09.25.2023

Staff book suggestions for Autumn 2023

Six staff members holding books up in front of their faces.

Jacqueline Chambers

Homecoming: A Novel by Kate Morton

Full of beautiful Australian imagery and Morton’s classic use of buried, tangled family histories, this is an enjoyable read that gives you pause for reflection long after finishing.

Emily Cohen

Selfish, Shallow, and Self-absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids edited and with an introduction by Meghan Daum

If spring is the season of birth, then I, as a proud childfree adult, could make the case that this book recommendation works for the fall, but the truth is, I just like this book. The great thing about essay collections on a particular topic is that some may ring very true to your own experience, some you may hate, and some entice you to read more by that author. While the subject matter is one I feel strongly about, Danielle Henderson is the writer that made me want to read it and while her work never disappoints, I also enjoyed Anna Holmes and Kate Christensen.

Although Selfish, Shallow, and Self-absorbed may seem like a book for a limited group of individuals, it might be the perfect book to have around during the holidays. Perhaps there’s a conversation you’ve been wanting to have with your significant other or family members that seem to use their biological clocks to tell time in other people’s time zones?

Julie Corwin

A Most Agreeable Murder by Julia Seales

Do we need another book reflective of Pride and Prejudice? Yes! You’ll find wit, suspense, romance, and a lead character you want to root for all wrapped up in this fun, polite murder mystery. It’s light and fluffy and perfect for the commute. Available on cloudLibrary.

Bruno Faria

The Box Man: A Novel by Kobo Abe; translated by E. Dale Saunders

“I personally feel that a box, far from being a dead end, is an entrance to another world. I don’t know to where, but an entrance to somewhere, some other world.”
—Kōbō Abe, The Box Man

A book that I have never been able to finish although I’ve tried countless times, simply because it is pure genius.

Shay Glass

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

I’ll recommend Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell. This graphic novel pretends to be about two friends working their last shift together at a pumpkin patch, but really it’s about as many quintessentially fall treats as the creators can squeeze in. Are you a fall person? This book is for you.

Anna Kelly

A Council of Dolls by Mona Power

A Council of Dolls follows three generations of Dakota women and their struggles and triumphs, primarily told through the stories of their relationship with their dolls. It is a powerful story about both the effects of intergenerational trauma as well as the ability, through love and forgiveness, to overcome it.

Michelle LeBlanc

Unworthy Republic by Claudio Saunt

In this gripping read, Saunt brings in a variety of voices to expand the story of the Trail of Tears and shows how the removal of Indigenous communities was not an inevitability and garnered widespread protest as well as indifference. His use of letters and government documents is particularly compelling and paints a vivid picture of both human suffering and the unfathomable undertaking of forcibly removing thousands of families from their homes.

Kat Meyers-Moock

Once and Future Sex by Eleanor Janega

Forget everything you’ve ever learned about women’s roles in medieval European society. Janega dives into court records and documents to find the women who were making a living for themselves and their families, while defying the roles that thinkers of that age placed women into.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya Von Bremzen

Food is the backbone of so many of our memories and nostalgic longings, so what happens when the foods you love and crave from your youth are so directly tied to pain and suffering? This book will make you cry, while also making you crave kolbasa and good rye bread.

Christina Michelon

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

If you like houses (or castles) that become main characters, unusual first-person narrators, or complicated but (sometimes) heartwarming family dynamics, read Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle (1948) and Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962) back-to-back this fall. Both books are fictional diaristic recountings of the protagonists’ daily lives that are anything but normal. Strong and complex bonds between sisters drive both narratives and anchor two rich casts of characters. Start with Smith in early autumn, follow with Jackson for spooky season!

Carolle Morini

Hour After Happy Hour by Mary O’Donoghue

A wonderful short story collection that is in touch with the subtleties, sensitivities, and humor of being human. Click here for more on this author.

Zoe Palmer

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic is the perfect read to get into the Halloween mood. Travel with its protagonist Noemí to the mysterious High Place, where nothing is as it seems, and everything is conspiring against Noemí. Mexican Gothic combines classic Gothic tropes with explorations of colonialism’s sinister sciences to make a book that will have you afraid to turn the page but unable to turn away.

Leah Rosovsky

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

This book explores the relationship between three friends over a 20 year stretch. I didn’t believe that I would find the setting—a company that creates video games—to be interesting. I was completely wrong! It’s an incredibly compelling read.

Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer

If anyone in your life is under age six, you should pick up this book. It’s the story of a penguin and how he copes with a very bad day. The story and illustrations are charming and instructive. After all, who doesn’t need guidance on strategies for conquering a bad mood?

Mary Warnement

The Burgundians: A Vanished Empire; A History of 1111 years and One Day by Bart van Loo

Autumn means back to school for me, and my favorite topic to study is medieval history, specifically the fifteenth century. I was delighted to see this popular history, The Burgundians: A Vanished Empire; A History of 1111 Years and One Day by Bart van Loo appear in paperback in English this year. Given that lengthy subtitle and awkward second subtitle (preceded by semicolon for those of you who like to keep up to speed on obscure bibliographic citation rules), you may well fear taking home this hefty tome, but Loo manages to keep it under 600 pages. Bart van Loo is Flemish, lives in Belgium, and has published extensively on French history, literature, and culture. His popular treatment of the Low Countries at its pinnacle has received high praise and spawned a podcast in both Flemish and French. If you’re interested in the art of Jan Van Eyck or Rogier van der Weyden, the library of Philip the Bold, and historic cities like Bruges, Antwerp, and Brussels, then this is the title for you.

The Bookbinder by Pip Williams

Pip Williams’s The Bookbinder is the author’s second novel, also set in the bookish world of Oxford. There is overlap of periods and characters with her earlier Dictionary of Lost Words, but you need not have read that to fully grasp her follow up. Again, there is a map of Oxford with buildings key to the plot illustrated. Various titles published at the Oxford University Press during WWI (when this novel is primarily set) appear in the plot, and several act as section headings, although in the afterword Williams tells her readers that she did not put much thought into their choice. I don’t quite believe her (I’d like to know if other readers agree with me). Williams has researched extensively, created believable characters, and doesn’t wrap everything up in a neat bow, which was appreciated. A world where books act as insulation, inspiration, and solace is one in which I am comfortable. If you are the same and enjoy historical fiction, then I highly recommend this.

07.06.2023

An interview with Graham Jones, award-winning screenwriter

July 2023

Interview by Zoe Palmer

Graham Jones is an award-winning screenwriter and proud Athenæum member who hails from Greenwich, Connecticut. After studying history at the University of Colorado, he moved to Los Angeles to work as a production assistant in the film industry. There, he began writing screenplays and attending workshops at the University of California, Los Angeles Extension.

Q: Can you please tell me about your journey in the film industry and your background as a writer?

GRAHAM JONES: I wasn’t really a writer and didn’t think I wanted to be a writer until I was going up the chairlift in Aspen with a friend of my parents and said, “I’d like to go to Hollywood, but I’m a history major, not a film major.” They didn’t have film majors in my day. Maybe at University of Southern California, or University of California Los Angeles. My friend said, “History’s a good preparation, you should go do that.”

I was never admitted to UCLA. When I first went to Los Angeles, I applied to all the big film schools, USC, UCLA, American Film Institute, right? After I’d been there for a year or two, I started working for a film director, Peter Markle. He made me what was called a director of development, to read all the scripts he wrote, that his friends wrote, that his agent (Creative Artists Agency) sent over. This was a big deal. You’re 27 and you’re the director of development for a working movie director who’s represented by CAA. It’s a pretty big deal. So after about a year our mailbox was filled with invitations begging me to come to the screening of the work of film students whose class I would’ve been in!

I worked for Peter after working in the mailroom at Walt Disney, and that was no fun, and also helping friends on their student projects, which was fun. Peter said to me, “If you want your dreams to come true in Hollywood, you have to write screenplays.” And I couldn’t. I just wasn’t any good at it. It didn’t happen. But I was around Peter, and I was around screenwriters, and this was, dare I say it, the early to mid 90s. Career instability in Los Angeles, that’s the name of the game there. It’s not Boston, it’s very different. Lots of career instability. I started taking film classes at UCLA.

Fast forward to the writing. I made a little film and it did OK, it won an award, and then the writing just started to come. And it started to come while I was working for Mark Burnett, the reality television guy, who didn’t care about scripts. They humored me and read a couple of them, and then I just started writing.

Q: What are some of your favorite screenplays you’ve written?

GJ: Back when I was a 20-something, I actually wrote this screenplay to make in Boston, but I lost it! So I’m seeing this therapist, saying, “I don’t know where the thing is!” After, I wrote a bunch of scripts and they won a bunch of awards, I found the script I’d lost. It was a hard copy, the digital was long gone. I read it and it’s one of my favorite scripts. I’ve rewritten it a couple times, but it’s never been as good as this version that I barely remember writing.

At this point it was the mid to late 2000s, and I wrote screenplays about George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt and Ulysses Grant, and I wrote a screenplay about equestrian polo. Back then in LA, I was pretty into polo for a couple of years. In a grass field polo team, there are four players. And guess what, there are three Musketeers and D’Artagnan. I read The Three Musketeers, wrote down all the plot points the way Syd Field tells you to. Dumas, he wrote like film. First act, second act, midpoint, climax, end of second act, third act, resolution. That’s the way he wrote. Boom, I turned it into a script about four polo players at a mystical college. It’s really UCLA, but I call it University of Los Angeles. I wrote it around 2005, I wrote it to take place after the First Gulf War. You read these things now and they read like period pieces, which makes me feel like I should have a little walker.

