Introducing NuWav! Or: Yes, you can do that with your Library Card!

As we’ve discussed earlier, you can do so much more with your Library Card than check out books (but, oh my goodness, there are so many good books!).  You can reserve museum passes, rent bike locks, and access a whole slew of electronic databases, programs, and educational material.

Today, we are delighted to announced that we have started a one year trial subscription to NuWav Legal Documents.  With the help of NuWav, you can compose documents in categories like Business, Contracts, Landlord/Tenant disputes, Divorce, forms specific to issues with minors, and links to both Massachusetts and federal agencies, among other features.

This feature can be accessed in the Library using our website.  However, you do need to be a Peabody card holder in order to access NuWav–apologies to our NOBLE friends!  But you are welcome to come to any Peabody Library (the Main, South Branch, or West Branch) to access this resource.

To access this resource, follow these steps (click on the pictures to enlarge them!):

  1. Go to
  2. Hover over the “eLibrary” option
  3. Click on “Articles/Databases”

4. Scroll down to “Nuwav Legal Documents
5. Enter your Library Card number (the barcode on the back) and password (if you need help resetting your password, you can always give us a call, or click “reset password”)

6. The NuWav Homepage will open:

As you can see, the page is laid out with categories, from which you can select the category of document you need.  You can also access the “Search” option, which will help you find specific documents or categories of documents:

Once you have found the document you need, you can print it out as is, or edit and complete it online.  You can also set up a confidential account in order to store documents for later.

According to NuWav, these resources are continually updated to conform with state and federal guidelines wherever possible.
Now, of course, NuWav has some built in tools, but is not a substitute for legal consultation.  We at the Library are happy to help you access and navigate this site, but we cannot offer any advice on the content, or any legal or financial advice in general.
We hope this resource is helpful to you, and, as ever, let us know what other resources we can provide for you!

The Golden Man Booker Prize

Readers of the Free-For-All will remember that we here get all fluttery and heart-eyes over the Man Booker Prize.  We love the way it has highlighted some of the most intriguing, beguiling, emotionally-gripping books of the past fifty years.  We love that the award is willing to grow an evolve.  While it originally only recognized books written in English and published in the United Kingdom, the award now accepts submissions from English-speaking countries around the world.  It has also added a prize for novels in translation: the Man Booker International Prize, which we also adore.  The award has also been addressing its implicit classism and biases by celebrating working-class authors over the past few years.  Between that and all the pomp, circumstance, and book lover that it engenders, the Man Booker Prize is one we truly love to watch.

And since this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Man Booker Prize, the good people of the award have determined to take things up a notch by announcing the Golden Man Booker Prize (in my head, this award is always in bold font, and is accompanied by trumpet fanfares).  According to the award website, “The Golden Man Booker will put all 51 winners – which are all still in print – back under the spotlight, to discover which of them has stood the test of time, remaining relevant to readers today.”  Five judges have been appointed to read the winning novels from each decade of the prize, and each judge has chosen which book, in his or her opinion, is the best winner from that particular decade, and will champion that book against the other judges’ selections. The judges’ ‘Golden Five’ shortlist was announced at the Hay Festival on May 26. The five books will then be put to a month-long public vote lasting until June 26.   The overall winner will be announced at the Man Booker 50 Festival on July 8.

To be truthful, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this award.  More to the point, I don’t know if it’s valid to compare a novel from one decade to that of another.  Time’s change.  Standards change.  Readers change.  Things also get really weird in discussing the books from this most recent decade.  Have these books withstood the test of time?  How can we adequately judge…especially where the chosen book was released less than a year ago?

You know what the cool part is, though? YOU CAN VOTE ON THE WINNER OF THE GOLDEN MAN BOOKER PRIZE!  Seriously, I’m way too excited about this.  But in order to be a conscientious voter, you need to be an educated voter.  So be sure to check out these short-listed books, and vote for your favorite!

So get reading, beloved patrons–and don’t forget to vote!

Five Book Friday!

And a very happy June to you, beloved patrons!

We hope you are enjoying the more pleasant weather and longer days, and that you have some summertime adventures planned.  In case you are looking for some national holidays to celebrate (the quirkier, the better, of course!), here are just a few worthy of your consideration:

June 1: National Donut Day: Doughut Day?  However you spell it, today’s a day to celebrate this much-loved pastry.  The Boston Public Library’s Blog has a whole post devoted to donuts (doughnuts?), which you should definitely check out!

