Staff Book Picks

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Oct 26, 2015 by claytonc

The true story of the son of infamous Liberian dictator Charles Taylor. Born while Taylor was going to college in Boston, Chucky’s mom moved him to Florida in high school to get him out of some bad circles in Massachusetts. At the age of 17 he visited his father in Liberia during the fighting that preceded Charles’ assumption of the Liberian presidency and went from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. He led a murderous militia and was charged with the personal security of his father, which included running a clandestine torture and execution camp. Later in his life Chucky became the only American ever convicted (under US law) of torture and he is now in a federal penitentiary. Shocking, original reporting make this a book that is hard to put down. Check Our Catalog

Oct 23, 2015 by claytonc

Did you enjoy Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life? Then you have to read this book! The other evening I was drinking with a friend of mine who is an avid science fiction reader. He recommended this book and I in turn recommend it to you - even if you do not normally read science fiction. The basic premise is similar to the plot for the movie Groundhog Day, but so much more engrossing. Harry August was born in 1917 in rural England. His father will not accknowledge his existence, and his mother, who worked as a servant for his father, died during his birth. After a fairly long life, when Harry dies he is reborn in the exact same situation as his original birth, but after three years or so, all his memories from his first life emerge - perfectly. You can guess by the title just how many lives are the subject of this book. Harry discovers others like him and gets to experience many different aspects of life in the twentieth century. He falls in love, but this is not a romance novel. He grapples with quantum theory and ideas of parellel universes, but we only experience his timeline - any splits are not part of his, or our consciousness. Claire North is a pseudonym but a quick search will turn up the author’s name. She considers this book to be significantly different from her other work and wants it to stand alone, but you may well want to seek out more once you appreciate how great a story teller she is. Check Our Catalog

Oct 18, 2015 by megana

Having trouble staying awake? Start reading this book and forget about sleeping until you’ve finished it. This outrageously high octane thriller features a pair of rival European criminal gangs engaged in a murderous competition for market domination, a gang of disturbingly corrupt Swedish cops, and an innocent but complicit nurse (and her completely innocent teenage son) who gets caught in the middle. Check Our Catalog—and buckle your seat belt!

Oct 16, 2015 by claytonc

Did you enjoy Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point? Every wondered how to get people to remember things you tell them? Just tired of everyone looking at you like one of the adults in a Peanuts cartoon (wah wah, wah wah wah wah….)? There is a very good reason this book has been translated into more than two dozen languages and been names one of the top business books ever written. While a lot of what is contained within this book will strike you as common sense, it is clearly a common sense that we all routinely fail to employ. I recommend listening to the audiobook version of this book, as I did. It gave me lots to think about for several of my commutes, and I was able to complete it much faster than I think I might have if I had tried to squeeze it in amongst all the other things I like to read. Check Our Catalog

Oct 15, 2015 by eileenf

Good news for lovers of our Commonwealth eBooks collection - its Axis 360 app has been recently updated, and it’s now far easier to borrow eBooks and eAudiobooks to use on computer desktops or mobile devices. Users no longer need separate Blio, Adobe or Acoustik accounts in order to get content - everything is integrated in one place. All you have to do is visit your app store and download version 3.0 of Axis 360 for free. Users can also listen or read material on their computer desktops using the app’s Magic Wall.

Downloaded the new version? Check out this handy guide to start using either the mobile or desktop app. Need more info? Here are some FAQs. If you prefer video tutorials, see Axis 360 Support’s YouTube channel.

If you need even more help, bring your device over to the library and a librarian can lend a hand.

Oct 6, 2015 by megana

The literary world is a little emptier today after the death of renowned Swedish author Mankell, a master of Nordic noir and creator of the character Kurt Wallander, the morose and self-doubting police inspector investigating crimes in a changing Sweden. Mankell also wrote non-Wallander novels, plays, children’s books and screenplays. If you haven’t read any of his work and enjoy literary crime fiction that digs much deeper than your average ephemeral thriller, start with the first Wallander novel, Faceless Killers, and see if you get hooked. Check Our Catalog

Sep 26, 2015 by eileenf

This week is Banned Books Week, a time that libraries take a look at which books have been challenged and by whom. Since 1982, about 11,300 books have been challenged for content that some consider to be offensive - content that includes sex, drug use, homosexuality, politics and offensive language. Here is a list of contemporary books that are challenged; readers can find many in our network.

