March 4th 2011

Monday we in the U.S. lost a living connection to a crucial period in modern history: Frank Buckles, the last living American veteran of World War I, died at his home in West Virginia at the age of 110. The First World War takes a back seat in our imagination and memory to the Second, but it was every bit as overwhelming in its consequences. As a result of the war Europe was devastated. Nearly an entire generation of young French and British men died. The war destabilized the Czarist regime... Read Post

March 2nd 2011
"Look what we found In the park, In the dark. We will take him home. We will call him Clark. He will live at our house. He will grow and grow. Will our mother like this? We don't know." For all things Seuss, click here. And remember, "From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere."
February 28th 2011
There's no doubt about it: we're fascinated by organized crime. Whether it's The Godfather, Goodfellas or The Sopranos, we can't get enough of books and dramas that claim to show us the mob from the inside, an alternative underground world with its own laws and loyalties. Citizen Somerville is the genuine article: the memoir of Bobby Martini, who grew up during the Irish Gang Wars of the 1960s. He describes what it was like to live in the crossfire of the violence that claimed 60 lives before... Read Post
February 8th 2011
My co-worker Ellen recently posted about the books on her nightstand: books she's currently reading, is waiting to read, and wants to read but knows she won't get to anytime soon. For most avid readers, the sheer number of books out there that beckon to us is both a promise and a taunt. I long ago learned to exercise self-discipline about going to bookstores,  invariably a fiscally problematic experience resulting in a pile of unread books mocking both my whims and good intentions. At any given... Read Post
February 1st 2011
Have you ever noticed "What We're Reading," the list in the sidebar of this blog? We put it there in case any of our readers are curious about what the staff of the Library read, but it occurred to me recently that what's not on the list might also be of interest. What are we intending to read that we keep putting off? What do we think we ought to be reading? What are we checking out of the Library and returning unread? A short guided tour of the stack of books on my nightstand might be... Read Post
January 27th 2011
Over at the blog The Daily Dish someone posted a link to a map of American profanity. The map is color-coded. In the bright-red areas, people swear a lot. In the black spots, people use more polite language. The map reminded me that we have a couple of books on swearing at SPL.  Expletive Deleted: A Good Look at Bad Language, is a thoroughly entertaining linguistic study of swearing and insults, in which the author unearths the etymologies of profane expressions, clarifies the difference... Read Post
January 13th 2011
Are you tired of being cold? Are you feeling sorry for yourself? Do you have a sore back from digging out your car? Here are some books that'll make you realize how good you have it. Even if your apartment or house is a little too cold I imagine you've got food. And you're probably not worried about Somerville being attacked by a foreign invader. 22-year-old Anna Levin isn't so lucky. The setting of Helen Dunmore's novel The Siege is Leningrad in 1941, and Anna is the sole breadwinner for her... Read Post
January 4th 2011
You are invited to a movie...and a murder. The Somerville Public Library Mystery Book Group celebrates ten years of reading and meeting! The group has met on the first Wednesday of the month (unless it’s a holiday) for ten years. To celebrate, we are hosting a movie night and a murder! Come join us at the Central Library on Wednesday, January 5th at 6:30 p.m. for a screening of Murder by Death, a hilarious Neil Simon send up of the detective genre featuring an all-star cast that includes Peter... Read Post
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 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
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
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 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 5th 2010
While trying to prepare my list of favorite movies of the last decade, I have decided that I cannot move on until I include one more favorite book.  This book makes me giddy just thinking about how much I enjoyed every single page.  If you haven't had the pleasure of reading Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, you are missing out.  This nonfiction story of the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 reads like a novel and tells the story of 2 men: Daniel Burnham, the mastermind and architect behind... Read Post