Tag Archives: Library News

Dreaming of September…

Did someone say September?

Image result for september

Personally, each and every one of us here agrees that we seemed to have slipped into a time vortex, and we are completely unable to account for the swiftness with which September is approaching.  Professionally, however, we have been hard at work planning events, classes, concerts, and other programs here at the Library for you, beloved patrons.  With the start of a new school year comes the potential for lots of learning, fun, and new beginnings, and we look forward to welcoming you to the Library for these events, and the many others listed on our website, soon!  Registration is open for these events, so please call or go online to secure your place!

As always, please let us know what kinds of programs you would like to see offered here.  We constantly try to meet the needs of the community, and your input is vital to ensuring we achieve that goal!


At the Main Library:

Monday, September 10, 6:00 – 7:30pm: All About Social Networking: Social Media Services and What’s Right for You

One of the easiest ways to stay in touch with friends and family is through social media. In this class we’ll walk you through the most popular social networks and talk about which ones are best for you.  Feel free to bring your own smartphone and laptop or just follow along.


In the Creativity Lab:

Tuesday, September 4 & 11, 6:30 – 8:30pm: Sew a Personalized Wallet

No sewing experience necessary. In this two-session class, you will sew a fabric wallet from scratch. You will also learn how to make it yours with a custom embroidery design that will be stitched into the front. Fabric and sewing machines will be provided, but you may bring your own if you wish.  This class is for ages 13-adult. Space is limited and sign up is required. Signing up for the first class session automatically registers you for the full two-session class.

At the West Branch:

Tuesday, September 18, 1:00 – 3:00pm: Eco Jewelry Making Workshop

Green Art Workshop Presents Eco Jewelry Making!  Discover how to upcycle paper, metal, and natural objects into one-of-a-kind decor and wearable art! Play with your favorite eco-friendly materials and design earrings, a pendant, necklace, or bring an accessory to adorn. Please register in advance as space is limited to 15 participants. There is no charge and all materials will be provided, unless you want to bring an accessory of your own to adorn.

This program is made possible through the generous support of the Friends of the Peabody Institute Library.


At the South Branch: 

Tuesday, September 25, 6:30pm – 8:30pm: peabody Recreation Department Fall Painting Program

The Peabody Institute Library’s South Branch will host Peabody Parks & Recreation Department’s Fall art class taught by Jeanette Lerner.  This session will run 6 weeks on Tuesdays, September 25, October 2 & 30th, and November 6, 13, and 20 from 6:30-8:30pm. For more information or to register, please contact the Peabody Parks and Recreation Department at 978-536-0600.

 

Getting Ready For School? We’re Ready to Help! (Part 1)

First and foremost, our apologies for the deafening silence on this blog in the past few days.  We were getting over a bit of summer sickness, and appreciate your patience with us a great deal.

We’re back, and, no doubt like many of you, getting ready for the all the back-to-school fun.  There’s no joy quite like a new box of crayons for the first day of school–but there’s also a lot of stress and anxiety around heading back to school, too.  That’s true no matter how old you are, how long you have been a student, or where you go to class.

The good news is that, as with nearly all things, the Library is here to help!

We’ve already mentioned the Library’s subscription to Tutor.com, which provides on-demand, one-to-one tutoring in an online classroom for students in kindergarten through college in over 60 academic subjects and test preparation areas, including the ACT and SAT.  It’s a phenomenal resource that can help students in any grade.  Today, we’re eager to feature a class that might very well prove helpful to those who may be writing research papers in the coming school year, and would like to learn more about the process and the resources available to you as Library patrons.  Here’s the course description:


Intro to Research and Writing

Writing a research paper can feel feel scary and overwhelming, but having the right tools and skills at your disposal can help make the process clear, and aid you in making the grade with confidence.  

This 2-week class is for students of all ages who are looking to acquire or enhance their research and academic writing skills for any class or academic program.

We will begin by looking at the physical and digital resources available through the library to help you assemble the facts, data, and sources necessary to write a strong paper.  We will then discuss how to construct a research paper, including building a strong thesis statement, crafting a persuasive argument, and citing your sources correctly. We will also brainstorm some effective writing strategies and support methods for students to help make the research and writing process as easy and low-stress as possible.


This course will be held at the Main Library on Monday, September 17 & 24, from 6:00 – 7:30pm.  As mentioned in the description, students of all ages and from any academic discipline are welcome–as are patrons looking to brush up on the research and writing skills.  Registration is now open on our website, or you can call us are (978) 531-0100 to register by phone.

We hope this class, and the other resources that we’ll be featuring in the coming weeks will prove useful to those of you heading back to school, supporting a student, or looking to learn more for yourself alone.  Please let us know what else we can do to make your academic life more easy, too!

