Monday, December 30, 2013

December 2013 Book Recommendations by Staff

December 30, 2013

Attempting Normal
By Marc Maron

Being a newly-minted 30-something who is mystified and disappointed by the realities of adulthood, Marc Maron’s new memoir Attempting Normal really struck me to the core. Maron, a comedian known for his radio show and podcast WTF, uses hilarious anecdotes to show us what it’s like to grow up with an attention-hungry bipolar father, how he navigated two painful divorces, and his undying love for his cats (not yours). Maron speaks to a generation (or two) of people who were told adulthood would be simple, but who are single, in debt, and left wanting more.

This book made me feel uncomfortable, but only in the best way. Maron taps into the parts of being human that most people ignore but know in their heart to be true. His frank and unapologetic descriptions of drug use, infidelity and failed attempts at remaining calm make for a great read. And he makes you laugh the whole time.


December 23, 2013

Painters and the American West, Volume 2

By Joan Carpenter Troccoli

This book is a real treat to browse, read, and study at your own pace. It is a large format, high quality publication with wonderful reproductions focusing on a very important part of American art history, Western art. Dr. Joan Troccoli is currently Deputy Director of the Denver Art Museum and has extensive experience in both art publishing and painters of Western art. The term “Western art” is used in a broad sense here and not to be confused with “regionalism”. Troccoli’s “Western art” began to attract serious critical attention after World War I, when prominent artists began looking at American art and Western art instead of being so closely focused on European artists, particularly French impressionism. Santa Fe, New Mexico became a focal point for artists and intellectuals, who migrated from the east. This title, Volume 2, covers a time span from about the 1820s through the mid 20th century. Many of the artists are from the East, moved back and forth, and maintained strong ties to the Eastern art establishment. The book is a reflection of the Anschutz Collection in Denver, Colorado, at the American Museum of Western Art.

“The artwork on view at the American Museum of Western Art represents a cross section of paintings that survey the art of the American West from the early 19th century through the age of industrialization. During the relatively short period of history illustrated by this collection, the West was transformed from Indian territory unknown to most inhabitants of the eastern United States into a settled region. Within only 90 years after the Louisiana Purchase, the “Old West” of Indian buffalo hunters, mountain men, pioneers, gold-seekers, and open-range cowboys had passed into history.”

This quote is from the museum web site and also defines the boundaries of the book. A great many painters are represented here with informative text to place each within the historical context of the American West art movement. The book is a tremendously educational and aesthetically rewarding read; to wit, the art of Bierstadt, Moran, Hassam, Remington, Loomis, Ufer, Leutze, Kaufman, Davis, Fechin, Benton, Henri, Wyeth, Dodge, Deas, Marin, Blumenschein, Sloan, Kent, O’Keeffe, Hartley, and so many others that are famous and not so famous. All had a vision of the American West, and all contribute to the beauty and enjoyment of reading this book.


December 16, 2013

Northanger Abbey
By Jane Austen

Cold weather and shorter days make December the ideal month for curling up on the couch and re-reading an old favorite. For me that usually means one of Jane Austen’s novels. Every year around this time I find myself watching my favorite films, indulging in favorite foods and revisiting one of Austen’s six novels. This December I chose Northanger Abbey, an often overlooked piece of Austen’s work.

Northanger Abbey was written while Austen was still establishing herself as an author and illuminates her own history as a reader. It is a satire of the Gothic novel, a popular genre of fiction in Austen’s day which featured such tropes as secret passageways concealed by tapestry, heroines abducted by highwaymen, and characters polarized as angels and devils. Catherine Morland, the book’s unlikely heroine, reads so many of these fantastical stories that her imagination thrives on horror and suspense. When she finds herself invited to stay in the family home of her love interest, Henry Tilney (so handsome), she begins to make wild suppositions about Northanger Abbey’s history, including the mysterious death of Henry’s mother. As you can no doubt imagine, Catherine’s robust imagination eventually leads to her distress and humbling.

