Staff recommendations

January 2018


by Stephen King
(Scribner, 2011)
Recommend by Virgil Fuller, Reference and Historical Collection Librarian

We all know what happened on 11/22/1963. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. It’s one of those moments that if you were alive during it, you remember exactly where you were when you heard the news and then became glued to your television screen. The rest of the decade saw many other horrible events: the escalation of the Vietnam War, inner city riots, the assassinations of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, just to name a few. But what if you had the opportunity to change history so that once cringe worthy historical events didn’t even happen, and the past starts on a new course? What would you do? 11/22/63 answers that question and it is one heck of a ride.

Jake Epping, the book’s main character, is a divorced 30 something year old English teacher/GED instructor in present day Maine. He frequents a local greasy spoon, “Al’s Diner” run by an Al Templeton. Al’s specialty? The Fat Burger, which many locals refer to as the Cat Burger based on its dirt-cheap price. Al’s secret? The pantry in his diner is in fact a portal to another time, 1958. Jake will experience the past first hand in an effort to stop the assassination of JFK by Lee Harvey Oswald.

For 5 years, Jake takes on the name of George Amberson, traveling from Maine, Florida to Texas in his 1954 Ford Sunliner convertible. While his main mission is stop Oswald, many other events transpire in his time travel travels. He falls in love (with the school librarian), stops the murder of a family by a deranged father, prevents a girl from getting paralyzed, makes money by betting on sporting events whose outcome he already knows, all the while stalking Oswald to verify that he is indeed the murderer of the president. This all comes to a head at the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas for the main finale, giving Jake (or George) the chance to rewrite history. Will he succeed in his mission? Find out by listening to (or reading) 11/22/63 today.


Recommended by Mary Van Hartesveldt, Librarian

This month I am recommending an online resource,, which stands for International Movie Database. This website is a fun place to visit to look up a host of facts about your favorites movies, TV shows, videos games, and movie soundtracks.

You can check out plotlines for the latest film release or look up old favorites either by title, actor, or director (or other information). Do you want to know how your favorite film star got his or her start? For example, Jack Nicholson had parts in a number of TV shows like Matinee Theater, Sea Hunt, Hawaiian Eye, and Dr. Kildare before he became well-known in films like Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces.

If you are working on your current must-see movie playlist, check out favorite actors or directors. One of my favorite Sigourney Weaver movies is The Year of Living Dangerously with Mel Gibson and Linda Hunt. I couldn’t remember what year it came out, but one quick check and shows me that it came out in 1982 and the character Weaver played was “Jill Bryant”. And while I was browsing in her filmography, I was reminded of her recent voice role in Finding Dory.

If you want to know the name of the character actor who played “Clarence” in It’s a Wonderful Life, you will find the entire cast listed at (You do have to clink on a link to see the characters with smaller roles.) By the way, “Clarence” was played by Henry Travers, who also (just click on his to name find out) had roles in a number of films from the 1930 and 1940s such as High Sierra, Mrs. Miniver, and The Yearling. is considered a reliable resource by the Vermont Dept. of Libraries, though one should be aware that content is provided by both professionals in the entertainment business and others who sign up to provide content. You do not need to set up an account just to access information on the website. In the interest of full disclosure, is a subsidiary of, but it has great information and you don’t need to buy a thing.

800 Words
800 Words

(Acorn Media, 2016)
Recommended by Célina Houlné, Library Director

Successful newspaper columnist George Turner (Erik Thomson, Packed to the Rafters) has his world turned upside down when his wife suddenly dies. Looking for a fresh start, George packs up and moves his two teenaged children, Shay (Melina Vidler) and Arlo (Benson Jack Anthony), from the bustle of Sydney to the picturesque seaside town of Weld, New Zealand. But the Turners’ new life doesn’t go as planned when they face a series of setbacks and meet the eccentric townsfolk, including handyman Woody (Rick Donald, Friends with Better Lives) and the “women of Weld”—four single ladies who are intrigued by the handsome widower and his offspring. Hailed for its “warmth and inclusiveness” (The Australian), this award-winning series is a heartfelt comedy/drama about a family searching for healing in the midst of tragedy.

Spirit of Steamboat
Spirit of Steamboat

by Craig Johnson 
(Penguin, 2014)
Recommended by Mary Van Hartesveldt, Librarian

We often recommend Craig Johnson’s “Sheriff Walt Longmire” series, but I have a favorite that some may have missed because it’s a short novel and is a prequel rather than being a sequential part of the series.

The story takes place around Christmas in Walt’s early days as Sheriff. A major snowstorm is blowing in, and a child needs to be transported to a Denver hospital immediately, but there is no transport available. Well, there is a rather beat up WWII B-25 bomber…. And only Lucian Connally can fly it. This is an edge of your seat thriller with our favorite Longmire characters at their very best. If you have missed this book come in and check it out today.

Finding Higher Ground: Adaptation in the Age of Warming
Finding Higher Ground

By Amy Seidl

(Beacon Press, 2011) Recommended by Alma Beals, Librarian

I started my pick with Amy Seidl's Finding Higher Ground-Adaptation in the Age of Warming. She explains that humans as well as plants, insects, birds and mammals must adapt to changing temperatures. In one chapter she talks about growing different crops which I found very interesting because a few years ago I was involved with a rice project in Putney that she mentioned. Linda and Takeshi Akaogi received a grant to grow rice and my part was to observe how rice growing in Vermont was affected by birds. They are still growing rice for themselves, but I haven't read or heard how many other people have tried.

This led me to an article in the Commons, The Argument vs. the Fight, on Bill McKibben and Climate Change which led me to the April issue of Vermont Business Magazine's article, Bill McKibben: Environmental Activist. Anyone who believes in Climate Change, as I do, needs to read this article.

Many patrons in our library don't realize that we have magazines that can be loaned out. The newest issue in each folder can't go out, but any of the older issues behind the folder can.

Iris Grace
Iris Grace

By Arabella Carter-Johnson 
(Skyhorse Publishing, 2017)
Recommended by Ellen Allman, Librarian

This is the story of Iris Grace and her family as they deal with her autism and how Thula helps them. Arabella tells the story of her struggles with getting the services Iris needed. And how she and her husband improvised when they felt they weren't getting the help they needed or felt the help given was not right for Iris. They knew that animals are often a help in reaching children with autism. They had a dog, that didn't work and finally settled on Thula, the Maine coon cat.

When Iris developed an aversion to taking her bath Thula climbed in the tub with Iris and Iris was then happy to have her bath time. Thula was a calming influence and often helped Iris deal with stressful situations. Interspersed throughout the book are paintings that Iris started doing when she was three years old. In fact, they sold Iris's paintings to help pay for her therapy not covered by the British health care system.

The book is worth checking out just for the paintings, but the story is wonderful as well.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agness Nutter, Witch
Be The Pack Leader

by Neil Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett
(Workman, 1990)
Recommend by Sam Maskell, Youth Services Librarian

The first thing you should know is that Neil Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett are two of my all-time favorite authors.

The next thing you should know is that this is one of my favorite books. I have been known to re-read books I enjoy and this one makes me laugh every time. So, this recommendation isn’t from a single reading, this is a recommended favorite based on every time I’ve read and re-read it. Having stated that, if you’ve never read Pratchett or Gaiman before, this may not be the best introduction to either author.

And finally, these days the world feels a little apocalyptic - to me, anyway. There’s something to be said for a book that pokes fun at the end of days, because that’s what Good Omens is: the end of the world as written in Revelations.

There are just a few problems:

The Angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley (the respective reps for Heaven and Hell) have been on Earth since the beginning, and they’re more drinking buddies than adversaries. They’re also rather enjoying their time with mankind and aren’t in a hurry to see it end. While begrudging his role in the end of the world, Crowley accidentally switches the antichrist out to the wrong family where the boy will grow up to become a completely normal, average child – and will need to be found at some point.

But that doesn’t stop Armageddon. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse assemble: War (a female war correspondent), Death (if you’re already familiar with Discworld, it’s DEATH), Famine (a dietician and fast-food businessman), and Pollution (because Pestilence retired after the discovery of penicillin).

Then, there’s the book: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, a 17th century Witch, who foresaw everything. The book is a collection of prophecies that didn’t sell very well because they were boring, cryptic, and all completely true. Agnes decided to publish it only so she could receive the free author's copy that has been passed down to her descendants and is currently owned by her multi-great granddaughter Anathema Device; a young woman who has never really questioned why the prophecies end in her lifetime.

If you enjoy humor along the lines of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Gil’s All Fright Diner, Practical Demonkeeping, Welcome to Night Vale, and John Dies at the End (also titles I recommend), this one should be on your reading list.

Staff Pick Archives

August 2016

Seven for a Secret
Seven for a Secret

by Lindsay Faye
(Berkley Publishing, 2014)
Recommend by Célina Houlné

Amazon summary: Six months after the formation of the NYPD, its most reluctant and talented officer, Timothy Wilde, learns of the gruesome underworld of lies and corruption ruled by the “blackbirders,” who snatch free Northerners of color from their homes, masquerade them as slaves, and sell them South to toil as plantation property.

When the beautiful and terrified Lucy Adams staggers into Timothy’s office to report a robbery and is asked what was stolen, her reply is, “My family.” Their search for her mixed-race sister and son will plunge Timothy and his feral brother, Valentine, into a world where police are complicit and politics savage, and where corpses appear in the most shocking of places.