Via Fake Library Statistics:

June 4: National Cheese Day: It might only be an unofficial holiday, but if there’s cheese involved, that’s good enough for me.

June 6: National Drive-In Movie Day: This day honors the opening day of the first drive-in, by Richard M. Hollingshead Jr. of Camden, New Jersey. Hollingshead’s drive-in opened in New Jersey on June 6, 1933.  If you’re looking to celebrate this day, here is a map with all the drive-in theaters still operating in the United States!

June 12: National Loving Day: Commemorating  the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving vs. Virginia, which struck down anti-miscegenation laws that banned inter-racial marriage in the United States.

June 17: National Turkey Lover’s Day: Apparently, in April 2016, this holiday was submitted by the National Turkey Lover’s to the National Days Calendar, and is celebrated the third Sunday in June.  So it’s a real thing.  And if turkey is your thing, we hope you enjoy this day!

And, as always, there is never a bad time for a good book–so let’s take a look at some of the new titles that have processed onto our shelves this week and are eager to make your acquaintance!

Lighting the Fires of FreedomDuring the Civil Rights Movement, African American women were generally not in the headlines; they simply did the work that needed to be done. Yet despite their significant contributions at all levels of the movement, they remain mostly invisible to the larger public.  Beyond the work of a few “remarkable” or “exceptional” women, most Americans would be hard-pressed to name other women leaders at the community, local, and national levels.  Thankfully, Janet Dewart Bell’s book begins to remedy this situation.  In wide-ranging conversations with nine women, several now in their nineties with decades of untold stories, we hear what ignited and fueled their activism.  Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968,  this book, and these voices offer personal and intimate accounts of extraordinary struggles for justice that resulted in profound social change, that deserve to be remembered.  Booklist agrees, calling this work  “A fresh and revealing oral history of the civil rights movement as told by nine African American women . . . striking and fascinating stories that greatly enrich our appreciation of the crucial roles women of diverse backgrounds played in the pivotal fight for civil rights.”

Tip of the Iceberg: My 3,000 Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American FrontierIn 1899, railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman organized a most unusual summer voyage to the wilds of Alaska: He converted a steamship into a luxury “floating university,” populated by some of America’s best and brightest scientists and writers, including the anti-capitalist eco-prophet John Muir. Those aboard encountered a land of immeasurable beauty and impending environmental calamity.  More than a hundred years later, travel writer Mark Adams set out to retrace the 1899 expedition. Using the state’s intricate public ferry system, the Alaska Marine Highway System, Adams traveled three thousand miles, all the way to the Aleutians and the Arctic Circle. Along the way, he encountered dozens of unusual characters–and a couple of very hungry bears, as well!  This book is the story of that remarkable voyage, as well as an investigation into how lessons learned in 1899 might relate to Alaska’s current struggles in adapting to climate change.  Told with flair, humor, and no little wonder for the incredible sights he took in, Adams’ book is a spectacular travel narrative for any armchair wanderer.  Outside magazine described this book as “Great nonfiction…takes a topic you thought you knew well and makes it new again…[Adams’] storytelling is guaranteed to make you want to get off your beach towel and book passage somewhere in the great wild north.”

Star of the NorthD.B. John’s gripping and timely thriller begins in 1988, when a Korean American teenager is kidnapped from a South Korean beach by North Korean operatives. Twelve years later, her brilliant twin sister, Jenna, is still searching for her, and ends up on the radar of the CIA. When evidence that her sister may still be alive in North Korea comes to light, Jenna will do anything possible to rescue her–including undertaking a daring mission into the heart of the regime.  At the same time, several other narratives, focused on the lives of North Korean citizens and officials, begin to unfold, progressing to a conclusion that is as creative as it is surprising.  A British writer, John’s novel has been receiving praise on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, with The Guardian noting “The best thrillers offer something more ambitious than simply raising the pulse rate of the reader. In Star of the North it is geopolitical complexity…This is a masterly evocation of life under the Kim Jong-un regime.”

