English Language Learning Club 2020 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.  We meet one Tuesday a month at 7:15 pm (19:15).  This group is recommended for intermediate and advanced speakers.

If you have any questions, please contact Aaron at 781-314-3442.

2020 Meeting Dates

Staff Reads — Happy New Year 2020!

Book Projector Treble Clef

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  • Fugly by Claire Waller : This wonderful YA novel had me from the first word to the last.  The main character of the novel, Beth Soames, lives in a flat with her mother and brother.  Her dad flew the familial coop and mom has fallen into a life of medication,  depression, and excessive television viewing.  Her younger brother is keeping late hours and locking himself into his room.  Beth tries to attend to her mother and brother, but this is an uphill battle.  She has a hidden life as an internet troll where she feels more powerful than in her ‘real life’.  Beth is attending university hoping to make some positive changes in her life and things to begin to change for her.  Two friendships, one online and one in university, begin to change the path that Beth has embarked on.
  • Reality Boy:  A Novel by A.S. King:  This is a fabulous YA novel about a young man whose entire childhood was upended due to unwanted exposure on a reality show at the age of 5 with a so called nanny ‘helping’ the family.  The nanny is actually an actress playing a nanny.  Gerald, our main character, has an older sister who is psychopathic…except the family does not acknowledge this and all clues to this are suppressed in the reality show.  He has another sister who sees all that goes on and is an ally to Gerald.  The novel begins with Gerald at age 17, his kind sister Lisi is off at college and not keeping in touch.  The psychopathic sister is taunting him at home and the family, as per usual, is turning a deaf ear to the awful behavior of this out of control family member.  This novel is so absorbing and brings us hope for Gerald who has grown up in such a difficult heart wrenching situation.  This only underlines my personal distaste for reality television.  However, even fans of reality television will be moved by this well crafted novel.
  • Dark Money:  The Hidden History of The Billionaires Behind The Rise Of The Radical Right by Jane Mayer : For me, the narrator of audiobooks is as important or even more important than the content. I am happy to say that the narrator of this audiobook is excellent and I am enjoying this aspect of the book.  As one can see from the title, this is not a ‘happy’ story but it is instructive and well written.  I have been very curious about the radical right and how it has so much power in our country and even the world.  This book is filling in some of the gaps.  This is not a light read but it is educational and does fill in some of the blanks for those of us who are wondering what the heck is going on in our corporate/political system.
  • The Topeka School by Ben Lerner : This novel has been very well reviewed and the plot intrigued me.  Please do not take my review as gospel.  I felt that the book lacked heart and, although the plot line and the setting were quite good, I felt a remove from the characters and did not, in the end, enjoy this book.  I would advise readers to make their own judgements as no book will appeal to every reader.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (streaming) 


  • State of the Union: A Marriage in Ten Parts by Nick Hornby:
    Nick Hornby’s newest drops the reader into the lives of Tom and Louise, a couple who are just beginning marriage counseling. The entire book takes place at the pub across the street from the therapist’s office, where Tom and Louise meet for a drink before each session. Most of the book is conversation – it reads a bit like a screenplay – but Hornby has a knack for driving the plot well that way.
  • The Cockroach by Ian McEwan: This is a brilliant work of satire that plays out as the reverse of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. In McEwan’s book, a cockroach takes the human form of the British Prime Minister and uses his new body to push forward a controversial new bill that would turn the nation upside down. With vague references to Brexit, Trump, and Parliament, it is timely and funny, and as a bonus can be read in one sitting.
  • Westlife: Our Story, by Westlife and Mark Roach (book) and Spectrum, by Westlife (album): My favorite boy band from my youth released a new album this month, after seven years apart, and I have been giddily reliving my halcyon days by playing it non-stop. I’m also finally getting around to reading their memoir, which came out ten years ago. It’s cheesy and not very well written, but I’m loving it nonetheless
  • The Crown, Season 3: I’ve started watching the newest season of The Crown on Netflix. It’s taking a bit to get used to the new cast, but so far I’m really liking it. Plus, one of my favorite actors, Tobias Menzies, is in it now, so that’s a bonus!


