Tag Archives: Best of 2016

The New Baileys Prize Winner Announced!

Hey there!  If you’re one of our UK or Northern Irish readers, stop reading and go vote!  If you’re in the US, and would like a distraction from…well, mostly everything, then we have an important announcement for you:

Naomi Alderman’s The Power has won the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction!

Courtesy of http://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/

Alderman’s book is also the first science fiction work to win the prize, which is a huge win for genre fans (like me…and you, I’m sure). Alderman’s win comes just over a decade after her debut novel Disobedience, won the 2006 Orange Award for New Writers.

Tessa Ross, 2017 Chair of Judges, said: “The judges and I were thrilled to make this decision. We debated this wonderful shortlist for many hours but kept returning to Naomi Alderman’s brilliantly imagined dystopia – her big ideas and her fantastic imagination.”

As The Guardian describes:

From bbc.co.uk

The novel has been described as feminist science fiction, and asks the question what is power: who has it, how do you get it, and what does it do when you have it? And, when you have power, how long before power corrupts you? It follows four main characters: Roxy, the daughter of a London crime lord; Tunde, a journalism student in Lagos; Allie, from the southern states of the US and Margo, a low-level politician. They all feature in a combination of page-turning thriller and thought experiment that attacks some of the biggest issues of our times, including religion, gender politics and censorship.

And if this sounds a bit like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, there’s some good reasons for that; Margaret Atwood actually took Alderman under her wing when her career was just beginning, and the two remain close friends.  So those of you currently reading or watching The Handmaid’s Tale, be sure to add this one to your list!

Unfortunately, Alderman’s super-sensational book won’t be released in the US until October of this year, but you can bet we’ll be making a big deal about it when it does!  Here’s the cover image to whet your appetite:

Congrats to Naomi Alderman from the Free for All!

The Stoker Award Winners!

We’re a little bit late with this news flash, dear readers, but that should not in any way mitigate your–or our–excitement over announcing the winners of the 2016 Bram Stoker A
wards, presented by the Horror Writers Association!

The Stoker Awards celebrate the best in horror writing across genres, from novels to short stories to non-fiction to poetry.  As Lisa Morton, President of the HWA (and multiple Stoker-Award Winner in her own right) observed, “The winners for this year’s awards unquestionably represent the continued high-level state of the art in horror writing…Our members and awards juries were dedicated to the selection process for outstanding works of literature, cinema, non-fiction, and poetry.”

The Stoker Awards also, arguably, have the coolest statues.  Seriously, look at this thing:


It’s a adorably terrifying haunted house, and the front door opens to reveal the plaque with the winner’s name and book title.  I don’t know of too many other awards that are not only so genre-specific, but interactive, as well, so big kudos to the HWA.

And now, without further ado, here are your list of winners!  A note: Some of these materials are from online or niche publishers, so wherever possible, we’ve provided Library links.  Where library links are not available, the Goodreads page has been linked:

Superior Achievement in a Novel

The Fisherman by John Langan

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Haven by Tom Deady (<– Local author alert!)

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

Snowed by Maria Alexander

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe by James Chambers

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

The Winter Box by Tim Waggoner (ebook only)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

The Crawl Space” by Joyce Carol Oates (published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Volume #2016/Issue#8, but also in the anthology in the above link)

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror by Joyce Carol Oates

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

The Witch by Robert Eggers

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

Borderlands 6, Edited by Thomas F. Monteleone and Olivia F. Monteleone

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

Brothel by Stephanie M. Wytovich


Time for a Baileys (Women’s Prize for Fiction)!

And right in time for International Women’s Day, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction announced the Longlist for the 2017 award!

The 2017 longlist and judges! Courtesy of http://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/

This is the last year that Baileys will be sponsoring the award…insert loud, long sigh here…but the plus is that prize founder, Kate Mosse, has declared that whomever the next sponsor is will be spending the whole year promoting women’s writing, not only once a year, which, at least, makes me happy.  But, for now, let’s celebrate these phenomenal women and the stunning works they’ve given us!

