Looking for a Mindful Moment?

Find one with InsightTimer. This app and website publishes the world’s largest collection of free guided meditations. Over 40,000 free titles can help you manage stress, cope with anxiety and improve your sleep. You’ll find options for timed meditations, music and nature sound recordings, and meditation practices designed specifically for children and teens. There’s even a free 7 day course for people new to the practice of meditation. Download the app today and enjoy a moment of mindfulness.

June is Audiobook month

by Diane Richmond

Audiobook Month is here and we’re celebrating the art of storytelling. Great narrators can bring books and their characters to life. We’ve compiled a list of award winning books from science fiction, to mystery thrillers, to romance and everything in between. Here are some great options for you to choose from. Listen while going on a drive, swinging in your hammock or taking a walk!

All these books, and many more, are available to download for free with your libray card through the Overdrive or Libby apps

The Dutch House a novel by Ann Patchett

A Pulitzer Prize Finalist and Audie Award® Finalist for Audiobook of the Year & Best Male Narrator Tom Hanks

Ann Patchett, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth, delivers her most powerful novel to date: a richly moving story that explores the indelible bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go.

The story is told by Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakeable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures. Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past.

Becoming by Michelle Obama – Narrated by Michelle Obama

Winner of the Grammy’s Best Spoken Word Album of 2020

“This intimate listening experience allows us behind the public exterior and into the warm embrace of private revelations by one of our nation’s most beloved role models.”—AudioFile magazine.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow narrated by January LaVoy

2020 Audie Awards® Best Female Narrator Finalist

“A gorgeous, aching love letter to stories, storytellers and the doors they lead us through…absolutely enchanting.” — Christina Henry (Author of Lost Boy).

This is the story of January Scaller, a young woman growing up at the turn of the 20th century who is sucked into an adventure that takes her between worlds and reveals that stories too fantastical to be true actually are. January’s father is an employee of the fabulously wealthy Mr. Locke. He travels the world searching for lost treasures and valuable artifacts to add to his employer’s immense collection. While her father’s away, January staves off the boredom of the high society life she’s been adopted into by losing herself in pulp adventure novels. One day, she discovers a mysterious book called The Ten Thousand Doors, and inside its pages she mets the vivacious Miss Adelaide Lee Larson—a remarkable woman who lived a few decades earlier, and left an account of her years spent exploring, and her discovery that some doors don’t lead to where you’d expect.

American Moonshot John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race by Douglas Brinkley narrated by Stephen Graybill

2020 Audie Awards® Winner -History/Biography

“Graybill’s well-paced delivery presents grounded depictions of key figures.”—AudioFile magazine

In this engrossing, fast-paced epic, Douglas Brinkley returns to the 1960s to recreate one of the most exciting and ambitious achievements in the history of humankind. American Moonshot brings together the extraordinary political, cultural, and scientific factors that fueled the birth and development of NASA and the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects, which shot the United States to victory in the space race against the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Drawing on new primary source material and major interviews with many of the surviving figures who were key to America’s success, Brinkley brings this fascinating history to life as never before. American Moonshot is a portrait of the brilliant men and women who made this giant leap possible, the technology that enabled us to propel men beyond earth’s orbit to the moon and return them safely, and the geopolitical tensions that spurred Kennedy to commit himself fully to this audacious dream.

The Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes narrated by Shonda Rhimes

2017 Audie Award® Finalist for Audiobook of the Year

As the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder, and the single mom of three children, Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say NO when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No. The side benefit of saying No for an introvert like her: nothing new to fear. Then Shonda’s sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say YES to the invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed, and the result was nothing short of transformative. Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life, and how listeners can all change their lives with one little word. Yes.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates narrated by Joe Morton

Winner of the 2020 Audie Award® for Literary Fiction & Classics

“One of the best books I have ever read in my entire life. Right up there in the top five. I was enthralled, I was devastated. I felt hope, I felt gratitude, I felt joy… [Ta-Nehisi Coates] is a magnificent writer.” – Oprah.

Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage. When his mother was sold away, Hiram was robbed of all memory of her, but was gifted with a mysterious power. Years later, when Hiram almost drowns in a river, that same power saves his life. This brush with death births an urgency in Hiram and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known. So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the Deep South to dangerously idealistic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson narrated by Marin Ireland

2020 Audie Award® Winner – Best Female Narrator

“I can’t believe how good this book is…. It’s wholly original. It’s also perfect…. Wilson writes with such a light touch…. The brilliance of the novel [is] that it distracts you with these weirdo characters and mesmerizing and funny sentences and then hits you in a way you didn’t see coming.” —Taffy Brodesser-Akner, New York Times Book Review

Lillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. But then, Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal, and they’ve barely spoken since. Until now, when Lillian gets a letter from Madison pleading for her help. Madison’s twin step kids are moving in with her family, and she wants Lillian to be their caretaker. However, there’s a catch: The twins spontaneously combust when they get agitated, flames igniting from their skin in a startling but beautiful way. Lillian is convinced Madison is pulling her leg, but it’s the truth.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward narrated by Kelvin Harrison

Winner of the National Book Award and a New York Times Top 10 Best Book Of The Year

This majestic, stirring, and widely praised novel from two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, is a “tour de force” (O, the Oprah Magazine) and a timeless work of fiction that is destined to become a a classic.
Living with his grandparents and sister on a Gulf Coast farm, Jojo navigates the challenges of his mother’s addictions and his grandmother’s cancer before the release of his father from prison prompts a road trip of danger and hope.

The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup narrated by Caroline Waight

2020 Audie Awards® Winner – Mystery

The heart-pounding debut from the creator of the hit Scandinavian television show The Killing. A psychopath is terrorizing Copenhagen.  His calling card is a “chestnut man”—a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts—which he leaves at each bloody crime scene. Examining the dolls, forensics makes a shocking discovery—a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, a government minister’s daughter who had been kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

A tragic coincidence—or something more twisted?

The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull narrated by Janina Edwards

A 2020 Audie Award® Science Fiction Finalist

An alien ship rests over Water Island. For five years the people of the US Virgin Islands have lived with the Ynaa, a race of super advanced aliens on a research mission they will not fully disclose. They are benevolent in many ways but meet any act of aggression with disproportional wrath. This has led to a strained relationship between the Ynaa and the local Virgin Islanders and a peace that cannot last.

A year after the death of a young boy at the hands of an Ynaa, three families find themselves at the center of the inevitable conflict, witness and victim to events that will touch everyone and teach a terrible lesson.

Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas narrated by Mary Jane Wells

2020 Audie Award® Winner – Romance

“Narrator Mary Jane Wells’s rich voice lends itself to the story.”—AudioFile magazine

Although beautiful young widow Phoebe, Lady Clare, has never met West Ravenel, she knows one thing for certain: he’s a mean, rotten bully. Back in boarding school, he made her late husband’s life a misery, and she’ll never forgive him for it. But when Phoebe attends a family wedding, she encounters a dashing and impossibly charming stranger who sends a fire-and-ice jolt of attraction through her. And then he introduces himself…as none other than West Ravenel.

5 Books on Climate Change to Commerate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day

by Deborah Hersh

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Established as a national annual event in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson, a U S Senator from Wisconson, Earth Day was created to focus on the environment and to raise public awareness about pollution. Nelson’s idea’s for Earth day came about after witnessing the ravages of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, in 1969. Further inspired by the protests of the 1960’s, Earth Day began as a “national teach-in on the environment”, and was held on April 22 to maximize the number of students that could be reached on university campuses. Today Earth Day is observed globally by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior, create global, national and local policy changes, and to champion the health of our planet. All 5 suggestions are available as ebooks and/or eaudio books in the C/W MARS digital catalog .

The Unihabitable Earth: a Story of the Future by David Wallace-Wells. Wallace-Wells is not a scientist. He is a journalist and the deputy editor of New York magazine. Well-organized and fully sourced, Wallace-Wells vividly and powerfully explains the planetary changes happening now and their dire human consequences. He relates how economic and political systems are linked to environmental catastrophies. Yes, Wallace-Wells warns “it is worse, much worse, than you think.” Still, even with all this overwhelming and compelling evidence of impending doom for our planet presented here, Wallace-Wells asserts that there are solutions and that it is not too late to implement them. A clear and impassioned clarion call to action.