  • Circe by Madeline Miller: Take The Odyssey and, instead of reading about Odysseus’ triumphs and travels, learn about the witch Circe that he stays with for over a year. Miller tells Circe’s rich and compelling backstory with a language that is as lyrical as, I’m guessing, the original Odyssey. Circe is a complicated woman with faults and feelings who struggles with many things in her long immortal life. She ultimately makes a choice that both surprises and makes complete sense. I loved this book so much I didn’t want it to end. This book will appeal to fans of The Mists of Avalon.
  • That Churchill Woman by Stephanie Barron: This historical novel was a big disappointment. American Jennie Jerome, who became Lady Churchill and gave birth to the baby Winston was a controversial and outrageous woman who flaunted the norms of her Victorian era. While it was somewhat interesting to read this imagining of her life and the time period in which she lived, overall I found the story dull and plodding.
  • The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott: A fascinating premise, this novel tells the story behind Boris Pasternak’s book, Doctor Zhivago, and how the CIA used it as a propaganda tool. Told from several different character voices, it goes back and forth among the stories of Pasternak’s lover and muse, Olga, the two CIA secretaries who began as typists and became spies, and one or two other characters. That back and forthing is confusing and I frequently had to look back to see which character was speaking. The voice of Olga was most compelling and learning about her time in the Gulag truly horrifying; the other characters I found flat and boring.



  • Limetown on Facebook Watch: I couldn’t get into the podcast. It didn’t sound like actual people  being interviewed, just really earnest actors (which it was because ots fiction) and that really turned me off. The show however, is compelling and suspenseful, with a stellar cast, including Jessica Beal and John Beasley. (It’s also a book).
  • Black Christmas (1974)
  • Black Christmas (2019): Similar to the original in setting only. Was a fun, not very scary PG -13 horror film with strong feminist themes.
  • The L Word Generation Q on Showtime
  • Dark Waters: Remember when we found out that teflon was really bad for us? No? This legal thriller will remind you.
  • Knives Out in theaters was a fun whodunnit, filmed locally, including Moody Street.



  • Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Susan Ware: Our library was so fortunate to host the author of this excellent inclusive history of the woman’s suffrage movement featuring women and artifacts who have not been given enough due regarding their roles in the movement.
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern:  Zachary recognizes an episode from his childhood in a mysterious book in his college library and starts on a mysterious journey.  Written in a non linear format, the style is dreamlike with a lot of mysterious characters and extremely descriptive detail.  Although the pace was very leisurely, I read the book very quickly, though I much preferred Morgenstern’s first novel, The Night Circus.
  • Patina by Jason Reynolds, read by Heather Alicia SimmsI’ve been enjoying Jason Reynolds’s Track series, the second being about Patina aka “Patty”.  This book is a great blend of lighthearted prose along with serious situations, such as Patina’s mother’s diabetes.  I love the loving and complicated relationship she has with her uncle and aunt who are raising her.
  • The Girl in the White Gloves: A Novel of Grace Kelly by Kerri Maher: I would recommend this upcoming novel for readers who enjoy to read fictitious accounts of celebrities, such as Josephine Baker’s Last Dance and The Paris Wife. 
  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo: Beautiful coming of age, character driven novel, written in verse, about Xiomara, who discovers her love for slam poetry while navigating her relationship with her immigrant parents, her twin brother, and a new love.
  • March Sisters: On Life, Death, and Little Women by Kate Bolick, Jenny Zhang, Carmen Maria Machado, and Jane Smiley: The four authors each tackle one of the March sisters in this unique analysis of Little Women.  I saw the four sisters in a different light upon reading this, especially Beth and the oft-maligned Amy.
  • Guts by Raina Telgemeier: Telgemeier continues to be my favorite graphic novel writer/illustrator and really captures the anxiety of a pre-teen girl in her latest addition.
  • Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes, read by Julia Whelan: Evvie, a young widow who had been on the verge of leaving her husband, connects romantically with Dean, her tenant and a washed up baseball player.  This was a pleasant read (or listen) though I found it hard to completely invest in the characters.
  • Trailblazer by Dorothy Butler Gilliam: Fascinating memoir and history about the first female African-American reporter at The Washington Post
  • Dawnland: This documentary details the horrible history behind child welfare agencies removing Native American children from their homes and the results of a “truth and reconciliation commission” from Maine to investigate the practice.  Very powerful and ends with more questions than answers.
  • Bright Lights: This sad, raw, and occasionally funny documentary is about the relationship between mother and daughter, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher.  The fact this was released just weeks after their deaths adds a poignancy to the film.
  • It’s Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise: Oooooooooooooooooo I absolutely love Eloise (and by extension the man who illustrated her).

