Tag Archives: Best of 2017

The Lynn Public Library’s Best of 2017!

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

The Lynn Public Library

So this year, we thought it might be fun to invite the other NOBLE libraries and staff members to join us in our end-of-the-year celebrations! This week, we bring you the Lynn Public Library’s Favorite Books of 2017!

Although Library services were available in Lynn as early as 1815, it wasn’t until a bequest was made to the city in 1896 that plans for a permanent Library were developed.  After some debate about the style, size, and scale of the building, construction began in 1898, with local architect George A. Moore overseeing the project.  The Library opened in 1900; that same year, the trustees commissioned a mural by Francis Luis Mora, a prominent Uruguayan-born American  painter, who was most likely the first Hispanic artist elected to the National Academy of Design (his self-portrait appears on the left).  This would be Mora’s first public mural, and, as a result, he received a commission for the Missouri State Building at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (also known as the St. Louis World’s Fair)in 1904, as well as for the Governor’s Mansion of New Jersey, in the Sears family’s country home (of Sears & Roebuck fame)  in Brookline, Massachusetts, and painted the portrait of Warren Harding that is still on display in the White House.  He would later go on to teach at what would become Parsons The New School for Design, with Georgia O’Keeffe as one of his students…see what great things can come from Libraries?!

Today, the staff of the Lynn Public Library is dedicated to serving the needs of a diverse population whose interests range from scholarly research to cultural pursuits to entertainment.  Their collection numbers almost 125,000 volumes, with over 30,000 in the Children’s Department alone. The large Reference collection is known for its emphasis on Lynn history, genealogy, and the Civil War, and offers a wealth of services and information for patrons.  Their Calendar of Events is packed with events for teens, adults, and kids, from book clubs to crafting events, so feel free to check them out!

And, without further ado, is just a small sampling from the  Lynn Public Library’s staff’s favorite reads from 2017!

Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Anderson

Warcross by Marie Lu

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Behind Closed Doors by B.A Paris

Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

The Store by James Patterson

Hard Core Twenty-Four by Janet Evanovich

Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand

Mangrove Lightning by Randy Wayne White

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Murder Games by James Patterson

Black Book by James Patteson

Chew Approved by The Chew

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It!: Simple, Scrumptious Recipes for Crazy Busy Lives by Ree Drummond

Our Staff’s Best of 2017, Part 4!

A brief note: This blog post was held up because your friendly neighborhood blogger has been laid up with a really nasty case of the ‘flu.  It comes, nevertheless, with much love, as well as apologies, beloved patrons.

Here at the Peabody Institute Library, we are truly fortunate to have a staff with wonderfully diverse tastes in books, graphic novels, films, audiobooks, and more.  And so we are always on-hand to help you find whatever you are looking for when you come into the Library.

It also means that when we at the Free For All ask our staff for their favorite books/films/audiobooks from the past year, the results are fascinating, beautifully varied, and totally engaging.  So it is our pleasure today to begin our survey of our staff picks for the “Best of 2017”.

The rules are simple: the media in question doesn’t have to have been created during this year, they just have to be enjoyed this year.  As a result, you’ll see books from the nineteenth century and films made released in the past few months, and audiobook adaptations of classic novels, as well as recordings of new thrillers.  We hope you enjoy these suggestions, and that you find some books to help usher in the New Year!

Best of 2017

From the West Branch:

EverybodyThe third studio album by American rapper Logic was released on May 5, 2017, to both critical and popular acclaim.  Everybody loosely follows the journey of a recently deceased man named Atom who, after dying in a car accident on his way home, meets God (voiced here by Neil DeGrasse Tyson) and has a conversation with him spanning a multitude of topics and millennia.  From the other side of the great divide, Atom learns about himself, as well as all the other incarnations he has embodied over the course of time.  In Atom is the entirety of humanity, and, he is told, by learning to see through the perspective of others, can he transcend.  The result is an album that deals with some really big topics–activism, laziness, identity, the power of human connections and human hatred–without being heavy-handed.  HipHopDX noted that this is very much an album that will hold meaning, especially for Logic’s “fan base, especially those going through struggles of their own, his latest work will be the catharsis to keep them from plunging off the deep end.”  Just a friendly note, this album does have a parental advisory for language.

