Tag Archives: Special Events

What are you doing (at the Library)?

It may still be winter, beloved patrons, but apparently we’ve gained over a half-hour of daylight a day since the Winter Solstice!  Meanwhile, we here at the Library have been busy putting together programs, events, and classes to help you learn, savor, and grow.  Here are just a few of the programs on offer in the month of March.  Be sure to check out our full Events Calendar for all the programs that are on offer.  And, as ever, don’t hesitate to tell us what kind of programs would be helpful to you–we are always open to new ideas and new programs!

To sign up for any of the events listed below (or any events listed in the full Events Calendar), you can go to www.peabodylibrary.org, or call us at (978) 531-0100.  Registration for these events begins tomorrow, February first.  We look forward to welcoming you to the Library soon!


At the Main Library:

Pleasure Grounds: Public Gardens Close to Home
Monday, March 5: 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Flowers and foliage in the dull days of March! This armchair tour showcases six public gardens within just 40 miles north of Boston—gardens with important history and significant horticultural elements. The audience will ‘meet” the ladies and gentlemen who created these gardens, including the Editor of The Atlantic Monthly magazine, a nephew of Isabella Stuart Gardener, and an heiress who gave away her entire fortune to historical and charitable endeavors. Antique photos are mixed with colorful images of perennial borders, rose gardens, allées and drives, woodland paths, tropical annuals, water features, statuary, and more.  North Shore native Gail Anderson is a trained horticulturist and has been researching and photographing these gardens for nearly 10 years. Gardens covered in the lecture include: Ropes Mansion, Salem; The House of the Seven Gables, Salem; Glen Magna Farms, Danvers; Sedgwick Gardens at Long Hill, Beverly; the Crane Estate at Castle Hill, Ipswich; and the Stevens Coolidge Place, North Andover.
This program is generously sponsored by the Friends of the Peabody Institute Libraries.

Digital Library Freebies – E-Books, Magazines, Music, Movies and More!
Saturday, March 24: 10:00am – 12:00pm

In this workshop, we’ll show you some of the awesome FREE digital entertainment content you can get with your library card! We’ll give you the highlights of various services the library offers to help you enjoy e-books, e-audio books, music, TV shows, digital magazines, movies, comics, and more!  Feel free to bring your own device. The library does have (5) laptops and a couple of tablets available if you need one! Some of these services will require an e-mail and most will require your library card to use and/or register. Bring your logins and library card to class.
This class will take place in a new location at the Main Library – Program Room – in the basement of the building. Please contact staff if you have any questions or need directions: (978) 531-0100
Please note: Registration for this class begins on March 1.

At the West Branch: 

DIY Aromatherapy Crafts and Beauty Recipes
Monday, March 19: 4:00pm – 5:00pm

Have you ever wanted to try making your own natural beauty products? Join us once a month through the spring and summer as we try a different recipe each month. We’ll make things like sugar scrubs, facial mists made with tea and essential oils, and aromatherapy eye pillows. All supplies will be provided.  Sign up for one session or multiples.  Please contact Linda if you have any questions or concerns about potential allergens (978-535-3354 x11).


At the South Branch: 

Adult Game Night at the South Branch
Thursday, March 15: 5:30pm – 8:30pm

Adults 18+ are invited to the library for a night of board games and card games! Bring your friends or other family members who are 18 years or older for light snacks, laughs, and fun! Enjoy more classic games like Chess, Scrabble, and Backgammon, or indulge in newer games such as Cards Against Humanity, What Do You Meme?, and Codenames. All snacks and games will be provided, but please feel free to bring your own along as well! Come for all three hours or any time in between. Space is limited and registration is required. Sign-ups will open one month prior to the event.

 Please note: Some of our games contain crude humor, strong language, or suggestive themes. For more information about this event, please call 978-531-3380 x11.

What Are You Doing (at the Library)?

