The 2018 National Book Award Winners!

On Thursday, November 15, the National Book Award winners were announced in New York, in a ceremony hosted by Nick Offerman.  In addition, writer Luís Alberto Urrea presented the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to Isabel Allende, saying in his presentation that  “Isabel is calling us to believe in words of love, words of witness.  You can’t build a wall to keep them out. You can’t lock them up. She has taught us that words have wings. They fly over barriers, and they sing all over the globe.”  Hidden Figures author Margot Lee Shetterly presented Doron Weber with the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.  Weber is the vice president and program director for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation,which runs a program for Public Understanding of Science, Technology & Economics, which supports projects that bridge science and the arts (check out the link–it’s a pretty amazing place!).

Then came the announcement of the Winners of National Book Awards in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature.  We are pleased to list the winners below, with links to their NOBLE catalog entries.  Come into the Library and check out these award-winning books for yourself!

Young People’s Literature

Congratulations to all the National Book Award Winners–we can’t wait to start reading!

Five Book Friday!

And a messy, snowy rainy, bleak day it is out there, beloved patrons!  But never fear, we are here, the heat is on, and we have books, cds, and films galore to help you deal with the weather, holiday stress, and visiting relatives.

Just as a reminder, the Library has scheduled a staff meeting on Monday, November 19.  The Main Library will be closed from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m.  The South Branch and West Branch Libraries will be closed from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m.

Additionally, in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, we will be closing at 5pm on Wednesday, November 21.  We will reopen on Saturday, November 24 at 9am.  We wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving and look forward to seeing you soon!

And now, on to the books!

FoeFans of Iain Reid’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things will be pleased to know his second book is out, and just as mind-bending and fascinating as his debut.  Set in the near future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm…very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won’t have a chance to miss him, because she won’t be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company in the form of a synthetic replica of Junior.  But if you think the weirdness ends there, you haven’t read enough of Reid’s puzzling, eerie prose, and should pick this book up post haste!  Booklist gave this novel a starred review, cheering that “Reid is at it again, exploiting readers with plot twists, narrative unease, and explosive conclusions in his second novel… [he] has the rare ability to make readers both uncomfortable and engaged, and this drama will surely send them back to the beginning pages to track the clues he left to the surprise ending.”

In the House in the Dark: Local readers already have plenty of background for the setting and premise of this story, but the twists and turns it takes on its way to its conclusion are sure to keep even the most devoted scholar of witchcraft and Puritanism captivated.  The story opens in colonial New England, where an upstanding Puritan woman has gone missing.  Or perhaps she has fled or abandoned her family. Or perhaps she’s been kidnapped, and set loose to wander in the dense woods of the north. Alone and possibly lost, she meets another woman in the forest. Then everything changes.  On a journey that will take her through dark woods full of almost-human wolves, through a deep well wet with the screams of men, and on a living ship made of human bones, our heroine may find that the evil she flees may be much closer than she ever suspected.  This is a story that beautifully blends Native American folklore with colonial myths into a wholly unique original tale that is as haunting as it is unsettling.  The New York Times Review of Books loved this story, saying “[Hunt] has fashioned an edge of-the-seat experience more akin to watching a horror movie…Darkness is everywhere. . . . So prepare yourself. This is a perfect book to read when you’re safely tucked in your home, your back to the wall, while outside your door the wind rips the leaves from the trees and the woods grow dark.”

InsurrectoArmchair explorers, historians, and fiction lovers alike will love this tale, which uses a modern premise to tell the tale of the Balangiga massacre in the Philippines in 1901.  Two women, a Filipino translator and an American filmmaker, go on a road trip in Duterte’s Philippines, collaborating and clashing in the writing of a film script about a massacre during the Philippine-American War. Chiara is working on a film about the events that transpired in Balangiga, Samar, in 1901, when Filipino revolutionaries attacked an American garrison, and in retaliation American soldiers created “a howling wilderness” of the surrounding countryside. Magsalin reads Chiara’s film script and writes her own version. Insurrecto contains within its dramatic action two rival scripts from the filmmaker and the translator—one about a white photographer, the other about a Filipino schoolteacher, creating a wholly unique narrative that sheds light not only on the stories we fear to tell, but on the way we construct history and memory.  Publisher’s Weekly gave this wonderfully inventive novel a starred review, describing how  “Apostol fearlessly probes the long shadow of forgotten American imperialism in the Philippines in her ingenious novel of competing filmmakers . . . Layers of narrative, pop culture references, and blurring of history and fiction make for a profound and unforgettable journey into the past and present of the Philippines.”

