Staff Book Picks

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May 19, 2016 by eileenf

It’s the last day of civilization, and famed actor Arthur Leander dies of a heart attack. This sets in motion the events of the story, with several characters and timelines weaving in and out, painting an elegiac ode to the survival of art in this brave new world. The author considers this book literary fiction, rather than sci-fi/fantasy, and her care with the book's ideas and characters make this statement ring true. If you’re looking for an action-packed, apocalyptic tale, you may want to read Stephen King's The Stand or Robert McCammon's Swan Song. If you’d like a thoughtful meditation on what artists would do to keep our culture alive after a pandemic kills 99% of the world's population, this is the book for you. Listen to the author read a short selection from this great read in the clip below (from the 2014 National Book Award Finalists ceremony). Check Our Catalog

May 4, 2016 by jimj

Alexander von Humboldt was one of the last polymaths. He died at a time when scientific disciplines were hardening into tightly fenced and more specialized fields. Largely forgotten in the English-speaking world, at one time he was the most famous scientist of his age. His portrait was placed in the Great Exhibition in London and hung in palaces as remote as that of the King of Siam in Bangkok. His birthday was celebrated as far away as Hong Kong and one American journalist claimed, “Ask any schoolboy who Humboldt is, and the answer will be given.” Humboldt’s idea of nature as a living organism animated by dynamic forces set the stage for the modern environmental movement. This arresting biography of an ecological visionary and humanist will go a long way in restoring this strange genius to the public. Check Our Catalog.

Apr 25, 2016 by cathyd

I enjoyed listening to the women’s perspective of the Space Race and early days of NASA. This is the entertaining story of the wives of the heroes of the Mercury missions through the Apollo moon walks. These mostly military wives were transformed overnight into American celebrities. Pressured to conform to an ideal of “perfect American housewife,” these very human women had to deal with stresses of intense media attention - two families even went so far as to build their dream homes with no front windows.  With husbands gone for long stretches, the ever present possibility that they could be widowed at any time, and without any official support for their roles, they formed a close-knit band of friends that endured the tragedies and triumphs of their unique position in history. The audiobook reader has a pleasant voice and does a nice job with the accents.  The narrative and anecdotal stories of these strong women acting “happy, proud and thrilled” for the media, while hiding various secrets (such as a previous divorce, a pronounced stutter, or a genuine desire to drive their husbands’ Corvettes) brings them to life and gave me a richer, more sympathetic understanding of this fascinating time in American history. Check Our Catalog

Apr 13, 2016 by claytonc

The story of seven lives intersecting on a rainy, cold November day in 1999 in Seattle. The setting is the street demonstrations outside World Trade Organization meetings - the year the protests were huge, had amazing solidarity across diverse organizations, shut down the city, and elicited an overwhelming police response, including the National Guard. This debut novel tackles themes both personal and global, from father/son relationships, race relations, nonviolent principles and conflict, and first world / third world confrontations. Raw language fuels intense moments of action. Full of rage and a cry for humanity, the limits of compassion are explored and set against the ever-present challenge of hard reality. Check Our Catalog

Apr 11, 2016 by jimj

It’s hard to imagine a world without a weather forecast. Or a time when the vagaries of nature were considered solely the mysterious purview of the Divine. Modern climate models are indescribably complex. They combine advanced mathematics, Newtonian physics, thermodynamics, radiative transfer, particle microphysics, chemistry and biology to create forecasts that can them be projected on to increasingly tiny squares of the earth to suggest how the climate might evolve in the years ahead. All the formulas are processed by supercomputers. It is a system that for sheer complexity would have baffled, amazed and thrilled nineteenth-century scientists, who had little more to go on than their barometers, thermometers and weather maps. Moore tells the fascinating story of the pioneers who codified the atmosphere, quantified it, painted it, mapped it, described it and predicted it as never before. A tale full of powerful personalities, serendipity, unbelievable attention to detail and sheer genius. Check Our Catalog

Apr 9, 2016 by amandap

April is National Poetry Month for kids and grownups alike!

Nursery Rhymes

    Poetry Books

    Novels in Verse

Have you been reading some poetry this month? Writing some poems? Not sure where to start? Not sure if poetry is for you? Take a look at books of poetry and some online poetry resources and find out!

You could spend all month just reading Shel Silverstein and still have plenty to read come May. You could also branch out, discover some new poets and poems. No matter what you like, we've probably got some poetry you'll enjoy. You can find poetry collections full of different poets, poetry books all by one person. You can find poems from the United States, England, Africa, Finland, Japan, China, and more! How about novels told in poems instead of prose? Sure, we can help you find those too. Some poems are serious, some are funny. Some are even different shapes, like stars or sharks or piles of leaves. 