In some ways, I’m the most proud of those scripts, but they’re not my best. My best are the three president scripts I wrote, one each about Washington, Roosevelt, and Grant.

Q: What is your writing process like?

GJ: I used to say the writing process consisted of the right mix of junk food, naptime, and exercise, but I don’t eat junk food anymore. At my age, you can’t eat junk food. So it’s naptime and exercise. I can never write a script in class. I have to have it done first. I would write, and then take the class, and rewrite.

I wrote a novel in second person singular, which we don’t often use in English, but a friend of mine from Paris said it is more common in French. So I wrote that novel, but it’s not published—I couldn’t get anybody interested in it. The process behind that was lots of caffeine, especially in Los Angeles. Taking my laptop, writing around people. That was something I could do then. I’m not sure I could do that now.

So my process is to be alone. I don’t have any writing partners. I don’t want one. I have tons of writing friends. We don’t do this to have a partner. That’s the whole point. We have a production company for a movie. That’s fine. But when somebody wants to be a writing partner, you buy it. You go, “Hand me the check, see you later.”

Q: I noticed on your IMDB page that you’ve also directed and produced and edited some of your own work?

GJ: Yes, my short work, and some of Peter’s stuff I helped develop. I enjoyed that part of the process as sort of a social, exciting thing to do with friends.

Q: Are there any writers or screenwriters whose work you particularly admire?

GJ: A filmmaker named Curtis Hanson. I never met him personally. The guy who wrote LA Confidential, James Ellroy, was my favorite writer. When I was a boy, I read a lot of Tolstoy. I read War and Peace a few times, Anna Karenina. William Goldman was the ghostwriter on a lot of stuff. He’s probably the best screenwriter there is. And these writers in these workshops at UCLA, some really good writers there. And you learned as much from the other writers as you did from the instructor.

Q: How did you first get involved with the Athenæum?

GJ: Dad had some friends that were very involved and I think still are, and a friend of my mother’s and father’s bought my father a membership. Friends got Dad his first Athenæum membership, and a friend gave me mine.

Q: And to close us out, do you have any favorite spots in the library to work or read?

GJ: I like the quiet room on the fifth floor with the vaulted ceilings. Probably the statue of Washington. I also like the portrait of Mrs. Cabot that I think is from 1910 or 1912, the tall thing where she’s got the big hat and the long 1912 style. I think it’s pre-World War I. That’s probably my favorite right now. A lot of my writing has to do with portraits. The first script, the one I lost and then found, was about a guy in Boston being haunted by a ghost that lives in one of his family’s portraits at their house on Beacon Hill.

06.22.2023

Staff book suggestions for Summer 2023

Emily Cohen

I don’t know what kind of summer it’s going to be but I can tell you I am in my nostalgia era and I welcome you to join me down on Sesame Street!

Sunny Days: The Children’s Television Revolution That Changed America by David Kamp
(Library of Congress Classification PN1992.8.C46 K36 2020)

Kamp’s 2020 book tells the history of Sesame Street, as well as the other shows of the time: Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, The Electric Company, Schoolhouse Rock!. I’ve always enjoyed Kamp’s dependable and entertaining style. Whether he is talking about sun-dried tomatoes in The United States of Arugula, or in Sunny Days speaking to Marlo Thomas about Free to be You and Me, Kamp is never lacking for sources.

Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis
(Library of Congress Classification PN1992.77.S43 D38 2008)

HBO (AKA “Max”) released a documentary in 2021, Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street, which like most great movies, starts with a book, Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis, published in 2008. It’s a beautiful creation story of what people can do and how impactful inclusivity can be for children and adults everywhere. I’m not just talking about in front of the camera when it comes to seeing people who look like you—which is extremely important—but also about the amount of time and effort provided by educators to create content that would engage children and then get feedback from the kids to see what worked and what didn’t.

While I recommend both these books, I would say the audio book of Street Gang is especially enjoyable because it is read by Caroll Spinney. Did you know that he modeled Oscar the Grouch’s voice after the NYC cab driver who took him to his audition? Okay, no more spoilers.

Now let’s all sing… “Who are the people in your neighborhood, the people that you meet each day.”

Will Evans

Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
(Library of Congress Classification PZ3 .B79 Te)

Why is Anne relegated to a footnote in the Brontë story? While I have long appreciated the works of her sisters, especially Charlotte’s Villette, I had assumed that Anne’s work was inferior to that of her siblings, given the relatively meager attention she receives. My assumption proved groundless. Devoid of the Gothic window dressing of the older Brontës, Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall offers a frank, uncompromising, and emotionally charged portrait of marital abuse and the corrosive effects of alcoholism, themes that are sadly contemporary. In Anne’s telling, this story could be written today and still ring true, if the formal manner of discourse were removed (Not that I’m suggesting such a measure! Revisiting nineteenth literature offers a reminder of how richly expressive the English language can be). Come out from the shadow of your sisters, Anne!

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
(Library of Congress Young Adult PZ7 .L6 Las 2021)

I don’t often dwell in YA territory. Being many years removed from that demographic and a bit world weary, a genre that I perceived to be teeming with disaffected teens, dystopian societies, and death offers little appeal. How surprising then to find a YA novel of historical fiction with an emotionally resonant story. Malinda Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club concerns Lily Hu, a Chinese-American teenager growing up in San Francisco’s Chinatown of the 1950’s. Lily’s life is complicated by her sense of obligation to adhere to the suffocating code of conduct dictated by her tradition-bound family and a desire to partake in the alluring world that lies beyond the boundaries of Chinatown. Lily’s increasing self-awareness about her sexual identity adds to her internal conflict. This is one of the best works of queer literature I have read. Lo perfectly captures the emotional stew of giddy anticipation, fear, guilt, and desire that accompanies coming to terms with being a gay teen.

Shay Glass

Moon Pops by Heena Baek
(Library of Congress Classification Children Picture Book + BAEK)

On a night so hot the moon melts from the sky, Granny Wolf catches the liquid melted moon, pops it in her fridge, and makes glowing moon-sicles for her neighbors. The story is loosely based on a Korean folktale and illustrated with striking photographs of lit three-dimensional collages. This quirky picture book is perfect for staying up past your bedtime on a magical summer night.

Rachel Jacobe

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
(Library of Congress Classification PZ3.J27 Su 2008)

A short and sweet series of vignettes that are simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. And, as the title implies, it’s perfect for summer!

Anna Kelly

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson
(Library of Congress Classification PZ4.W6835 Bla 2022)

Black Cake is a story about family, love, and sacrifice that is told from the perspective of multiple characters spanning decades. When Benny and Byron’s mother dies, the estranged siblings are left with just an audio recording from their mother and a black cake. As the siblings listen to the recording, they realize how little they know about their mother, and just how many secrets their family, and they themselves, harbor. Wilkerson takes the reader on a journey around the world with complex, deep, and intriguing characters who must make tough choices to protect themselves and the ones they love.

Carolle Morini

A Few Collectors by Pierre Le-Tan; translated from the French by Michael Z. Wise
(Library of Congress N5200 .L48 2022)

I truly enjoyed this little book. A wonderful way to discover artists, collectors, and designers that I had not heard about and Pierre Le-Tan’s drawings are a true delight.

Zoe Palmer

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
(Library of Congress PZ4 .M9739 Co 2018)

This is the story of Keiko, a woman who has worked in a convenience store for her entire adult life and is perfectly satisfied in what others see as a dead-end job. She is befuddled by her friends’ and family’s desire for her to be “normal.” Keiko’s frank narration delivers refreshingly sharp observations about conventional expectations and experiences outside of societal norms; this is a quick read that prompted me to consider my biases about the modern workforce and life’s trajectory.

Leah Rosovsky

Old Filth by Jane Gardam
(Library of Congress PZ4.G218 Ol 2006)

Jane Gardam is a novelist who deserves to be much better known in the US. Old Filth is the first novel of a trilogy where the same stories are explored from different perspectives. “Old Filth” is the nickname of a successful former judge returned to England from Hong Kong. The novel is highly readable and a terrific portrait of a fascinating character.

Revenge of the Librarians by Tom Gauld
(Library of Congress PN6737.G38 R48 2022)

This short book of cartoons is designed to appeal to all readers. You will laugh out loud as you peruse its pages.

Jessica Schweber

All Systems Red by Martha Wells (through Network Effect)
(Available on cloudLibrary)

Network Effect by Martha Wells
(Library of Congress PZ4 .W4595 Ne 2020)

SecUnit is meant to be a mindless security bot whose every action is controlled by its owner corporation, but after “accidentally” becoming self aware and disabling its control module, it decides to assert its independence mainly by streaming intergalactic soap operas during mission downtime. SecUnit must balance a desire to avoid any and all earnest social interactions while hiding its illegal autonomy, and making sure none of the hapless humans under its protection are harmed by planetary threats or sinister plots.

The Cloisters by Katy Hays
(Library of Congress PZ4.H282 Cl 2022)

Set in NYC in the steaming heat of summer, The Cloisters follows Ann Stilwell, a young, would-be curatorial assistant who has moved to the city from middle America expecting a new start at the Met. Disaster seems imminent when she discovers her position is no longer available, but she is swept up instead into the gothic Met Cloisters. If you are in the mood for August in NYC, and deadly museum intrigue, this is the summer read for you.