This year TCPL is kicking it old school - remembering a time in which Boston was known for banning not only books but also songs, plays and movies. Founded by Puritans, Boston has a long history of censoring books, which began in the 1600s. As other morally conservative immigrants came to Boston, primarily the Irish, who began arriving in the 1820s, the practice of banning books continued. But the actual phrase "banned in Boston" originated in the late 19th century when American moral crusader Anthony Comstock began a campaign to suppress vice. The phrase “banned in Boston” became known nationwide to mean anything that was lurid or “naughty.” Boston began to be thought of as not as sophisticated as other cities that didn’t practice widespread banning, which now extended to music and film. (“Wake Up Little Susie” by the Everly Brothers was banned here as well.)

As the practice of banning died down in the late 1960s, Boston began to have a more liberal reputation. The books in this display (which can be found on the second floor of the main library) are some of the works that Boston banned from the 1880s to the 1960s. Check one out and ask yourself, would this be considered “naughty” today?

Sep 24, 2015 by claytonc

How a daring band of misfits mastered the lost secrets of strength and endurance. This is a really engaging non-fiction read that tackles several diverse ideas and weaves them together with a very compelling story. It opens in WWII with the kidnapping of a Nazi general from the heart of occupied Crete. It travels back to the origins of the Greek mythical heroes and takes a detour visiting moden urban heroes practicing parkour. It challenges conventional wisdom about hydration (how much is what you know based upon messaging from beverage manufacturers?) Mostly importantly, this book inspires a fresh look at our past and what we can each, personally create of our ourselves and our collective future. I've found myself talking about it frequently since I read it and was inspired by it during my recent 400+ bicycle adventure from Bar Harbor to Boston. Check Our Catalog

Sep 12, 2015 by eileenf

A horror-fantasy novel about librarians (who are also formidable gods) - with a bit of humor and romance too? I’m in! Author Scott Hawkins has been likened to Joe Hill and Neil Gaiman, and I think his first foray into fiction deserves this comparison. It takes a few chapters to really figure out what’s going on, but if you stick with it, the payoff is huge. Mysterious protagonist Carolyn is making plans to take over the library, which wields immense power over the universe, after the librarians’ brutal adopted Father disappears. But she has a lot of competitors who are also vying for control of the Library - some of her adopted siblings among them. Throw in a couple of “average” mortals - Steve, a plumber whom Carolyn manipulates to help her, and Erwin, an ex-military officer who tries to control the escalating violence, and you’ve got yourself one surreal adventure. I'm hoping that Hawkins continues the characters' stories sometime in the future, but, if not, this story is still a great standalone novel. Check Our Catalog

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker bee, navigating the strict hierarchy of her beloved hive. She’s also curious, ambitious and unusually talented. A rare chance to rise above her low-caste estate comes when circumstances threaten the hive’s survival. Work and sacrifice conflict with an overwhelming maternal love and lead her to unthinkable and dangerous deeds. Paull’s imaginative prose protects the story from artifice. You’ll never look at the lowly honey bee in your backyard in the same way after reading this thrilling tale. Check Our Catalog

Sep 4, 2015 by dorothyc

Elmore Green is an only child, and he likes it that way. He has his own room, his own jellybeans, and best of all, his parents think he is “simply the funniest, cleverest, most adorable person they had ever seen.” Everything changes one day when the new small person arrives. The new small person follows Elmore around, copies whatever he does, and licks his jellybeans -- but he also shares his toys and keeps Elmore company when he’s had a scary dream. Lauren Child’s charming illustrations and humorous story perfectly capture the relationship between two young siblings and show how everything’s somehow funnier “with two people laughing than just one.” Check Our Catalog

Sep 1, 2015 by shaynem

Desperate to conquer your addiction to the hit HBO series The Wire? Everyone curious to see how the show works in book form - here it is. While Baltimore has been replaced by Dempsey, New Jersey and Rocco and Strike fill in for McNulty and Bodie, Price's work paints for us the same tortured image recognizable to those who have experienced The Wire: an American inner city on fire. Check Our Catalog