While Austen gently satirizes the Gothic genre, she fiercely defends novels and their writers, putting forth one of her most quotable lines, “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.” Another theme of this novel is the naiveté of youth, specifically Catherine’s. Catherine is adorably clueless and it is this innocence which first attracts Mr. Tilney, a teasing, charming gentleman who finds himself falling in love with Catherine once he realizes she is in love with him. Catherine’s guileless nature prevents her from perceiving the moral faults of those close to her. While Mr. Tilney easily perceives that Catherine’s friend, Isabella, is less than constant in her affections, it takes time for Catherine to be led to this discovery. This innocence also makes the slight against her, and her troubles later in the book, more poignant for the reader.

Some other items you might want to check out:

Masterpiece Classic’s film adaptation featuring J.J. Field and Felicity Jones

Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin

Miss Austen Regrets, a fantastic docudrama about Jane Austen at the end of her life that is featured on the DVD for BBC’s Sense and Sensibility


December 9, 2013;qtype=title;locg=142

Vietnam: The Real War

By the Associated Press; Introduction by Pete Hamill

This is a new book on, by now, an old story, the Vietnam War. However, the story receives more depth to its context, even if necessarily tinged with a grim sadness, in Pete Hamill’s introduction to the chronology of the war, the relationship of photographers to the war and each other, and to the Associated Press’s coverage of the war. Hamill introduces the reader to the context of the war and its complexities as it grows rather quickly from a small clandestine conflict into the sudden huge numbers of American and Viet Cong dead in the I Drang Valley battle of 1965.

This is a photographic record of the Vietnam War. Nearly all the photographs are in black and white and were shot in Vietnam. There are some photographs of political peace talks and of the more memorable moments in the anti-war movement such as large peace marches, Kent State, and Jane Fonda in North Vietnam. The vast majority of pictures were shot in South Vietnam and include a great deal of combat photography, which means that there are pictures of dead and dying soldiers from both sides, and also many civilians. All the pictures have credits. Many of the photographs in this book will be known to readers about Vietnam and persons interested in combat photography from that era. The photographers will also be known: Horst Faas, Henri Huet, Larry Burrows, Eddie Adams, and many others. And many of the pictures will be familiar since they won professional awards. Hamill’s book will probably take its place alongside another well received combat photography book, Requiem : by the photographers who died in Vietnam and Indochina, and provide another important volume to the media coverage of the war.


December 2, 2013

Bleeding Edge
By Thomas Pynchon

Thomas Pynchon is an American author whose epic, postmodern novels have lent him a cult status. His most recent novel, Bleeding Edge, takes place in New York City in 2001. While the attack on the World Trade Center looms in the mind of the reader through the first half of the novel, it is not the focus. This national tragedy is seen through the eyes of our protagonist, recently divorced private eye Maxine Tarnow, and her investigation of billionaire dot com owner Gabriel Ice.

What started with a tip that something was fishy in Ice's taxes ends up taking over Maxine's life; everywhere she turns there are connections. For example, the Beanie-Baby obsessed mother of one of her son's elementary school friends just happens to be dating the creator of a virtual reality experience (don't call it a game) that Ice has expressed interest in buying. The investigation leads her from upscale health clubs in Manhattan and divey bagel shops in Queens, to a strange underground compound in Montauk. Then there are the videos from anonymous sources which continually show up on her upper-east side doorstep, including one of which alludes to a 9/11 conspiracy.