Love and Ruin: Fans of real-life characters in historic fiction, this one’s for you.  In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha Gellhorn travels alone to Madrid desperate to prove her journalistic skills by reporting on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War.  Through her work, she becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in the devastating conflict.  But she also finds herself unexpectedly—and uncontrollably—falling in love with Ernest Hemingway, a man on his way to becoming a legend.  In the shadow of another World War, and within the turbulent, vivid, and unforgettable cities of Madrid and Cuba, Martha and Ernest’s relationship and their professional careers ignite.  But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the confining demands of being a famous man’s wife or risk losing Ernest by forging a path as her own woman and writer.  This isn’t your run-of-the-mill historical romance, nor is Martha your typical heroine–and in bringing her to life, Paula McLain has crafted a story that is as heartrending as it is redemptive.  The New York Times Book Review said it beautifully in their review, noting that “McLain does an excellent job portraying a woman with dreams who isn’t afraid to make them real, showing [Gellhorn’s] bravery in what was very much a man’s world. Her work around the world . . . is presented in meticulous, hair-raising passages. . . . The book is fueled by her questing spirit, which asks, Why must a woman decide between being a war correspondent and a wife in her husband’s bed?”

The Optimistic Decade: Although Heather Abel’s novel is set in a utopian summer camp in the 1990’s, this is very much a story for (and, in some ways, about) today.  In this camp live five fascinating people: There is Caleb Silver, the beloved founder of the back-to-the-land camp Llamalo, who is determined to teach others to live simply. There are the ranchers, Don and his son, Donnie, who gave up their land to Caleb and who now want it back. There is Rebecca Silver, determined to become an activist like her father and undone by the spell of both Llamalo and new love; and there is David, a teenager who has turned Llamalo into his personal religion.  Although the story is set in Colorado, Abel uses this summer camp as a symbol of the settlement of Israel, and to think about the act of building dreams on other people’s land.  As each character grapples with how best to more forward, they begin to realize that maybe, it’s not about the land at all.  Publisher’s Weekly gave this book a starred review, describing it as a “politically and psychologically acute debut… A strong sense of time and place anchors the story, and Abel’s well-crafted plot brings all the strands of the story together into a suspenseful yet believable conclusion. Without landing heavily on any political side, and without abandoning hope, Abel’s novel lightly but firmly raises questions about how class and cultural conflicts play out in the rural West.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–Happy Reading!

The Romance Garden!

Well, what do you know dear readers?  This is the first Romance Garden post of the year where it is actually garden weather!  We can’t really be sure how long it will last, so we hope you take advantage of the opportunity to sit in the sunshine sometime very soon, and savor a good book–perhaps even one of the following from our romance reading experts?

Joaquin Sorolla, “In the Garden”

Whatever your book of choice, we hope the longer, warmer days offer you the chance to sit back and relax for a little bit!  And now, on to the books…


Bad Bachelor by Stefanie London
Imagine an app that works like Yelp…for men.   Women are encouraged to find and rate their dates in order to help the community at large protect their hearts.  That’s the premise of Stefanie London’s newest series.  But far from being an episode of Black Mirror, this is actually a fun, steamy romance about learning to confront our faults, be honest with each other…and the power of reading, which made it a must read from the get go.

PR hotshot Reed McMahon is a whiz at making anyone look good to the public at large.  But all his talents are useless when he unwittingly becomes the lowest-rated bachelor on the “Bad Bachelor” app…with lengthy reviews about his womanizing, his cold heart, and his utter lack of noble qualities.  Desperate to improve his image (and eager to help out his assistant, who is a devoted library patron), he agrees to take on a pro-bono case and organize a local library’s fundraiser–bringing him face to fact with Darcy Greer.

Having tried and failed to live up to her mother’s expectations, once-engaged and unmarried Darcy Greer is trying to forge her own path in life.  She knows Reid is bad news, personally speaking, as soon as they meet–but the longer she works with him, the more she realizes that he isn’t the guy the Bad Bachelor’s app is making him out to be.  And as they slowly learn to trust each other, she finds herself wondering if she’s not crazy to want to keep him in her life for good.

I really appreciated how this book tackled issues about judgement and honesty right from the get-go.  Reid and Darcy have a fascinating connection that even they don’t understand, and watching them explore all the ways they work (even while they both know they shouldn’t) was really fun.  Although I had some issues with Reid’s uber-childish behavior at times, and there were some technical issues regarding Darcy’s job that I wanted to correct, overall, this was a fun read, and the start to a series worth watching.

