August 27th 2015
..for Thursday, August 27. Books by John Milton are burned in London by the common hangman for his attacks on King Charles II. Related reading at Somerville Public Library: Royal Survivor: A Life of Charles II by Stephen Coote. Or if you're in the mood for reading a really long poem, try Paradise Lost. I've always thought the list of fallen angels at the end of Book 1 would be a great source for cat names: Belial, Moloch, Leviathan.... The first Tarzan book, Tarzan of the Apes, was published... Read Post
July 16th 2015
Join us at the Somerville Public Library this Friday for a 30th anniversary screening of an eighties classic, the time travel movie Back to the Future, starring Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox. Back to the Future, which the New York Times called "sweet and ingenious," soon drew a cult following, and inspired two sequels, a theme park ride, an animated series, and a forthcoming musical. Time travel is a theme of perennial fascination to both movie directors and audiences.  The result has... Read Post
June 22nd 2015
The screening of "A Jihad for Love," a documentary about LGBT Muslims, planned for June 26 at SCATV, has been cancelled.
May 21st 2015
SPL is partnering with SCATV, the Massachusetts Cultural Council,f and The Growing Center to host a summer movie series! The summer cinematic fun begins July 1 with the classic comedy horror rock musical (I love it that I have an occasion to use those five words sequentially) Little Shop of Horrors. Details below:
January 30th 2015
Reading the published diary of someone who died early can be a poignant experience. You can only speculate on what they might have become had they lived. Sometimes all you can think is, "The world lost this person too soon." Petr Ginz (1928-1944) was a child of extraordinary energy and gifts: between the ages of 8 and 14 he wrote five novels. He was also an accomplished painter (for a child) and a fluent speaker of Esperanto with an insatiable curiosity about science. Given his privileged... Read Post
October 31st 2014
Run, Ichabod, run!!

Happy Halloween! I am reminiscing about my favorite childhood Halloween TV specials. I always loved Disney's Halloween Treat that featured the Ichabod Crane clip, which sadly I can't find online. (The Headless Horseman scared the pants off me!) But there's plenty of other goodies to be found in that special on YouTube: I also loved the Garfield special, which had a scary part, but also Garfield memorably chanting "Candy, candy, candy!" as... Read Post
August 13th 2014

Since Monday's post on Shark Week, I've received quite a few comments about the Discovery Channel's sensationalist and inaccurate Shark Week programming.  And rightly so. Shark Week producers have actually lied to scientists to get them to appear in programming, and  Discovery airs "documentaries" in which most of the material is made up. So don't watch Discovery Channel. And whatever you do, don't let Shark Week stop being about the sharks. The National Geographic Channel has some level-... Read Post

August 13th 2014
Movies and summer just seem to go together, don't they? Well we think so, and we have some great ones coming up for kids, teens, and families. Tomorrow at 6:30 p.m., we're showing The Iron Giant! Kids of all ages and families are welcome to attend. Bring snacks and get ready for one of the coolest movies ever, one that answers the question "How can an 11-year-old boy keep a 50-foot tall, metal-eating robot from space a secret?" Following the movie, there will be a discussion of the book... Read Post
August 8th 2014
Hoopla is here! We are delighted to offer this new service that allows Somerville patrons free access to thousands of movies, television shows, music albums, and audiobooks for mobile devices and computers. To start using Hoopla, download the free digital mobile app on your Android or iOS device or visit Then, begin enjoying titles from major Hollywood studios, record companies, and publishers. Titles can be borrowed for instant streaming or for temporary downloading to... Read Post
June 11th 2014
Are you an avid reader and a movie buff? Do you watch film adaptions of books you've read and make mental notes about plot changes and casting choices? Perhaps you should join the library's Books into Movies discussion group. It meets the third Monday of every month at the Central Library, 7:30 to 8:30. On June 16 the group will discuss Jim Thompson's The Grifters and the film  of the same name starring John Cusack and Anjelic Huston, as well as the Robert Redford/Paul Newman film The Sting,... Read Post
February 20th 2014
As part of our ALA/NEH sponsored series Muslim Journeys we are pleased to host a screening of the documentary Dear Bawa Muhaiyaddeen by filmmakers Kythe Heller and Peter McMurray. This event will take place on Thursday, February 27th at 7:00 p.m. at the Central Library. How can one film something that cannot be seen? Unlike traditional documentaries, which typically view religious experience as a metaphor for something else--whether socially or psychologically construed--this experimental... Read Post
February 3rd 2014
American stage and cinema suffered a profound loss yesterday. Philip Seymour Hoffman, arguably the best character actor of our time, was found dead in his apartment yesterday. He was only 46. I first saw him in the Todd Solondz film Happiness, in which he played the thoroughly creepy Allen, who makes disgusting anonymous phone calls to women, particularly to his lovely neighbor Helen (Lara Flynn Boyle). What made this performance noteworthy was Hoffman's ability to show the brutal, soul-... Read Post
January 28th 2014

A great artist and a great American left us today.  Pete Seeger, America's most beloved folk singer, and the father of today's vibrant folk music scene, died today in New York City. He was 94. He left his stamp on American music with songs such as "If I Had a Hammer," "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" and "Turn, Turn, Turn." "Hammer" will forever be associated with resistance to Joseph McCarthy's witchhunts, and "Flowers" was the anthem of the anti-Vietnam war movement.  For Seeger, there... 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
October 30th 2013
In honor of Halloween, some denizens of the Interwebs are indulging their list-making mania by compiling lists of scary books or movies.  Below is a brief list of my own: six works--three books, three movies that were created with one purpose in mind: to scare the bejesus out of us. Books: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. This 1959 novel is the haunted house story. Hill House is a long-abandoned country residence with an unsettling reputation. An investigator of psychic... Read Post