Summer Reading for All

Build A Better World logo on Lego bricks

Build A Better World: Participate in summer reading, June 10 – September 5, 2017

This year’s summer reading theme is “Build A Better World.” Our prizes are related to the theme: terrarium kits and TisBest gift cards, so winners can donate to the nonprofit organization of their choice. As usual, we’ll also be offering the chance to win gift certificates to the Book Rack here in Arlington, and one lucky participant will win a year’s worth of free DVD rentals from the library!

How do you get started? Easy! Sign up for adult summer reading in person at the reference desk, or via our online form. It will take you less than a minute!

How do you participate? Visit the reference desk to get your first raffle ticket and pick up your double-sided bingo sheet. Earn more raffle tickets all summer by doing the activities in the bingo squares: reading a novel, listen to an audiobook, visit the library table at the farmers’ market, attend a library program, and many more!

Drop your raffle tickets in the prize box(es) of your choice on the summer reading display table next to the elevator in the main library lobby. We will contact prize winners after Labor Day in September.

Why adult summer reading? Other than the glorious prizes, of course. Well, we believe that reading is its own reward, but also, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) is challenging all Massachusetts residents to read four books this summer and share their reading experience. Learn more about Read Four MA. (If you’re on social media, you can use the tag #WhatsYourFour.)

This campaign will help encourage children and teens to read over the summer and prevent the “summer slide.” Check out our amazing summer reading programs for kids and teens here at the library too!

Happy reading!

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Celebrate Pride

The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg is a Scheherazade-esque tale of two women in love, Hero and Cherry, telling seemingly unrelated tales that eventually weave into a tapestry that reveals how they came to be where they are.  It’s a celebration of all  the women who came before them.  I love how the overarching story slowly comes into focus as we listen to more and more of their tales.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera is a coming of age story following Puerto Rican New Yorker Juliet as she navigates the new world that’s been opened up to her upon reading fictional author Harlowe Brisbane‘s feminist manifesto.  She secures an internship with the author herself and begins to see how messy identity, and life, can get.

Power Up by Kate Leth, Illus. Matt Cummings, is a light hearted graphic novel about a group of everyday people that find themselves with superpowers.  The book features Kevin, who’s superpower is donning magical girl inspired armor – and it isn’t the butt of any jokes!  We also get to see Kevin wearing makeup & other feminine clothing when not in combat, and Kevin ends up in a relationship with an alien that uses genderless pronouns.

In Full Velvet is poet Jenny Johnson’s debut collection. It’s a gorgeously written glimpse into her life & experiences.

In Dragon Age: Inquisition (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One) there are several romantic storylines your player character can activate, including several queer options.  This entry in the series is notable for including the first exclusively gay & exclusively lesbian romantic partners in Dorian and Sera respectively.  There is also a transgender side character named Krem, who is the second in command for one of your teammate’s band of mercenaries.

The Handmaiden is my new favorite movie, despite some moments that feel male gaze-ey.  It roughly follows the plot of Sarah Water’s The Fingersmith, but relocates it to Korea during the Japanese occupation.  The changes the director made to the plot only served to make the story more enjoyable and it is beautifully shot.

Moonlight, which well deservedly won the Oscar for best picture this year, was an outstanding film.  The gorgeous visuals are designed by Hannah Beachler, who is also responsible for the visuals in Beyonce’s Lemonade video.  The story follows Chiron through 3 stages of his life – childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.  It’s a story of how one sensitive boy is forced to change himself to cope with the harsh world around him.

One of my favorite books ever is Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters. It’s about Victorian-era lesbians, and the writing vividly brings that time and place to life. Near the beginning is a scene describing the main character, Nan, shucking oysters at her family’s shop and it’s one of the most memorable scenes I’ve ever read. Sarah Waters is truly a master. I also want to give a shoutout to her novel The Night Watch, which somehow doesn’t get the love her other books do, but I really loved it.

There are a lot of YA books with queer characters so it’s really hard to choose, but I loved Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz for many reasons, including how it normalizes the experiences of gay kids. It’s not a coming out story with parents who don’t get it – it’s a story about a lot of things in which some characters happen to be gay and it’s not a big issue and their parents are totally supportive. (Imagine that!) I always have a hard time explaining why this book is so good, but just take my word for it that it’s totally worth reading.