Sunflowers are a symbol of peace


A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
If you’re a Free for All reader who regularly follows the Romance Garden, you know that I love the “A Court of Thorns and Roses” series by Sarah J Maas. With the end of the last book, “A Court of Wings and Ruin,” Maas easily could have called it quits with a trilogy as many fantasies do, and a part of me feared she just might. But the other day when I walked into the library’s Teen Room, I was thrilled to find Book 4, “A Court of Frost and Starlight,” sitting on the New Books shelf.

Not as long as the first three books in the series, A Court of Frost and Starlight is a transitional book that sets up the story lines that will likely be explored in subsequent books. With preparation for Winter Solstice celebrations as the story setting, we get to know some of the secondary characters like Cassian, Nesta, Elaine, Lucien, and Mor better, and I expect we will see much more of them in coming books. But at the same time, we see plenty of Feyre and Rhysand whose passionate, loving, and fun partnership continues to be one of my romance novel favorites.

Set in post-war Prythian, we also see that Rhysand and Feyre are dealing with unrest in both the Winter Court and in the faerie realms beyond. They take an active role in maintaining peace in their home city and beyond, and at the same time seek to help both their friends and the community members of the realm they rule heal after the tragedies of the war.

As a transitional book, A Court of Frost and Starlight is best read after the first three books in the series. As I mentioned in a previous post, the first book in the series is not as strong as the others, but stick with it because “A Court of Mist and Fury” and “A Court of Wings and Ruin” were two of my favorite reads from last year. I highly recommend you start reading now. Today if possible. Because it looks like lovers of this series have more tales from Prythian to look forward to!
Until next month, dear readers, don’t forget…every mind needs a little dirt in which to grow!

The 2018 Nebula Award Winners!

We are in the thick of awards season, beloved patrons, and let me tell you, it’s a good season to be a reader.  Last week, the winners of the 52nd Annual Nebula Awards were announced at the annual convention of the  Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)

The Nebula Awards (a picture of one of the awards is on the left) were first awarded in 1966, and have grown in prestige to be recognized as one of the most significant awards for science fiction and fantasy in publishing.  Each year, a novel, novella, novelette, and short story are chosen…and just in case you, too, were wondering what a “novelette’ is, it is defined by SFWA as “a work between 7,500 and 17,500 words”, while a “novella” is between 17,500 and 40,00 words.  Any book written in English and published in the United States is eligible for nomination, and members of SFWA cast their ballots for the favorite books.  This means that, essentially, the awards are chosen by readers and genre devotees, which means that they are not only of high quality in terms of genre and style, but that they are also a darned good read.  As you will see, screenplays are also recognized with the Ray Bradbury Award, and middle grade and young adult fiction is nominated for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Once again, the Nebulas are a bastion of diversity and good storytelling.  As we mention each year, science fiction is a genre that is beautifully suited to questioning our current realities, imagining new ones, and crafting relationships that challenge and confront stereotypes.  Fantasy does this, as well, and you’ll see from the titles listed below, the authors honored at the Nebula Awards are gifted at utilizing and transforming the genres to tell wildly inventive, insightful, haunting and compelling stories that linger long after the final page has turned.

We hope you find some new reading and viewing fodder among the nominees and winners listed below.  For more information and a full list of Nebula winners, visit the SFWA’s website!


WinnerThe Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin 



Winner: Get Out (Written by Jordan Peele)



WinnerThe Art of Starving, Sam J. Miller


Planning for June…

Summer is here, beloved patrons, and we can only hope that you are looking forward to plenty of sunshine-filled adventures, intriguing getaways, and days filled with exploration, learning, and revelations.


And we are here to help!  As always, we have been hard at work thinking of new classes, events, and presentations that will help you learn, grow, and relax a bit.  Some of these are featured below, but you can check out all our sensational plans on our the calendars available on our website.

If you have paid a visit to the Main Library lately, you’ll have noticed that there are some changes afoot.  We are renovating and moving our materials around in the hopes of making the library a better place for you.  As a result, the offering at the Main Library are being kept on the low side for the month in order to make sure that we can complete all the tasks on our ‘to do’ list well–but rest assured, we will be back to our full schedule, and with some shiny new surprises for you at the Main Library very soon!

