Looking forward to March!

And just like that, beloved patrons, we are looking at the opening days of March, and the promise of spring on the horizon.  It might not feel like it today, but that’s no reason not to start scheduling some fun in for the longer days ahead of us!  Here are just a few of the fun events, classes, and programs that will be held at the Main Library, Branches, and Departments over the coming weeks.  Please be in touch to register for these programs, or to get more information.

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And, as always, please let us know about any events you’d like to see on our scheduled.  We try and tailor our programming to the community’s needs, and we need your help!


In the Creativity Lab:

Tuesday, March 5, 7:00 – 8:30pm: Editing Video in Adobe Premiere

Learn the basics of Adobe Premiere, a video editing program popular among amateurs and professionals alike, in this four-session class. Skills covered include organizing files, editing footage, adding titles and music, and sharing your completed video. You may bring your own video footage to edit, or you can work on footage provided by the instructor.  This 4-week class is for people aged 13 and older.   Space is limited, so please register in advance.


At the Main Library:

Thursday, March 14: 3:00 – 4:00pm: Introduction to Microsoft Word

In this one day class, you’ll get a solid grounding in the basics of Microsoft Word 2016, including creating new documents, formatting and layouts, inserting pictures, and much more. The library will provide equipment for this class, but please note the library has just (5) laptops available with Microsoft Word 2016, so if you can bring your own laptops with you, it would be appreciated.  Check out our Introductory classes for Microsoft Powerpoint and Excel coming up in the next weeks, too (those classes require separate registration)!


At the West Branch:

Tuesday, March 26, 6:30 – 7:30pm: Feasting on 15-Minute Meals with Liz Barbour of The Creative Feast

We all want to eat well but our busy schedules often keep us from taking the time to cook healthy meals. Understanding what ingredients to have in your refrigerator, pantry, and freezer is key to whipping up a fast, healthy, and delicious meal. Join chef Liz Barbour to learn how to use your pantry and your local market to create and prepare delicious, healthy meals in 15 minutes. You’ll need lots of tips and tricks to pull off these meals and Liz is excited to teach them to you. Enjoy a cooking demonstration of 2 recipes and samples for all to taste.’ This program will include a slide presentation and cooking demonstration.


At the South Branch:

Tuesday, March 12, 6:30 – 8:30pm: Peabody Rec Department Art Class

The Peabody Library’s South Branch will host Peabody Parks & Rec Department’s art class taught by Jeanette Lerner.  In this class, students will be guided through fabric painting. Classes run every Tuesday evening from March 12 through April 9.  This is an outside program hosted by the Library, so for more information or to register, please contact the Peabody Parks and Recreation Department at 978-536-0600 or visit their website.


Also….
SAVE THE DATE! 
PILCON WILL BE RETURNING TO THE LIBRARY ON MAY 4, 2019!
Check back soon for more details!

Five Book Friday!

And we hope that you have enjoyed your February vacation, beloved patrons!  We’re happy to be back and bringing the best in the world of Libraries, books, and literary awards!

Here’s a list of some of the sensational titles that have sojourned onto our shelves this week, and are eager to join you in your wintertime adventures!

Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of AddictionDrug addiction is as old as human society, but for the past generation, we have been coping with new drugs, new methods of accessing them, and increasing health problems related to addiction that have finally been recognized as an epidemic.  In this insightful and deeply empathetic new book, Judith Grisel a  renowned behavioral neuroscientist and recovered drug addict, brings new The brain’s capacity to learn and adapt is seemingly infinite, allowing it to counteract any regular disruption, including that caused by drugs. What begins as a normal state punctuated by periods of being high transforms over time into a state of desperate craving that is only temporarily subdued by a fix, explaining why addicts are unable to live either with or without their drug. One by one, Grisel shows how different drugs act on the brain, the kind of experiential effects they generate, and the specific reasons why each is so hard to kick.  This is a book that offers new insight into how the brain functions, offers critical contributions to addictive behavior, and will help inform a more rational, coherent, and compassionate response to the epidemic in our homes and communities.  Kirkus Reviews noted that Grisel “writes clearly and unsparingly about both her experiences and the science of addiction—tobacco and caffeine figure in, as well—making plain that there is still much that remains unknown or mysterious about the brain’s workings. In the end, she notes, much of our present culture, which shuns pain and favors avoidance, is made up of ‘tools of addiction.’ Illuminating reading for those seeking to understand the whos, hows, and wherefores of getting hooked.”