For those who haven’t heard us go on and on about the greatness that is the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, here’s a brief (but no less enthusiastic) recap:  This prize was was set up in 1996 to celebrate excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women throughout the world.  In the 20 years since its establishment, the prize has become one of the most respected, most celebrated and most successful literary awards in the world, and remains one of the only prizes to recognize the unique contributions of women in fiction.   In a world where men (and white men…and middle-to-upper class white men) carry away a disproportionate amount of awards, where books about women are relegated to “Women’s Fiction” shelves, apart from the others (because Reasons), where female authors are categorized differently than male authors, where we desperately need more stories from different voices, the Baileys Prize (and whatever prize it shall soon be called) is a vital way to encourage new and diverse storytellers to set their voices free.  And, as readers, that means that their award is really our gain!

So without further ado…

If the book is available in the US, it will have a link.  If not, then the release information will be provided.  Enjoy!

Courtesy of http://www.womensprizeforfiction.co.uk/

Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo Will be released in August, 2017
The Power, Naomi Alderman Will be released in October, 2017
Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood
Little Deaths, Emma Flint
The Mare, Mary Gaitskill
The Dark Circle, Linda Grant  Will be released in June, 2017
The Lesser Bohemians, Eimear McBride
Midwinter, Fiona Melrose Will be released in July, 2017
The Sport of Kings, C.E. Morgan
The Woman Next Door, Yewande Omotoso
The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Heather O’Neill
The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry Will be released in June, 2017
Barkskins, Annie Proulx
First Love, Gwendoline Riley Will be released in March, 2017
Do Not Say We Have Nothing, Madeleine Thien
The Gustav Sonata, Rose Tremain

And the (Stoker) nominees are….

Just in case you haven’t had your fill of awards this season, dear readers, we are delighted to bring you this year’s Stoker Award Nominees, celebrating the best in English-language horror writing!

Each year, the Horror Writer’s Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement, named in honor of Bram Stoker, author of the horror novel to beat all horror novels (and Free For All favorite), Dracula. The Bram Stoker Awards were instituted immediately after the organization’s incorporation in 1987.  The first awards were presented in 1988 (for works published in 1987), and they have been presented every year since. The award itself, designed by sculptor Steven Kirk, is a stunning haunted house, with a door that opens to reveal a brass plaque engraved with the name of the winning work and its author.

How amazing is this?!

The Stoker Awards specifically avoid the word “best”, because it recognizes that horror itself is a genre that is constantly moving, changing, and pushing its own boundaries (and can often be very specific to a place, or a generation).  Instead, it uses the words “Superior Achievement”.  The categories of award have changed over the years, as well, as the genre has evolved, but since 2011, the eleven Bram Stoker Award categories are: Novel, First Novel, Short Fiction, Long Fiction, Young Adult, Fiction Collection, Poetry Collection, Anthology, Screenplay, Graphic Novel and Non-Fiction.

And can I just say, that the HWA also hosts an academic conference on horror alongside its annual conference, known as the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference, after the pioneer of the Gothic novel, and a lady author to boot?  I think that is the coolest thing ever, not only because the HWA remains so devoted to celebrating and studying horror as a genre in the past and the future, but it also creates a wonderfully inclusive atmosphere where all kinds of readers are accepted.

So here, without further ado, are the 2016 nominees for the Stoker Awards.  There are a few titles here that we’ve covered previously at the Free For All, which is proof that we know how to pick ’em, and many that I will be added to my To Be Read list promptly!   The final announcement will be made at StokerCon, the annual conference of the HWA.

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay

All hail the Nebulas!

It’s award season, dear readers, and while the Oscars may indeed be just around the proverbial corner, today, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) announced their nominees for the 2017 Nebula Awards, and I could not be more excited.

The Nebula Awards 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.