Death and Other Holidays: Marci Vogel’s debut novel has critics everywhere delighted, and the book has already been nominated for–and won!–several literary prizes.  Life is coming fast at  twenty-something April. All the heavy stuff of adulthood—including the death of a loved one—seems to have happened to her all at once, leaving her reeling, and challenging her wit and grit in ways she never imagined.  Over the course of a single year, we see her confront her fears and vulnerability, as well as find a deep well of strength that propels her forward.  This is a clear-sighted, enormously empathetic story that won a starred review from Kirkus, who called it a “beautiful book…The prose is stunning..a moving and graceful novella of overcoming sorrow.”

The Way of All FleshA fascinating historical mystery that has already earned a devoted following in the UK, this book blends fact and fiction into an intriguing concoction that readers are sure to savor.  We begin in Edinburgh, 1847.  Young women are being discovered dead across the Old Town, all having suffered similarly gruesome ends. In the New Town, medical student Will Raven is about to start his apprenticeship with the brilliant and renowned Dr Simpson. Simpson’s patients range from the richest to the poorest of this divided city. His house is like no other, full of visiting luminaries and daring experiments in the new medical frontier of anesthesia. It is here that Raven meets housemaid Sarah Fisher, who recognizes trouble when she sees it and takes an immediate dislike to him. She has all of his intelligence but none of his privileges, in particular his medical education. With each having their own motive to look deeper into these deaths, Raven and Sarah find themselves propelled headlong into the darkest shadows of Edinburgh’s underworld, where they will have to overcome their differences if they are to make it out alive.  Ambrose Parry is the pseudonym of husband/wife writing team Chris Brookmyre and historian Marisa Haetzman, and their talents shine in what we hope will not be their last collaboration!  Publisher’s Weekly noted that “Parry provides a fascinating look at how medicine was practiced at a period when anesthetics were still not widely used or understood, as well as certain things that have changed little over time: mansplaining, the subservience expected of women of any social class, and religious leaders demanding their God-given right to control reproductive health. Readers will eagerly await the sequel.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

A (Belated) Poem for the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice

Everyone Sang, by Siegfried Sassoon

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on—on—and out of sight.

Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away … O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

(November 11, 1918)

And speaking of upcoming events…

We are truly lucky, beloved patrons, to live in an area that is rich with libraries, and we here at the Free For All love fostering relationships between our libraries and our patrons.  We share books and dvds, cds, and magazines.  We also share recommendations and programs from our NOBLE friends, because you are as welcome in their Libraries and you (and their patrons) are in ours!

So, with that in mind, we wanted to share with you some upcoming programs being held at the Beverly Library, to which you are most cordially invited.  Information for registering for these programs can be found on the posters below–just click on them to enlarge the images.  And if you have any questions, give our Beverly buddies a call at (978) 921-6062.  We hope you are able to attend, and pass on our best wishes if and when you do!

Looking Ahead…

It’s pretty dark and gloomy out there today, dear readers, but we are eager to combat our growing autumnal lethargy with a look at the phenomenal programs that we have coming up in November and December!  We have done our best to assemble a line-up of classes, concerts, film screenings, and activities to drive away the winter doldrums.  You can register for these lovely events by going to our website, giving us a call, or coming in and speaking with your friendly public service staff.

Image result for autumn

As ever, if you have ideas or suggests for programs you would like to see here at the Library, please let us know!  We are here for you, after all.  And now, on to the calendar!


