We read and read and read all year — all genres, for all ages, and audiobooks, too. Here are the books we loved reading the most this year . Some are old and some are new.
It's that time of year when we all add to our reading lists. Yesterday the editors of The New York Times Book Review released their top ten favorite books from 2015. Read their reviews here . Click on the jackets below for an annotated list with links into the library catalog.
The fourth and latest book in the Land of Stories series takes the half-magic twins, Alex and Connor Bailey, back through the Fairy Tale World and beyond. In search of the masked man that looks like their deceased father, and accompanied by the unusual and highly amusing group of Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, Jack and Old Mother Goose (also known as OMG), they enter other worlds - Neverland, Oz, Wonderland, and King Arthur’s Britain. I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook of this, read by author Chris Colfer, a Golden Globe winning actor for his work in Glee. Colfer portrays his characters with such skill that you know who is speaking without being told. This book is funny and adventurous, appropriate for children, and interesting to parents. After he published the first in this series Colfer filmed a short Q&A about himself, which you can enjoy below and then Check Our Catalog 
The feast is prepared, the guests have arrived - but there’s still time to sneak in a few pages of reading before it’s time to carve the turkey! Here are our suggestions  of Thanksgiving-themed books. Even if you can’t make it to the library before the big day tomorrow, these recommendations make for good reading any time. After all, the themes of good food and family and friends coming together are always relevant (even if sometimes these gatherings result in familial drama). Best wishes for a great Thanksgiving from all of us at Thomas Crane!
This book sounds like it could be a very dry diatribe against the processed food industry, but I listened to the audiobook version and with the exceptional voice talents of Scott Brick (who also narrates Clive Cussler and Steve Berry thrillers) it is not only interesting, but extremely compelling. The author has extensively researched major companies, including Kelloggs, General Foods, and Coca-Cola, and lays out how they have become reliant on salt, sugar and fat. These three ingredients along with brilliant marketing campaigns have increased the allure and sales of their manufactured foods, fueling the American obesity crisis. Michael Moss is not unsympathetic to the industry; they are after all, just trying to make a living. He simply makes a STRONG case to read every label and educate ourselves about what we are eating, and why. Check Our Catalog 
Curious about romance novels but under the impression that romances are usually pretty badly written? This is the book you should try. Featuring both strong female and male lead characters, our hero is a sexist football coach (who needs to be taken down a peg or two) and our heroine is the new owner of his football team. What makes this romance special are engaging subplots about the heroine’s complex relationship with her little sister and a madman plotting against our couple - in addition to an exciting (and steamy) love story! The added background makes us more engaged in our twosome’s struggle to connect, and it makes their eventual union all the more satisfying. (Note to new romance readers: The revelation that the pair end up together is not a spoiler. A primary characteristic of romance novels is that the couple must “live happily ever after.”) Check Our Catalog 
When was the last time you picked up a magazine? I was at a newstand the other day and couldn't even find Rolling Stone - and when I was growing up I used to pour through every issue to see what I was missing! Did you know that you can get free access to tons of popular magazines through our parternship with Zinio ? Not just the current issue either - lots of back issues to keep you entertained for hours! They've made some improvements to the interface lately too, so its even easier to enjoy all this fresh content. Check out the latest stories:
- Everyone's talking about the Star Wars movie, coming out December 18! Geek out with Wired  - it's their cover story for the December edition, available now!
- The New Yorker  just launched a weekend radio show. Did you know you can read it online too?
- Is Jimmy Fallon having problems with cocaine and booze? Enquiring minds want to know. Read all about it in the November 23 issue of National Enquirer .
- What's on Oprah's 2015 list of her favorite things? Find out in the December issue of O, the Oprah Magazine .
- Curious about Adele's private life? She's on the cover for the November 19 issue of Rolling Stone .
- Looking for 105 ways to devour the holidays AND cookies? Check out the December issue of Bon Appetit .
Yesteday, November 18, the National Book Awards  were announced. Founded in 1950, these awards are intended to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.
The top winners in each category are:
- Fiction: Fortune Smiles  by Adam Johnson
- Non-Fiction: Between the World and Me  by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Poetry: Voyage of the Sable Venus  by Robin Coste Lewis
- Young People's Literature: Challenger Deep  by Neal Shusterman
This page  has a complete list with short descriptions and catalog links of all of this year's winners, finalists, and close contenders in each category.
Here is a video of the award ceremony:
A superb chronicle of his career as an airline pilot, Vanhoenacker makes jet travel seem uncanny and intriguing all over again. He finds delight in clouds, airports, rainstorms, fuel loads, sky gates, fragments of jargon, lonely electric lights on the plain, suns that rise and set four times in a single daylong journey and the fanciful names of waypoints on flight maps. Neither heavy duty science narrative (Vanhoenacker wears technology lightly) nor breezy, anecdotal “tales from the cockpit”, this is an elegant, nonlinear reflection on how flying on a commercial airliner — even while painfully folded into a seat in coach — can lift the soul and inspire an awareness of the wonderfully improbable, of the state of “in-betweenness” in which air travelers routinely hover. My advice? Take this book on your next flight. Check Our Catalog 
There has never been, and may never again be, a war at sea on the scale of the one that climaxed at Leyte Gulf in October 1944. It should be remembered for its individual acts of heroism and defiance, but more so for the blunders and misunderstandings that are inherent in war. Thomas brilliantly captures the fog of war in this compelling story of the battle that sealed Japan’s fate, sub-titled: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign, 1941-1945. Check Our Catalog 
If you’ve ever looked at your dog or cat and wondered about what would happen if they suddenly got as big and smart as you are, then this book may give you a few nightmares. (Note to self: make sure kitty has extra treats.) This entertaining speculative fiction novel has ants taking over the Earth and humanizing (so to speak) animals to make them soldiers in the war against people. Mort(e) is a cat who is haunted by the memory of Sheba, a dog he loved as a housecat, as he becomes a super solider. Can he find Sheba again and help the remaining humans live peacefully with the ants? Or will the interspecies war tear the planet apart? Check Our Catalog 
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 
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 
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!
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 
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.
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 
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?
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 
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