Drawdown: the Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming edited by Paul Hawken. Environmentalist Hawken outlines an optimistic pathway for getting out of our present environmental mess. Hawken’s international coalition of environmental experts, researchers and professionals survey and explain one hundred current, economicaly viable techniques and practices to reverse global-warming. Do-able solutions that exsit now to mitigate climate change.

We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer. In this contemplative and honest series of essays, novelist Foer extends an argument that began with his book Eating Animals (2009):  A prominent driver of climate change is deforestation, and a prominent engine of deforestation is clearing ground for animal agriculture. So lessening the number of animals slated to be eaten will decrease the rate and scale of deforestation. We need to eat lower on the food chain. A meaningful action to mitigate climate change is presented as both incredibly simple and terribly difficult.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert. Tracing how extinction evolved as a scientific concept, New Yorker staff writer Kolbert discusses the great animal extinctions of the past in context with the loss of present-day animals. Kolbert traveled all over the world to interview marine biologists, atmospheric scientists, geologists, forest ecologists, and paleontologists about today’s evidence of human-made mass extinction and loss of biodiversity. Coupled with her personal experiences in the field, Kolbert gives us a lively and compelling presentation of the devastation humanity has wrought on the natural world.

Rising: Dispatches From the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush. Rush, who teaches creative nonfiction at Brown University, gives us a sobering account on how climate change is affecting American shorelines.  Rush traveled extensively along the US coasts, interviewing scientists and coastal dwellers directly affected by today’s devastating floods and catastrophic storms. For many of the plants, animals, and humans in these places, the options are stark: retreat or perish in place. A meditation on how to let go of the places we love and call home.

Northborough Children’s Book Award Nominees

Who will win? You decide!

How do I participate?

Kids in grades 3, 4, and 5 are eligible. Participants must read at least 3 of the following books by May 31st. After reading, participants should vote for their favorite book, and the winning title will be announced in early June.

And the nominees are…


Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Aru Shah sometimes stretches the truth to fit in at school. One day, three kids show up at Aru’s house to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again. But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon. The only way to stop it is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death.


Bob by Wendy Mass

It’s been five years since Livy and her family have visited Livy’s grandmother in Australia. Now that she’s back, Livy has the feeling she’s forgotten something really, really important about Gran’s house. It turns out she’s right. Bob, a short, greenish creature dressed in a chicken suit, didn’t forget Livy, or her promise. He’s been waiting five years for her to come back, hiding in a closet like she told him to. He can’t remember who―or what―he is, where he came from, or if he even has a family. But five years ago Livy promised she would help him find his way back home. Now it’s time to keep that promise.


Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. # 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Each day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, 10-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel.. # 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. # 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?


Last Day on Mars by Kevin Emerson

It is Earth year 2213—but, of course, there is no Earth anymore. Liam Saunders-Chang is one of the last humans left on Mars. The son of two scientists who have been racing against time to create technology vital to humanity’s survival, Liam, along with his friend Phoebe, will be on the last starliner to depart before Mars, like Earth before it, is destroyed. Or so he thinks. Because before this day is over, Liam and Phoebe will make a series of profound discoveries about the nature of time and space and find out that the human race is just one of many in our universe locked in a dangerous struggle for survival.


New Kid by Jerry Craft

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?


Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai

When Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he’s often stuck looking after his (extremely irritating) little brother, Yanghao. To distract himself from the loneliness, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky, the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly passed away. The only problem is his mother has laid down one major rule: the brothers are not to use the oven while she’s at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they’ll have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from Mama.


Restart by Gordon Korman

Chase doesn’t remember falling off the roof. He doesn’t remember hitting his head. He doesn’t, in fact, remember anything. He wakes up in a hospital room and suddenly has to learn his whole life all over again, starting with his own name. He knows he’s Chase. But who is Chase? When he gets back to school, he sees that different kids have very different reactions to his return. Some kids treat him like a hero. Some kids are clearly afraid of him. One girl in particular is so angry with him that she pours her frozen yogurt on his head the first chance she gets. Pretty soon, it’s not only a question of who Chase is–it’s a question of who he was, and who he’s going to be.


Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet

Caldecott Honor winner Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell the story of this American literary icon. Readers young and old will be fascinated and inspired by the journalist, New Yorker contributor, and children’s book author who loved words his whole life.


The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Dean & Shannon Hale

14-year-old Doreen Green moved from California to the suburbs of New Jersey. She must start at a new school, make new friends, and continue to hide her tail. Yep, Doreen has the powers of…a squirrel! Doreen uses her extraordinary powers to stop a group of troublemakers from causing mischief in the neighborhood, and her whole life changes. Everyone at school is talking about it! Doreen contemplates becoming a full-fledged Super Hero. And thus, Squirrel Girl is born! She saves cats from trees, keeps the sidewalks clean, and dissuades vandalism. All is well until a real-life Super Villain steps out of the shadows and declares Squirrel Girl his archenemy. Can Doreen balance being a teenager and a Super Hero? Or will she go…NUTS?


The Vanderbeekers of 141st St. by Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home. 

All images and summaries are paraphrased or copied from www.amazon.com.

Staff Picks the Best of 2019

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Viewed with suspicion in the aftermath of a murder, Kya Clark, who has survived alone for years in a marsh near the North Carolina coast, becomes targeted by unthinkable forces.

“I loved reading about Kya and her journey in this amazing story” – Kate


Funny man : Mel Brooks by Partrick Mcgillian. A deeply textured and compelling biography of comedy giant Mel Brooks, covering his rags-to-riches life and triumphant career in television, films, and theater.

“He can be an acquired taste, but I found the back stories of Brooks’ life experiences as well as the “sausage making” of his TV, movie, and Broadway hits fascinating.” — Rick

In the Woods by Tana French is the first book in the Dublin Murder Squad series. Twenty years after witnessing the violent disappearances of two companions from their small Dublin suburb, detective Rob Ryan investigates a chillingly similar murder that takes place in the same wooded area, a case that forces him to piece together his traumatic memories.

” These mysteries have rich story lines and extraordinary characters.  Listen to the audiobooks to really feel like you’re in Dublin City Centre!” — Lindsay

The Intelligence Trap : Why Smart People make dumb Mistakes by David Robson draws on cutting-edge ideas in the understanding of expertise and intelligence to reveal how smart people are equally or more prone to making mistakes, citing lessons that can be learned from the setbacks of intellectuals ranging from Benjamin Franklin to Richard Feynman.

“This book has very valuable information regarding some common errors in thinking and decision making, as well as strategies to mitigate those errors.” — Eric

The Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. Surviving a horrific multiple homicide, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks is unexpectedly offered a full scholarship to Yale, where her mysterious benefactors task her with monitoring the university’s secret societies.

“This is a strange and atmospheric mystery with compelling characters and a plot filled with creepy twists and turns.” — Carly

Come Hell or Highball by Maia Chance. In this Prohibition-era mystery, society matron Lola Woodby agrees to recover a stolen film reel for its rightful owner, but before she can retrieve it, the man in possession of the reel is killed.

” Lola and Berta made a memorable pair in this funny and engaging series starter.” — Kimberlee

Map Of The Soul: PERSONA by BTS. The record-breaking band BTS from South Korea continues to set the world on fire, and they keep the momentum going with this follow-up to their 2018 releases Face Yourself and Love Yourself: Tear.

“Although the CD is pretty much completely in Korean, I don’t find it to be a barrier at all – music is the universal language after all!” – Kristen

Internment by Samira Ahmed. Forced into an interment camp for Muslim-American citizens in a near-future United States, 17-year-old Layla Amin helps forge an alliance of new friends and outside sympathizers before becoming the leader of a revolution against the camp’s corrupt guards.

“This is and extremely powerful story of a possible near future United States.  I highly recommend listening to the audio book.” — Bonny

3 Must-Have Library Apps

By Spencer Stevens

With these three apps, you can use the library catalog when you’re on the go, download free e-books and e-audiobooks, and send print jobs to us from anywhere.

An image of the CW MARS Libraries app from the Google App Store.

