Authors

April 23rd 2020
shakespeare globe theatre birthday

April 23 is the day observed as Shakespeare’s birthday throughout the world.  Normally the occasion would be marked by live play performances,  open-air celebrations, sonnet slams and Shakespeareaoke.  Due to COVID-19, events have been postponed, or cancelled altogether, and others have moved online. So this year (or this month at least), celebrations of the bard’s birth will be more virtual and, sadly, solitary.

Fortunately during this time of quarantine, various... Read Post

April 23rd 2018

April 23 is the date traditionally observed as the birthday of William Shakespeare, an occasion celebrated wherever English is spoken with performances, readings, parades and other events. In Oxford today there was a parade and performances by school children. At Vanderbilt University in Tennessee there are jugglers, troubadors, puppet shows and performances of favorite scenes from the plays. Pittsburgh has declared April 22-28 "The Week of Will," with events ranging from plays in parks to... Read Post

March 16th 2018
stephen hawking books and movies

By now, you have likely heard of the passing of Dr. Stephen Hawking, one of the most celebrated thinkers of our time. Dr. Hawking was a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, advocate for disability rights, and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge. 

If you would like to learn more about his work or life, the Somerville Public Library owns several of his books, as well as biographical books and films written or produced about... Read Post

August 8th 2016

I’m re-reading The Great Gatsby for the first time since college and am astounded. I remember loving the lush, delicate writing at the time but little else. Now I can’t get over the deceptive, seeming simplicity of  this very short novel that has so much going on it: a snapshot of the Jazz Age, a critique of class, of entitlement, of capitalism, and the brutal clash of dreams and reality, all conveyed in exquisite prose.

Many of the people and a couple of the events in the novel have... Read Post

June 6th 2016
The Library of America is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to producing  durable high-quality editions of the best of American writing. And it's not just fiction: their nonfiction volumes include the World War II reporting of A.J. Liebling, the movie reviews of James Agee, and the four-volume collection of diaries and letters, The Civil War Told by Those Who Lived It. If you want to get exposure to a range of American writing but are daunted by the size and number of LOA books, sign up for "... Read Post
May 12th 2016
...for May 12, 2016. Canadian author and environmentalist Farley Mowat (1921- 2014) was born on this day in Bellville, Ontario. He wrote more than 40 books, the most famous being Never Cry Wolf (1963), supposedly an account of his experiences observing wolves in the wilderness of subarctic Canada. Mowat was often accused of not actually having spent as much time with wolves as he recounts in the book.  Mowat's usual response was that his critics were confusing facts with truth. The book was an... Read Post
March 17th 2016
It's St. Patrick's Day. For some that might mean drinking some Guinness or listening to Irish folk music, but for enthusiastic readers it's an occasion to add some books by Irish writers to their reading list. I am steering clear of the usual suspects (e.g., Ulysses) to point out some books that might be under the radar of many readers. John Banville is a prolific writer of both beautiful, challenging literary fiction and of mysteries (the latter under the name Benjamin Black). He's also... Read Post
February 24th 2016

Fates & Furies- Lauren Groff’s third book, describes marriage over a 23 year period, very vividly. The book illustrates marriage from two different perspectives, the husband and wife, seemingly, somewhat realistic, but who really knows for sure? After all, how many of us are completely honest in marriage? I enjoyed the book immensely; many reviews compared the book to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. I see where some readers may contrast character’s Amy Dunne (Gone Girl and Mathilde (Fates and... Read Post

February 20th 2016
The world lost a brilliant mind and ingenious writer yesterday. Umberto Eco, author of phenomenally popular novels such as The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum, died of cancer yesterday. He was 84. Some were taken aback by the popularity of his work. On the face of it, Eco's first novel, The Name of the Rose--a historical murder mystery with a crime-solving friar--sounds as if it was written to cater to the taste for crime novels in the Brother Cadfael vein. But in Rose, Eco immerses... Read Post
January 4th 2016

Recently I walked past a re-shelving cart and noticed a paperback romance called Some Like It Scot, with cover art depicting a heterosexual couple  under-dressed for Scottish weather. According to the catalog record, the novel is part of a series called Scandalous Highlanders. Then scanning the shelves where we keep paperback romances at SPL, I realized that tartan-themed passion seems to be a really popular genre (I know next to nothing about romance novels, so this is all new to me): The... Read Post

November 1st 2015
Dylan Thomas

For the week of Oct. 26 - Nov. 1, 2015.

Oct. 27: Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath are both born on this date in 1914 and 1932, respectively. While both are considered among the greatest 20th century poets who wrote in English, their work is extremely different. Thomas wrote elegaic poetry influenced by the Victorian poets Hardy and Hopkins, with imagery drawn from the Bible, Welsh folklore and the works of Freud. The much-younger Plath shocked readers with the angry tone and brutal... Read Post

March 20th 2015

163 years ago today Harriet Beecher Stowe's anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was published in two volumes by the Boston firm John P. Jewett. The book had initially appeared in serial form in the abolitionist newspaper The National Era. 10,000 copies of the two-volume set were sold in two weeks and 300,000 in the first year. Jewett himself said, "Three power presses are working twenty-four hours per day, in printing it,...and still it has been impossible...to supply the demand." Uncle Tom... Read Post

February 14th 2014
In honor of Valentine's day, we turn our attention to romance novels.  If you are a fan, you might know that there is an organization called Romance Writers of America which each year recognizes outstanding published romance novels and novellas with the RITA awards.  Below are lists of the 2013 finalists in a few of the categories.  There are many more.  For a complete list, click here. Historical Romance Beauty and the Bounty Hunter by Lori Austin Bride by Mistake by Anne Gracie Defiant by... Read Post
August 20th 2013
Elmore Leonard, author of such works as Glitz, City Primeval and Killshot, died at his home in Michigan. He was 87. His works were populated by murderers, conmen and schemers, people living alongside us, but in a separate world with its own rules and risks and expectations.  Leonard wrote  about this world with an emotional depth and a gritty realism that endeared him even to critics prone to be dismissive of crime novels. Readers curious about Leonard have two options for sampling his... Read Post
August 12th 2013
James Whitey Bulger Captured

It's official: Whitey Bulger has been found guilty - of a whole lot of stuff - and will presumably be spending the rest of his life behind bars.  Many of us would like to forget all about the notorious thug but, human nature being what it is, a fair number of us want to know all there is to know about Whitey and his doings.  To that end, here's a list of relevant books available through the Minuteman Library Network.

Whitey: the Life of America's Most Notorious Mob Boss by Dick Lehr... Read Post

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