Tag Archives: Staff Favorites

Summer Staff Selections!

Now that summer is definitely upon us (definitely here this time around–it’s baking hot out there!), it’s time once again for the Free-For-All to share with you some of our lovely staff’s selections for summer reading!

We are a staff of diverse reading/listening/viewing habits, which makes these posts so much fun.  There is such a wide range of books and media that our staff enjoy that there is bound to be something in here to help make your summer that much more entertaining!  And so, without further ado, here is our fifth round of Staff Selections:

From the Reference Desk:

Advise and Consent by Allen Drury

Russian spies, government corruption, and collusion in the United States government?  It’s not CNN.  It’s Allen Drury’s seminal 1959 Cold War novel.  The intrigue swarms around the confirmation of prominent liberal political Robert Leffingwell to the position of Secretary of State…a man who is backed by the Communist Party.  Though the nomination is supposed to be a quick, sure-fire thing, several politicians have grave doubts about Leffingwell’s character, leading to a race-aginst-time investigation.  Advise and Consent was the first in a series that continues these themes of Cold War intrigue, and are sure to grip your attention!

From the Children’s Room

Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block

The Weetzie Bat books broke new ground with their stylized, lyrical prose and unflinching look at the inner life of teens.  This collection brings together the five luminous novels of the series, allowing readers to revel in the full saga of these interwoven and magic lives.  These postmodern fairy tales take us to a Los Angeles brimming with magical realism: a place where life is a mystery, pain can lead to poetry, strangers become intertwined souls, and everyone is searching for the most beautiful and dangerous angel of all: love.  Block’s quirky, lush descriptions make this story into something utterly divine.

Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart

In this darkly fascinating book, Amy Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations, compiling an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. You’ll learn which plants to avoid (like exploding shrubs), which plants make themselves exceedingly unwelcome (like the vine that ate the South), and which ones have been killing for centuries (like the weed that killed Abraham Lincoln’s mother).  Menacing botanical illustrations and splendidly ghastly drawings create a fascinating portrait of the evildoers that may be lurking in your own backyard. This is a book that will enchant (and chill) nature lovers, scientists, and gardeners alike!

From the Upstairs Offices:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

It’s the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, and there is a lot of discussion swirling about her works, their meaning, and Austen’s place in the world of letters.  So why not take this opportunity to enjoy (or enjoy again) one of her most beloved novels–one of the most popular novels in English literature and the foundation of some of the most beloved tropes in romance?  This book is a favorite with a number of our staff, so let their combined wisdom be your guide!

Summer Staff Selections!

Now that summer is definitely (I think it’s fair to say definitely now, don’t you?)  upon us, it’s time once again for the Free-For-All to share with you some of our lovely staff’s selections for summer reading!

We are a staff of diverse reading/listening/viewing habits, which makes these posts so much fun.  There is such a wide range of books and media that our staff enjoy that there is bound to be something in here to help make your summer that much more entertaining!  And so, without further ado, here is our fifth round of Staff Selections:

From the Circulation Desk:

The Meat Cake Bible by Dame Darcy

Dame Darcy is an artist of many and varied talents: musician, actress, fortune teller, dollmaker, Gen X/feminist icon, and last but not least, cartoonist to the core, delighting readers with her neo-Victorian horror/romance/humor comic Meat Cake.  This collection brings together her delightful (and occasionally gruesome) fairy tales and the Meat Cake comics, featuring Effluvia the Mermaid, the roguish roué Wax Wolf, Igpay the Pig-Latin pig, Stregapez (a women who speaks by dispensing Pez-like tablets through a bloody hole in her throat), the mischievous Siamese twins Hindrance and Perfidia, Scampi the Selfish Shellfish, the stalwart Friend the Girl, and the blonde bombshell Richard Dirt.  Take a peek inside this tiny little fun house and discover all the marvelous treats inside!  Voluminous, quirky, dense and delightful!

From the Reference Desk:

The Last Hack by Christopher Brookmyre

Since we were talking about this series earlier this week, it seemed like a good time to let you know that this book (and this series) are some of the most engrossing, bizarre, and twisty mysteries you can find.  I truly loved this eighth installment, in which we learn the true identity of a character whose had a major influence on this series–but this time, the hacker known as Buzzkill is facing blackmail, and is calling in every favor that Jack Parlabane owes in order to secure his help in a massive industrial espionage attempt.  And when they realize they have both been played and set up for murder, an attempted break-in becomes a manhunt that could cost Parlabane everything he has fought to recover–and could cost Buzzkill even more.

Tim’s Vermeer, a Penn & Teller film featuring Tim Jenison

Tim Jenison, a Texas-based inventor, attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all art: How did seventeenth century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer manage to paint so photo-realistically, 150 years before the invention of photography? Spanning ten years, his adventure takes him to Delft, Holland, where Vermeer painted his masterpieces, to the north coast of Yorkshire to meet artist David Hockney, and even to Buckingham Palace to see a Vermeer masterpiece in the collection of the Queen.  You can watch the trailer by clicking this link!

