A Poem for the New Year

The Passing of the Year

By Robert Service (1874-1958)

My glass is filled, my pipe is lit,
My den is all a cosy glow;
And snug before the fire I sit,
And wait to feel the old year go.
I dedicate to solemn thought
Amid my too-unthinking days,
This sober moment, sadly fraught
With much of blame, with little praise.

Old Year! upon the Stage of Time
You stand to bow your last adieu;
A moment, and the prompter’s chime
Will ring the curtain down on you.
Your mien is sad, your step is slow;
You falter as a Sage in pain;
Yet turn, Old Year, before you go,
And face your audience again.

That sphinx-like face, remote, austere,
Let us all read, whate’er the cost:
O Maiden! why that bitter tear?
Is it for dear one you have lost?
Is it for fond illusion gone?
For trusted lover proved untrue?
O sweet girl-face, so sad, so wan
What hath the Old Year meant to you?

And you, O neighbour on my right
So sleek, so prosperously clad!
What see you in that aged wight
That makes your smile so gay and glad?
What opportunity unmissed?
What golden gain, what pride of place?
What splendid hope? O Optimist!
What read you in that withered face?

And You, deep shrinking in the gloom,
What find you in that filmy gaze?
What menace of a tragic doom?
What dark, condemning yesterdays?
What urge to crime, what evil done?
What cold, confronting shape of fear?
O haggard, haunted, hidden One
What see you in the dying year?

And so from face to face I flit,
The countless eyes that stare and stare;
Some are with approbation lit,
And some are shadowed with despair.
Some show a smile and some a frown;
Some joy and hope, some pain and woe:
Enough! Oh, ring the curtain down!
Old weary year! it’s time to go.

My pipe is out, my glass is dry;
My fire is almost ashes too;
But once again, before you go,
And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year! a parting word that’s true,
For we’ve been comrades, you and I —
I thank God for each day of you;
There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!

Five Book Friday!

If you, beloved patrons, aren’t sure what day today is, what year it is, or why in general, then please know that you are in good company, and that we are here for you.  Additionally, we are also bringing you a selection of books that have meandered through the holiday revelry to join you on your final reading spree of 2018.  We hope they bring you joy!

Just a reminder, the Main Library, as well as the South and West Branches will be observing the following hours in the coming week:

Monday December 31:  Close at 1 pm

Tuesday January 1, 2019:  Closed

Normal hours will resume on Wednesday, January 2, at which time, we can all try to get back to a more routine schedule!

Until then, we wish you all joy for the coming year, and a 2019 full of literary adventures!  And now, on to the books!

Dare to Love a Duke: We are going to be talking a lot about this book in an upcoming post, friends, so let’s take a moment to introduce you to Eva Leigh’s newest historical romance.  Thomas Powell, the new Duke of Northfield, knows he should be proper and principled, like his father. No more dueling, or carousing, or frequenting masked parties where Londoners indulge their wildest desires. But he’s not ready to give up his freedom just yet. The club is an escape, a place where he can forget about society and the weight of his title… and see the woman he’s wanted forever.  Lucia—known as Amina—manages the Orchid Club, a secret society where fantasies become reality. But for Lucia, it’s strictly business, profitable enough to finance her dream: a home for the lost girls of the streets. Surrounded by lovers, she only observes, unwilling risk her future for any man. No member has ever intrigued her…until the masked stranger whose heated looks sear her skin. After months of suppressed longing, they dare to give in to temptation, just once, before they both move on.  But the late duke’s legacy comes with a shocking secret, and the scandal threatens to destroy everything Tom loves… his family, the Orchid Club, and even Lucia.  Leigh’s book is getting a good deal of attention, mostly for the right reasons, and is a worthy addition to her Underground London series.  Publisher’s Weekly, for example, wrote a glowing review of this book, describing it as “a sexy, scandalous tale… Complex characters, witty exchanges, a little blackmail, and a lot of loyalty and love make this a fantastic ending to a sensational series.”