As many of you know, dear readers, we strive to provide plenty of quality classes, events, and activities here at the Library, and though Winter keeps trying to thwart our plans, we have yet to be deterred from our goal!  Here’s a look at some of the events we have coming up in February for your delectation.  You can see the full list of events by checking out our Adult Events Calendar, our Children’s Room Calendar, and our Creativity Lab Calendar.

And, as always, our events are free for all.


At the Main Library:

iPad & iPhone Basics
Tuesday, February 13: 3:00pm – 5:00pm
Second Floor Tech Lab

In this 2-hour class, we’ll cover some of the basic functions of the Apple iPad & iPhone, including current operating system features and those on previous versions. We will explore basic set up of the device, touch screen gestures, your home screen, managing settings, privacy, and notifications, along with taking and storing/sharing photos, messaging, e-mail, apps, and additional functions as time allows.

Note: Please bring your iPhone or iPad if you want to follow along in class, as the library cannot provide devices to attendees.


At the Creativity Lab:

Digital Embroidery
Wednesday, February 24: 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Learn how to create your own custom embroidery with the Creativity Lab’s digital embroidery machine. This machine can take any digital image and stitch it into fabric. You can embroider a design of your own during the class, and afterward, you will be able to use the machine during any Open Lab session.

For ages 13-adult. Space is limited; please sign up in advance.


At the West Branch:

Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life of Art, Lecture and Slide Presentation with Meg Dall
Tuesday, February 6: 7:00pm – 8:00pm

For seven decades Georgia O’Keeffe was a major figure in American art. Remarkably she remained independent in her vision and finding the essentials in form, color, shape and light that illuminated her canvases. The images were drawn from her life experiences to places where she lived. The very landscape outside her window was the inspiration she drew from.  Come and see slides of O’Keeffe’s work as well as photographs of the artist and learn more about her life and work with Meg Dall.  Meg Dall is a teaching artist, who studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She is
Director of Young @Art, an art appreciation program, and a former docent at the Guggenheim Museum’s LEARNING THROUGH ART program, the Boston Public Library and at Boston College’s McMullen Museum (Klee exhibit). In the past she has taught an Enrichment program at the Marblehead Community Public School.
This program is generously sponsored by The Friends of the Peabody Institute Library. Please register in advance to reserve a space.

Heritage Films presents Revere Beach Story and Pleasure Island Park History
Wednesday, February 14: 1:00pm – 2:00pm

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 history of Revere Beach and Pleasure Island Park.

 

As always, if there is a program, event, or class you’d like to see at the Library, let us know!  We are, after all, here because of and for you!

Planning for Next Year…

Here at the Library, we’re already writing “2018”, as well plan our upcoming programs, classes, and workshops, and please believe me when I tell you it’s really super-duper confusing.  We shall persevere, however, because we have a terrific line-up of events at the Main Library, as well as the Branches, to help you start 2018 in the best way possible.  In fact, just check out a few of the programs on offer from our Events Calendar–are you looking to learn a new skill for the New Year?  Eager to learn how to use the new devices you got for a gift or on sale?  Looking to be carried away by a performance?  Look no further than your Library.

And, as always, if there is a program you would like to see, a class you would like to attend, or a new skill you’d like to learn, please let us know.  We are super excited about the programs we’re offering, but we’re even more excited to learn how we can best serve you, our beloved patrons!

Upcoming Events for January 2018:

At the Main Library:

Creating a Resume
Friday, January 12 & 19, 2018

In this 2-week workshop, we will talk about the basics of constructing a resume, common resume types and their differences, and how to get started with a document in Microsoft Word 2013. In week two of this workshop, we will continue working on creating Word resumes and provide formatting and content feedback, as well as additional helpful resources.  If you encouraged to bring your own laptop to this event.  The library has just (5) laptops available for use during class. Sign up soon, as space is limited!