Small Great Things Jodi Picoult is not an author who shies away from the big issues, and this best-selling novel (soon, apparently, to be a motion picture) grapples with privilege, identity, and American racism, in all its shades and shapes, and does so in a way that is both heart-rending and insightful.  Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. When she hesitates and the child dies, Ruth finds herself at the center of a major court case–and media sensation.  Critics called this Picoult’s best book to date, and the San Francisco Book Review hailed it as “A novel that puts its finger on the very pulse of the nation that we live in today . . . a fantastic read from beginning to end, as can always be expected from Picoult, this novel maintains a steady, page-turning pace that makes it hard for readers to put down.”

From the Circulation Desk:

The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton’s twelfth novel, a wonderfully witty depiction of upper-class New Yorkers won the Pulitzer Prize in 1920, making her the first woman to be awarded the prestigious prize.  At the heart of the story are three people who are both defined and trapped by the opulent and restrictive society in which they live: Newland Archer, a restrained young attorney, is engaged to the lovely May Welland but falls in love with May’s beautiful and unconventional cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska. Despite his fear of a dull marriage to May, Archer goes through with the ceremony — persuaded by his own sense of honor, family, and societal pressures. The love triangle that persists amongst these three is both a commentary on 19th century society and a comical, moving, human tale, making this a wonderfully (and surprisingly) readable classic novel that has remained a favorite among readers and critics alike.  (The novel was also adapted into a terrific film starring Daniel Day Lewis, Winona Ryder, and Michelle Pfeiffer).

ArrivalIt isn’t often that a time-and-reality-bending sci-fi film manages to be so touching, so human, and so gripping, but this film, with a screenplay by Eric Heisserer,  based on a short story by Ted Chiang, and directed by Denis Villeneuve, is just that.  Opening on the day a series of mysterious spacecraft touch down around the world, this movie tells the story of a a team ,including linguist Louise Banks, who are brought together to investigate the ships and the beings inside it. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers, and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.  This is a film that will have you on the edge of your seat, but will also give you plenty to think about after the final scene has played out, making it a rare kind of success–and a sensational adaptation.

 

We’ll be back with more recommendations soon, beloved patrons.  Until then, stay warm and toasty!

The Lucius Beebe Library’s Best of 2017

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

So this year, we thought it might be fun to invite the other NOBLE libraries and staff members to join us in our end-of-the-year celebrations! This week, we bring you the Lucius Beebe Library of Wakefield’s list of the Best Books of 2017!

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are also pleased to highlight the Lucius Beebe Library Staff’s Favorites of 2017!   Don’t forget to check out the super page on their website for the full list!

Madame Zero: The Guardian dubbed Sarah Hall as  “one of the most significant and exciting of Britain’s young novelists”, and this collection of nine works of short fiction will help you see why.  Each of these stunning, insightful tales plumbs the truth of what it means to be female in this world, as well as what it means to be human.  A husband’s wife transforms into a vulpine in “Mrs. Fox”…A new mother runs into an old lover in “Luxury Hour.” In “Case Study 2,” a social worker struggles with a foster child raised in a commune.  In beautiful, rich prose, full of observations and striking clarity, Hall has composed nine wholly original pieces—works of fiction that will resonate long after the final page is turned.

Ill Will: This tale about intertwined crimes–one in the past and one in the present–mades Dan Chaon’s novel one of the most acclaimed psychological thrillers of the year, as well as being a selection at the Beebe Library.  A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears that his adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. Despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning. Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients has been plying him with stories of the drowning deaths of a string of drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses his patient’s suggestions that a serial killer is at work as paranoid thinking, but as the two embark on an amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence–and paranoid enough to put everything he values at risk.

