This Week’s Best Sellers — May 29, 2016

This Week’s Best Sellers — May 22, 2016

Staff Reads — May 23, 2016


Here are your staff reads as you gear up for Memorial Day Weekend!

Ashley: Forgive Me if I’ve Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters; The Boys who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose


  • The Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway Shows are Built by Jack Viertel. This is my favorite non-fiction book I have read, this year. Heck, this is probably my favorite book I have read, this year! My (not so) secret desire is to be a character actress or a lead in a Broadway musical. There’s just that one little problem of not having an ounce of talent when it comes to singing, dancing, or acting, so I imagine an audition would be a painful process for all involved. I may or may not have imagined myself winning Tony awards for my roles as Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and as Marian the Librarian in The Music Man. But, hey, I couldn’t play Marian on stage, so at least I get to be her in real life. I love to read books about the history of Broadway, but I felt like this book was written for me. Okay, so I’m not that delusional, but producer, former critic, and instructor at New York University Jack Viertel seems to have gotten into my brain as he not only makes the case for the importance and significance of all musicals, he appreciates many of the same aspects of them that I do. Dividing the book into different segments of the show, he takes the reader through the opening number, the number by the secondary couple, and even the show stoppers, showing how they’ve evolved over time, and how different numbers may play different roles in individual shows. His book demonstrates how older musicals led the way for the modern era (Hair begat Rent which begat Hamilton, The King and I begat The Book of Mormon, and Little Shop of Horrors begat Hairspray, for examples. He and I even have the same taste. The epilogue consists of a list of cast recordings from a variety of musicals that he recommends. In most cases, Viertel maintains that the original cast recording is the best, something with which I’m in complete agreement. In one example, however, he says that it’s hard to choose, so it’s important to own two cast recordings of Guys and Dolls: the 1950 original cast starring Sam Levene and Vivian Blaine as Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide and the 1992 revival cast recording starring Faith Prince and Nathan Lane in the same roles. Guess which is the only show I own the original cast and the revival cast on Itunes? In my head, I’m telling you!
  • Bucky &***** Dent by David Duchovny. (That second word of the title is actually a familiar word with one letter missing. I’m sure you can figure out the word!) My second fantasy job after being the queen of the Broadway stage is to play right field for the Boston Red Sox, in which I would have hit the game winning home run in a decisive game 7 of the World Series. (This was pre-2004, when my chances of playing for the Red Sox were about as likely as them winning a World Series in my lifetime). Since, however, my baseball abilities are about on par with my acting and singing abilities, this wasn’t happening. I do, however, love to devour books about baseball, and when I heard that Agent Mulder, er, David Duchovny, from one of my favorite shows was writing a novel about the 1978 Red Sox and Yankees, I was intrigued. I’m always a bit wary about actors who write novels, and therefore had fairly low expectations, which helped. Wannabe writer, Ted Fullilove, is a peanut vendor at Yankee Stadium in 1978, when he receives news that his estranged Red Sox fan father, is dying. The two slowly come to a reconciliation amidst the backdrop of the 1978 playoff battle between the Red Sox and Yankees. (Fans of either team, regardless if they were born yet, know what happened in that one game playoff when the Red Sox hearts were broken again.) This short book will be fun for fans of either team, but there are a lot of cliches, the characters are a bit one note and the scenes are similar to a Hallmark Channel movie (plus some extreme profanity which doesn’t bother me but may bother some readers). I was not surprised to read in multiple reviews that this was originally intended as a screenplay as the book is full of television and movie tropes. Duchovny clearly loves baseball (See his X-Files directed episode, “The Unnatural”) and that comes through (mostly) in a lovely way, here, but, unless you’re also a baseball fan, or have fond or painful memories of the 1978 season, this book probably won’t do anything for you.

Janice: In honor of the passing of the esteemed George Martin on March 8, I read his memoir All You Need is Ears. It’s an oldie from 1979, but gives a lot of dirt on the famous record producer’s star performers- Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Peter Sellers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, America, and of course, the Beatles. The amazing career of “the Fifth Beatle” spanned everything from the old 78’s to the onset of the digital era. Much like reading Orwell’s 1984 with today’s eyes, some of Martin’s statements are amusing in their naivete, such as: quadrophonic recording was too complicated to catch on, or the Beatles’ early songwriting ability did not appear saleable. On the other hand, with Sergeant Pepper he correctly predicted that highly produced recorded music would not be reproducible in an arena or auditorium, which became a major reason the Beatles, among others groups, stopped touring.


  • Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood published in 1996: This book was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award and England’s Booker Prize and won the Giller Prize for Fiction.
    Alias Grace is based on the case of sixteen year old Grace Marks, who, in 1843 was imprisoned for a double murder. She was released with a pardon in 1872 from the Provincial Penitentiary in Ontario to New York State to a “home provided” and may or may not have gotten married. It is not clear if Ms. Marks was actually a murderess or if the evidence was circumstantial. This is a great read for anyone who likes psychological fiction, historical fiction or an exploration of the lives of domestics in the 1840s.
    Readalikes, Viewalikes: Upstairs, Downstairs, Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Story that Inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey by Margaret Powell, My Thirty Years Backstairs At the Whitehouse by Lilian Rogers Parks, Backstairs at the Whitehouse, The Alienist by Caleb Carr
  • Eileen by Ottessa Mossfegh: This is one of these wonderful, dark, dysfunctional tales told by an unreliable narrator that is just not to be missed. If you enjoyed The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, get ready for another wild ride. Eileen lives with her alcoholic retired policeman father in a squalor filled house in the 1950s. The fictional working class Massachusetts town by the sea boasts a juvenile prison for boys. Eileen works there by day and returns to her crazy father at night. When a new employee named Rebecca begins working at the prison and seems to take a shine to Eileen, things begin to change. Gillian Flynn fans, take note. You won’t want to miss this novel. I am waiting for more by Ottessa Mossfegh.


This Week’s Best Sellers — May 1, 2016

Here are the bestseller lists for the week of May 1, 2016:

Staff Reads — April 15, 2016


Your “Staff Reads” for Tax Day and Patriot’s Day!

Lisa: I got of our elevator on my way to look for some easy reading and got distracted enough by Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (humor writing) from our Comedy display that I decided I needed to read it.


Jan: I read Magna Carta: The Birth of Liberty by Dan Jones. While it may seem dry at first, it’s actually a fascinating account of the way of life in the Middle Ages. It takes you way beyond your memories of sugar cube constructions of castles in school to the story of the injustices of King John’s reign (yes, the King John of Robin Hood fame, mentioned but only briefly.) The quintessential founding document of constitutional government, the Magna Carta became more than a peace treaty between the king, his warring barons, and the Church. It ensured rights that are now enshrined in charters around the world.

Pat A.: Currently reading Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy. I saw her on a television interview. She talks about how we hold ourselves, posturing, has a deep effect on our mind and changes how we present ourselves.
Just finished The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman about a family of women with charm bracelets and the story behind each charm. A “charming” book.


  • A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger: In 1960’s Belmont, a woman was found murdered. Was the culprit the Boston Strangler or an African-American handy man? Junger goes into elaborate detail and paints an amazing portrait of race relations (still relevant as ever) and the fear and fascination we all have with crimes. Junger gives the reader a strong sense of place regarding the time period and the area. I loved the detail in The Perfect Storm and was glad to see that this book was similar.
  • What We Find by Robyn Carr: Carr’s latest romance is the story of doctor Maggie Sullivan, who dealing with multiple lawsuits, a broken relationship, and a miscarriage, runs to her father’s campground in rural Colorado. There she begins a romance with Cal Jones, a drifter, who is running away from his own issues. A quick read, though somewhat predictable, the quirky side characters and the romance make it worthwhile.
  • Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta: Meadow and Carrie are childhood friends who are filmmakers. Throughout the years, their friendship waxes and wanes as they embark on their respective careers. Things come to a head when Meadow makes a documentary about “Jelly”, a woman who calls men but never wants to meet them. This book is either pretentious or making fun of pretentiousness. An interesting look at life behind the movie camera and how film is or isn’t a metaphor for life.
  • I’m currently reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Fanny Price, sent to live with her aunt’s family, has always felt a bit like an outsider among her cousins and struggles to find her place in the family. I love how Austen developed her characters’ personalities through the dialogue rather than descriptions. The dialogue, as in Pride and Prejudice is very witty.
  • Moonrise Kingdom: This has been on my “to watch” list for awhile. This movie is pure Wes Anderson, with its heightened reality and quirky yet fully realized characters. This movie was delightful.

Hannah: The Midnight Assassin by Skip Hollandsworth: Skip Hollandsworth retells the story of America’s first serial killer. Pre-dating Jack the Ripper (in fact, London police wondered if it might be the same person), the Midnight Assassin lurked in Austin, Texas during the year 1885. The killer brutally murdered seven women in the span of a year. More than a dozen men were arrested for the murders, but the true identity of the killer remains a mystery. Whether you love a good mystery or revel in true crime this book is sure to fascinate.