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Club 2020

It’s 2020, which means the Waltham Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Club has entered our 3rd year! Join us as we continue to read both recent additions to the genre as well as classics of the past.  Meetups are every second Monday of the month, 7:15-8:45pm. Books can be found at the First Floor Reference Desk. No registration required! Nerd or not, all are welcomed! Snacks provided!

January 13th: All Systems Red by Martha Wells

February 10th: Dawn by Octavia Butler

March 9th: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

April 13th: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

May 11th: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne

June 8th: Vicious by V. E. Schwab

July 13th: The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin

August 10th: Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

September 14th: Hyperion by Dan Simmons

October 19th: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

November 9th: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

December 14th: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

2020 Saturday Morning Book Club Title List

We are looking forward to a great year of reading and hope you will join us!

This book group meets one Saturday a month at 10 am. Books are available on the shelves behind the Reference Desk during the month before each meeting.

The book club is open to everyone; no registration required. Coffee and snacks provided.

January 4 Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn

February 1 The River by Peter Heller

March 7 Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

April 4 Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

May 2 Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

June 6 The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

July 4 No Meeting

August 1 Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

September 5 Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

October 3 The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

November 7 America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo

December 5 Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry

Initiating Inspiration Book Club 2020 Titles

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 the fourth Monday evenings of the month at 7:15 pm. There are no meetings in July or August.

Monday, January 27 7:15PM Evicted: Poverty And Property In The American City by Matthew Desmond

Monday, March 23 7:15PM One Day My Soul Just Opened Up by Iyanla Vanzant

Monday, May 18 7:15PM The Bold World: A Memoir of Family And Transformation by Jodie Patterson

Monday, September 28 7:15PM 10% Happier: How I Tamed The Voice In My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge And Found Self -Help That Actually Works: A True Story by Dan Harris

Monday, November 23 7:15PM Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race To Turn Hope Into Action: A Memoir by David Fajgenbaum

Staff Reads November 2019

Book Projector Treble Clef

Subscribe to Staff Reads and other book newsletters.  Check out our “Best of Staff Reads” display on our first floor through the end of November.


  • The Alice Network by Kate Quinn: This is one of those books that I totally disappeared into, and was sad when it ended. It’s a richly detailed work of historical fiction that jumps between World War One and just after World War Two, focusing on the lives of two very different, but very strong, women. Eve works as a spy in German-occupied France during WWI, and Charlie is an unwed, pregnant college student being dragged to post-WW2 Europe by her mother to “take care” of her “little problem.” Charlie runs away to London, where she meets Eve and begs the retired spy to help her find her missing cousin. And then… it’s just so good. 
  • Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life, by Ali Wong: I know Ali Wong from her Netflix comedy specials Baby Cobra and Hard Knock Wife, and was curious to read her book. It’s a memoir in the form of letters to her two daughters, and combines her sarcastic sense of humor with stories ranging from her adventures studying abroad, to childbirth, to her journey becoming a stand-up comedian, to the experience of being the child and grandchild of immigrants. I found it to be funny and touching, but anyone unfamiliar with her comedy should note that it tends to be on the raunchy side.


  • The Grace Year by Kim Liggett: I would say this is not so much like The Handmaid’s Tale, but The Hunger Games. Young women are sent away from their home when they turn 16, so that their “magic” will leave them before they return and are married. This novel was visceral, and at times, i didn’t want to know what bad things girls could do to each other. 
  • Toy Story 4
  • Midsommar 
  • Nancy Drew on the CW
  • Batwoman on the CW
  • Evil on CBS: This show is actually pretty creepy!
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark on Nickelodeon: 90s kids, remember this? It’s back! And creeping out this grown up


  • Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand: Late to the party as usual, this was my first Elin Hilderbrand beach read. Little did I know, it was also her first historical fiction book, which is always my go to. Like all of her books, this was set on Nantucket in the summer. The storyline goes back and forth among 4 main characters: three daughters, Blair, Kirby, and Jessie and their mother, Kate. There are background details to set it firmly in 1969: Kate’s son Tiger has been shipped to Vietnam; Teddy Kennedy stays at the Martha’s Vineyard inn where Kirby is working the night he drives his car off the bridge at Chappaquiddick, and Jessie’s first crush Pick is planning to take her to Woodstock with him. But really the story is all about family dynamics, personal regrets, skeletons in the closet, and dealing with difficult life issues. The novel is a compulsive read and Hilderbrand does a great job of keeping you interested; I finished it in a week.
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama: I rarely read memoirs and I’m so glad I read this one. I felt I got to know this amazing and accomplished woman through her honest and intimate narrative. Her voice comes through so clearly that I practically could hear it; I later learned that she reads the audio book. And, although the book is truly her story, it does include vignettes of Barack, which were delightful to read. By the end, I wanted to reach out and invite her to my house for a glass of wine and to be my friend. 
  • Costalegre by Courtney Maum: Honestly, I don’t know how this book got published. I read it because it was described as a work of historical fiction but in my opinion, this book was not that. Set on a remote resort in Mexico in 1937, the cast of characters is a group of artists collected by wealthy socialite Leonora Caloway who spirits the group out of Nazi Germany to escape Hitler’s oppression. But really this is a story told from the perspective of Lara, Leonora’s teenage daughter who suffers from neglect, the pangs of first love, but mostly, boredom. It’s that last emotion that permeates the book and was the one I felt, too. 


  • Body Leaping Backward:  Memoir Of A Delinquent Girlhood by Maureen Stanton: I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir by Maureen Stanton.  Maureen grew up in Walpole Mass, a suburban town with the prison looming over everyone.  She describes her childhood on a dead end street, her parents’ divorce, having six siblings and feeling invisible.  Unfortunately, she gets into angel dust and loses some time hanging around the wrong people.  Maureen and her mother also get into shoplifting during a time of financial difficulty. This is a great depiction of some of the trials and tribulations of suburban working class lives during the sixties and seventies.  Many references of the time period resonated with me including but not limited to:  shag carpeting, Watergate, the Cowsills,  listening to lp records, watching the old show A Family Affair and finding out tone of the adorable twins, Buffy, became a drug addict.   I recommend this book to fans of All Souls:  A Family Story From Southie by Michael Patrick MacdonaldAngela’s Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt.
  • The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland: This book is hilarious and I love the premise.  The Feldmans, an upper middle class suburban family from Great Neck, Long Island get together on a cruise ship to celebrate the matriarch’s 70th birthday.  Pandemonium breaks loose as various family secrets are revealed…a shopaholic, a pot salesman, and more.  Get ready to laugh!

Pat O.



  • On Looking : Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz: I loved this book about how exciting and interesting our everyday surroundings can be!  The author explores regular city streets with a focus on a particular sense. She walks with experts on typography, geology, etc. It’s truly fascinating and good reminder to slow down and stay curious. 
  • Three Women by Lisa Taddeo:  This book offers a peek behind the curtain of three women’s lives and the role of desire and sexual relationships in the shaping of their lives. The author spent about 10 years working with these women to write this book. No books have been written that study the topic so closely, with subjects and insights about womanhood that are so relatable. At times it feels voyeuristic, but ultimately the author really connects you to these women’s deepest, most private thoughts, feelings, and desires. It’s an extremely honest and intimate snapshot of their lives. I didn’t love the author’s voice in her intro chapter, but after that it was a breeze to read.
  • Know My Name by Chanel Miller: I could not put this down. Miller gives voice to the powerless, though it’s only her story she tells. Miller was sexually assaulted in the infamous Brock Turner case and known throughout the trial as “Emily Doe”. In writing this book, Miller makes herself vulnerable and shows strength- not only her strength, but the strength of every survivor that chooses to go public. She shows the hard road they walk, the roadblocks  they face in our legal system and in the court of public opinion. The topic isn’t an easy one, but she manages to make the reader feel optimistic, powerful, and part of the solution. Through her story readers get a very intimate perspective of the very real culture around assault and victim blaming in our society. I highly recommend this read.
  • Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow : Another page turner! I listened to the audiobook version and aside from the sometimes hilarious accents Farrow puts on, it’s a serious work. Farrow tells the story of NBC burying his story about Weinstein and how it came to be that he published it at the New Yorker. He’s tailed by spies, offered help from those looking to get information for Weinstein, and threatened along the way, all the while trying to convince those with stories to speak out while they are often facing the same threats. Farrow tells the story with commanding ease and keeps readers easily on track through all the twists and turns.
  • Colorado by Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Neil’s voice and musicians sound good as ever. I cannot stop listening. 


