Thursday, August 22, 2019

Adult Summer Reading Patron Reviews: Books About History

We're at the end of our Summer Reading Program, and I thought we'd wrap up with a selection of patron reviews on history books. We've got some on American history, one on slavery, one about women, one on Tolkien, and another on Worcester County. Sit back and enjoy the reviews, reflect on all the great books you read this summer, and stay tuned for our next program that starts on September 1st.

Until next time, happy reading!

American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race
By Douglas Brinkley
The author's focus is on the political machinations behind America's race to the moon. He credits John F. Kennedy, an immensely popular and persuasive president, with providing the impetus for funding the expensive, and some said impractical endeavor. Kennedy, as well as many other Americans were motivated by the belief that beating the Russians in the race for space, was a verdict in favor of the superiority of the capitalist system over communism. Ancient history now.

~Joy H.

In the Shadow of Liberty : The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives 
By Kenneth C. Davis 
This book was so amazing that I listened to it all in one day. I would highly recommend it.

~Debra L.

Tolkien and the Great War : The Threshold of Middle-Earth
By John Garth
In 1914 Britain entered World War I, the "Great War". One year later, after completing his university degree, J.R.R. Tolkien enlisted in the army and was eventually stationed in France, participating in the long Battle of the Somme. Though he was lucky and survived, most of his closest circle of friends did not. John Garth explores how Tolkien used his experiences of friendship, warfare and spiritual growth in a time of utter despair to write his own myths for the 20th century, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Very interesting book with lots of information for fans of history and of Tolkien.

~Mary R.

The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789
By Joseph J. Ellis
An excellent look at the four major men that created the Constitution and Bill of Rights in 1787. People know that George Washington was the general during the Revolution and our first president, but without his presence and image the meetings to create the constitution likely never happen. James Madison is considered the father of the constitution, and we see his almost maniacal preparation in hopes of being prepared for every possible scenario. Alexander Hamilton had an almost superhuman ability to work and produce writings and reports, and this both proved an asset and liability. John Jay is the often forgotten one, but his role is no less important. Very readable without being juvenile, and a truly quality historical look at an essential moment in this country. I highly recommend this book.

~Cameron L.

Once-Told Tales of Worcester County
Albert B. Southwick
It's an interesting read, some chapters more than others. I find that the author is a bit dry, but the tales of the land we live on are so interesting, how could you not love to read more? From learning about the murderous early days of Rutland to the woman buried in Green Hill Park, there's lots of fascinating information about our local past in this book.

~Loni P.

American Women's History--An A to Z of People, Organizations, Issues, and Events
By Doris Weatherford
This was a very informative book. Things that I did not even know were made known to me. Nearly 700 entries, organized alphabetically, document women's contributions to civil and equal rights, science, and the arts. It provides a new perspective on American women's historical legacy. This is a powerful reminder that behind, and often in front of, every historical event of major significance stands a woman or women. 😊

~Valdajean J.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

WPL cooking classes continue to teach patrons tasty lessons!

Worcester Public Library continued its popular cooking program series recently with Chef Kim Youkstetter, a culinary instructor at Worcester Technical High School.   As part of WPL's  Healthy Living programming, cooking classes are taught monthly at the Main Library in the Saxe Room on Saturday afternoons from 2:00 to 3:30. Chef Kim has taught over a dozen classes here at the library. Kim provides patrons with recommendations on the best ingredients to buy, cooking tips, substitutions and diet-specific alternatives. All patrons get to sample the recipes she prepares and take home copies of the recipes.
Here are tips and recipes from her most recent class on Risotto:
Kim's tips on cooking risotto:
  • Best rice to buy is Arborio (short grain Italian rice)
  • Can substitute Sushi rice if needed
  • Can also be made with barley and farro- will take longer to cook and won’t be quite as creamy
  • Stock MUST be warm or hot when adding
  • Stock must be added slowly, allowing time to absorb after each addition
  • Garnishes may be cooked in or added at the end
  • Good risotto should be creamy and have a little “flow” it should not “clump” on the plate
  • Can be finished with heavy cream for extra decadence (and calories!)
  • Experiment with other cheeses- I like an aged Gouda, or Manchego
  • For vegan risotto, use vegetable stock or plain water, and substitute vegan butter and vegan Parmesan cheese.
  • To make risotto cakes or Arincini, prepare risotto as directed and spread onto a buttered piece of parchment paper and allow to cool. Form into balls, and bread, or cut into squares and bread.
Kim's Risotto Recipes:
Basic Risotto  

1 ½ cups Arborio rice

4 cups stock (chicken/ vegetable)
½ cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp. Butter
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup grated Romano or Parmesan
1 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Serves 4