The following reviews of Seven for a Secret describe it perfectly:

“Captures the tumult of its time and place in an action-packed plot with elements of tragedy and hope, featuring a protagonist who fights for what is right in the face of corruption. Superlative historical mystery.”—Booklist

“As was the case in The Gods of Gotham [first title in the series and nominated for the Edgar Award] Faye folds a blistering indictment of prejudice and persecution of the defenseless within a satisfyingly complex mystery...Vividly atmospheric; the thieves’ slang all by itself evokes 19th-century New York with wonderful specificity.” —Kirkus Review

“Atmospheric and exciting . . . [Seven for a Secret] is swift but poignant, full of violent encounters and thrilling escapes….Amazing...This is a series for the ages, it’s so spectacular.” —The Wall Street Journal

The War That Saved My Life
The War That Saved My Life

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley 
(Dial Books, 2015)
Recommended by Sam Maskell, Youth Services Librarian

Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. Or even let her walk. In the first few pages you learn that Ada’s mother is just terrible. Ada crawls everywhere. Her injuries are left untreated. She’s starving. Her only relationships outside of her mother and brother are the people she waves to from the window.

This story takes place just as Hitler is rising to power in WWII. Since London is expecting to be bombed, families are sending their children out on trains to the countryside for safety. Ada’s brother, Jamie, will be leaving on a train. Ada makes a decision: she is going to learn how to walk and follow her brother. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute - she sneaks out to join him.

So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take in the two kids and who describes herself as “Not Nice”. Ada is a very resourceful and determinded girl. She teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan. Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But as we know, eventually the war will end, kids will go home, and as their lives grow closer together, there’s always that looming question: what happens next? Have they found home or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

The Postcard
The Postcard

By Tony Abbott

(Little Brown and Co., 2008)
Recommended by Mary Van Hartestveldt, Librarian

From our Juvenile Fiction collection, “The Postcard” by Tony Abbott is not a new book, but it is just one of many wonderful reads from our Youth Department.

Jason is thirteen, and he knows his family is falling apart even though his parents are not talking about it. When his grandmother, whom he did not know, dies, Jason’s father asks him to come to Florida to help him clear out her house. Jason hates everything about Florida – the heat, the strange people, not being back home where he wants to be.

Then he starts to learn a little about his father’s family. His great-great grandfather had been a railroad tycoon; his grandfather was a land baron who also owned the beautiful Hotel de Soto in downtown St. Petersburg. How has he never been told anything about this? Then, in his grandmother’s “important papers” he discovers a magazine from the 1940s called “Bizarre Mysteries” where he finds the first part of a romantic adventure tale whose heroine, “Marnie”, could only be his grandmother. And the rather odd-looking people whom he had seen at her funeral appear to be other characters in the story. Sadly, there is a note at the end of the magazine saying that the author had died in World War II, and the story would never be finished.

But Jason has found clues, including an old postcard hidden in his grandmother’s desk. And he meets Dia, the eccentric girl who mows his grandmother’s lawn. Together they follow a trail of clues that uncovers an amazing story which takes them all over St. Petersburg and reveals a most remarkable story about the beautiful daughter of a wealthy tyrant and the indomitable man who loved her. With alligators, creepy old buildings, and a woman with wings, this is a fast-paced read that is a lot of fun.

The Perfume Collector
The Perfume Collector

By Kathleen Tessaro
(HarperCollins, 2013)

Recommended by Alma Beals, Librarian

My pick is "The Perfume Collector" by Kathleen Tessaro.

In 1955, Grace Monroe, living in London, received a letter from France that she had received an inheritance from Eva d'Orsey whom she had never met.

Intrigued by why, led her to Paris's Left Bank and to the world of perfume and a long abandoned perfume shop from the 1920's.

In finding the answer to her connection to Eva, Grace discovers her past to be far different from what she believed.

Is there romance involved? Of course.

Steal Like an Artist
Steal Like An Artist

By Austin Kleon

(Workman Pub. Co., 2012) Recommended by Anne Demspey, Programming / Community Relations Librarian

Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon is a little black book full of offbeat ideas about and surprising suggestions for getting your creative juices flowing.

Kleon sprinkles his text with provocative quotes from famous artists like Pablo Picasso’s “Art is theft.” David Bowie’s: “The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.” And Mark Twain’s: “It is better to take what does not belong to you than let it lie around neglected.”

The author’s ten principles for building a more creative life include:
Be boring. It’s the only way to get any work done.

Creativity is subtraction.

Use your hands.

Be Nice. Instead of picking fights, go make something.

You might find this book to be a useful springboard for all sorts of creative endeavors. I did. Oh, and did I mention it was a fun book to read?

Check out Kleon's TED Talk:


(Twentieth Century Fox, 2016)
Recommended by Shirley Capron, Librarian

The story is simple, about a young woman forced to move from Ireland to New York. Saoirse's character leaves Ireland because of economic conditions, but there was much to her town she did not like with rude (but funny) people, small town gossip, and entrenched elitism. Homesick at first, she blossoms in NY. When she leaves the new life she has started and returns to visit her mother, circumstances conspire to keep her there, and she has to decide whether she wants to live in the past or the future. There is no right or wrong answer, and she will be leaving behind loved ones regardless what she decides. Sounds pretty glum, but the movie is shot in a way where optimism is always around the corner, filled with many kindhearted people to outweigh the bad.

Those of us locally who come from parents and grandparents who immigrated to the U.S. from Italy and Ireland in particular would enjoy seeing the familiar cross-cultural differences they know about and experienced reflected in this film. An enjoyable “Must See” film of the year!

Be The Pack Leader
Be The Pack Leader

by Cesar Millan
(Harmony Books, 2007)
Recommend by Ellen Allman

Be The Pack Leader by Cesar Millan. Cesar Millan is the Dog Whisperer from the Animal Planet network on TV. This is his second book. I don't have a dog now but this book caught my interest because of Cesar's insight into how we relate to our dogs and other people. He helps people become the leaders of their packs and addresses issues with dog behavior. His take is that most issues with dogs come from the fact that the owners are not acting as the pack leader. The examples he shares in the book most written by the person he helped shows that when issues were resolved with their dogs people also gain skills to improve their work/family situations. I've had a dog that I had issues with and I wish I could have read this book before getting the dog. I recommend this book to anyone thinking of getting a dog or who would like to improve their skills as dog owners.

June 2016

Agent to the Stars
Agent to the Stars

by John Scalzi
(Tor 2008)
Recommend by Célina Houlné

This month I’m recommending the novel “Agent to the Stars” by John Scalzi.

The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity's first interstellar friendship. There's just one problem: They're hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish. So getting humanity's trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.

Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He's one of Hollywood's hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it's quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race.

Let me quote the reviewer from the magazine, Booklist: “With a plot that starts out as the rough life of a young agent in Hollywood and rapidly metamorphoses into B-movie territory as a remarkably intelligent first-contact yarn, this book is absurd, funny, and satirically perceptive.”

In general, I am not a big science fiction reader, but with this book, I was drawn in by the surprisingly funny, yet intelligent story.

Author John Scalzi is best known for writing science fiction, including the bestseller "Redshirts," which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. He also writes non-fiction, and you can get to his blog by typing in the search box, the word: "Whatever".

I am Princess X
I am Princess X

by Cherie Priest 
(Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015)
Recommended by Sam Maskell, Youth Services Librarian

Don’t let the pink on the cover or the ‘Princess’ in the title fool you: This is not a frilly Princess story! If you look closely at the cover, you’ll see that this princess wields a giant Katana. That’s the first hint of the thrill ride that is this book.

“I am Princess X” begins with a story about friendship. Libby and May are best friends growing up in Seattle. One of their favorite activities is a comic that the two of them create about a fearless princess who lives in a haunted house named Princess X. May writes the stories and Libby draws them.

Then one night Libby’s mother drives off a bridge. Libby is gone.

Fast-forward a few years, May is now 16 and visiting her father in Seattle. It’s there that May spots a sticker of Princess X on a telephone pole. May starts seeing Princess X everywhere – patches, stickers, and t-shirts. Then she discovers that it’s a famous webcomic. But this Princess X is different, she is drawn to look more like Libby. And the story is different - these are not the stories that May wrote. It’s a whole new story that suggests that Libby may not be dead after all, the only person who can see and find the clues is May, and following the clues may put them both in terrible danger.

The Hidden Oracles: The Trials of Apollo
The Hidden Oracle

By Rick Riordan

(Disney-Hyperion, 2016)
Recommended by Mary Van Hartestveldt, Librarian

From our Juvenile Fiction collection, I recommend “The Hidden Oracle”. This is the first book in Rick Riordan’s new series, “The Trials of Apollo”. For those not familiar with Riordan’s prior books, he writes about Greek and Roman gods and their demi-god offspring who are the heroes who take care of all the messy work resulting from the various conflicts and excesses of the gods themselves.

Following the recent battle with Gaia, (in the previous series “The Heroes of Olympus”) Greek god Apollo has been cast out of Olympus and made mortal by his father, Zeus, who tells him “this was all your fault”. Apollo wakes up in a slimy dumpster, no longer his godly self but a geeky teenager with acne. He knows he will have to fulfill some sort of servitude and a series of trials in order, he hopes, to be restored to immortality, and he is quickly commandeered by 12-year-old Meg, a demi-god with somewhat unusual powers. She appears to have a particular ability to use fruit as a weapon.

Apollo wants to consult with Chiron, the centaur in charge at Camp Half-Blood (where demi-god teens go to train), and he convinces Meg that they should go there first. Arriving at the camp, they learn that the Oracle (one of Apollo’s responsibilities) has not been functioning for some time and that several of the demi-gods in training have gone missing from camp. Since no trials can be assigned without the oracle, Apollo must somehow restore its power.