Bleeding Edge could be called a page turner, but is also a slow read because of its dense, playful language. It is a snapshot of a moment in culture when Americans were first beginning to live online, and a statement about the global implications of America's "1%." Maxine's witty banter with the eclectic cast of characters, and the pop culture references sprinkled throughout lighten the subject matter. Recommended for fans of detective novels and post-modern authors such as Don Delillo and J. G. Ballard.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

From Our Branches

With the opening of the Tatnuck Branch Library last month, One City One Library branches have hit the ground running. Tatnuck hosted a story time and fire safety lesson with Lt. Pickett, a local Worcester firefighter. Second graders and parents became book connaisseurs at the Tatnuck Book Tasting event, which showcased several popular grade level reads. Roosevelt held Library Yoga, where kids and parents alike learned to harness their energy and stretch out those winter blues. Over 40 4th, 5th and 6th graders delved into the M.C.B.A. Book Club book this month, complete with successful discussions!

The month ahead is even more jam-packed with activities. Come move and groove at Roosevelt with our Retro Dance Party and a Sing-a-long! Both branches are planning a PJ Story time, so don your jammies, grab your stuffed animal friends and come read a bed time story with us. Worcester Family Partnerships will be visiting Tatnuck for a Toddler Story time, and Miss LaPan's Make-and-Take Mondays beckon kids and their adults into the library every other Monday for some seasonal crafty, creative fun. Finally, grab your loved ones, break out the ribbons and lace, and skip over to either branch for a Valentine making workshop with the Worcester Historical Museum.

So come visit your friendly new librarians at the One City One Library branches and visit our event calendar for dates and times! Happy New Year!

Winter in the Children's Room

Between holidays and vacations, December is always a busy time in the children's room. At the main library, we had a gingerbread workshop, a royal tea party, African story-acting, the always amazing Tanglewood Marionettes, and a host of other programs. We also had many visits from local preschools, which reminded us how much we love to introduce children to the wonders of the library. If you're an educator or group leader, please consider a field trip here. We ask for at least two weeks' notice; schedule by calling 508-799-1667 or emailing 
In preparation for 2014, we've also been doing some rearranging in the children's room. Looking for DVDS, graphic novels, folktales, our parenting collection, EZ readers, or oversize juvenile fiction? They have all moved! Ask a librarian if you need help finding something.

January is a time of fresh starts, and we invite you to start afresh with us. Borrow a book, sign up for a storytime, learn to draw manga, join a book club, act out African folktales, or learn some baby massage techniques. We'd love to be your New Year's resolution!

Keep an eye on the
calendar and on Facebook for more information about upcoming events, or call the children's room at 508-799-1671 with any questions.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Happy Friday the 13th!

Today is the last "unlucky" Friday the 13th of 2013. Read about why Friday the 13th is considered unlucky  here.

In honor of this date, we have put together a book list of spooky fiction by Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk and others. Check one out this weekend for your snowed-in reading pleasure! Click here to view the list in our catalog, and place a hold if you'd like.

Monday, December 9, 2013

JAWS Workshop by Talking Book Library

The Worcester Talking Book Library is conducting a free workshop on Jaws, a screen reading program for users with visual impairment. The session will be held on Saturday, December 14 from 10 AM – 12 PM in the computer lab at the Worcester Public Library.

This workshop will cover basic and intermediate text editing; spelling and grammar check; document formatting quick keys; techniques for quickly skimming long documents; setting typing echo; and using JAWS “Research It” as a dictionary.

Participants should have basic typing skills (a minimum of approximately 25 words per minute) and some prior exposure to JAWS or another screen-reading program.

Participants are encouraged to bring a set of headphones to the workshop. If needed, these may be purchased at the Worcester Public Library for $2.00.

Please feel free to share this message with someone whom you think might be interested in attending this workshop.

To register, please contact the Worcester Talking Book Library at 1-800-762-0085 or 1-508-799-1730.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Technology Classes at WPL - Winter 2013-2014

WPL Main Library Free Computer Classes   
———–—— Level 1 ——————
Computer Basics (4 Sessions)
Fridays, 9:30-10:30 a.m., 3rd Floor, Computer Lab
Audience: For anyone who has no computer skills. Familiarize yourself with the computer. Gain mouse and keyboarding skills. Learn how to use the Internet. 
Register at the 2nd Floor Reference Desk or call us at 508-799-1655 x3.