The Long Take or a Way to Lose More Slowly: Robin Robertson’s 2018 Man Booker Prize Finalist book has at last arrived on our shelves, and we couldn’t be more excited to dive into this new noir tale.  Walker is a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder; he can’t return home to rural Nova Scotia, and looks instead to the city for freedom, anonymity and repair. As he finds his way from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco, we witness a crucial period of fracture in American history, one that also allowed film noir to flourish. The Dream had gone sour but—as those dark, classic movies made clear—the country needed outsiders to study and to dramatize its new anxieties. Both an outsider and, gradually, an insider, Walker finds work as a journalist, and tries to piece his life together as America is beginning to come apart: riven by social and racial divisions, spiraling corruption, and the collapse of the inner cities.  This is a book with deep literary insight and the visual power of a film that the Los Angeles Review of Books called “A remarkable work . . . I can’t think of anything quite like it  . . . Modern, complex, political . . .Though rooted in a specific time and place, The Long Take’s larger theme is the capacity of greed and politics to turn hope into despair . . . A poem that’s long been waiting to be written.”

How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?From three-time Hugo Award winner-author N. K. Jemisin comes a collection of short fiction that sharply examines modern society.  Jemisin’s work always challenges and delights in equal measure with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption.  In this collection, spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.  This is a book for Jemisin’s growing fan base, as well as for new readers looking for an introduction to her brilliance.  NPR wrote a stirring review of this collection, noting in part that “One line from [Jemisin’s introduction] has tattooed itself on my mind, a sort of manifesto for her ongoing work and all the fiction I love: ‘Now I am bolder, and angrier, and more joyful.’ I felt, after reading these stories, that I was too.”

The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to the Civil War: In this thoroughly-researched and wonderfully readable history, Joanne B. Freeman recovers the long-lost story of physical violence on the floor of the U.S. Congress. Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, she shows that the Capitol was rife with conflict in the decades before the Civil War. Legislative sessions were often punctuated by mortal threats, canings, flipped desks, and all-out slugfests. When debate broke down, congressmen drew pistols and waved Bowie knives. One representative even killed another in a duel. Many were beaten and bullied in an attempt to intimidate them into compliance, particularly on the issue of slavery.  These fights didn’t happen in a vacuum. Freeman’s dramatic accounts of brawls and thrashings tell a larger story of how fisticuffs and journalism, and the powerful emotions they elicited, raised tensions between North and South and led toward war. In the process, she brings the antebellum Congress to life, revealing its rough realities―the feel, sense, and sound of it―as well as its nation-shaping import. Funny, tragic, and riveting, this book earned a starred review from Library Journal, who called it “A thought-provoking and insightful read for anybody interested in American politics in the lead up to the Civil War.”

All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson: Rock Hudson was a film icon worshiped by moviegoers and beloved by his colleagues.  He represented the embodiment of all that romantic American cinema had to offer. Yet beneath the suave and commanding star persona, there was an insecure, deeply conflicted, and all too vulnerable human being. Growing up poor in Winnetka, Illinois, Hudson was abandoned by his biological father, abused by an alcoholic stepfather, and controlled by his domineering mother. Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Hudson was determined to become an actor at all costs. After signing with the powerful but predatory agent Henry Willson, the young hopeful was transformed from a clumsy, tongue-tied truck driver into Universal Studio’s resident Adonis. In a more conservative era, Hudson’s wholesome, straight arrow screen image was at odds with his closeted homosexuality.  For years, Hudson dodged questions concerning his private life, but in 1985 the public learned that the actor was battling AIDS. The disclosure that such a revered public figure had contracted the illness focused worldwide attention on the epidemic.  Drawing on more than 100 interviews with co-stars, family members and former companions, as well as utilizing private journals, personal correspondence, and production files, Mark Griffin provides a nuanced and in-depth portrait of the man behind the movie posters, and an exploration of Hudson’s classic films.  USA Today provided a moving review of this book, describing it as “Exhaustive and empathetic…. Griffin fills in what’s left to say [about Hudson’s life] in between the lines with an impressive list of interviews with movie star friends, acquaintances and co-stars and also digs deep into private journals and correspondence.”


Until next week, beloved patrons, happy reading, and Happy New Year!

Six Book Saturday!

So due to some change in staffing yesterday, we weren’t able to bring you our traditional Five Book Friday post, dear patrons–however, we are making it up to you today (well, we’re going to try to make it up to you, anyways) by providing you with six new books that have traipsed onto our shelves this week, and who would be delighted to spend the final weeks of the year in your company!

If you’re looking for some more recommendations for reading over the long holiday weekends to come, our good friends at the Boston Public Library have released their lists of the  Most Checked-Out Books of 2018.  There is a list of Adult Books, Teen Books, and Kids Books, so have a look through these great lists and see what other readers have been enjoying this year!