Take a look at the book suggestions in the sidebar to the right, or you can explore some of the websites below:

Mar 31, 2016 by claytonc

Charlie Asher almost died in A Dirty Job. Thanks to Audrey, his Buddhist-nun lover, he survived, but now he’s stuck inside a fourteen-inch high body made from lunchmeat and spare animal parts. He doesn’t want to scare his adorable seven-year old daughter, Sophie, so he hasn’t seen her in a long time, which is really sad. Did I mention that she’s the Luminatus and has (or at least recently had) dominion over Death? In most author’s hands this would be the entire book. For Moore, this is just where it starts - it gets a lot freakier from here. While it’s certainly not required that you read Moore’s books in any logical order (logic only loosely applies in these quarters), if you like this, you’ll want to seek out more from this wonderful, zany mind. Check Our Catalog

Mar 23, 2016 by megana

A minor payroll fraud turns into a risky year-long undercover investigation for Welsh Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths. Assuming the identity of down-on-her-luck, intermittently homeless Fiona Grey, she abandons her regular life and descends into the dangerous world of highly organized crime. In the world of police procedurals, Fiona is a unique character with her mysterious origins and unusual history of mental illness. This is the third book in the series but you could either start with this one or go back to Talking to the Dead if you like to read books in order. This series has it all: absorbing plots, an arresting narrative voice, and exceptional writing. Don’t miss them! Check Our Catalog

Mar 18, 2016 by claytonc

The lead voice of the Pretenders waited for her parents to die before telling this story about her early years. Born in Ohio and a student at Kent State when the students were shot by the National Guard in May, 1970, Hynde was a flower child who hung out with scary bikers then moved to London and was tight with the burgeoning punk movement, almost marrying Syd Vicious (to help with her legal troubles). I listened to this as an audiobook, read by Rosanna Arquette, and thought it was wonderful. Brutally honest, self-reflective, and un-apologetic (mostly), I gained a newfound respect for this singer and her work. The drug use is rather extreme and she is not sympathetic to many (except non-human animals - she’s been vegetarian for decades), there are no blinders on here - it is raw, unfiltered, and remarkably clear. Check Our Catalog

Mar 1, 2016 by jimj

Lonely and depressed A. J. Fikry owns a bookstore on Alice Island off the coast of Massachusetts.  His wife has died. He’s a literary snob and only stocks titles that satisfy his old-fashioned tastes. Rather unsurprisingly, he has few friends and fewer customers. Then his most valuable possession, a first edition of Edgar Allen Poe’s Tamerlane, is stolen. But everything changes when someone unexpected shows up in the children’s section of his bookstore. Plot twists abound and are wonderfully all tied up with the perfect amount of humor, sadness and grace. An old-fashioned story of books, bookstores and the people who love both. Check Our Catalog

Feb 19, 2016 by claytonc

In the spirit of many an excellent first novel, Kushner drew from her own family’s history to weave this gripping tale set in Cuba on the cusp of the Communist revolution. It is a tale of rural, midwestern families with farming roots trying to make a go on a sugar plantation. It is a tale of race and class. It is a tale of guerillas and a strange veteran of WWII (a nazi) who gets involved with untrained soldiers hiding in the mountains. It is a tale of women with few options making the most of what they have in a timeless Havana. It is a tale of growing up. I really admire Kushner’s work, both while reading it, and later upon reflection. You may want to start with Flamethrowers (see my post about that one here) but this is also well worth your time. Check Our Catalog

Feb 12, 2016 by cathyd

Downton Abbey fans will enjoy visiting (or revisiting) this classic Agatha Christie murder mystery. Written one year after the current season of Downton takes place, in 1926, this book is set in a small English village with all the usual characters of British mystery fiction – the sly butler, the gossip, the housemaids, and the upper crust young people being forced into an arranged marriage. The story is narrated by the local Dr. Sheppard, a neighbor of Hercule Poirot’s, and a friend of the murder victim. I listened to the audiobook version, and 40 years after reading this story for the first time, I was still enthralled by the puzzle and enjoyed historical fictional setting. This book was the first to bring world-wide attention to Agatha Christie, and remains one of her best. Check Our Catalog

Feb 11, 2016 by eileenf

Paranormal fans who are tired of reading about vampires and werewolves will enjoy this genre-blending tale of the adventures of a Seattle succubus. (Although vampires make an appearance, they’re relegated to the background.) This is Mead’s first book in a six-part series featuring the immortal Georgina Kincaid, the reluctant corruptor of men’s souls. Mead effortlessly combines urban fantasy, horror, mystery, and romance and makes Georgina a sympathetic figure, even though her job is to seduce and suck the life essence from her conquests. She wants a relationship with a normal guy but the sudden and brutal murders of other members of her supernatural circle keep getting in the way. It’s up to Georgina to ferret out the culprit and get the guy. Check Our Catalog