Her Body and Other Parties: Carmen Maria Machado’s debut book of short stories took the literary world by storm this year, and is a celebrated part of the Beebe Library’s staff picks for the year.  A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella “Especially Heinous,” Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naïvely assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgängers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.  Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.

Get Out: One of the most important, talked-about, and thought-provoking move of the year, Jordan Peele’s debut horror film is also among the Beebe Library staff’s favorites of the year.  When Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a young African-American man, visits his white girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) family estate, he becomes ensnared in the more sinister, real reason for the invitation. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could have never imagined.  This is a movie with a social message that is genuinely entertaining, a horror movie that operates on so many more levels than the visceral, and a moving take on the State of Things that you won’t soon forget.

Be sure to check out the rest of the list over at the Lucius Beebe Library website!

Our Staff’s Best of 2017, Part 3!

A brief note: This blog post was held up because your friendly neighborhood blogger has been laid up with a really nasty case of the ‘flu.  It comes, nevertheless, with much love, as well as apologies, beloved patrons.

Here at the Peabody Institute Library, we are truly fortunate to have a staff with wonderfully diverse tastes in books, graphic novels, films, audiobooks, and more.  And so we are always on-hand to help you find whatever you are looking for when you come into the Library.

It also means that when we at the Free For All ask our staff for their favorite books/films/audiobooks from the past year, the results are fascinating, beautifully varied, and totally engaging.  So it is our pleasure today to begin our survey of our staff picks for the “Best of 2017”.

The rules are simple: the media in question doesn’t have to have been created during this year, they just have to be enjoyed this year.  As a result, you’ll see books from the nineteenth century and films made released in the past few months, and audiobook adaptations of classic novels, as well as recordings of new thrillers.  We hope you enjoy these suggestions, and that you find some books to help usher in the New Year!

Best of 2017

From the West Branch: 

Over the Garden Wall:  From creator Emmy-winner Patrick McHale, one of the minds behind Adventure Time, meet the Cartoon Network’s first every animated mini-series. This sensational story follows  the story of two brothers, Greg and Wirt, who find themselves in a strange forest. Along the way, they meet a bluebird named Beatrice who helps them navigate the strange land in the hopes of making their way home.  Don’t let the format deceive you–this ten-episode DVD features stunning animation, thoroughly engaging storylines (that took inspiration from Dante’s Inferno), a gorgeous soundtrack, and some really terrific characters, and it definitely an show that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike!

We Were WitchesWryly riffing on feminist literary tropes, Ariel Gore’s novel documents the survival of a demonized single mother. Determined to find her way out of her dire straights through education, she still finds herself beset by custody disputes, homophobia, and America’s ever-present obsession with shaming strange women into passive citizenship. But even as the narrator struggles to graduate―often the triumphant climax of a dramatic plot―a question uncomfortably lingers: If you’re dealing with precarious parenthood, queer identity, and debt, what is the true narrative shape of your experience?  This is a story steeped in feminist theory and social insight, but there is a witty, lighthearted whimsy to this story that makes it feel like a fairytale–which is no mean feat by any stretch.  If you’re looking for a walk in someone else’s shoes (and a walk through a whole new, fascinating world), then this is a must-read!

From the Upstairs Offices: 

The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks:  America’s National Parks are breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadily disappearing, which is why more than 300 million people visit the parks each year. Now, in commemoration of these stunning (and suddenly, terrifyingly threatened) spaces, Terry Tempest Williams presents this literary celebration of our National Parks and an exploration of what they mean to us and what we mean to them.  From the Grand Tetons in Wyoming to Acadia in Maine to Big Bend in Texas, Williams creates a series of lyrical portraits that illuminate the unique grandeur of each place while delving into what it means to shape a landscape with its own evolutionary history into something of our own making. Part memoir, part natural history, and part social critique, this powerful, stunningly beautiful work is a meditation and a manifesto on why wild lands matter to the soul of America.