Apollo tells the story, filled with constant repartee and bad haiku poetry, making this one of the more humorous of Riordan’s novels. Fans of previous series will enjoy this new book; it is an excellent summer read.

Losing the Garden
Losing the Garden

By Laura Waterman
(Shoemaker and Hoard, 2005)

Recommended by Alma Beals, Librarian

My pick for June is "Losing the Garden" by Laura Waterman.

This is a story of Guy and Laura Waterman who loved each other deeply but Guy was tortured by the loss of his 3 sons. He was depressed much of the time and finally decided as much as he loved Laura, he did not want to live any longer. She knew that he was going off into the mountains to die. The end of the story dwells on the question of suicide. Did she have the right to try to save his life or let him commit suicide when he didn't want to live? What would you have done if you had been in Laura's shoes?

Backcast: A Novel

By Ann McMan

(Bywater Books, 2015) Recommended by Nancy Tusinksi, Reference and Historical Collection Librarian

Backcast takes place on the shores of Lake Champlain in northern Vermont. Throw together a quirky bunch of lesbian authors, a tournament bass fishing competition, and a 200 year old wise-cracking bass named Phoebe who doles out life lessons and you have a very funny story. What makes this book special and a top pick of the year for me is that in between all the fun is a wise, serious, and touching story about women and who they are beneath the life masks we all wear.

The book begins with Barb Davis, a sculptor and author who was just awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to create piece of art that combines sculpture paired with first person essays. Barb invites a group of 12 lesbian authors she knows to a B&B on the shore of Lake Champlain for a 2 week writing retreat. She asks each of the women to write a personal essay for her project during this retreat.

All of the women want to help Barb out with the project, but --- will the project get completed in time with side trips, arguments, romantic interludes and a fishing tournament. Yes, a fishing tournament.

One of the authors – decides she wants to enter a ProAm Bass Fishing Tournament and gets some of the others to go along with this idea. But does Quinn know how to cast a line? No….Does she know how to pilot a boat? A motorcycle yes, a boat - -- No….. But it’s like the first time you see a mountain and you know you have to climb it, you might not know why right away, all you know is that you need to do it.

The personal essays are included throughout the book, and it’s up to the reader to figure out who wrote them. (there is an appendix at the back of the book that let’s you know if your guesses were correct)

The essays are beautiful, touching and heartbreaking. They reflect women’s stories, our mother’s stories, our sister’s stories, our daughter’s stories, our grandmother’s stories, and our friend’s stories.

I’d like to share this quote from the author’s website:

“Women are so much more than their public personas portray. If you peel back the layers of any woman, you will find the essential moments that shaped her life. Many of us share common stories, but few of us are able to speak openly and honestly about them. Backcast is a narrative for and about all women -- lesbian, straight, and everyone in between and on either side.”

Pick up this book at your library and if your library doesn’t have it, ask the librarian to purchase it for the library. I bet you’ll call to renew it just so you can read it again or lend it to your best friend. It’s a great read.


By Alex Gino 
(Scholastic, 2015)
Recommended by Anne Demspey, Programming / Community Relations Librarian

Sometimes when I'm not sure what to read, I browse the shelves of the NEW books on the Main Floor. And sometimes, I go downstairs to the Youth Department.

Because I worked as an elementary school librarian for 15 years, I know a well-kept secret: Many novels written for children deal with some difficult subject matter and are amazingly insightful.

I recently chose one of this year's nominees for the Dorothy’s List award. Each year since 1957, Vermont students in grades four through eight vote on their favorite book from this list of 30 nominees. (It is recommended that students read at least five of the year's nominated titles.)

These nominees are easy to find in the Youth Department. Sam has labeled the spines with bright pink tape and shelved them separately in the beginning of the fiction section.

As I browsed this collection, the cover of George caught my eye. Each letter of GEORGE was painted a different color. Inside the letter "O" was painted a face of a person who most definitely looked female. I became curious. Reading the jacket cover's front flap, I learned that this is a novel about a fourth grader named George. George looks like a boy but she knows she’s a girl. George is keeping this knowledge a secret from everyone, including her mother and brother, her best friend and her teacher.

As tryouts for the school play draw near, George is set on playing the role of the heroine Charlotte (the spider) who saves Wilbur (the pig’s) life. As her classmates, family, and even the school principal respond to what George does next, she finds that being who she is one of the most important things she can be.

I found this book thought-provoking and easier to relate to than I had imagined. It answered lots of my questions about what it’s like to be transgender. It opened my eyes to the emotional pain transgender people can experience when society denies or rejects their self worth.

It also helped me reflect on the real joy that comes from being accepted for who you truly are.

In its starred review, Publishers Weekly praises this book as “profound, moving, radiant. [It] will stay with anyone lucky enough to find it.”

Sarah Weeks, author of Pie and So B.It, writes, ”This is an important book…but more importantly, it’s a really good book.”
April 2016

The Poetry Anthology, 1912-2002: Ninety Years of America's Most Distinguished Verse Magazine
The Poetry anthology, 1912-2002

(Ivan R Dee, 2002)
Recommend by Mary Van Hartesveldt, Librarian

April is National Poetry Month, and this anthology offers a great way to sample a wide variety of poetry selected from Poetry Magazine: “The oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world”.

You will find works by Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, D.H. Lawrence, Robert Frost, Carl Sandberg, Rupert Brooks, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Rabindranath Tagore, Hart Crane, Kay Boyle, Dylan Thomas, W.H. Auden, Gertrude Stein, Robinson Jeffers, and many more. Some of these, such as “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, by T.S. Eliot, marked seminal changes in the evolution of poetry.

This book will offer the opportunity to revisit old favorites or to get a broad view of poetry offerings over a ninety-year period.

We also invite you to visit the Poetry section at 811 in Non-Fiction to find other great offerings including “Good Poems” selected by Garrison Keillor, “A Timbered Choir” by Wendell Barry, and “Sailing Alone Around the Room” by Billy Collins. You will also find New England poets Charles Simac, Mary Oliver, Donald Hall, Sydney Lea, Maxine Kumin and favorites like Robert Frost. Also, from the New Non-Fiction shelf, winner of the National Book Award: “Voyage of the Sable Venus” by Robin Coste Lewis.

Circus Mirandus
Circus Mirandus

by Cassie Beasley 
(Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015)
Recommended by Sam Maskell, Youth Services Librarian

This is a story about magic.

Micah Tuttle's grandfather, Ephraim, has a secret. When he was a child, he visited a magical circus, the Circus Mirandus, and it changed his life forever. There he met The Man Who Bends Light, a powerful magician, who promised young Ephraim a miracle.

Micah was raised by his grandfather after the death of his parents. He loves hearing all of his grandfather’s stories about the Circus Mirandus. Now Ephraim is dying and his sister, Micah’s Great Aunt Gertrudis, has moved in with them to take care of Micah and Ephraim, which she resents. Not only does she insist that the circus doesn’t exist, she calls Ephraim’s stories “dangerous nonsense”, she finds ways to punish Micah for caring about the stories, and she tries to keep Micah away from his grandfather.

Ephraim was promised a miracle by The Man Who Bends Light, but he never used it. Now that he is dying, he has decided to call in his magical favor. Soon Micah and his new friend Jenny are plunged into a world where parrots deliver messages, elephants do calculus, and magic is real.

Circus Mirandus is an excellent book for elementary-aged readers who enjoy Roald Dahl, Peter Pan, and fantasy in general. Like Hogwarts, the Circus Mirandus is a place I would love to be able to visit and explore. I don’t know if this is going to be a new series, but the author did leave a fairly open ending, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sequel.

This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audobon
This Strange Wilderness

By Nancy Plain

(University of Nebraska Press, 2015)
Recommended by Alma Beals, Librarian

My pick for April is "This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon” by Nancy Plain. This children's book is a biography of Audubon's life from an unknown woodsman to international fame as an artist drawing life-like birds. He spent most of his life in the woods drawing and studying bird behavior.

His drawings inspired naturalist George Bird Grinell, who was tutored by John's wife, Lucy Audubon, to found the Audubon Society.

The Crossing
The Crossing

By Michael Connolley
(Little, Brown, and Company, 2015)

Recommended by Ellen Allman, Librarian

My pick for April is The Crossing by Michael Connelly. Michael Connelly writes novels about Harry Bosch an LAPD detective and Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer. Harry and Mickey team up in this novel to get a man they feel is wrongly accused of murder out of jail. Connelly has a way of keeping the story moving and interesting, with just enough tension to keep you reading to find out how Harry and Mickey make out in their quest for freedom for their client.

A Tale for the Time Being
A Tale for the Time Being

By Ruth Ozeki

(Viking, 2013) Recommended by Nancy Tusinksi, Reference and Historical Collection Librarian

2013 - Shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award

“A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”

On a remote island in the Pacific Northwest a Hello Kitty lunchbox washes ashore. A woman named Ruth finds the lunchbox. Inside is a collection of odd items: an antique wristwatch, a pack of indecipherable letters, and the diary of a sixteen-year-old Japanese girl named Nao Yasutani.

Ruth suspects that the lunchbox is debris from Japan’s devastating tsunami that happened in 2012. Ruth starts to read the diary and she quickly finds herself drawn into the mystery of the young girl’s fate.

In a manga café in Tokyo’s electric town, Nao has decided there’ only one escape from the loneliness and pain of her life, as she’s uprooted from her US home, bullied at school, and watching her parents spiral deeper into disaster. But before she ends it all, she wants to accomplish one thing: to recount the story of her great grandmother, a 104-year-old Buddhist nun, in the pages of her secret diary. The diary is Nao’s only source of comfort and is her cry for help to a reader she can only imagine.