Feb 8, 2016 by jimj

Macdonald’s life is in ruins - her father has just died. Some deep part of her is trying to rebuild itself and its model is standing right there on her fist: a goshawk she names Mabel. The hawk is everything she wants to be: solitary, self-possessed, free from grief, and numb to the hurts of human life. And yet, Mabel also helps her to remember what happiness feels like. This poignant memoir describes a poetic transformation. Coming to see her own hawk for who she really is, Macdonald comes to see herself more clearly too. Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Costa Book Award. Check Our Catalog

Jan 26, 2016 by megana

An enforcer for the brutal Duvalier regime in Haiti settles in New York City and reinvents himself as a simple barber, hiding in plain sight within the Haitian émigré community and raising a daughter who has no clue about her father’s brutal acts. In this book of linked stories, Danticat moves between 1960s Haiti and contemporary New York, and among a variety of characters who survived the mayhem of “Baby Doc” Duvalier, showing how brutality and violence haunt both victims and perpetrators and asking the question: is true redemption possible? Check Our Catalog

Jan 14, 2016 by claytonc

See what was borrowed the most last year here at the Thomas Crane Public Library. We've gone through all the logs. Here are the most popular ficiton and non-fiction books last year, here in Quincy. Check out this page for details about your favorite genres and subject areas.



Jan 7, 2016 by jimj

Set in England of some 1,500 years ago, Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple who love each other deeply and care for each other as best they can, have reached the age when their memories have become unreliable, when names, faces and even events slip away. But the problems with memory and event are not just theirs; all the people in their community appear to be having the same difficulties. There is a mist that takes memories: good memories and bad, lost children, old rancors and wounds. Memories are valuable; they make us who we are. Axl and Beatrice set out on a journey to a nearby village to visit a grown son they’ve been neglecting. They meet other travelers with other missions, pasts and secrets, and eventually discover the source of the mist of forgetfulness that covers the land. At the heart of the novel is a philosophical conundrum: only those couples who can prove to the boatman that their love is perfect and true, without bitterness, jealousy, or shame, can cross the water together to the island of peace. Fantasy, historical fiction. and myth run together in a novel that’s easy to admire, respect and enjoy. It does what important books do: remain in the mind long after it has been read, refusing to leave, forcing one to turn it over and over. Check Our Catalog

Jan 7, 2016 by dorothyc

Based on the real-life Lizzie Burns, Irish rebel and helpmeet to philospher Frederick Engels, Mrs. Engels is a fascinating work of historical fiction. Gavin McCrea gives life to this little-known historical figure, portraying how an illiterate cotton mill worker became an influential figure in Engels’ and Karl Marx’s political circle. Lizzie’s wit and intelligence serve her well as she works her way up from the mills of Manchester to London society, and readers will enjoy Lizzie’s wry observations and no-nonsense voice in this first-person narrative. Check Our Catalog

Dec 29, 2015 by megana

On a dark and stormy night, Frances Thorpe encounters a one-car accident and exchanges a few words with the trapped and unseen driver before she dies. When Frances later discovers that the driver is Alys Kyte, wife of the famous author, Lawrence Kyte, she carefully turns this unplanned encounter into an opportunity to change her future.  Reminiscent of Ruth Rendell or Margaret Yorke, this psychologically acute debut novel is imbued with subtle unease as Frances worms her way into the Kyte family and the glamorous world they inhabit. Check Our Catalog

Dec 15, 2015 by claytonc

Caught the buzz yet about the new Syfy show The Expanse? It kicked off last night with a bang and is based on this great book. Corey is the pen name of fantasy author Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, George R. R. Martin’s assistant (of Game of Thrones fame). This is the first volume in a trilogy set in the near future, after humans have colonized Mars, the asteroid belt, and some of Jupiter and Saturn’s moons, but before we have left the solar system. Told primarily from the alternating perspectives of two men, an executive officer on an ice mining operation running the rings of Saturn, and a detective at the end of his career charged with looking for the daughter of some very wealthy parents. The girl disappeared in very suspicious circumstances that soon lead to an all-out war between Earth, Mars, and Outer Planet revolutionaries. Add to this mix a mysterious element that just might be biological warfare launched billions of years ago from life far outside our known system and you have a page-turning epic space opera. Check Our Catalog

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