  • A Good Place to Hide: How One French Community Saved Thousands of Lives During World War II by Peter Grose: Compelling story about a small town in the Loire Valley of France in which several of the townspeople rallied to save the lives and hide Jews and other victims during the Holocaust.  The book is extremely detailed and is a good introduction to France’s role during World War II.
  • Meg and Jo by Virginia Kantra: Have you ever wondered how Little Women would fare if it took place in current times, skipped over the first part of the book, was set in North Carolina, and was only told from the point of view of the two oldest daughters?  Then this is the book for you!  Interesting AU (alternate universe) fiction about the March family.  I appreciated hearing more of Meg’s point of view than I did in the original novel and there were some interesting changes but not sure I’ll read the sequel (Beth and Amy, I assume) if there is one.
  • The Living by Matt De la Pena: This was a fun and quick paced teen disaster book set aboard a cruise ship with a bit of mystery and intrigue.  
  • Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory: Guillory is my favorite romance writer.  Her characters are well developed, most of her leads are people of color, and the women have a lot of agency.  Plus, they’re always fun and make me feel happy!  This is the direct follow up to The Wedding Party and this book is a bit of a fairy tale when Vivian has a whirlwind romance with a high ranking staff member of the Queen of England.  What’s refreshing is that both leads are adults in their 50s, which is something I have not seen in a lot of romance novels.
  • Louisa on the Front Lines: Louisa May Alcott in the Civil War by Samantha Seiple: Louisa May Alcott worked as a Civil War nurse in Washington DC prior to her writing Little Women, an experience she documented in Hospital Sketches.  This book details a lot more of her experience as well as the reality of medicine and the front lines during the time.
  • Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson, read by the author: This is a compelling, thoughtful, sorrowful, and hopeful memoir, written in verse, detailing Anderson’s triumphs and tragedies, including the impact a sexual assault had on her life.  This book is very powerful and a good parallel to Anderson’s Speak.
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney: Coming of age novel about Marianne and Connell’s who have an on again/off again romance through late high school and college in Dublin, Ireland.  This is a quiet, thoughtful read that is character driven.
  • Ghost by Jason Reynolds, read by Guy Lockard: This is a children’s book about track that can be appreciated by non sports fans.  Lockard’s narration really adds depth to the novel by giving bigger voices to already well developed characters.
  • The Secret Commonwealth (Book of Dust Volume II) by Philip Pullman: This book is the follow up to La Belle Sauvage, which had been the prequel to His Dark Materials trilogy, but it is also the sequel to His Dark Materials trilogy as Lyra is now an adult in her 20s.  As with the first book in The Book of Dust trilogy, it is extremely plot driven and it moves on from character to character at breathtaking speed.  A lame romance subplot and an attempted sexual assault seem unnecessary as well.  I’ve been enjoying the His Dark Materials television adaptation so it was good to have this be on my recent brain while watching.
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz: Lovely coming of age story about a friendship and eventual romance between two boys, Aristotle and Dante, in the 1980s.
  • Full Dissidence by Howard Bryant: This is an upcoming book of essays by the talented sports journalist, Howard Bryant, who wrote the brilliant Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston. The essays are honest, thoughtful, and (at times) angry about the reality of race relations in this current age.  
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, read by Kate Burton: I first read this book 30(!) years ago and remember loving it but wasn’t sure what would happen when I revisited it.  I still very much enjoyed the story of Francie Nolan and the hardships (and happiness) of her life with her family and neighbors.  
  • Syria’s Secret Library: Reading and Redemption in a Town under Siege by Mike Thomson: During the height of the current Syrian Civil War, residents of Daraya saved thousands of books and stored and circulated them in an underground library.  I was impressed with the resilience of the people featured in this story as well as getting human faces to the very complicated Civil War in Syria.  This book is a good start for learning more about the conflict.
  • Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate: This historical novel, written in the same vein as Triangle and Orphan Train, is, like those, a duel narrative taking place in the past and present day.  The historical portions feature a fictional family who are victims of the Tennessee Children’s Home adoption scandal.  The modern day portions do tie into that, but I didn’t find it necessary. That being said, I was horrified by the real life story of the scandal and am inspired to read more about it.
  • Game of Thrones (television show): Well, I’m nothing, if not relevant, waiting six months after the last episode of this show before starting it.  It’s definitely entertaining, well acted, and extremely violent.  I’m enjoying it but it definitely has its issues.  

Janet Z.

2020 Young (At Heart) Adult Book Club Titles 2020

A book club for adults who love reading young adult/teen books! Join us and share your love of YA Literature with other adults. In 2020, we’ll be meeting bi-montly on Wednesdays at 7:15 pm. All are welcome! No registration required.

