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 .
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 
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 
While Patton, Eisenhower, Bradley, Montgomery, MacArthur, Nimitz and a host of field commanders were waging war across the world, George C. Marshall was running it, overseeing logistics, training and personnel as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from 1939-1945. Marshall’s achievements were summed up by an admiring Harry Truman: “he won the war.” Churchill called him the “Organizer of Victory.” But in this fascinating and fair biography Marshall’s legacy is critically reviewed and found wanting. Even the “Marshall Plan,” for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize, was not authored by him. Whatever the reality, his life and work left a deep imprint on American life and the world during the mid-twentieth-century years of crisis and trial. Check Our Catalog 
“Smart, stoned neurofiction for the posteverything world” is how Cory Doctorow summed up this engaging thriller. Set in the near future, a group of friends designed a drug to solve many of the world’s longest-lasting problems. The drug allows the user to directly communicate with their own, personal god. Were it to make it to the market it could eradicate all religion - who needs an interpreter when you can have a private conversation with your deity? However, at a celebratory party on the cusp of introducing this drug to the world, something goes horribly wrong and one of the friends is murdered. They make a pact to hide the drug and never let it hurt anyone else. Fast-forward 10 years. A smart-drug revolution and the evolution of 3D printers has empowered any high-school student to easily print, modify, and even invent their own drugs. Lyda is a resident of a psych-ward when she discovers that the original drug has very likely been released. She has to track it down, deal with past and current lovers, figure out motivations of her past-friends, and dodge authorities, across international boundaries to try and reconcile with her past. An exhilarating read! Check Our Catalog 
It's the summer before starting middle school, and Astrid is ready to spend it hanging out with her best friend, Nicole. The two have always done everything together, so why would this summer be any different? For one thing, Nicole has no interest in attending roller derby camp with Astrid and has signed up for dance camp instead. Over the course of the summer, Astrid learns that friends sometimes grow apart, and she learns how to work harder than she’s ever worked in pursuit of roller derby glory! A spunky graphic novel with heart, Roller Girl perfectly captures what it’s like to be a girl with an edge, at an age when everything is in flux. Check Our Catalog 
Misadventures in Hunting, Fishing, and the Wilds of Suburbia.
Heavey has chronicled his tales of hapless (and hilarious) incompetence as suburban outdoorsman on the back pages of Field & Stream for years. This collection of his best yarns explores the often absurd relationship between the great outdoors and the duties of the modern dad. Whether he’s discussing the always useful “Rut Strategies for the Married Hunter” or helpfully exploring the moral issues of “The Art of Lying” his prose is a masterful blend of humor and pathos. These make great out-loud reads. Warning: you’ll find a few stories here that will find you heading for some quiet place to weep. Check Our Catalog .
How do libraries survive the age of Google while simultaneously bracing for slashed budgets? In BiblioTech, John Palfrey provides a guide for libraries in the digital age. Some of his proposed ideas might be met with resistance from those hanging on to the library of their youth; however, “nostalgia can actually be dangerous,” Palfrey cautions. “Thinking of libraries as they were ages ago and wanting them to remain the same is the last thing we should want for them.” Instead, Palfry posits, libraries should embrace advances in technology to lead the way in providing easy-to-use, easy-to-access digital information. A thought-provoking and timely read for library users, supporters, and critics. Check Our Catalog 
Curious what everyone else using the library is reading? Check out our lists of the most borrowed books . In addition to the top titles in any format  we also have breakouts for the top books on cd  and the top large print books . How many of these have you read? Here are the top ten borrowed titles in May:
- Hawkins, Paula: The girl on the train
- Lehane, Dennis: World Gone by
- Baldacci, David: Memory man
- Grisham, John: Gray Mountain
- Lehane, Dennis: The drop
- Patterson, James: NYPD Red 3
- Child, Lee: Personal
- Baldacci, David: The escape
- Connelly, Michael: The burning room
- Picoult, Jodi: Leaving time : a novel
Holly Sykes is a typical teenager, breathing in the smells of "warm tarmac, fried spuds and week-old rubbish," and prey to inexplicable visitations and "daymares" in which she slips into another universe. Visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life. Mitchell leaps through six different universes, crossing into epochs, and throwing off mini-novels that double as pieces of a fabulous jigsaw puzzle. Telepathy, second sight and reincarnation may not be your cup of tea, but if you enter Mitchell's kaleidoscopic universe you can't not believe in them either. Check Our Catalog 
Has America become a veritable paradise for those willing to lie, cheat, and steal to get to the very top? In Griftopia, Matt Taibbi's electrically charged exploration of the 2008 mortgage crisis, the author makes a convincing argument that indeed our country has been overrun by egomaniacal crooks (insert favored Wall Street banker here) who will stop at nothing to earn that quick million, especially when their disastrous efforts are met with golden parachutes and not stainless steel handcuffs. A perfect summertime read for those who prefer a healthy dose of indignation while hitting the sands of Nantasket Beach. Check Our Catalog 
Just released today, the short-list of nonfiction Must-Read Books from the MassBook Awards!