One movie that has stuck with me is Chasing Amy, a romcom about a guy who falls for a girl who is a lesbian. They begin a relationship and when he learns about her past sexual experimentation (which resulted in a less-than-flattering reputation), he’s upset that he’s not the first guy she’s been with. I really like how it deals with labels, and our expectations based on those labels, and the complicated feelings people sometimes have about their partners’ sexual histories.

One cannot overlook The L Word in any discussion of queerness in pop culture. Its six seasons focused on a group of lesbians in Los Angeles, explored many issues and themes, and was important for many firsts, including the first deaf lesbian character and first regularly-appearing transgender character on tv. Sure, it was overly dramatic at times (and you might even say that it jumped the shark) but by the time it got ridiculous I was already so invested in the characters that I just had to see it through. I still want Alice Pieszecki to be my BFF.

Annie On My Mind (1982) by Nancy Garden is a classic, and it holds up well. It’s a love story about Liza and Annie, told from Liza’s point of view, in the present when both young women are in their first year of college, and in the recent past, when they were in high school. The girls do encounter negative reactions from students, teachers, and parents at their high school, but they find support as well, and they have each other.

More recently, David Levithan has written a whole slew of LGBTQ-positive books. One of my favorites is Every Day, about a character called A who wakes up in a different body every day and isn’t attached to a particular gender. It really stretches the reader’s way of thinking about gender – and it’s a creative way to tell a love story, as well.

Oh, and I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is absolutely fantastic: twins Noah and Jude will break your heart and melt it back together again.  (Rob seconds this & highly recommends the audiobook!)

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Reimagining Our Libraries – It’s survey time

We like to think you love Robbins and Fox Libraries as they are, but there must be ways we can do better. If you could change one thing (or three) what would they be? Tell us by completing our survey. Paper surveys are also available at Robbins and Fox, and don’t forget about the public meeting opportunities on June 13 and June 21

We’ve started a year-long study of services and spaces called “Reimagining Our Libraries.” This will shape the way our library looks and functions for future generations of library users. We need your help, library user, as we gather input from the community. Your anonymous responses will inform the vision, the goals, and priorities of the project.

Please be honest and think big! Bring back the bookmobile. More self-service. Less self-service. Video chatting services in study rooms. A sensory wall for children. We know Fox needs an elevator, but what else?  We want to hear what you really think.

The survey will be open until Monday June 26

Take a look back at how Robbins and Fox have changed over the years as we plan for the future…

What do teens need? What could a teen space look like?

The Reading Room with lower book cases, maximizing natural light. What kinds of activities happen in the library and what spaces are needed to accommodate them? Silent rooms? More small study rooms? Laptop bars?

What if we moved the entrance to Fox back to Mass Ave and made it larger, as seen in 1956.

How will we adapt as today’s toddler population grows up? What will those tweens need in 10 years?

What kind of seating do we need? Everyone wants a comfortable space to sit and read or work.

It’s your library- help shape the future.

All photographs from the Robbins Library’s historical photograph collection hosted by Digital Commonwealth.

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NSYA Book Group Meets on June 21

The Not-So-Young Adult Book Group will next meet on Wednesday, June 21 at 7pm to discuss The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell. Copies of the book are available at the front desk now.

Here’s a description:

“In June of 1964, three idealistic young men (one black and two white) were lynched by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi. They were trying to register African Americans to vote as part of the Freedom Summer effort to bring democracy to the South. Their disappearance and murder caused a national uproar and was one of the most significant incidents of the Civil Rights Movement, and contributed to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Freedom Summer Murders will be the first book for young people to take a comprehensive look at the brutal murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, through to the conviction in 2005 of mastermind Edgar Ray Killen.”

The NSYA book group is for adults, but we read and discuss books written for teens. It’s a casual, friendly group and newcomers are always welcome!

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Rockin’ Robbins Book Cart Drill Team Gets The Gold!

Tonight was the 9th annual Massachusetts Library Association Book Cart Drill Team competition.  The Robbins Library Rockin’ Robbins Book Cart Drill Team have been regular competitors since the first annual competition back in 2008, but have never nabbed the elusive first place trophy… until tonight!

