Friday, August 9, 2013

Rainy Day Reads

When I lived in Chicago I frequently listed to radio station WNIB, which until 2000 played classical music.  The morning host for a time there was a gentleman named Obie Yadgar.  On rainy mornings Obie would give a brief weather report followed by the remark, "It's a good day to stay inside with a samovar of tea and a Russian novel."  I was usually on my way to work at the time and often thought, "Yes it is Obie," and it was all I could do to not turn the car around and head home.

Well, my friends, today is definitely one of those days.  I'm at work, so the samovar of tea is out, but here at the Wells Public Library we have plenty of Russian novels.  If Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Pasternak are not to your liking, maybe you'd like to read another good "rainy day read."  Here are some books that just might suit your rainy day mood.  They're dark, gloomy, and bleak - perfect for a day like today. And while not written by a Russian, many of them do reflect Tolstoy's observation, "All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick and The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran.  I'll  be spending the weekend rereading these dark, yet compelling historical novels about difficult marriages.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. This story of a race car driver narrated by his faithful dog is a poignant tale of love, loss, and loyalty.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  If you haven't read this gripping psychological thriller do it now, before the movie comes out.  
Evidence of Love by Melissa McConnell. I read this thriller about a woman searching for her missing fiance who gets mixed up in some shady Washington dealings a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. 
The Punch by Noah Hawley. Hawley takes family dysfunction to new levels in this dark, yet occasionally funny story about two brothers, their mother, and their father's funeral.
The Tie that Binds by Kent Haruf.  Haruf's novels reflect the harsh, sparse, yet beautiful Great Plains of northern Colorado where they are set.  In his first novel he tells the story of a brother, a sister, and the father who controls their lives.  

That's my list, although I'm sure I could come up with many more suggestions.  If you'd like to read these or other books, just visit the MINERVA online catalog, or call the library at 646-8181.

Enjoy your weekend, and we'll see you at the library.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer Reading 2013

Summer has definitely come to Wells. What you see on the right are the shelves laden with books from other libraries that have arrived for our patrons to pick up.  

In the summer the number of books checked out more than doubles, and the library is filled with summer visitors who come in to use the internet, attend a library program, purchase a book from the ongoing Friends of the Library book sale,  or just cool off.

Summer is a great time for reading.  To me there's nothing better than sitting on my deck with a cold beverage and a good book.  It's a time when many of us try to tackle those books on our ever-growing "to read" lists.  Several years ago a friend of mine took advantage of the summer lull to finally read War and Peace.  This year, in addition to the books I need to read for our semi-monthly book discussions, I decided I would finally read Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall.  This historical novel about Thomas Cromwell, the chief minister to Henry VIII, was a New York Times bestseller, and won the Man Booker Prize in 2009. It had been on my list since it came out, but  at over 600 pages it required a lot of time that I couldn't spare.  Last week I spent several hours waiting in airports and sitting on planes and took advantage of that to start it. I'm thoroughly enjoying it, and can't wait to finish so that I can pick up the sequel, Bring Up the Bodies.

For those of you who like a challenge, the library is also offering a summer reading program for adults.  Stop by the library and pick up a reading log.  Read 5 books of your choice and record them on your log, rating each book with 1-5 stars.  When you turn your log back in you'll receive a book bag and will be entered into a drawing for prizes, including gift cards from local merchants.

Finally, if you're finished all the books on your "to read" list (who am I kidding - I know that never happens), and need some suggestions of what to read next, stop in and ask a librarian.  We're always happy to make suggestions, and we do have some reading lists next to our new book shelves that you can pick up.  In addition, here are links to even more suggestions to add to your list.  Enjoy!

LA Times LA Times Summer Books 2013
NPR Summer Books 2013
Oprah's 2013 Summer Reading List

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer Reading 2013

Now that Memorial Day is behind us we're gearing up for the summer.  Many of our summer residents have returned, and we're starting to see an increase in the number of items checked out each day.  

Our Book Discussion groups are also preparing for summer.  For the second year now, our May meetings focus on Reader's Choice.  Instead of the group reading one specific book, members are invited to come to the meeting with a list of 2 or 3 books that they've recently (or not so recently) read, and share them with the group.  At the end of the meeting I compile a list of the books they've suggested and send them out to the entire group.  This gives us all a list of books that we may want to read over the summer.