From the West Branch:

Off to be the Wizard by Scott Meyer

Martin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program. With every use of this ability, though, Martin finds his little “tweaks” have not escaped notice. Rather than face prosecution, he decides instead to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and pose as a wizard. What could possibly go wrong? An American hacker in King Arthur’s court, Martin must now train to become a full-fledged master of his powers, discover the truth behind the ancient wizard Merlin…and not, y’know, die or anything.  Fans of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One will find a lot to enjoy in this book, and the entire Magic 2.0 series!

Summer Staff Selections!

Now that summer is definitely, apparently (?) upon us, it’s time once again for the Free-For-All to share with you some of our lovely staff’s selections for summer reading!

We are a staff of diverse reading/listening/viewing habits, which makes these posts so much fun.  There is such a wide range of books and media that our staff enjoy that there is bound to be something in here to help make your summer that much more entertaining!  And so, without further ado, here is our fourth round of Staff Selections:

From the Upstairs Office:

Burning Your Bridges by Angela Carter

Angela Carter produced a remarkable range of work over the course of her life, ranging from essays to criticism to fiction. But it is in her short stories that her extraordinary talents—as a fabulist, feminist, social critic, and weaver of tales—are most penetratingly evident. This volume presents Carter’s considerable legacy of short fiction gathered from published books, and includes early and previously unpublished stories. From reflections on jazz and Japan, through vigorous refashionings of classic folklore and fairy tales, to stunning snapshots of modern life in all its tawdry glory, we are able to chart the evolution of Carter’s marvelous, magical vision.

From the Reference Desk:

 

Let’s Be Still by The Head & the Heart

Fans of Fleet Foxes (or those looking for something a little more accessible), or Mumford and Sons will surely find plenty to enjoy in this second studio album from this Seattle-based indie rock group.  I can’t sell them as well as they can, so check out this video of their  performance of “Library Magic”, live on Brick Lane:

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury


Ray Bradbury brings wonders alive, whether it’s the chills and insight of Farenheit 451 to his incredible short stories.   But through it all, for Bradbury, the most bewitching force in the universe is human nature. In these eighteen startling tales unfolding across a canvas of tattooed skin, living cities take their vengeance, technology awakens the most primal natural instincts, and dreams are carried aloft in junkyard rockets. Provocative and powerful, The Illustrated Man is a kaleidoscopic blending of magic, imagination, and truth—as exhilarating as interplanetary travel, as maddening as a walk in a million-year rain, and as comforting as simple, familiar rituals on the last night of the world.

From the West Branch:

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme by Simon and Garfunkel

Quite simply, there is nothing that can, or ever will compare to Simon and Garfunkel.  As a young, angsty teenager who was saved by their music, I am wholeheartedly adding my voice to this particular recommendation.  This was the third album that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel put out, and it’s the first one that really got them major attention.  It’s been named on Rolling Stone’s 500 best albums of all time, and features some of the most iconic of their songs, including ‘Scarborough Fair’ and ‘Homeward Bound’.

Summer Staff Selections!

Now that summer is definitely, apparently (?) upon us, it’s time once again for the Free-For-All to share with you some of our lovely staff’s selections for summer reading!

We are a staff of diverse reading/listening/viewing habits, which makes these posts so much fun.  There is such a wide range of books and media that our staff enjoy that there is bound to be something in here to help make your summer that much more entertaining!  And so, without further ado, here is our third round of Staff Selections:

From the West Branch: 

Act One by Marion Hill:

Named by Rolling Stone as one of the “10 Artists You Need To Know”, steming from the wild success of their hit-single “Down” this Brooklyn-based duo have produced an album of bluesy, pop-y electronica-fusion songs. Very danceable, with a swanky energy.

From the Upstairs Offices:

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.  Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart.

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

Millions of words have poured forth about man’s trip to the moon, but until now few people have had a sense of the most engrossing side of the adventure; namely, what went on in the minds of the astronauts themselves – in space, on the moon, and even during certain odysseys on earth…Wolfe’s got a big personality and it’s all over every page but I really enjoyed reading it nonetheless.  It doesn’t read like a lot of older nonfiction, which is fun.

From the Reference Desk:

Bellevue : Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky

From its origins in 1738 as an almshouse and pesthouse, Bellevue today is a revered public hospital bringing first-class care to anyone in need.  It treated tens of thousands of Civil War soldiers, launched the first civilian ambulance corps and the first nursing school for women, pioneered medical photography and psychiatric treatment, and spurred New York City to establish the country’s first official Board of Health.  It took the AIDS crisis to cement Bellevue’s enduring place as New York’s ultimate safety net, the iconic hospital of last resort. Lively, page-turning, fascinating, Bellevue is essential American history.

Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty

Follows three mothers, each at a crossroads, and their potential involvement in a riot at a school trivia night that leaves one parent dead in what appears to be a tragic accident.  I was expecting some sort of catty mystery novel, but this book turned out to be really powerful, moving, insightful, engaging, and, above all, empowering, in ways I really was not expecting.  For those who have watched the HBO mini-series, or are planning to–read the book, too!