We chose Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) by Eurythmics as our song this year, and took inspiration from the original video when creating our routine.

This year’s entries were judged on technical ability (uniformity, organization, precision, degree of difficulty, unique moves), artistic impression (choreography, music, crowd appeal, costumes, cart decor), and videography (creative shots, angles, timing).

What is a Book Cart Drill Team? From the DEMCO website: “People from all over the United States put together drill teams to represent their libraries. From just three people to as many as sixteen, librarians practiced dance moves with the aid of their book carts! Fun formations, music and crazy costumes made the competitions spectacular!”

We had a great time making the video & hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it!

(No librarians were harmed in the making of this video.)

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Geek Con!

Get your geek on at the Robbins Library Geek Con!
Saturday June 10th from 10 – 4!
Join us for a celebration of all things geeky!
From superheroes to anime to sci-fi/fantasy and beyond – embrace your inner geek, meet other fans, and partake in a variety of activities!
We’ll have episode screenings throughout the day, trivia, a costume contest, face painting, crafts, food, games to play, and more!
This is an all ages event, so come alone or bring the whole family!
Show off your cosplay skills by coming in costume or protect your secret identity in plainclothes.

We’ll have a Scavenger Hunt throughout the library:
Keep an eye out for red coins, gold rings, and green gems on the day of Geek Con!
Find one & bring it to the Prize Table in the downstairs Community Room for a button!

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Pick up your Costume Contest number & a Trivia sheet all day in the Lobby!  Vote for your favorite costume & turn in completed trivia sheets all day at the Prize Table in the downstairs Community Room.

Food & snacks will be located in the downstairs Community Room!

Visit our Selfie Station all day in the 1st floor Reading Room!

Crafts & coloring pages are available all day in the 1st floor Reading Room, the Teen Area, and the Children’s room!

We’ll be screening episodes of Adventure Time (TV-PG) and Young Justice (TV-PG) in the downstairs Community Room from 10am – 11:30, and episodes of Ghost in the Shell anime (TV-MA) & Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV-14) in the same place from 2 – 3:30.

Video games and board games will be set up in the 4th floor Conference Room
from 10:30 – 12 & again from 1 – 2:30.

Pokemon GO lures will be activated on the lawn outside at 10, 12, 1:30, & 3:30.

Face painting will be available from 1 – 4 in the 1st floor Reading Room.

Prize drawings for the trivia & costume contests will occur at 3:30 in the downstairs Community Room.

Check out our full schedule here!


Cosplayers are asked to be considerate of others when creating their costumes!
Armor & prop weapons will be allowed providing they do not pose a threat to others by way of sharpened metal edges, spikes or bladed surfaces.
Prop guns will not be permitted.
You may display your prop weapons only as costume pieces. Do not swing or brandish your prop in any way that could be considered unsafe or threatening.
(Adapted from the NYCC cosplaying rules.)

Thank you for your cooperation!

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Nonfiction: Where to begin?

If you follow us on Facebook, you might have noticed a new Friday feature: a librarian making live book recommendations in response to your comments. Some comments are quite specific, mentioning particular authors, titles, or genres; but sometimes it’s as broad as “nonfiction.”

Nonfiction is…well, everything, really, that isn’t made up. It’s a category of reading that people tend to approach more by subject than by author. That said, there are several authors who turn out a book every few years in different interesting areas, whether narrative nonfiction or memoir/personal essays. If you’re looking to be informed and entertained, start here.

Narrative nonfiction

Local author Steve Almond has written about music (Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life), chocolate (Candyfreak), and football (Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto). In other words, something for everyone!

British professor and influential thinker Mary Beard’s most recent book is SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome. At over 600 pages, it may take you a while, but when you do finish, don’t worry – she’s written more.

Cover image of A Walk in the WoodsBill Bryson is well-known and well-liked; you’ve probably heard of (or already read) A Walk in the Woods – it’s the one with the bear on the cover – but he has many others, including A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bryson’s writing style is welcoming and witty.

Stephanie Coontz is a social historian and author of several books, including: Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage,  A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s, The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap and The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms With America’s Changing Families.
Think you know (or remember) how it was in the ’50s? Think again.