Kate Smails

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
(Library of Congress Classification PZ4.F64875 Sh 2006)

I’m sure some folks are already familiar with this novel (or perhaps the fabulously done HBO miniseries based on it), but my summer reading rec is Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Reporter and unreliable narrator Camille returns to her tiny Missouri hometown in the hopes of a much-needed success story, covering a series of mysterious murders that cut much closer to home than she originally realizes. The slow-burn gravity and depth of the unfolding plot are as tangible as the summer mugginess and heat that stifle the narrator almost as much as her hypochondriac mother and the weight of her own past. This book kept me hooked through the shocking (sometimes graphic) discoveries and mundane humid porch moments alike; it’s balanced right on the precipice of imagination. My jaw hit the floor upon reaching the final plot twist of this novel, a twist that still makes me shudder. Whether you’ve seen the miniseries or cannot wait until after you’ve read the novel to do so, add Sharp Objects to your summer reading list!

Mary Warnement

Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck, (translated by Michael Hofmann)
(Library of Congress Classification IN PROCESSING)

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the translation of Erpenbeck’s latest novel, and it appeared June 6. The author was born in East Germany and described the changes that occurred after the collapse of the Berlin wall as emigrating without packing a bag: her country moved rather than her. This novel begins in the mid-1908s when a 19-year-old meets an established, married, middle-aged author. Their romance is set against all that comes next. I have only started the book but recommend it unreservedly.

A Chateau Under Siege by Martin Walker
(Library of Congress Classification IN PROCESSING)

My second recommendation is one for the end of summer, because it will not be published until August 29. If you have not met Bruno Chief of Police—and if you enjoy mysteries fueled by eccentric characters and descriptions of good food—then you will want to start this series. Not everyone shares my need to read a series in order, but I strongly suggest you do for this one. Good thing you’ve got plenty of time before this appears on our shelves. I promise, I’ll give members first dibs.

05.02.2023

Staff book suggestions for Spring 2023

Emily Cohen

Over My Dead Body: Unearthing the Hidden History of America’s Cemeteries by Greg Melville
(Library of Congress Classification GT3203 .M44 2022)

When I think of spring, I think of all the beautiful walks I have taken in the cemetery, Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge to be exact. As someone who grew up in New York City, I avoided cemeteries, held my breath as I passed them and knew I didn’t want to end up in one.

The author does a lovely job explaining what makes Mount Auburn Cemetery a great place to visit and includes the history of several cemeteries around the country (and their European and Egyptian influences.) The histories are as different as each cemetery, but they all start from a place of necessity. Melville doesn’t shy away from the discrimination, segregation, or the influence of the “multibillion-dollar Death Industrial Complex,” but he also writes about these sacred places with respect and appreciation. This made for an enjoyable read… though I still plan on being cremated.

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff, Narrated by Simon Vance
(Available on cloudLibrary)

I am not recommending this book to learn about Taoism. I just know that I listen to it whenever I want to stop overthinking, like a nostalgic meditation app. It is narrated by Simon Vance and when I say narrated, I mean he does all of the voices! Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, and of course Pooh. It’s as sweet as honey. I’ve been enjoying this one with special pleasure!

Will Evans

Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
(Library of Congress Classification Z330.6.W54 B98 2019)

Bythell, a used book dealer in a village on the west coast of Scotland, chronicles the peculiarities and frustrations of his trade. Less confessional than wry, the entries reveal his singular nature, equal parts grumpy resignation and hail-fellow-well-met affability. Among the more vexing issues he contends with are the mercenary practices of Amazon; the notoriously thrifty Scots (and American tourists!) that willfully remain ignorant of the concept of profit margins; an eccentric staff and faulty technology, both of whom determinedly act contrary to their boss’s wishes; and obliquely referenced but moving details of a disintegrating romantic relationship. The additional details of village life and descriptions of the countryside (Bythell is a fisherman, of course) further fueled my passion for all things Caledonian.

Table Two by Marjorie Wilenski
(Library of Congress Classification PZ3.W6482 Ta 2019)

It’s the summer of 1940. England is licking its wounds over Dunkirk, and the Battle for Britain rages in the sky. Into this theater of war steps Anne Shelley-Rice, a carefully brought up young woman in newly reduced circumstances, who moves to London to enter the workforce for the first time like thousands of other women. She finds translation work at a large ministry concerned with foreign intelligence, where she is stationed at table two (of the title) along with a dozen other women translators from all levels of society. One tablemate, Elsie Pearne, a clever and efficient woman of a certain age that’s universally despised for her acid tongue and imperious manner, unaccountably takes Anne under wing. As a romance with a recuperating member of the RAF begins to blossom for Anne, Elsie’s increasing demands upon their friendship start to chafe. Meanwhile, the Luftwaffe shifts its focus to the London Blitz, and the realities of war begin to literally hit home.

Published in 1942, Wilenski’s only novel convincingly captures the uncertainty of the times and the impact of the war on societal norms, an endlessly fascinating topic for me. Additionally, the subtext of Elsie’s obsession with Anne could easily have been heavy handed, given the intolerance of the times, but Wilenski purposefully renders Elsie a sympathetic character by including her backstory. This is one of the more remarkable works among the canon of mid-twentieth century British women writers.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
(Library of Congress Classification PZ4.K2537 Sm 2021)

Set in an Irish village in the not-too-distant past during the weeks leading up to Christmas, this work would seemingly be more suitable as a winter recommendation. But great writing transcends seasons, and this novella lives up to all the praise heaped on it by the critics. It’s been some time since I felt this emotionally engaged with a character, but Keegan’s Bill Furlong demands your empathy. A solid, loving family man and fair business owner by all outward appearances, who inwardly lives a haunted, questioning existence. When faced with a situation that demands moral action, Furlong evokes a discomforting mixture of admiration and fear due to the certainty he’ll do the right thing despite the damning consequences. Keegan needs to write more!

Shay Glass

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: A Book of Changing Seasons by Il Sung Na
(Library of Congress Classification Children Picture Book + NA)

This is a sweet, simple picture book with minimal text that’s wonderful to read with very young children. When winter comes, Rabbit and all her friends react in different ways: some fly away from the cold, some grow thick woolly coats! But the seasons keep changing, and soon the snow melts and flowers bloom. The illustrations use different patterns and textures on top of line drawings to evoke snowflakes and flowers, and the rabbit is adorable, with rosy cheeks and teeny tiny whiskers.

Anna Kelly

A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
(Available on cloudLibrary)

The remote coastal town of Golden Cove is characterized by a rugged landscape and a tight knit community, both of which may be much more dangerous and unforgiving than anyone could have imagined. When a local young woman goes missing, the town police officer and an estranged local must sift through the secrets and lies that come to light to figure out what happened to her, along with the three women who disappeared years ago without a trace. Are these disappearances a mere coincidence, or is there something, or someone, much more sinister at play? A Madness of Sunshine is a slow-building and suspenseful tale of light and darkness, of loyalty and betrayal, of twists and turns. The alternating character viewpoints and flashbacks create a multi-layered story that pulls the reader in and is supplemented by an intricate description of the stunning yet unforgiving environment. If readers are patient enough to endure the slow initial chapters, they will be rewarded with answers to their questions and unimaginable reveals. I listened to the audiobook, available on cloudLibrary, and thought the narrator, Saskia Maarleveld, did a wonderful job with pacing and accent.

Carolle Morini

Portrait of an Unknown Lady by María Gainza; translated from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead
(Library of Congress PZ4.G143 Po 2022)

Empty Wardrobes by Maria Judite de Carvalho; translated from Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa; introduction by Kate Zambreno
(Library of Congress PZ4.C331 Em 2021)

Memories of the Future by Siri Hustvedt
(Library of Congress PZ4.H9759 Me 2019)

All three of these books will have you thinking about art, collecting, creating, and memory in different ways. Each book is clever, thoughtful, and insightful.

Elizabeth O’Meara

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
(Library of Congress PZ4.R9876 Sp 2013)

Queen of Dirt Island by Donal Ryan
(Library of Congress PZ4.R9876 Qu 2023)

One of our members introduced me to the Irish writer Donal Ryan and I immediately tore through his books. I just love his prose and his characters. The writing is spare and elegant and I particularly love how he plays with structure in his books. Queen of Dirt Island is a story of four generations of women living together in Ireland and it’s impressive how each chapter is no longer than two pages but incredibly satisfying. I would recommend any of his six novels.

Zoe Palmer

Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew by Michael W. Twitty
(Library of Congress TX724 .T85 2022)

This is an exploration of African-American and Jewish culture through the common essential touchstone of food. Twitty, a culinary historian, recounts different aspects of Jewish and African-American culture and identity and how they intersect with or differ from each other, providing opportunities for exchange and understanding. His anecdotes both resonated with me and illuminated some of my blind spots, and I’m eager to research more (perhaps through his first book, The Cooking Gene, also in the Athenæum’s collection). The book also includes delicious recipes like West African-inspired brisket, stuffed kashered crab, and peach kugel.

Leah Rosovsky

The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra
(Library of Congress PZ4.N146 Ba 2022)

The heroine of this mystery is a young, brilliant Indian woman who moves to Bangalore in the 1920s to marry. She solves two murders while building a real partnership with her new husband.

Books as History: The Importance of Books Beyond Their Texts by David Pearson
(Library of Congress Z4 .P43 2008)

John Buchtel recommended this wonderful exploration of books as historical objects. The lavish illustrations helped me understand Pearson’s (and John’s) fascination with every aspect of the creation and life of a book.

Jessica Schweber

Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa (translation by Alison Watts)
(Available on cloudLibrary )

Who can resist the combination of cherry blossom season, Japanese sweets, and intergenerational friendships? A cook with a blemished past and unfulfilled dreams of becoming a writer befriends an elderly woman with her own troubled history. This charming novel explores the redemptive power of friendship and personal growth.