RuptureWe are big fans of Ragnar Jónasson’s Icelandic mysteries here at the Library, so the arrival of a new title is always a cause for celebration.  In this fourth mystery featuring Ari Thór sees the young police officer trying to solve a 50-year-old murder when new evidence surfaces. But the case proves difficult in a town where no one wants to know the truth, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.  This is a series that has a great a sense of place as it does a cast of compelling and memorable characters, that The Guardian called “A distinctive blend of Nordic Noir and Golden Age detective fiction … economical and evocative prose, as well as some masterful prestidigitation.”

The PlottersA little bit of science-fiction, and a little bit of thriller, and a whole lot of suspense, this novel from South Korean author Un-Su Kim is making waves around the globe.  In this alternative South Korea, assassination guilds compete for market dominance.  Plotters quietly dictate the moves of the city’s most dangerous criminals, orchestrating every assassination from the shadows.  But their existence is little more than a rumor.  Just who are the plotters? And more important, what do they want? Reseng is an assassin. Raised by a cantankerous killer named Old Raccoon in the crime headquarters “The Library,” Reseng never questioned anything: where to go, who to kill, or why his home was filled with books that no one ever read. But one day, Reseng steps out of line on a job, toppling a set of carefully calibrated plans. And when he uncovers an extraordinary scheme set into motion by an eccentric trio of young women–a convenience store clerk, her wheelchair-bound sister, and a cross-eyed librarian–Reseng will have to decide if he will remain a pawn or finally take control of the plot.  Surprising, funny, and unsettling, this novel earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, who noted, “The complex plot, in which Reseng becomes involved with a more polished, CEO-like hit man named Hanja, builds to a highly cinematic and violent denouement. Most memorable, though, is the novel’s message about the insidiousness of unaccountable institutions, from those under the military junta to those that thrive in today’s economy. The consequence of the pervasive corruption is an air of existential despair. This strange, ambitious book will appeal equally to literary fiction readers.”

What We Did: A compelling novel that confronts a number of issues in the #MeToo era, Christobel Kent’s newest novel deals with issues of childhood abuse and the dangers of modern-day retribution.  Bridget has a secret—one she keeps from everyone, even her husband. One that threatens to explode when her childhood music teacher, Carmichael, walks into her dress shop. With him is a young girl on the cusp of adulthood, fresh-faced and pretty. She reminds Bridget of herself at that age, naïve and vulnerable.  Bridget wants him away—away from her, away from that girl. But Carmichael won’t leave her alone, won’t stop stalking her. And Bridget’s not a little girl anymore. When he pushes her too far, she snaps. But what she thought was a decisive act only unravels more insidious threats—more than she could have ever imagined—and from which no one is safe, not even her family.  Not an easy novel, it’s still an important and a gripping one.  The Washington Post agreed, discussing in its review how “Kent serves up a twisting and complex plot, but the novel’s chief appeal lies in the tense character of Bridget, who learns that a life lived under the radar can’t protect her from the creepy-crawly things that live there, too.”