Mary V.:

  • A June of Ordinary Murders by Conor Brady: A serial killer is murdering people during a very hot June in 1880’s Dublin.
  • Death on the Prairie by Kathleen Ernst: A story of two sisters who go on tour to visit various sites memorializing Laura Ingalls Wilder. Of course, there are murders. I liked it so much I read the first two books in the series and plan on reading the others. Death on the Prairie is the last in the series, but there was no problem in reading it out of order.
  • The Governor’s Wife by Michael Harvey: Another new book in a series that I enjoyed and plan to read the earlier books. Of course, there is a murder.


  • Just finished reading:
    • The Widow by Fiona Barton: The Widow is a creepy tale, a bit of a psychological thriller. Jean Taylor is a perfect London housewife, a little untidy. Her husband, Glen, is controlling, they married young and Jean does whatever Glen tells her to do until Glen is run over by a bus and dies. Jean has kept her secrets but now seems to be the time to let it all out of the bag. A little girl had gone missing from her front yard and Glen was the prime suspect. His van was seen in the girl’s neighborhood on the day she went missing, that and other clues lead the police to believe Glen is their man…but was he and how much did Jean really know??
    • New Neighbor by Leah Stewart: Ninety-year-old Margaret Riley is cantankerous, she lives alone on a mountain in Tennessee, and spies on her new neighbor, Jennifer, who lives across the pond. . Both women are keeping dark secrets, and Margaret is on a mission to find out what Jennifer is hiding, she has an obsession, loving to solve mysteries. I was surprised by the ending but felt it was really a good story.
  • Recently watched:
    • Spotlight: This movie is an account of the true story of how The Boston Globe investigated allegations of children being raped by priests in Boston in 2001, and uncovered a world-wide system of child sex abuse that the Catholic Church had been allowing for 30 years. Even being painfully aware of this scandal and it details, this movie brought more facts to light and just how the victims were left to deal with this abuse both mentally and physically.. It’s one of the best movies about investigative reporting I’ve ever seen.
    • Brooklyn: A charming story about young Irish immigrant who comes to New York for a better life. She is torn between the prospect of a new beginning and leaving her much loved sister and mother behind in Ireland. This is truly a tale of two countries, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Best Seller Lists — Week of April 3, 2016

Here are the best seller lists for the week of April 3, 2016:

Best Seller Lists — Week of March 27, 2016

Here are the best seller lists for the week of March 27, 2016:

Staff Reads — March 17, 2016


Your “Staff Reads” for St. Patrick’s Day!

Jan: I watched A Walk in the Woods [videorecording] released last year. Starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, it is a beautifully filmed story of a trek on the Appalachian Trail by a couple of old pals who discover more about themselves than the thrill of the hike. It is superficially similar to Wild by Carol Strayed, set on the west coast’s equivalent Pacific Coast Trail. But Walk gives some of the most beautiful views and iconic sights from the AT’s southern leg…a must see for anyone who loves the outdoors.

Pat A.: The Good Good-Bye by Carla Buckley and Come Away With Me by Karma Brown. Both were very good stories with a twist.
An older book that was very good was A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan.


  • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night on DVD. It was a really good, but sad Iranian movie (filmed in the US) that had bits of humor, horror, drama, & romance. They way this movie was filmed reminded me a lot of Jim Jarmusch.
  • Dope on DVD. This was a really enjoyable coming of age comedy/drama that has it all… a good story, likable characters, and great music.
  • Streamed the new Face to Face album, Protection, off Freegal. Face to Face has been around since 1991 (with a short breakup last decade). This album reminds me a lot of their sound from the mid 90s (which is a great thing).
  • I just started reading Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco via OverDrive. I was in the mood for a fun horror book, and, so far, I am enjoying it.

Stephanie: Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin: Gossipy, intriguing, fictional glimpse of the lives of several New York socialites and their relationship with Truman Capote. Heartbreaking and catty, dazzling and fun. You will want to re-visit both “Answered Prayers” and Capote’s article “Cote Basque 1965” published in Esquire Magazine November of 1975. Whether you liked Truman Capote or not, you wont be able to put this book down.