Happy Summer, Beloved Patrons!

Summer Staff Selection!

Now that summer is definitely, apparently (?) upon us, it’s time once again for the Free-For-All to share with you some of our lovely staff’s selections for summer reading!

We are a staff of diverse reading/listening/viewing habits, which makes these posts so much fun.  There is such a wide range of books and media that our staff enjoy that there is bound to be something in here to help make your summer that much more entertaining!  And so, without further ado, here is our second round of Staff Selections:

From the West Branch:

The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan

“An engaging story with a dual narrative of mother and daughter. I appreciated the themes of the struggles of bi-cultural life experience, the mother-daughter relationship development, the symbolism, and the historical fiction aspect. A warning regarding the historical aspects of the book – the abuse the mother shares in her narrative that takes place in the very painfully patriarchal early/mid 1900s China may be triggering for victims of abuse”

From the Upstairs Offices:

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

One of the most profound and moving works of Native American literature, a novel that is itself a ceremony of healing. Tayo, a World War II veteran of mixed ancestry, returns to the Laguna Pueblo Reservation, deeply scarred by his experience as a prisoner of the Japanese and by the rejection he encounters from his people.  Only by immersing himself in the his people’s past can he begin to regain the peace that was taken from him. Masterfully written, filled with the somber majesty of Pueblo myth, Ceremony is a work of enduring power.

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

Are people in Switzerland happier because it is the most democratic country in the world? Do citizens of Qatar, awash in petrodollars, find joy in all that cash? Is the King of Bhutan a visionary for his initiative to calculate Gross National Happiness? Why is Asheville, North Carolina so damn happy?  In a unique mix of travel, psychology, science and humor, Eric Weiner answers those questions and many others, offering travelers of all moods some interesting new ideas for sunnier destinations and dispositions…I would love to see an update of this book now that social media has become so saturated in our lives.

From the Reference Desk:

Furiously happy : a funny book about horrible things by Jenny Lawson

A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best….Furiously Happy is about “taking those moments when things are fine and making them amazing, because those moments are what make us who we are, and they’re the same moments we take into battle with us when our brains declare war on our very existence….This is a book about embracing everything that makes us who we are – the beautiful and the flawed – and then using it to find joy in fantastic and outrageous ways.

 

Summer Staff Selections!

Now that summer is definitely, apparently (?) upon us, it’s time once again for the Free-For-All to share with you some of our lovely staff’s selections for summer reading!

We are a staff of diverse reading/listening/viewing habits, which makes these posts so much fun.  There is such a wide range of books and media that our staff enjoy that there is bound to be something in here to help make your summer that much more entertaining!  And so, without further ado, here is our first round of Staff Selections:

From the West Branch: 

Nancy Clue and the Not-So-Nice Nurse  by Mabel Maney
“A cute, tame lesbian parody of Nancy Drew and Cherry Aimes (RN). and part of a two-book series. The utter paucity of men through most of the book, the diction, the lesbian innuendos, the cluelessness of the main character Cherry, the positive portrayal of a trans woman, and the decent mystery plot make this light novel a delightful and cute read. This is the first in a series, but does just fine as a stand-alone as well.” (Note: Use the Commonwealth Catalog to access this title, or call the Library!)

From the Adult Services Department:

The Hour of Land : A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks by Terry Tempest Williams
“For years, America’s national parks have provided public breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadily disappearing, which is why close to 300 million people visit the parks each year. Now, to honor the centennial of the National Park Service, Terry Tempest Williams, the author of the beloved memoir When Women Were Birds, returns with The Hour of Land, a literary celebration of our national parks, what they mean to us, and what we mean to them. Through twelve carefully chosen parks, from Yellowstone in Wyoming to Acadia in Maine to Big Bend in Texas, Tempest 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.”

From the Information Desk:

Swiss Army Man, starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe
Hank is stranded on a deserted island, having given up all hope of ever making it home again. One day everything changes when a corpse names Manny washes up onshore. The two become fast friends, and ultimately go on an epic adventure that will bring Hank back to the woman of his dreams…supremely weird but awesome!”

Table 19, starring Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Craig Robinson, Stephen Merchant, Amanda Crew, Wyatt Russell
“Ex-maid of honor Eloise, having been relieved of her duties after being unceremoniously dumped by the best man via text, decides to hold her head up high and attend her oldest friend’s wedding anyway. She finds herself seated at the ‘random’ table in the back of the ballroom with a disparate group of strangers.  In a way, reminiscent of The Breakfast Club, and in a way a beautifully modern romance, this is nothing like you expect, and everything you needed in a movie.”

 

Best of 2016: The End

intro

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

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

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

best-books

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

3784204Three Comrades by Erich Maria Remarque

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

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

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

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

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

3722322The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

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

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

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

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

From the Reference Desk, and Patron Recommendation:

3622766A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

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

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

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

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

The Romance Garden Top Picks:

3784064A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

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