At the Main Library:

Close Encounters With Music
Monday, January 22, 2018

Chamber ensemble Music at Eden’s Edge opens this four-part lecture/performance series, Close Encounters with Music, with ‘The View is Longer than the Sum of the Parts.’ Violinist Daniel Stepner joins Maria Benotti, violin and viola, and Lynn Nowels, cello, to offer an eclectic mix of string trios by the Mozarts (father and son), John Harbison, Beethoven and Zoltán Kodály. Sometimes a trio is much more than just three -in-one. Ramble with us and enjoy the view. The Close Encounters with Musicseries aims to deepen the music listening experience for audience members, from new listeners to committed music lovers, by offering context for and exploration of the music performed live.
Close Encounters with Music is generously supported by the Peabody Institute Library Foundation.

At the Creativity Lab:

3D Printer Training
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A 3D printer is a device that can make nearly any plastic object imaginable using only a digital model. This course will teach you how to use the Creativity Lab’s 3D printers to print models downloaded from the Internet. You will have the opportunity to print a model of your choosing during the course.  If you are interested in learning how to design your own models to be printed, also check out Basic Design for 3D Printing, which is held on the following week.  For ages 9-adult. Space is limited; please sign up. This course counts as training for use of the 3D printer during Open Lab (for ages 13+; ages 9+ allowed with adult supervision) and Teen Makers (for ages 11-18).


At the West Branch:

Jordan Marsh: New England’s Largest Store, a lecture with author Anthony Sammarco
Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Massachusetts-based author Anthony Sammarco will be giving a lecture on his latest book, Jordan Marsh: New England’s Largest Store. Come learn more about this fascinating piece of local history!   Mr. Sammarco will have books for sale (he can accept cash or check). Purchasing a book is not required to attend the lecture.  Please be sure to register in advance to reserve your space at this lecture!

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


 

Why Yes, You Can Do That At The Library…

Via Wibki

The days are definitely getting shorter, dear patrons, but there are plenty of ways to counter the darkness and the gloom of late autumn.  Here at the Library, we are keeping our schedule full of classes, workshops, and performances to help you think, learn, and explore.  Why not check out a few of the programs we have on offer in the coming weeks?  You can learn how to make some potential holiday gifts (or keep them for yourself.  We won’t judge at all.), try a new skill, or simply escape the hubbub out there for a little while and enjoy.  You can register for these events on our website, or call the Library offering the program to register in person.

And please note: these are only a few of the programs on offer at the Main Library and Branches.  You can check out the Events section of our website too see everything we offer.  And, as always, please  let us know if there is a program that you would like to see offered.  We are, after all, here for you!

West Branch Historical Adult Book Group
Thursday, November 9: 7:00pm – 8:30pm

Meetings are held at the West Branch Community Room the 2nd Thursday of every month at 7 pm.  New members welcome!  For additional information call (978) 535-3354.


Lyle Brewer Guitar Concert
Tuesday, November 14: 7:00pm-8:00pm
Lyle Brewer has been an integral part of the Boston music scene for over a decade. He has released six albums and has toured and recorded with dozens of artists. His guitar playing weaves effortlessly throughout a variety of musical styles, and his album, ‘Juno,”  made the Boston Globe’s list of Best Local Albums of 2015.
 
Lyle Brewer is on faculty in The Guitar Department at The Berklee College of Music. Currently he is working on a transcription book of his own music and a recording of two suites by Johann Sebastian Bach. He will perform original songs and classical music.  To register, please call (978) 531-0100
 
The Fall Concert Series is generously sponsored by the McCarthy Family Foundation and the Peabody Institute Library Foundation.

South Branch Super Sleuths Adult Book Group
Monday, December 4: 1:00pm-2:00pm

The South Branch welcomes adult members to the Super Sleuths Book Group the first Monday of every month from 1-2 p.m. New members are welcome!  For more information or to find out this month’s title, please call (978) 531-3380.