Both the afternoon and evening groups gave such wonderful suggestions that I thought I'd pass them on so that everyone has a list of some really great books to read this summer. So here are the books your friends and neighbors here in Wells are recommending this summer:

Emily Arsenault – The Broken Teaglass
Julian Barnes – The Sense of an Ending
Chris Bohjalian –The Sandcastle Girls
Pearl Buck – The Good Earth
Anita Diament – The Red Tent
David Ebershoff – The 19th Wife
Lisa Genova – Still AliveLeft NeglectedLove Anthony
Drew Gilpin Faust – This Republic of Suffering
Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl
Tana French – Broken Harbor
Shilpi Somaya Gowda – Secret Daughter
Kathleen Grissom – The Kitchen House
Mark Helprin – A Soldier of the Great War
Janis Ian – Society’s Child
John Irving – A Prayer for Owen Meany
Peter Janney – Mary’s Mosaic
Rachel Joyce – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Franz Kafka – MetamorphosisThe Trial
Philip Kerr – A Quiet Flame
Laurie King – The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (2 suggested this)
Anne Lamott – Some Assembly Required
David Lis – Conspiracy of PaperCoffee TraitorEthical Assassin
Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall; An Experiment in Love; A Place of Greater Safety
Kimberly McCreight – Reconstructing Amelia
K.D. McCrite – In Front of God and Everybody
Jennifer McVeigh – The Fever Tree
Debra Mogash – Tulip Fever
Erin Morgenstern – Night Circus
Edward Kelsey Moore – The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can Eat
Kate Morton – The Forgotten Garden
Jojo Moyers – Me Before You
Sena Jeter Naslund – Ahab’s Wife
Bill O’Reilly – The Killing of Lincoln
Marge Piercy – Gone to Soldiers
Annie Proulx – The Shipping News
Alyson Richman – The Lost Wife 
(also a related children's story by Patricia Polacco – Christmas Tapestry)
Ransom Riggs – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Tom Robbins – Jitterbug Perfume
Gretchen Rubin – The Happiness ProjectHappier at Home
B.A. Shapiro – The Art Forger
Kieran Shields – The Truth of All Things
W. Cleon Skousen – The 5000 Year LeapThe First 2000 Years
M.L. Stedman – The Light Between Oceans
Elizabeth Strout – The Burgess Boys
Paul Theroux – The Grand Railway Bizarre
Abraham Verghese – Cutting for Stone
Susan Vreeland – Clara and Mr. Tiffany
Jess Walter – Beautiful Ruins
Sarah Waters – The Little Stranger
Ben Ames Williams – Come Spring
Jennifer Worth – Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times

Also the novels of Barbara Pym 
Also Scandinavian Mystery writers – Jo Nesbo, Haakan Nessor

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section - I'll add them to the list.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lunch and Learn

"If I should not be learning now, when should I be?
Lacydes (c.241 b.c.e.) 
When asked why he was learning geometry late in life
Here at the Wells Public Library we strongly believe in the adage, "You're never too old to learn," and we strive to make learning opportunities available to everyone. Here are a few examples of what's available in the next few weeks.
Last month we started a new series here at the library that we're calling "Lunch and Learn."  Held on the 1st Friday of each month at noon, it is an opportunity to take time out of your busy day and learn something new.  Last month, Traczie Bellinger from the Maine Audubon Society told us about the piping plovers here in Wells, and just today Carol Steingart and Alyssa Lyon presented a fascinating program on the amazing horseshoe crab.  I have learned so much already.  For example, did you know that the blood of the Horseshoe crab is used to detect the presence of bacteria in medical equipment?   I can't wait for next month's presentation on June 7th when Jim and Lee Anderson will be here  to inform us about their travels in China and the "stan" countries of Asia.  

If you can't make it to the Lunch and Learn programs, we have a couple of evening coming up this week.  This Tuesday, May 7th at 6:30 p.m., Sue Dahlgren Daigneault will talk about her recently published memoir, In the Shadow of a Mountain.  Sue's father, Ed Dahlgren was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Truman in recognition of his heroics in World War II.  But when he returned to post-war life in Maine, his war experiences continued to haunt him.  Years later he realized that he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Daigneault wanted to tell her father's story not only as a way to honor him and to record the suffering of those who fought in World War II, but to help us become aware of the difficulties faced by soldiers of all wars.  I'm looking forward to hearing more of Ed Dahlgren's story and learning how it can help today's veterans.

Finally, this Thursday, May 9th at 6:30 Library Assistant Kayla Thompson and I will be presenting "Playing with Pinterest."  If you're not familiar with this online bulletin board, it has become one of the fastest-growing websites with millions of members "pinning" all sorts of online information in an attempt to help organize their lives.  Pinterest is a place to find and store recipes, craft ideas, and home design plans.  You can even use it to help plan a wedding. If you're already pinning but want to find out some new techniques, or if you've never seen it and want to learn more, we'd love to have you join us.  We will also serve refreshments made from some of our Pinterest recipes.  We do ask that you register for this program so we know how many treats to prepare.

For more information on any of these programs, please call the library at 646-8181, or email me at  We look forward to seeing you at the library.

Friday, April 26, 2013

May Day at the Wells Public Library

It's hard to believe, but next week is the first of May.  Spring seems to be taking its sweet time getting here, but the past few days have been warm(ish) and sunny.  

