delved into the music of the play. Again I was immediately struck by how clever and witty it is. The Cabinet Battles are some of my favorite parts. I think if every history teacher could make the “characters” of any given time period seem like real people with feelings and causes and ethics (or not!) and grudges it would be a lot easier to understand why wars start!
  • Alex & Eliza, the first book in a trilogy by Melissa de le Cruz was next up. This is historical fiction written for teens and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s pretty historically accurate and does a god job painting a picture of what it must have been like to be dating in the 1780’s.
  • My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray was next. This is also historical fiction but is also very historically accurate – the author does explain which anecdotes are true and which were liberties she took. Several books in now, I can start to tell them apart! As I’m getting to know these “characters” who also happened to be real people, their attitudes and personality quirks often evoked lines from the play and I think this is helping to cement the facts and feelings of each of them from this time period. This audiobook shares its narrator with that of the Alex & Eliza trilogy and that also lends great consistency for getting to know these people, so-to-speak.
  • Love & War, #2 in the teen trilogy was next. I enjoyed this one more than the 1st.
  • Now I’m listening to The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs, more historical fiction & Hamilton: the Mix Tape a music album of many songs from the musical performed by current Hip-hop stars. I’m also delving back into The Revolution to catch more references about the play now that I’ve listened to it dozens of times. And sometime next year when the 3rd book in the Alex & Eliza trilogy wraps up, I’ll read that too!

Ashley:

  • Girl Made of Stars, Ashley Herring Blake: This was so beautiful! I really love this author.
  • I’ll be Gone in the Dark, Michelle Mcnamara: Fascinating if somewhat meandering read. It’s so sad that she died so close to him finally being caught.
  • The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir: Definitely based on a certain tv famous family, but it was an interesting plot!
  • Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson: I wasn’t too into this at first. Teen girl brings back three girls from the dead, accidentally, while trying to solve their murders, but it grew on me!
  • Watching

  • Sharp Objects on HBO Not a big Gillian Flynn fan, but i’m all for southern gothic mysteries. It’s very slow and atmospheric, but well made and interesting.
  • Anne With an E season 2 on Netflix I love this show. Yes, it’s different from the books and very different from the beloved 80s miniseries (which i love( but i absolutely love this in a different way.

Waltham Science Fiction/Fantasy Book Club

I, Robot by Isaac Asmiov

Did you know that we have a Science Fiction/Fantasy Book Club at the library?
Join us, once a month on Mondays at 7:15 pm in the Library Trustees Room.
Here are the dates and titles for the rest of the year:

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, Monday, September 10th

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, Monday, October 22nd

For the Win by Cory Doctorow, Monday, November 19th

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett, Monday, December 10th

Staff Reads — June 9, 2018

Book Projector Treble Clef

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Luke:

Janet Z.:

  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (fiction)
    Americaneh’s central character is Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman who comes to the United States to study. I enjoyed the book’s layered portrait of an immigrant settling into American life and largely succeeding, at least from professional and financial standpoints. Ifemelu’s return to Nigeria was also fascinating, but the romantic plotline that followed felt forced. Still an enjoyable read!
  • Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta (fiction)
    The beginning of this book is set against the backdrop of the Biafran conflict of the late 1960s. Ijeoma is sent away from her village in southern Nigeria, first to work for a family as a house girl and then to attend a girls boarding school. There she falls in love with a fellow student and the book follows both the joys and significant hurdles she then faces. A page turner!
  • Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II by Vicki Croke and narrated by Simon Prebble (non-fiction on CD)
    The hero of this story is Lt. Col. James Howard Williams, the setting is colonial Burma, but the real stars of this audiobook are the elephants, in all their wonderful complexity. Simon Prebble is a masterful narrator. Two thumbs up!
  • The Best of Bill Withers: Lean on Me (music CD)
    Contains awesome hits like “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Just the Two of Us”, and of course “Lean on Me”, but also the uplifting “Lovely Day”. Fun fact, if Wikipedia is to be believed . . . the 18-second note Withers holds at the end of “Lovely Day” is the longest of any Top 40 Hit in the United States.

Debora:

  • Beartown by Fredrik Backman
    You don’t have to know anything about – or even like – hockey to be enchanted by this engrossing read about a small town in Sweden that wants desperately to be in the big leagues. This is a #metoo book with a compelling story about a town that must choose between its dreams and the truth of a violent act against a young woman. The author creates whole and completely believable characters who tell their stories from start to finish. Backman’s writing is sublime.
  • And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer
    Fans of Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book will love this historical fiction that interweaves the stories of two women, Susanna Kessler in 2010 New York City and Sara Itzig Levy in 1783 Berlin. Kessler has discovered a long-hidden musical work by Johann Sebastian Bach in her dead uncle’s possessions and Levy, a student of J.S. Bach’s son, hosts musical salons and keeps hidden a work of extreme antisemitism by the great master himself.