Europe: A Natural History: Having already produced fascinating ecological histories of Australia and North America, Tim Flannery now turns his gaze to Europe.  He begins 100 million years ago, when the continents of Asia, North America, and Africa interacted to create an island archipelago that would later become the Europe we know today. It was on these ancient tropical lands that the first distinctly European organisms evolved. Flannery teaches us about Europe’s midwife toad, which has endured since the continent’s beginning, while elephants, crocodiles, and giant sharks have come and gone. He explores the monumental changes wrought by the devastating comet strike and shows how rapid atmospheric shifts transformed the European archipelago into a single landmass during the Eocene. As the story moves through millions of years of evolutionary history, Flannery eventually turns to our own species, describing the immense impact humans had on the continent’s flora and fauna―within 30,000 years of our arrival in Europe, the woolly rhino, the cave bear, and the giant elk, among others, would disappear completely. The story continues right up to the present, as Flannery describes Europe’s leading role in wildlife restoration, and then looks ahead to ponder the continent’s future: with advancements in gene editing technology, European scientists are working to recreate some of the continent’s lost creatures, such as the great ox of Europe’s primeval forests and even the woolly mammoth.  This is a book that has been getting attention on both sides of the Atlantic, with the Irish Times calling it,“Bold and brilliant… Flannery looks far forwards as well as back, to see how pre-prehistory might inform tomorrow.”

Until next week, beloved patrons–Happy Reading!

Five Book Friday!

And today we honor the life, work, and legacy of Andrea Levy, who, it was announced today, has passed away at the age of 62.

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Andrea Levy, via The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/feb/15/andrea-levy-obituary

Levy was born in 1956 to Jamaican parents who had traveled to England as part of a generation of postwar migrants.  They arrived in the UK on the Empire Windrush, the ship that brought one of the first groups of West Indian migrants to the UK in 1948.

Levy did not start writing until she was in her mid-30s, after enrolling in a creative writing class at an adult education college in London.  There were precious few books about Jamaican immigrants at the time, and in telling the story of her family and her heritage, Levy provided a voice for the thousands of immigrants who made their lives in Britain following the Second World War.

Levy was best known for Small Island, a beautiful and lyrical novel about two Jamaicans immigrants who immigrate to Britain, much like Levy’s own parents did.  Her last novel, The Long Song, was published in 2010, and dealt with the history and legacy of slavery in Jamaica, stretching from the 19th century to the present.  It was nominated for the Man Booker Prize.  Her final work was the 2014 release Six Stories and an Essay, a collection of short stories and essays compiled over a lifetime of work about her career and her Caribbean heritage.

The Guardian published a moving tribute to Levy, her work, and her significance as a British and Jamaican author.  We are honored to share it with you today, and to celebrate the live of such a strong, remarkable storyteller.

And in that spirit, we’d like to introduce you to a few of the titles that slogged through this week’s weird winter weather to make your acquaintance:

Death is Hard Work: Syrian writer Khaled Khalifa continues to reside in Damacus, despite the constant threat of physical harm and trauma caused by the ongoing violence across the country.  As a result, this work provides a searing, honest, first-hand account of modern life in a world destroyed by war, and the way it shapes the lives of three otherwise ordinary people.  Abdel Latif, an old man from the Aleppo region, dies peacefully in a hospital bed in Damascus. His final wish, conveyed to his youngest son, Bolbol, is to be buried in the family plot in their ancestral village of Anabiya. Though Abdel was hardly an ideal father, and though Bolbol is estranged from his siblings, this conscientious son persuades his older brother Hussein and his sister Fatima to accompany him and the body to Anabiya, which is―after all―only a two-hour drive from Damascus.  With the landscape of their childhood now a labyrinth of competing armies whose actions are at once arbitrary and lethal, the siblings’ decision to set aside their differences and honor their father’s request quickly balloons from a minor commitment into an epic and life-threatening quest. Syria, however, is no longer a place for heroes, and the decisions the family must make along the way―as they find themselves captured and recaptured, interrogated, imprisoned, and bombed―will prove to have enormous consequences for all of them.  This is a novel that shows the power of fiction to speak truth to power, and has earned glowing reviews from outlets around the world.  Kirkus gave it a starred review, calling it an “Insistent, memorable portrait of the small indignities and large horrors of the civil war in Syria . . . a skillfully constructed epic that packs a tremendous amount of hard-won knowledge into its pages.”

