Five Book Friday!

And a helpful note, beloved patrons…

As part of our grand moving and renovation scheme here at the Library (the Library Lindy Hop? the Bibliotheque Ballet?), we will need to close down parts of the Library next week in order to perform some much needed dance steps:

As a result, at the Main Library (at 82 Main Street in Peabody, pictured below), the Main Reading Room will be closed to the public on Monday, June 18 and Tuesday, June 19 . The Library will be open and visitors are asked to use the Courtyard entrance or the Children’s Room entrance.  Public Computers and Public Services will be available in the Teen Room.

The West and South Branches will be unaffected by this closure, and patrons are welcome to visit those lovely sites at any time.

We thank you in advance for your patience with our dance moves, and we hope that we will be able to bring you a better library when it is all complete!  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, you can call us at (978) 531-0100.

And just because we’re moving things around doesn’t mean we aren’t constantly welcoming new books onto our shelves.  Here are just a few that have hopped into our melee this week, and are eager to make your acquaintance!

Invitation to a Bonfire: Adrienne Celt’s newest work of historical fiction is a fascinating, sensual chess match inspired by the relationship between Vladimir Nabokov and his wife, Vera.  In the 1920s, Zoya Andropova, a young refugee from the Soviet Union, finds herself in the alien landscape of an elite all-girls New Jersey boarding school. Having lost her family, her home, and her sense of purpose, Zoya struggles to belong, a task made more difficult by the malice of her peers and her new country’s paranoia about Russian spies. When she meets the visiting writer and fellow Russian émigré Leo Orlov–whose books Zoya has privately obsessed over for years–her luck seems to have taken a turn for the better. But she soon discovers that Leo is not the solution to her loneliness: he’s committed to his art and bound by the sinister orchestrations of his brilliant wife, Vera.  This is a complex, treacherous web of interwoven relationships, identities, and loyalties that is a delicious blend of mystery, suspense and human intrigue that is earning stellar reviews, including this one from Nylon, who declared, “On a sentence-by-sentence level, Adrienne Celt’s seductive, searing novel . . . is one of the most brilliant books I’ve read in some time . . . her words have a rhythm and cadence …which further draws the reader in close, all the better to totally lose yourself in…the complicated ethics of fidelity, and what horrible and beautiful things we give ourselves permission to do, all for the sake of the sublime.”

The Terrible: A Storyteller’s Memoir:  Yrsa Daley-Ward’s memoir is a fascinating study of a human life, as well as a beautiful showcase for her lyrical talents.  Here, in a combination of prose and verse that is both captivating and haunting, we learn about Yrsa and all the things that happened—“even the terrible things. And God, there were terrible things.” From her childhood in the northwest of England with her beautiful, careworn mother Marcia; the man formerly known as Dad (half fun, half frightening); and her little brother Roo, who sees things written in the stars, to the pain, power, and revelations of growing up.  This is a story whose form is as important as its message, and which earned a starred review from Kirkus, who called it “A powerful, unconventionally structured memoir recounting harrowing coming-of-age ordeals . . . Daley-Ward resists classification in this profound mix of poetry and prose. . . . [She] has quite a ferociously moving story to tell.”

The Weather Detective: Rediscovering Nature’s Secret SignsAt what temperature do bees stay home? Why do southerly winds in winter often bring storms? How can birdsong or flower scents help you tell the time?  Peter Wohllenben’s newest work not only answers these questions, but helps readers to learn to detect and decipher nature’s own secrets for themselves.   This book is the product of Wohllenben’s twenty years spent working for the forestry commission in Germany.  He now runs an environmentally friendly woodland, and his passion for forests, and his joy for the wonders they contain comes across in every sentence of this lovely work.  Kirkus savored this book, as well, calling it, “A guidebook on how everything we need to know about the weather can be learned by paying close attention to our natural surroundings in general and our gardens in particular…You’ll never look at your garden the same way again.”

Convenience Store Woman: A charming comedy of manners, a slyly cynical look at human interactions and relationships, and an award-winning novel, Sayaka Murata’s captivating English-language debut is a delightful one-sitting read.  Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers’ style of dress and speech patterns so that she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends.  When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko’s contented stasis―but will it be for the better?  This is a book of many layers, all of which are wise, insightful, and unexpectedly enjoyable.  Booklist agrees, having given this book a starred review and noting, “Murata, herself a part-time ‘convenience store woman,’ makes a dazzling English-language debut in a crisp translation by Ginny Tapley Takemori rich in scathingly entertaining observations on identity, perspective, and the suffocating hypocrisy of ‘normal’ society.”

Because I Come from a Crazy Family: The Making of a Psychiatrist: When Edward M. Hallowell was eleven, a voice that came from no identifiable source told him he should become a psychiatrist. At the time, Edward (Ned) took it in stride, despite not quite knowing what “psychiatrist” meant. With a psychotic father, alcoholic mother, abusive stepfather, and two so-called learning disabilities of his own, Ned was accustomed to unpredictable behavior from those around him, and to a mind he felt he couldn’t always control.  Now, decades later, Hallowell is a leading expert on attention disorders and the author of twenty books.  In his memoir, he tells the often strange story of a childhood marked by alcoholism, mental illness, and politeness, and explores the wild wish that he could have saved his own family of drunk, crazy, and well-intentioned eccentrics, and himself.  Though not always an easy read, Hallowell’s compassion, insight, and genuine love for his work makes this a fulfilling book for anyone interested in psychology, for lovers of memoir in general.  Library Journal concurs, noting in its review that “Hallowell’s many followers will seek out this account. Those unfamiliar with his work will find much to appreciate and absorb in his clear-eyed retelling of a life path that easily could have gone a different way.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

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