Books

May 9th 2016
Mercury is moving between Earth and the Sun today, a relatively rare event known as a solar transit. It began around 7 am today and will continue until 2:42 pm Eastern Time. Whatever you do, don't look directly at the Sun to try watch it. In any case, there's not much to see: just a small black dot (Mercury) on the face of the Sun. If you don't have a solar filter for your camera or binoculars there are plenty of live streams on the Internet, such as the one here. NASA has provided some... Read Post
May 5th 2016
People have been voting for the next Somerville Reads book. So far Stacy Schiff's The Witches is in the lead. If you haven't voted already, come to the Central Library and do so.
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 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
November 28th 2015
A few years ago Esquire posted an online list entitled "80 Books Every Man Should Read,"  that keeps popping up relentlessly on social media. The list consists almost entirely of books by male writers. The list attracted the notice of writer and Harper's contributing editor Rebecca Solnit who wrote a brief commentary about it called "80 Books No Woman Should Read." She had a few sharp comments to make about some of the authors whose works are on the list. Of Hemingway she wrote, "if you get 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

October 29th 2015
Wondering what to do on the upcoming weekend? The Friends of the Library  Book Sale starts at noon on Friday at the Central Library. It continues through Sunday. If you've got kids to entertain you could take them to the East Branch at 3 pm Friday for festive snacks and craft-making with their ever-so-much-fun children's librarian Meghan Forsell. The Boston Calendar has a list of events occurring this Saturday, many Halloween- themed, others not. And if you just feel like curling up with a... Read Post
September 24th 2015
Does your kid want to make a Martian? Silly question--what kid wouldn't? Be at the East Branch tomorrow with your children at 3:30 and Children's Librarian Meghan Forsell will open her Ali Baba's cave of craft supplies and help your kids make mini-Martians out of her wondrous trove of creative goods.       Then follow it up with dinner and a movie at the Central Library! Children's Librarian Cathy Piantigini hosts a potluck dinner and an outdoor screening of the 2005 version of The War of... Read Post
June 6th 2015
Our next book for Somerville Reads, our annual community one town/one book series of events, is the critically acclaimed best-seller The Martian, the story of an astronaut stranded on Mars and his struggle for survival. The Wall Street Journal called it "The best pure sci-fi novel in years." Kirkus Reviews praised it for being "sharp, funny and thrilling."  A film adaptation directed by Ridley Scott (the genius behind one of the best sci-fi films of all time) will be in theaters in November.... Read Post
May 9th 2015
Come to the Central Library next weekend and stock up on books! Ones you can keep forever! There will be thousands of books covering dozens of subjects in at least four languages. Our book sales happen thanks to the hard work of the Friends of the Somerville Public Library. Proceeds from SPL's book sales pay for our museum passes and programs.       Book sale schedule: Thursday, May 14      5:00-8:00 pm preview (For Friends who joined at the $50 level or higher) Friday, May 15... Read Post
April 9th 2015
...for April 9, 2015 150 years ago today Robert E Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, bringing an end to four years of war that caused 600,000 deaths.  The generosity and forbearance of the victors in the American Civil War has no historical precedent: there were no executions; Confederate soldiers were allowed to keep their property; Confederate prisoners were released as soon as they swore an oath to never again fight against the U. S. government. When Union soldiers began to... 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 19th 2015
Snow. Snow. And yet more snow. And we're all tired of it. And record-breaking low temperatures tonight.  It's all too easy to let the weather get you down.  But if it's too cold to go out, go in: into a book. Reading is a great way to forget whatever is troubling you, whatever you're tired of, whatever you wish would go away. So I and a couple of my colleagues at another library put together a list of titles we hope you'll enjoy. One of the great fictional detectives of our day is Walter... Read Post
February 7th 2015
For today, February 7. Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens. He remains one of the most beloved and influential novelists in English and was born this day in 1812 in Portsmouth, England. Recommended related reading from SPL: The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin or his novel Bleak House.   Feb. 7, 1601: Shakespeare's Richard II is performed at the Globe by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. Since the play is about the overthrow of a monarch and the Earl of... Read Post
December 16th 2014
NPR has a great report on Armed Services Editions, the pocket-sized books that entertained and consoled soldiers during World War II. Here is the link to request a library copy of the new book on ASEs, When Books Went to War. Have you ever wondered what was involved in making books before the rise of industrial-scale printing in the 1840s? You can watch someone make a book with a hand-operated printing press here. Grown-ups who read YA books? You're in good company. While adult book sales... Read Post

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