From the Circulation Desk:

Snowpiercer:  This epic film, based on a graphic novel, is set in the future (AD 2031) where, after a failed experiment to stop global warming, an Ice Age kills off almost all life on the planet.  The only survivors are the inhabitants of the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, powered by a sacred perpetual-motion engine. Its inhabitants are divided by class; the lower-class passengers in one of the last cars stage an uprising, moving car by car up to the front of the train, where the oppressive rich and powerful ride.  This film is beautifully surreal in its visuals, full of pulse-pounding action, and features a winning cast, including Chris Evans and Tilda Swindon.

Sing StreetThis delightfully creative, nostalgic, passionate Irish indie film is a must see, according to several members of our staff.  See 1980s Dublin through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Conor, who is looking for a break from a home strained by his parents’ relationship and money troubles while trying to adjust to his new inner-city public school where the kids are rough and the teachers are rougher. He finds a glimmer of hope in the mysterious, über-cool Raphina. With the aim of winning her heart he invites her to star in his band’s music videos. There’s only one problem: he’s not part of a band…yet.  But Connor’s determination to achieve the fame of the groups his brother shows him in MTV will change his life, as well as those of this fellow bandmates.  This film also has a stellar soundtrack in addition to the 80’s-tastic costumes and scenery, making for a film that you won’t soon forget.

We’ll be back with more recommendations soon, beloved patrons.  Until then, keep drinking your orange juice and take your vitamins!

Our Staff’s Best of 2017, Part 2!

Here at the Peabody Institute Library, we are truly fortunate to have a staff with wonderfully diverse tastes in books, graphic novels, films, audiobooks, and more.  And so we are always on-hand to help you find whatever you are looking for when you come into the Library.

It also means that when we at the Free For All ask our staff for their favorite books/films/audiobooks from the past year, the results are fascinating, beautifully varied, and totally engaging.  So it is our pleasure today to begin our survey of our staff picks for the “Best of 2017”.

The rules are simple: the media in question doesn’t have to have been created during this year, they just have to be enjoyed this year.  As a result, you’ll see books from the nineteenth century and films made released in the past few months, and audiobook adaptations of classic novels, as well as recordings of new thrillers.  We hope you enjoy these suggestions, and that you find some books to help usher in the New Year!

Best of 2017

From the Upstairs Offices:

Flawless : Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History: On February 15, 2003, a group of thieves broke into an allegedly airtight vault in the international diamond capital of Antwerp, Belgium and made off with over $108 million dollars worth of diamonds and other valuables. They did so without tripping an alarm or injuring a single guard in the process.  Although the crime was perfect, the getaway was not. The police zeroed in on a band of professional thieves fronted by Leonardo Notarbartolo, a dapper Italian who had rented an office in the Diamond Center and clandestinely cased its vault for over two years.  The “who” of the crime had been answered, but the “how” remained largely a mystery…Enter Scott Andrew Selby, a Harvard Law grad and diamond expert, and Greg Campbell, author of Blood Diamonds, who undertook a global goose chase to uncover the true story behind the daring heist. Tracking the threads of the story throughout Europe—from Belgium to Italy, in seedy cafés and sleek diamond offices—the authors sorted through an array of conflicting details, divergent opinions and incongruous theories to put together the puzzle of what actually happened that Valentine’s Day weekend, in a story that earned a starred review from our staff, and from Booklist, who called it “an exciting and suspenseful story, and it reads like the best caper fiction, with lively characters and some surprising twists.”

A Court of Mist and Fury:  In the second book of Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy, we find Feyre returning to the Spring Court–but the cost of her journey is a steep one.  Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save her fiance. Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court.   Though grateful for her sacrifices Tamlin is all too happy to lock Feyre up in his castle and protect her from the many dangers of his world, making Feyre’s depression that much more difficult to handle.   She is rescued by Rhysand, the feared High Lord of the Night Court, who draws her into a dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power that is both fascinating and terrifying.  As dark political tensions brew, Feyre realizes that she has to power to shape the world for the better–but only if she can learn to harness her powers before it is too late.  This is a phenomenal series, with some dazzling world-building, and any fan of fantasy would do well to start this trilogy from the beginning, and learn just why USA Today called this series “A thrilling game changer that’s fiercely romantic, irresistibly sexy and hypnotically magical.”