Laura:

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: This absorbing novel about Starr, an African-American teenage girl, who witnesses her childhood friend’s murder by a police officer, is extremely powerful and nuanced. The characterizations of Starr and those around her are very strong and multi-dimensional.
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, read by Jennifer Lim: Ng tells a complex tale about the (not so) quiet community of Shaker Heights, Ohio, starting with the burning of the Richardson’s family home and working backwards. Several issues are tackled here, including small town life, career versus family, transracial adoption, and teen pregnancy. This may seem as if the book is heavy handed, but it’s not, at all, as each topic is handled well. All of the characters are multi-layered and even those who start out as unappealing have sympathetic moments. The only exception to that is Mrs. Richardson, who I found unctuous. This is a great companion to Ng’s Everything I Never Told You
  • Can’t Help Myself by Meredith Goldstein: If you don’t start your day by reading Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters advice column, please change your routine, right now! Goldstein’s memoir proves that she is just as down to earth as she appears in her column. It’s touching and funny and highly relatable!
  • The Story of the Great British Bake-Off: A Celebration of a National Obsession by Anita Singh: As tell all books go, this is the nicest, most charming, and, of course, most delicious. My only complaint is that there are no recipes included!
  • A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York by Liana Finck: Meredith Goldstein’s memoir introduced me to A Bintel Brief an advice column from 1906 in the Yiddish language newspaper, The Forward. There are two books in our network about the column, one for which I’m still waiting, and the other is this beautiful graphic novel. The art is simple and expressive and features the writer/artist meeting with The Forward‘s editor and A Bintel Brief writer, Abraham Cahan, in the modern day.
  • Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, read by Norbert Leo Butz, Heather Lind, and Vincent Piazza: Audiobooks are a hit or miss for me, and this was a miss. I would have preferred one narrator, as opposed to three. The story seemed compelling and intriguing but I couldn’t get through the presentation.
  • My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss: Warning! Do not read this charming memoir if you are hungry. You will torture yourself! I’m looking forward to trying some of the recipes.
  • Creed: Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone make a good team as Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis, and Rocky Balboa. I don’t have strong feelings about the Rocky movies but I found this enjoyable. Jordan is an actor who can do no wrong. I also appreciated the twist on the stepmother trope, with Apollo’s widow providing a loving mother figure to the young Adonis. Very refreshing.
  • For the Love of Spock: I seem to have gravitated towards films in which men try to relate to their deceased famous and complicated fathers. Leonard Nimoy’s son, Adam, directed this documentary about his father’s famous role and the effect it had on society and Nimoy’s family. This is a very touching and thoughtful film and includes interviews with several Star Trek favorites.

Louise:

  • I just listened to Chris Bohjalian’s The Sandcastle Girls. Laura Petrosian, a novelist who lives in the suburbs of New York, decides to write about her ancestors. Laura is living in 2012 America. The book she writes about her forbears takes place in Aleppo, Syria, in 1915. Elizabeth Endicott, Laura’s New England born grandmother, journeys from Boston with her father to provide relief to refugees of the Armenian genocide. Elizabeth meets Armen, a young Armenian engineer. Armen has lost his wife and daughter to the genocide. She also shelters two of the refugees, Nevart, a women who has lost her husband and Hatoun, a young girl who has lost her entire family. This story provides a historical frame of reference about the Armenian genocide, romance, great detail and a fascinating story that will keep you listening or turning pages. The narration in the audiobook is very well done. This is a great book for readers of historical fiction, people who enjoy romantic elements, and those who wish to know more about the Armenian genocide.
  • I am currently listening to Hillary Clinton’s book, What Happened? This book is narrated by the author and is interesting because it provides a more detailed account of the campaign. One learns more about why Mrs. Clinton decided to run, what in her mind were the factors that lead to her defeat in the 2016 election, and her values and visions for the country. Sometimes author narrations can be a mixed bag, but Mrs Clinton has a good reading voice, excellent pace and is enjoyable to listen to. No matter what one’s beliefs are, it is interesting to hear her analysis of what happened. Recommended for people who like non fiction about government figures, presidential politics, the role of gender in politics and autobiographical works.
  • Undiscovered Country by Kelly O’Connor McNees is a well researched novel that speculates about Eleanor Roosevelt’s relationship with journalist Lorena Hickok. The story is interesting for several reasons: Eleanor Roosevelt was a first lady who set out to make a difference in the country she was serving. Lorena Hickok, a journalist dedicated to her job, meets Eleanor and their professional relationship develops into something more. Another excellent novel about the same topic is Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert. Both of these novels are interesting historically and because the characters are strong women who make tough choices and help their country and those they love These novels are great for people who enjoy fictional works about historical figures. They are also great choices for readers who like strong female protagonists.