2020 Waltham Public Library Thursday Night Book Club Selections

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah Becoming Maria by Sonia Manzano

Announcing the 2020 reading list for the Waltham Public Library Thursday Night Book Club! Meetings are once a month on Thursdays at 7:15 pm. The book club is open to everyone. No registration required. And we always provide snacks!

Staff Reads October 2019

Book Projector Treble Clef

Subscribe to Staff Reads and other book newsletters.


  • The Sisters Weiss by Naomi Ragen: This is a gem of a novel that makes me want to read everything that Naomi Ragen has ever written.  The story is compelling.  Two young girls grow up in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn in the 1950s.  They adhere strictly to the traditions and customs of their culture.  Things change for Rose when she meets a classmate whose father has a camera and a passion for photography.  Rose begins to be curious about  the wider world and what it can offer.  I also recommend these similar books: All Who Go Do Not Return by Shulem Deen; Unorthodox:  The Scandalous Rejection Of My Hasidic Roots by Debora Feldman
  • How Not To Die Alone by Richard Roper: If this book were a television show, it would be a combination of The Office (the English version) and Six Feet Under.  Andrew, our main character, works in a municipal job where he goes to dead people’s houses to try to get clues about their next of kin.  And, oops!  somehow, during his job interview, he wasn’t quite paying attention and accidentally told his boss to be that he is married with a family by saying ‘yes’ when the answer should have been no. The boss has suggested that everyone host a dinner at their home to built the esprit de corps in the office.  Andrew has created a fictional wife and family.  What will he do?  If you like humor that is sometimes rather dark, than this is the book for you.  I laughed out loud several times and am hoping for more books from this author.



  • She the People: A Graphic History of Uprisings, Breakdowns, Setbacks, Revolts, and Enduring Hope on the Unfinished Road to Women’s Equality by Jen Deaderick, illustrated by Rita Sapunor: Part graphic novel, part prose history book, this is a great inclusive book about the role women (all women) have played in United States History. 
  • The It Girls by Karen Harper: Novel about real life sisters, novelist, Elinor Glyn and fashion designer Lady Lucille Duff Gordon who inspired the term “It Girl” and lived in the later 19th and early 20th centuries.  The passage of time moved very quickly in the novel, but it did inspire me to want to read more about the two woman including Glyn’s so-called “scandalous” novels.
  • American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures edited by America Ferrera: This is a beautiful collection of essays from various celebrities who are either immigrants to the United States or first generation.  This book highlights all of the wonderful ways that we’re different while still addressing what we all have in common.  
  • After the Flood by Kassandra Montag: The world has changed drastically due to the Hundred Year Flood, which was then followed by the Six Year Flood.  Myra and her young daughter, Pearl, go off in search of Myra’s older daughter who disappeared years earlier and meet up with a cast of characters who all have their own baggage as a result of the Floods.  This somber yet hopeful novel creates a world that is believable and is a good readalike for someone who enjoyed Station Eleven but who may not normally read post-apocalyptic literature.  (After the Flood is the choice for ALA’s Libraries Transform Book Pick and is offered without a waiting list from our e-book catalog through October 21)
  • A is for Asteroids, Z is for Zombie by Paul Lewis, illustrated by Ken Lamug: Speaking of the apocalypse, this tongue in cheek graphic novel written in the style of Goodnight, Moon is funny, yet terrifying.
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: A witty and biting novel about race, class, and transactional relationships, this is the story of Emira Tucker, an African-American woman in her twenties who babysits for a white family, who claim to consider her part of the family but don’t actually know what that means.  A series of events and Dickensian coincidences lead to some interesting encounters and choices. I really enjoyed this fast paced but thoughtful novel, set for release in late December. 
  • All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, read by Richard Poe (Digital audiobook): I had read this book several years ago but had forgotten most of it.  It’s viewed as the history of the 1972 break-in at the Watergate office of the Democratic National Committee, but really it’s a detailed look at what goes into a news investigation.  Highly recommended for anyone interested in journalism history and investigative reporting. And perhaps if enough people read (or re-read) this book, they’ll remember that Watergate was the name of the scandal because that was the location and we can stop adding gate at the end of every public scandal.  (“Deflategate”, “Spygate”, hmm, why are so many of these about the Patriots?)
  • Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown, read by Amanda Dolan (Digital audiobook): Teenager Joanna Gordon is a lesbian and is, mostly, accepted and supported by her evangelical minister father.  However, when they move from Atlanta to a small town in Georgia, Joanna is forced to hide her sexuality.  A lot of the side characters in this novel seem more like plot devices than actual people but overall, I like the message of this novel which states that being religious and being an LGBTQ+ ally do not need to be mutually exclusive.  