This book is a mystery and a book about time and memory and the relationship between reader and writer. The characters are beautiful and true. The core of this story is about our shared humanity. It is brilliant and quirky and touching.

Bridge of Spies
Bridge of Spies

(Bueana Vista, 2016)
Recommended by Célina Houlné, Library Director

Bridge of Spies is a 2015 American historical drama-thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay written by Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen. The film stars Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, and Alan Alda.

Based on the 1960 U-2 incident during the Cold War, the film tells the story of lawyer James B. Donovan, who is entrusted with negotiating the release of Francis Gary Powers—a pilot whose U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union—in exchange for Rudolf Abel, a captive Soviet KGB spy held under the custody of the United States.

The name of the film refers to the Glienicke Bridge, which connects Potsdam with Berlin, where the spy exchange took place. The film received six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and won Best Supporting Actor for Rylance. Best known for his role as Cromwell in BBC’s Wolf Hall, this role will surely bring him widespread recognition – he was terrific. And of course, the impact of the film is made much stronger because it is based on true events – images will stay with you long after the film is over.

Bagdad Cafe
Bagdad Café

(MGM, 1988) Recommended by Shirley Capron, Librarian

Bagdad Café. 1987 ‧ Drama film/Comedy-drama ‧ 1h 48m.
 German tourist Jasmin Munchgstettner (Marianne Sägebrecht) argues with her husband after car trouble strands them along a dusty highway in the American Southwest. Fuming, she storms off and travels by foot to the nearest outpost of civilization -- the Bagdad Café. Upon arriving, she butts heads with the owner (CCH Pounder), but they soon forge an unlikely friendship. What begins as a few days' respite becomes a prolonged stay as Jasmine finds her niche within this eccentric truck-stop community. This is an amusing character study of the owner, her family, and nearly live-in customers at the “Bagdad Café.”

Bagdad Café with its characters flows similarly to the movie, “The Station Agent.”

The Station Agent. 2003. Drama film/Comedy-drama ‧ 1h 30m. The life of train aficionado and downcast little person Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) takes an unexpected turn when his boss dies and wills him a railroad depot in New Jersey. He decides to relocate to the small town, where he befriends talkative food vendor Joe Oramas (Bobby Cannavale) and unhappy wife Olivia Harris (Patricia Clarkson). As the trio's interactions deepen, quirky conversations and outcomes ensue. McBride also gains insight from librarian Emily (Michelle Williams).

Both movies are uniquely entertaining.

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death
Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death

By James Runcie

(Bloomsbury, 2012)

Recommended by Ponnie Derby, Librarian

Whether you watched The Grantchester Mysteries on PBS or not, this is a mystery series to enjoy reading.

Sidney Chambers is a young jazz loving vicar in a village near Cambridge, England. Set post WWII and pre 1960s, times are changing, and Sidney finds himself adding detective to his list of duties. Along with his friend Inspector Geordie Keating, Sidney explores some of humanity’s less spiritual aspects - jewelry theft, art forgery, and murder - in this the first of the series.

The City of Ember
The City of Ember

by Jeanne DuPrau
(Random House, 2003) Recommended by Anne Dempsey, Programming / Community Relations Librarian

There’s nothing like a good audiobook to help the hours fly by when you are on the road. For my road trip to Philadelphia for Easter, I chose an audiobook from the Library’s Youth Department. The first in The Books of Ember Series, by Jeanne Du Prau, “The City of Ember” really held my attention.

The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the generator that powers the city’s sole light source is on its last legs. Supplies of food, clothing and other basic necessities (like paper and light bulbs) are running out. When 12 year old Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever.

This book is full of characters: wise, wicked, quirky, gifted and noble. The plot is full of surprises, twists, turns and mysteries. I highly recommend it.

March 2016

March 2016


By Pam Muñoz Ryan
(Scholastic, 2015)
Recommend by Sam Maskell, Youth Services Librarian

Echo is proof that Pam Muñoz Ryan loves readers and wants us to be happy.

It is a story about the divine and mysterious power of music … and a harmonica.

Four intertwined stories feature a special harmonica with a spell on it that imprisons three princesses who can only be set free when the harmonica saves a life. But whose life will be saved? The answer to that question is spread out over years and around the world starting in 1890 in the Black Forest, then 1933 Germany, on to 1935 Pennsylvania, and finally 1942 California.

There is Friedrich, a boy in pre-war Germany whose family runs into trouble with the Nazis.

There is a pair of orphaned brothers, Mike and Frankie, who are adopted by a socialite for reasons of her own.

Lastly, there is Ivy, a girl living in California during the war, who faces prejudice while her family is living and working on the farm of a Japanese family imprisoned in an Internment camp.

Ryan connects each tale with the characters’ special talent and love of music. Music plays a very special role throughout Echo. This book reads like a symphony: four movements, with an overture - the first three repeating general motifs while developing their own melodies, and harmonizing together in the finale.

And the finale in this book is amazing! Ryan deftly ties together all of the stories and answers the question about whose life will be saved.

For some younger readers, this might be a bit of an intimidating book at just under 600 pages long. Echo is a middle-grade book – depending on the youth, I would recommend it to readers as young as 10 (maybe 9 – depending on the reader) and older. I was not surprised when it became a Newbery Honor book. As an adult reader, I really enjoyed it.

The Stillmeadow Road
The Stillmeadow Road

by Gladys Taber 
(J.B. Lippincott Company, 1962)
Recommended by Nancy Tusinski, Reference and Historical Collection Librarian

I’ve gone deep in the stacks for my staff pick this month, Glady’s Taber’s book The Stillmeadow Road was published in the late 1950s. Gladys Taber lived in her 1690 farmhouse and would commute to New York to teach Creative Writing at Columbia University. She wrote many Stillmeadow books about the joys of living simply in the country. Her reflections on the importance of finding quiet, spending time outside, and eating simply are even more true today.

I fell in love with Gladys Taber’s writing when I was a teenager in the 70s. I was a voracious reader and would borrow my mother’s magazines to read. I discovered Glady’s column, Butternut Wisdom, a column that she wrote during the 60s and 70s in Family Circle magazine. In my twenties I found one of her Stillmeadow books at a library book sale. I was hooked on Gladys after reading that book. The closest writing style I can compare her to is the Mary’s farm column that appears in Yankee magazine or Noel Perrin’s First Person Rural.

The Stillmeadow Road is divided up into a chapter for each month of the year. You can start from the beginning or dip into any month. Her books are great companions when you don’t want to read something complicated, maybe you are feeling burned out or stressed or like life is just moving too fast. Check out a Gladys Taber book, the library has several of her books. I have met people who have become fans of Gladys at age 30, 50, and 70.Unfortunately, all of her books are no longer in print, so when they fall apart or get lost, we are losing a lovely piece of our New England history. Take a chance and discover something new that is old, while you still can.

The Man Who Cycled the World
The Man Who Cycled the World

By Mark Beaumont

(Broadway Paperbacks, 2011)
Recommended by Ellen Allman, Librarian

My staff pick for March is The Man Who Cycled the World by Mark Beaumont. This is an interesting account of a young man's journey around the world on his bicycle, trying to break a Guinness World Record. You'll have to read to see if he does. Mark's ability to make a long day on a bicycle interesting is outstanding. I found I was reading it like a mystery, wanting to find what was around the next turn in the road.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

By Marie Kondō
(Ten Speed Press, 2014)

Recommended by Alma Beals, Librarian

This book is about decluttering our lives by purging. Her method is to throw out everything at once that doesn't "give us joy" Start with clothes, pull out all your clothes, pick up each item and ask "does this give me joy"? . If not, throw it out.

Then do the same with paper, magazines and books. Last of all do things like pictures.

Do not store things, Get rid of stuff if you don't use it or if it doesn't "give you joy".

Do not do room by room because we will only move things from one room to another. While I think a complete purge is too radical for me, there are many good tips in the book to help us with our clutter.

The Glass Castle
The Glass Castle

By Jeannette Walls

(Scribner, 2005) Recommended by Shirley Capron, Librarian

This is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank. he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Wells children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way in New York. Their parents follows them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered. This memoir is permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family. In reading it, one experiences not only thoughts of real values but emotions of anger, pity, disgust, wonder and revelation. An unforgettable read!

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch trilogy)
Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch trilogy)

By Anne Leckie 
(Orbit, 2013)
Recommended by Mary Van Hartesveldt, Librarian

“On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.

Once, she was the Justice of Toren - a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.” - from

Winner of Nebula, Hugo, and Arthur C. Clarke awards.

Also in the trilogy and recommended are Imperial Sword and Imperial Mercy.

My Life and Adventures
My Life and Adventures

By Castle Freeman, Jr.

(St. Martin's Press, 2002) Recommended by Anne Dempsey, Programming / Community Relations Librarian

The main character Mark Noonan finds that a distant uncle has left him $100,000 and a tired old house in rural Vermont. The only hook is, according to the will, that Noonan must live in the house. A bit at loose ends anyway, he settles into the house that has no electricity. The wood stove is the only source of heat. Rural life appeals to him. He meets his neighbors and builds relationships in a quirky rural Vermont fashion. Conversations full of dry wit, passages from the former resident's diary and the challenges of getting by make for an interesting and entertaining tale.

Howard Frank Mosher describes My Life and Adventures as a “wonderful story of a fascinating, off-the-beaten-path corner of New England… told with great humor, originality and skill. ...(It) celebrates the human and natural history of a special place whose like will not be seen again. What’s more, it’s a barrel of fun to read.”