The first day of May has been celebrated around the world for centuries with each culture and era observing the day in many different ways.

As a child in the Midwest our teacher had us make cone-shaped baskets  out of construction paper.  We were then instructed to fill the baskets with flowers and treats and place them on a neighbor's front step. Since then I've always enjoyed the idea of welcoming spring with flowers and celebration; especially the celebrations in Great Britain, where there's dancing around a Maypole, as seen here from the village of Lustleigh.

In some countries May Day is also Labor Day, and is observed as the International Day of the Worker.  This arose out of the Labor movements in the late 19th century, and in many place the day is marked with protests.  During the Soviet era it was a major state holiday in Eastern Bloc countries, and was observed with parades that demonstrated the military strength of the region.

Since 1958, May 1 has also been designated as Law Day here in the United States.  Not a legal holiday, it was established to "reflect on the role of law in the foundation of the country and to recognize its importance for society."

In the State of Maine, lawyers and libraries have partnered together in a program called "Lawyers in Libraries," where local lawyers visit libraries to present information on the justice system.  On Wednesday, May 1 from 12:00 - 2:00 p.m. attorney Scott Geise will be here at the Wells Public Library to give a brief talk with time to take individual questions in private.  We are asking anyone interested in this to please register by calling the library.

On Thursday, May 2 at 6:30 p.m. Owen Grumbling will be here to give a presentation on "Hitting the Trails in Wells!" Owen is the chair of the Wells Conservation Commission whose work has protected ecologically significant conservation lands that are accessible to the public for walking, hiking, and much more.  He will show you the beautiful places here in town that are waiting for you to explore.  If you want to learn more about the hidden treasures of Wells, please register for this event by calling the library.

Then, on Friday, May 3 at 12:00 p.m. marine educator Carol Steingart will be the presenter at our next Lunch and Learn program.  Her program, entitled "Green Eggs and Sand," is about the horseshoe crabs that lay their eggs on beaches along the Atlantic coast.  You're invited to bring a lunch as  Carol along with Alyssa Lyon describes the secret life of these "living fossils" and explains why they are so important in keeping humans free from disease.  We'll provide dessert and beverages; this program is sponsored by the Friends of the Wells Public Library.
This busy week will be capped off on Saturday, May 4th at 11:00 when artist Wyatt Barr will discuss his art which will be on display in the Weymouth Art Gallery during the month of May.  Wyatt is a Portland artist who specializes in large scale realistic portraits.  This program is sponsored by the Friends of the Wells Public Library.

As you can see there is a lot going on at the library next week.  We hope to see you soon.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring Break in Wells

Next week is Spring Vacation here in Wells, but at the Wells Public Library it's business as usual.

On Monday at 10:30 children ages 0-2 years along with their parents or caregivers are invited to join us for Mother Goose Storytime.  Children ages 2 and up along with their parents or caregivers are invited to Storytime on Wednesday at 10:30.

For a special vacation treat families are invited to our Piping Plover program on Wednesday, April 17th at 3:00 p.m.  Virginia Calvo and Cynthia Riley, volunteers who work to protect the piping plovers here in Wells during the spring and summer will read a book and present a craft to help us learn more about these beautiful, endangered birds.  We are requesting pre-registration, but it isn't required.  For more information, please contact Devin Burritt, 646-8181 or

In addition to these special programs, we'll be here to help you find books, information, or use our computers.  You're also welcome to come in just to read a newspaper or magazine, or to work on our ongoing jigsaw puzzle.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Welcome to Spring

Today's view outside the Children's Room
Today marks the second day of spring, but here in Maine we know that that date is arbitrary.  This was especially made clear to us this week when we had to reschedule our Irish History program due to the snowstorm.  

Therefore, we are holding our breath and hoping that Erin Bishop will be able to make it here on Thursday, March 28th at 6:30 p.m. to present her program on "The World of Mary O'Connell."  

The first week of April we are looking forward to two more spring-related programs.  On Thursday, April 4th at 6:30 p.m. Master Gardener Brian Smith returns to share some tips on "Growing Small Fruits and Berries." If you've always enjoyed strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries find out how you can grow these delicious treats in your own backyard.

On Friday, April 5th at 12:00 noon we are kicking off a new monthly program we're calling "Lunch and Learn."   Join us in the Weymouth Gallery the first Friday of each month and learn about a new subject. Feel free to bring a lunch to eat during the presentation.  We'll provide beverages and dessert.   This month  Maine Audubon biologist Traczie Bellinger will present a program on Maine's endangered shorebird, the Piping Plover.  Learn about the bird's natural history as well as the efforts and conservation methods used to protect the species.  

As you can see, even though it doesn't feel much like spring here, we're doing all we can to help you feel a bit warmer.  We hope to see you soon.