Dana:

    Reading

  • I Want My Epidural Back: Adventures in Mediocre Parenting by Karen Alpert and The Sh!t No One Tells You About Toddlers: A Guide to Surviving the Toddler Years by Dawn Dais. Both were quick, fun reads that made me laugh out loud a few times… and made me feel like I found kindred spirits when it comes to some of my own parenting experiences.
  • Palestine by Joe Sacco. This is my first go at reading a book of graphic journalism (according to Goodreads, “Sacco has often been called the first comic book journalist”) and also my first go at trying to educate myself about the history of Israel and Palestine. A comic book seemed like it might be a gentle introduction, but this one about Sacco’s time visiting the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the early 1990s isn’t very gentle, although it is certainly interesting.
  • Books with the Bairn

  • All Aboard: London: A Travel Primer
    My toddler loves finding the double-decker bus that appears 3 times in this book.
  • That’s Not My Pirate…
    These textured books are a big hit with my kid, and we check out any that we find! (Pirate, Dragon, Squirrel, Airplane, Kitty, etc.) I was excited when the WPL Children’s Room got a bunch in last month!
  • Red Car, Red Bus
    A fun town scene with a very simple narrative, but with lots of little things going on in the illustrations that provide a lot to talk about.
  • Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
    My son loves all the trucks, and I love the pictures of trucks cuddling teddy bears and blankies.
  • Listening

  • Adele’s 25 has been in heavy rotation in my car for the last year or so, as several songs on the album have an uncanny ability to calm down my son when he’s screaming. I recently checked out 21 to mix it up a little.
  • I also tried several audiobooks this month during my commute, but I just couldn’t get into any of them. I’ve never listened to audiobooks before, so maybe I just picked my titles badly (Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng ; What Happened? by Hillary Clinton; and Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple. It might be that I’m just not an audiobook person!
  • When the audiobook experiment failed, I decided to give podcasts a try. I’ve been listening to Pod Save America and so far I’ve really enjoyed it. Pods can be a nice break from music, and unlike audiobooks, if my attention shifts elsewhere during my drive, I don’t worry that I’ve missed any key plot points.

Aurora:

  • Princeless – Raven: The Pirate Princess, an awesome spin-off of an awesome book. I love the variety of characters and subtle references and points that are constantly slipped into the overarching story. Definitely a series well worth a look whether or not you normally read comics.
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi novelization, Star Wars novelizations are always interesting with what they had that wasn’t able to be included in the film. This one did not disappoint from the start, adding in more emotional scenes, character explorations, and context. Overall an enjoyable read, particularly when gaining a glimpse into the character’s heads.
  • Iron Man, with Avengers: Infinity War coming out I took a trip down memory lane by rewatching the film that started 10 years of Marvel. It was a fun film to watch, both for scenes remembered with fondness, and details that escaped notice or were forgotten. While not quite Black Panther, still one of Marvel’s best.
  • Snow Sisters, is a nice picture book about snowy days, but the real cool thing about it is that it is a palindrome (of words, not letters) that effectively tells an understandable and relatable story. A fun read for both adults as well as children.

Mary V.:

  • Alienist by Caleb Carr: I read this decades ago and I felt that it was time to read it again. I like this book because it takes place during the year that Theodore Roosevelt was the New York City commissioner of police. He is a minor character in this novel about a serial killer who preys on young boys who are working in the sex trade. Alienist is the nineteenth century word for psychologist.
  • The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn: This book is nothing like the 1944 movie of the same name. This story involves an agoraphobic woman who rarely leaves her house and is always watching her neighbors. I found the ending very surprising. I enjoyed this book. It is fast paced.
  • The Knowledge by Martha Grimes: This is the newest Richard Jury mystery. It is a little different in that Jury doesn’t seem to be the main character, but shares the spotlight.
  • The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen: I really liked this book about a divorced woman who is stalking her ex-husband’s fiancee. I thought I knew what was happening, but I was wrong. There are a few twists that will keep readers’ turning pages.
  • Twenty-One Days by Anne Perry: This is a new series about Daniel Pitt, the son of Thomas and Charlotte Pitt. He is a young lawyer who is trying to prove the innocence of his client and rescue him from the gallows. I was hoping Charlotte would play a role, but she only makes a short appearance.
  • Racing the Devil by Charles Todd: This is the newest Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery. It takes place two years after the end of World War I. Rutledge is trying to learn why the respected rector of St Simon’s Church and World War I veteran was forced off the road and killed in a motor car accident.

Kim:

  • I recently finished We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. As the jacket suggests, the novel is about motherhood gone awry as told from the perspective of Eva writing letters to her husband, Franklin. Shriver is a talented writer and you’ll either think Eva is all to blame, or that she could’ve done nothing more to try and prevent the atrocious act committed by her son. It’s a haunting, emotional, and thought-provoking story.
  • Recently watched Dina, a documentary about two adults with Autism learning to co-habitat as their wedding day approaches. It’s an observational doc (fly-on-the-wall style), no narration. There’s lots of joy and of course some frustrations throughout. It’s hard not to fall in love with Dina and Scott. If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you’ll likely appreciate the subject’s candor and lack of ego displayed. I’ll be thinking about this movie for a long time.
  • As for new music, I’ve been listening to K.O.D. by J. Cole, and Drake’s single “Nice for What”…just waiting to hear the full album.