So please check out all the events we have on offer for you!  You can register for these events on our website, or by calling the Libraries themselves:

Main Library: (978) 531-0100
South Branch: (978) 531-3380
West Branch: (978) 535-3354

And, as always, please let us know what classes and programs you would like to see at the Library.  We are always working to make the Library a place where everyone feels welcome and everyone can enjoy, and your input is a critical part of that process!

At the Main Library:

Wednesday, June 20 & 27, 3:00 – 4:30pm: Intro to Excel 2016 (Two Part Class!)

In this two-week course, we will explore the basic functions of Microsoft Excel 2016.  Topics will include creating workbooks and spreadsheets, entering and arranging data, basic formatting, shortcuts, simple formulas, and if time allows, we will discuss basic tables, charts, and graphs.  Attendees must be comfortable using a computer and a mouse. Prior exposure to Excel is helpful but not required.

Please note: The library has just (5) available laptops with Excel 2016 for attendees, so space is limited.

In the Creativity Lab:

Tuesday, June 19, 6:30pm – 8:30pm: Create Your Own Bumper Sticker

Learn how to use the Creativity Lab’s vinyl cutter to create professional-quality weatherproof bumper stickers that you can design yourself!  Whether you want to write a message, cut a logo, or draw something from scratch, you can make it here.  For ages 9-adult. Space is limited so please register.

At the West Branch:

Wednesday, June 13, 1:00 – 2:00pm: Heritage Films Presents Wagon Trail: Legacy of the Old West

Calling fans of westerns and movie buffs!  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 the Wagon Trails and the Legacy of the Old West.

Also at the West Branch…

Tuesdays, June 19th, June 26th, July 10th and July 17th, 4:00 – 5:00pm: Latin Dance Series with Greg Coles (Four Part Class!)

Greg Coles has years of experience in teaching Latin Dance and will be teaching a basic introduction to different varieties of Latin dance in this course. No prior experience is necessary. Wear comfortable clothing you can move in and comfortable, lightweight shoes.  Signing up for the first class signs you up for the whole series.

This program is generously sponsored by the Friends of the Peabody Institute Library.

At the South Branch:

Wednesday, June 6, 1:00pm – 2:30pm: Learn to Make Natural Deodorant

Are you concerned about using traditional underarm deodorant and antiperspirant? If so, join beautician Linda Sessa in a workshop to learn how to make your own natural deodorant! With ingredients already likely in the kitchen, Linda will walk attendees through the process of making deodorant and you’ll be able to take a small sample home! Come dressed to get messy!   This program is free but space is limited and registration is required.

Five Book Friday!

The world of letters lost an icon this week when author Philip Roth passed away on Tuesday.  Roth has been eulogized, remembered, and discussed this week by literary giants such as Zadie Smith, Elaine Showalter, and Louise Erdich, and while he remains a controversial figure in literature for his portrayal of women and the topics he chose to discuss, there is no doubt that he made his mark in American literature.  A number of outlets have been offered guides for those who are looking to read more of Roth’s work, or to discover him–you can find some excellent ones at Vox, Slateand The New York Times.


And so, in the spirit of great literature, let’s take a look at some of the sensational new books that have ambled onto our shelves this week and are eager to make your acquaintance!

Also, a note: the Library will be closed on Saturday May 26, Sunday May 27 and Monday May 28 in observance of the Memorial Day holiday.  We will resume our regular hours on Tuesday, May 29.  Have a lovely weekend, dear readers, wear sunscreen, and we’ll see you next week!

West Like Lightning: The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony ExpressOn the eve of the Civil War, three American businessmen launched an audacious plan to create a financial empire by transforming communications across the hostile territory between the nation’s two coasts. In the process, they created one of the most enduring icons of the American West: the Pony Express. Equally an improbable success and a business disaster, the Pony Express came and went in just eighteen months, but not before uniting and captivating a nation on the brink of being torn apart.  Jim DeFelice’s book is the first comprehensive history of the Pony Express, the daring misfits who it employed, and the well-known historical figures who helped establish its legend in American history.  This is a book that history enthusiasts, lovers of westerns, and anyone who likes getting mail will be able to savor.  The Tombstone Epitaph, Arizona’s oldest continually published newspaper, loved this book, and since that august paper focuses on the legacy of the “Old West”, we can only bow to their authority when they call it “Fresh and engaging. … A wild ride. … West Like Lightning is sure to stand amongst the great popular histories of the west.”

