Steven King-ophiles will enjoy this creepy keeper. The premise here surrounds Ig Perrish, a privileged man with a long held secret past who wakes up one morning after a drunken all-nighter with a throbbing headache and upon looking in the mirror sees his reflection….altered to include satanic horns coming out of his head. The “horns” are tuned into a “frequency” that causes everyone that Ig meets to purge unfiltered their innermost thoughts, secrets, and desires and unlocks for Ig the real truth behind the death of his girlfriend Merrin Williams, years earlier. If you get hooked on the style of this unsettling read like I did you will want to continue right on with one of Hill’s prior novels, Heart-Shaped Box. Imagine, you’re an uber wealthy collector of the macabre and your personal assistant gets an email sent directly to you with an offer to purchase something that you just can’t resist …. it’s a ghost. Judas Coyne has begun to see his rock-star glory days fading into the past but this could be a way to re-ignite his popularity if he is the highest bidder on a black funeral suit that – according to the item description - the ghost is attached to and will follow wherever the suit goes. This is a “keep your light on” fast paced novel filled with suspense and horror….
This might very well be your first “beach read” recommendation! Ann Leary crafts a fun, gossipy, novel about realtor Hildy Good. The story is set in the town of Wendover, Massachusetts (if you’re familiar with the North Shore, there are references to “fictitious” locations, and some of them may have readers living in Wenham and Andover smiling.) I enjoyed learning more about lobster fishing and the “horsey” Hunt Club characters who make the story a quick read that currently has close to 300 holds…get on that list!
I love to bake as a means of relaxing and enjoy sharing the results. I really enjoyed this particular cookbook because, for those who bake, you will have the majority of the ingredients needed for most of the recipes on hand (nothing rankles me more than a cookbook whose recipes include a variety of far-fetched or cost prohibitive ingredients that you only need 1/8 tsp of)! My favorite chapters included the “Buckles, Cobblers, and Crisps” and the “Cookies and Bars” (yummy!) I look at it this way, if you can read a cookbook and almost taste the results, it’s a weight conscious cook’s dream! Most of the recipes have some connection to New England, so there are explanations and references to those things familiar (Grunts and Slumps for example) and a re-introduction to things like Easy or One Bowl Cakes. New England is a rich blend of ethnicities and there are some family favorites like biscotti, scones, and artisan breads and the King Arthur Bakers have a knack for teaching the reader with a no nonsense approach peppered “how-to”s and real kitchen “tips”.
At the Central Library we’ve compiled a display of staff picks: books we find fascinating, absorbing, or just plain fun. So if you’ve been looking for something to read, consider (among other titles):
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth is an alternative history of the twentieth century (Lindbergh defeats Roosevelt in the 1940 election) that the NYT called “sinister, vivid, dreamlike, preposterous and, at the same time, creepily plausible.”
Gods, Graves and Scholars by C.W. Ceram is a high points history of archaeaology that covers all the spine-tingling moments of discovery: Carter’s first look into Tutankahmen’s tomb, Stephens stumbling upon Maya ruins, Champillion cracking the hieroglyphs, to name a few.
The Horror! The Horror! Comic Books the Government Didn’t Want You to Read. The title speaks for itself.
Tepper Isn’t Going Out by Calvin Trillin. A novel about an ordinary, albeit quirky New Yorker that The Christian Science Monitor called, “as delightful as finding a free spot in Times Square.”
The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. In 1973 Matthiessen accompanied a field biologist into the Himalayas in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the elusive snow leopard and to visit the Lama of the Shey Monastery. The Snow Leopard is “a magical book, a kind of lunar paradigm and map of the sacred” (The Nation).
What do the words algebra, benzene, and cipher have in common? They’re all derived from Arabic. Who was the first scientist to posit that light was composed of particles? Newton? Think again. In the centuries after the collapse of the Roman Empire, when much of the knowledge of antiquity was lost to Western Europe, science and learning thrived in the Arab world, which not only preserved knowledge of the classical world but also made original breakthroughs in chemistry, physics, mathematics and astronomy.
The House of Wisdom is the story of this crucial chapter in world history. It’s one of the books provided to SPL by the NEH Muslim Journeys grant. On Thursday, May 30, at 7 pm in the Central Library, Tufts University professor Malik Mufti will lead a discussion of this fascinating book.
There are a number of copies in the network, so place your requests now.
After last week, a lot of us could probably use a break from reality: a few minutes or a few hours of not thinking about the horrors of last week. I asked my colleagues what makes them laugh, cheers them up when they’re down, or just makes them forget their worries. Here are a few suggestions.