And speaking of wonderful books, let’s see what’s on our list for today!

We Can’t Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival: In her novel The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison confronts what she called the “Master Narrative“, which she described as “whatever ideological script that is being imposed by the people in authority on everybody else,” involving the way we understand beauty, competence, and our place in the world.  In this new work, Jabari Asim contradicts that narrative and replaces it with a story of black survival and persistence through art and community in the face of centuries of racism. In eight wide-ranging and penetrating essays, he explores such topics as the twisted legacy of jokes and falsehoods in black life; the importance of black fathers and community; the significance of black writers and stories; and the beauty and pain of the black body. What emerges is a rich portrait of a community and culture that has resisted, survived, and flourished despite centuries of racism, violence, and trauma. These thought-provoking essays present a different side of American history, one that doesn’t depend on a narrative steeped in oppression but rather reveals black voices telling their own stories.  Kirkus Reviews gave this collection a starred review, noting how Asim “places current events within the context of a legacy that is literary, political, and cultural, as well as racial, with a voice that is both compelling and convincing…A sharp vision that challenges readers to shift perspective and examine conventional narratives.”

EdenbrookeThis is an older romance novel, but Julie C. Donaldson’s novel is a staff favorite, so we’re delighted to welcome it into our collection!  Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry. From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.  When it debuted, Publisher’s Weekly gave this book a starred review, calling it  a “delightful and completely engrossing Heyeresque Regency debut…This beautiful love story will warm…the reader’s heart.”

Not of This Fold: Mette Ivie Harrison’s mystery series featuring Linda Wallheim is a fascinating, insightful, and honest portrait of Mormon Utah, as well as some inventive mysteries.  When this fourth outing begins, all five of her sons have left home, leaving Mormon bishop’s wife Linda Wallheim with quite a bit of time on her hands.  She has also become close with one of the women in her ward, Gwen Ferris.  But Gwen is quickly losing faith in the church, and her issues with the Mormon power structure are only reinforced by her work with a ward of both legal and undocumented immigrants who aren’t always getting the community support they should be from their church.  When Gabriela Gonzalez, a young mother and Gwen’s friend in the Spanish Ward, is found strangled at a gas station, Gwen is paralyzed with guilt. The dead woman’s last phone call was to Gwen, and her voice mail reveals that she knew she was in danger. When Gwen decides the police aren’t doing enough to get justice for Gabriela, who was undocumented, she decides to find the killer herself. Linda reluctantly takes part in Gwen’s vigilante sleuthing, fearing for her young friend’s safety, but what the pair discovers may put them both in danger.  Harrison’s books confront homophobia, xenophobia, faith, and gender issues without flinching or compromising, making them unique and powerful in a number of ways.  Even the Association of Mormon Letters cheered this fourth installment, saying in its review “Harrison has hit her stride as a front-rank mystery novelist . . . Come for the engaging intellectual puzzle and stay for the nuanced treatment of Mormonism. Or do it the other way around. But definitely come and stay. You won’t be sorry.”
American Overdose: The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts: As Chris McGreal writes in this deeply felt and pitilessly researched book, the opioid epidemic has been described as “one of the greatest mistakes of modern medicine.” But calling it a mistake is a generous rewriting of the history of greed, corruption, and indifference that pushed the US into consuming more than 80 percent of the world’s opioid painkillers.  Journeying through lives and communities wrecked by the epidemic, McGreal reveals not only how Americans were sold on powerfully addictive drugs, but the corrupting of medicine and public institutions that let permitted opioid makers get away with it.  Although some were remorseless in sounding a warning against this operation, the power structures that were manipulated to produce, market, and sell opioid drugs over-whelmed all previous structures of warning.  In this book, McGreal tells the story, in terms both broad and intimate, of people hit by a catastrophe they never saw coming. Years in the making, its ruinous consequences will stretch years into the future.  Booklist gave this work a starred review, noting “McGreal, an award-winning journalist, presents this grim cautionary tale of opioids, greed, and addiction in three acts: ‘Dealing,’ ‘Hooked,’ and Withdrawal’…. McGreal goes on to successfully address the question of how the greatest drug epidemic in history grew largely unchecked for nearly two decades….What can be done to reverse this? McGreal’s powerfully stated indictment is a start.”