Pat A.



  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: As The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my very favorite books, I was excited for this release, 19 years after I read the first. While it doesn’t quite live up to it’s predecessor, it kept my attention, and I really wanted to know what happened.  It was interesting how this book functions as both a sequel to the television show and original book. While the first book really made an impression with the shocking barbarity of Gilead, I felt like there was a little too much going on in the sequel. Too much had to happen, so the reader was immersed not in the claustrophobic atmosphere of Gilead, but an action packed means to an end.  While not the shocking masterpiece of The Handmaid’s Tale, it is compulsively readable, and you won’t be able to put it down.
  • High School by Tegan and Sara Quin: I chose the audiobook version, because I knew it was narrated by Tegan and Sara, and they definitely bring a lot of personality to everything they do. The songs recorded when they were teenagers  added throughout were a fun bonus. 
  • All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle
  • Mindhunter, Season 2
  • Ready or Not 
  • It Chapter Two: Definitely not as much of a horror film as the first installment. 
  • PomsA surprisingly cute and funny film.
  • Get Out: Creepy in that “somethings just kinda off” way.


Staff Reads — Labor Day 2019

Book Projector Treble Clef

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  • The Behavior Of Love : A Novel by Virginia Reeves: Ed Malinowski is a psychiatrist who is determined to rehabilitate the developmentally disabled residents of an institution in Montana. He moves himself and his artistic wife to rural Montana and is enamored with one of the ‘inmates’, an epileptic named Penelope. He assures his wife that his interest in Penelope is only professional, but is it? We see the cracks and fissures in the marriage and watch to see what will happen. The character development and the story line in this novel is superb. I could not put it down.
  • Walking The Dog by Elizabeth Swados: Elizabeth Swados was a very eclectic and talented playwright and author, a five-time Tony nominee and the recipient of three Obie Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Ford grant, among numerous other honors. This novel is very interesting if you like extremely unconventional characters and if you read for character. The narrator is an extremely talented, upper class child who ends up serving a prison sentence after a botched robbery which left some officers of the law dead not by her hand I might add. Her parents, although wealthy, did not really like their daughter and I felt sympathy for her all the way through. Recommended for fans of Ottessa Moshfegh and Janet Fitch.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: I am a big fan of Margaret Atwood and this novel does not disappoint. It is definitely a bit scary but so well done. The plot and the characters are very strong in this frightening tale of a patriarchy that has gone out of control.
  • The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood: This futuristic novel about a world that has gotten engulfed in crime and chaos and the seemingly wonderful Positron Project that combines working and prison for “the greater good” is horrifying and a little bit funny at the same time. Excellent plot line that will keep you reading. Has a kind of a Ray Bradbury tinge to it (and I am a big fan of Ray Bradbury as well).



  • Dutch House by Ann Patchett: I was very lucky to get an advanced copy of Patchett’s upcoming novel.  This novel, about two adult siblings, drawn to their childhood home from while they were exiled, is typical of Patchett in that the characters are unique and well drawn.
  • All the Days Past, All the Days to Come by Mildred Taylor: This upcoming novel, read courtesy of another advanced copy, is a long awaited entry in the Logan family saga (most well known from Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry).  I was pleased to read a new story from a series that I loved back in high school. 
  • The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory: Another great romance from Guillory!  I love how she turns romance tropes on their heads as well as including a diverse (and well rounded) set of characters.
  • Nothing by Annie Barrows, narrated by Arielle DeLisle: The voices of the two protagonists in this teen novel, seemed so real to me.  It seemed very authentic to what had been going through my head as a teenager.
  • Pulp by Robin Talley, narrated by Stephanie Cannon: This novel, alternating between present day and 1950s Washington DC and two teenage girls, Abby and Janet.  Present day Abby is very comfortable and has a lot of support being out while Janet has a much harder time in the 1950s.  Throughout the novel are analyses and history about lesbian pulp fiction of the 1950s and the lavender scare.  