East Branch Director Marilyn suggests A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I have to second that: Confederacy is one of the craziest, best-written pieces of inspired lunacy that I have ever read. To get a sense of the book and what it means to so many readers, check out the foreword by the writer who shepherded the manuscript of the novel to publication, Walker Percy.
Marilyn also recommends Cold Comfort Farm, a 1932 comic novel by English writer Stella Gibbons. She’s also partial to the 1995 film adaptation, starring Kate Beckinsale and Stephen Fry.
Reginald Bakeley’s Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop has won this year’s Diagram Prize for oddest book title, joining such illustrious tomes as Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers, Bombproof Your Horse (do-it-yourself seems to be a recurring theme) and Highlights in the History of Concrete.
The book’s U.S. editor, Clint Marsh, told the BBC, “Reginald and I take this as a clear sign that people have had enough of goblins in their chicken coops.”
We at SPL are very happy for Mr. Bakeley.
But in my opinion the all-time best title is still 2011′s winner, Managing a Dental Practice the Genghis Khan Way.
We’re getting ready for Somerville Reads 2013 – our next One City, One Book program, which will take place in the early Fall – and we need your input! Which of these books would you most like to read and discuss as a community? You can read about each book below, then vote for your pick at the bottom of this post.
The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro
On March 18, 1990, thirteen works of art worth over $500 million were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, is about to discover that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye. Claire makes her living reproducing famous works of art for a popular online retailer. Desperate to improve her situation, she lets herself be lured into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees to forge a painting—one of the Degas masterpieces stolen from the Gardner Museum—in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But when the long-missing Degas painting is delivered to Claire’s studio, she begins to suspect that it may itself be a forgery. Claire’s search for the truth about the painting’s origins leads her into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can now save her life. B. A. Shapiro’s razor-sharp writing and rich plot twists make The Art Forger an absorbing literary thriller that treats us to three centuries of forgers, art thieves, and obsessive collectors. It’s a dazzling novel about seeing—and not seeing—the secrets that lie beneath the canvas. [publisher's description]
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
This is Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Boo’s (The New Yorker) first book. She takes a look at the stark lives of the inhabitants of Annawadi, a slum across from Mumbai’s Sahar Airport, to reveal the wrenching inequality and urban poverty still endemic in India’s democracy. Using recorded and videotaped conversations, interviews, documents, and the assistance of interlocutors, Boo profiles the lives of some of the slum dwellers from November 2007 to March 2011. There is Abdul, a young adult scavenger with a profitable trade in recyclables. The one-legged Fatima’s home is divided from Abdul’s by merely a sheet. Readers follow the treacherous paths of these and other lives. A fateful chain of events leads to a criminal case against Abdul and his family. Boo presents glimpses of the corrupt police who feed on those without political power or education. She claims she witnessed most of the events described in the book. A tour de force, this book is powerful yet far from harrowing. Highly recommended. – Library Journal
The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken
The year is 1950, and in a small town on Cape Cod twenty-six-year-old librarian Peggy Cort feels like love and life have stood her up. Until the day James Carlson Sweatt–the “over-tall” eleven-year-old boy who’s talk of the town-walks into her library and changes her life forever. Two misfits whose lonely paths cross at the circulation desk, Peggy and James are odd candidates for friendship, but nevertheless they find their lives entwined in ways that neither one could have predicted. And as James grows–six foot five at age twelve, then seven feet, then eight–so does Peggy’s heart and their most singular romance. Named one of the 20 Best Young American Novelists by Granta, Elizabeth McCracken is a writer of fabulous gifts. The Giant’s House, her first novel, is an unforgettably tender and quirky novel about the strength of choosing to love in a world that offers no promises, and no guarantees. [publisher's description]
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The first immortal human cells, code-named HeLa, have flourished by the trillions in labs all around the world for more than five decades, making possible the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, and many more crucial discoveries. But where did the HeLa cells come from? Science journalist Skloot spent 10 years arduously researching the complex, tragic, and profoundly revealing story of Henrietta Lacks, a 31-year-old African American mother of five who came to Johns Hopkins with cervical cancer in 1951, and from whom tumor samples were taken without her knowledge or that of her family. Henrietta died a cruel death and was all but forgotten, while her miraculous cells live on, growing with mythological intensity. Skloot travels to tiny Clover, Virginia; learns that Henrietta’s family tree embraces black and white branches; becomes close to Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah; and discovers that although the HeLa cells have improved countless lives, they have also engendered a legacy of pain, a litany of injustices, and a constellation of mysteries. Writing with a novelist’s artistry, a biologist’s expertise, and the zeal of an investigative reporter, Skloot tells a truly astonishing story of racism and poverty, science and conscience, spirituality and family driven by a galvanizing inquiry into the sanctity of the body and the very nature of the life force. – Booklist
Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
In his most compelling chronicle to date, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner
Tracy Kidder investigates a far harsher world in the company of Paul Farmer, a radical
public health reformer devoted to providing medical care to the poor, mainly in Haiti. A
Harvard-educated medical anthropologist, TB expert, and MacArthur genius gifted with an unshakable moral imperative, an ardent imagination, and limitless energy, compassion, and chutzpah, Farmer created Partners in Health, a renegade yet hugely influential organization. A powerful presence, this uncompromising visionary is too spectacularly impressive not to be disconcerting, and Kidder shares his puzzlement over and occasional discomfort with this charismatic and tirelessly giving man who eschews personal comfort to care for the underdogs of the underdogs. As Kidder accompanies Farmer on his exhausting and risky daily routines and epic travels, he parses the cruel realities of deep poverty and the maddening politics of international health care. Most importantly, Kidder portrays a genuinely inspired and heroic individual, whose quest for justice will make every reader examine her or his life in a new light. – Booklist
Somerville Reads is a project that promotes literacy and community engagement by
encouraging people all over the City to read and discuss the same book.
The Somerville Public Library is introducing a new collection, Muslim Journeys, which is currently available for browsing and checkout at the Central Branch of the library. This bookshelf collection aims to familiarize residents and visitors with the places, history, faith and cultures of Muslims in the U.S. and around the world. It is intended to address both the need and desire of the American public for trustworthy and accessible resources about Muslim beliefs and practices and the cultural heritage associated with Islamic civilizations.
The acquisition is composed of approximately 30 items, both books and DVDs. They run the gamut from Arabian Nights to The Story of the Qur’an. The topics explored include stories from Muslims in America and other parts of the world; the history of Islam; literary works from both past and present; Islam as a religion; and Muslim art and architecture.
“Muslim Journeys is particularly apt for a town like Somerville, with its rich history of waves of immigrants from all over the world,” says Maria Carpenter, Somerville Public Library director. “Muslim Journeys will help us continue our tradition of community dialogue, promoting cultural understanding, and fostering tolerance.”
Patrons can visit and borrow from this collection as they would any other part of the library; additionally the library will supplement these works with public events to explore the collection and associated topics. Dates will be announced.
Remember when kids used to play outside for hours at a time, only to return home at dinnertime? As more and more kids spend most of their times in front of a screen, these days there are many who can’t relate to that.
Mike Lanza hopes to change this culture. He’s authored a book, “Playborhood,” on how to make neighborhoods the best possible place for children to play and connect. He will be visiting Somerville City Hall (second floor) from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, to conduct a community workshop about how to devise strategies to solve this problem. The Somerville Public Library has several of his books on display on the second floor of the Central Branch for interested parties to borrow in advance of his workshop. Reserve your copy from the Minuteman Library Network here.
“Playborhood” book display at the Central Branch.
While at the workshop, participants will exchange ideas with a panel of city leaders and policy makers and their neighbors on how to make Somerville a safe and exciting place for children to learn and grow outdoors. All Somerville residents are welcome to attend.
The event is co-sponsored by the Mayor’s Office, the Somerville Family Learning Collaborative, the Recreation Department, and the Somerville Public Library. For more information about Lanza, his book and his ideas, visit http://playborhood.com/.
Today we honor the memory of one of the greatest Americans ever, a man whose courage, wisdom, and determination changed this country forever. In the twelve years between his leadership of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and his murder at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Martin Luther King did more to advance racial justice than had been accomplished in the previous century since emancipation.
The finest work I know on King’s life and work is Taylor Branch’s three-volume America in the King Years. I particularly enjoyed the first volume, Parting the Waters, which is an absorbing account of King’s career up to the March on Washington as well as a fascinating examination of African-American society in the Jim Crow era.
If you’re not up to tackling Parting (it’s over a thousand pages), I highly recommend Harvard Sitkoff’s The Struggle for Black Equality. It’s fewer than 300 pages and compulsively readable. The chapter on the Montgomery Bus Boycott alone makes the book worth a trip to the library.
If you would rather watch than read, try Eyes on the Prize. This 1987 documentary on the Civil Rights Movement won a Peabody and 2 Emmys.