The Elizas: Fans of Pretty Little Liars will be delighted to hear that Sara Shepard is making her adult fiction debut with this mutli-layered guessing-game of a thriller.   When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.  Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?  The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel, until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins.  Here is a perfect summer time thriller for those of you looking for your newest twisty, turny adventure that blends layers of fiction with chilling effect.  Kirkus Reviews loved how Shepard “pays close attention to cinematic details, practically projecting Eliza’s descent into personal nightmare, where she cannot be certain of her own memories, onto a silver screen: Scenes are carefully framed, and a soundtrack even bubbles along…A delicious Southern California noir riddled with muddled identities and family secrets.”

Rough Animals: Rae DelBianco’s newest book is drawing comparisons to both Breaking Bad, for its unflinching view  of the darkest aspects of rural life, and No Country for Old Men for its bleak, yet gripping, road trip–so fans of both, as well as those looking for a fascinating and utterly unique tale…look no further.  Ever since their father’s untimely death five years before, Wyatt Smith and his inseparably close twin sister, Lucy, have scraped by alone on their family’s isolated ranch in Box Elder County, Utah. That is until one morning when, just after spotting one of their steers lying dead in the field.  The shooter: a fever-eyed, fearsome girl-child who breaks loose and heads into the desert. Realizing that the loss of cattle will mean the certain loss of the ranch, Wyatt sets off on an epic twelve-day odyssey to find her, through a nightmarish underworld he only half understands; a world that pitches him not only against the primordial ways of men and the beautiful yet brutally unforgiving landscape, but also against himself.   This novel is earning starred reviews from any number of outlets, including Publisher’s Weekly, who called it “Furious and electric . . . The novel succeeds as a viscerally evoked and sparely plotted fever dream, a bleakly realized odyssey through an American west populated by survivors and failed dreamers.”

The Pisces:   This is a summer for unique novels, dear readers, and Melissa Broder’s novel–part mythology, part romance, part flight-of-fancy, is a perfect example of this delightful, eccentric trend.  Lucy has been writing her dissertation on Sappho for nine years when she and her boyfriend break up in a dramatic flameout. After she bottoms out in Phoenix, her sister in Los Angeles insists Lucy dog-sit for the summer. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube on Venice Beach, but Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety – not in the Greek chorus of women in her love addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection.  Everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night. But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship, and Lucy’s understanding of what love should look like, take a very unexpected turn.  Fans of The Shape of Water will gobble up this book, and anyone looking for a quirky, compelling love story should definitely check out this book.  As The Washington Post noted in its review, “For an author who has primarily written poetry and nonfiction, and who is clearly comfortable with a confessional voice, Broder uses the fantastical elements to complicate and deepen her novel. The climactic conclusion works because of its strangeness, because of its imaginative reach and implications.”

Imperial Twilight : The Opium War and the End of China’s Last Golden Age: When Britain launched its first war on China in 1839, pushed into hostilities by profiteering drug merchants and free-trade interests, it sealed the fate of what had long been seen as the most prosperous and powerful empire in Asia, if not the world. But internal problems of corruption, popular unrest, and dwindling finances had weakened China far more than was commonly understood, and the war would help set in motion the eventual fall of the Qing dynasty – which, in turn, would lead to the rise of nationalism and communism in the 20th century.  Award-winning historian Stephen Platt sheds new light on the early attempts by Western traders and missionaries to “open” China – traveling mostly in secret beyond Canton, the single port where they were allowed – even as China’s imperial rulers were struggling to manage their country’s decline and Confucian scholars grappled with how to use foreign trade to China’s advantage.  This is a book for anyone who wants to know more about the history of globalization, finances, the drug trade, or imperial history, and is told with such energy and well-researched insight that Booklist gave it a starred review, noting “Platt brings to life the people who drive the story, including the missionaries desperate to learn more about China and its language, the drug smugglers who made so much money they still have name recognition, the officials desperate to handle a growing crisis of widespread opium addiction, and even a pirate queen and Jane Austen’s older brother.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

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