Internet for Beginners (4 Sessions)
Fridays, 10:30-11:30 a.m., 3rd Floor, Computer Lab
Audience: For people who have taken the Computer Basics class or have basic computer skills. Instruction on how to surf the Internet effectively, use Google, and access your library account online. Also, view recommended websites, learn to navigate online databases, and retrieve full-text documents. 
Register at the 2nd Floor Reference Desk or call us at 508-799-1655 x3.
————————–——–————  Level 2  ——————————–—————
Microsoft Word for Beginners (4 Sessions)
Tuesdays, 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m., 3rd Floor, Computer Lab
Audience: Students, Adult Learners
Learn how to create and edit documents, format text, proofread, upload documents to email, and add tables and graphics.
Pre-requisite: You must have an established email account or should have taken both the level 1 classes.
Register at the 2nd Floor Reference Desk or call us at 508-799-1655 x3.

New!  Facebook for Beginners
Saturdays, December 7, January 18, or February 15,1-2:30 p.m., 3rd Floor, Computer Lab
Audience: For people who have taken the Computer Basics class or have basic computer skillsExplore the uses of Facebook, set up account, find “friends”, and understand privacy settings.
Pre-requisite: You must have an established email account and basic computer and internet skills
Register on the Events Calendar on the library’s website or call 508-799-1655 ext. 3.
 ———————–——–————–— Level 3  ——————————–——

New!  Open Lab with Staff Assistance (Drop-in)
Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m., 3rd Floor, Computer Lab
Audience: Students, Job Seekers and Adult Learners with basic computer skills
Drop-in lab designed for people who need extra computer time to work on job applications, Microsoft word documents, or those who need assistance setting up a library account, email, downloading ebooks or audiobooks. No registration required.

New! Drop-In eBook Help
Saturdays, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., 1st Floor Welcome Desk
Audience: Anyone interested in downloading ebooks to their personal computer or devices
Drop by the first floor desk to ask questions and get help downloading eBooks to your eReader or Smartphone. Please bring your device! No registration required.

College Admission Essays, Resume, Job Applications, Research Help
Wednesdays, 5:30-8:30 p.m., 2nd Floor Reference Desk
Audience: Students, Job Seekers, Adult Learners
Assistance with writing resumes and cover letters, finding information on a topic, editing, content organization and 
Register on the Events Calendar on the library’s website or call 508-799-1655 ext. 3.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

December in the Teen Room

Come check out the Teen Room and all that it has to offer this winter! We have lots of new books, magazines, movies and video games to check out and enjoy during school vacation week, as well as some great programs to keep you entertained!

December 6th at 3pm will be the last Learn to Draw Manga class for the fall session. All teens can come to this free drawing class taught by WAM artists Andy Fish and Jamie Buckmaster. The spring session will begin on January 31st, so stay tuned!

Teens are also encouraged to come to the Teen Advisory Group (TAG) meeting on December 10th at 4pm. The TAG talks about ways to make improvements in the Teen Room, expand upon the resources available to teens, create better programs for teens, and ensure that the library is welcoming place for all Worcester teenagers - and of course eats pizza and snacks!

To celebrate the winter holidays we will be making gingerbread houses at the monthly Crafternoon on Friday December 13th at 4pm. All teens are welcome to come to this free program - all materials are provided!

We hope to see you in the Teen Room this holiday season!

December in the Children's Room

We are so pleased to announce the winners of this year’s tabletop scarecrow contest! Star Witch by Ariana made a full sweep, winning favorite, scariest, and most creative, as well as most original, most frightful, and best details. Others made great showings in the polls, particularly Zobiella/Angel by Allison and Pam Pumpkin by Jade. Please come by the children’s room to pick up your scarecrows and prizes! Every participant gets something!