Influenza: The Hundred-Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in HistoryOn the 100th anniversary of the devastating pandemic of 1918, Jeremy Brown, a veteran ER doctor, explores the troubling, terrifying, and complex history of the flu virus, from the origins of the Great Flu that killed millions, to vexing questions such as: are we prepared for the next epidemic, should you get a flu shot, and how close are we to finding a cure?  Dr. Brown digs into the discovery and resurrection of the flu virus in the frozen victims of the 1918 epidemic, as well as the now-bizarre-sounding remedies that once treated the disease, such as whiskey and blood-letting.  He also breaks down the current dialogue surrounding the disease, explaining the controversy over vaccinations, antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, and the federal government’s role in preparing for pandemic outbreaks. Though 100 years of advancement in medical research and technology have passed since the 1918 disaster, Dr. Brown warns that many of the most vital questions about the flu virus continue to confound even the leading experts.  Insightful and well-informed, this is a book that earned high praise from Science News, which described the book as “An in-depth look at what scientists know now about the 1918 strain [and] a fascinating look at the factors that make the more common seasonal flu so challenging to predict and prevent… For those who want more science with a frank discussion of the challenges influenza still poses, Brown delivers a clear and captivating overview.”

The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul from the Revolution to the Civil WarFor decades after its founding, America was really two nations–one slave, one free. There were many reasons why this composite nation ultimately broke apart, but the fact that enslaved black people repeatedly risked their lives to flee their masters in the South in search of freedom in the North proved that the “united” states was actually a lie. Fugitive slaves exposed the contradiction between the myth that slavery was a benign institution and the reality that a nation based on the principle of human equality was in fact a prison-house in which millions of Americans had no rights at all. By awakening northerners to the true nature of slavery, and by enraging southerners who demanded the return of their human “property,” fugitive slaves forced the nation to confront the truth about itself.  By 1850, with America on the verge of collapse, Congress reached what it hoped was a solution– the notorious Compromise of 1850, which required that fugitive slaves be returned to their masters. Like so many political compromises before and since, it was a deal by which white Americans tried to advance their interests at the expense of black Americans. Yet the Fugitive Slave Act, intended to preserve the Union, in fact set the nation on the path to civil war. It divided not only the American nation, but also the hearts and minds of Americans who struggled with the timeless problem of when to submit to an unjust law and when to resist.  In this excellently-written and wonderfully-researched work, Professor Andrew Delbanco of Columbia University emphasizes how and why the fugitive slave story brought the United States to war with itself, and the terrible legacies of slavery that are with us still.  This book has been getting enormous and well-deserved praise across the country, including from the New York Times, who described how “Delbanco . . . excavates the past in ways that illuminate the present.  He lucidly shows [how] in the name of avoiding conflict  . . . the nation was brought to the brink and into the breach. This is a story about compromises—and a riveting, unsettling one at that.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

The Best of 2018 from the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library!

We are enormously lucky to be part of NOBLE (North of Boston Library Exchange).  As many of you know, the NOBLE network allows you, our beloved patrons, to borrow books from the other libraries around us–including academic libraries at North Shore Community College and Salem State University–and utilize the programs and resources at our fellow NOBLE libraries.  It’s a fantastic system that we all value enormously.

So this year, we thought it might be fun to invite the other NOBLE libraries and staff members to join us in our end-of-the-year celebrations! This week, we bring you the Lucius Beebe Library of Wakefield’s list of the Best Books of 2018!

vIA http://www.wakefieldlibrary.org/about/about-the-library/#Building-Photos

The town of Wakefield was known as South Reading until 1868. During the early part of the 19th century, there was a library in South Reading known as the Social Library.  That Library was a subscription library (meaning that people had to pay to take out materials), and held mostly divinity books.  It turns out that, even in the 19th century, divinity books were not the most scintillating of reads, and the Social Library closed due to lack of support.   However, you can’t keep a good library down, and the town’s first public library was established in 1856, with a $300 budget to buy books.  Within three years, that initial $300 investment had grown into a library with some 1,678 volumes.  Lucius Beebe was the first chairman of the Board of Library Trustees.

In 1868, when Wakefield became…well, Wakefield, the Library  Cyrus Wakefield, after whom the town was named, donated a house to be used by the city, with one half dedicated as the new library space.  Lucius Beebe (pictured below, left, via the Beebe Library website) donated $500 to the purchase of new books and, as a result, the town renamed the library as the “Beebe Public Library.”