Introduction to Cold Process Soap Making
Tuesday, December 5: 10:00am – 12:00pm
Creating soap from scratch allows you the freedom to formulate bars specifically to meet your wants and needs. This presentation will go over a brief history and basic chemistry of soap making; necessary materials; supplies and equipment; safety considerations when working with sodium hydroxide; taking accurate measurements & proper mixing temperatures; coloring and scenting your soap; preparing your molds and molding options; and insulating, cutting, curing and storing your finished soap.
Presenter Jennifer Hofmann has been making soap for over eight years. She fell into it by accident, but once she made her first batch of soap she found she couldn’t stop…Jennifer makes and sells her own soaps and body products which have been featured on Etsy and can be found at many local farmers markets. Information can be found on her website: www.jennifersoap.com.  Jennifer has passed her Basic and Advance CP/HP Soapmaking Certification test. To register, please call (978) 531-0100

Managing Your Digital Mailbox
Saturday, December 9: 10:00am – 11:30am
In this class, we’ll talk about taming your e-mail.  We’ll cover managing, sorting, and organizing messages, searching your e-mail, sending messages and attachments, filtering, setting up contacts, folders, and more. To register, please call (978) 531-0100
 
Please Note:
  • The library has (5) laptops available for users, but you are welcome to bring your own device.  
  • This class is for active e-mail users. Please bring a valid e-mail address and password to class

 

What’s New For Fall?

But when fall comes,…it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.
(Stephen King, ‘Salem’s Lot)

Well, dear readers, I think it’s safe to say that it’s officially fall!  There’s a briskness to the morning air, and a chill note in the breeze.  There are caramel apples for sale, and apples by the peck to be had over at Brooksby Farm (they are scrumptious!).  There is pumpkin-spice…everything, and maple sugar candy.

So, in the spirit of the season, why not think about turning over a new leaf at the Library this month, and take part in some of our fantastical programming?  Get it?  Leaf…?  …Anyways, we’ve got some great learning opportunities, creative outlets, and artistic adventures on tap this month–and every single one of them are free!  Take a look at the events calendars on our website and register for some of our super-terrific offerings, or give us a call and we can assist you with registration.

To whet your appetite, here is a highlight of some of the events scheduled for the coming weeks:

Intro to Fiction Writing: 4-Week Class

Beginning: Friday, October 6, 9:30am

Everyone has a story (or two…or three…) to tell.  But it can be difficult to find the time, the motivation, or the tools to get that story out into the world.  There are still a few spots left in our four-week beginners’ writing class, designed to help you outline, plot, and begin the process of writing a piece of fiction.
We will begin by discussing forms and genres, in order to help participants frame their work, and then we will discuss writing methods and practices, so that your writing can continue to flourish long after the class is completed.  Each class will feature some free-writing time as well as group critiques and discussions.  Some work in between classes will be expected, especially as your fiction begins to develop.  Bring something with which to write–a notebook and pen, laptop, tablet, whatever works best for you!
No experience is necessary—first time writers are welcomed and encouraged!
Registration for this workshop will sign you up for all (4) weeks of the series.

West Branch: Drift Wood, Stone Circles, Three Canoes, a Lost Lighthouse and a Piano: Stories of Collaboration and Engaging the Public

Tuesday, October 10, 7:00pm

This presentation will be given by Victor Mastone, Director and Chief Archaeologist of the Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources of Massachusetts…When the public thinks about underwater archaeology, they generally picture intact shipwrecks, pirate treasures and mystery. I have never dealt with the first, unfortunately had to deal with the second, but constantly court the third. As archaeologists and resource stewards we are all familiar with mystery. We nearly always face that when we first approach a shipwreck site. ‘What ship is this? I don’t know. I need to investigate.’ At various points, we turn outward to colleagues and the public to find answers. The process of addressing this question becomes a form of collaboration and means to engage the public.  While Massachusetts waters hold about 3,500 shipwrecks, we have a diverse range of submerged cultural resources encompassing now submerged Native American sites, maritime industry structures, bridges, and aircraft. The Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources depends on the active involvement of and collaboration with the public to identify, evaluate, and protect these non-renewable resources. This presentation describes the state’s diversity of archaeological resources and various ways the public is engaged in their study.