1. The CW MARS Libraries App – We’ve crammed the ENTIRE catalog into a free app you can download and use on the go. The app functions just like the catalog from the website. Here’s what you can do:

  • Search & Place Holds – You’re out with your friends. Your friends mention how much they absolutely LOVED Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, and you feel left out. The CW MARS app will let you place a hold on Big Little Lies from wherever you are. Place that hold and enjoy your friends’ company. You’ll get the book in time.
  • Your library card is now on your phone – You and your family spend a nice weekend in the Berkshires and visit the local library, which happens to be a member of CW MARS. You see that the book with over 1,000 holds is miraculously available near the Circ Desk—but you forgot your library card! Pull out your phone, open the app, and select “Show card.” There it is—your card number and that lovely black-and-white barcode. The librarian will take it from there. (Don’t worry, if you want to read on the drive home, take the book with you and return it to our library. We’ll make sure it gets back.)
A picture of the Libby app's homepage, featuring a search bar, the CW MARS logo, and a way to set preferences for searches.

2. The Libby App – We’ve crammed thousands of free e-books, e-audiobooks, and e-magazines into the CW MARS Digital Catalog. Borrow them with the Libby app (for smartphones and tablets) or the OverDrive app (for Kindle and Nook). Here’s what you can do with these apps:

  • Download Books – You can download e-books from the CW MARS Digital Catalog with one of these apps. You can even read a sample of any book to see if you enjoy it.
  • Download Audio – You’ve been meaning to read A Game of Thrones for a while now. You decide to listen to it on your commute. The physical version of the audiobook—almost 30 CDs—might be difficult to transport. Download it onto your phone, no CDs required.
  • Browse your favorite magazine – There are a ton of magazines available in the Digital Catalog for you to enjoy. You can read them all immediately—no holds lists.
The homepage for the PrinterOn app, featuring four boxes: documents, email, photos, and web. Users can select a box and print the item attached.

3. PrinterOn – No printer? No problem. You can send a document to the library and print it out when you arrive. Here’s what you can do with PrinterOn:

  • Print anywhere – You’re going on vacation and want to print your boarding pass, but your printer ran out of ink. Send that boarding pass from your email to the library using PrinterOn and print it out when you get here. Safe travels!
  • Print anything – Send documents, photos, emails or attachments, and websites all from your phone or tablet. Black-and-white or color printing available.
  • Print (almost) anytime – When you send us something to print out, it stays in our queue for 24 hours before being automatically deleted. Feel free to send us a document on Sunday night and print it when we open on Monday at noon.

Try out these apps for yourself, or ask a staff member at the Adult Services Desk for help getting started.

Check out this “stellar” app!

Did you miss our Night Sky Viewing event this past Monday? Part of our time was exploring an app available in the App Store for Apple devices called Night Sky. It’s free to download, with options for upgrade.

The app is *awesome*! You don’t need to be outside at night to view the locations of constellations, planets or even the International Space Station in real time! If you’re running iOS 11, you can even tap on an item to get information and a 3D view to explore.

What do you think of the app? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

8 Books for Stonewall’s 50th

On June 28, 1969, a group of LGBTQ+ people, led by transgender women of color, fought back against an anti-LGBTQ+ police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City . The ensuing riots are called the Stonewall Riots or Stonewall Uprising. This year, we commemorate 50 years since the riots that most people agree launched the modern LGBTQ+ Rights Movement. Since 1971, the American Library Association has honored books portraying the LGBTQ+ experience with the Stonewall Book Awards. Here are a few Stonewall Book Award winners to check out as Pride Month draws to a close.

Cover of the book Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis NuttBecoming Nicole introduces us to Wayne and Kelly Maines, who adopted twin baby boys. As the twins grew up, one of them, Nicole, came out as transgender and began presenting as a woman. Becoming Nicole relates the transformations Nicole, her family, and their community underwent and the prejudices they overcame.

Cover the graphic novel Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel – Alison Bechdel is a lesbian cartoonist and author known for various graphic novels. In Fun Home, Bechdel explores her childhood living in a funeral home, her growing self-realization and acceptance of being gay, and her relationship with her late father, who kept his sexuality closeted for most of his life.