With such phenomenal support, the Beebe Library soon needed to expand, and in 1916, the townspeople purchased a lot at the corner of Main and Avon Streets for $16,000.  Junius Beebe, son of Lucius Beebe, donated $60,000 toward the construction of a new library building, to be built in memory of his parents, Lucius and Sylenda (to put that into perspective, the annual yearly income in the area at this time was right around $800).  The US entrance into the First World War delayed the construction of the building, but in 1922, the cornerstone for the new library was laid, and the building was dedicated on April 15, 1923.  The architect for the 1922 building was Ralph Adams Cram, who also designed Princeton University.  The Beebe library has continued to grow, and was expanded most recently in 1995.

The Circulation Desk, via http://www.wakefieldlibrary.org/about/about-the-library/#Building-Photos

Today, the Library is a vital part of the Wakefield community, with a number of programs and reading groups–including a reading group that will be meeting at local restaurants!  It was also was the first library in Massachusetts to sponsor a townwide reading program, “Wakefield Reads”.   Check out the Lucius Beebe Library’s website to see all the phenomenal resources they offer, from job hunting to homebound delivery to college resources.  They are also a wonderfully welcoming, friendly Library community.  I can tell you from experience, as a reader who has lingered for way longer than anticipated in the chairs in their beautiful New Fiction section!   So feel free to stop by, enjoy their beautiful space, and check out all this sensational library has to offer!

We are also pleased to highlight the Lucius Beebe Library Staff’s Favorites of 2018!   Don’t forget to check out the super page on their website for the full list!

Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg: Set in the eighteenth century London underworld, this bawdy, genre-bending novel reimagines the life of thief and jailbreaker Jack Sheppard to tell a profound story about gender, love, and liberation. Recently jilted and increasingly unhinged, Dr. Voth throws himself into his work, obsessively researching the life of Jack Sheppard, a legendary eighteenth century thief. No one knows Jack’s true story–his confessions have never been found. That is, until Dr. Voth discovers a mysterious stack of papers titled Confessions of the Fox. Dated 1724, the manuscript tells the story of an orphan named P. Sold into servitude at twelve, P struggles for years with her desire to live as “Jack.” When P falls dizzyingly in love with Bess, a sex worker looking for freedom of her own, P begins to imagine a different life. Bess brings P into the London underworld where scamps and rogues clash with London’s newly established police force, queer subcultures thrive, and ominous threats of an oncoming plague abound. At last, P becomes Jack Sheppard, one of the most notorious–and most wanted–thieves in history. An imaginative retelling of Brecht’s Threepenny Opera, this utterly engrossing and emotional novel blends high-spirited adventure, subversive history, and provocative wit to animate forgotten histories and the extraordinary characters hidden within.

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan: Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.   Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.   Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, this is an audiobook that pushes the boundaries of genre, form, and storytelling innovation to create a wholly original novel that will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.

The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland by Nicolai Houm: An American woman wakes up alone in a tent in the Norwegian mountains. Outside a storm rages and the fog is dense. Her phone is dead. She has no map, no compass, and no food. How she ended up there, and the tragic details of her life, emerge over the course of this novel. We discover that Jane is a novelist with a bad case of writer’s block―she had come to Norway to seek out distant relatives and family history, but when her trip went awry, she tethered herself to a zoologist she met by chance on the plane, joining him on a trek to see the musk oxen of the Dovrefjell mountain range.  At once elegant and gripping, this storyline moves seamlessly between Jane’s life in America and the extraordinary landscape of the Norwegian mountains. As we gradually unpack the emotional debris of her past―troubled Midwestern parents, a loving courtship in New York, and a cruel, sudden tragedy that rearranged everything―we begin to understand what led her to this lonely landscape.

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell: When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But pregnant and widowed just weeks after their wedding, with her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her late husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure—a silent companion—that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of the estate are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition—that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.  This British ghost story was the talk of the town before it crossed the pond, and is now giving American readers the shivers–as well as a deeply well-thought-out and beautifully told tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect—much like the companions themselves.