Film Screening: I Am An American Dream

Tuesday, October 24, 6:30pm

A film by A Light Storm Studios, I Am An American Dream shines a light on the collective misunderstanding of differences among Americans while also highlighting our collective American Dream. This program will include a full screening of the film followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Andrew DeCola.
Andrew DeCola, founder of A Light Storm Studios, prides himself on works of art that serve not just his own personal creativities but also a larger social purpose. Through both music and film Andrew aims to both enlighten and educate.

South Branch: Bay State Phantoms

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Just in time for Halloween, join us at the South Branch for a talk about the phantoms of Massachusetts. New England folklorist John Horrigan provides an amusing historical overview of paranormal events, sightings of odd creatures and strange happenings from 1630-2010. Topics include (but not limited to): Bridgewater Triangle, Red-Headed Hitchhiker of Rt. 44, Dover Demon, Bridgewater Bigfoot, Gloucester Sea Serpent, UFO sightings and the Lady in Black.  John Horrigan is a historian, 5-time Emmy (TM) winner and host of the TV show, The Folklorist and has been called a ‘vanguard of the new popular public history.’
This program is free and open to the public, but space is limited and registration is required. To reserve your free spot, please register online, in person, or by calling 978-531-3380.


Back to School!

For all of you who are beginning a new academic year…or have already started!…we at the Library wish you a fulfilling, successful, and brain-expanding school year!  We’ll be here for all your study-related needs, from reference and citation help to computers, from study guides to study breaks.  In fact, how about you take a look at our super-terrific events calendar and find some new (FREE) opportunities to learn new skills, expand your creativity, and discover new fun!

Here are some of the programs being held at the Main Library and our Branches over the coming weeks that still have room just for you!


How to Work Your Network – North Shore Career Center Workshop, September 21
1:30 – 3:00pm, Second Floor Tech Lad (Main Library)

Provided by the expert staff from the North Shore Career Center, these career workshops are offered to assist job seekers whether they’re beginning the hunt, well along the path, or contemplating a career change. This is part of a series offered at the Library that has included classes on Occupational Skills, Resume Writing, and Interviewing practices.  Workshops occur on specific Thursdays, beginning July 13th; all classes begin promptly at 1:30 pm and go until 3:00pm.

Participants can sign up for  workshops with the North Shore Career Center by calling (978) 825-7200.

North Sea Gas Concert, September 25
7:00 – 8:00pm, Sutton Room (Main Library)

North Sea Gas is one of Scotland’s most popular folk bands with great vocals and tremendous three part harmonies. Guitars, mandolin, fiddle, bouzouki, harmonica, whistles, bodhrans, banjo and good humour are all part of the entertainment. They have received Gold and Silver Disc awards from the Scottish Music Industry Association and regularly have sold out shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  They have released 19 albums with ‘Fire in the Glen’ being the most recent and are constantly adding new material to their shows. Their prior album, ‘The Fire and the Passion of Scotland’ won the 2013 Album of the Year award from Celtic Radio in the U.S. as well as first place in the ‘Jigs and Reels’ category for the set of tunes on the album.   This concert is part of our Fall Concert Series, and is generously sponsored by the McCarthy Family Foundation and the Peabody Institute Library Foundation.