Multiple copies are available at the Library's front desk. Pick up your copy today. Then join a discussion about My Life and Adventures on Thursday, March 17 at 6 p.m. as part of the RFPL READS monthly book club. For more information, call (802) 463-4270, email [email protected], go to or stop by the Library at 65 Westminster St., Bellows Falls, VT 05101.

Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports

Recommended by Célina Houlné, Library Director

Need info about the best smartphone deals? Or what mattress to buy to get a better night’s sleep? Check out Consumer Reports Magazine to find unbiased reviews and figure out what’s right for you. Their research will help save you both time and money.

Consumer Reports is best known for the April issue that focuses on new and used cars, but it researches a wide array of products and services including electronics, appliances, insurance, medical, home & garden, cars, baby gear, and food products. It also includes regular updates on product recalls.

• Over 7,000 products ratings, reviews, expert buying advice, product comparisons, and consumer user reviews
• Independently testing products in state-of-the-art labs since 1936
• Consumer Reports does not accept free samples or outside advertising
• Consumer Reports is the only nonprofit working to protect the interest of consumers through independent product testing and research, whose mission is to work for a fair and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves

Check it out at the Library!

February 2016

February 2016

The Imitation Game
The Imitation Game

Anchor Bay Entertainment
Recommend by Célina Houlné, Library Director

One of my favorite films from last winter was the Academy Award nominated film, ‘The Imitation Game’, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and directed by Morten Tyldum.

This wartime thriller is based on the true story of mathematician and war hero Alan Turing who worked in the British intelligence center at Bletchley Park, leading a group of scholars, linguists, and intelligence officers to build a computing machine that would crack the so-called unbreakable codes of the Nazi’s Enigma machine.

The movie describes three significant periods in Turing’s life: after the war, the confrontation between Turing and a police officer in 1951 when he was arrested, and ultimately convicted, of the criminal offense of homosexuality, his lonely childhood in a upper-class British boarding school in the 1930s, and then the major plot of the movie — the war years at Bletchley Park, the site of Turing's code-breaking exploits and the film's central location.

For many years, this tale of intrigue surrounding Britain’s secret campaign to break the code was a state secret. Now we know it was that successful code-breaking effort, and the troop movements it unearthed, that played an enormous role in the defeat of Germany in World War II.

The film was named after a paper Alan Turing wrote about artificial intelligence, "The Imitation Game", and it is a suspenseful and fascinating look at the pioneer of modern-day computing

God's Kingdom
God's Kingdom

by Howard Frank Mosher 
(St. Martin's Press, 2015)
Recommended by Mary Van Hartesveldt, Librarian

Two Brief Excerpts from God’s Kingdom:

“On the earliest maps of Vermont, the wilderness that would later become Kingdom County was referred to as ‘Territory But Little Known.’ The first settlers called it ‘God’s Kingdom,’ to suggest the wild and unspoiled character of this last New England frontier.”
The Reverend Doctor Pliny Templeton

“God’s Kingdom? I thought they called it that because only God would want the place.”
Editor Charles Kinneson
The Kingdom County Monitor

"Set in northeastern Vermont in the 1950s, God’s Kingdom continues the story of the Kinneson family from Mosher’s bestselling A Stranger in the Kingdom (1989) through the coming of age of the heir to its rich and complicated history, Jim. Earnest and innocent, Jim is a bright student, loving son and brother, but also curious about the unspoken “trouble in the family” that haunts his father and grandfather. Layer by layer, tale by tale, sorting out fact from deliberately obscured legend, Jim explores the Kinnesons’ long relationship with others in the Kingdom, culminating in a discovery that forever changes his life and place in that world." -- from author's website

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

By Maya Angelou

(Random House, 1969)
Recommended by Anne Dempsey, Programming / Community Relations Librarian

Maya Angelou's memoir of growing up African-American in 1930's Stamps, Arkansas is by turns poignant, funny and devastatingly horrific. She tries to make sense of a world where dirty white children laugh at her proud grandmother, where a white man cheerfully recruits her brother to drag a dead black man out of a street puddle and where the white doctor who borrowed money from Maya's family refuses to pull Maya's tooth, stating, "I'd rather stick my hand into a dog's mouth."

Through her own resolve and the examples and expectations of family and friends, Maya gleans the wheat from the shaft. She falls in love with literature. She excels in school. And her rich stubborn streak refuses to bow down to prejudice.

With over 50 honorary doctorate degrees Dr. Maya Angelou became a celebrated poet, memoirist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. Pick up a copy of the book at the Library today. Then, join the book discussion at 6 p.m. on Thursday, February 18 at the Rockingham Library. Vermont Humanities Council Scholar Deborah Lee Luskin will facilitate the discussion.


By Lily King (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2014) 

Recommended by Nancy Tusinksi, Reference and Historical Collection Librarian

This book is a work of fiction inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead.

This is the story of three young anthropologists in 1933 and the passionate love triangle that threatens everything including their lives. The story begins in New Guinea with New Yorker, Nell Stone, and her Australian husband, Schuyler Fenwick, known as Fen, leaving a tribe that has turned violent. They then meet the third part of this passionate triangle, a Brit, Andrew Bankson.

This book reads like the private notebooks of field anthropologists. Their observations about the people they are studying, but more importantly their observations and discoveries about the people who they are.

It may be the bet little book you’ve never heard of – and by little, I don’t mean scope, but size. It is just over 250 pages, Marion Winik of Newsday says, “This novel is as concentrated as orchid food, pacing as much narrative power and intellectual energy into its 250 pages as novels triple its size.”

I read this book in one sitting. It isn’t a book you take in, snack on, taking small bites – this is a delicious meal that you sit down and eat with gusto!

Here is a list of just a few of the awards Euphoria won:

Winner of the New England Book Award
Winner of the Kirkus Prize for Fiction
Time Magazine’s Top Fiction of 2014 15 must read of2014

Ready Player One
Ready Player One

By Ernest Cline

(Crown Publishers, 2011) Recommended by Sam Maskell, Youth Services Librarian

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

This is also the kick-off book for RFPL Reads: YA, a new teen book group! Pick up a copy of the book today and join the discussion at: .

Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty
Sons of Wichita

By Daniel Schulman 
(Grand Central Publishing, 2014)
Recommended by Shirley Capron, Librarian

The media is bombarding us these days with information about Presidential candidates. Behind the scenes is the Koch Dynasty with their huge influence over politics with their extreme libertarian and ultra conservative views that largely influence the election results by proposing government policies, setting state/federal agendas, using their fortunes. The Kochs are big contributors to ultra conservative think tanks across the U.S., universities, “America for Prosperity” (with more money than the Republican Party receives), using their wealth to influence American politics/policy.

“Sons of Wichita” traces the complicated lives and legacies of the four Koch brothers, as well as their business, social and political ambitions. The Kochs are one of the most influential dynasties of our era, but so little is publicly known about this family, their origins, how they make their money, and how they live their lives. Based on hundreds of interviews with friends, relatives, business associates, and many others, this book is the first major biography about this wealthy and powerful family – warts and all.


By Bradley Somer

(St. Martin's Press, 2015) Recommended by Alma Beals, Librarian

My book pick is Fishbowl by Bradley Somer. This is a new book that is different because it is seen through the eyes of a goldfish that jumps out of his bowl for adventures and falls 27 floors toward the concrete street.

Don't let the boring first chapter turn you off; by the time you get into the second chapter, you will be hooked.

It is a story about people living on 27 floors of an apartment building, lonely people who don't know one another. There are some excellent descriptions of the people, from a cross dresser, to a lady afraid to leave her apartment, to a lady ready to give birth, to an unfaithful boyfriend who discovers he has to do some fast talking hoping to keep his girlfriend. All of these people have interesting adventures but what about the goldfish, did he live?


Recommended by Ellen Allman, Inter-library Loan Librarian

I have another great DVD for this month’s Staff Pick. Pride is the story of the summer of 1984 when there is a general strike in Great Britain.

A group of London activists decide to raise funds to help support striking miners in a small Welsh community. The result is a funny and heart-warming story based on actual events.

January 2016

January 2016

Pirate Radio
Pirate Radio

Universal Studios
Recommend by Ellen Allman, Librarian

My pick for this month is the DVD Pirate Radio. It is based on true story of what went on in England when rock and roll started its rise to popularity. Rock and roll was banned from being played on English radio, so there were ships off the coast in international waters broadcasting music all day and night. The movie is the story of one of the ships. The characters are interesting and I enjoyed it.


by Barbara Delinsky 
(St. Martin's Press, 2015)
Recommended by Alma Beals, Librarian

My pick for January is Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky, a new fiction, about a mother and daughter who are very close and work for the same home renovation series on TV. The network wants to replace the mother with the daughter as host because they want to appeal to a younger audience. The mother sees this as she is "too old".

A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy

By Alexandra Bracken

(LucasFilm Press, 2015)
Recommended by Sam Maskell, Youth Services Librarian

Star Wars: The Force Awakens may be what everyone is talking about now, but the story began way back in 1977 with “A New Hope”. Over the years Star Wars has been retold, reimagined, and explored through several different formats including film, books, art, animation, video games, and more.

This new Star Wars series for middle grade readers is not simply a novelization, it is an exciting and engaging re-telling of the story in a whole new way. Bracken has divided “A New Hope” into thirds - each section focuses on the experiences of one of the main characters: Leia Organa, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker. Readers will experience the story through the characters' points of view. Bracken does an excellent job exploring the roles and possibilities of each character as they begin their hero journeys.

Whether you’re a brand new or long-time Star Wars fan, this book is an excellent read. After this one, you can continue the story with “The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to Be a Jedi?” (by Adam Gidwitz) and “Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side!” (by Tom Angleberger).