Oh William!: A Novel by Elizabeth Strout
(Library of Congress PZ4.S9186 Oh 2021)

I picked up this book because I’d noticed many of our members had done the same—it is one of our most checked out books of the past year, and I can understand why. The novel is delightfully narrated by the protagonist Lucy, who ostensibly wants to tell us about her inscrutable ex-husband’s recent spate of bad luck. The story simultaneously delves into her own past, and her family’s past and present relationships, examining the ways these relationships have grown or remained unchanged over time, for better or worse.

Mary Warnement

The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear
(Library of Congress Classification PZ4.W7855 Wh 2023)

Perhaps like me you expected a new installment in the Maisie Dobbs series in March and was disappointed to see that for the first time in many years, Winspear did not add a title as usual. Nevertheless, I admire the author enough to trust her. At first, some similarities between some characters in The White Lady and Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series gave me pause, but this story came into its own. Her thoughtful lead character—coping and calm and competent—is a relief to spend time with. This heroine’s origin story differs from Maisie’s in the structure of its telling. Here, Winspear goes back and forth in time; whereas in Maisie, she stuck to strictly chronological. I shouldn’t have been surprised to read her lead is based on a true woman. The White Lady probably influenced Maisie more than the other way ’round.

03.09.2023

Staff Book Suggestions Winter 2023

John Buchtel

Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts by Christopher De Hamel
(Library of Congress Classification Z106.5.E85 D44 2016)

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to go to Trinity College, Dublin, and ask to turn the pages of the Book of Kells in person? Christopher De Hamel, one of the world’s leading experts on medieval manuscripts, is one of a handful of people who has ever had that opportunity. With wit and insight he tells the story of that remarkable book, and of 11 more of the most famous illuminated manuscripts in the world. His personable, engaging prose sparkles like the burnished gold leaf that illuminates these books’ painted pages. Along the way, he makes new discoveries that could only be made by an actual physical examination of such manuscripts as the Codex Amiatinus—the earliest surviving complete one-volume Latin Bible, and the Hours of Jeanne de Navarre—one of the most spectacular illuminated manuscripts ever produced. Every book I’ve ever read by De Hamel has been wonderful; I’ve been enjoying this one with special pleasure!

Will Evans

Shy by Mary Rodgers
(Library of Congress CT275 .R6283 Sh 2022)

Shy tells the story of Mary Rodgers, the oldest daughter of composer Richard Rodgers (of Broadway titans Rodgers and Hammerstein fame) and his wife Dorothy. Spoiler alert: Richard and Dorothy were not good parents, or even nice people. They had little confidence in their daughter’s abilities, and they freely dispensed their low opinion of her. But Shy is more than an autobiographical vendetta in the Mommie Dearest mold. In a brutally candid, conversational tone (much of the book was dictated), Rodgers keeps the focus on her journey. In doing so she offers an absorbing description of the East Coast creative class of the period, among whom she doggedly pursues a career as a Broadway composer, notwithstanding the long shadow cast by “Daddy”. She achieves modest success in that field (notable her Once Upon a Mattress, a star-making vehicle for a young Carol Burnett) and would go on to have encore careers in children’s literature and philanthropy. Rodgers dishes plenty of dirt along the way (Was Arthur Laurent the most hated man on Broadway? Also, after having suffered an abusive marriage to a closeted gay man, Rodgers seriously contemplated a romantic relationship with BFF and Hammerstein protégé Stephen Sondheim, an idea endorsed by Sondheim’s therapist!). I enjoy a good dish as much as anybody, but the social history documented here is equally intriguing. Rodgers’s life seemly jumps from one social injustice or cultural hot-button issue to another: antisemitism, alcoholism, women in the workplace, women working in a male dominated field, working mothers, soft parenting, domestic abuse, homosexuality, prescription drug abuse, mental illness, the mainstreaming of therapy. Rodgers suffered, experienced, or bumped up against it all, yet she endured, and her triumph makes for an engaging read.

The Old Boys by William Trevor
(Library of Congress PZ4 .T8163 Ol)

In English public-school parlance (which is in fact private school) an “old boy” is any alumni of the school, be they 17 or 70. The old boys referenced in William Trevor’s title fall into to the latter age bracket, a group of septuagenarians that form some sort of governing board for their alma mater. An election for a new leader approaches, an occasion for some to seek vengeance for wrongs suffered decades ago. Trevor offers a fun cast of characters that include the entitled blowhard and his long-suffering wife, the quiet, embittered outsider, a pair of eccentrics that answer want ads out of boredom, all of whom seek refuge in their old boy identity with a tenacity that suggests they just walked off the cricket field and are heading to maths. They also all share a fear of death, some in a more self-aware fashion than others. Another remarkable (and enjoyable) feature of this book is the language Trevor put in the mouths of the old boys. The characters speak the Queen’s English with laser-like precision, expressing themselves in complete sentences that leave little room for ambiguity. It’s as though they inhabit a Trollope novel of the 1860s instead of 1960s London. While these absurdly exacting exchanges might signify the class and age of the old boys, their comic fastidiousness suggests that Trevor mocks those that cling to the past out of distaste for the present and fear of the future.

Your Table is Ready: Tales of a New York City Maitre D’ by Michael Cecchi-Azzolina
(Available as an audiobook on cloudLibrary)

Equal parts Goodfellas, Kitchen Confidential, and a social history, Cecchi-Azzolina’s autobiography chronicles his journey from a young punk on-the-make in his crime infested Brooklyn neighborhood to his career as a maitre d’hotel at some of the finest restaurants in Manhattan (or the world), namely the River Cafe and James Beard recipient, Le Coucou. Cecchi-Azzolina has a good story to tell. With dreams of stardom he crosses the East River in his early twenties, but like many a would-be actor, he resignedly waits tables until his big break materializes. Nevertheless, he quickly realizes his street-smarts will serve him well in the restaurant industry, and he begins to bluff his way up the food chain. In the course of his narrative, he outlines the fascinating dynamics of front-of-the-house operations. He also name-drops a lot, reciting a catalog of A-listers from the entertainment, sports, finance, and society pages. New York City also has a starring role in this story. The years of urban decay that plagued the city in the 1970s serve as a fitting backdrop or nurturing environment for Cecchi-Azzolina’s debauched lifestyle of that period. The sudden advent of the ‘80s financial boom ushered in the era of the pinstriped Wall Street heavyweights, financial kingpins who handed out c-notes like they were business cards. Accordingly, Cecchi-Azzolina’s own fortunes and morals rise, achieving the exalted post of maitre d’hotel at the aforementioned world-class restaurants. Cecchi-Azzolina’s also relates with genuine feeling the onslaught and subsequent devastation of the AIDS epidemic that decimated the New York restaurant and theater worlds he inhabited.


I would not have likely picked up this book myself. It was forced upon me by my book group, chosen mainly on the merit that it was under 300 pages (One of their steadfast rules!). After initial resistance largely born out of confusion (I’m not sure why, but I imagined we were to be regaled with anecdotes of a cosmopolitan, Upper East Side eatery), I gradually became disarmed and abandoned my snobbery to enjoy the earthy narrative. Also, uncharacteristically for a book group selection, I listened to the audiobook, and in doing so I unwittingly became captivated to a degree that I’m sure I would not have achieved by reading the book. Cecchi-Azzolina reads with the measured cadence of a trained actor, but his Brooklynese adds a note of endearing humility to his tale that would have come across as bravado on the printed page.

Carolle Morini

The Hero of This Book: A Novel by Elizabeth McCracken
(Library of Congress PZ4.M13186 He 2022)

Wonderfully written—witty and introspective.

When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut; translated from the Spanish by Adrian Nathan West
(Library of Congress PZ4.L137 Wh 2020)

Excellent work. It will haunt you well after you finish.

Leah Rosovsky

Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
(Library of Congress Classification PZ3 .K1775 Sn)

This short book, by a Nobel Prize winning Japanese author, takes place at a hot spring in a rural town popular for hiking and skiing. It tells the story of a doomed love affair between a wealthy Tokyo intellectual and a geisha. The book combines mesmerizing descriptions, particularly of the natural world, with characters sketched in quick brushstrokes.

Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood
(Library of Congress Classification PZ4 .S765 Fo 2020)

I loved this mystery, the first of a new series. The main characters are female versions of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin written with much flair and wit. There is a great plot and lots of stylish dialogue. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next two novels!

Jessica Schweber

Kindred by Octavia Butler
(Library of Congress Classification PZ4 .B98666 Ki 2003)

Watching a commercial for a new television show based on this book inspired me to read Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred. The time-traveling narrative highlights slavery as a nexus event, the effects of which ripple through American history and continue to impact the present. An exciting, thought-provoking, and emotional read as relevant now as it was in 1979 when it was first published.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
(Library of Congress Classification PZ4 .G1414 No 2017)

I bought this book as a holiday gift for my sibling and couldn’t resist reading before gifting it. The winter weather is a good match for Norse mythology and Gaiman’s prose revives these ancient tales while keeping the original feel of the stories.

After reading this, I now feel an urge to compare to Gaiman’s source materials which, happily, are also available at BA!

The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson, translated from the Icelandic
(Cutter Classification VCYL .Ed21 .E .b)

The Elder or Poetic Edda by Edda Sæmundar
(Cutter VCY .8V69)

Mary Warnement

The Posthumous Papers of the Manuscripts Club by Christopher De Hamel
(Library of Congress Classification ND2900 .D44 2022)

I enjoyed his first thick book Meeting Remarkable Manuscripts, about his studying iconic medieval illuminated books, and I’m looking forward to settling in on the love seat with his follow-up about the collectors of those books over the centuries. This seems like it would pair well with a reread of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, or maybe Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time.

11.01.2022

Boston Athenaeum Set to Complete Revitalization of its Landmark Building in the Heart of Boston

Red doors, entrance to the Boston Athenaeum

Adding new space creates significant opportunities for enhanced programming and future growth

The Boston Athenaeum is entering a new chapter.