  • We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter : Fans of Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy will love this novel. Set during WWII, it tells the story of Poland’s Kurc family during the Nazi takeover. The chapters skip back and forth among the siblings and parents and tell an incredible tale of ingenuity, grit, and luck across cities, countries, and years. You should read it knowing that the book is a retelling of an actual family’s experience, told by the granddaughter of one of the siblings. This was impossible to put down.
  • The Huntress by Kate Quinn: I can’t seem to get out of WWII. This is another novel that weaves the different story threads through multiple characters, eventually pulling them altogether. Set after the war, it features an American family, a group of Nazi hunters, and a Nazi murderer – a woman who was called The Huntress. I’ve read other books by this author, but this was the best so far. Another compulsive read
  • Betrayal in Time by Julie McElwain: I’m not a mystery reader, but I’m completely hooked on this series. This is the author’s 4th Kendra Donovan mystery and what I love is the historical fiction aspect. Kendra is a 21st century FBI agent who accidentally travels back to 19th century England where she ends up solving murders. What I love is the juxtaposition of Kendra – a kick ass woman of our time – to a time when women are marginalized citizens without professions or power. Kendra navigates it all with humor and dry sarcasm. There’s a nice little love story, too. 





  • The Book of Delights, by Ross Gay: This is a delight(!)ful collection of essays written about the small joys Gay observed over the course of a year, from gardening to watching a praying mantis to the use of air quotes. He does touch on some heavy topics as well, but the delights are the main focus. After reading it, I’ve found myself looking for the small delights in every day, and as cheesy as that sounds, it’s quite nice!
  • The Only Woman in the Room, by Marie Benedict: This work of historical fiction about film star Hedy Lamarr left me wanting to know more! It focuses on about a decade of her life, starting when she was a theater actress in Vienna, moving to her years spent married to a notorious Austrian arms dealer, and then her subsequent escape to America and rise in Hollywood. I knew vaguely before reading that Lamarr had invented something during World War Two, and this book showed just what a brilliant woman she was.
  • Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos, by Lucy Knisley: At one point in this graphic novel/memoir, Knisley points out that “motherhood, birth, and miscarriage are topics that are too often silenced or unaddressed (especially in comic books).” This book helps fill that gap, and does so powerfully. Knisley tells the story of her struggles to get pregnant, then chronicles her pregnancy and the birth of her son, sprinkling tidbits throughout on the history of and myths, misconceptions, and facts about motherhood.
  • An Age of License, Displacementand Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley: I enjoyed Kid Gloves so much that I decided I need to read more of Knisley’s books. These three – two travelogues and one foodie memoir – were all quick reads, and fun and touching in their own ways, but Kid Gloves is still my favorite of the lot. 
  • Choose Your Own Disaster: A. A Memoir, B. A Personality Quiz, C. A Mostly True and Completely Honest Look at One Young Woman’s Attempt to Find Herself, D. All of the above, by Dana Schwartz: The “choose your own adventure” style of this book is what caught my attention, but it was also what made me not like the book very much in the end. I had conveniently forgotten how much I didn’t like the Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid – I loved them in theory, but in practice I couldn’t stop thinking about what I missed by choosing my own way, and was annoyed that I essentially had to read the book multiple times just to see what I might have missed. The same happened this time around. 


  • These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Stirling: First book in a long time that I could not put down. In this contemporary mystery/magical realism with a little bit of romance, Hannah is a teenage elemental witch living in Salem MA. After a bad breakup with her girlfriend, Hannah is just trying to spend the summer hanging with her best friend and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron. Until there is a blood sacrifice at the end of the school year bonfire. Someone bad is in town, and if Hannah doesn’t figure out who it is, she could be in trouble. The mystery kept me guessing until the very end, and I thoroughly enjoyed the rich characters and storytelling. 
  • The Stories You Tell by Kristen Lepionka: I’m a big fan of Kristen Lepionka’s Roxane Weary novels. She’s a smart, whisky drinking PI who doesn’t always look after her own best interest, but can definitely be counted on in a crisis. While I can’t say this book is my favorite of the three, i’m definitely still looking forward to the next one. 
  • The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh: I really loved her first book, The Weight of Blood, and have been picking up anything she writes ever since. This story is told from the alternating points of view of two women, who do not even know each other, as one tries to uncover how her brother really died. Set in rural kansas, amid the opioid epidemic, this was an interesting mystery. It kept me hooked until the end. 
  • Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret Dilloway: While this middle grade book tried to tackle a lot of issues; homelessness, mental illness, alcoholism, immigration… was an incredibly sweet read, and made me want pie. 
  • Vernonica Mars Season 4
  • Harlots, Season 3

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