Ashley:

  • The Summer of Jordi Perez a sweet summer romance. The main character is a “plus size” teen who runs a popular fashion blog.
  • What You Want to See by Kristen Lepionka The second book featuring private detective Roxane Weary. Just as good as the first. I look forward to the next one.
  • City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong This thriller was definitely a page turner! Canadian wilderness, bears, a secret town, murder! I picked up the next on the series immediately.
  • Westworld season 2 I love this show. I think the second season is even better than the first.
  • Little Women on PBS What a wonderful sweet new adaptation of this classic story.

June is LGBT+ Pride Month!

Check our handpicked display of books and films for Pride Month, along wit handy book lists for further reading!
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YA Gay Book List

Resources for Transgender Teens

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Gender Identity

Gay Fiction

Staff Reads — May 1, 2018

Book Projector Treble Clef

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Nancy D.:

  • Too Close to Breathe by Olivia Kiernan: This excellent and very dark murder mystery/thriller takes place in modern day Dublin, and features a strong and complicated female protagonist, Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan, trying to track down a serial killer.
  • Winter Sisters by Robin Oliveira: I absolutely loved this novel, which takes place in Albany, New York in 1879. Dr. Mary Sutter, a former civil war surgeon who tries to find two young girls who go missing during a terrible blizzard in the city. It is rich in character development and suspense. If you like this novel, you might want to read the author’s previous book titled I Am Mary Sutter, which introduces the main character in the Winter Sisters.
  • How to Stop Time by Matt Haig: The protagonist of this novel is a (supposedly) 41 year old man named Tom Hazzard. However, Tom is really several centuries old. He has a condition that causes him to age very slowly (although he will ultimately die). He and others like him are controlled by the Albatross Society, which has one very hard and fast rule: Never fall in love. I adored this novel, its hero, Tom, the rich cast of characters he meets during his long life, and the lessons he learns and offers about life and love.
  • The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd: This is my one thumbs down read. A woman in London, England becomes obsessed with a man who was imprisoned for 20 years for the brutal murder of a young girl. After watching a true crime documentary about him, the woman starts writing letters to the man in prison, and eventually comes to the U.S. to meet him, and marries him (while he is still in prison.). The man gets released from prison, based on evidence brought out in the documentary, and now the two can live happily ever after. But they don’t. He is not quite who he seems, and she is incredibly naive. I didn’t like any of the characters, and found the whole story hard to believe.
  • CSNY 1974: I loved this CD by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, which features live concert performances of some of their greatest songs. Anyone who appreciates wonderful vocal harmony will like this album.
  • Hidden: DVD/BD: This SF-Horror thriller features a family that is hiding underground from unknown forces threatening them (known only as The Breathers). I really enjoyed this movie, It didn’t hurt that Alexander Skarsgard (from the True Blood series) was one of the main characters.
  • I, Tonya : DVD/BD: I basically enjoyed this fictionalized account of the life of the talented figure skater, Tonya Harding, and how her world comes crashing down when her ex-husband conspires to injure Nancy Kerrigan (a fellow Olympic hopeful) before the 1994 Olympics. Margot Robbie as Tonya and Allison Janney as her mommy dearest, gave particularly spectacular performances. However, I though the movie dragged in parts and could have been shortened a bit.

Ashley:

  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda: I actually liked the movie, Love, Simon better.
  • The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer: I didn’t get very far into this, the characters were flat and boring.
  • Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake: I loved this middle grade book so much! I may have cried ugly tears while reading it in public. It was so sweet and sad.
  • Killing Eve on BBC America based on the book Codename Villanelle by Luke James. This is such a fun show! Sandra Oh plays a middle aged MI5 agent who longs to be a spy, as he desk job does little to satisfy her. She’s soon on the trail of a prolific assassin, living her dream of being a spy. It has it all, suspense, drama, and comedy!
  • Princess Cyd: This indie film tries a little too hard to be serious and literary, but the cast is great, and it’s a pretty sweet film. It also boasts a fantastic genderqueer actor.
  • Rebels on Pointe: Ballet Trockadoro De Monte Carlo is a ballet company made up of men, who have female ballerina personas. They perform traditional ballets in their “drag” personas, but back it up with actual technique. They are all fantastic dancers, and the great dancing mixed with comedy is fun to watch!
  • Westworld: I liked this series more than i thought i would, the mystery was fun, and it’s not as gratuitous as other HBO shows.
  • A Quiet Place: Such a good horror film! If you like your horror tension filled and not bloody.
  • Call the Midwife: Season 7 on PBS

Debora:

  • A Murder in Time and its sequel, A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain: These books combine two of my favorite things: historical fiction and time travel. The premise is that FBI agent Kendra Donovan finds herself in 19th century England. Of course, there are murders for her to solve, but as a woman with crime-solving skills, Donovan must navigate the norms of the era. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a page turner like these two books.
  • Victoria by Daisy Goodwin: OK, it took me until the end of the story to realize that the PBS Victoria series was written by the same author and throughout the novel, I was amazed at how similar the series was to the book. I loved the writing, the characters, and the insight into this fascinating monarch.