Love & Mercy: The Life, Love and Genius of Brian Wilson
Love & Mercy: The Life, Love and Genius of Brian Wilson

Recommended by Célina Houlné, Library Director

In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson, played by Paul Dano, struggles with emerging psychosis including hallucinations and paranoia, even as his amazing creativity drives him to compose innovative and complex musical compositions.

By the 1980s the older Brian, played by John Cusack, is a broken, confused man under the control of therapist Dr. Eugene Landy, played by Paul Giamatti. Brian is rescued by an old friend, played by Elizabeth Banks, who helps him to escape the therapist’s unhealthy control, and to recover from the pain of mental illness and the horrible treatment he’d received.

This amazing story of an extraordinary musical visionary was written by Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner, and excellently directed and produced by Bill Pohlad (who also gave us 12 Years a Slave, Into the Wild, and Brokeback Mountain). With such a great cast (and great music!), it’s not surprising that the Chicago Tribune called it “the best musical biopic in decades”.

The Paying Guests
The Paying Guests

By Sarah Waters

(Riverhead Books, 2014) Recommended by Nancy Tusinski, Reference and Historical Collection Librarian

London 1922. Frances Wray, 26 had an exciting life in London until her mother called her home to keep house and keep her company. Frances' father recently passed away and left the family with a mountain of debts. No more domestic help. Frances will keep house and cook for her mother. But the two women find they are not much better off financially and decide to take in lodgers, or "paying guests." The lodgers are Leonard and Lilian Barber, also in their 20s like Frances, but from a lower social class. Leonard goes off to work each day and Lilian stays home and smokes, sometimes staying in her dressing gown all day. Frances and Lilian meet each other in the hallway and pass each other coming and going from the outhouse. Waters builds the reader's anticipation as she builds the attraction of Frances and Lilian. The affair is inevitable. Frances and Lilian live in their bubble of the affair until a tragedy threatens everything.

Sarah Waters meticulous attention to historical detail and storytelling had me unable to put this book down once the second half of the story began. The first half she slowly builds the story like a master painter begins work on a canvas. You might not know exactly what is going to appear and when it finally does - it is a masterpiece!

The Theory of Everything
The Theory of Everything

Universal Studios 
Recommended by Shirley Capron, Librarian

"The Theory of Everything" brings the story of Stephen Hawkins and his first wife, Jane Hawkins.

As the movie opens, we are reminded that we are in "Cambridge, 1963". Stephen and Jane are going to university in Cambridge, and they meet at a party. It is immediately clear that there is a spark between them, but Stephen is either shy or ignorant about women. Fortunately, Jane does not give up on him. Meanwhile, it is not long (15 min.) in the movie that we see Stephen starting to struggle with an oncoming illness. He is eventually diagnosed with ALS, a form of Motor Neuron Disease, (called Lou Gehrig's disease) and is given two years to live. Despite the stern warnings of Stephen's father that "this is going to be a heavy defeat', Jane decides to push on with Stephen. All the while, Stephen is also working towards his Ph.D. in physics. It is now fifty years since his diagnosis and his work and fame grew during the years of coping with his disease. To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

The Port Chicago 50: Mutiny, Disaster, and the Fight for Civil Rights
The Port Chicago 50: Mutiny, Disaster, and the Fight for Civil Rights

By Steve Sheinkin

(Roaring Book Press, 2014) Recommended by Ponnie Derby, Librarian

Sheinkin tells the dramatic true story of a group of black members of the U.S. Navy during World War II. Eager to fight for their country overseas, they found themselves stationed in San Francisco where they faced danger, mutiny, and the possibility of a firing squad. While this book is shelved in the youth department, it is a story that will appeal to adults as well.

The 5 Love Languages
The 5 Love Languages

By Gary Chapman 
(Northfield Pub, 2010)
Recommended by Anne Dempsey, Programming / Community Relations Librarian

This #1 NYT best seller breaks down the mystery of how one feels loved into 5 distinct "languages." He calls them:

-words of affirmation
-quality time
-acts of service
-physical touch

The author explains how the disconnect often experienced in love relationships can be diminished greatly by learning and identifying the preferred love language of one another. I recommend this book for its simply stated common sense advice.

December 2015

Front Runner
Front Runner

By Felix Francis
(G.P Putnam's Sons, 2015)
Recommend by Ellen Allman, Librarian

My pick for the month is Felix Francis's Front Runner. Felix Francis used to do research for his father Dick Francis. And helped him write the last few of his father's books before his death in 2010. Now Felix is on his own and he writes as well as his Dad did. Front Runner takes place in the British racing world as do most Francis novels. This one reprieves the character Jeff Hinkley an investigator for the British Horseracing Authority. There is mystery, suspense and romance everything a good book needs.

A Common Struggle
Common Struggle

by Patrick Kennedy 
(Blue Rider Press, 2013)
Recommended by Alma Beals, Librarian

My pick for December is A Common Struggle by Patrick Kennedy. This book is a personal journey through the past and future of mental illness and addiction. Patrick, the son of Ted and Joan Kennedy, tells how the Kennedy family always kept secrets. Both Ted and Joan were alcoholics - Ted could function with his alcoholism but Joan couldn't. Patrick was bi-polar, an alcoholic, had an anxiety disorder and abused drugs.

As a Congressman in Rhode Island, he sponsored many bills to fight the stigma of mental illness. After reading this book, you will understand the stigma attached to mental illness and why so many hide from admitting that they need help.

Fish in a Tree
Still Life

By Lynda Mullaly Hunt

(Penguin, 2015)
Recommended by Sam Maskell, Youth Services Librarian

“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.” (~Attributed to Albert Einstein)

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. Afraid to ask for help, she feels isolated and scared. However, her newest teacher, Mr. Daniels, is able to see the bright, creative kid underneath the troublemaker. With his help, Ally learns that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of, and as her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and discovers a new world full of possibilities. There is a lot more to people than labels, and great minds don’t always think alike.

Fish in a Tree is an uplifting novel for middle grade readers that will speak to anyone who has ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in. If you’re a fan of Wonder, Out of My Mind, So B. It, Counting By Sevens, or Hunt’s previous book One for the Murphys, then this book should be next on your reading list.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Tidying Book

by Marie Kondō 
(Ten Speed Press, 2014)
Recommended by Anne Dempsey, Programming / Community Relations Librarian

In my free time, I often find myself overwhelmed by transient piles of bills, notes and clothes in my apartment. Don’t get me wrong. I can still see most of my floors. My home is surely not a fire hazard. But sometimes, I look around and think to myself, ”Why bother? It’s just going to get clutter-y again.”

I first heard about this light-hearted, reassuring and amusing book from our former reference librarian Emily Zervis (who is now the director of the Putney Library.) She actually sounded delighted by the writer’s style in addressing the topics of decluttering and organizing. However, it didn’t pique my interest enough to actually read it.

What finally inspired me to read this book was my friend Cecilia Dessert. Back in the 1970’s, she and I were roommates at Keene State College. We re-connected over facebook about a year ago and have been sharing favorite book titles ever since. This week, Cecilia recommended Kondo’s book. I immediately borrowed it from the Library. I’m enjoying it very much. Stay tuned for a report on how “tidying up” it has changed my life!

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child & Avis Devoto
As Always Julia

Edited by Joan Reardon

(Houghton Mifflin, 2010)) Recommended by Nancy Tusinski, Reference and Historical Collection Librarian

If you like to read memoirs and you like books about cooking and food and writing books, this book will have you turning pages well into the night. It is a captivating piece of social history and a look at the inner life of Julia Child. Before inexpensive phone calls, before emails, Facebook, and tweets there was the handwritten letter. People made time during their week for "correspondence" - putting pen to paper and reflecting on their past week or month. If you have never read a book of letters before, try this one. And let me know what you think.

"Julia is known around the world by her first name alone. But how much do we really know of the inner Julia Child? Through this riveting correspondence between Julia and Avis DeVoto, her “pen pal” and literary mentor, we hear Julia’s deepest thoughts and feelings and witness the blossoming of a unique and lifelong friendship. We see, too, the turbulent creation of one of the most influential cookbooks ever written. Frank, bawdy, funny, exuberant, these astonishing letters show an America on the verge of political, social, and gastronomic transformation and two women deeply engaged in the making of that new world." *Amazon

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Deadly Election

by Lindsey Davis 
(Minotaur Books, 2015)
Recommended by Célina Houlné, Library Director

If you like to travel back in time to ancient Rome, consider exploring Lindsey Davis’ series of excellently researched novels featuring Marcus Didius Falco which started with the first title in the series, “The Silver Pigs”. The most recent title in the series is “Deadly Election”. In the first century A.D., during Domitian's reign, Flavia Albia, daughter of Marcus Didius Falco, the now-retired private informer, has taken up her father's former profession. She’s faced with a mystery surrounding a corpse that was found in a chest sent as part of a large lot to be sold by the Falco family auction house. While investigating the case she’s called upon by her suitor, Faustus, to help with his friend Sextus's political campaign, revealing a connection between the auction business and Roman politics. The author’s rich period detail and vivid characters bring ancient Rome to life, leaving the reader anticipating the next suspenseful and clever mystery!