Black Leopard Red Wolf: Marlon James’ Booker Award came as something of a surprise in 2015–but only to those who had not before encountered his magical way with words and stories.  This novel is the opening of a trilogy that utilizes the tools of African legend, mythology, fantasy and historical fiction together to create a magical new world. Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard. As Tracker follows the boy’s scent–from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers–he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?  This is a work that is as entertaining as it is searching and profound, and the reviews are all inspired and elated.  The New York Times provided one of many, cheering,  “Marlon James is one of those novelists who aren’t afraid to give a performance, to change the states of language from viscous to gushing to grand, to get all the way inside the people he’s created…Not only does this book come with a hefty cast of characters (like Seven Killings), there are also shape shifters, fairies, trolls, and, apparently, a map. The map might be handy. But it might be the opposite of why you come to James—to get lost in him.”

Still in Love: Readers of Michael Downing’s Perfect Agreement will recognize the characters in this follow-up novel, but there is plenty here to keep new comers spellbound, as well.  Mark Sternum is a veteran teacher. Twenty years older than when we first met him, separated for six months from his longtime lover, and desperate to duck the overtures of double-dealing deans above him and disgruntled adjunct faculty below him, Mark has one ambition every day he is on campus―to close the classroom door and leave the world behind. His escape, however, is complicated by his contentious, complicated wrestling match of a relationship with the Professor, the tenured faculty member with whom Mark has co-taught this creative-writing workshop for ten years. Their exchanges and interactions create the foundation of this of one semester in a college classroom. And it is an urgent reminder that we desperately need classrooms, that those singular, sealed-off-from-the-world sanctuaries are where we learn to love our lives. Publisher’s Weekly noted in their review that “Downing’s witty follow-up …satisfyingly transports readers to college as teacher Mark Sternum begins winter term at Hellman College in New England . . . In depicting Mark’s ordinary semester, Downing poignantly illustrates the dynamics of the college classroom as well as its potential for lasting lessons, making for a resonant campus novel.”

Early Riser: Jasper Fforde has a way with words–and with reality.  By foregoing all the traditional rules of science fiction, he has created a novel set in an alternative Wales that is as funny as it is unsettling.  Every Winter, the human population hibernates.  During those bitterly cold four months, the nation is a snow-draped landscape of desolate loneliness, devoid of human activity.  Well, not quite…Your name is Charlie Worthing and it’s your first season with the Winter Consuls, the committed but mildly unhinged group of misfits who are responsible for ensuring the hibernatory safe passage of the sleeping masses. You are investigating an outbreak of viral dreams which you dismiss as nonsense; nothing more than a quirky artefact borne of the sleeping mind. When the dreams start to kill people, it’s unsettling. When you get the dreams too, it’s weird. When they start to come true, you begin to doubt your sanity.  But teasing truth from the Winter is never easy, and the adventures you encounter on your way will make your nightmares look like child’s play.  Library Journal loved this book, describing its “Veiled commentary on corporate greed, sleep and dreaming, and twisted popular culture highlight why Fforde, perhaps best known for his “Thursday Next” series, is on par with authors such as Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.”

The Current: Tim Johnston is a marvel at creating characters and natural settings, and this work shows him at his literary best.  In the dead of winter, outside a small Minnesota town, state troopers pull two young women and their car from the icy Black Root River. One is found downriver, drowned, while the other is found at the scenehalf frozen but alive. What happened was no accident, and news of the crime awakens the community’s memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may still live among them. Determined to find answers, the surviving young woman soon realizes that she’s connected to the earlier unsolved case by more than just a river, and the deeper she plunges into her own investigation, the closer she comes to dangerous truths, and to the violence that simmers just below the surface of her hometown. Fast-paced, cleverly-plotted, and gripping, this is a work that the Washington Independent Review of Books called “much more than a skillfully constructed, beautifully written whodunit. It’s a subtle and lyrical acclamation of the heart and spirit of small-town America. The Current is not your conventional, frenetically paced page-turner, although it smolders with a brooding, slow-burn tension that nudges the reader forward, catching you up in the lives of the troubled solitaries at the book’s core.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

The Rally Against All That Is Lovey-Dovey

February is in full swing and all the shops have put their Valentine’s products on the shelves and couples are as “couple-y” as ever. I think I’d rather have a good date with a book instead! Not a romantic as well? Would you rather throw candy hearts in the trash than send them to a special someone? Well here’s the book list you anti-valentines have been waiting for. Get ready for the cynical, the silly, and the downright angst!