At the Main Library: PowerPoint, Photographs, and Digital Slideshows

Tuesday, December 4, 4:00 – 5:30pm

In this one day course, learn how to use Microsoft Powerpoint to share your favorite pictures with family and friends. Topics will include the basics of Powerpoint, digital photo editing and scanning, and creating digital slideshows using your favorite memories. Bring digital photo files that you’d like to use on a flashdrive, any physical photographs that you’d like to scan, and your own laptop, if possible- the library has just (5) available laptops with Powerpoint 2016 for attendees.


At the South Branch:

Tuesday, November 20, 2:30 – 3:30pm: Introduction to Yoga & Meditation

This four week series is designed to help adults discover the fundamentals of yoga.  This is a practice of reconnecting the Mind and Body through Breath & Movement. Guided meditation, yoga philosophy, and posture alignment with modifications will be shared during the class. This class will allow you leave class feeling grounded in your body and balanced in your mind.  The South Branch Library has a small number of mats for use, but we ask to please bring your own, if possible. You may also bring a throw blanket or pillow to sit in meditation with. Wear comfortable clothing you can move freely in. This series will be led by Certified Yoga Instructor, Reiki Master, and Peabody native Marco Aurelio Vinci. Any direct inquiries about the class should be e-mailed to marcovinciyoga@gmail.com


At the West Branch:

Wednesday, November 14, 1:00 – 2:00pm: Heritage Films presents Norman Rockwell, Illustrator

Come join us for a 40 minute film presentation by local historian and film maker Dan Tremblay of Heritage Films! This particular film will focus on Norman Rockwell.


In the Teen Room (Main Library)

Wednesday, December 5, 6:30 – 8:30pm: Open Mic Night

Come share your songs, your stories, your poems, and your jokes at the library’s Open Mic Night!   Whether you’re a musician, storyteller, writer, comedian, or other type of entertainer, the mic is yours. The sign-up sheet goes out at 6 p.m., and performers can sign up on a first-come-first-serve basis.  And if performing’s really not your thing, that’s okay.  Come hang out, drink coffee, and support some inspiring local talent.  All ages welcome!
We hope to see you soon, beloved patrons!

Five Book Friday!

Holy Toledo, beloved patrons!  It’s been a whole week, and due to a terrible combination of common colds and general confusion, we have been pretty quiet this week–for which, our sincere apologies.  We look forward to making it up to you in the coming weeks with lots of scintillating posts and helpful information, so stick around, ok?

For now, we bring you a handful of the books that braved the damp and windy fall weather to hop up onto our shelves, and cannot wait to make your acquaintance!

MaroonedJamestown, Shipwreck, and a New  History of America’s Origins: Think you know the story of Jamestown–the first successful British colonial settlement in what would eventually become the United States?  Well, Professor Joseph Kelly in eager to challenge the common assumptions and legends around Jamestown.  In this gripping account of shipwrecks and mutiny in America’s earliest settlements, Kelly argues that the colonists at Jamestown were literally and figuratively marooned, cut loose from civilization, and cast into the wilderness. The British caste system meant little on this frontier: those who wanted to survive had to learn to work and fight and intermingle with the nearby native populations.  Kelly not only introduces us to a new way of thinking about history, but a new cast of characters, as well, making this a historical work for history buffs, political minds, and lovers of good adventure can all support.  Booklist gave this thought-provoking book a starred review, observing, “The U.S. loves its creation myths, and this mythmaking, myth-breaking history gives us a new character, Stephen Hopkins… Though Hopkins and those like him left few records, Kelly fleshes out the available glimpses with a vivid, detailed description of the settlement and its English and Native American contexts…Kelly’s dynamic narrative brings Jamestown to life and shows how history reflects the present as well as the past.”

LittleA fascinating historical fiction that challenges and reinvents a critical moment in world history, through the eyes of one remarkable young woman.  In 1761, a tiny, odd-looking girl named Marie is born in a village in Switzerland. After the death of her parents, she is apprenticed to an eccentric wax sculptor and whisked off to the seamy streets of Paris, where they meet a domineering widow and her quiet, pale son. Together, they convert an abandoned monkey house into an exhibition hall for wax heads, and the spectacle becomes a sensation. As word of her artistic talent spreads, Marie is called to Versailles, where she tutors a princess and saves Marie Antoinette in childbirth. But outside the palace walls, Paris is roiling: The revolutionary mob is demanding heads, and . . . at the wax museum, heads are what they do.  Carey’s novel earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, who noted “There is nothing ordinary about this book, in which everything animate and inanimate lives, breathes, and remembers. Carey, with sumptuous turns of phrase, fashions a fantastical world that churns with vitality, especially his “Little,” a female Candide at once surreal and full of heart.”