Perhaps you are interested in letter-writing (To the Letter), fonts (Just My Type), maps (On the Map), time (Timekeepers), or a specific shade of purple (Mauve)? Simon Garfield is your man.

Cover image of The Checklist ManifestoBoston surgeon Atul Gawande is also a wonderful author, who writes with medical expertise and deep empathy, and is driven by a constant desire to improve. His most recent book is Being Mortal, but don’t miss his earlier ones: Better, Complications, and The Checklist Manifesto. (See also: Siddhartha Mukherjee.)

A staff writer for The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell made a splash with The Tipping Point in 2000 and has written four books since: Blink, Outliers, David & Goliath, and What the Dog Saw and Other Adventure Stories. If you’re interested in psychology and human behavior, give Gladwell a try.

Laura Hillenbrand‘s two books have been huge successes, and with good reason: they are fascinating stories, tremendously well-researched and compellingly told. Both Seabiscuit and Unbroken are very nearly un-put-down-able. Both have been made into feature films.

cover image of The Ghost MapI discovered Steven Johnson through his book The Ghost Map, about a cholera outbreak in London and how people figured out how the disease was spreading – and how to stop it. It’s like a mystery novel, except it’s real! Johnson has written several other books as well: The Invention of Air, How We Got to Now, Everything Bad is Good for You, Where Good Ideas Come From, and Wonderland. If you’re interested in innovation and discovery, past and present, try one (or more) of Johnson’s books.

Highly informative, not particularly cheerful: Elizabeth Kolbert wrote The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, which won a whole slew of prizes, including the Pulitzer, in 2015; she is also the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change (2007).

Mark Kurlansky writes about food and about history, often together (Salt, Cod). His most recent book is Paper: Paging Through History. Learn about the world through a new (fisheye?) lens.

One of the most prominent popular nonfiction authors, Jon Krakauer has written riveting stories of extremes: Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, Where Men Win Glory, Under the Banner of Heaven, and Missoula.

Cover image of Dead WakeErik Larson is another perennially popular nonfiction author, and with good reason: his well-researched books often use multiple narratives to tell the same story, enhancing the aspect of suspense through different perspectives. The pacing, particularly in his latest, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, is superb. His other books include The Devil in the White City, Isaac’s Storm, Thunderstruck, and In the Garden of Beasts.

Do you like extensively researched doorstoppers about historical figures? Allow me to introduce you to David McCullough, author of The Wright Brothers, 1776, John Adams, and several others.

In a starred review of The Emperor of All Maladies, Booklist wrote, “Apparently researching, treating, and teaching about cancer isn’t enough of a challenge for Columbia University cancer specialist [Siddhartha] Mukherjee…” and indeed, his “biography of cancer” won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011. Those interested in science and history should pick this one up, and try Mukherjee’s more recent book, The Gene: An Intimate History as well. (See also: Atul Gawande.)

Michael Pollan is a well-known writer on the topics of food, nutrition, sustainability, and related issues. Try The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, The Botany of Desire, or Cooked. Or, for a condensed version of Pollan’s guidance, Food Rules.

Cover image of StiffMary Roach‘s clever one-word titles (with the exception of Packing for Mars, which is three words, but still intriguing) encapsulate her sense of humor and scientific curiosity, and invite you to read on to learn more about human cadavers (Stiff), the afterlife (Spook), humans at war (Grunt), sex (Bonk), and digestion (Gulp). Who knows what she’ll write about next? But it’s sure to be interesting…

Neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote about the brain and how it (sometimes doesn’t) work. Check out The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales (1998), Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (2007), or Hallucinations (2012). Sacks published his autobiography, On the Move, just four months before he died in 2015.

Rebecca Skloot has only written one book, but what a book: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks will have a lasting impact. Tumor cells taken from an African-American woman without her knowledge in the 1950s became known as “HeLa” cells, the key to many scientific discoveries. Booklist says Skloot writes with “a novelist’s artistry, a biologist’s expertise, and the zeal of an investigative reporter.”

Dava Sobel is a former New York Times Science writer. Her most recent book is The Glass Universe try it if you liked Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly – but she has been publishing steadily every few years since Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time in 1995.