Crime Lab Case Files with Paul Zambella, October 5
6:30 – 8:30pm
South Branch Library

Calling all true crime enthusiasts! The South Branch is pleased to welcome Paul Zambella who will be here to discuss some of the most infamous cases he worked on as a forensic scientist for the -Massachusetts State Police. He will focus on how forensic evidence was instrumental in assisting prosecutors in securing convictions for such gruesome cases as a brother and sister murdered at the hands of two teenage boys, the fatal stabbing of a young girl by her boyfriend, the torture and murder of a young man kept prisoner in his home and the revenge killing of a man who was asleep in his motel room.  Paul Zambella was a Forensic Scientist for the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory for 36 years.  Hehas taught courses on forensic science at Northeastern and Salem State Universities and Hesser College in addition to several lectures throughout the state.

These true crime tales are not for the faint of heart; this program is recommended for high-school age students through adults.  This  program is free and open to the public, but space is limited and registration is required. To reserve your free spot, please register online, in person or by calling 978-531-3380.

This presentation will be given by Victor Mastone, Director and Chier Archaeologist of the Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources of Massachusetts.

When the public thinks about underwater archaeology, they generally picture intact shipwrecks, pirate treasures and mystery. I have never dealt with the first, unfortunately had to deal with the second, but constantly court the third. As archaeologists and resource stewards we are all familiar with mystery. We nearly always face that when we first approach a shipwreck site. ‘What ship is this? I don’t know. I need to investigate.’ At various points, we turn outward to colleagues and the public to find answers. The process of addressing this question becomes a form of collaboration and means to engage the public.   The Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources depends on the active involvement of and collaboration with the public to identify, evaluate, and protect these non-renewable resources. This presentation describes the state’s diversity of archaeological resources and various ways the public is engaged in their study.

 

Five Book Friday!

And once again, beloved patrons, we arrive at another Friday, and another round-up of some of the fascinating books that are frolicking on our shelves, eager to go along with you on a weekend adventure.

Internationa_Festival_2016

And speaking of this weekend, don’t forget to stop by the International Festival this Sunday, September 11, from 12-6pm!  There will be plenty of entertainment, activities, arts, and, naturally, a smörgåsbord of food from Greece, Brazil, China, Poland, Portugal, to name only a few.  And lastly, don’t miss your chance to visit the Friends of the Library Booth, where you may just have a chance to meet the remarkable Lady Pole in person!  Free Parking & a Shuttle service will be available from Higgins Middle School or Northshore Mall parking lot (by East Boston Savings Bank).  Look for the Council on Aging Vans with International Festival Signs, and have a safe, wonderful, and delicious time!

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3757349The NixThis book has been gracing any number of “Best of 2016” lists, and getting rave reviews from critics, authors, and readers alike.  A Nix, in Norwegian folklore, often appears as a white horse, and steals away children.  In Nathan Hill’s debut novel, a ‘Nix’ is anything that is loved–and lost.  For Samuel Andresen-Anderson, college professor and would-be writer, that ‘Nix’ is his mother, who abandoned him when he was a child, and, in 2011, suddenly re-appears, the alleged perpetrator of an outlandish crime that is attracting national media attention.  Though his mother is being portrayed as a radical, amoral hippie, Samuel has always held a memory of a kind, young, and very, very ordinary woman–so which version of his mother is true?  To find out, he embarks on a journey into his family’s past, from the Chicago riots in 1968 to Norway, and the mythical Nix itself, resulting in a big, sprawling, and emotionally impactful book that earned a starred review from Kirkus, which called it a “sparkling, sweeping debut novel that takes in a large swath of recent American history and pop culture and turns them on their sides. . . .A grand entertainment, smart and well-paced, and a book that promises good work to come.”

3773362The Pigeon Tunnel: John Le Carré created the Cold War spy novel, raising espionage from the land of magazine tales and pulp novels and crafting a genre that is still selling millions of copies today.  This newest release is his first memoir, detailing a life that seems equally as interesting and surprising as any of his fiction.   Le Carré himself worked for British Intelligence during the Cold War, and, both in that capacity and in his literary work, has travelled to some of the most extreme places, and met with some of the most extraordinary people (and parrots), on earth (the parrot could perfectly mimic machine gun fire and sing the opening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at will, in case you were wondering).  From Rwandan genocide museums to meetings with international heads of state, from preparing television adaptations to living in a bunker with a female German terrorist,  Le Carré’s incisive, insightful style brings each of these tales to life in a way that will make you think you, too, have acquired all the stamps he has in his passport.  Publisher’s Weekly agrees, saying, “Always insightful, frequently charming, and sometimes sobering, the memorable tales told by master storyteller le Carré about his life will surely delight both longtime fans and newcomers.”