Tutor.com, or Yes! You can do that with your Library Card!

It’s That Time of year, dear readers, when the back-to-school-scramble begins.  The rush to finish summer reading or assignments, find school supplies, and mentally prepare for the coming school year.  For some, it’s exciting–and rightfully so!  But it can also be a very stressful time of year–which is also completely valid.  Trying to anticipate all the coming school year might have in store isn’t easy.

Fortunately, as in so many other matters, the Library is here to help.

We’ve recently added Tutor.com to our collection of digital resources.  Tutor.com provides on-demand, one-to-one tutoring in an online classroom for students in kindergarten through college in over 60 academic subjects and test preparation areas, including the ACT and SAT.  The Tutor.com Learning Suite also includes practice quizzes, skills drills, video lessons and The Princeton Review Essentials test preparation. Tutors are available Monday-Friday 2-10 pm and Saturday & Sunday 9 am – 10 pm.

This resource is available to Peabody residents with Peabody library cards.  For those of you lovely people who aren’t Peabody residents, please check with your home library for further information and resources.

In order to access Tutor.com from our website, please use the following steps (you can click on the pictures to enlarge them, too).

Go to www.peabodylibrary.org and hover over the “eLibrary” tab.  Click on “Articles/Databases”

Scroll down through our list of databases until you see Tutor.com (this list is in alphabetical order):

This will open a screen that will prompt you to enter your Peabody Library Card number:

You will be brought to the Tutor.com homepage.  From here, you can chose a number of options, from submitting a paper for review to asking for help with a math problem, to preparing for the SAT and ACT tests.  

We hope that this resource helps make your school year a stress-free and successful one.  Please let us know how we can better help you, or if we can answer any questions you might have about Tutor.com!

The Furor Over Forbes; or Why Amazon Should Not Replace Libraries

Pardon me while I climb on my soapbox…

We eagerly look forward to bringing your our regularly scheduled Staff Summer Reading Selections later on this week, beloved patrons.  However, there are some times when we need to interrupt our regular routine to really have a go at some privileged absurdity on the internet.

This past Saturday, Forbes magazine published an online editorial by LIU Post economist Panos Mourdoukoutas entitled “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money.”

Via iHeartRadio

According to the (grossly misinformed) piece, doing away with libraries would save taxpayers’ money, while concurrently raising the price of Amazon stock.  According to the piece, Amazon should open its doors (meaning its brick-and-mortar bookstores) to the public, and thus obliterate the need for public libraries; thus reducing the cost to taxpayers, who don’t use the library because they are (allegedly) sitting in Starbucks.

We’re not linking to the piece for two reasons.  First, Forbes took the piece off its site (you can find it, and lots of analyses of it, floating around the internet).  Secondly, we believe in good information here and the library.  And this article did not contain good information about libraries, their purposes, or their use to the community.  It is a pleasure to see how many other websites, news outlets, libraries, publishers, and individuals have gathered together to defend libraries, and emphasize the good that they do.  But we’re adding our voice to this chorus nonetheless, because disinformation makes us sad.  And angry.  And like writing a blog post about it.

First of all (and it’s really rather tragic that someone had to point this out to a grown-up person), Amazon is not a Library.  It is a store.  Moreover, it is a store that is stocked and run by analytics.  Which means it only stocks best-sellers and other such high-interest titles.  So finding an obscure or older title?  Most likely not going to happen.  Quality control?  Not much.  Also, you cannot take books out of an Amazon store unless you hand over money.  Libraries allow you to take out books (and cd’s and dvd’s and other media equipment and physical items) by virtue of you living within the bounds of a specific community.

Do your taxes pay for the library?  Yes, in part, they do.   According to the 2018 Peabody Fiscal Report, the Main Library receives approximately 1% of the total city budget.  We also receive money from the state and the federal government, as well–just like most libraries across the country.  And we make that money work for us and for you, by investing in paper-and-ink books, ebooks, dvds, streaming services, digital subscriptions, and other technology that you and many, many other people can access on-site and remotely.
Do you know who doesn’t pay their taxes?  Amazon.*

But, sarcasm aside, there are two major, fundamental problem about thinking that Amazon can ever replace a library: First, Amazon is a private company.  It is designed to make money; not to serve a community.  A side note worth making is that Amazon’s presence in a city has a direct and distinctly negative effect on the way-of-life of its residence.  Due to the rise of housing prices near Amazon warehouses, and a lack of corresponding pay for employees, there have been numerous reports of Amazon employees forced to live in tents near the warehouse in order to survive.   This is somewhat an aside, but it is important to remember in terms of the kind of community Amazon fosters.