From the Reference Desk:

A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel For Humans:  A tail-wagging three hanky boo-hooer, this delightful fiction debut from Bruce Cameron proposes that a dog’s purpose might entail being reborn several times, and examines the life (lives) of one doggie as it journeys from family to family, story to story.  A book for anyone who admire canine courage, this is a heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh-out-loud funny book that offers a dog’s-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man’s best friend. This moving and beautifully crafted story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.  Temple Grandin, a world-respected animal scientist praised this book, saying “I loved the book and I could not put it down. It really made me think about the purpose of life.”  Bailey’s story continues in A Dog’s Journey, which is also a staff pick for this year!

 Slow HorsesSlough House is where the washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what’s left of their failed careers. The “slow horses,” as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated here. Maybe they messed up an op badly and can’t be trusted anymore…Maybe they got in the way of an ambitious colleague and had the rug yanked out from under them…One thing they all have in common, though, is that most of them would do anything to get back in the game─even if it means having to collaborate with one another.  River Cartwright, one such “slow horse,” is bitter about his failure and about his tedious assignment transcribing cell phone conversations. When a young man is abducted and his kidnappers threaten to broadcast his beheading live on the Internet, River sees an opportunity to redeem himself. But is the victim who he first appears to be? And what’s the kidnappers’ connection with a disgraced journalist? As the clock ticks on the execution, River finds that everyone has his own agenda.  This is a funny, emotionally gripping, and absolutely sensational novel that proves that the spy genre didn’t die out in the Cold War.  Also, River Cartwright is one of my favorite characters of the year, and I cannot wait to follow him through the rest of the Slough House adventures!

The Beverly Library’s Best Books of 2017!

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

So this year, we thought it might be fun to invite the other NOBLE libraries and staff members to join us in our end-of-the-year celebrations!  This week, we bring you Beverly Library’s list of the Best Books of 2017.

The Beverly Library, via noblenet.org

The Beverly Library (located at 32 Essex Street in Beverly) was established in 1855, three years after the Massachusetts Legislature became the first in the nation to authorize cities and towns to expend tax funds to support free public libraries.  The institution was originally known as the Social Library, a private subscription library which traced its founding to a collection of books seized by Beverly privateers from a British merchantman during the Revolutionary War (I think that might be one of the coolest starts a library has ever had).  Elizabeth P. Sohier, a trustee of the Beverly Public Library, led the fight to establish the first state library agency in the country, and served as the State Library Commission’s first secretary.  The Essex Street site was opened in 1913, and was  designed by architect Cass Gilbert, who was also the architect of the Minnesota State Capitol, the Woolworth Building in New York City and the United States Supreme Court.  The building was subsequently enlarged in 1993.

In addition to its stunning Essex Street location, the Beverly Library also has a branch in Beverly Farms (located at 24 Vine Street, Beverly) and a Bookmobile!  On average, the Beverly Library loans over 280,000 items annually to almost 27,000 regular borrowers. The Main Library collection consists of over 125,000 books and the Beverly Farms Branch of 22,000 books.  They also have regular programs, displays, and book clubs–you can learn more about them by checking out their Events Calendar.

And, just as we in Peabody have Breaking Grounds, the Beverly Library is right near the Atomic Cafe, as well as number of small restaurants, cafes, and shops–so why not pay them a call and tell them we say Hello?  You can also check out their selections for the best books of 2017.  The full list can be found on their website here, and a few selections can be found below!