Louise:

  • I had the pleasure of listening to Chris Bohjalian’s novel Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands. Emily Shepherd is a resilient young woman who, after the loss of her parents in a tragic accident, ends up homeless. Hope is never totally missing in this poignant, moving and beautifully told tale. Includes an interview with the author and Grace Blewer, the reader (Bohjalian;s daughter) at the end of the audiobook. Attention all dog lovers, you will be moved when you read about the family dog, Maggie. This novel is notable for its first person narrative and the realistic and believable point of view of a troubled teen. If you don’t mind some alcohol abuse, some literal nuclear meltdowns and you love great character development in a New England setting, this is your book.
  • I am currently reading Coffee With Freud by Brett Karr, illustrated by Allison Bechdel. This is an entertaining look at the psychoanalytic model developed by Freud with a very creative premise. Freud agrees to be interviewed at a Vienna coffeehouse by Brett Karr. Yes, he comes to the living world for one day in order to answer some questions and provide insights into his life and the creation of psychoanalytic therapy. The reader is entertained and can decide for him or herself whether the cigar is just a cigar or not. Apparently, Brett Karr has also written a book called Tea With Winnicott which takes a similar approach to helping the reader to understand about Winnicott’s groundbreaking observations about object-relations theory. This book is entertaining and educational at the same time and is really a pleasure to read.
  • Wally Lamb’s novel, I’ll Take You There, as read by George Guidall, has a very creative premise. The main character of this novel, Felix Funicello, (apparently from the Lamb novel Wishin’ And Hopin’ which I have not yet read), gets to view and enter his past on film. (kind of like Woody Allan’s Purple Rose of Cairo) He is aided by a ghost who appears to him. This is a very entertaining novel and the reader learns about Felix’ life and some of the family secrets that affected the entire Funicello household. Although I am still listening to this book, I am ready to heartily recommend this to anybody who enjoys a good novel with some family secrets. The book includes lots of details from the fifties and the sixties that baby boomers and Mad Men fans can relate to.
  • I heartily recommend Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell’s new novel/graphic novel, Bizarre Romance. This wonderful collaboration has short stories and vignettes in both traditional written and graphic format. They include a man who has pesky angels who are singing night and day in his attic, a woman trying on a Halloween costume who falls into a mirror and lands in another world where she is queen. She ends up married to a man with whom she has a daughter who looks like a badger. The illustrations are delightful, the stories funny and fantasy filled. There are new takes on what the world of fairies is really like. The creativity, the whimsy, the humor, the romance. Such a delight! The angels sing as you read this lovely book and they are not annoying.

Lisa:

Laura:

  • Changed for Good : a Feminist History of the Broadway Musical by Stacy Wolf: Wolf examines musicals from the 1950’s through the the first decade of the 21st century through a feminist lens. She examines specific titles from each decade through most of the book and then devotes the last two chapters to Wicked. I enjoyed her analysis as well as the background information on current events during the various decades as well as the history of musicals during the time periods. I would love to chat with her on why she chose to include certain shows and not others. I would also be curious about her thoughts regarding the shows that have been released in the years since the book’s publication.
  • White Houses by Amy Bloom: This is a fictionalized version of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and her likely lover, Lorena Hickock. The novel varies back and forth between time periods, and Lorena, like a lot of Bloom’s protagonists, is not a fully realized character. I do enjoy Bloom’s writing style and mainly enjoyed this novel, but I’m curious to read one of the other novels about the women’s relationship or the biography, Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn to get a better grasp of the story.
  • Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation by Judith Mackrell: Mackrell devotes two thoughtful lengthy chapters each to six well known “flappers”, Diane Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, and Tamara de Lempicka. Mackrell does a nice job of setting the scene as well as illustrating race, gender, and economic politics from that era and what has changed and what has stayed the same.
  • Justice League: There is potential for a good movie in here, somewhere, and some of the characters are fun, and, yes, it’s better than Batman vs. Superman, but this movie bored me. Do yourself a favor and watch Wonder Woman or Black Panther a second time.

Kim:

