The Digital Revolution

In August 1981 IBM introduced the IBM Personal Computer. While the Apple 1, developed by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, was actually the first personal computer on the market, IBM’s release of its PC had an immediate impact. Seeing the IBM name on a PC led credibility and consumers quickly embraced the usefulness of PCs for personal use. Within a decade PCs were a staple tool in American households.  Along with the invention of the World Wide Web and mobile technologies, PCs have played a major role in the Digital Revolution.

The following books explore different aspects of the Digital Revolution—the innovators, robotics, automation, and most importantly–the human factor.

The Fourth Revolution: how the infosphere is reshaping human reality by Luciano Floridi : Who are we, and how do we relate to each other? Floridi argues that the explosive developments in Information and Communication Technologies is changing the answer to these fundamental human questions.

The Glass CageThe Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr:  Carr warns about the dangers of robots and computers making human beings obsolete in the world of work and proposes that human beings must take a more dominant and less dependent role in how computer technology is being implemented and not be mindlessly carried along by a blind faith in technological advancement.

How we got to nowHow We Got to Now: six innovations that made the modern world by Steven Johnson: Exploration of the “hummingbird effect,” unforeseeable chains of influence that change the world.  Johnson notes innovation typically arises in one field—such as chemistry–but it does not rise alone—“ideas are fundamentally networks of other ideas,” and those tributary ideas likely came from many sources and disciplines, conditioned by the intellectual    resources available at the time.

The Inevitable.jpg

The inevitable: understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape your future by Kevin Kelly: Much of what will happen in the next thirty years is driven by technological trends that are already in motion. Kelly discusses how the coming changes in our lives—from virtual reality in the home to an on-demand economy to artificial intelligence embedded in everything we manufacture—can be understood as the result of a few long-term, accelerating forces.

The Innovators

The Innovators: how a group of inventors, hackers, geniuses, and geeks created the digital revolution by Walter Isaacson: A history of the people who created the computer and the Internet. Isaacson discusses the process through which innovation happens in the modern world, citing the pivotal contributions of such figures as Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, Bill Gates, and Tim Berners-Lee.

Machines of Loving Grace

Machines of Loving Grace: the quest for common ground between humans and robots by John Markoff offers a sweeping history of the evolving relationship between humans and computers.  Markoff argues that we are on the verge of a technological revolution, and robots will profoundly transform the way our lives are organized. Developers must now draw a bright line between what is human and what is machine, or risk upsetting the delicate balance between them.


Makers: the new industrial revolution by Chris Anderson:  3D Robotics co-founder and bestselling author Chris Anderson takes you to the front lines of a new industrial revolution as today’s entrepreneurs, using open source design and 3-D printing, bring manufacturing to the desktop.



Mind Change: how digital technologies are leaving their mark on our brains by Susan Greenfield: A comprehensive overview of the scientific research into the effects of cybertechnology on our brains.


Present Shock

Present Shock: when everything happens now by Douglas Rushkoff: We live in a continuous now- enabled by Twitter, email, and a so-called real-time technological shift. Rushkoff argues that the dissonance between our digital selves and our analog bodies has thrown us into a new state of anxiety:  present shock.


Reclaiming conversation

Reclaiming conversation: the power of talk in a digital age by Sherry Turkle: The founding director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self explores the danger that text messaging is replacing in-depth, face-to-face conversation.


Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson: With a unique ability to meld arts and technology and an uncanny understanding of consumers’ desires, Apple founder Steve Jobs (1955–2011) played a major role in transforming not just computer technology, but a variety of industries. Isaacson’s impeccably researched, vibrant biography—fully endorsed by his subject—does his legacy proud.


Technopoly: the surrender of culture to technology by Neil Postman:  Postman chronicles our transformation into a Technopoly: a society that no longer merely uses technology as a support system but instead is shaped by it–with radical consequences for the meanings of politics, art, education, intelligence, and truth.