Beverly Library’s Best Books of 2017:

Startup : a novel: Mack McAllister has a $600 million dollar idea. His mindfulness app, TakeOff, is already the hottest thing in tech and he’s about to launch a new and improved version that promises to bring investors running.   Katya Pasternack is hungry for a scoop that will drive traffic. An ambitious young journalist at a gossipy tech blog, Katya knows that she needs more than another PR friendly puff piece to make her the go-to byline for industry news.  Sabrina Choe Blum just wants to stay afloat. The exhausted mother of two and failed creative writer is trying to escape from her credit card debt and an inattentive husband–who also happens to be Katya’s boss–as she rejoins a work force that has gotten younger, hipper, and much more computer literate since she’s been away.   Before the ink on Mack’s latest round of funding is dry, an errant text message hints that he may be working a bit too closely for comfort with a young social media manager in his office. When Mack’s bad behavior collides with Katya’s search for a salacious post, Sabrina gets caught in the middle as TakeOff goes viral for all the wrong reasons. As the fallout from Mack’s scandal engulfs the lower Manhattan office building where all three work, it’s up to Katya and Sabrina to write the story the men in their lives would prefer remain untold.  Doree Shafrir’s debut has been hailed as one of the most anticipated books of the year, and which Wired.com called “a dramedy-of-errors, a Shakespearean yarn of secrets, sex, miscommunication, misogyny, and money…Crack this one open on the beach and you just might find yourself a little more enlightened when you return to the workplace.”

Boundless This is one of those books that proves just how far comics have come, and the real power that they have to convey stories, and move readers with images as well as text.  This collection of short stories from Jillian Tamaki features stories about the virtual realities and real-world stories of a number of ‘normal’, and beautifully unique women: Jenny becomes obsessed with a strange “mirror Facebook,” which presents an alternate, possibly better, version of herself. Helen finds her clothes growing baggy, her shoes looser, and as she shrinks away to nothingness, the world around her recedes as well. The animals of the city briefly open their minds to us, and we see the world as they do. A mysterious music file surfaces on the internet and forms the basis of a utopian society–or is it a cult? In addition to earning top praise from the staff at the Beverly Library, Boundless also earned a starred review from Booklist, who called it “A profoundly honest, bittersweet picture of human nature, made all the more haunting by her enchanting artwork.”

Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World: Historians are some of the best people to help us avoid the mistakes in our past, and in this fascinating work, Dutch historian Rutger Bregman addresses how we can avoid the endless rounds of depressing jobs and needless purchasing in order to live a better life.  Bregman offered two TED talks in the past three years on the concept of universal basic income, an idea which seemed utterly far-fetched originally, but is being seriously considered by leading economists and government leaders the world over.  Using this idea, and building on some engrossing and enlightening global examples, Bregman argues that every progressive milestone of civilization–from the end of slavery to the beginning of democracy–was once considered a utopian fantasy.  Bregman’s book, both challenging and bracing, demonstrates that new utopian ideas, like the elimination of poverty and the creation of the fifteen-hour workweek, can become a reality in our lifetime. Being unrealistic and unreasonable can in fact make the impossible inevitable, and it is the only way to build the ideal world.  This is a challenging, thought-provoking work that won praise from economists, academics, and reviewers alike (no mean feat, that!), with The Guardian noting that Bregman’s book “is not a dry, statistical analysis-although he doesn’t shy from solid data-but a book written with verve, wit, and imagination. The effect is charmingly persuasive, even when you can’t quite believe what you’re reading . . . Listen out for Rutger Bregman. He has a big future shaping the future.”

 

Check out this link for the rest of the Beverly Library’s picks for the Best Books of 2017–or pay them a visit today!

Our Staff’s Best of 2017!

Here at the Peabody Institute Library, we are truly fortunate to have a staff with wonderfully diverse tastes in books, graphic novels, films, audiobooks, and more.  And so we are always on-hand to help you find whatever you are looking for when you come into the Library.

It also means that when we at the Free For All ask our staff for their favorite books/films/audiobooks from the past year, the results are fascinating, beautifully varied, and totally engaging.  So it is our pleasure today to begin our survey of our staff picks for the “Best of 2017”.