After 16 months of construction to revitalize and expand its 1849 landmark building in the heart of Boston, the Athenaeum will re-open its iconic red doors to members and visitors on November 15.

The transformational changes not only enhance the classic beauty of the building but also add space for more programs and events, more varied art, more places for reading and research, more opportunities for connection, and, soon, a brand-new street level cafe.

“This is a tremendously exciting time for the Athenaeum,” said Timothy Diggins, president of the Boston Athenaeum.  “Our renovation and expansion preserve all of the best of the traditional Athenaeum experience, but open up spaces for listening to music, enjoying our huge art collection, reading, attending lectures, meeting with friends, or having a bite to eat. We invite everyone to come in and see how much we have to offer to the cultural and intellectual life of the city and New England.”

The Boston Athenaeum is a unique combination of library, museum, and cultural center. It is one of the country’s oldest and most distinguished independent libraries, with a circulating collection of over half a million books, from works published in the 1800s to the latest best sellers. Special collections include active research holdings of 100,000 rare books, maps and manuscripts, and 100,000 works of art, from paintings and sculpture to prints and photographs.

In addition to access to the library’s five galleried floors, members enjoy a year-round schedule of cultural programming, including author talks, gallery exhibitions, concerts, speakers, book clubs, and social gatherings.

“We are a member-supported organization that anyone can join,” said Leah Rosovsky, the Athenaeum’s Director.  “We welcome readers, writers, academics, researchers, historians and artists from all walks of life, united in their curiosity about literature, culture, art, ideas and the world. While the Athenaeum is steeped in strong traditions, our focus on sparking important conversations and the continuous acquisition of knowledge keep us firmly attuned to changing times.”

As the Athenaeum upgraded its landmark building, it also re-envisioned how its collection is presented and interpreted to reflect a more expansive view of American art and history. “We want to give our members and visitors deeper engagement with a wider range of work from our collection,” said John Buchtel, Curator of Rare Books and Head of Special Collections.  “That means bringing forth a diverse selection of artwork in a wider range of media, including more work by and of women and people of color, and looking at the works in our collections with fresh eyes.”

In 2021, the Athenaeum was awarded a grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art to support the reinstallation of artwork in the Henry Long room on the first floor.  “Re-Reading Special Collections” will be on view when the Athenaeum re-opens on November 15.

Also, on view for the first time at the Athenaeum’s re-opening:

  • A newly commissioned mural by Ekua Holmes, a lifelong resident of Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, visual artist and Caldecott Award winning children’s book illustrator, will be installed in the Children’s Library.   Her new collage will depict children of diverse backgrounds and create a welcoming dynamic and inclusive space for the Athenaeum’s youngest readers.
  • The opening exhibition in the newly located Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery will be Materialia Lumina/Luminous Books, which showcases a selection of outstanding contemporary artists’ books created by some of the world’s most accomplished makers over the past twenty-five years. The Athenaeum is one of three venues for this international exhibition, along with Stanford University Libraries and the Klingspor Museum in Offenbach, Germany.
  • The Athenaeum recently acquired a rare painting by the acclaimed nineteenth-century artist Robert S. Duncanson. Born in upstate New York in 1821 to free Black parents, Duncanson was a leading American landscape painter, regardless of race, in the years before and after the American Civil War.

In addition to renovations and enhancements at its long-time home at 10½ Beacon St., the Athenaeum also increased its footprint by approximately 12,000 square feet by expanding into an adjacent building at 14 Beacon St.  The architect for the revitalization project is Annum Architects, formerly Ann Beha Architects, a national leader in preservation, adaptive reuse and contemporary design for historic settings.  Ann Beha FAIA is the Design Principal.

“Architecture has always played a starring role at the Boston Athenaeum, a place as unique, inspiring and relevant today as it was a century ago,” said Beha. “We first immersed ourselves in the Athenaeum’s history and its evolution over many years. We wanted our design to celebrate that architectural journey and move it forward. This new chapter renews historic resources, adds welcoming spaces, integrates technology, and confirms that the Athenaeum is a place for everyone.

Planning for the renovation and expansion, the Athenaeum solicited its members’ voices, asking what improvements they most desired. As a result, the Athenaeum will have:

  • A new Children’s Library, reimagined to inspire the youngest readers, under six, and moved to provide better access for families.
  • A new Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery that’s more open, more inviting, better lit, and more conducive to experiencing the varied exhibitions and art from the collections.
  • A 40-seat street level café – the Athenaeum’s first — for members and visitors, to enliven the connection to the community. With an opening planned for winter 2023, the café will be operated by The Catered Affair, the Athenaeum’s exclusive event caterer.
  • The new Leventhal Room, a showcase space extending the Athenaeums first floor, with sweeping views over the Granary Burying Ground and comfortable places to read and talk.
  • A new Study Center to offer members, researchers, school field trips and special docent tours better engagement with the Athenaeum’s collections.
  • New “Living Rooms” on the fourth floor, inviting spaces for members, with unbeatable views of the Boston skyline.
  • A renovated lobby that is lighter, brighter and more welcoming.
  • More nooks and alcoves for reading, writing or quiet reflection.
  • Integrated technology throughout; web, Zoom, and IT connectivity and resources.

The Athenaeum will celebrate with a series of events including a special reception for members in January, 2023 and an open house for the entire community in April, 2023.

For a full calendar of events, to register for a tour or purchase a day pass, or to become a member, please visit:   bostonathenaeum.org

———————————-

Founded in 1807, the Boston Athenaeum is a unique combination of library, museum and cultural center. The Athenaeum’s present home at 10 ½ Beacon St., designed by Edward Clarke Cabot, opened in 1849 and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1965. One of the country’s oldest and most distinguished independent libraries, the Athenaeum’s circulating collection includes over half a million books, from works published in the 1800s to the latest best sellers. Special collections include active research holdings of 100,000 rare books, maps and manuscripts, and 100,000 works of art, from paintings and sculpture to prints and photographs. Members, visitors and the community enjoy a year- round calendar of cultural programs – – book talks, exhibitions, concerts, speakers, social gatherings and other opportunities for connection. The Athenaeum is a member-supported not-for-profit institution that everyone is invited to join.   Bostonathenaeum.org

Contact:  Alex Boonstra
aboonstra@denterlein.com

10.04.2022

Barb Brouillette

Barb Brouillette, photo courtesy of Barb Brouillette.

October 2022

Interview by Kayla Smith

Born and raised on the Jersey Shore, Barb Brouillette graduated cum laude from Columbia International University, with a Bachelor of Science in Logic and Philosophy. For nearly 20 years now she has been a Boston area resident working in the insurance industry by day, pursuing various personal passions by night.

Brouillette has lovingly nurtured the tenet that it’s never too late to explore one’s curiosities, wasting no time in putting them into action. A lifelong learner, seasoned cellist, solo traveler, and designer of themed European experiences, she has recently welcomed feature screenwriting into her world.

Mainly self-educated through books, scripts, movies, and podcasts, Brouillette completed her first screenplay in 18 months, before submitting to various competitions for judge scores and critique notes. She is now in the feedback rewrite stage.

On a cloudy afternoon, tucked away in one of the many private spaces in the Boston Athenæum, we were lucky enough to be able to speak with a member who recently wrote her very first screenplay. As it is with a great number of those who now call the Athenæum a home away from home, Brouillette hadn’t heard of the library until walking by one day with a friend who pointed it out to her. Before the week was over, Barb had joined the ranks of a select group of Bostonians who are brought together not only by the awe-inspiring architecture and design of the building, but also by their deep love and appreciation for reading, learning, and sharing knowledge with others.

Brouillette spent countless hours writing, revising, and rewriting her screenplay within our institution, considering spots like the silent fifth floor and the Art Department to be sacred spaces. When asked to discuss her favorite locations in the library, Brouillette (like many members before her) gave away a few special locations, but kept the most important and well-loved to herself.

“It’s never too late to try something new…”

BARB BROUILLETTE: I started dreaming up some of these ideas long before COVID, but I figured I’d take the opportunity during the quarantine period, which provided a lot of good solitary time to put the project in motion.

A screenplay is meant to be a map…a blueprint. It’s not really meant to be overly flowering narrative, it’s meant to be very succinct in action descriptions, and as much as I love this format it’s not without strict industry guidelines. It has to be a certain number of pages, for each genre, a certain font, a specific format. Even when you can’t be too narrative in your action description, you can still be creative and selective in your word choice and order, so that you’re making suggestions to the camera. You can’t really make camera or lighting suggestions, editing ideas, or music choices in there—that’s for the professionals and they know what they’re doing. I’m just here to tell a story. You can be creative with how you suggest things so that the camera might have a certain focal point.

A screenwriter’s main goal is a tricky one: to give the audience the same vision that you have. The tricky thing is that a script is ultimately meant to be seen and not read, which causes you to approach it differently.

Q: Can you take us through your writing process for this project?

BB: I have never done anything formal before, never done any kind of writing project. This was my first ever. I haven’t taken any classes on it. I’m fully self-educated through books and scripts. It took about 18 months, but it took two things: learning how to write a screenplay, and then after that, actually writing the screenplay.

Maybe the next story I do will be different, but this one is a crime thriller that takes place in Oxford. The main character is a musician whose instrument is being hunted down. She isn’t sure why until the end of the story.

At first I wanted to do this project only for myself, known only to me. The more I got involved, and the more I got attached to my characters, the more interested I was to receive feedback on my script. So, I entered competitions in an attempt to see an unbiased opinion on my work. I just wanted to get judge scores and critique back, wanted to manage my expectations and see where I was.

