December 31st 2013
New Year's Day-- everything is in blossom! I feel about average.      Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) New Year's Day-- everything is in blossom! I feel about average. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5889#sthash.6qXeBlLU.dpuf
December 21st 2013
                  A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy's Day, Being the Shortest Day By John Donne 'Tis the year's midnight, and it is the day's, Lucy's, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks;          The sun is spent, and now his flasks          Send forth light squibs, no constant rays;                 The world's whole sap is sunk; The general balm th' hydroptic earth hath drunk, Whither, as to the bed's feet, life is shrunk, Dead and interr'd; yet all these seem to laugh, Compar'd with... Read Post
December 20th 2013
The Second World War was an event that defies comprehension: the death, the physical destruction of cities, the upheaval of human lives, all happened on a scale so large it's almost meaningless. I've read books about the Blitz, the Battle of Stalingrad, the fall of Berlin, all of which record the viewpoints and experiences of individuals, but the overall focus is on the big picture. Reading diaries of the time give you an altogether different viewpoint: life as it was lived, day by day, in a... Read Post
December 13th 2013
The sound systems in supermarkets and shopping malls are blaring Christmas music, your neighbors have extra lights that are well on their way to frying the local electrical grid and you're trying to figure out an appropriate gift for the uncle who last year gave you From Prairies to Peaks: A History of the Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service, 1905-2012. Well, maybe you would like to avoid Yuletide this year.  Maybe you're not in the mood for wreaths and eggnog. Take heart. You've... Read Post
December 9th 2013
There's a paradox to diaries. They're the most private of books, the record of the thoughts and desires  the author can't or won't speak aloud, writing never shown to anyone else. And yet surely every writer has a desire to be read? It's telling that Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), the author of the granddaddy of tell-all diaries, had the pages bound and listed in the catalog of his library. He wrote the diary in a type of shorthand, but left a key  in his library as well. The best diaries offer the... Read Post
December 1st 2013
Given that 2013-2014 is SPL's year of Muslim Journeys programming, I thought this podcast on the new book Thomas Jefferson's Q'uran particularly timely.  From the series Fifteen Minute History, it's a brief interview with the author, Denise Spellberg, on how Thomas Jefferson's interactions with the Islamic world and his study of John Locke shaped his beliefs on the relationship between religion and the state. Jefferson had grown up in a Virginia where the only sanctioned religion was the... Read Post
November 26th 2013
Thursday, November 28, will not only be Thanksgiving Day, it will also be the first day of Chanukah.  Some people have taken it upon themselves to create culinary mashups of the two holidays,  an effort I think misguided, but if the Internet is any indicator of the zeitgeist, it seems to be what some people want.   Just like when patrons ask for help finding Fifty Shades of Grey: it's not for me to judge.** My job is just to provide information. Herewith, a modest catalog of Thanskgannukah... Read Post
November 25th 2013
Somerville Public Library is one of ten public libraries in the United States to be selected as a StoryCorps @ Your Library pilot site. Through this oral history project, we aim to record the stories, thoughts, and ideas of a diverse mix of 30-40 Somerville teens. Teens may be interviewed by or interview friends, family members, mentors, etc. Trained community facilitators will guide the interview process and handle all technical aspects for a comfortable interview experience. For more... Read Post
November 22nd 2013
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963  still haunts our collective imagination, and rightly so.  It was the moment when the entire nation was forced to confront the violence endemic to American life, when people sitting in their own homes watched murder happen. Stephen King's novel 11/22/63 was one of the popular books of 2011. Twenty-five years after nomination for the National Book Award, Don DeLillo's Libra still  provokes reflection. References both serious and... Read Post
November 19th 2013
Join us tomorrow evening at the Central Library for our next author night. James Klein will be here to discuss his book Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America's First Sports Hero. Sullivan was the first heavyweight champion of gloved boxing and the prototype kid from the wrong side of the tracks who becomes a superstar athlete. Born to working-class Irish parents in the South End,  Sullivan was the first American athlete to earn more than a million dollars. Sullivan was... Read Post
November 18th 2013

Somerville is a community of makers. It's home to the Artisan's Asylum, a community and school for hobbyists, inventors and tinkerers. It's a place where imaginative historical markers can spring up overnight and robots will soon roam the streets. So today's post is a nod to that Übermaker, Leonardo da Vinci. Among the many inventions Leonardo envisioned was the "viola organista:" a piano combined with a cello. No one has ever made, let alone played, a viola organista.... Read Post

November 15th 2013
Last night's Muslim Journeys event was great. Harvard Divinity School professor Leila Ahmed participated in a discussion of her book, A Quiet Revolution: The Veil's Resurgence, from the Middle East to America.  We had a good turnout, and everyone who participated in the discussion had interesting questions and shared well-informed opinions. The conversation ranged from  the history of this highly symbolic garment to the differences in religious practice and culture in various Islamic nations... Read Post
November 14th 2013
In 2005 a group of authors and publishers sued Google for scanning and posting online  segments of books to which they (the authors and publishers, not Google) held the rights.  Today U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin ruled that Google's actions do not violate U.S. copyright law, since Google puts the complete text of a book  online only if it has the copyright holder's permission. From the ruling: “In my view, Google Books provides significant public benefits....It advances the progress of the... Read Post
November 1st 2013

Can you guess what all of these great teen reads have in common?

(click on the picture to check availability in the library)

... Read Post
October 31st 2013

Join us at the Central Library Nov. 14 at 6:30 when Harvard Divinity School Professor Leila Ahmed will take part in a discussion of her award-winning book, A Quiet Revolution: The Veil's Resurgence, from the Middle East to America, her exploration of the reasons that Muslim women are voluntarily adopting a garment traditionally seen as a tool of repression. The book discussion is the latest in our series of ALA/NEH-sponsored events, "Let's Talk About It: Muslim Journeys." Somerville Public... Read Post