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill
Powerful stories of dislocation, longing and desire which depict a disenchanted and rebellious urban fringe generation that is groping for human connection. (Or, more simply put, the angst of people-who-wear-black.)

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath’s shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity. Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies.

Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History—without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodríguez McRobbie
You think you know her story. You’ve read the Brothers Grimm, you’ve watched the Disney cartoons, you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But the lives of real princesses couldn’t be more different.  A fascinating read for history buffs, feminists, and anyone seeking a different kind of bedtime story.

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses.

Five Book Friday!

It’s our first FBF of the month, beloved patrons!  And though February may be a short month, there’s still plenty to celebrate!  In addition to the holiday on February 14, there are a few other days that might strike your fancy to celebrate, such as:

February 17: National Random Act of Kindness Day (originally a New Zealand holiday that appears to be spreading)

February 25: National Clam Chowder Day

February 26: National Tell A Fairy Tale Day!

February 28: National Toast Day (as in toasted bread–originally a UK holiday, but, as fans of toast, we are delighted to join the celebration!)

February is also Black History Month.  Stop in and check out our displays and get some recommendations to enrich your reading!

And speaking of books…here are just a few of the titles that trundled their way through this week’s wacky weather to meet you!

The Atlas of Reds and Blues: Some of literature’s most noteworthy books take place within the context of a single day, and Devi S. Lakar’s novel follows in that tradition, setting out a story that unfolds over the course of a single morning.  When a woman―known only as Mother―moves her family from Atlanta to its wealthy suburbs, she discovers that neither the times nor the people have changed since her childhood in a small Southern town. Despite the intervening decades, Mother is met with the same questions: Where are you from? No, where are you really from? The American-born daughter of Bengali immigrants, she finds that her answer―Here―is never enough.  Mother’s simmering anger breaks through one morning, when, during a violent and unfounded police raid on her home, she finally refuses to be complacent. As she lies bleeding from a gunshot wound, her thoughts race from childhood games with her sister and visits to cousins in India, to her time in the newsroom before having her three daughters, to the early days of her relationship with a husband who now spends more time flying business class than at home.   This is a novel that looks at the complexities of the second-generation American experience, what it means to be a woman of color in the workplace, and a sister, a wife, and a mother to daughters in today’s America.  Based on Laskar’s own experience of a raid on her home, this is a searing and important work that earned a starred review from Booklist.  Their review describes it as a work that   “takes place in a morning; it covers a lifetime . . . Not only does Laskar bring her honed skills as a poet and journalist to her pulse-racing first novel about otherness and prejudice, she also draws on her own experience of a shocking raid on her home. Laskar’s bravura drama of one woman pushed to the brink by racism is at once sharply relevant and tragically timeless.”

The Patricide of George Benjamin Hill: Another striking debut about the dark underbelly of the American dream, James Charlesworth’s first novel is told from the perspective of the children of a ‘self-made man’.  All their lives, the children of George Benjamin Hill have fought to escape the shadow of their father, a dust-bowl orphan, self-made millionaire in bedrock American capitalism (fast food and oil), and destroyer of two families on his way to financial success. Now, they are approaching middle age and ruin: A failed ex–minor league ballplayer, divorced and mourning the death of his daughter in Miami; CIA veteran, off his meds and deciphering conspiracies in Manhattan; a Las Vegas showgirl turned old maid of The Strip, trying to stay clean; and an Alaskan bush pilot, twice un-indicted for manslaughter and recently thrown off his land by the federal government.  While their father finds himself at the center of a national scandal, these estranged siblings are drawn from their four corners of the country, compelled along crowded interstates by resentment and confusion, converging on a 300-acre horse ranch outside Omaha for a final confrontation with the father they never had.  This is a story about corporate greed, about the failures of capitalism, and, in the midst of these huge themes, there is a moving and suspenseful tale about one family’s unique dysfunctions.  The New York Times Review of Books wrote a lovely review of this debut, noting, “Charlesworth doesn’t mince words. . . . For such an unabashedly polemical first novel, The Patricide of George Benjamin Hill works surprising well, due in large measure to the unremitting intensity of its prose, the unsettling verisimilitude of its characters, and the moral courage at the core of its message.”