1. Heat stock on stove top to just below a boil. Keep warm, but do not boil.
2. Sauté shallot in oil in sauce pot, stirring and cooking until translucent- do not brown.
3. Add rice and continue to stir to coat grains, allow to cook for a minute or two, but do not brown. They should become “glassy” looking.
4. Lower heat to medium/ low and add the wine all at once. Cook until mostly evaporated.
5. Add a ladle of stock (8 ounces) all at once. Continue to stir until the liquid is completely cooked out. Liquid should not boil, but rather be just below a simmer.
6. Continue to add stock, 1 ladle at a time, stirring and absorbing stock as you go. You are looking for rice that is cooked, but al dente (has a slight bite) but is not mushy. ** You may not need all of the stock**  This process should take about 20 minutes.
7. Remove from heat, and stir in the butter and the grated cheese. Risotto should be creamy and free flowing, if not, add a little more stock. Finish with parsley and serve.
Parmesan Risotto

6 cups stock (chicken / vegetable)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste
Serves 4

Follow the same basic procedure as above, but use slightly more stock, as the amount of the cheese will make the rice sticky. You may find yourself adding more at the very end. 

More recipes can be found here.

Our Healthy Living Programs can be found on our Adult Classes and Programs  page. 

This fall, you can look forward to more cooking classes including: Thai curries from scratch, cheese making, healthy homemade soups, and a demo on energy bites that includes a cookbook signing with Colin McCullough, for his just published The Healthy Vegan Cookbook.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Adult Summer Reading Patron Reviews: Books That Were Made into Movies

Our Summer Reading program is winding down, with only 2 days left to log the books you read and any summer programs you attended: Between logging and waiting to find out which 2 patrons won the Grand Prize Kindle Paperwhites, check out these patron reviews on books that were made into movies.  We've got a great selection of fiction titles including mystery, science fiction, and horror.

Enjoy the sunny weather, and happy reading!

And Then There Were None 
By Agatha Christie 
I read this book over 30 years ago. I now know what a great mystery it is and why her works have lasted for so many years. I need the message in the bottle to explain the solution to me. The plot is clever and the writing is realistic.

~Frances N.

Ready Player One 
By Ernest Cline
I wanted to love this book. I wanted it to be awesome. Unfortunately, it just really disappointed me. The writing felt like a fan-fiction, was extremely simplistic and always was telling instead of showing. The main character never faces any REAL challenges, and all the problem-solving he does seems to happen "off screen" (like having played a game obsessively long before the story takes place). It felt completely flat to me, and the dystopian elements weren't enough to save it. I'm so sad, the concept could have been SO cool!

~Rebecca L.

The Cider House Rules
By John Irving
This was a reread for me. It had been 10 years since I first read it, and the story is still relevant as ever. I love how Irving builds his stories so slowly, to have them conclude so quickly. - Spoiler Alert - The part of the plot that didn't sit well with me this time was the Black orchard picker being the reason Homer finally succumbed to giving abortions. I understand the circumstances had to be extenuating for him to do so, but I wish it happened with a different character.

~Tori B.

By Stephen King 
A modern classic that builds characters and events in a strikingly real and immersive way. Stephen King is able to weave a story that travels through the past and the future to re-kindle what is found in children but lost in adults. As you travel through this supernatural novel, you will find yourself drawn more into reading about the events and find your childhood imagination rekindling inside.

~Kyle M.

The Call of the Wild
By Jack London
This is regarded as the author's masterpiece. It is based on London's experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence. It's also about an unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike. A true classic in its own right. Enjoyable read.😊

~Valdajean J.

By R. J. Palacio
I enjoyed this text immensely. I read it along with my children, talking about the important messages of being kind that wove in and out. It's amazing how it riveted my elementary aged child's imagination and also held my attention. Far better than the movie, and such an interesting read.

~Loni P.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Getting Started with Overdrive eBooks Today

Did you know the library now offers library users 870,000 e-books, audiobooks and magazines?

Did you know last year, the library users checked out over 100,000 ebooks, audiobooks and magazines?

Getting started with Overdrive ebooks today: 
  • Go to the library's website at
  • Click Resources
  • Choose Ebooks & Digital Media
  • Click on Overdrive Icon
  • Then login with your library's card number
Here is the step by step guide to downloading library Overdrive ebooks on your computer, Kindle, smartphone and tablet. Read more at Overdrive Help.

If you need help with downloading ebooks on your device, please drop by at the main library during the library hours or call 508-799-1655 x3 to speak to a librarian. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Celebrating Starman: The 50th Anniversary of David Bowie`s Space Oddity

Five days before the United States launched Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the moon, David Bowie released one of the most popular songs of his career, Space Oddity. It depicts an astronaut named Major Tom and his ascent into space. The song was inspired by Stanley Kubrick`s film 2001: A Space Odyssey,  which was released in April of 1968. Bowie`s fascination with space, which would later manifest in his alter ego Ziggy Stardust, coincided with the space fever that overtook the 1960s.

Space Oddity was banned by the BBC during the launch of Apollo 11. While the world was brimming with excitement about the mission, David Bowie was singing with a more subdued tone. The BBC thought a song about the loneliness an astronaut may feel was not appropriate. They banned the song on radio stations, however it was still played in the background during the Apollo 11 TV coverage. When the astronauts returned home safely the ban was lifted and Space Oddity shot to #5 on the UK charts.