3772824The FortunesPeter Ho Davies’ newest book re-imagines America’s history through the eyes of Chinese immigrants, a group of people who had an enormous and crucial impact on American culture and society, but whose story is so seldom considered in literature.  Intertwining the tale of four lives: a railroad baron who unwittingly launches the Chinese Labor Movement to a Chinese actress who is forbidden from kissing white men on public or on screen, to a hate-crime victim whose death mobilizes other immigrants, to a biracial writer who travels to China in the hopes of adopting a baby, this Davies spins stories that are heavily influenced by actual historic events, and deals with issues of identity and community, belonging and isolation, loss and hope in a way that is beautfully empathetic and relatable, not to mention surprisingly funny and genuinely touching.  Publisher’s Weekly also loved this book, giving it a starred review and cheering, “The book’s scope is impressive, but what’s even more staggering is the utter intimacy and honesty of each character’s introspection. More extraordinary still is the depth and the texture created by the juxtaposition of different eras, making for a story not just of any one person but of hundreds of years and tens of millions of people. Davies…has created a brilliant, absorbing masterpiece.”

3788996True Believer: Stalin’s Last American Spy: Noel Field was a British-born American who moved back to the US following his father’s death, and attended Harvard University.  He was hired by the U.S. State Department in the late 1920’s, and went to work for the League of Nations in 1936.  This was around the same time that he began working as an operative with the Soviet NKVD.  A devout Communist and staunch believer in the Soviet Union, Fields was arrested in 1949 by the Soviets, interrogated, tortured, and held for five years in solitary confinement.  Nevertheless, he remained devoted to the Communist cause until his death in 1970.  In this new biography, Kati Marton not only details Fields’ startling life, but also analyzes his beliefs, trying to understand what makes a person so loyal to a cause that has treated him with such inhumanity.  The result is a powerful and engaging book that is proving a hit with critics and readers alike.  Library Journal also notes that “Marton’s own parents were the only Western journalists to ever interview Field and his wife, Herta Field. . . . The conspiracy, subterfuge, and cataclysmic destruction of Field’s family and friends are all addressed in this well-researched book.”

3788978We Eat Our OwnIn 1980, an Italian horror film called Cannibal Holocaust, which tells the story of a documentary film team that traveled to the Amazon to find cannibalistic tribes, and was widely thought to be a ‘snuff film’ (a film where the murders or suicides portrayed are real), and which is still banned in many places.  Kea Wilson’s debut novel takes that film as inspiration to tell the story of a down-and-out actor who gratefully (and a little desperately) accepts a job for a film being made in South America.  But he never dreams of the very real dangers that lurk around the set, from the area’s dyng economy, drug traffikers and guerilla fighters to the jungle that surrounds the cast and crew.  Playing with concepts of time and identity and truth, Wilson’s book has been making quite a splash already, with Kirkus Reviews noting ” Wilson shows impressive command of a narrative that weaves back and forth and back again in both time and locale; much like the viewer of a pseudo-documentary horror movie (ever seen The Blair Witch Project?), you wonder throughout whether you should trust whatever it is you’re told—and jumping to the end won’t help at all. You shouldn’t anyway, because Wilson’s writing style is hypnotic, tightly wound, and harrowingly evocative of the story’s stifling, bug-heavy atmosphere. Even the sunniest skies of this ill-starred shoot are thick with menace and portent. Keep telling yourself, ‘It’s only a novel, it’s only a novel'”.

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!