The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction: A miraculous alchemy occurs when one person reads to another, transforming the simple stuff of a book, a voice, and a bit of time into complex and powerful fuel for the heart, brain, and imagination.  Meghan Cox Gurdon’s work tales a scientific approach to the act of reading, blending the latest neuroscience and behavioral research with a passion for literature to explain and explore the dazzling cognitive and social-emotional benefits that await children, whatever their class, nationality or family background. But it’s not just about bedtime stories for little kids: Reading aloud consoles, uplifts and invigorates at every age, deepening the intellectual lives and emotional well-being of teenagers and adults, too.  For everyone, reading aloud engages the mind in complex narratives; for children, it’s an irreplaceable gift that builds vocabulary, fosters imagination, and kindles a lifelong appreciation of language, stories and pictures.  This is a book for anyone looking to understand the power of sharing and hearing stories that Library Journal recommended “For anybody interested in reading, especially parents, teachers, caregivers, and librarians, this inspirational work proclaims its joys and rewards.”

The Girls at 17 Swann Street: As much as we are heartily over the “books with girls in the title” trend, there’s no denying that Yara Zgheib’s debut is a vitally necessary and deeply emotional story that deserves to be read and discussed.  Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.  This isn’t an easy read, but it’s an important one.  Publisher’s Weekly gave this book a starred review, calling it, “an impressive, deeply moving debut. ”  And can we just say, what a week it is for debut novels!

The Stranger Inside: There have been a number of books that deal with strangers attempting to move into, or already living in, someone’s, and Laura Bendict plays on those fears in this new novel.  There’s a stranger living in Kimber Hannon’s house. He tells the police that he has every right to be there, and he has the paperwork to prove it. But Kimber definitely didn’t invite this man to move in. He tells her that he knows something about her, and he wants everyone else to know it too.  His  words reveal a connection to Kimber’s distant past, and dark secrets she’d long ago left buried. This trespasser isn’t after anything as simple as her money or her charming Craftsman bungalow. He wants to move into her carefully orchestrated life–and destroy it.  This book also earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, who called it “Outstanding…. Kimber’s complicated personality and unusual family life drive the ever-twisting, surprise-filled plot…. [She] is the epitome of the unreliable narrator.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

 

Do You Know What Tomorrow Is?

It’s Pajama Day!

That’s right, if you are visiting the Library tomorrow, keep your eye out for your friendly Library staff in their fancy-dress PJ’s, comfy, cozy, and all in support of a good cause.

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From Our Official Press Release:

The Peabody Institute Library has teamed up with the Boston Bruins to participate in their annual pajama drive to benefit DCF Kids and Cradles to Crayons. The Boston Bruins PJ Drive runs from February 1 through March 15, 2019. The library will be collecting new pairs of pajamas for babies, children and teens. New pajamas can be dropped off at any of the Peabody Library’s 3 locations: the Main Library on 82 Main St., the South Branch on 78 Lynn St. or the West Branch at 603 Lowell St.

The PJ Drive’s goal is to collect 12,000 pairs of new pajamas for children and teens in need.  “It’s hard to imagine that so many kids and teens don’t know the comforting feeling of putting on PJs before settling down to sleep. We’re happy to be part of an effort to change that,” said Director Melissa Robinson.