With holidays and vacations aplenty in December, we have many other reasons to stop in. Thanks to the Friends of WPL, we have the ever-popular Tanglewood Marionettes returning on December 30th with their production of Sleeping Beauty. Be sure to pick up your tickets for either the 1 pm or 3 pm show; they will be available starting on December 16.

What else is going on? Glad you asked! Our final manga workshop of the year will be on December 6. Come hone your drawing skills with comic artist Jamie Buckmaster. We’re reading Carl Hiaasen’s hilarious book Chomp for the M.C.B.A. book club, which will meet on December 11. Due to popular demand, Tuesday Baby Times will continue into December. For older kids (ages 3-5) we have PJ storytime on December 17, and for even older kids we are so pleased that professional storyteller Laura Partridge will lead children ages 5-9 in African Story-Acting on December 7. We also have our annual gingerbread workshop, a royal tea party for princess (and prince!) fans, baby massage and yoga, icky sticky, movies, legos, videogames, and more. Keep an eye on the calendar and on Facebook for more information about upcoming events, or call the children’s room at 508-799-1671.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thinking of knittin’ some mittens? Cast on with WPL’s Knitting Circle!

Do you love knitting or want to learn? Worcester Public Library now offers knitting programs!
Knitters of all skill levels and other needlecraft enthusiasts are welcome to join us.  All participants must bring their own supplies. If you would like to learn how to knit please bring size 7 or 8 knitting needles and a skein of worsted weight yarn. Our next program will be held on Thursdays, from 12-1:30 pm in the 3rd floor Ellipse, starting December 5 (but not December 26). In addition, we will also offer knitting programs from 3-4 pm on January 2, 2014 and February 6, 2014 in the Banx Room.

If you cannot wait until our next program, there are many resources that may be of use to a knitter. 

To start you off, here’s the link to books about knitting in our library catalog. They most likely will be found on the 3rd floor, especially in the 746.432 section. A selection of potentially helpful titles may be found below.

Don’t let the title dissuade you- it’s a very handy reference. In fact, this is the first book I purchased for my own personal knitting collection.
200 Knitting Tips, Techniques & Trade Secrets by Betty Barnden
Full of useful tips and photographs
When Bad Things Happen to Good Knitters by Marion Edmonds and Ahza Moore 
How to fix knitting errors such as dropping stitches
 Mason Dixon Knitting by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne
Folksy but fun and useful
The New Encyclopedia of Knitting Techniques: A Comprehensive Visual Guide to Traditional and Contemporary Techniques by Lesley Stanfield and Melody Griffiths 
Glossy photographs of every stitch pattern you can imagine

We also have knitting themed magazines on the 3rd floor in the periodicals department that you are allowed to borrow.

Knit Simple
Interweave Knits
Vogue Knitting

There are many online resources for patterns and other communicating with fellow knitters
Knitty – online magazine featuring free patterns
Ravelry- free community site and pattern database but registration is required
Knitting Pattern Central – directory with links to patterns of all kinds

Free patterns from yarn companies
Note: these links do not serve as an endorsement for the yarn companies
Lion Brand

Enjoy your knitting project and I hope to see you at our programs!

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 2013 Book Recommendations by Staff

November 25, 2013
Masterpieces of American Modernism: from the Vilcek Collection
By William C. Agee and Lewis Kachur, with contributions from Rick Kinsel and Emily Schuchardt Navratil

Masterpieces of American Modernism: from the Vilcek Collection is an important introduction to the stunning personal collection of Jan and Marica Vilcek, Czechoslovakian immigrants, and to the chronology of Modernism as a movement in American art history. Rick Kinsel, Executive Director of the Vilcek Foundation, provides an important introduction to the Vilceks, their immigration experience, and a history of how they started collecting works of American art. William Agee’s written contribution is an intellectually interesting analysis of the many paintings, painters, and the Modernist movement itself which he hopes will “…defuse the ‘Big Bang’ theory of American art: that it was born only after 1945, with no earlier history.”

