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.

Game of Thrones in Real Life

by Spencer Stevens

This coming Sunday, the TV series and cultural phenomenon Game of Thrones, based on the incomplete book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, comes to an end. Martin drew inspiration from real world history (mainly English history) to create his characters, places, and events. Here are a few books available at our library that reveal the reality behind the fantasy.

Cover for The Wars of the Roses by Alison Weir

The Wars of the Roses by Alison Weir – One of the show’s main plotlines, the tension and ultimate war between the Lannisters and the Starks, is inspired directly by the 30-year series of English civil wars known as the Wars of the Roses. Two rival Houses, the Lancasters (represented by a red rose) and the Yorks (represented by a white rose), vied for control over the English throne. The events of this War influenced the power struggle between the Starks and Lannisters and the War of the Five Kings.

Cover for Genghis Khan: His Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy by Frank McLynn

Genghis Khan: His Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy by Frank McLynn – You’ve probably heard of Genghis Khan and the Mongols, the nomadic horse-riding people of the Eurasian Steppe who created the largest land empire in world history while instilling fear in anyone who fought against them. These fierce horse warriors likely inspired the Dothraki, the nomadic horse lords of the eastern continent of Essos. Khal Drogo’s character and personality draw from the exploits of Genghis Khan and his descendants.

Cover for the Norman Conquest by Marc Morris

The Norman Conquest: The Battle of Hastings and the Fall of Anglo-Saxon England by Marc Morris – Aegon the Conqueror is never shown onscreen, but everyone in Westeros knows his story. Three hundred years before the start of the show, Aegon, his Targeryen army, and his dragons came to Westeros from his homeland of Valyria and forced the rulers of the Seven Kingdoms to bend the knee. This conquest of multiple kingdoms by a foreigner is not unlike the invasion of William the Conqueror and the installation of Norman French rule over England in the 11th century.

Cover of Northmen by John Haywood

Northmen: The Viking Saga, 793-1241 by John Haywood – The people of the Iron Islands, like Theon Greyjoy and his sister Yara (Asha in the books), are reminiscent of the seafaring Norsemen (Vikings) of Northern Europe. For centuries, the Viking fleets raided villages and eventually established settlements in modern-day England. The Ironborn in Game of Thrones are similar in their fierce, stubborn personalities and coastal raids.

Cover for Venice by Joanne Marie Ferraro

Venice: A History of the Floating City by Joanne Marie Ferraro – The city of Braavos resembles the city of Venice in Italy at the height of its power as an independent maritime republic in the 7th-18th centuries. Braavos was built on a lagoon and has canals and bridges, like Venice. Braavos’ other features include a colossus, a large treasury, a dominant trade network, and mercenary armies, which further its similarities to a Mediterranean city-state like Venice.