- Michael Blanding, The Map Thief 
- Michael M. Greenburg, The Court-Martial of Paul Revere 
- Fred Kaplan, John Quincy Adams 
- Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction 
- Doug Most, The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry that Built America's First Subway 
- Jennifer Taub, Other People's Houses 
Doug Most came to the library last year and talked about his book. Here is an interview he filmed for us before he visited:
The Must-Read books in Poetry for 2015 have been selected from a strong field of submissions to the annual MassBook Awards. In alphabetical order, they are:
- Liam Day, Afforded Permanence  (publisher link)
- Jeffrey Harrison, Into the Daylight  (publisher link)
- Fanny Howe, Second Childhood  (library catalog link)
- Jennifer Markell, Samsara  (Mass Poetry link)
- January Gill O'Neil, Misery Islands  (Mass Poetry link)
- Afaa Michael Weaver, City of Eternal Spring  (publisher link)
Here is a book trailer for Afforded Permanence, by Liam Day:
Here is a video of Jennifer Markell reading "Laundry in April," from Samsara:
Lily Hayes' exciting semester abroad in Buenos Aires becomes a little TOO exciting when her roommate Katy is brutally murdered and Lily is the prime suspect. "Inspired by" the Amanda Knox story (American student accused of murdering her roommate in Italy in 2007), this richly imagined novel switches perspectives throughout, from Lily to Katy to the mysterious boy next door to Lily's parents and sister who have flown to Argentina and hired a defense attorney to the local prosecuting attorney. While Lily becomes increasingly despondent in prison, what actually happened (maybe) replays in flashback. Each individual's unique baggage--and how it influences his/her interpretation of events and others' motivations--is probed with considerable nuance, leaving you questioning the reliability of any particular version. Check Our Catalog 
Ike (pronounced Ee-kay) lives in New York City and is tired of scraping by on the meager money he earns as a cabdriver. He knows of a store that sells foreign artifacts to rich people for outrageous sums of money and nourishes a dream to return to his home village in Nigeria and steal the statue of Ngene, an ancient war god, to fund his future. He hasn’t visited his family since he left and has struggled to stay in touch, especially since his father died. One of his childhood friends has come across some great wealth, while a childhood love has fallen on hard times. His mother has fallen under the spell of an evangelical preacher with a sketchy past and his uncle (and his multiple wives) are very busy as the village’s holy man. Told with a masterful sense of pacing, place, and culture, this novel is a fascinating investigation of modern culture and the concept of the “exotic”. Check Our Catalog 
The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save lives in World War II.
Lt. Col. James Howard Williams, also known as Elephant Bill, is a man who loves animals. He also understands them. After service in the Great War he applies for a job as an elephant wallah with the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation. With the assistance of Bandoola, a magnificent bull elephant on the cusp of his prime years, Williams creates the blueprint for an “elephant school” in Burma. The school quickly becomes a “company” as Williams and his elephants report for duty and defy the Japanese during WWII. Croke paints a rich and intimate portrait of a fascinating man living in extraordinary circumstances, and the even more extraordinary people — and elephants — surrounding him. Check Our Catalog 
Sci-Fi dystopian fiction meets missionary tale. Peter once was lost, a drunk and a thief headed for an early death. Then he fell in love with a devout nurse and the two of them started a new life spreading the good word. The novel opens as Peter is just about to head millions of miles away from home to the next chapter in his life. A multinational corporation (and even that description seems too small, given their inter-planetary reach) has recruited him to work on a planet they are active upon. The purpose of the corporation is never entirely clear (are they ever?) but Peter quickly gets absorbed in relations with the indigenous inhabitants and the corporation’s intentions fade into the background. Meanwhile, life back on earth is falling apart and the physical distance between Peter and his wife proves very challenge to manage. This book really drew me in with the perfect blend of plot, setting, and emotional depth. Highly recommended. Check Our Catalog .
I admit it, I cried at the end of this outstanding debut novel. Inspired by the historic Tri-State Tornado of March 18, 1925 (which swept across Missouri, Illinois and Indiana and killed 695 people), it is set in a small farming community that has been home to the Graves family for four generations. By a freak turn of luck, the entire Graves family is the only family in town that suffers no loss of life or property during the deadly 45-minute windstorm. At first, this feels like a good thing, but as their longtime neighbors and childhood friends turn against them in the months following the disaster, the Graveses come to realize they will not be spared, either. A heartbreaking meditation on envy, bitterness, loss and memory. Check Our Catalog 
The story of an extraordinary family, a vanished way of life, and the unique child who became Theodore Roosevelt
Reflecting on T.R.’s event-filled life his good friend, Edith Wharton, put it best: “ . . . he was so alive at all points, and so gifted with the rare faculty of living intensely and entirely in every moment as it passed . . . “. McCullough won the National Book Award for this masterful story of the remarkable little boy (and his family), handicapped by severe asthma, who developed into the robust figure we associate with the 26th President. Check Our Catalog .