Wine Bites: Simple Morsels That Pair Perfectly with Wine by Barbara Scott-Goodman: This delightful and inspiring cookbook for those who entertain casually and frequently. More than 60 recipes for simple, tasty snacks include suggestions for an accessible wine to pair with each, while vivid color photographs demonstrate how easy these delectable dishes are to prepare. Step-by-step instructions for putting together a first-class cheese plate, creating a generous antipasti platter, or transforming pantry staples into hors d’oeuvres make this an indispensable resource for great party-givings.  We always encourage patrons to try out new recipes, and feel free to let us help you taste test!

Celebrating the Best of 2018 (Part 3)!

It’s been a good year to be a reader, beloved patrons.  And a good year for music and movies, and all the other beautiful things that libraries provide!  And here, we are celebrating the year in books, music, and movies with as many people as possible!  In addition to having a Peabody Library Staff “Best of 2018” List, we will also be featuring some selections from our friends at other NOBLE libraries, as well!

And we’re eager for your input, too!  The NOBLE  Collection Management Working Group is assembling nominations for a “NOBLE Book Awards”, and NOBLE staff have been asked for their input.  So please let us know what books you’ve loved this year, and we’ll be sure to pass them on to the NOBLE Book Awards committee, but also to feature them here on the blog so that other readers can benefit from your recommendations!  Nominations will be accepted until December 16, so get yours to us today!  You can tell us in person, or via email (click the word “email” for our address).

And so, without further ado, let’s get to our first round of “Best of 2018” selections, courtesy of our marvelous staff!   In our request for nominations, we stipulated that books, movies, or albums could be from any year, but they had to have been enjoyed in 2018.  So you’ll see plenty of oldies-but-goodies on this list to savor, along with some new titles!

From the Teen Room: 

 I’ll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara: For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.  Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was. This book, edited with fascinating afterwards and appendices after McNamara’s death, offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it has been hailed as a modern true crime classic—one which fulfilled Michelle’s dream: helping unmask the Golden State Killer.

From our Staff: The author passed away before she could finish the book, but her family and friends lovingly compiled, completed and published the book this February. On a related, exciting note, the Golden State Killer was identified and arrested in April this year. Myself and other fans of her work only wish that Ms. McNamara had lived to see this man brought to justice. But her book was stellar and I’d recommend it to any true crime fans!

From the Children’s Room:

Meaty: Essays by Samantha Irby: Smart, edgy, hilarious, and unflinchingly honest, Samantha Irby explodes onto the printed page in her uproarious first collection of essays.   In these works, Irby laughs her way through tragicomic mishaps, neuroses, and taboos as she struggles through adulthood: chin hairs, depression, bad sex, failed relationships, masturbation, taco feasts, inflammatory bowel disease and more. Updated with her favorite Instagramable, couch-friendly recipes, this much-beloved romp is treat for anyone in dire need of Irby’s infamous, scathing wit and poignant candor.

From our staff: Re-released this year after the popularity of her last essay collection, this is every bit as funny, irreverent and brutally honest as her other work. Irby is blunt but her bluntness often translates into hilarity as she’s doesn’t shy away from the messier parts of life.

From the Public Service Desk:

The Shining by Stephen King: An oldie, but a goodie, this is one of King’s novels that just seems to get better with time.  Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.  It seems that Danny is the only person able to see what the hotel is doing to Jack–and perhaps the only person who can stop it.

From our staff: I had read this book years ago, but it was only this time around that I really appreciate how King used Jack Torrance’s story to address the agony of addiction, the lure, allure, and threat of toxic masculinity, and the long-lasting legacy of abuse.  This is a haunted house novel, obviously, but it’s also a book about the damage we as humans do to each other, and the effects that has, making this a powerful and heart-wrenching human study, as well.


Until next week, beloved patrons!

Five Book Friday!

Despite the diversity of people’s activities this time of year, there is no doubt that this is time for “bustling”.  If you’re looking for some time to de-stress, to hide from the hectic pace in the real world, or are interested in some sensational new books, dvd, and cds, then the Library is an ideal place for you to be!  Let’s take a look at some of the books that have shuffled on to our shelves this week and are looking forward to joining you on all your wintery or holiday escapades!

