November 22nd 2010
The holiday season is upon us once again, so from now through early January a lot of you are going to be guests or hosts at dinners, parties and dinner parties.  At the Central Library one of our book displays is of cookbooks with recipes suitable for both festive dining and wintry weather: classics such as Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and more recent titles such as Barbara Kafka's Roasting: A Simple Art, and  Martha Rose Shulman's Ready When You Are: A Compendium of... Read Post
October 17th 2010
Every October it becomes important, no, necessary to see the leaves turning, to be surrounded by leaves turning; it's not just the symbolism, to confront in the death of the year your death, one blazing farewell appearance, though the irony isn't lost on you that nature is most seductive when it's about to die, flaunting the dazzle of its incipient exit, an ending that at least so far the effects of human progress (pollution, acid rain) have not yet frightened you enough to make you believe is... Read Post
October 14th 2010
One of the pleasures of being in a library is browsing the shelves and renewing your acquaintance with an old favorite. That happened to me yesterday when I saw our copy of Abe Opincar's Fried Butter: A Food Memoir. We have a sizeable collection of books on food: among my favorites are The Best Thing I Ever Tasted, How I Learned to Cook and American Fried, but we don't have anything else quite like Fried Butter. The subtitle implies the book is a unified narrative, but it's really a collection... Read Post
September 27th 2010
William Wordsworth tells us that "The world is too much with us" and it's hard to disagree.  With that in mind, I think it's always a good idea to keep a supply of cozy books on hand to escape into.  I'm going to share some of my favorites, but first, a disclaimer. If you want to look cool (and for all I know you may have excellent reasons for wanting to - I try not to judge) you must never be seen reading any of these in public. Your reputation will never recover. Wrap them up in a Dave... Read Post
September 15th 2010
Perhaps you are a little teapot, short and stout, or perhaps you know someone who is. Be that as it may, you are surely familiar with the song I'm referring to - maybe too familiar. And maybe you've heard "On Top of Spaghetti" a few too many times. Below are some suggestions for music that kids and adults can enjoy listening to together. You can also ask a children's librarian for more ideas. That's what it's all about. Trout Fishing in America I can't say enough about the wonderfulness... Read Post
September 2nd 2010
If you've been spending much time online or reading the news in dead-tree format, you've probably encountered the term "net neutrality." Some of you might not know what that means. But as Internet users, you should. Basically, it means the networks and companies that provide us access to the Internet don't restrict our access to content or sites, or limit the types of equipment we use or the ways we communicate. You pay your service fee and then you read what you want, visit what sites you want... Read Post
August 15th 2010

This is a Black Sparrow Press edition of Women, by Charles Bukowski, published in 1996, two years after his death.

I reckon the library kept this copy fed and clothed for approximately ten years, where it sat on a shelf just long enough to recover from the hangover of the previous borrower before being dragged off again. The taped spine and brittle, battered cover age the book like baby oil and too many summer days spent at Revere Beach, so it looks as if it should be... Read Post

June 24th 2010
If you listened to (or read) the news at all this week, you probably learned that the Chinese government announced it would let its currency appreciate in value.  What does that mean? Well, it depends on whom you ask. This is something Washington has wanted for some time, and yet the news seemed to worry U.S. retailers. On the other hand, India seems to like it.  And here's the Globe's take. The conflicting reactions to this one bit of news reveal just how tricky and complicated a subject... Read Post
May 21st 2010
Did you know that the Somerville Public Library runs on less than 1% of the City's total budget? Annually, the Library spends less than the cost of one hard cover book per resident to make the entire Massachusetts public library system (370 libraries, networks, and regions) available to everyone in Somerville. These resources include books, movies and music, magazines and newspapers, free Internet access, online databases, friendly assistance from skilled, professional librarians, and much... Read Post
April 24th 2010
The Passionate Freudian to His Love Only name the day, and we'll fly away In the face of old traditions, To a sheltered spot, by the world forgot, Where we'll park our inhibitions. Come and gaze in eyes where the lovelight lies As it psychoanalyzes, And when once you glean what your fantasies mean Life will hold no more surprises. When you've told your love what you're thinking of Things will be much more informal; Through a sunlit land we'll go hand-in-hand, Drifting gently back to normal.... Read Post
April 22nd 2010
Coda There's little in taking or giving, There's little in water or wine; This living, this living, this living Was never a project of mine. Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is The gain of the one at the top, For art is a form of catharsis, And love is a permanent flop, And work is the province of cattle, And rest's for a clam in a shell, So I'm thinking of throwing the battle - Would you kindly direct me to hell? Ultimatum I'm wearied of wearying love, my friend, Of worry and strain and... Read Post
April 11th 2010

What better way to celebrate National Poetry Month than with an exciting story told in verse?  M. T. Anderson's The Serpent Came to Gloucester is just such a story.  It's based on a true series of events that took place in Gloucester, Massachusetts - not 40 miles from Somerville - during the summers of 1817 and 1818. Hundreds of people reported seeing a sea serpent playing in the harbor and around the shores of Cape Ann, and the author references some of the many eyewitness accounts in a... Read Post

March 29th 2010
Since we're on the subject of Haiti, I would like to point out a wonderful essay in the March 21 Boston Globe that explains an often overlooked chapter in the intense and often fraught relationship between the U.S. and Haiti.  We all know that our war of independence inspired Haiti's.  Many of us are also aware that the U.S. occupied Haiti for 19 years (1915-1934). And some of you may remember the 1994 U.S. intervention in Haiti that enabled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to finish his... Read Post
March 25th 2010
I have mixed feelings about historical fiction, but there is a certain kind that I'm drawn to: the kind that follows a set of characters and their descendants for years and years and years. It's fascinating to read about familiar traits and peculiarities cropping up in different generations of the same family, about skeletons in closets that see the light of day hundreds of years after the people concerned have died, about how historical events and social changes affect the day to day lives... Read Post
February 26th 2010
or know someone who is, the Census Bureau will be holding a job fair Monday, March 8th, at the Somerville Holiday Inn (30 Washington Street).  The Bureau needs large numbers of people to conduct the 2010 Census. Available positions include census takers, office clerks, and crew leaders. If you attend, be sure to bring with you a valid passport or driver's license and your birth certificate or a copy of your Social Security card.