[When we spoke to Brouillette, she had just gotten her manuscript back from a few different competitions, and with it, feedback.]

“…if we only do what is comfortable, what is life?”

A theme of the script is that living to meet others’ expectations is not living. We have to be our authentic selves, instead of what others want to pressure us into being.

The rewrite process was difficult—there are so many different ways to go about doing a rewrite, and for this project it was better for me to go back and focus on one thing at a time (characterization, storytelling, etc) rather than rushing to put it all together at once.

Q: Why start writing now?

BB: I started the cello at 29 years old…I knew I wasn’t going to be a concert soloist, but I wanted to see how far I could go with it. Doesn’t have to be a big, thriving career, but I’ve played with different orchestras and thoroughly enjoy my time.

This screenplay has been so much work, but I have been having the best time! It’s like putting a puzzle together. I love problem solving.

Q: What are some favorite scripts you’ve read?

BB: Alien, Sideways, and Chinatown are strong examples of what a screenplay should be. They’re well paced, everything has a purpose in the script, they have an even read (the page has a lot of white), succinct action sequences, and there are lovable/relatable characters for the audience to get to know and share some commonalities with.

Q: What are you reading now?

BB: I’m reading Directed By James Burrows—if you’re a fan of Cheers, Friends, Will & Grace, you’re gonna have seen that name hundreds of times. I’ve always had a creative crush on James Burrows…not only is he a genius with what he does and knows how to get the most out of his actors, he is also a very welcoming presence. He is an approachable person who wants to foster a collective effort, which seems an admirable quality for directors.

After writing the screenplay, I feel as though I am a much different viewer of movies and television. I feel as though I’m paying a lot more attention to the credits. I think I just take for granted so much that when we look at a final work, it looks like it just came together so naturally, when really there was so much involved! Big choices, little choices, everything that comes together just makes the end result look effortless. All those little details make a scene impactful (or not).

08.25.2022

Staff Book Suggestions Autumn 2022

Dan Axmacher

(Library of Congress Classification PZ3.C13956 Co)

I recently finished Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics, a delightful little collection of short stories that play out across millennia. The immortal narrator Qfwfq recounts a series of situations and stories from his various lives and incarnations, exploring human relationships and foibles on a cosmic scale. This one was a real treat. Available as an audiobook on cloudLibrary.

(Library of Congress SH383.2 .D65 2007)

Next, I’m plummeting back down to Earth and into the sea: I’ve just started Leviathan, Eric Jay Dolin’s historical account of the American whaling industry. I’m only a few chapters in, but so far it’s been interesting to see how the growth of the whaling industry was so closely intertwined with the growth of the United States from its earliest days. It doesn’t hurt that the subject matter pairs perfectly with some of these gloomy New England autumn days. Available on cloudLibrary as both an audiobook and ebook.

Emilie Barrett

(Library of Congress PZ4.H134 Ot 2020)

For those of us who love Jane Austen, The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow is a deeply interesting delve into the characterization of the forgotten Bennet sister, Mary. Through a journey of self-discovery and romance, Mary must throw off the false expectations and wrong ideas that have combined to obscure her true nature and have prevented her from what makes her happy, and undergo an evolution in order to finally find fulfillment in her life. Hadlow’s prose is a beautifully written accompaniment to Austen’s original work and keeps in the spirit of the characters we originally loved in Pride and Prejudice, while adding additional layers of intrigue, lovability, and disdain to many of the characters we did not get to know as well.

John Buchtel
Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny

(Library of Congress PZ4 .P4275)

John Buchtel has gotten hooked on Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series, with its rich cast of characters, delightful sense of humor, and insight into the art world, the world of libraries and books, and especially into human nature. Not to mention a protagonist who is both truly noble and deeply human, and a setting that will make you want to pack your bags for the Québec countryside as soon as you can: the idyllic, Brigadoon-like village of Three Pines. The first four books are each set in one of the four seasons, starting with the autumnal Still Life. Some titles are available on cloudLibrary.

Jacqueline Chambers

(Library of Congress PZ4 .B1275 An 2020)

This extremely funny and heartwarming novel is sure to make you laugh and cry! Quirky characters abound, and seeing how these strangers grow and come together through a bizarre situation is delightful. 

Will Evans

(Library of Congress PZ3 .T1626 Mak)

Unfolding during the years just prior to WWII, the Makioka sisters are the last in a line of a once powerful and wealthy family in the Osaka area of Japan. The story primarily centers on the family’s attempts to find a suitable husband for the third oldest sister, Yukiko, an emotional reticent woman on the verge of spinsterhood, and the rebellious (read: often Western) behavior of the youngest sister, Taeko, who is forbidden to marry until her older sister has done so. While the plot concerns the two younger sisters, it’s through the eyes of the second oldest sister Sachiko—a happily married woman with genuine love and concern for her younger siblings—that we experience the story. 

Tanizaki serialized the story during the war, and he presents in microcosm what must have been cataclysmic societal shifts happening in Japan at the time. Many of the characters, especially Sachiko and her husband Teinosuke, exhibit wistful longing for the past, while we witness the transgression of tradition, patriarchy, and obedience to elders in the form of Taeko’s actions. The tone, period, and setting made this a compelling read for me, and I was fascinated by customs it outlined, especially around marriage. 

(Cutter Classification VEF .Sh165 .fo)

Does time erode one’s culpability for a wrong committed long ago? Isobel Bracken, the foolish gentlewoman, becomes convinced it does not. A sentimental, kind-hearted widow, Isobel is determined to right a wrong she enacted in her youth by means of an extraordinary, grand gesture. Her prickly brother-in-law and solicitor Simon steadfastly tries to thwart Isobel’s efforts to provide restitution for what he considers a very venial sin.

Like her contemporary Stella Gibbons, Margery Sharp is a shrewd observer of the comic and unremitting Englishness of the British. Available as an ebook on cloudLibrary.

(Library of Congress PZ4 .L6775 Sh 2005)

Octogenarian Nikoli, an eccentric Ukrainian emigre living in the English countryside, has married buxom, blond Valentina, who recently arrived from the Ukraine with an expired green card, a “gifted” school-aged son, and a volatile personality. Seeing through Valentina’s obvious charms and even more obvious motives, Nikoli’s daughters Vera and Nadezhda set aside their troubled history with father and each other to free the smitten old man from the clutches of his new wife.

This book careens from humor, pathos, and human cruelty, and it may be off-putting to some (it depicts elder abuse among other travesties). Nevertheless, the sometimes frustrating, comic, awkward, and joyful experience of caring for an aging parent depicted here rang true for me. Additionally, the enlightening snippets of Ukrainian history told through the family’s history and Nikoli’s treatise on tractors (which gives the book its title) provide some insight to current events. Available as an ebook on cloudLibrary.

Leah Rosovsky

(Library of Congress PZ4.O8336 Th 2020)

Four friends, living in a retirement village in England, solve murder mysteries in their spare time. The series is delightful, witty, and surprising. Available as both an ebook and audiobook on cloudLibrary.

(Library of Congress CT275.Z386 A3 2021)

Michelle Zauner comes to terms with her mother’s death by writing about their shared obsession with food. It’s a lively memoir that alternates between humor and pain. And, the descriptions of Korean food are mouth watering! Available as both an ebook and audiobook on cloudLibrary.

Emily Schuman

(Library of Congress TX357 .S23 2022)

A fascinating look at the history of foods and the impact of mass farming. It’s made me think about how to buy and support the local farms and ecosystem both from an environmental and a health perspective. 

Jessica T. Pinkham Schweber

(Library of Congress PZ4 .W74728 Se 2021)

The author of this book weaves several generations of Dakota women’s stories together within her main character’s life experiences of trauma, love, and loss. It was both personally and historically compelling. Available as an audiobook on cloudLibrary.

(Available as an ebook on cloudLibrary)

This reader is not always a fan of murder mysteries, but I was delighted by Tursten’s somewhat ethically challenged protagonist Maude, an octogenarian who will not be pushed around.

Graham Skinner
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik (volume 1 of the Temeraire series)

(Available through cloudLibrary on both audiobook and ebook)

Dragons and the Napoleonic Wars! What else is there to say? Aside from dragons, I became enamored with the historic fantasy fiction novel and the friendship between the dragon Temeraire and the at first reluctant Captain Will Laurence, who makes a decision between seafaring and becoming part of the Aerial Corps. There is an amazing cast of characters, humor, and friendship that Novik’s writing style captures and is so deeply engaging that I am now three novels into the series.

Mary Warnement

(Library of Congress PS3556.A314 Z46 2017)

Suggesting a book to fall in love with for everyone is a tall order! I have an author to recommend: Anne Fadiman has written on a variety of topics, and her book of essays Ex-Libris is my favorite book to give, but more recently she wrote a biography of her father. Also available as an audiobook on cloudLibrary.

(Library of Congress PZ4.S52645 Gu 2008b)

If you haven’t discovered it or you’re a fan of rereading, I recommend returning to the charming world in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Available both as an ebook and as an audiobook on cloudLibrary.

Murder on the Vine by Camilla Trinchieri

(Library of Congress On order for the Athenæum)

And finally, something new, a book set in October during the wine harvest season in Tuscany, currently available as an ebook on cloudLibrary. Maybe you want to read the series in order, in which case get Murder in Chianti, also available as an ebook and as an audiobook on cloudLibrary.

08.22.2022

Eva L. Elasigue

Eva L. Elasigue, photo courtesy of Eva L. Elasigue.