Cover image of Far From the TreeIf you only ever read one 900+ page book in your life, there is a very good case for Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon. (If 900 pages is simply too many for you, it’s worth reading the introduction, which is only about 50 pages.) Solomon writes about identity, particularly when a child has an identity that isn’t shared with the parent, such as deafness, schizophrenia, or musical genius. This book will expand your understanding of other people and increase your empathy. Solomon has also written The Noonday Demon, a book about his struggle with depression.

Interested in a bit of true crime, Victorian-style? The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale is just that; detective Jonathan Whicher of Scotland Yard provided a model for many fictional detectives. Summerscale is also the author of Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady and The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer.

Sarah Vowell writes very funny history books. Start with The Wordy Shipmates, in which Vowell writes about the Puritans who settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1692; “Vowell laments the image of Puritans as boring killjoys when in fact they were fascinating killjoys who…were much more open to new ideas than we’ve been led to think” (Booklist). Her books include a history of Hawaii (Unfamiliar Fishes), a travelogue/history of presidential assassinations (Assassination Vacation), the essay collection The Partly Cloudy Patriot, and others. (Tip for audiobook listeners: Vowell, the voice of Violet Incredible, reads her own books.)

Cover image of The World Without UsEven wonder what would happen to Earth if all the humans just…disappeared? Alan Weisman takes that thought experiment and expands it into a book in The World Without Us, explaining what would last, what would crumble, and what would explode in a rather dramatic fashion. In 2013, six years after The World Without Us, Weisman published Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?

From the seemingly tame subject of the Oxford English Dictionary (The Professor and the Madman; The Meaning of Everything) to the large and explosive (KrakatoaA Crack in the Edge of the World), Simon Winchester writes “just the kind of creative nonfiction that elevates a seemingly arcane topic into popular fare” (Booklist).

Jeffrey Zaslow was a journalist for The Wall Street Journal and also an advice columnist. He wrote thoughtful, serious, tender books about women’s lives, including The Girls From Ames and The Magic Room, and co-wrote a number of other books, including The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope with Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly.

Personal experience/memoir/essays

Cover image of The Year of Magical ThinkingJoan Didion: There are too many books to list here, but try her memoirs, The Year of Magical Thinking or Blue Nights, or the collection We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live.

Jonathan Franzen is better known as a novelist (The Corrections, Freedom, Purity), but his essays are both thoughtful and thought-provoking; he has the ability to make any topic (birdwatching; the postal service in Chicago) interesting. Try How to Be Alone, The Discomfort Zone, or Farther Away.

Elizabeth Gilbert: Probably still best known for Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert has also written Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage and, more recently, Big Magic: Creative Living Without Fear. She is also the author of the novel The Signature of All Things.

Nick Hornby: In addition to writing novels and screenplays (e.g. High Fidelity), Hornby has written a decade’s worth of “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” columns for The Believer. They’re collected in Ten Years in the Tub.

Cover image of On WritingStephen King: King is best known for his novels, of course, but his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is “a blend of memoir and craft” that makes for fascinating reading whether or not you ever plan to become a writer yourself.

Caitlin Moran: Colorful British feminist writer Moran wrote the hilarious bestseller How to Be A Woman, as well as essay collections Moranthology and Moranifesto. She is also the author of the novel How to Build A Girl.

Ann Patchett: Beloved novelist Ann Patchett brings the same wise, considered approach and deep understanding of people to her nonfiction writing. This Is The Story of A Happy Marriage is a collection not to be missed.

Cover image of The Happiness ProjectGretchen Rubin: The Happiness Project was a year-long personal project supported with research; it’s a memoir only a very “Type A” person could write, and may lead to other interesting academic reading. Rubin followed up the success of that book with Happier At Home and Better Than Before.

Cheryl Strayed: You know her as the author of Wild, but she also spent time as the advice columnist “Dear Sugar”; many of her columns were collected and published as Tiny Beautiful Things.

What are your favorite nonfiction books or authors? Did we miss a good one? Will you try any of the ones listed here? Let us know in the comments!

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Buzz… Buzz… New Bees at Robbins!