Wonderful Future

The Wonderful Future that Never Was by Gregory Benford and the editors of Popular Mechanics: Reveals predictions made in “Popular Mechanics” magazine between 1903 and 1969 about what the future would hold! “Surrounded by wonders and a fast-evolving culture of innovation, it’s just as challenging today for us to imagine the next century as it must have been for our early 20th century colleagues to envision the fabled year 2000.”



6 Debut Novels for the First Day of Summer

Today is the official first day of summer!  Here are six exciting and original first novels for the beach, the lake, the back deck or wherever you find your happy summer reading place.

American WarAmerican War by Omar El AkkadImagine the clash between red states and blue becomes a second American Civil War followed by a devastating plague.   In this terrifyingly plausible future set in the late 21st century, a family is forced into a camp for displaced people where a young woman is befriended by a mysterious functionary who would transform her into a living weapon. Akkad is a journalist with Canada’s Globe and Mail, most recently as a correspondent for the Western United States.



LeaversThe Leavers by Lisa KoOne morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. This stunning tale of love and loyalty—to family, to country—is a moving look at the immigrant experience in America. Ko’s novel won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.



Rabbit CakeRabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett.  A darkly comic novel about a precocious 12-year-old girl named Elvis who worries about her troubled family and tries to figure out her place in the world in the aftermath of her mother’s accidental death.  Hartnett, a former Newton resident and a teacher at Boston’s Grub Street creative writing center, wrote this novel while a writer-in-residence at the Boston Public Library.





sycamoreSycamore by Bryn Chancellor.  When human remains are linked to the unsolved disappearance of a teen 18 years earlier, the residents of Sycamore, Arizona rekindle stories, rumors and recollections while examining the complicated history that led to the tragedy.  This page-turning, multi-voiced debut novel exams how one tragic circumstance can sow doubt within a community begging the question, “Do we really know anybody?”.  Chancellor teaches at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.



RemindersThe Reminders by Val EmmichGrief-stricken over his partner Sydney’s death, Gavin leaves Los Angeles for New Jersey, where he hopes to find peace with the family of an old friend. Instead, he finds Joan.  Joan the family’s ten-year-old daughter, was born with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, the rare ability to recall every day of her life in cinematic detail. Joan has never met Gavin until now, but she did know his partner, and the startlingly vivid memories to prove it.  Told in alternating voices, this novel is a hilarious and tender exploration of loss, memory, friendship, and renewal. Dubbed a “Renaissance Man” by the New York Post, Val Emmich is a writer, singer-songwriter, and actor.


Wages of Sin

The Wages of Sin Kaite Welsh.  Despite numerous barriers, Sarah Gilchrist is determined to become a doctor in 1882, the first year the University of Edinburgh admitted women, but is drawn into a murder mystery when a former acquaintance turns up as a corpse in the dissecting room. A page-turning tale of murder, subversion and vice.  Welsh is an author, critic and journalist living in Scotland.


Celebrate National Poetry Month

Established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month highlights the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets and encourages the reading of poems in the month of April.  Visit the website to find 30 ways to celebrate, here are six:

poetry PSign up for Poem-a-Day and read a poem each morning

Poetry O   Check out a book of poetry from the Library

Poetry E   Watch a poetry movie

Poetry T


Attend a poetry event near you

Poetry RShare a poem during Poem In Your Pocket Day on April 27th

Poetry yPlay Exquisite Corpse – a collaborative poetry game – with your family & friends


Fact or Fiction? 4 websites to help you vet the daily news Bias/Fact Check (MBFC News) is an independent online media outlet dedicated to educating the public on media bias and deceptive news practices. is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. FactCheck monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.

Snopes aims to debunk or confirm widely spread stories in American popular culture such as urban legends urban legends, Internet rumors, e-mail forwards and other stories of unknown or questionable origin.

PolitiFact is a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics.

5 Real Life Romances

Who wouldn’t want a good love story for Valentine’s Day – especially one that is true!  Here are five books about how true love happens in real life.