King of the Road: R.S. Belcher is a fascinating author who can turn the most seemingly mundane topics into something genuinely fascinating.  His Brotherhood of the Wheel series is a perfect example, where he turns truckers into the legatees of the Knights Templar.  In this second book in the series, a missing-person case leads to a string of roadside murders and mutilations that stretches back decades―and to a cult of murderous clowns who are far more than mere urban legends.  And as if that’s not trouble enough, trucker Jimmy Aussapile and his allies must also cope with a violent civil war within an outlaw biker gang long associated with the Brotherhood, as well as run-ins with a rival gang led by a fierce werewolf biker chick who fights tooth and claw to protect her pack.  This is a funny, moving, wholly unique series that is absolutely transportive.  Publisher’s Weekly agrees, saying in its starred review how Belcher’s “story wends expertly through a landscape filled with American folklore, ancient legends, and urban myths, culminating in a showdown that will have fans and newcomers alike eager for further installments of this fascinating series.”

River Bodies: Karen Katchur launches a new mystery series with this gripping story of long-buried secrets and the power they hold in one woman’s present.  A body has turned up in the small town of Portland, Pennsylvania. The crime is eerily similar to a twenty-year-old cold case: another victim, brutally murdered, found in the Delaware River. Lead detective Parker Reed is intent on connecting the two murders, but the locals are on lockdown, revealing nothing. The past meets the present when Becca Kingsley, who returns to Portland to be with her estranged but dying father, runs into Parker, her childhood love.  Coming home has brought something ominous to the surface for Becca and her community—memories long buried, secrets best kept hidden. Becca starts questioning all her past relationships, including one with a man who’s watched over her for years. For the first time, she wonders if he’s more predator than protector.  In a small town where darkness hides in plain sight, the truth could change Becca’s life—or end it.  This is a book, and a series, for people who love rich settings and a heavy sense of place.  It drew praise from Kirkus Reviews, who noted in its review that “Katchur is an engaging writer who ably navigates the dynamics of small-town life and the darkness that lurks beneath…Suspense with a tense family drama at its core.”

Hazards of Time Travel: Beloved author Joyce Carol Oates has come out with a powerful new book in which one young woman tests the limits of time travel and suffers the devastating costs.  When Adriane Strohl is named valedictorian of her high school class, she knows there’s a danger in standing and sticking out in her currently political climate.  Nevertheless, she gives her speech–and is immediately charged with with Treason and Questioning of Authority, the punishment for which is being sent back 80 years in the past to a place known as Wainscotia, Wisconsin.   Cast adrift in time in this idyllic Midwestern town she is set upon a course of “rehabilitation”—but cannot resist falling in love with a fellow exile and questioning the constrains of the Wainscotia world with results that are both devastating and liberating.  This is a quirky, unsettling book that looks at both our future and our past, with some wicked twists that will keep readers wondering.  Publisher’s Weekly agrees, noting in its review that “Oates weaves a feeling of constant menace and paranoia throughout as Adriane struggles to remember her old life and adjust to her new one. The conclusion is surprising and ambiguous, leaving readers to question their own perception of events, making for a memorable novel.”

18 Miles: The Epic Drama of Our Atmosphere and Its Weather:  We live at the bottom of an ocean of air ― 5,200 million million tons, to be exact. It sounds like a lot, but Earth’s atmosphere is smeared onto its surface in an alarmingly thin layer ― 99 percent contained within 18 miles. Yet, within this fragile margin lies a magnificent realm ― at once gorgeous, terrifying, capricious, and elusive. With his keen eye for identifying and uniting seemingly unrelated events, Chris Dewdney reveals to us the invisible rivers in the sky that affect how our weather works and the structure of clouds and storms and seasons, the rollercoaster of climate. Dewdney details the history of weather forecasting and introduces us to the eccentric and determined pioneers of science and observation whose efforts gave us the understanding of weather we have today.  Engaging, fascinatingly researched, and wonderfully informative, this is a book for science buffs and more casual learners alike.  Library Journal loved this book, giving it a starred review and saying “This terrific, accessible, and exciting read helps us to better understand the aspects of weather and the atmosphere all around us.”