Gertrude Bell : Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations
Gertrude Bell : queen of the desert, shaper of nations

By Georgina Howell

(Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008) Recommended by Shirley Capron, Librarian

I remember reading somewhere that there were six famous women in world history and Gertrude was considered one of them. Called “Queen” among the Arabs, she was at one time the most powerful woman in the British Empire; a nation builder, the driving force behind the creation of modern-day Iraq. Born in 1868, into a world of privilege, she turned her back on Victorian society. Choosing to read history at Oxford and going on to become an archaeologist, spy for the British government in Mesopotamia and Saudi Arabia; an Arabist, linguist of five languages, cartographer (whose maps are still in use today), founder of the Museum in Iraq that was bombed during the war, and founder of the Library there. She was also a poet, an author (many of her books are still being published) and photographer (where her 2,000 and more photos are housed at the University of New Castle in England). She was a legendary mountaineer, climbing one of the most difficult mountains in Switzerland, (in her underwear) before her brilliant life began in the Middle East.

In the Middle East, she travelled with a troupe of seventeen camels carrying her servants, guns, canvas bathtub, dining ware (silver, crystal, linens) and feminine wardrobe with the latest Parisian fashions . Her vast knowledge of the region made her indispensable to the Cairo Intelligence Office of the British government during World War I. She advised the Viceroy of India, then an army major, and traveled to the front lines in Mesopotamia. She supported the creation of an autonomous Arab nation for Iraq, promoting the manipulation of the election of King Faisal to the throne and helping to draw the borders of the fledgling state.

Georgina Howell paints a compelling story not only about Gertude, but of historical events of England and the Middle East in WWI.

Sadly, it has taken the film industry all of these years to recognize her. This past Sept. the film, “Queen of the Desert” produced by Werner Herzog, starring Nicole Kidman as Gertrude was released in Berlin. It will appear in theatres in the U.S. next fall.

October 2015

That Camden Summer
That Camden Summer

By LaVyrle Spencer
(Putnam's Sons, 1996)
Recommend by Alma Beals, Librarian

My staff pick for October is Camden Summer by Lavyrle Spencer. This is an older book from our collection and takes place in the early 1900s.

It is a love story that points out what few rights women used to have. The story is about Roberta Jewett who is divorced and has returned from Boston to Camden. Divorced women were scorned by the town busy bodies and open territory for men's advances.

The busy bodies try to bring charges that Roberta is an unfit mother and should have her 3 daughters taken away from her. She was raped and it was "her fault". An important town friend stands up for her because she was also raped by this same man when she was 17.

Grandma Gatewood's Walk
Grandma Gatewood's Walk

by Ben Montgomery 
(Chicago Review Press, 2014)
Recommended by Nancy Tusinski, Reference and Historical Collection Librarian

I am continuing my Fall hiking theme, with this wonderful book. If you like books about hiking, history, women and the tenacity of the human spirit, then this book is for you. The book alternates between Gatewood's hike, her back story, including her marriage to an abusive husband and the history of the trail. "Grandma" Gatewood's story helped get the trail repaired and brought the trail into the public consciousness. This book is also the winner of the National Outdoor Book Awards for History/Biography.

From Booklist: In 1955, at 67, Gatewood left her small Ohio town and her 11 children and 23 grandchildren and set off to trek the Appalachian Trail. She’d long been fascinated by the 2,050-mile trail and was particularly lured by the fact that no woman had ever hiked it alone. Knowing her family wouldn’t approve, she didn’t tell them when she set out with a little 17-pound sack of supplies and no tent or sleeping bag. Journalist Montgomery draws on interviews with Gatewood’s surviving family members and hikers she met on her five-month journey as well as news accounts and Gatewood’s diaries to offer a portrait of a determined woman, whose trek inspired other hikers and brought attention to the neglect of the Appalachian Trail. She became a hiking celebrity, appearing on television with Groucho Marx and Art Linkletter. Montgomery intertwines details of Gatewood’s hike with recollections from her early life and difficult marriage. Maps of the trail and photos from Gatewood’s early life enhance this inspiring story.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

The Halloween Tree

By Ray Bradbury
(Alfred A. Knopf, 2015)
Recommended by Sam Maskell, Youth Services Librarian

Halloween is coming!

And what better way to celebrate my favorite holiday then with the re-release of Ray Bradbury’s ode to All Hallow’s Eve, The Halloween Tree.

Originally published in 1972, Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree tells the story of a group of boys who intend to go trick-or-treating on Halloween only to discover that a ninth friend, Pipkin, has been whisked away on a journey that could determine whether he lives or dies. The mysterious character, Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud, helps them pursue Pip across time and space through Ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures, introducing the boys to Celtic Druids, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Medieval Paris, and The Day of the Dead in Mexico. Along the way, the boys learn the origins of Halloween, and the role that the fear of death, spooks, and haunts has played in shaping civilization.

The newest edition of The Halloween Tree, now available in the Youth Department, features visually striking color and B&W illustrations from renowned artist Gris Grimly. Grimly’s dark, gothic, and whimsically creepy artistic style is a spot-on match for Bradbury’s tale. The vintage Halloween costumes, airborne waves of freshly-fallen leaves, and all the pumpkins rendered in warm gold-and-brown hues perfectly capture the season and the holiday.

Still Life
Still Life

By Louise Penny

(St. Martin's Minotaur, 2005)
Recommended by Célina Houlné, Library Director

As the early morning mist clears on Thanksgiving Sunday, the homes of Three Pines come to life--all except one… Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it's just a tragic hunting accident, but Gamache knows something isn't quite right, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless hunter.

Canadian author Louise Penny's highly acclaimed, New York Times bestselling mystery series has won the New Blood Dagger as well as multiple Agatha, Anthony, Dilys, Arthur Ellis, and other prestigious awards. In 2010 the first book, Still Life, was cited as one of the five Mystery/Crime Novels of the Decade by Deadly Pleasures magazine.

In this series, Chief Inspector Gamache digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life in Three Pines, finding long buried secrets--and facing a few of his own ghosts. You’ll be thinking of these characters, and their stories, long after the pages are closed.

Simon's Cat in Kitten Chaos
Simon's Cat

by Simon Tofield 
(Akashic Books, 2014)
Recommended by Mary Van Hartesveldt, Librarian

It is cat vs. kitten when Simon finds an abandoned kitten in a box by the side of the road and brings it home where he already has a resident, and very territorial, cat. Balls of yarn, catnip mice, and any household item that can be shredded come into play as the kitten explores its new home, and the cat desperately tries to stay in power in this cartoon series from the creator of the Simon’s Cat You Tube channel. You can find this book in our Juvenile Graphic Novel section in the Youth Department.

You can also find lots of Simon's Cat videos online:

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
Being Mortal

By Atul Gawande

Metropolitan Books, 2014) Recommended by Anne Dempsey, Programming / Community Relations Librarian

In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending. Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.*(Amazon)

Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession's ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly.

Multiple copies of this book are available at the Library’s front desk. If you would like to discuss "Being Mortal," Brattleboro Area Hospice and Rockingham Free Public Library are co-sponsoring a book discussion of Dr. Gawande's book on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m., at the Library at 65 Westminster Street in Bellows Falls. This event is free and open to the public.

Short Nights of The Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtiss
Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher

By Timothy Egan

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)
Recommended by Shirley Capron, Librarian

In keeping with the talk tomorrow about the Abenaki Indians, a very good read is a biography about a famous American photographer of the American Indians: "Short nights of the shadow catcher; the epic life and immortal photographs of Edward Curtiss." Edward was charismatic, handsome, a passionate mountaineer, and a famous portrait photographer of his time. He was a friend to presidents, vaudeville stars and leading thinkers. At 32 years of age in 1900, he pursued his great idea: To capture on film, the continent's original inhabitants before their old ways disappeared.

Curtis spent the next three decades documenting the stories and rituals of more than 80 North American tribes. Taking tremendous perseverance -- 10 years alone to persuade the Hopi to allow him to observe their Snake Dance ceremony -- he would amass more than 40,000 photographs and 10,000 audio recordings and he is credited with making the first narrative documentary film. In the process, the charming rogue with a grade-school education created the most definitive archive of the American Indian.

As a side note, the J.P. Morgan Library in NYC had many of these photographs because J.P. Morgan originally financed Curtiss' idea to photograph Indians. Some of them still remain in the Library and one can view them by requesting to do so in advance of visiting the Library

Also, the 20 volume set that Curtis put together over his lifetime has been digitalized by Northwestern University and is available free to the public:

Author: C.J. Box
C.J. Box

Recommended by Ellen Allman, Librarian

My staff pick for October is author C.J. Box. I've gotten hooked on his books. He has a series about a Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett. He also has some stand alone novels that are equally as good. I've been reading them in whatever order I can get them. Three of the ones Rockingham Library has is Stone Cold, Badlands, and Endangered.

September 2015

September 2015

A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety
A Full Life

By Jimmy Carter
(Simon & Schuster, 2015) Recommend by Ellen Allman, Librarian

This audio book read by Jimmy is a look at his life from childhood to 90.  Jimmy Carter has always been one of the Presidents I most admired. 

He is a remarkable man.  He's had a full life as the title suggests. 

Having admired his work for so many years after listening to this book I realized there is so much I didn't know.  I hadn't realized how long he was in the service or how active he still was in the Carter Center. A good listen for those short or long car rides.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by Alan Bradley  
(Delecorte Press, 2009) Recommended by Mary Van Hartesveldt, Librarian

This is the first in the Flavia de Luce mystery series.  Flavia de Luce is a self-taught chemist, her specialty: poisons.  This is most useful when she needs to get revenge against her older sisters who alternately pretend she does not exist or torment her.  She works in the beautiful laboratory that had once belonged to her great-uncle Tarquin de Luce.  Flavia is eleven years old.
A dead bird with a stamp impaled on its beak is left on the doorstep at Buckshaw, the family estate.  Then a stranger dies in their garden, and Flavia finds the body.  But she is not horrified.  No, this is the most interesting thing that has happened to her.  The police are called, but Flavia has clues to follow and sets about to solve the crime ahead of the police.