The rules are simple: the media in question doesn’t have to have been created during this year, they just have to be enjoyed this year.  As a result, you’ll see books from the nineteenth century and films made released in the past few months, and audiobook adaptations of classic novels, as well as recordings of new thrillers.  We hope you enjoy these suggestions, and that you find some books to help usher in the New Year!

Best of 2017

From the West Branch:

Miller’s CrossingIn a small town on the verge of big change, a young woman unearths deep secrets about her family and unexpected truths about herself in this emotionally powerful story about a family you will never forget.  For generations the Millers have lived in Miller’s Valley.  As Mimi Miller eavesdrops on her parents and quietly observes the people around her, she discovers more and more about the toxicity of family secrets, the dangers of gossip, the flaws of marriage, the inequalities of friendship and the risks of passion, loyalty, and love. Home, as Mimi begins to realize, can be “a place where it’s just as easy to feel lost as it is to feel content.”  Miller’s Valley is a masterly study of family, memory, loss, and, ultimately, discovery, of finding true identity and a new vision of home that The New York Times Book Review called “Overwhelmingly moving . . . In this novel, where so much is about what vanishes, there is also a deep beating heart, of what also stays.”

From the Main Library, Circulation Desk:

House of Mirth: Pulitzer Prize-winning American author Edith Wharton used her inside knowledge of upper class New York life in the early part of the 20th century as the basis for her 1905 novel, the blackly-comic tragedy of Lily Bart.  who seeks to secure a husband and a place in the society life of New York’s upper class. Lily, who was raised to strive for a socially and economically prosperous marital union, finds herself at the edge of thirty, her youthful beauty fading and her matrimonial prospects dwindling. The novel follows Lily’s descent down the social ladder over a period of two years as she circles the margins of New York’s upper class drawing closer to what seems an inevitable loneliness. Central to the theme of the novel is how the Victorian era offered women relatively few other alternatives to achieve upward social and economic mobility than through marriage. “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth,” warns Ecclesiastes 7:4, and so does the novel by Edith Wharton that takes its title from this call to heed.

Sum: Tales from the Afterlifes:  At once funny, wistful and unsettling, Sum is a dazzling exploration of unexpected afterlives—each presented as a vignette that offers a stunning lens through which to see ourselves in the here and now.  In one afterlife, you may find that God is the size of a microbe and unaware of your existence. In another version, you work as a background character in other people’s dreams. Or you may find that God is a married couple, or that the universe is running backward, or that you are forced to live out your afterlife with annoying versions of who you could have been.  With a probing imagination and deep understanding of the human condition, acclaimed neuroscientist David Eagleman offers wonderfully imagined tales that shine a brilliant light on the here and now.  Even better, the narrators of this audiobook (including Stephen Fry,  Gillian Anderson, and Emily Blunt) are stellar at conveying the humor, insight, and emotion of Eagleman’s work.  You can also check out the book via this link.

From the Main Library, Reference Desk:

Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich: The Nazi regime preached an ideology of physical, mental, and moral purity. But as Norman Ohler reveals in this gripping new history, the Third Reich was saturated with drugs. On the eve of World War II, Germany was a pharmaceutical powerhouse, and companies such as Merck and Bayer cooked up cocaine, opiates, and, most of all, methamphetamines, to be consumed by everyone from factory workers to housewives to millions of German soldiers. In fact, troops regularly took rations of a form of crystal meth—the elevated energy and feelings of invincibility associated with the high even help to explain certain German military victories.  Drugs seeped all the way up to the Nazi high command and, especially, to Hitler himself. Over the course of the war, Hitler became increasingly dependent on injections of a cocktail of drugs—including a form of heroin—administered by his personal doctor. While drugs alone cannot explain the Nazis’ toxic racial theories or the events of World War II, Ohler’s investigation makes an overwhelming case that, if drugs are not taken into account, our understanding of the Third Reich is fundamentally incomplete.  In addition to being a terrific learning experience, this book is a pleasure to read, which isn’t an easy thing to say about all academic historical works!

We’ll see you next week, beloved patrons, with some more recommendations from our Best of 2017 Picks!