  • I’m currently reading Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Natural Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich. It’s an extremely moving examination of the tragedy that took place near Pripyat in 1986. Some of the stories are only a paragraph long, others a few pages, all are gut-wrenching and put a very human face on the impact of this nuclear accident. I was born in the same year and only had a pop culture/historical understanding of the events before reading this book.
  • I recently read The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani and loved it. If you can get past the first page it’s worth it. It’s a cutting look at the socioeconomics of nannying. Slimani gets at the inherent tensions as well as the joys of nanny-employer relationships, while also creating a really suspenseful and engaging story. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a few hours.
  • Another short read I highly recommend: Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro. She’s an author and longtime producer of This American Life. In this narrative, she shares scenes from her marriage and life in scenes that reflect how we grow together and apart- or separately together. She’s honest, open, and insightful and this book is instantly relatable and familiar to anyone who has been in a long-term relationship of some kind.
  • If you still haven’t read The Power by Naomi Alderman– DO IT. It’s a dark take on what might happen if women had more physical power than men. It’s sci-fi grounded in reality. It made me squirm throughout.
  • I just watched I Am Evidence, an HBO documentary about the backlog of untested rape kits across the country. It packs a lot of emotion into 87 minutes and it’s important not only to bear witness, but to take action to help work through this backlog and make sure the culture that allowed this to happen will change.
  • What I’ve been listening to: as a longtime Weeknd fan, I’ve been trying to get into his newest effort My Dear Melancholy. It’s not there for me…but maybe it will grow on me? If you’re into him at all, go back and check out his 2011 mixtape House of Balloons instead. Same for the new J. Cole album, KOD. It’s no Forest Hills Drive but it’s pretty good and it’s getting in my head the more I give it time.

Casey:

Vanessa:

Dana:
Recently Read:

Currently Reading:

Children’s Books:

Staff Reads — March 31, 2018

Book Projector Treble Clef

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Kerry: Just read The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks. A fast read with lots of twists!

Tory:

Laura:

  • On the Way to the Wedding by Juia Quinn: I love this series of romance novels, featuring the Bridgerton siblings in 19th century England. The characters are well developed and the story is fun. The e-book version had an epilogue which had a plotline that seemed to come from nowhere, but overall, I enjoyed the ride.
  • Triangle by Katharine Weber: Rebecca and her partner, George, are devastated when her beloved grandmother, Esther, passes away. Esther was the last survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and, as Rebecca and George learn, may have been hiding some secrets regarding events before and after the fire. Readers hoping for a historical fiction account of early 20th century New York City may be disappointed to learn that most of the book takes place in 2001 and that the Triangle fire serves as more of a backdrop. I enjoyed the prose, descriptive sentences, and the development of both Rebecca and George and their relationship. There is one side character that comes across as a little too silly and I figured out a twist, but these are minor quibbles with an otherwise thoughtful book.
  • Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (Graphic Novel): Catrina and her family move to a new town for the sake of the health of her younger sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis. Catrina and Maya learn that ghosts inhabit the town as their new friends get ready to celebrate The Day of the Dead. I’m a big a fan of Raina Telgemeier’s work and I enjoyed this non-traditional ghost story as well her touching and realistic take on young sibling relationships.
  • I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez: I was excited to read this nominee for the National Book Award, featuring the story of Chicago born and raised Julia, who is culture clashing with her parents who emigrated from Mexico. This coming of age story features a likable but flawed protagonist, making her seem real. There are a lot of plot points and themes in this novel, and it can be hard to keep every plot point straight. I chose to think of the novel as a series of vignettes or short stories rather than one long narrative and that made it work better.
  • The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory: This refreshing book had me at the positive review from Roxanne Gay. For one, I really like and respect Roxanne Gay. For another, how cool that Roxanne Gay likes romance novels and is not afraid to admit it! This novel details the romance of Alexis and Drew, starting with their meet cute in a broken elevator and continuing with their long distance romance. Although they have their problems like any couple, Alexis and Drew have a very positive and healthy relationship. Situations that would be contrived in a lesser romance novel are dealt with in a refreshing way and are not dragged out.
  • Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis: When her mother passes away, Tiffany must move across the country to live with the father she has never met. Along with her father, she must contend with suddenly having four sisters and a new stepmother, and her father’s strict rules. I enjoyed this family story, though there is a subplot which proved to be distracting and, ultimately, irrelevant. (This book is scheduled to be published in May. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy.)
  • 806 by Cynthia Weil: Three teenagers, who were conceived via the same sperm donor, go on a road trip to find him. This is a great and intriguing premise that I wish had been executed better.
  • Call the Midwife (Television Show): This lovely British drama about midwife nurses in the East End of London during the 1950’s is a great binge watch for the waning gloomy days of winter.

Mary R.: Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson!!!! Touching and well written story about a little girl whose parents divorce. I cried like a baby. Definitely one of my favorites.

Pat O.:

Debora: In honor of Women’s History Month, I have 3 titles that have women from history – both actual and fictional – as heroines.

  • The Second Empress by Michelle Moran: This novel takes you right into the underbelly of the Napoleon court. The book has 3 narrators: Napoleon’s sister Pauline, her Haitian servant Paul, and Princess Marie-Louise of Austria who is obliged to marry the Emperor to prevent war. Fascinating history lesson with lots of info from the women’s perspectives.
  • Trans-sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian: For anyone who wants to understand better what it’s like to be transgender, this novel explores the many complex issues and feelings through a love story.
  • City of Light by Lauren Belfer: Set against the backdrop of the birth of the electric industry in 1901 Buffalo and the Niagara Falls area, this is the story of a young woman with a past. The novel has murder, intrigue, and a strong female protagonist.

