Here is our year end roundup of the stand-out reads and listens of 2016
The Door by the Staircase by Katherine Marsh follows the adventures of an orphaned girl. It takes the folklore of the Russian witch, Baba Yaga, and weaves it into a tale that kept me sitting in my car in the garage, waiting to find out what happens next! – Melissa, Children’s Services
Superhero by Laurie Berkner. In true Laurie Berkner fashion, this is a fun, witty, get-up-and-singable collection of amazing songs for kids! I was hooked on the first listen. Favorites include Juniper Square, the Bicycle Song, and a dance remix of We are the Dinosaurs.
Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well by Jennifer Gasoi. Jennifer has a great blend of modern and jazz-style technique that lends itself well to a wide variety of musical styles. The music is a ton of fun for kids and their grown-ups! – Katrina, Children’s Services
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier. Telgemeier has outdone herself in this engaging graphic novel of family, friendship and tradition. A must read for all ages! – Bonny, Teen Services
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is an action packed series in the YA fantasy/supernatural genre. Crown Prince Dorian offers eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien her freedom in exchange for her loyalty. Sardothien is very strong female lead, and a kind of anti-hero. I always want to know what’s going to happen next, and want to start the next book in the series after I’ve finished one!
Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama is a manga series where what’s left of mankind has hidden in a giant, three-walled city, trapped in fear of the bizarre, giant humanoids known as the Titans. Little is known about where they came from or why they are bent on consuming human-kind, but the sudden appearance of an enormous Titan is about change everything. I got started on this by watching the anime first, but the manga story goes beyond what’s in the anime. Definitely a page turner. – Kristen, Circulation Services
Beauty Behind the Madness by The Weeknd. This album tells a story both lyrically and musically that is meaningful, honest and gripping, especially as we deal with the opiate crisis. I hear something new and surprising every time I listen to it. – Katrina, Children’s Services
The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution” by Jonathan Eig. A fascinating look at how the birth control pill came to be and how the social and political atmosphere of the time helped shape a really important scientific discovery. Very interesting, too, since most of the development of the pill happened in our own backyard: the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology was located in Shrewsbury, and one of the doctors who helped develop the pill lived in the house right next door to the Northborough Library. – Danielle, Circulation Services
Crimson Death by Laurell K. Hamilton is the 25th Anita Blake-Vampire Hunter novel, a series which I have followed for years. Anita Blake is a powerful female character who, although both a necromancer and a vampire executioner, is eternally linked to a vampire and a werewolf. Hamilton’s work is where 50 Shades of Gray, Dracula and “The Wolfman” meet! It’s a kind of acquired taste, if one can stomach it without cringing or blushing! Melissa, Children’s Services
The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. The protagonist of this novel is Anil, an Indian doctor who is a medical resident in Texas. He is torn between two cultures while trying to fulfil his role as the eldest son in his family after the sudden death of his father. This is a rich story that allows you to experience the complexities of straddling two different cultures. – Geneinde, Circulation Services
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh is a haunting novel where soul-rendering pain gives way to hope, gives way to confusion and utter terror. This is a rollercoaster of a whodunnit, and definitely worth your while! Consider listening as it is read very well by the narrators. Katrina, Children’s Services.
Katahdin: An Historic Journey by John W. Neff. This book about Mount Katahdin in Maine encompasses history, lore and legend and retraces the steps of Native Americans who considered the mountain a sacred place. It also illustrates the resolve of those who were involved in early conservation efforts to save the North Woods, particularly Maine Governor Percival Baxter, for whom Baxter State Park is named. It has inspired me to climb the mountain in the coming year and see for myself where Henry David Thoreau first encountered what he described as a “wholly wild place.” – Chris, Director
A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman. Listen to this very genuine and heartfelt novel about a very basic, unassuming man whose heart has been broken. I laughed, I cried, and I just loved Ove. – Julie, Children’s Services
The Martian by Andy Weir. This novel was filled with suspense throughout which kept me wanting more. It was also written fairly simply, so it was a quick fun read. Mike, Circulation Services
The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland. This novel is a first-person fictionalized account of the life of Artemisia Gentileschi: a 17th century Baroque painter, student of Michelangelo’s nephew, and good friend to Galileo. The novel follows two decades of Artemisia’s life as she navigates the male-dominated world of art in Renaissance Era Florence and as she deals with her distant father, unfaithful husband, and unruly daughter. A thoroughly engaging look into the life of a fascinating but relatively unknown artist. Spencer, Adult Services
The Soul of an Octopus: a Playful Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery. A fascinating look at the unique problem-solving, emotional and social intelligence of octopus. Through her many experiences with octopuses at the New England Aquarium and undersea dives, Syd Montgomery reveals the highly developed consciousness of the octopus, their unique capabilities, and the strong emotional connections they can form with their human caregivers. Montgomery raises interesting parallels between their souls and human souls. You will never look at an octopus the same again! Donna, Adult Services.
Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and be Your Own Personby Shonda Rhimes. What if you said “yes” to everything, especially to the things that challenge you or make you feel uncomfortable? Follow along with Shonda Rhimes (creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal) as she shares the unexpected and positive outcomes of the year where she said “yes” to every invitation and request. Shonda’s conversational, down-to-earth manner evokes the feeling of conversing with your best friend. In telling her story, Shonda unassumedly encourages you to make it your own. Listen to this one, especially for the re-broadcast of her 2014 Dartmouth College commencement speech. Deborah, Adult Services