Cover of book How to Survive a Plague by David France

How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS by David France – During the 1980s and 1990s, hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ+ people contracted HIV, and hundreds of thousands died of AIDS complications. In How to Survive a Plague, David France relates the stories of activists who created, funded, smuggled, and distributed life-saving medications to LGBTQ+ people nationwide. This book was adapted from the documentary film of the same name.

A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski – In A Queer History of the United States, Michael Bronski shows us how lesser-known LGBTQ+ activists have been fighting for rights in America decades and centuries before the Stonewall Riots of 1969.

Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager – Numerous LGBTQ+ people have left their mark on world history. In Queer, There, and Everywhere, Sarah Prager introduces us to some of these people–including gender-defying holy warrior Joan of Arc, American civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, and transgender activist Sylvia Rivera, who was present at the Stonewall Riots and became a founder of the Gay Liberation Front.

Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son by Lori Duron – In Raising My Rainbow, blogger Lori Duron tells us about C.J., her gender-creative son, who loves playing with Disney princesses, wearing tutus, and singing Lady Gaga’s catchy songs. Duron takes us through the difficulties and joys of raising a child who goes against traditional gender norms.

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock – Janet Mock is a transgender activist, writer, and television producer. She worked as an editor for the magazines Marie Claire and People and currently is a producer, director, and writer on the FX series Pose. In this frank memoir, Mock takes us through her turbulent childhood and her journey for self-determination as a transgender woman of color.

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum – The uprising at the Stonewall Inn was complex and had roots in sexual, gender, racial, and class oppression. To learn more about this pivotal moment in LGBTQ+ history, try Stonewall by Ann Bausum.

Summer is short – read a story!

Today the sun reaches both its highest and northernmost points in the sky, marking the official start of summer in the northern hemisphere – the summer solstice.  Here are 5 great short story collections to celebrate the longest day of the year with a story short enough to read in one day.

look how happyLook How Happy I’m Making You by Polly Rosenwaike. A remarkable debut collection of stories that considers the inner lives of women who have just become, will soon be, decline to be, or long to be mothers. In “Grow Your Eyelashes,” a web developer admires a baby on a bus while recalling her own fruitless efforts to get pregnant. Freelance editor Cora, of “Period, Ellipsis, Full Stop,” has a miscarriage. In “Field Notes,” a 30-year-old biologist connects with the inquisitive 9-year-old daughter of the receptionist at a research facility in which she works even as the biologist decides to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.  Longing and anxiety pervade “White Carnations” as four motherless, childless friends celebrate Mother’s Day together. Self-aware humor helps baby Alice’s parents through her first Christmas/Hanukkah gathering in “Welcome to Your Family.” While all of the stories are connected by motherhood, each one explores additional themes such as changing friendships, aging, defying family and building a life.  This collection is candid, compassionate and emotionally complex.  Completely relatable, whether you are a parent or not.

someone who will love Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bo-Waksberg. Creator and executive producer of the Netflix series BoJack Horseman, Bob-Waksberg’s first book is a collection of zany offbeat romances that may make you laugh, weep or shiver in uncomfortable recognition.  In “A Most Blessed and Auspicious Occasion,” a young couple planning a wedding is forced to deal with interfering relatives dictating the appropriate number of ritual goat sacrifices. “Missed Connection–m4w” is the tragicomic tale of a pair of lonely commuters eternally failing to make that longed-for contact. The members of a rock band in “Up-and-Comers” discover they suddenly have superpowers–but only when they’re drunk.  These darkly comic surreal tales of love gone awry are ideal for fans of George Saunders and David Sedaris.

exhalationExhalation by Ted Chiang. Chiang’s long-awaited second collection (after Stories of Your Life, the basis for the 2016 movie Arrival) explores how technological advances can impact humanity’s evolutionary journey  Standout selections include “The Lifecycle of Software Objects,” a story about a software tester who struggles over the course of a decade to keep a sentient digital entity alive; “The Great Silence,” which questions the theory that humankind is the only intelligent race in the universe; “Dacey’s Patent Automatic Nanny,” which chronicles the consequences of machines raising human children; and the profound title story “Exhalation”, a heart-rending message and warning from a scientist of a highly advanced, but now extinct, race of mechanical beings from another universe.  A stellar collection of visionary speculative stories not to be missed.

