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”.
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.
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.
Free Teen Creative Writing Program at Somerville Public Library
Are you a teen who likes to write stories about aliens, blogs, flash fiction, or poems? Are you interested in becoming a novelist, short story writer or poet?
Somerville Public Library’s Teen Creative Writing Program will offer teens writing exercises to flex their writing muscles in a fun, low-pressure, supportive environment.
The Somerville Public Library is pleased to announce the start of a free Teen Creative Writing Program, designed for any teen aged 13-17. The program will be offered once per month on Sundays, beginning Sunday, March 24, from 1pm to 4pm. Seven three-hour, stand-alone sessions will be offered.
The sessions will be run by Somerville writers Ethan Gilsdorf and Becky Tuch, who will lead writing exercises in a variety of genres, from fantasy fiction to lyric poetry.
No previous writing experience is needed. Students are encouraged to come as they are and need not attend all seven sessions. Materials and lunch will be provided.
Advance sign-up is requested. To register, please contact Marita Coombs, Somerville Public Library, 617-623-5000 x 2942, firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional program dates are Sunday, April 14, Sunday May 19, and Sunday, June 9. The final three session dates will be announced at a future time.
“We’ll provide unexpected writing prompts to get teens to generate as much new work in as short a time as possible,” said Gilsdorf, an essayist, journalist and author of the book “Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks.” “Teens have something important to say.”
Both Gilsdorf and Tuch are published writers, and teach at Grub Street Writers, Boston’s independent creative writing center. Both have extensive experience teaching teens creative writing.
“Nothing inspires me more than my students, at all ages and all stages of their writing careers,” said Becky Tuch, a fiction writer whose work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and has taught fiction to kids, teens, and adults throughout Boston. “As a Somerville resident myself, I can’t wait to teach and learn from the young writers in the area.”
The Teen Creative Writing Program is funded by the Somerville Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Mass Cultural Council, as well as the Friends of the Library.
More information about the instructors:
Becky Tuch has received literature fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and The Somerville Arts Council, awards from Briar Cliff Review, Byline Magazine, and The Tennessee Writers Alliance, and her fiction has been short-listed for a Pushcart Prize and Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Award. Other stories and essays have appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, Hobart, Quarter After Eight, and elsewhere. She is the founding editor of The Review Review, a website which has twice been listed by Writer’s Digest as “Best of the Best” among 101 Best Websites for Writers. She is also one of the founders of the writing and publishing blog, Beyond the Margins.
Ethan Gilsdorf is a journalist, memoirist, critic, poet, teacher and geek. He wrote the award-winning travel memoir investigation Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, he publishes travel, arts, and pop culture stories, essays and reviews regularly in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Salon.com, wired.com, PsychologyToday.com, and WBUR’s Cognescenti blog. He is a book and film critic for the Boston Globe and is the film columnist for Art New England. An award-winning poet, he has published poems in Poetry, The Southern Review, and The North American Review, and several anthologies. He is co-founder of Grub Street’s Young Adult Writers Program (YAWP) and teaches creative writing workshops at Grub Street, where he also serves on the Board of Directors.
· Discuss the process of writing memoirs and what makes a good story
· Look at examples of short memoir vignettes and discuss what makes them effective
· Refine our pieces in a workshop format and receive supportive/constructive feedback
· Participate in an optional group reading at the library
The dates for the workshop are: Three Thursdays: March 14, 21, and 28, 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. and one Saturday: April 6, 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (This will be the reading for students who choose to participate.)
Please be aware that these are NOT drop-in workshops. To participate, you must register with Judah for the whole course. Enrollment is limited to 15 people. There are already people registered, so act now! You can register by e-mailing Judah at email@example.com or calling him at 617-466-9637. See also http://www.lakeeffectpress.com/ for more information about Judah and his work.
Well, it’s that time of year again! I have just started my yearly tradition of preparing my reading list for the new year. Goal for 2013: 30 books (ambitious as I only made it to 25 this year!) with a focus on the “Classics”. Here’s how it works: Every Christmas, I review the books that I read over the past few years (conveniently cataloged and self-reviewed on Goodreads of course) and, in a vain attempt to break out of my favorite “popular fiction” and “crime novel” molds, I pick a new genre on which to focus. For example, this past year, I tried a little (light) fantasy out. This was a tough one for me as I am still traumatized by my childhood reading of A Wrinkle in Time (sorry Madeleine L’Engle fans!). This past year I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying the Hunger Games Trilogy (Suzanne Collins), The Magicians (Lev Grossman), and The Monstrumologist (Rick Yancey). This year the Classics are up. Always a favorite with me, it has been far too long (in my estimation) since I have picked up a Thomas Hardy, James Joyce, or a Bronte. First up on the list, is The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) – which I have just checked out from the LIBRARY! So many books to get to…and time’s a-wastin’!