Eve of a Hundred Midnights : the star-crossed love story of two WWII correspondents and their epic escape across the Pacific by Bill Lascher. When the Japanese started bombing Manila on New Year’s Eve in 1941, newly married journalists Mel and Annalee Jacoby barely escaped, then spent the rest of the war just one island ahead of the ever-invading Japanese troops as they continued their reporting. A love story of daring and dedication.

Image result for GEOGRAPHY OF THE HEART FENTON JOHNSONGeography of the Heart by Fenton Johnson.  The story of two men – one a descendant of Appalachian folk and one a descendant of Holocaust survivors – who met, fell in love, lived, loved, and experienced death during the AIDS epidemic.  A testament to how humans could and should treat each other. & War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home by James Carville and Mary Matalin.  Carville and Matalin speak in alternating voices, addressing both politics and the personal as they move from raising a family in high-pressure Washington, DC to post-Katrina New Orleans.  A fascinating look at the last two decades in American politics and an intimate primer on grown-up relationships and values from our nation’s famously ideologically mismatched, and intensely opinionated couple. Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino. The husband-and-wife stars of the popular “Fixer Upper” television program share the story of their life together, from how they met in Waco, Texas to their success as entrepreneurs and television personalities. is My Day Job: a memoir of finding love at last by Patience Bloom. Who knows the ins and outs of romance better than a Harlequin editor?  Using the characters and plots from classic romance novels, television shows, and movies, Bloom compares and contrasts her up-and-down love life from age 15 to happily ever after at age 41.

8 Novels About Revenge to Read While Waiting for the Super Bowl

Many a fan note that it is fitting payback for the New England Patriots to compete in this year’s Super Bowl.  The theme of revenge or vengeance makes for compelling reading  and we’ve picked a few novels — some older and some newer — to whet your appetite for a “dish best served cold.” Road by Jon Hart. In a town on the brink and on a road with no mercy, a boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother, a detective finally confronts her troubled past, a good cop walks free after serving 13 years in prison and the unthinkable happens on the altar of an abandoned church.  This stand-out crime thriller by Edgar Award winning Hart explores the human capacity for resilience and trust in the face of heartbreaking betrayal. of the dead by Bernhard Aichner.  A grieving widow and professional mortician discovers there was more to the hit-and-run accident that took her husband’s life than she originally thought, and vows to find out and get revenge on those responsible.   A number one bestselling author in her native Austria, Aichner’s gritty and fast-paced story featuring an unconventional heroine is the first in a trilogy. Girl by Gillian Flynn. When a beautiful woman goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary, her diary reveals hidden turmoil in her marriage and a mysterious illness; while her husband, desperate to clear himself of suspicion, realizes that something more disturbing than murder may have occurred.  This stellar best-selling novel is a disturbing and unique story about revenge. Revenant by Michael Punke.  This novel is based on the life of American frontiersman, fur trapper, hunter and explorer Hugh Glass. While on an expedition in 1823, Glass is attacked by a grizzly bear and left for dead by his fellow trappers, yet he survives and treks through the wilderness to seek justice and retribution. by Stephen King.  A repressed teenager uses her telekinetic powers to avenge the cruel jokes of her classmates.  This is the creepy story that launched King’s career. Grit by Charles Portis.  Pursuing a murderer who has escaped into Indian Territory, U.S. Marshal Rooster J. Cogburn teams up with a bounty-hunting Texas Ranger and Mattie Ross, a cantankerous young lady who is bent on avenging her father’s death.  This eccentric and unflinching tale from acclaimed comic writer Portis is an American cult classic.


Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.  A Russian princess, a Hungarian count, a Swedish beauty, and an assortment of Americans, English and French are brought to on the elegant Orient Express.  Just after midnight, the train is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift and millionaire Samuel lies dead in his compartment. Detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again. One of Christie’s most famous mysteries, this novel was inspired by two real-life crimes and the author’s own experience being stranded on the Orient Express during Christmas of 1931.

Image of itemThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. This classic tale of justice and retribution tells the story of Edmond Dantes wrongfully imprisoned in an unreachable sea fortress.  Dantes discovers a hidden treasure that he uses to finance elaborate vengeance on the people who wronged him.