  • We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Another great story from the author of The Language of Flowers. It’s a story about a young single mother, Letty, who is trying to make a better life for her children. Letty has always relied on her parents to raise her children while she worked 3 jobs but now her parents have returned to Mexico.So she must make a life for her family as she deals with all of life’s trials and tribulations . It’s a story very relevant to today’s society as she weaves a tale of second-generation Americans and undocumented immigrants. A very engaging story with well developed characters.
  • The Red Coat : a Novel of Boston by Dolley Carlson. Set in Boston in the 1940s, an Irish domestic, Norah Kelly, asks her wealthy employer for an elegant red coat that has been earmarked for a charity donation. Norah brings the coat home to her daughter and so begins the story of two families that intertwine over the decades. It’s a fascinating story with great character development but also amazing historical insight. There are lots of Boston landmarks that are presented in old photos along the side of the pages. It really came alive for me as my mother was an Irish domestic who worked on Beacon Hill when she first came to the states. Truly a book difficult to put down and sad to see it end..
  • The Lake House [sound recording] : a Novel by Kate Morton. A mysterious tale of dark family secrets set in a lakeside estate in Cornwall, England. Once again this is a book that goes back and forth from a present day mystery to one that took place over 70 years ago.
    This is a gripping mystery that will keep you thinking about it long after you’ve finished the book.
  • Mirror Lake: [a novel] by Thomas Christopher Greene (audiobook download from Hoopla). Nathan Carter, a young man in his 30s moves from Boston to rural Vermont after the death of his father. He becomes a rural mail-person and one of the stops on his route is Wallace Fisk, a 79 year old curmudgeon, who takes down his mailbox so Nathan wouldn’t be able to deliver the mail.
    Nathan’s Jeep goes off the road in a blinding snowstorm and it is Wallace who comes to his rescue and nurses him back to health. And so begins an unlikely friendship. The novel unfolds between each man’s past and present and some dark secrets are revealed. A very enjoyable story with a good narrator.

Lisa: I’m currently reading a variety of romance novels for light reading. For more substantive reading I like to read self-improvement books. Right now I’m focusing on self-improvement for my librarian self. I just finished a book called Crash Course in Library Services to Preschool Children.


  • The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. Monsieur Perdu owns a bookstore pharmacy on a houseboat in the Seine, where he prescribes the perfect book for each of his customers. Haunted by memories of his one true love, a woman who was involved with him while married, and entangled with a young, brash writer, Monsieur Perdu drops anchor on the Seine and encounters several quirky characters and learns something about life. The writing is so lyrical, and I love the idea of the floating bookstore. And, though, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, I have to admit I was drawn to reading this purely because of the cover.
  • Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale. Illustrated by Nathan Hale. This fun graphic novel, written for teens but to be enjoyed by everyone, re-imagines Rapunzel in the Wild West with special guest star, Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk). Rapunzel is no damsel in distress as she manages to take care of herself and get out of her tower. The illustrations are just striking, and the prose is both compelling and humorous.
  • Laura (Movie). I recently re-visited this film noir, starring Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, and Judith Anderson. Detective Mark McPherson falls in love with the compelling, Laura Hunt, simply by looking at her portrait. Unfortunately, he happens to be trying to solve her murder. The melodramatic movie is a little dated and is unintentionally funny in parts, but it’s still a fun ride, and Clifton Webb is sufficiently creepy as one of Laura’s multiple unsuitable love interests.

Point/Counter Point Oscar Fashion and Library Resources

Oscar statue

Hi everyone,
Here is our annual Point/Counter Point about the Oscar Fashions (as well as some ways the library can let you relive or make fun of the Academy Awards)

The good. The bad. All boring.
I saw a posting on Facebook the other day that stated: better to arrive late than to arrive ugly. I laughed because this has always been my motto.
And it reminded me of this year’s Oscar fashion. Not that the stars were ugly by any means but there did not seem to be much fussing—with gowns, hair, makeup. I like more glamour, I guess.

I agree with Marialice that the outfits were a bit on the dull side, this year. (Except for the crew of Mad Max: Fury Road. I love that they went the funky but the casual route). However, I managed to find some looks that I adored and others that I really disliked.

Do you need tax help?

Einstein tax

Do you need tax forms? Do you have questions about your taxes? Do you need assistance filling out your taxes? Here are some resources that can help.

General Information and Forms

Free Tax Help

  • Taxpayer Assistance Center
    JFK Federal Building; 15 New Sudbury Street; Boston, MA 02203

Provides some federal tax help. May refer inquiries to local volunteer tax services.
Times Available: Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.

  • Bentley University Students
    Morrison Hall, Room 101; Waltham, MA 02452

Tax Help for those who are eligible for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)
Times Available: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm; Saturdays, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm; February 15 – April 10; There will be no tax assistance on March 8 and 15.

  • Charles River Public Internet Center
    154 Moody Street; Waltham, MA 02453
    781-891-9559, x206

Tax Help for those who are eligible for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). Please call to make an appointment.
Times Available: Thursdays, 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm; Fridays, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Saturdays, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.

Tax help for senior citizens. Must call to make an appointment
Times Available: Monday – Friday, 9:00 – 11:00 am; February 3 – April 15.

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