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) works with the Boston Bruins to coordinate library participation in the drive.  Libraries from around the state use the Massachusetts Library System’s delivery service, typically used to send books and other library materials, to send their PJs to area collection locations which increases libraries’ ability to participate in the drive.

So feel free to bring a new pair of pajamas for babies, young children, and teens to the library between now and March 15, and help us help those young people in our community who deserve some more coziness, comfort, and security in their lives.Image result for boston bruins pj drive

Telling New Stories about The First World War

Those of you who attended the first week of our two-week book discussion on Mary Borden’s The Forbidden Zone were treated to a lively discussion about the kind of stories we tell about the First World War, and how they shape the way we think about history and what we can learn from a given moment in time.

As was pointed out last night, the traditional narrative of The First World War tells us that the war was ugly and disillusioning and utterly, totally futile.  That it’s only value lies in the fact that it led to the Second World War.  But in reality, that narrative obscures the critical importance of the First World War to a significant number of historic events, movements, and developments.  To take just a few examples, our language evolved as a result of the war.  Phrases like “binge drink”, “blind spot”, and “pushing up daisies” all entered the vernacular between 1914 and 1918.  The rise of women employed in industry, mechanics, and technical jobs rose significantly, if only for the duration of the war.  But the result was that a significant number of women received training for new kinds of work, were exposed to new people, and learned a new kind of self-reliance.  In the United States, Black men and women enlisted in a number of positions, and worked on the home front, leading to a change in national demographics, but, more importantly, a renewed fight for civil rights across the country.  Some of the medical advancements made during the war remain with us today, from plastic surgery to burn treatments.

And so, with that in mind, we wanted to share some book recommendations for those looking to read some new stories about the First World War that get away from the narratives of the War Poets and traditional narratives that stick with us regarding the war.  We hope you enjoy!

The Forbidden ZoneMary Borden was born in Chicago, but was living with her husband in London when the war broke out.  When the Red Cross turned down her offer to buy them a hospital, she built, funded, and staffed a hospital on her own, and worked there as a volunteer nurse for the duration of the war.  This book is a collection of her reminiscences, memories, and experiences of war service, written largely while she was at the front.  As a result, this is a collection of stories about the women who lived behind the front lines, and how they survived the war, about the colonial troops who served for the British and the French armies, about the kind of wounds she treated, and the moral and physical challenges of caring for soldiers in war, knowing you were healing them to go back and fight further.  Structurally, the book is a modernist masterpiece, show that the modernist form of writing was not in anyway exclusive to the men in the trenches.

Three ComradesErich Maria Remarque is perhaps best known for his novel All Quiet on the Western Front, but his later works are also sensational, and drive home the lasting effects of the war, not only on veterans, but on the societies as a whole that had to endure the war.  This book, written during the rise of Hitler and his National Socialist Party, tell of three war veterans, and the woman with whom one of them falls in love.  It’s a tragedy, and it’s a hauntingly beautiful study of the melancholy and loss that its main characters are all suffering after the war, and in the world it left behind.  It’s also a deeply moving story of friendship and love that counters the narratives of brutality and anger that are so often found in stories from the trenches.

The Forty Days of Musa Dagh cover 2012 edition.jpgThe Forty Days of Musa Dagh: The First World War was not only a European war–it was one that truly encompassed the world, and Austrian novelist Franz Werfel shares one of the darkest parts of the war in this novel, based on true events.  The story was inspired by the self-defense by a small community of Armenians living near Musa Dagh, in the Ottoman Empire (the area is part of current-day Turkey), and recounts the events of the Armenian Genocide, which began within the context of the war, with perpetrators using the chaos of war to hide and justify their actions.  Werfel continued to rewrite and update the book after its first publication in response to the rise of the Nazi party, and the persecution of people within Werfel’s own life.  The Armenian Genocide is a critically important aspect of the First World War, but this book also documents the Genocide itself, and sheds light on how states and people shift their language to dehumanize groups within its own borders.

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