Before We Were Strangers: Brenda Novak’s newest book is a brooding, dark, twisty mystery that also deals with family secrets and the painful choices that one woman must make in confronting them.  Five-year-old Sloane McBride couldn’t sleep that night. Her parents were arguing again, their harsh words heating the cool autumn air. And then there was that other sound—the ominous thump before all went quiet.  In the morning, her mother was gone.
The official story was that she left, a story that hadn’t sat any better at the time than it did when Sloane moved out at eighteen, anxious to leave her small Texas hometown in search of anywhere else. But not even a fresh start working as a model in New York could keep the nightmares at bay. Or her fears that the domineering father she grew up with wasn’t just difficult—he was deadly.  Now another traumatic loss forces Sloane to realize she owes it to her mother to find out the truth, even if it means returning to a small town full of secrets and lies, a jilted ex-boyfriend, and a father and brother who’d rather see her silenced. But as Sloane starts digging into the past, the question isn’t whether she can uncover what really happened that night…it’s what will remain of her family if she does?  Fellow Harlequin author Susan Wiggs wrote a blurb for this book, cheering it as a “Riveting drama and suspense from a master of the craft. I loved this twisty tale of friends, enemies, lovers, liars, and a family fractured by secrets. It’s the perfect read to cozy up to on a long winter night.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

Celebrating the Best of 2018 (Part 2)!

It’s been a good year to be a reader, beloved patrons.  And a good year for music and movies, and all the other beautiful things that libraries provide!  And here, we are celebrating the year in books, music, and movies with as many people as possible!  In addition to having a Peabody Library Staff “Best of 2018” List, we will also be featuring some selections from our friends at other NOBLE libraries, as well!

And we’re eager for your input, too!  The NOBLE  Collection Management Working Group is assembling nominations for a “NOBLE Book Awards”, and NOBLE staff have been asked for their input.  So please let us know what books you’ve loved this year, and we’ll be sure to pass them on to the NOBLE Book Awards committee, but also to feature them here on the blog so that other readers can benefit from your recommendations!  Nominations will be accepted until December 16, so get yours to us today!  You can tell us in person, or via email (click the word “email” for our address).

And so, without further ado, let’s get to our first round of “Best of 2018” selections, courtesy of our marvelous staff!   In our request for nominations, we stipulated that books, movies, or albums could be from any year, but they had to have been enjoyed in 2018.  So you’ll see plenty of oldies-but-goodies on this list to savor, along with some new titles!

From the Teen Room: 

Light Filters In by Caroline KaufmanCaroline Kaufman is also known on Instagram as @poeticpoison, where her startling, stunning poetry gained a large fan following, as well as attention from mainstream publishers.  In this collection of her work, Kaufman does what she does best: reflects our own experiences back at us and makes us feel less alone, one exquisite and insightful piece at a time. She writes about giving up too much of yourself to someone else, not fitting in, endlessly Googling “how to be happy,” and ultimately figuring out who you are.  Insightful, honest, funny, and deeply moving, these are poems for verseaholics and newcomers alike!

From the Children’s Room

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab: Schwab is a gifted fantasy author with a boundless imagination, and while this new series may be marketed towards younger readers, it’s one for her fans of all ages.  Ever since Cass almost drowned (okay, she did drown, but she doesn’t like to think about it), she can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead . . . and enter the world of spirits. Her best friend is even a ghost.  So things are already pretty strange. But they’re about to get much stranger.  When Cass’s parents start hosting a TV show about the world’s most haunted places, the family heads off to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here, graveyards, castles, and secret passageways teem with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift,” she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil — and herself.
From our Staff: Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities in the world and the charm of the city and the people is so clearly evident here. The fact that Schwab is a brilliant writer doesn’t hurt either. Aside from the wonderful sense of place present in the book, it’s a fun, creepy ghost story that isn’t too intense, but still manages to give the chills. This is a kids’ book easily enjoyed by adults as well.

From the Public Service Desk: 

A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland: If you, like us, love the act and the art of storytelling, then this is the book for you.  While Rowland’s world-building is superb, the real power of this story lies in its analysis of creation and narrative, making it a deep, funny, bewitching journey.  Arrested on accusations of witchcraft and treason, Chant, a storyteller, finds himself trapped in a cold, filthy jail cell in a foreign land. With only his advocate, the unhelpful and uninterested Consanza, he quickly finds himself cast as a bargaining chip in a brewing battle between the five rulers of this small, backwards, and petty nation.  Or, at least, that’s how he would tell the story. In truth, Chant has little idea of what is happening outside the walls of his cell, but he must quickly start to unravel the puzzle of his imprisonment before they execute him for his alleged crimes. But Chant is no witch—he is a member of a rare and obscure order of wandering storytellers. With no country to call his home, and no people to claim as his own, all Chant has is his wits and his hapless apprentice to help him.


Until next week, dear readers–enjoy!