I Am Dynamite! A Life of Nietzsche: Plenty of people quote Nietzsche, and reference his philosophy, but so few people know much about the man himself, beyond his remarkable mustache.  Sue Prideaux is out to change that with this new biography that brings readers into the world of this brilliant, eccentric, and deeply troubled man, illuminating the events and people that shaped his life and work. From his placid, devoutly Christian upbringing—overshadowed by the mysterious death of his father—through his teaching career, lonely philosophizing on high mountains, and heart-breaking descent into madness, Prideaux documents Nietzsche’s intellectual and emotional life with a novelist’s insight and sensitivity.  She also produces unforgettable portraits of the people who were most important to him, including Richard and Cosima Wagner, Lou Salomé, the woman who broke his heart; and his sister Elizabeth, a hard-line German nationalist and anti-Semite who manipulated his texts and turned the Nietzsche archive into a destination for Nazi ideologues.  This is a biography for those looking to know more about Nietzsche himself, but also about the world and time that shaped him.  The Times in London loved that aspect of this book, calling this book “Witty, terribly clever and steeped in the wild, doomed peculiarities of 19th-century Germania…a tremendous and reformative biography of a man whom popular history has perhaps done a disservice.”

Pulse:  In a small apartment above Kenmore Square, sixteen-year-old Daniel Fitzsimmons is listening to his landlord describe a seemingly insane theory about invisible pulses of light and energy that can be harnessed by the human mind. He longs to laugh with his brother Harry about it, but Harry doesn’t know he’s there—he would never approve of Daniel living on his own. None of that matters, though, because the next night Harry, a Harvard football star, is murdered in an alley.  Detectives “Bark” Jones and Tommy Dillon are assigned to the case. The veteran partners thought they’d seen it all, but they are stunned when Daniel wanders into the crime scene. Even stranger, Daniel claims to have known the details of his brother’s murder before it ever happened. The subsequent investigation leads the detectives deep into the Fitzsimmons brothers’ past. They find heartbreaking loss, sordid characters, and metaphysical conspiracies. Even on the rough streets of 1970s Boston, Jones and Dillon have never had a case like this.  A little bit of paranormal, a little bit of mystery, and a wonderful amount of world-building, this is a unique, pulse-pounding novel for anyone looking for something entirely different–or, as The Guardian put it, “Both unexpected and extremely clever.”

Broadway to Main Street: How Show Tunes Enchanted America: The crossroads where the music of Broadway meets popular culture is an expansive and pervasive juncture throughout most of the twentieth century–from sheet music to radio broadcasts to popular and original cast recordings–and continues to influence culture today through television, streaming, and the Internet. The original Broadway cast album–from the 78 rpm recording of Oklahoma! to the digital download of Hamilton–is one of the most successful, yet undervalued, genres in the history of popular recording. The challenge of capturing musical narrative with limited technology inspired the imagination of both the recording industry and millions of listeners: between 1949 and 1969, fifteen different original cast albums hit number one on the popular music charts, ultimately tallying more weeks at number one than all of the albums by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles combined. The history of Broadway music is also the history of American popular music; the technological, commercial, and marketing forces of communications and media over the last century were inextricably bound up in the enterprise of bringing the musical gems of New York’s Theater District to living rooms along Main Streets across the nation.  Featuring interviews from composers, actors, singers, producers, and critics, this is a book for anyone with a song in their heart, stars in their eyes, or their ear tuned to the music of the Great White Way.  Library Journal was smitten with this book, giving it a starred review and cheering, “This is both a lovely gift to musical theater fans and a serious text for those who study Broadway – Maslon deserves and receives raves.”

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

Five Book Friday!

The first hard frost of the year have arrived, beloved patrons, and you know what that means….