Our Friends at Best Bees paid us a visit yesterday and restocked our hives. Our colonies did not make it through the winter, due to varroa mites. This is a common mite that weakens the immune system of bees, making winter survival difficult. Poor bees.

Best Bees cleaned out both hives, sanitized them, and readied them for a May restocking. We watched them repopulate the hives with new bees yesterday, and took some pictures and videos to share with you.

We also have two new queen bees, and invite suggestions for names. Leave a suggestion in the comments, and stay tuned for a poll to vote on a name.

These bees were raised in Georgia, and will now live at the Robbins Library. Welcome to New England!


The beekeepers provide some food for the bees.

Time to repopulate the hives! The beekeepers shook the bees out of their containers onto the top of the hives. The queen bees were installed first, as they reside in their own container.

Welcome to your new home, bees! We hope you enjoy it here.

The beekeepers closing up the hives and securing them.

If you visit the bees, located on the third floor balcony, you may notice some dead bees on the ground. Don’t be alarmed. This is normal and a sign that the bees are settling into their new home. These bees may be have died in the package on the way up from Georgia, and were dragged out by other bees. Honeybees like to keep their hive very tidy.


And don’t forget to suggest a new name for the queen bees!!



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May’s readalike: Anything Is Possible

Readalike graphic, "if you liked that book, try this book!"

Cover image of Anything Is PossibleThis month’s readalike is the highly anticipated new collection of short stories by Elizabeth Strout, Anything Is Possible. Strout’s other works include the novels My Name Is Lucy Barton, The Burgess Boys, Abide With Me, and Amy and Isabelle, and the collection of linked stories Olive Kitteridge, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and which was made into a miniseries in 2014. All of which is to say, if you’re eagerly awaiting Anything Is Possible, you might try reading (or re-reading) one of the author’s other books in the meantime.

Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen (2016): Booklist calls this novel, set in a small town in Pennsylvania in the 1960s, “a compelling family tale rich in recognizable characters, resplendent storytelling, and reflective observations….An appreciative portrait of a disappearing way of life.

Thunderstruck & other stories by Elizabeth McCracken (2014): These nine stories are unforgettable, poignant, sometimes funny; McCracken observes the world at a particular slant, and her stories are incomparable.

The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy (2013): The stories of six apparently unrelated characters, spanning time (WWII era to the present day) and place ( Europe to America), turn out to be connected after all, and can be traced back to one man’s act of kindness.

It’s Beginning to Hurt: stories by James Lasdun (2009): Featuring middle-aged, middle-class characters, “This remarkable collection shows what happens when we break through the gauze of everydayness and existential panic hits” (Library Journal).

Unaccustomed Earth: stories by Jhumpa Lahiri (2008): As in her previous short story collection (Interpreter of Maladies) and her novels (The Namesake, The Lowland), Lahiri explores the relationships and gaps between parents and children, husbands and wives, and first- and second-generation immigrants. The first five stories in this collection are unrelated to each other; the final three are linked.

Home by Marilynne Robinson (2008): Set in Gilead, Iowa, in the 1950s, Home is the story of a grown daughter caring for her dying father, and the return of her brother, the prodigal son who has been out of their lives for twenty years.

Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert (2000): Ruth Thomas grows up on a (fictional) island off the coast of Maine, near another (fictional) island; the inhabitants are habitually at war over lobster fishing territory. Ruth neither wants to become a fisherman nor go to college, and must chart her own course in this novel of strong characters.

Birds of America by Lorrie Moore (1998): Moore’s stories are tragic, wise, and unflinching: she puts her characters in the worst situations and lets them muddle through. As one character puts it in the story “People Like That Are The Only People Here”: “Pulling through is what people do around here.”

Check out our readalike posts from previous months here.


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NSYA Book Group Meets on 5/17

The Not-So-Young Adult Book Group will meet on Wednesday May 17 at 7pm in the Conference Room. We’ll be discussing Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero. Copies are still available at the front desk if you haven’t yet picked one up.

Copies of the next book, The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell, are on their way and will be ready for pickup by next week’s meeting so you can get started right away.

The Not-So-Young Adult Book Group is book discussion group for adults in which we read and talk about books written for teens. We have casual friendly discussions and newcomers are always welcome!

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