In a world that is proving increasingly hostile to difference, this year’s Nebula nominees represent a really impressive diversity, both in terms of their subjects and their authors.  As we’ve noted here, science fiction and fantasy are both genres that provide room to critique the world around us, and offer ways to explore change without remaining beholden to current cultural structures, times, or locales.  And these nominees showcase some of the most daring, imaginative, and courageous authors at work today.  From Nisi Shawl’s re-creation, re-assessment, and re-invention of the Belgian Congo in Everfair to Victor LaValle’s scathing, terrifying, and wonderful commentary on race, class, and power in The Ballad of Black Tom (one of my favorite reads of last year!), to Fran Wilde’s story of female friendships and adventure, these stories all, in their own way, have something to say about the world we live in, as well as the world that might be, somewhere, sometime, some day.  In addition, the presence on this list of small, independent publishers, print, and online magazines, provide a diversity of story type, audience, and format that make this list so different from a lot of other awards out these today.

If you have never picked up a science fiction or fantasy book, this list is an excellent indication of where to start your exploration of the genres.  If you are a longtime fan eager to find more reading fodder, then look no further.  And if you are one of those lucky and remarkable people who have read all the tales on this list, then let us know which you liked best, and where a new reader should begin!

And here, without further ado, are this year’s nominees for the 2017 Nebula Awards, with links, where possible, to the books in the NOBLE or MetroBoston network.  Where that isn’t possible, for example, in the case of online or specialty magazines (like Lightspeed, F&SF, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, to name a few), links have been provided for you to find an access to the stories.  Many of them are published online, making them easily accessible through the links.  Enjoy!




Short Story


  • Arrival, Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Screenplay by Eric Heisserer, 21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/Xenolinguistics
  • Doctor Strange, Directed by Scott Derrickson, Screenplay by Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill, Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
  • Kubo and the Two Strings, Directed by Travis Knight, Screenplay by Mark Haimes & Chris Butler; Laika Entertainment
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Directed by Gareth Edwards, Written by Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy; Lucusfilm/ Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
  • Westworld: ‘‘The Bicameral Mind’’, Directed by Jonathan Nolan, Written by Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan; HBO (Coming Soon!)
  • Zootopia, Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, & Jared Bush, Screenplay by Jared Bush & Phil Johnston; Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios 


And if you’re interested to see all the nominated books, the SFWA website has the full list.  Check back here after the awards are announced on May 20th for the winners!

The Wellcome Book Prize Longlist!

For those of you beloved patrons who live to read to learn, let me tell you about the Wellcome Book Prize.

Let me start by telling you a little bit about the Wellcome Collection.  Located right across the street from Euston Station in London, the Wellcome Collection is dedicated to uniting the fields of science, medicine, and the arts, declaring itself “The free destination for the incurably curious”.  The institute was originally funded by Sir Henry Solomon Wellcome (pictured at right), a fascinating entrepreneur, born in Wisconsin in 1853, whose first business was peddling invisible ink (it was lemon juice).  He later went into pharmaceuticals, where he revolutionized medicine by developing medicine in tablet form, though he called them ‘Tabloids’.  Upon his death, Wellcome vested the entire share capital of his company in individual trustees, who were charged with spending the income to further human and animal health, and even left specifics in his will as to the building in which the collections were to be housed.  Today, the Wellcome Trust, which funds all this gloriousness, is now one of the world’s largest private biomedical charities.

Yay for Science! (From the Wellcome Collection)

I cannot recommend exploring the Wellcome Collection online to you enough.  Because of their dedication to education and engagement, a surprisingly vast amount of their exhibits have online components, and a good deal of their archives and library are digitized, making it possible to access their treasure trove of educational riches from the comfort of your living room (or local Library!).  Their exhibits range from the emotional and contemporary, such as videos and talks on military medicine, to the sublimely bizarre, like this gallery on curatives and quack medicine.  Throughout their work is a very firm dedication not only to education, but to sparking a love of learning in their visitors, and that work pays huge dividends.