…..It’s time for more books!
It’s always time for more books.  Who are we kidding here?  That was a very easy question.

Here’s a list of some of the new volumes that have nestled onto our shelves this week who are willing to brave the wintry weather by your side!

A Life of My Own: Claire Tomalin is a world-respected biography of such literary lights as Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens.  In her newest work, however, she turns her gaze inward, telling us about her own life surrounded by books and literature.  From discovering books as a form of escapism during her parents’ difficult divorce, to pursuing poetry at Cambridge, to the glittering London literary scene of the 1960s, this is a book of huge scope and private emotions, including Tomalin’s difficult marriage to a philanderer, his death, and her struggles as a single mother.  In addition, she sheds light on a longstanding career, including being commissioned to write her first book, a biography of the early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Marked by honesty, humility, and grace, rendered in the most elegant of prose, Tomalin’s memoir is a portrait of a life, replete with joy and heartbreak. Vogue.com wrote a glowing review of this book, calling Tomalin “a master craftswoman, and it’s a thrill to see her prose and capacity for moving storytelling turned on her own life… If it leads you to read some of her biographies (Jane Austen is a favorite), you’ll be better off.”

The Accident on the A35: Readers who loved Graeme Macrae Burnet’s first Inspector Gorki novel (and his Man Booker Prize Shortlisted book!) will love to see the Inspector return in another fascinating puzzle, set in rural France. Detective Gorski is called away from his night of solitary drinking to the site of a car accident that left Bertrand Barthelme, a respected solicitor, dead. When the deceased’s rather attractive wife suggests that the crash may not have been an accident, Gorski looks closer into Barthelme’s circumspect movements on the night of his death. His investigation leads him to various bars, hotels, and brothels in the nearby city of Strasbourg. At the same time, Barthelme’s rebellious son, drunk on Jean Paul Sartre novels, is conducting an investigation of his own. Their independent, dual inquiries lead the reader down a twisted road marked by seedy back rooms, bar brawls, and–as we have come to expect from Burnet–copious amounts of wine.  Publisher’s Weekly gave this second book in the series a starred review, saying “Man Booker-finalist Burnet’s smart, sharp follow-up to The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau offers a “lost” novel by fictional French writer Raymond Brunet (who anagram is hardly subtle), released by his estate after his suicide….Burnet elevates what starts as a Simenon pastiche into something dazzling.”

Treason of Hawks: Lila Bowen’s stunning Shadows series draws to a close with this absorbing fourth book.  Rhett Walker is looking for peace, the memories of all he’s lost haunting his dreams.  But with the lawless Rangers on his heels and monster attacks surging, Rhett is surrounded on all sides. When his friends and allies are suddenly ambushed, Rhett must answer the Shadow’s call and ride into one last, fateful battle.  Fans who have already encountered Bowen’s limitless imagination and flare for prose will know how fascinating the world of this series has become, and for new readers…this is a perfect excuse to get started on a series that is sure to delight.  Kirkus Reviews gave this book a starred review, calling it “Absorbing…fans will love this final chapter in Bowen’s story.”

Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short FictionTor.com has been a site for some of the most ground-breaking and innovative science fiction on the internet, and this volume brings together some of the highlights of the past decade for those looking to move away from the screen to the page.  Here, readers will find a wealth of remarkable stories that span the distances from science fiction to fantasy to horror, and everything in between.  With Nebula- and Hugo-Award-winning authors N. K. Jemisin, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Jeff VanderMeer, this is a book for devoted fans and genre newcomers alike to savor.  Kirkus Reviews described this behemoth tome gleefully as “a small sampling of the excellent fiction they’ve been offering over the past decade…Short Fiction is awesome. Tor.com is one of the reasons why.”

Where the Crawdads SingA “new to us” book, this emotional and finely wrought story is a perfect fit for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell.  For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens. This is a book that has gotten rave reviews across the country, including from The New York Times Review of Books, who called it “A painfully beautiful first novel that is at once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature….Owens here surveys the desolate marshlands of the North Carolina coast through the eyes of an abandoned child. And in her isolation that child makes us open our own eyes to the secret wonders—and dangers—of her private world.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." ~Frederick Douglass