Summer/September 2022

Interview by Carly Stevens

Eva L. Elasigue is a science fiction fantasy author living in the Pacific Northwest. Her debut work is the trilogy Bones of Starlight, a fantasy space opera. The third volume, Greater Beyond , is currently being serialized. You can keep up with her on her main Facebook page, “Eva L. Elasigue,” or her side group, “ELE:Mentation.” Her Instagram is @primal.spiral and her Twitter is @primalspiral.

Q: Can you tell me about your background, both personal and academic?

EVA L. ELASIGUE: I’ve always lived somewhere along the Pacific Northwest coast in the areas between San Francisco and Seattle, but I have traveled widely including Europe, Central America, Australia, and the Philippines. As a writer, I was recognized and accelerated early as a child. I tested well, won a youth state medal in California, got involved in local arts, and had a couple of small pieces published. My college career started in creative writing, shifted to arts and humanities, then biopsychology, and ended in biology, with some hired research done in genetics and native plants.

After finishing college, I landed a full time writing gig for the contract furniture industry, writing articles, editing, and researching. This was good, but ultimately not quite what I wanted to be doing. After that, I went on a soul searching journey that put me on small farming homesteads and in the backcountry where I gained familiarity with natural building, wildcrafting, and bush lore. I returned to civilization doing wholesome, grounded work in renovation and market retail. That is when I turned back to writing. This time, a really big idea was ready for me, and I decided I was ready for it. I began Bones of Starlight, the fantasy space opera trilogy that I’m now concluding. This has since taken me to worlds beyond in creativity, through conventions and festivals. I’ve run concurrent projects in mixed media visual arts and poetry, and I enjoy movement and music. I’ve personally bonded with a snake, a cat, and a dog, and lived with humans and farm menagerie. I’m spiritually and secularly curious, happily queer, and blended heritage Filipina-American.

Q: What books have you written and what are you currently working on?

ELE: The two novels I’ve released are part of the trilogy Bones of Starlight: Fire Within, and Abyss Surrounding. The third, Greater Beyond, is concluding now in online serialization. These three are a unified story about the turn of an age in an alternate universe intergalactic empire with fantasy aliens—sometimes concept heavy, other times campy and magical. The main character is a Scion Princess, and the ensemble is assembled from all kinds of folks from all over, who discover surprising and profound connections as they do their parts in the turn of the change.

Q: Can you talk about your writing process? Does it vary from book to book or topic to topic? Has the pandemic affected your process?

ELE: I operate differently for different projects, though I have been on this main trilogy for a while. The trilogy novels ironed out their progression eventually, where I write first, second, and third drafts in parts by turn, which have serialized steadily online at bonesofstarlight.com. If I get the chance to work on other projects in the trunk, I suspect I will approach them each in a unique fashion, because my assortment of ideas belong in differing subgenres. Poetry for me is more like the occasional strike of lightning, though I enjoy offering typed poetry concepts for events.

The pandemic was something I had to get through. I had by then become a social writer, thriving on continued relevance and awareness in receptive communities, so it was a matter of innovating and hanging in there.

Q: What do you hope readers will get from your books?

ELE: Deep reflections, inspiring notions, some smiles and laughs, and perspectives of a beautiful and bigger world filled with imagination. Maybe also newfound relation to others who are like yet unlike them, and some added understanding of self and life. I believe this is what fiction in general offers us, particularly in speculative fiction, and what the reader finds depends on what they really need.

Q: How did you find the Athenæum?

ELE: I was accompanying my family on a tour, and the Athenæum wasn’t actually a stop but while we were standing there I noticed the door. I stepped aside for a moment to peek in and take a brochure. I was fascinated.

Q: Did the Athenæum’s collections inform your research?

ELE: Sure, yes. I’ve enjoyed deep random browsing at the Athenæum, both in the catalogs and different departments. I’ve been into Special Collections, perused the vintage card catalogs, and chosen many different places to sit and inquire into the shelves.

Q: Do you have a favorite spot to do work?

ELE: I was directed to the Seminar Room on 1G for a good place to use my typewriter, which is a sometime companion for drafting my novels. I really appreciate that openness to make a little studious noise, and it’s an empowering space. I also enjoy the quiet and sunny fifth floor desks, making some tea and stepping out on the balconies.

Q: What are some of your favorite books? I know it’s a tough question. name as many as you like.

ELE: I connect to genre, literary, and graphic novels, and I am passionate about fiction but also interested in research. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings was pivotal. I have also resonated with Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea and more, Shakespeare, Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach , Hermann Hesse’s Demian , Little, Big by John Crowley, Tad Williams’s Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy , the Sandman series, and so much more.

Q: What are you reading right now?

ELE: Poems for Other People’s Lovers, by Jeremy Brownlowe the Typewriter Troubadour; We Were Dreamers, an immigrant superhero autobiography by Simu Liu; and the Binti trilogy, by Nnedi Okorafor.

06.22.2022

Summer 2022 Reading Challenge

Crank up the heat this June with this Summer 2022 Reading Challenge.

Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Trojan Women by Anne Carson
(Children Picture Book Lg BRUNO)
This is a new comic version of Euripides’s The Trojan Women, which follows the fates of Hekabe, Andromache, and Kassandra after Troy has been sacked and all its men killed.

Otto: A Palindrama by Jon Agee
(PZ7.A2678 Ot 2021)
This graphic novel is told entirely in palindromes! Otto’s dog Pip goes missing, and his search leads him into a strange world of talking owls, stacks of cats, storms and mazes, boats and trains and automobiles. Everything seems to be the same forward and backward, and Otto is unsure if he’ll be able to make it home to Mom and Pop.

Marshmallow and Jordan by Alina Chau
(PZ7.C405 Ma 2021)
Jordan’s days as a star on her basketball team were over when an accident left her paralyzed from the waist down. She is still the team captain but her competition days are behind her. When she meets a mysterious elephant named Marshmallow, she discovers a new sport- water polo. Will water polo be the way for her to continue her athletic dreams, or will it come between Jordan and her friends on the basketball team?

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
(PZ7.B7999 Be 2018)
All Vera wants to do is fit in, but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and attend the best summer camps, but Vera’s single mother can only afford to send her to Russian summer camp. Vera thinks this may be the one place she can fit in, but camp is very different than she imagined. Nothing had prepared her for the “cool girl” drama, endless Russian history lessons, or outhouses straight out of nightmares!

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
(PZ7.C5444 Aw 2015)
On her first day at her new school, Penelope, or Peppi, reminds herself of her two rules for surviving school: don’t get noticed by the mean kids, and seek out groups with similar interests and join them. But when she trips into a quiet kid named Jaime in the hallway, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this? By shoving Jaime and running away. Falling back on rule number two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi can’t help but feel bad about the way she treated Jaime. To make matters worse, he is a member of her clubs archrivals, the science club. When the clubs go to war, Peppi realizes sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school.

Books with a blue cover

The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad
(Children Picture Book + MUHAM)
With her new backpack and light up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab. Her hijab is made of a beautiful blue fabric, but not everyone sees it that way. In the face of hurtful and confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.

Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer
(Children Picture Book ARCHE)
The people in Daniel’s neighborhood always say, “Have a good day!” But what exactly is a good day? Daniel is determined to find out, and as he strolls through his neighborhood, he finds a wonderful world of answers as varied as his neighbors.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier
(PZ7.T245 Sm 2010)
Raina wants to be a normal sixth grader, but one night after Girl Scouts Raina trips and falls, which leaves her with two severely injured front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and a retainer with fake teeth. On top of all that, she is dealing with a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friend issues.

The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell
(PZ7.S45696 Ca 2018)
Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into a cardboard kingdom! This summer, the sixteen kids will encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters, as well as their own inner demons, on one final quest before school begins.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
(PZ7.R9553 Es 2000)
Esperanza thought she would always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico, with her fancy dresses, nice home, and servants. But a tragedy forces Esperanza and her mother to flee to California during the Great Depression and to settle into a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she is now facing. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances.

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai
(PZ7 .L182 Pi 2019)
When eleven year old Jingwen and his family move to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is tough, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he’s often stuck looking after his 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 on opening before he passed away. The only problem is he and his brother are not allowed to use the oven while their mom is at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they’ll also have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from their mom.

Books about friendship

Words to Make a Friend by Donna Jo Napoli
(Children picture Book + NAPOL)
When a young Japanese girl moves into her new house, she is happy to see a girl her age playing in the snow next door. The only problem is the Japanese girl doesn’t speak English and the American girl doesn’t speak Japanese. Each girl’s love of play, snow, and making a new friend transcends the need to speak the same language, and by using simple words in both languages and charades, the girls find they have all they need to build a snow creature.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
(PZ7.J156 Ro 2015)
Twelve year old Astrid has always done everything with her best friend Nicole. When Astrid signs up for roller derby camp, she assumes Nicole will too, but instead she chooses to do dance camp with a new friend instead. Astrid faces a tough summer of bumps and bruises as she learns who she is without Nicole and what it takes to be a strong, tough roller girl.

Real Friends by Shannon Hale
(PZ7.H1385 Re 2017)
Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends since they were little, but one day Adrienne starts hanging out with the most popular girl, Jen, and her circle of friends called The Group. Everyone wants to be Jen’s best friend, and many will do anything to stay on top, including bullying others. Now everyday Shannon finds herself asking if she and Adrienne will stay friends, if she will stand up for herself, and if she is in The Group or is out.

Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel
(PZ7.L7795 Fr)
In winter, spring, summer, and fall, Frog and Toad are always together. We get a wonderful story about their friendship throughout the seasons of the year.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
(PZ7.P273 Br)
Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer to be the fastest kid in fifth grade. He almost is, until a new girl named Leslie Burke beats him. The two become friends and spend their time in the woods behind Leslie’s house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength from his friendship with Leslie to be able to deal with his grief.