I personally adore the Wellcome because of it’s 1) incredible library, which has allowed me to write my dissertation, it’s 2) stupendous archive, which is also helping me with The Dissertation, and 3) Their ridiculously welcoming, air-conditioned building (I don’t know if Sir Wellcome thought of central air, but if he did, I tip my proverbial hat to him).  There is a section of their library with chaise lounges and beanbags, for pity’s sake.  And the security guards encourage you to wander around and learn all you can–and don’t mind that you have a cold and look like you got hit by a truck. That, my friends, is an institution dedicated to learning.

And, as part of their outreach efforts, and in the hope of encouraging more quality and creative writing in the sciences, the Wellcome Trust also funds one of the largest book prizes around, providing 30,000 GBP (right now, about $37,500) to it chosen author.  As described on the Wellcome Book Prize site, all the books that are nominated have “a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness.”  While this dedication to science is wonderful, the Wellcome Prize also recognizes art, standing by its core principles by recognizing that such books “can cover many genres of writing – including crime, romance, popular science, sci-fi and history.”  Thus, their list includes both non-fiction and fiction, in order to celebrate those works that “add new meaning to what it means to be human.”

The 2016 Wellcome Book Prize design (courtesy of Notcot)

So here, without further ado, is the Wellcome Book Prize Longlist.  We hope you’ll find something to whet your reading appetite either here, or in the list of past winners.  The shortlist will be announced at the London Book Fair on March 14th, and the winner will be revealed at a ceremony at the Wellcome Collection on April 24th.  Because the Wellcome Prize’s descriptions of these books are so terrific, clicking on the book title or author will take you to the Wellcome page….there is a link to the Noble Listing for the books beside each entry.  As usual with overseas prizes, some of these books haven’t come to our shores as yet, but we’ll keep you updated when they do!

How to Survive a Plague by David France non-fiction  (NOBLE)
Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari non-fiction (NOBLE)
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi non-fiction (NOBLE)
Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal trans. Jessica Moore fiction Currently unavailable in the US
The Golden Age by Joan London fiction (NOBLE)
Cure by Jo Marchant non-fiction (NOBLE)
The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss fiction Currently Unavailable in the US
The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee non-fiction (NOBLE)
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry fiction US release date to be set soon
A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford  non-fiction US Release: September, 2017
Miss Jane by Brad Watson fiction (NOBLE)
I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong non-fiction (NOBLE)

Happy reading!

Best of 2016: The End


As humanity tries to put this festering wound of a year behind us, you are going to see a lot of “Best of 2016” (and “Worst of 2016”) lists floating around.  But none, I promise you, is quite like the Peabody Library’s Best of 2016 List.  We asked our staff to share with us–and you–their favorite books, films, albums, or other Library materials that they encountered this year.   The response was so terrific that we’ll be running a weekly series for your enjoyment.

And, just a note, the rules were that the media had to be consumed in 2016 (books read, films viewed, albums heard, etc.), but that doesn’t mean that they were made in 2016.  There are some classics on this list, as well as plenty of new material, so you can see all the phenomenal finds the Library has to offer year round!

…There were a few books on a number of people’s ‘Best Of’ Lists this year, so here is a special final edition of our series that covers the “Best of the Best”!


From the Upstairs Office, the Reference Desk, and the Classics Book Group:

3784204Three Comrades by Erich Maria Remarque

“I wasn’t expecting the romantic beauty that this post WWI Germany set book delivered. All I knew going into this title was that the author wrote All Quiet on the Western Front, so I was expecting a “guy” book. In the end, it was a love book, but a messy love book with no false notes. The male friendships were as well developed as the romantic plot line, if not more so, and they make the book something truly special.”

