August 13th 2011
I have been told that my choice of reading material is somewhat eccentric.  Patrons occasionally ask me for book recommendations because they're pretty sure I'll suggest titles they haven't heard of. Here are a few books I've enjoyed over the past ten years that were probably never Oprah's Book Club picks (although they should have been). In 1987 New York Times reporter Howard Blum was reporting on the Walker spy case when he heard the government had convened a top-secret panel to investigate... Read Post
July 22nd 2011

Oy. The mercury is supposed to break 100 today and tomorrow won't be much better. If you don't have air conditioning, you are more than welcome to spend time at the library while we are open. Furthermore the cooling center at 167 Holland Street will be open until 8:00 pm tonight. A few years ago during another heat wave The Onion had some tips for staying cool. I can't remember the entire list, but my two favorites were: "Seal all doors and windows, and flood your house with iced tea," and "... Read Post

June 28th 2011
Every day, SPL staff help people find books, movies, music recordings, books on compact disc.  But many of our patrons don't talk to staff. They come in, look for something, and either find it (or don't) and just leave. Another fiscal year is about to start and we'll be purchasing again in a few weeks. Our budget's tighter than it used to be, but we still want to know: what have you looked for on our shelves that you didn't find? What do you wish we had? What do you want to see more of here?... Read Post
June 23rd 2011
I'm a big fan of the blog of African-American journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates. He's knowledgeable and insightful about history, literature and current politics. But what I really love about his blog is his level of personal engagement with his subject, whatever it is.  There's no dry intellectualism in his writing. Whether he's discussing the Civil War or Anthony Weiner or comic books, he makes you care. In a recent post, he recalled how as an intellectual black kid, he searched for a cultural... Read Post
June 16th 2011
When it's really hot, the last thing you want to do is cook. Fortunately Mark Bittman has prepared a list of 101 great dishes ready in ten minutes or less that won't heat up your kitchen too much. My personal favorites? Couscous topped with tomatoes, sardines, olive oil and black pepper (no. 17), pasta tossed with sauteed garlic cloves and ground Pecorino (no. 33), fish browned in olive oil or butter served with lemon juice and capers (no. 55),  and pasta frittata (no. 89). You could also just... Read Post
June 10th 2011

On Monday, June 13th at 6:30 p.m., Kenneth Gloss, proprietor of the Brattle Book Shop, will be at the Central Library to give a talk on rare books. He'll also estimate the value of books brought by members of the audience. Please come early to settle in.

Kenneth Gloss has made numerous appearances on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow and WBZ Radio. He regularly speaks at libraries, historical societies, and other public and private organizations throughout New England. Ken’s... Read Post
June 1st 2011
The Massachusetts Center for the Book has announced its list of Must-Read Books for 2011. The Massachusetts Book Awards highlight works by the contemporary writing community and encourage readers to explore those works. "Must Read" books have been written by Massachusetts writers or about Massachusetts themes and are named in four categories - fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children's/young adult literature. In the Fall, an award winner is chosen in each of the categories. The... Read Post
May 18th 2011
Full disclosure: I've never read any Philip Roth, but for years I've been thinking  about putting at least one of his works on my "should-read" list.  And today's announcement gives me more reason. In spite of being relatively new, The Man Booker International Prize is one of the most prestigious awards in the Anglophone world. Previous winners include Chinua Achebe and Alice Munro. I've long known that Roth is considered one of the greatest living American writers, but I was unprepared for the... Read Post
May 11th 2011
Imagine a bookless library, one in which all materials - from academic journals to classic novels to picture books - are available strictly in electronic form. It's an idea that appeals to some people and that horrifies others, and both sides can support their points of view with a number of arguments. I don't pretend to be impartial here: while I understand that there are certain advantages inherent in electronic formats, I have always loved books for their content and as physical objects.... Read Post
May 3rd 2011
This week's big news is, of course, Osama bin Laden's death. But we'll be living with the aftereffects of his crimes for a long time.  So it might be worth your time to learn a bit more about him and al-Qaeda.  One of the most fascinating books I've read on the subject (although it covers a lot more than Osama and terrorism) is The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the Twentieth Century by Steve Coll. It's a fascinating account of the intersection of religion, power and money in Saudi Arabia, a... Read Post
April 29th 2011
Tomorrow is the kickoff event for this year's Somerville Reads. It starts at 2 pm at the East Branch (115  Broadway). There will be Nepali dancing, Bollywood music, opportunities to get a henna tattoo and help make an immigration quilt. We hope you can join us!
April 21st 2011
When Muammar al-Gaddafi became headline news in February, I began to have this nagging feeling that I half-remembered something (that is, when I wasn't having vivid flashbacks of the eighties). Then it hit me: this guy's written a book. And I wasn't thinking of The Green Book (his statement of his political philosophy). No it was something else. A quick catalog search, one network request and two weeks later I had in my hands  Escape to Hell and Other Stories by none other than the "Mad Dog of... Read Post
April 12th 2011
The Somerville Reads Blog is up and running.
April 7th 2011
Our 2nd annual Somerville Reads campaign kicks off at the East Branch Library on Saturday, April 30th at 2:00 p.m.! 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. The book that has been selected is The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, a novel that deals with the experiences of the Ganguli family, Indian immigrants adjusting to a new life in America. Copies of the book are available for check... Read Post
March 23rd 2011
Book Loving Boys is a website started by a book loving mom and educator in response to learning that less than half of all boys are proficient readers by fourth grade. This month, the Book Loving Boys blog names five "Literacy Champions" - organizations and individuals dedicated to promoting literacy.

Reach Out and Read

RIF (Reading Is Fundamental)

Book Dads

Books For Kids

The Reading Tub

These sites are treasures. They offer... Read Post