The Director’s Author Series continues with two events this week.
On Wednesday, November 7:00th at 7:00 p.m., join us at the Central Library as we welcome author and investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan who will discuss her latest mystery thriller, The Other Woman.
A former US Senate staffer and political campaign aide, Hank Phillippi Ryan is the investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC affiliate, and has won twenty-seven Emmys and ten Edward R. Murrow awards. A bestselling author of four mystery novels, Ryan has won the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s on the national board of directors of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.
Book Description: Jane Ryland was a rising star in television news…until she refused to reveal a source and lost everything. Now a disgraced newspaper reporter, Jane isn’t content to work on her assigned puff pieces, and finds herself tracking down a candidate’s secret mistress just days before a pivotal Senate election.
Detective Jake Brogan is investigating a possible serial killer. Twice, bodies of unidentified women have been found by a bridge, and Jake is plagued by a media swarm beginning to buzz about a “bridge killer” hunting the young women of Boston. As the body count rises and election looms closer, it becomes clear to Jane and Jake that their cases are connected…and that they may be facing a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to silence a scandal.
Dirty politics, dirty tricks, and a barrage of final twists, The Other Woman is the first in an explosive new series by Hank Phillippi Ryan. Seduction, betrayal, and murder – it’ll take a lot more than votes to win this election.
Then on Thursday, November 8th at 7:00 p.m., the West Branch will host an evening with Clea Simon, author of the Theda Krakow, Dulcie Schwartz, and Pru Marlowe mysteries. Clea has also written three nonfiction books and her essays and short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies as well as The New York Times, The Boston Phoenix, and such magazines as American Prospect, Ms., and Salon.com. She lives in a 100-year-old house in Somerville with her husband, Jon S. Garelick (also a writer), and their cat, Musetta.
Book Description: Clea’s latest mystery is Cats Can’t Shoot. When Pru Marlowe gets the report of a cat shooting, she’s horrified. Animal cruelty is the one thing this tough-girl behaviorist won’t abide. When she gets to the scene, though, and finds a man dead – and his white Persian only slightly singed, she knows something else is afoot. Could the pampered pet have set off the rare dueling pistol? Or is the Persian being set up as a cat’s paw in a deadly game? That’s what Pru and her tabby sidekick Wallis must find out in Cats Can’t Shoot.
We hope that you’ll be able to join us for one or both of these Meet, Mingle, Read events!
Come to the East Branch Library on Thursday, October 18th at 7:00 p.m. and meet one of the nation’s foremost authorities on Halloween, Lesley Pratt Bannatyne. Lesley will share her knowledge of Halloween in a talk and slide show. She will also be signing copies of her new book, Halloween Nation.
On a mission to define the modern Halloween, Lesley delves into the world of enthusiasts, fanatics, and subcultures including Goth, metal, and zombie. In a series of investigative interviews, people from all walks of life reveal their devotion to this fall celebration as Bannatyne crafts a portrait of a wildly popular and surprisingly meaningful twenty-first-century Halloween.
“After reading this book, I’ve added about thirty things to this year’s ‘Halloween to-do list’! Halloween Nation is the perfect source for hundreds of different ways to celebrate our favorite holiday!”
-Richard Christy, writer/producer, The Howard Stern Show, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio
“A sophisticated yet playful celebration of all things macabre, morbid, and marvelous . . . Bannatyne makes a great case for celebrating Halloween everyday, all year long. . . . It’s an energetic, thorough, and breathless salute to everyone’s favorite horror holiday.”
-Chris Alexander, editor in chief, Fangoria magazine
America’s first celebrity chef would have been 100 years old today. But I should add that the phrase “celebrity chef” doesn’t come close to doing her justice. A master performer and a culinary genius, she transformed the way millions of Americans eat. When her series “The French Chef” first aired in 1963, the U.S. was a country of white bread and Jell-O to a degree that’s hard to imagine in the age of farmer’s markets, locavore groceries, and The Food Network. But with her theatrical gestures and falsetto-like voice, Child made the Western world’s premiere cuisine accessible to American home cooks. And she didn’t limit herself to television. Her Mastering the Art of French Cooking is remarkably clear and approachable. No less an authority than Craig Claiborne said Mastering “may be the finest volume on French cooking ever published in English.”
If you would like to learn more about this remarkable person, Noel Riley Fitch’s Appetite for Life is (so far) the authoritative biography. You can also get a fascinating look at Child’s life and work by reading As Always, Julia, Child’s collected correspondence with Avis DeVoto, her close friend and behind-the-scenes collaborator in the creation of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (many of the recipes in the book were tested in DeVoto’s kitchen).