Which brings us to the most important things that Mourdoukoutas’ piece ignored.

His argument mentioned that people were more likely to go to a bookstore/coffee shop (pardon, a brand name bookstore or coffee shop, like Amazon and/or Starbucks) to do their work.  Which inherently assumes that people have their own access to the tools they need to do that work, such as a laptop computer, tablet, or phone.  This implies that people know the work they need to or should be doing.  It assumes that people can afford to sit in a place of commerce, like a bookstore or coffee shop.  It seems to forget how problematic and downright dangerous such places have proven for community members in the past.  And it absolutely overlooks the realities of life for many members of our community, and others, as well.

A 2017 joint report by internet industry trade group Wireless Broadband Alliance and research firm IHS Markit stated that about 44% of people on average living in rural areas in the U.S., as well as a number of other developed nations don’t have access to or can’t afford broadband internet.  All told, that’s approximately 62 million Americans in urban centers and 16 million in rural locations who can’t access fast internet.  We in Massachusetts are more fortunate than most, living in the 5th most connected state in the country.  But that still means that some 3,000 people in Essex County are completely without wired internet access.  The cost of living in Peabody is more than 12% above the national average, meaning that we pay more for our services, our housing, and our food, than many others–meaning it is more difficult to afford luxuries and non-necessary items and services.  The unemployment rate in Peabody (as of October 2017) was 5.7%.

The people mentioned in these statistics–those not connected to the internet, those unable to afford items like computers or tablets or smartphones, those without jobs or in between jobs–those are the people that libraries are specifically designed to assist.  Those are the very people that private stores intentionally ignore.

Libraries are institutions of conscious equity.  They ensure that the underprivileged, the unemployed, and the ignored have a place to go, and access to the resources necessary to improve their lives; from a glass of water and a bathroom, to access learning materials and job applications, to a place to study for an exam or finish an important report.  We offer homework assistance for students so that they have the opportunity to shape their future to their own dreams.  We provide language assistance for non-English speakers so that they can communicate effectively in whatever situations they encounter.  We offer safe spaces for children to learn and play.  We offer activity and discussions for the elderly.   We connect people to the material they need to learn, be entertained, and feel validated as people.  We ensure that everyone in our community has a place to belong, regardless of their ability to pay for it.  Libraries are the absolute antithesis to the capitalist, for-profit business model that Professor Mourdoukoutas describes, that relies on a privileged elite to function.  And that is precisely why they are so revolutionary, so necessary, and so popular.

This is not a slogan. It’s the honest-to-goodness truth.

As this article from Quartz Media noted, the link to Professor Mourdoukoutas’ article was active at 10am, and had garnered some 200,000 views.  By 11am, it had been removed, in the wake of a full-bodied internet revolt.  According to a statement from a Forbes spokesperson, “Forbes advocates spirited dialogue on a range of topics, including those that often take a contrarian view…Libraries play an important role in our society. This article was outside of this contributor’s specific area of expertise, and has since been removed.”

You know how you can get better informed about these things?  Go to the Library.  Even you, Professor Mourdoukoutas, would be welcome.  It sounds like you could really benefit from a visit to an actual library before you produce any more opinions about them.


* While we made have taken a bit of a stand against Amazon here, we don’t want to negatively influence the way you spend your hard-earned funds.  But if you do feel like helping out your beloved local library in any way, when you make your purchases via Amazon, feel free to go to the Amazon Smile page and direct your donation to go to the Friends of the Peabody Library, as shown below:

Thank you for your support!

Five Book Friday!

And a helpful note, beloved patrons…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

Planning for June…

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

Via colorfully.eu

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

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

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

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

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


At the Main Library:

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

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

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


In the Creativity Lab:

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

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

At the West Branch:

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

Calling fans of westerns and movie buffs!  Come join us for a 40 minute film presentation by local historian and film maker Dan Tremblay of Heritage Films! This particular film will focus on the Wagon Trails and the Legacy of the Old West.

Also at the West Branch…

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

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

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


At the South Branch:

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

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

Five Book Friday!

Don’t forget, beloved patrons–tomorrow is PILCON, the Peabody Institute Library’s 2nd Annual all-ages Comic Con!  The event is 100% free to all, and the day will be chock full of exciting and creative workshops, crafts, and hear presentations by artists, podcasters, and gamers for all ages.   You can learn more (and reserve your free tickets at the PILCON website!   We look forward to seeing you there!

And even while PILCON is underway, there will be any number of new books, movies, music, and audiobooks for you to enjoy.  Here are just a few of the new books that flew on to our shelves this week that are eager to have an adventure with you!