The Wee Free Men
The Wee Free Men

By Terry Pratchett

(Viking, 2015) Recommended by Sam Maskell, Youth Services Librarian

Tiffany Aching lives on a farm, is good at making cheese, has a special relationship with her Grandmother, and is a girl of uncommon sense. She also dreams of becoming a witch.

The Wee Free Men are tiny, redheaded, blue men in kilts, who speak in a thick Scottish brogue, and are otherwise known as the Nac Mac Feegle.

Tiffany sets out to rescue her baby brother, who has been kidnapped by the Queen of Fairyland, armed only with an iron frying pan and a book of sheep diseases, and accompanied by the brawling, boisterous Nac Mac Feegle. However, this Fairyland is not the nice sweet kind; it is a place of endless winter where nightmares come true, and where a person can be trapped in a dream forever. And it is encroaching on Tiffany’s world, threatening to absorb it.

This is an excellent fantasy for middle readers and adults whether you’re a long-time Terry Pratchett fan or just discovering Discworld and Pratchett’s singularly clever and humorous storytelling style. Pratchett’s final book, The Shepard’s Crown, a Tiffany Aching story will be published this month; before checking out that one, start with The Wee Free Men.

The Theory of Everything
The Theory of Everything

(2014) Recommended by Célina Houlné, Library Director

This film is the extraordinary story of the legendary physicist, professor and best-selling author (A Brief History of Time) Stephen Hawking, who falls deeply in love with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. At age 21 he is diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disease and given two years to live. Fighting together they defy the odds and achieve more than they could ever have dreamed.

Brilliant acting by Eddie Redmayne (who won the Oscar for this role) and Felicity Jones, helps us understand how determination can conquer even the most difficult challenges. The film is inspiring, poignant, even funny at times. It’s an amazing story!

To learn more, read Jane Hawking’s memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, which inspired the movie.

The Loon: Voice of the Wilderness
The Loon: Voice of the Wilderness

By Joan Dunning

(Yankee, 1985) Recommended by Alma Beals, Librarian

My pick for August is "The Loon: Voice of the Wilderness" by Joan Dunning.

Having just spent a week on Granite Lake watching loons, I wanted to write my nature column for the Westminster Gazette on loons.

This book is full of details which I wanted to be sure I had right before writing the article. I have read this book many times and always enjoy thinking about loons and about my friendship with Joan.

Joan was from California and moved to Springfield, Vermont. She married an abusive husband and finally took her 2 kids and left with just the clothes on their backs and returned to California. She was in Audubon with me for the 8 years she worked on the book. I can't remember the details but she didn't lose the kids. It was quite a battle.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

by Bill Bryson 
(Broadway Books, 1998) Recommended by Nancy Tusinski, Reference and Historical Collection Librarian

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.

The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in). (*Amazon)

Well worth a read or a reread before you see the movie!

Growing Up Amish
Growing Up Amish

by Ira Wagler 
(Tyndale House, 2011) Recommended by Anne Dempsey, Programming / Community Relations Librarian

One fateful starless night, 17-year-old Ira Wagler got up at 2 AM, left a scribbled note under his pillow, packed all of his earthly belongings into in a little black duffel bag, and walked away from his home in the Amish settlement of Bloomfield, Iowa. Now, in this heartwarming memoir, Ira paints a vivid portrait of Amish life?from his childhood days on the family farm, his Rumspringa rite of passage at age 16, to his ultimate decision to leave the Amish Church for good at age 26. Growing Up Amish is the true story of one man’s quest to discover who he is and where he belongs. Readers will laugh, cry, and be inspired by this charming yet poignant coming of age story set amidst the backdrop of one of the most enigmatic cultures in America today?the Old Order Amish.

This grand & magnificent place : the wilderness heritage of the White Mountains
This grand & magnificent place : the wilderness heritage of the White Mountains

by Christopher Johnson 
(University Press of New England, 2006) Recommended by Shirley Capron, Librarian

This is the complex story of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, from the range’s days as the majestic homeland of the Abenaki, first seen by English colonists four centuries ago, to its unassailable standing today as one of America’s most beloved national forests, comprising 112,000 acres of protected wilderness.

Johnson shares true tales of the first intrepid European settlers who “tamed” the Whites. He discusses Ethan Allen Crawford, the area’s first innkeeper, the emergence of tourism, and America’s love affair with the “wilderness experience”; and he explores tales of Thomas Cole, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and other renowned artists who immortalized these mountains in their works. He considers the coming of grand resort hotels—and the contemporaneous wilderness revival—in the late nineteenth century and the passing of the landmark 1911 Weeks Act, which was instrumental in preserving American wilderness in the face of development and threats of irreparable environmental damage. Johnson traces the perilous course of the twentieth-century movement toward wilderness preservation, which has successfully conserved the Whites, for future generations. Finally, he poses thoughtful and essential questions regarding the destiny of this American wilderness, exploring the balance between maintaining its usefulness while conserving its glorious heritage.

August 2015

August 2015

August 2015


By Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
(BOOM! Box, 2015) Recommend by Sam Maskell, Youth Services Librarian

The Lumberjanes are five girls attending what could be the most awesome camp for girls, Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types”. While taking on everyday camp activities like hiking or exploring forest flora, they are drawn into mysteries that include mythical creatures like sea monsters, yetis, and talking Greek statues.  This fun and quirky graphic novel features some excellent young women using all their wit and cunning, particularly in math and science, to save themselves. 

If you enjoy stories with
...references to Mae Jemison and Fibonacci.
...innocent expletives like "What the Junk?!?!"
...girls with skills.
...and a motto like "Friendship to the max!"

Then this might be the book for you!

Any Other Name: A Longmire Mystery
Any Other Name: A Longmire Mystery

by Craig Johnson  
(Penguin Books, 2014) Recommended by Célina Houlné, Library Director

Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire’s eleventh case begins when his former boss asks him to take on a mercy case, to discover why a fellow lawman took his own life. Walt learns that the by-the-book detective might have suppressed evidence concerning three missing women, and Walt uncovers an incriminating secret so dark that it threatens to claim other lives before the sheriff can solve the crime.

Johnson’s Longmire novels are suspenseful, fast-paced, complex mysteries with endearing characters, humor and a bit of romance, all steeped in the culture and dramatic scenery of the American West.

Fans of the popular "Longmire” TV series will greatly enjoy reading the books that spurred the creation of the television show. Try to start with the first novel in the series, A Cold Dish, where the strong story lines begin. You’ll be hooked!


By George Hodgman

(Viking, 2015) Recommended by Anne Dempsey, Programming / Community Relations Librarian

Bettyville is a beautifully crafted memoir, rich with humor and wisdom. George Hodgman has created an unforgettable book about mothers and sons and about the challenges that come with growing older and growing up.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
The Stories Life of A. J. Fikry

by Gabrielle Zevin 
(Algonquin Books, 2014) Recommended by Nancy Tusinski, Reference and Historical Collection Librarian

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over--and see everything anew. A story for book lovers, bookstore lovers, and lovers of life who can't wait to see what their "next chapter" will be.

Spider Woman's Daughter
Spider Woman's Daughter

By Anne Hillerman

(Harper 2014) Recommended by Ellen Allman, Librarian

Anne Hillerman has taken over writing the Leaphorn & Chee series. Her father Tony Hillerman started the series and Anne has decided to continue the series now that her father has died. I so missed Leaphorn and Chee so it's good to have them back. Anne has her father's knack for telling a good story. The library has this one and the one that follows. "Rock With Wings".

Go Set a Watchman
Go Set a Watchman

by Harper Lee 
(Harper, 2015) Recommended by Ponnie Derby, Librarian

This, Harper Lee's first novel, has remained unpublished until now. Most of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird reappear in Go Set a Watchman, which is set twenty years later in the midst of the changes occurring in the 1950s south. Beloved characters react differently than expected. For me To Kill a Mockingbird is a perfect book, and Go Set a Watchman is an honest book.I loved them both.

The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer
The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer

by Anne Marie O'Connor 
(Random House, 2012) Recommended by Shirley Capron, Librarian

The Library has this book and the rest of the story on DVD, “The Woman in Gold.” It is about Adele’s aunt and her attempts years later to obtain Klimpt’s famous portrait of Adele, “Lady in Gold” from Vienna’s Art Museum. It now resides in the Neu Gallerie in New York City. This book depicts life in Vienna before WWII.

Another book about life in Vienna at that time, before it was invaded by the Nazis is “The hare with amber eyes : a hidden inheritance" by De Waal, Edmund. The Library has this book in hard copy and also on their Nook.

Peculiar Crimes Unit (Series)
Peculiar Crimes Unit n

by Christopher Fowler 
(Bantam) Recommended by Mary Van Hartesveldt, Librarian

This month I am recommending The Peculiar Crimes Unit mystery series by Christopher Fowler. First in the series is "Full Dark House". A bomb destroys the headquarters of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, apparently killing Arthur Bryant, and leaving his partner, John May, to investigate. While going through old case files, May is transported back to their first case in 1940's London where the past may provide a clue to the present tragedy. Intelligent and complex characters and plots make this series an excellent read.

GRIT magazine (July 2015 issue)
Grit Magazine

Recommended by Alma Beals, Librarian

GRIT is full of arricles that interest me, from an article on pollinators (bees and butterflies) to how to identify poison ivy.

We have to be careful to not use pesticides and insecticides, especially neonicotinoids which harm the pollinators.

Another article was on growing sprouts for animals. I grow sprouts for myself, but growing them for animals was a new idea for me.
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