My name is Nick Weinstein. I’m a scriptwriter for a low budget sci-fi TV series, Chronicles of the Intrepid. The people I wrote in my scripts exist. I know because I met them right there in the flesh. I could reach out and touch them. Whenever I kill one of them off, they actually die. To me, it’s just putting down words on a page. To them, it’s getting eaten by a Borgovian Land Worm, or shot to smithereens by a rogue robot, or being eaten by a bear. Think about that. Just writing down “BOB is consumed by badgers” in a script means that somewhere in the universe, some poor schmuck named Bob is chased down by ravenous mustelids. Sure, it sounds funny when I write it like that. But if you were Bob? It would suck. And then you would be dead, thanks to me. I need to find out how to stop this from happening. Lives depend on it. Check Our Catalog

Aug 11, 2015 by eileenf

Never have I enjoyed a book so much in which the all of the main characters were so unsympathetic. But that was part of its charm. We do want to know what happens to these broken people - alternating between an eagerness for punishment for their sins and a hope that they can start anew. The book, a fairly straight suspense/crime novel, centers upon a woman’s disappearance, and another woman’s experience as a very unreliable witness. We actually jump between three women’s perspectives, which come together nicely near the end of the book. I was kept guessing until the very end. So if you’re still on the waiting list for this gripping piece of entertainment, stay strong. It’s worth it! Check Our Catalog

Aug 10, 2015 by claytonc

Curious what everyone else in Quincy is reading? We just updated our lists of the top circulating adult books. You can always find the lists here. Click on any of the covers below to view the entire list.

July's Hotest Reads Top Books on CD Top Large Print Books
Aug 3, 2015 by junet

A hilarious and entertaining investigation into the messy realm that is modern dating, Aziz Ansari provides comic relief upheld by facts, anecdotes and research.  Reading the book is not unlike watching one of his stand up specials, as he projects his humor on different cultural perspectives of relationships, online dating and texting.  What makes Modern Romance so enjoyable is Ansari’s own lens and light judging of the socially awkward, weird and desperate in all of us. Anyone who has ever waited for a text, anticipated a date, or played mind games will find many moments of relatable laughter in Modern Romance. Check Our Catalog

Jul 29, 2015 by dorothyc

Abruptly evicted from their apartment in the city, the author and her husband scramble to find a home for their growing family out in the country. A departure from “The Lottery,” the dystopian short story for which Jackson is best known, Life Among the Savages tells the true story of Jackson and her patient, somewhat oblivious, husband raising four young children in rural Vermont. Fans of Betty MacDonald’s Onions in the Stew or Tina Fey’s Bossypants will enjoy this hilarious and eloquent account of a writer trying to maintain some semblance of order in the midst of chaotic family life. Check Our Catalog

Jul 28, 2015 by shaynem

Edward Bunker knows about the Animal Factory. Having spent his formative years behind bars in some of this country's most notorious prisons, his knowledge came naturally. Luckily for us, instead of submitting to the dark abyss of prison life, Bunker invested his time in writing. The results are some of the most vivid portrayals of convict life, both in and out of prison, that I have ever read. Ostensibly a tale of two men trying to survive their time in San Quentin, Animal Factory is a searing indictment of a society that would rather see men transformed into animals than into rulers of the free world. This book is available through interlibrary loan using the recently updated Commonwealth Catalog.

Jul 22, 2015 by dorothyc

A beautifully crafted novel, Echo tells the intertwining stories of Friedrich, a 12-year-old in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power; Mike, an 11-year-old orphan in depression-era Pennsylvania; and Ivy, the daughter of migrant workers in Southern California, one year after Pearl Harbor. The thread connecting the kids’ stories is music, specifically a harmonica with almost magical qualities. The characters’ stories are richly told, and Muñoz Ryan’s writing makes the book a joy to read. Echo is perfect for ages 10-14 and is enthusiastically recommended for fans of historical fiction and/or magical realism! Check Our Catalog

Jul 20, 2015 by claytonc

There is a good reason the Boston Globe has called Boyle one of the very best American novelists since Twain. His stories at their best capture several ways of looking at ourselves and our times. His latest novel is set mostly in current-day Northern California. It follows the intersecting lives of three individuals: retired high school principal Sten Stenson, his mentally disturbed son Adam, and a simple-minded right-wing anarchist conspiracy theorist, Sara. Sara and Adam become lovers, despite the nearly 20 year difference in their ages. Sten struggles to come to grips with his personal relationship to violence, as an ex-Marine and Vietnam veteran, and struggles to relate to his ill son. Sara is blinded by the passion (and phsyical beauty) of Adam, and is hungry for attention. A penetrating and very engaging look at American psyches. Check Our Catalog

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