Bowie revisited Major Tom in his 1980 single Ashes to Ashes. Major Tom, Bowie explained, has decayed and he`s "out there somewhere and we`ll leave him be." In 1983, Peter Schilling wrote Major Tom (coming home) which features the astronaut Bowie created. Although Major Tom was laid to rest in Ashes to Ashes, Bowie later mentions him in his 1995 song Hallo Spaceboy and in the music video for Blackstar, in which we see the visor of a space suit being lifted to reveal a bejeweled skull that may or may not be Major Tom. This may have been Bowie saying a final goodbye to the iconic character and perhaps a reflection of his own mortality. On January 10th, 2016, two days after the release of the Blackstar album, David Bowie died of liver cancer at the age of 69.

Upcoming Event
In conjunction with our Summer Reading theme "A Universe of Stories", on Tuesday, August 13th, our main branch will be showing the documentary Discovering David Bowie from 5:30-7pm in the Saxe Room. Watch music critics discuss Bowie`s career and share your own thoughts after the show. Patrons will receive a list of Bowie`s 100 favorite books.

David Bowie never released an autobiography, however there are many biographies written about him. Check them out here. Any e-books and e-audio books can be read using our Libby app. You can also stop by our display on the third floor.

                 Did you know?
  • David Bowie loved to read. His son, Duncan Jones, described him as a "beast of a reader." There is a David Bowie Book Club, called "The Bowie Book Club" founded in 2016 after his death.
  • In 2013, Bowie posted a list of his 100 favorite books. Take a look here.
  • In 1986, Bowie did an endorsement (left) for the American Library Association (ALA). 

  • Resource:
    Dowling, Stephen. (2019). How David Bowie was banned during the moon landing. Retrieved from https: //

    Healthy Living: Great Whole Grains

    Welcome to the first of many blog posts in our Healthy Living series. Worcester Public Library seeks to promote healthy living in our community through books, displays, and programs. Books and displays on healthy living can be found on the second floor of the Main Library. Our Healthy Living Programs can be found on our Adult Classes and Programs page. This fall, you can look forward to more nutrition classes focused on the Mediterranean Diet, Staying Healthy with Carb Control, and Healthy Holiday Eating, as well as yoga, meditation, and Zumba!

    One of our recent programs, Great Whole Grains, was presented by registered dietitian Judy Palken. Attendees enjoyed a well-delivered and informative session about the benefits of whole grains. Judy covered a wealth of information on whole grains including their anatomy, history, recipes, and how they fit into her own diet.

    Tips from Judy:

    • The less processed a grain is the better
    • Eat a variety of whole grains such as oats, brown rice, and 100% whole grain products
    • Any whole grain can be eaten as a hot cereal (not just oatmeal) - add fruit, nuts, and seeds
    • Cook grains in large batches to be stored in the fridge covered for 3-5 days, or frozen
    • 1/2 cup to a 1 cup of cooked grains is a sufficient serving for most of us
    Judy Palken, MNS, RD, LDN, explaining the benefits of brown rice vs. white rice

    Judy's Reading Recommendation

    Nutrition Action Health Letter: A well-researched and informative newsletter located in Periodicals on the third floor of the Main Library

    Judy's Recipes

    Barley Bake

    1/4 cup EVOO   
    1 large onion, chopped     
    1 pound mushrooms, chopped  
    1 cup pearl barley  
    Kosher salt  
    1/4 tsp black pepper 
    2 cups water, or chicken or vegetable broth   
    Heat the water or broth in a saucepan.  
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
    Heat the olive oil in a large pan, and add the chopped onion.  Sauté for about 5 minutes, and add the mushrooms.  Sauté another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the barley and brown it lightly, mixing all.  Add a dash of Kosher salt, and the pepper.  
    Pour into a casserole dish, then add the hot water or broth - there should be enough to be about 1/2" above the barley mixture.  Cover the casserole with a lid or foil, and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the barley is cooked.  Extra water can be added as it bakes if needed.  When it is done, the liquid will be absorbed, and the barley cooked.  
    Serve as a side dish, or under your entrée.  
    6 servings   
    Quinoa, Orange, and Avocado Salad

    1 cup uncooked quinoa 
    1/2 sweet onion, diced 
    1 stalk celery, diced
    1 orange, peeled and cut into small segments   
    1/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds  
    2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil   
    1 Tbsp cider vinegar
    1/2 avocado, peeled and chopped.  
    Cook quinoa using package directions, then cool.  
    Add to the quinoa - onion, celery, orange, and sunflower seeds. 
    In a small bowl, combine oil and vinegar, mixing well with a fork.  
    Add the oil and vinegar to the quinoa mixture, and toss.  
    Add the avocado pieces, and mix gently.  
    Serves 4  

    Information provided by Judy Palken, MNS, RD, LDN
    Crystal Clear Nutrition