Books about animals

Acoustic Rooster and his Barnyard Band by Kwame Alexander
(Children Picture Book + ALEXE)
Acoustic Rooster forms a jazz band with Duck Ellington, Bee Holliday, and Pepe Ernesto Cruz to compete in the annual Barnyard talent show.

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
(Children Picture Book Lg ANDRE)
Gerald the Giraffe is too clumsy to dance with all the other animals at the Jungle Dance until he finds the right music.

Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake
(PZ7.T479 Sk 2020)
The last thing Badger wants is a roommate, and certainly not a skunk for a roommate, but since the house does not belong to him he doesn’t have a choice. Soon everything in Badger’s quiet and ordered life is turned upside down. But after he drives Skunk away, he misses him and sets out to find him and make amends.

Skunk and Badger: Egg Marks the Spot by Amy Timberlake
(PZ7.T479 Eg 2021)
Buried in the heart of every animal is a secret treasure. For rock scientist Badger, it’s an agate he found as a cub that was stolen by his cousin, Fisher. For Skunk, the treasure is Sundays with the New Yak Times Book Review. When an old acquaintance, Mr. G. Hedgehog, announces his plan to come for the book review as soon as it lands on his doorstep, Skunk decides an adventure will solve both of their problems. Together they set off on an adventure.

Animal Rescue Agency #1: Case file: Little claws by Eliot Schrefer
(PZ7.S37845 An 2021)
When a polar bear cub ends up trapped on a piece of ice heading out to sea, his mother knows there is only one place to turn, the Animal Rescue Agency. Esquire Fox used to organize elaborate chicken raids, but after she met Mr. Pepper, she turned from a life of crime to form the Animal Rescue Agency. Esquire and Mr. Pepper coordinate with their agents to get them to the Arctic, where they learn that what happened to the polar bear cub was no accident. Saving him will pit them against the scariest predator in the world- a human.

Animal Rescue Agency. #2: Case file: Pangolin pop star by Eliot Schrefer
(PZ7.S37845 Cfp 2022)
After their frigid Arctic rescue, Esquire and Mr. Pepper get an invitation to Beatle the Pangolin’s private island concert. But when they arrive, the island is in chaos. Their field agent tells them that after an incident during dress rehearsal, Beatle is trapped underground. Foul play is suspected, and there are multiple suspects. This might be the Animal Agency’s most challenging case yet!

Nonfiction

The Astronaut with a Song for the Stars: The Story of Dr. Ellen Ochoa by Julia Finley Mosca
(Children Picture Book + MOSCA)
Growing up in a family of immigrants, Ellen dreamed of becoming a professional flutist, but that changed when she discovered engineering in college. Though she was told that field of study wasn’t for girls, she refused to give up, and became a NASA astronaut!

Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer by Traci Sorell
(Children Picture Book + SOREL)
Mary Golda Ross designed classified airplanes and spacecrafts as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s first female engineer. This book shares how her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work.

Rad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz
(CT3202 .S26 2016)
This is a collection of forty biographical profiles, each with a striking illustrated portrait, highlighting extraordinary women from around the world. They are fresh, engaging, and inspiring stories of perseverance and success, and feature an array of diverse figures.

I Survived True Stories: Five Epic Disasters by Lauren Tarshis
(GB5019 .T37 2014)
From the author of the “I Survived” series comes five true stories of survival, featuring real kids in the midst of disasters.

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin
(+ F788 .C485 2017)
Home to an astonishing variety of plants and animals that have lived and evolved there for millenia, the Grand Canyon is more than just a hole in the ground. Follow a father and daughter as they make their way through the cavernous wonder, discovering life both past and present.

Tutankhamun: The Mystery of the Boy King by Zahi Hawass
(+ DT87.5 .H39 2005)
Learn about the life of King Tut, his burial, and the discovery of his tomb.

Books with “summer” in the title

Summer by Cao Wenxuan
(Children Picture Book CAO)
During a hot summer day in the grasslands, a group of animals race to claim the single spot of shade under one tiny leaf clinging to a branch. The animals fight until they are inspired by an act of love to offer shade to one another.

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker
(PZ7.P3856 Su 2012)
Stella loves living with her Great-aunt Louise in her house near the water on Cape Cod. This summer, Louise has taken in a foster child named Angel. Angel couldn’t be less like her name, and the two hardly speak to each other. But when tragedy unexpectedly strikes, Stella and Angel are forced to rely on each other to survive and they learn they are stronger together than they could have imagined.

Summer Party by Cynthia Rylant
(PZ7.R982 Su 2002)
Nine year old cousins Lily, Rosie, and Tess are sad when it is time to leave Aunt Lucy. The cousins arrange a party and get a special surprise to look forward to in the near future.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
(PZ7.T14 Th 2014)
Every summer, Rose goes to a lake house in Awago Beach with her mom and dad. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there too. But this summer is different from the ones before. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction, they find themselves in a whole new set of problems.

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
(PZ7.B51197 Pe 2005)
While vacationing with their widowed father, four sisters discover the summertime magic of the Arundel estate’s sprawling garden, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and a cook who makes the best gingerbread. Best of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner. Mrs. Tifton is less pleased with the Penderwicks than Jeffrey, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble.

Books that take place near the water

We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom
(Children Picture Book + LINDS)
Inspired by the Indigenous led movements across North America, this book issues an urgent rallying cry to protect the Earth’s water from harm. When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people’s water, a young water protector takes a stand.

Captain Jack and the Pirates by Peter Bently
(Children Picture Book + BENTL)
When brave mariners Jack, Zach, and Caspar build a ship and set off on an imaginary adventure at sea, they face pirates, a storm, and a shipwreck.

Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman
(PZ7.H6533 Aq 2001)
Hailey and Clare are spending their last summer together when they discover something at the bottom of the murky pool at Capri Beach Club. There in the depths is a mysterious and beautiful creature, a mermaid named Aquamarine, who has left her sisters to search for love on land. Now, as this mythological yet very real being starts to fade in the burning August sun, a rescue is begun.

Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
(PZ7.E724 Go 2000)
When Portia sets out to visit her cousin Julian, she expects their adventures will include exploring the woods, collecting stones and bugs, and playing games. But after their first day of exploring, they discover a boulder with a mysterious message, a swamp full of reeds and quicksand, and a ghost town on the far side of the swamp. At one time the swamp was a lake, and the fallen houses along its shore an elegant resort community. Though both are long gone, the houses still hold a secret- two people who never left and can tell the story of what happened there.

Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff
(PZ7.G3626 Li 1997)
Every summer Lily and her dad go to the family’s house in Rockaway, near the Atlantic Ocean. But this summer, World War 2 has called Lily’s dad overseas and Lily is forced to live with her grandmother. But then a boy named Albert, a refugee from Hungary, comes to live in Rockaway. He lost most of his family to the war. Soon he and Lily develop a special friendship and share secrets. But they have both told lies, and Lily’s lie may cost Albert his life.

Lulu and the Dog From the Sea by Hilary McKay
(PZ7.M191 Lud 2013)
Lulu loves animals. When she goes on vacation, she finds a stray dog living on the beach. Everyone in town thinks the dog is trouble, but Lulu is sure he just needs a friend.

Main character is a person of color

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho
(Children Picture Book + HO)
A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers, who have big round eyes and long lashes. She realizes hers are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners ang glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future.

Magic Like That by Samara Cole Doyon
(Children Picture Book + DOYON)
While her mother works magic styling her hair, a young Black girl recalls how her hairstyles can reflect the natural world and how her hair can be elegant, mischievous, or whimsical.

Dragons In A Bag by Zetta Elliott
(PZ7 .E46959 Dr 2018)
When Jax is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady his mother calls Ma, he finds out she is not his grandmother, but that she is a witch! She needs his help delivering baby dragons to a magical world where they’ll be safe. There are two rules when it comes to the dragons: don’t let them out of the bag, and don’t feed them anything sweet. Before he knows it, Jax and his friends break both rules. Will Jax get the dragons delivered safe and sound, or will they be lost forever?

Fast Pitch by Nic Stone
(PZ7.S8825 Fas 2021)
Shenice Lockwood has her eyes set on the Fastpitch World Series. As team captain, she’d like nothing more than to help her team win the trophy and take the prize money home. And as one of the few brown faces on the field, it’d be a personal triumph to show up her rich, white opponents. But Shenice’s focus is shaken when her uncle reveals that a family crime may have been a set-up. Shenice will stop at nothing to uncover the past. But the closer she gets to the truth, the further she gets from her goals.

Stef Soto Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres
(PZ7.T626 St 2017)
Estefania “Stef” Soto is itching to shake off the embrace of her family’s taco truck, Tia Perla. It’s no fun being known as the “taco queen” at school. But when it looks like Stef is going to get exactly what she wants and her family’s livelihood is threatened, she will have to become the truck’s unlikely champion.

The Many Meanings of Meilan by Andrea Wang
(PZ7.W1785 Man 2021)
Meilan Hua’s world is made up of a few key things: her family’s beloved matriarch, Nai Nai, the bakery her family owns and runs in Boston’s Chinatown, and her favorite chinese fairy tales. When Nai Nai passes, her family has a falling out that sends Meilan, her parents, and her grandfather on the road in search of a new home. They land in Redbud, Ohio, which is the opposite of Chinatown. Meilan’s not quite sure who she is, and being renamed at school only makes it worse. She decides she is many Meilan’s, each inspired by a different Chinese character with the same pronunciation as her name. Meilan keeps her facets separate until an injustice at school shows her the power of bringing her many selves together.

BOOKLISTS