“This novel drove home the real, lasting, and indelible impact that the First World War had on those who fought in it.  But, more than that, it is a stunning book about friendship, about a place, and about a time that Remarque knew was dying, even as he wrote the book.  Having read All Quiet on the Western Front, I knew Remarque the modernist soldier-writer.  But this Remarque was funny and earnest and insightful, and this book is one that I won’t soon forget.”

The year is 1928. On the outskirts of a large German city, three young men are earning a thin and precarious living. Fully armed young storm troopers swagger in the streets. Restlessness, poverty, and violence are everywhere. For these three, friendship is the only refuge from the chaos around them. Then the youngest of them falls in love, and brings into the group a young woman who will become a comrade as well, as they are all tested in ways they can have never imagined.

Written with the same overwhelming simplicity and directness that made All Quiet on the Western Front a classic, Three Comrades portrays the greatness of the human spirit, manifested through characters who must find the inner resources to live in a world they did not make, but must endure.

From the Upstairs Offices, the Reference Desk, and the South Branch:

3722322The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

“My love for Gaiman knows no bounds, but listening to his collected nonfiction was a particular treat. He’s thoughtful, insightful and honestly, this collection is worth it just to hear him talk about libraries in his own voice.”

An enthralling collection of nonfiction essays on a myriad of topics—from art and artists to dreams, myths, and memories—observed in #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s probing, amusing, and distinctive style.

An inquisitive observer, thoughtful commentator, and assiduous craftsman, Neil Gaiman has long been celebrated for the sharp intellect and startling imagination that informs his bestselling fiction. Now, The View from the Cheap Seats brings together for the first time ever more than sixty pieces of his outstanding nonfiction. Analytical yet playful, erudite yet accessible, this cornucopia explores a broad range of interests and topics, including (but not limited to): authors past and present; music; storytelling; comics; bookshops; travel; fairy tales; America; inspiration; libraries; ghosts; and the title piece, at turns touching and self-deprecating, which recounts the author’s experiences at the 2010 Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Insightful, incisive, witty, and wise, The View from the Cheap Seats explores the issues and subjects that matter most to Neil Gaiman—offering a glimpse into the head and heart of one of the most acclaimed, beloved, and influential artists of our time.

From the Reference Desk, and Patron Recommendation:

3622766A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

“Tremblay’s love of the horror genre drew me into this book (and taught me a great deal, too!), but it is his power to tell a story, to twist a narrative, and most of all, to make me doubt everything I believed to be true, cannot be adequately described.  This book scared me, awed me, and rendered me incapable of functioning when I was done, as I tried to fully grasp the implications of those final eighty pages or so.”

A chilling thriller that brilliantly blends psychological suspense and supernatural horror…The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface—and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

The Romance Garden Top Picks:

3784064A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

“First time novelist Amanda Bouchet has given the gift of a completely addictive fantasy romance to genre fans everywhere. A Promise of Fire is the first book of Bouchet’s The Kingmaker Chronicles, and based on the Orange Rose Contest and Paranormal Golden Pen wins, Romance Writers of America thinks it’s pretty great too. In addition to a very well developed cast of characters- Griffin’s family in particular- the world Bouchet creates is believable and well-built. The plotting is also first-rate, making it very difficult to find a good place to put this book down. If you like fantasy and you like romance, like me, you’ll be wonderfully glad you picked it up… until you remember that A Promise of Fire is Bouchet’s first book, and you have to wait until January 2017 for The Kingmaker Chronicles Book 2: Breath of Fire.”
3803359The Fixer by Helenkay DimonThis is not a man who “takes what he wants”, like so many other heroes whose privileges are used to justify their horrible behavior.  This is a romance of equals who respect each other and value each other’s talents and input, and of two people who aren’t used to making interpersonal connections, which adds an utterly charming artlessness and humanity to both characters.  The mystery element of the plot is strong and interesting as well, but for me, this book was about shattering genre conventions, readers’ expectations, and telling a story about a strong, healthy, and honest relationship that was as meaningful as it was engaging.”