Ashley:

  • One True Way by Shannon Hitchcock: A sweet and necessary middle grade book about a young girl figuring out she’s gay in the 70s.
  • White Houses by Amy Bloom: A historical fiction account of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. I wanted to like this book, but it just felt so slow.
  • The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu: Follows the lives of several women after they experienced a tragedy together at summer camp. It was a quick read.
  • Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast: This graphic novel, written as a somewhat guide to NYC, sort of a love letter to what the author loves about it is so charming and funny. I highly recommend it.
  • The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule: All I knew about Ted Bundy before now was that he went to my high school and he was able to take young women in broad daylight because he was a pretty good looking guy. After reading a thriller based on him, I decided to read more.
  • Watched Love, Simon: “Everyone deserves a great love story. But for seventeen-year old Simon Spier it’s a little more complicated: he’s yet to tell his family or friends he’s gay and he doesn’t actually know the identity of the anonymous classmate he’s fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing.” Go see it!
  • Everything Sucks! On Netflix Have 90s nostalgia? Check out this series on Netflix about a bunch of teens growing up in Boring Oregon in the 90s.
  • Thor Ragnarok: I don’t usually like superhero movies, but I’ll watch anything directed by Taika Waititi. I was not disappointed; it was a fun movie!
  • Lady Bird: I enjoyed it, i wouldn’t say it was the most awesome thing i’ve ever seen, but it was well done. It was neat that it was took place the same year i was a senior in high school.
  • Channel Zero: No End House Like creepy shows? Check out this series from SyFy now on DVD. it’s the second season of Channel Zero, but each season is a different story, so you don’t have to start with the first. “A young woman and her group of friends visit a bizarre house of horrors only to find themselves questioning whether it is a tourist attraction or something more sinister”.

Louise:

  • To anyone who enjoys an engaging story line that you can not let go of, humor, romance, pathos and the feeling that a book would make an excellent movie, please try How To Walk Away by Katherine Center. Fans of Emily Giffin, Jane Green, Janet Evanovich, Liane Moriarty, and Jennifer Weiner will all enjoy this witty, spellbinding, light, yet moving tale. I was hooked from the very first sentence. Literally.
  • Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel: This memoir is beautifully and intelligently written and drawn. Alison Bechdel (author of the comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For) writes about her complicated relationship with her mother and her journey from childhood to adulthood with humor, wit and intelligence. For anyone who has had a complicated relationship with a parent, who has struggled to come into their own, or has lived the examined life. This book will appeal to fans of the graphic novel Hyperbole And A Half by Allie Brosh.
  • I am currently listening to We Are Water by Wally Lamb. This book tells the story of a family in Three Rivers, Connecticut, a fictional town in which many of Lamb’s novels take place. Different characters are telling their story in the first person and, in this entertaining audio presentation, they are read with great expression by a cast of talented actors. This is a good book for readers of psychological fiction. Fans of Pat Conroy, Anita Shreve, Anne Rivers Siddons, and Donna Tartt are a good bet for this audiobook.
    This is not a good novel for people who don’t like to read about trauma and abuse as both of these are present in this story.

Staff Reads — February 2018

Book Projector Treble Clef

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Ashley:

Laura:

  • The Book of Dust, Volume One, La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman: This prequel to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is much more plot driven than the original trilogy. This may be due to the fact that there is no need for world building since the world is most likely already familiar to the reader. The main character, Malcolm is not as well defined as a character as Lyra was in The Golden Compass but he is still a likeable protagonist. He becomes the protector of baby Lyra and meets characters with whom we’re already familiar.
  • The History of Bees by Maja Lunde: Tao is living in China in 1898 and working as a pollinator; George is in Ohio in 2007 and is heartbroken to learn that his son does not wish to carry on the family business of beekeeping; William lives in England in 1852, and seems unsatisfied with his life but becomes obsessed with making a new bee hive. This novel is anything but light and quick but the short chapters make it easy to pick up and put down. It has a little something for everyone as it blends multiple genres from historical to speculative/dystopian to realistic fiction.
  • Evicted by Matthew Desmond: This non-fiction, written in the narrative style, was the February entry for our Thursday night and Wednesday morning book club. Desmond followed eight families in Milwaukee in 2008 as they struggled with bills, rent, and desperate landlords. I dare anyone to read this book and not feel affected by it.

Kate S.