Time I lovedThe Time I Loved You by Carrianne Leung. Set in Scarborough, Ontario, this sweet, sad and sympathetic collection of linked stories looks behind the veiled curtain of late 1970s suburbia to reveal that suburban comfort does not ensure happiness. In the first story, “Grass,” 11-year-olds June and Josie ponder two suicides. The girls cannot ask their parents for explanations, because death is one of many subjects parents prefer not to discuss with children. In “Treasure,” a woman named Marilyn who is admired by her neighbors turns out to be a thief. In “Things,” comic book enthusiast Darren confronts a racist schoolteacher. Linked by recurring characters such as Darren’s Jamaican mother and June’s grandmother from Hong Kong, together the stories track June’s deepening understanding of the place she calls home. Leung’s sharp storytelling, and pitch-perfect narration offers a bittersweet depiction of how cruelty undermines and kindness fortifies people’s sense of community. 

7 books if you like The Handmaid’s Tale

by Deborah Hersh

Blessed be the fruit.  Hulu streams the next three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale tomorrow (June 5, 2019). The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s long awaited sequel will answer questions that have tantalized readers for decades is scheduled to publish on September 10, 2019.

Here are 7 more dystopian novels with strong female protagonists to help you fill the void this summer between Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 and Atwood’s novel.

book of the unnamed midwifeThe Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison. A midwife struggles to find her place in a dystopian world in which a plague has wiped out most of humankind and healthy birth is nearly impossible for its survivors. Award-winning author Elison takes readers on an exciting and thought-provoking  journey, navigating issues of gender and sex in a scorched, disease-ridden world.  This novel is the first book in the Road to Nowhere series.

future home of the living godFuture Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich. Set in a dystopian near future Minnesota with a growing police state and a biological calamity which appears to be reversing evolution, Cedar Hawk Songmaker, twenty-six and pregnant,  is seeking her biological family while awaiting the birth of a child who may emerge as a member of a primitive human species.  Much of Songmaker’s harrowing journey is told in journal entries to her unborn child. Compelling, and at times darkly humorous,  this is a cautionary tale for our time.

into the forestInto the Forest by Jean Hegland. Teen-aged sisters, Nell and Eva are eking out a life in a remote forested area of Northern California in the wake of societal collapse.  Beautifully told, this haunting and heart-wrenching novel of survival and family love will stay with you long after the final page.  BONUS: Into the Forest was released as a film in 2015 starring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood.

parable of the sowerParable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. In a near future California, global warming, pollution, rampant joblessness, racial and ethnic tensions and other ills have precipitated a worldwide decline. 18-year-old Lauren Olamina discovers a new way of looking at a hopeless world. When circumstances cut her adrift from the only community she knows, Olamina takes to the road, attempting to put her ideals into practice. A simple and direct allegorical story that is part meditation and part warning.

the powerThe Power by Naomi Alderman. What if women suddenly manifested an electrical charge that they could control and use as a weapon? Attributed to a WWII chemical experiment, this “power” first becomes evident in teenage girls around the world in the present day and is then awakened in older women.  Structured as a historical novel written in the far future, long after rule by women has been established as normal, Alderman explores this provocative idea of what happens when the balance of power shifts in this fast-paced thrilling novel.

voxVox by Christina Dalcher. In the not-too-distant future, American women and girls are allowed a quota of 100 spoken words per day, after which each syllable triggers a painful shock via wrist band.  Dr. Jean McClellan, wife and mother of four, was a cognitive linguist, until the government was hijacked by fundamentalists ushering in the Pure Woman Movement.  Now her son’s superior attitude only emphasizes that her daughter is speaking less and less. What happens to society when 50 percent of the population’s voices, along with their ability to even learn language, are taken away?  This chilling and suspenseful novel is a wake up call against apathy in current politics.

when she wokeWhen She Woke by Hillary Jordan. A young woman’s life goes from heavenly to hellish is this dystopian vision of The Scarlet Letter. Hannah Payne, sentenced to being dyed a stigmatizing red for the crime of having an abortion, must learn to adjust to her new circumstances in a society that is becoming increasingly dangerous for women. Jordan blends hot-button issues such as separation of Church and State, abortion, and criminal justice into an utterly engrossing story.