Ursula K. Le Guin : Conversations on Writing: The world lost an enormous talent when Ursula K. Le Guin left us this past January.  But her works and her words live on.  In this insightful, funny, and delightfully varied series of interviews with David Naimon, Le Guin discussed the craft, aesthetics, and philosophy in her fiction, poetry, and nonfiction respectively, as well as  the genre wars, the patriarchy, the natural world, and what, in her opinion, makes for great writing.  With excerpts from her own books and those that she looked to for inspiration, this volume is a treat for Le Guin’s longtime readers, a perfect introduction for those first approaching her writing, and a tribute to her incredible life and work.  Publisher’s Weekly penned an lovely review of this book, calling it “An enlightening conversation about the writing process. Both authors adopt the tone of artisans discussing their craft, and each’s delight at debating with a like-minded professional is evident throughout. . . [Le Guin’s] expansive knowledge of the SF genre provides, most strikingly, a sharp perspective on how its female practitioners have too often been forgotten in favor of their male contemporaries. Her rapport with Naimon results in an exchange that is both informative and charming.”

The Life of Mark Twain: And speaking of great writers, we are also pleased to present the first in Gary Scharnhorst’s new three-part biography of Samuel Longhorn Clemens, perhaps known better as Mark Twain.  This installment cover  Clemens’s life in Missouri, along the Mississippi River, and in the West, using recently-discovered and under-used documents from private and public archives around the country.  This is only the beginning of a series that is already being hailed as a definitive and masterful biography of a man whose influence on American literature is still being felt and discussed to this day.  Many Twain biographers have contributed positive blurbs for Scharnhorst’s work, including Bruce Michelson, author of Printer’s Devil: Mark Twain and the American Publishing Revolution, who said, “With the facts about Sam Clemens’s life scattered through countless volumes and archives, we have long needed a biography that brings them together, winnowing out the myths, and telling the true story with clarity and grace. Gary Scharnhorst has taken up this prodigious task, and as a veteran Mark Twain scholar still at the top of his game, he’s certainly right for the challenge. Clear and engaging, Scharnhorst’s prose keeps you rolling happily through this consummate American adventure.”

Tin Man: Tender, heartfelt, and beautifully engaging, Susan Winman’s newest novel is sort of a love story…but only sort of.  Ellis and Michael are twelve-year-old boys when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of overbearing fathers. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more.  But then we fast-forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question: What happened in the years between?  The answer lies in a story that is emotional and eloquent, and speaks to how we let ourselves as humans love.  This is a book that is charming readers and reviewers alike, and earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, who called it “[An] achingly beautiful novel about love and friendship…Without sentimentality or melodrama, Winman stirringly depicts how people either interfere with or allow themselves and others to follow their hearts.”

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century: True crime devotees, history fans, and and naturalists alike will find something to savor in this compelling, bizarre tale of passion and theft.  On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London’s Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin’s obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins—some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin’s, and escaped into the darkness.  Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist high in a river in northern New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide told him about the heist. He was soon consumed by the strange case of the feather thief: what would drive someone to such a theft–and what had happened to him after the crime?  In his search for answers, Johnson was catapulted into worldwide investigation over the course of several years.  He reveals all in this fast-paced, thoroughly well-told tale that has reviewers around the globe delighted.  In fact, the Christian Science Monitor called it “One of the most peculiar and memorable true-crime books ever. . . . Johnson is an intrepid journalist . . . [with] a fine knack for uncovering details that reveal, captivate, and disturb.”

Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor, an Island, and the Voyage that Brought a Family TogetherYou might know Nathaniel Philbrick as the award-winning author of such works as In the Heart of the Sea and Bunker Hill, but he is also a national sailing champion, and in this book, he tells his own tale about trying to reclaim his title.  In the spring of 1992, Nat Philbrick was in his late thirties, living with his family on Nantucket, longing for that thrill of victory he once felt after winning a national sailing championship in his youth. Determined to find that thrill again, Philbrick earned the approval of his wife and children, and used the off-season on the island as his solitary training ground.  He sailed his tiny Sunfish to Nantucket’s remotest corners, experiencing the haunting beauty of its tidal creeks, inlets, and wave-battered sandbars. On ponds, bays, rivers, and finally at the championship on a lake in the heartland of America, he sailed through storms and memories, racing for the prize.  But, as with all good stories, this isn’t just about championships and competition.  This is a book about self-discovery and life-changing revelations that sailing fans, nature lovers, and those in need of a good story can all enjoy.  Booklist agrees, noting in its review, “Describing his races tack-by-tack and gust-by-gust, Philbrick crosses the finish line with sure-to-be satisfied readers interested in sailing and the personal life of this highly popular author.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–Happy Reading, and we hope to see you at PILCON!