Janet Z.:

Pat A.:

Todd:

Louise:

  • I have heard that Rainbow Rowell is a fabulous writer and I checked out the book Landline. This is a great book for anyone who wants to read a book that is funny, romantic and slightly mystical. Georgie, a talented comedy writer is very dedicated to her work and her family. Her stay at home husband, Neal, is very upset when he learns that his wife needs to work during Christmas week and will not be able to visit his parents due to a fabulous business opportunity.
    Georgie is very upset about this turn of events and stays at her quirky fun mother’s house during this difficult time. Lo and behold, the landline in her childhood bedroom connects to her husband in the past. Is this an opportunity to fix the relationship by stepping back? A sign that Georgie is going crazy? An opportunity to change things so that the relationship does not go forward? (an option Georgie rejects because she loves her two daughters too much to not have them be born.)
    No spoiler alerts here. Read this delightful book and find out.
    If you like this book, I also recommend the delightful novel, Hanging Up by Delia Ephron.
  • Four court gavels up for Anatomy of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan. If you like strong women protagonists, suspense, and compulsively readable novels, this is the book for you. The book is rich in character, plot and setting. You will feel like you have traveled to Oxford University, Liverpool and London in one novel.
    If you enjoy this book, I recommend : We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley. You will get a sense of upper class New York life and the struggles of those with money and those who plot to get their hands on some of that money.

Nancy D.:
Books:

  • The Hunger by Alma Katsu: Described as “a tense and gripping reimagining of one of America’s most fascinating historical moments: the Donner Party with a supernatural twist.” I read the prepublication of this novel, which is coming out in March, and absolutely loved it. Beautifully written with wonderful character development. The novel brings to life the tragic, true story of the ill-fated Donner wagon train expedition to California during the 1840s. Even the supernatural twist makes sense within the horror of the actual situation.
  • Beneath the Mountain by Luca D’Andrea: In this “atmospheric and brilliant thriller, set in a small mountain community in the majestic Italian Dolomites, an outsider must uncover the truth about a triple murder that has gone unsolved for thirty years.” I personally love thrillers that take place in high, isolated mountain regions and this book fits the bill. At times I thought the language lost a bit in translation (originally written in Italian) and seemed stilted, but overall I got swept up in the mystery and its many twists and turns.
  • I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke: This mystery novel alternates primarily between two main characters: a woman who washes up on an almost deserted Greek island with no memory of who she is or how she got there, and her husband (living in London) who is frantically searching for his wife, who left their home and two small children without a trace. I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it!
  • The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine: Domestic thrillers are very popular these days and some are better than others. This novel is definitely one of the better ones. The moral of this story might be “be careful what you wish for.”

Audiobooks:

  • The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce: I’m stealing People Magazine’s quote here because it is so true and good: This is “an unforgettable story of music, loss, and hope. Fans of the novel High Fidelity, meet your next quirky love story. Vinyl fans, hold on to your turntables…Joyce’s latest is a buoyant homage to the healing power of music well-played.” I loved everything about this book..the characters, their story, and the music that holds them all together. As a plus, the speaker was fabulous.
  • Artemis by Andy Weir: Following up his hugely successful book The Martian, Weir creates another out of this world novel. This one is based on the moon and its first populated community called Artemis. The protagonist of this funny, action-packed novel is a kick-ass female called Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara, who only wants to move up in her world and somehow ends up involved in a high stakes lunar crime venture. As with his first novel, I didn’t understand all of the scientific and technical terminology, but I stayed involved because of wonderful characters and dialogue.
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: Another well written story by Ng (the author of Little Fires Everywhere), this novel centers around a Chinese American family living in 1970s small town Ohio. It opens with the disappearance and death of the middle child daughter, Lydia (on whom all the parent’s hopes and dreams are pinned on), and how this loss affects them all. The novel is written from the viewpoints of both the mother and father, and the three children (the oldest son and the youngest daughter), as well as Lydia herself, and moves back and forth in time. I found the story to be a heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting exploration of family dynamics among all too human beings.
  • The Child Finder by Rene Denfield: This novel centers around an investigator who must use her unique insights to find a missing little girl lost three years ago in the woods of Oregon. I loved this suspenseful and atmospheric book, which alternates between the voices of Naomi (the child finder) and a deeply imaginative child.

Films:

  • Happy Death Day DVD: I liked this film much more that I thought I would! The protagonist is a college-aged woman who must relive her own murder every day until she can figure out who killed her. A dark comedic take on the movie Groundhog Day and by the producer of Get Out and Whiplash, two other fantastic films.
  • Hotel Beau Sejour (Netflix): I loved this Flemish-language Belgian supernatural crime drama television series in which a teenager named Kato (caught in an afterlife limbo) investigates her own mysterious death and unravels a web of secrets in her seemingly tranquil village. Strangely, five people can still see and interact with her, and they all play a role in helping her solve her murder.

Debora:

  • Two Irish Lads by Gerrie Burnie is a story of two young men who fall in love with each other in an era when it could kill them both. It’s also an adventure story set in the wilds of Canada in the 1820s and complete with a cast of interesting characters. Beautifully written and laugh out loud funny, it’s a quick read.
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller tells the story of the Trojan War and the special bond between Achilles, the “best of all the Greeks,” and the awkward and lonely prince Patroclus. It is history, love, and the tension of war all rolled into one. Don’t be surprised if it makes you cry.
  • Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull is an amazing first novel told in a compelling, wry voice. Alternating between present day in a nursing home and decades before as a young man in love, this story stayed with me for many, many months.

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

 

 

 

 

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