Major artists are well represented in this book – Marsden Hartley, Max Weber, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Arthur Dove. The book contains an informative multi-page print and photographic timeline, which greatly helps put in perspective the context of the movement, as well as a complete section of artist biographies and photographs by Emily Schuchardt Navratil. The book is also well indexed. Many other artists important to the Modernist movement are included in the book, which contains beautiful color reproductions of the artworks and is very sturdily bound. This book is essential to understanding the holistic aspects of the Modernist movement in this country. The written contributions are educational and challenging and the book itself provides a key connection between the history of American art and the Modernist movement in American art.

One of the nicest things about this book is setting aside time to browse through all the fantastic art and, at your own pace, absorbing all the wonders it has to offer.


November 18, 2013

Blackhorse Riders: A Desperate Last Stand, an Extraordinary Rescue Mission, and the Vietnam Battle America Forgot
By Phil Keith

Phil Keith's Blackhorse Riders is a powerful account of bravery and courage in one of the most controversial years of the Vietnam War. It is an account of soldiers from the Blackhorse Regiment rescuing an entrapped infantry unit in a harrowing fight centered around March 26, 1970. The story of this "rescue" is the story of very ordinary Americans rising to levels of extraordinary heroism, bravery, and self sacrifice.

As a Vietnam combat veteran, I can attest to the detailed level of Keith's writing. The descriptions of the jungle, fighting, night marching, exhaustion, fear, anger, physical pain, and hope are all very real. It is a story that is truly worth telling to the point that Captain John Poindexter, the leader of the rescue and Alpha Troop, spent decades fighting for recognition of his men. On October 30, 2009, President Obama awarded Alpha Troop with a Presidential Unit Citation, the highest combat award that can be bestowed on a military unit.

A strong point to Mr. Keith’s narrative is the attention given to this ceremony and to the details given about the participating soldiers lives since the battle. These individual stories complete a cycle begun in 1970 and add a rich human dimension to the story. Additionally, the book contains an eloquent forward by General George Casey Jr., an epilogue, acknowledgments, appendices, a glossary, and a detailed index. Mr. Keith, himself a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, has provided a gripping account of his fellow brothers-in-arms bravery, heroism, and dedication in a very tough situation in an unpopular war.

For those who fought there the story resonates with validity; for those who did not the story will bring you there.


November 12, 2013

Kvothe: Arcanist, hero, murderer, villain. The rumors about him are many and varied. In The Name of the Wind, the man himself puts the story straight.

The Name of the Wind
By Patrick Rothfuss

Having recently staggered away from George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series and feeling lost with the next book’s publication date only a hazy shape on the horizon, I found myself yearning for more epic fantasy. Being the savvy information professional that I am, I quickly took to Google with the sophisticated search string “what to read after Dance with Dragons.” It wasn’t luck that brought me to Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles; it was pure skill. A helpful IO9 article featuring a list of read-alikes for Martin’s series is where I first heard about The Name of the Wind and Kvothe (pronounced like “quothe”).

Rothfuss’s novel is about power. Kvothe spends much of the early chapters in poverty, barely surviving on the streets of a strange city. He harbors within him a flame of rage and a desire for revenge against those who destroyed his community. Kvothe uses whatever means necessary to escape destitution and enter the University, a center of learning where men and women acquire arcane knowledge including sympathy, a form of magic. One of the youngest students ever admitted, Kvothe quickly rises through the ranks, making enemies on his way.

Using a confessionary form, the plot is unraveled as the protagonist recounts his life story to a scribe. This creates an intimacy between the reader and Kvothe and also keeps us hungering for revelations. The reader knows from the beginning that Kvothe has become a legendary and feared figure. Some cataclysmic event has changed the world and cast Kvothe into a dark role. Unfortunately, the first book in the series does not tell the whole story. To find out how Kvothe fell from grace and eventually left the University we must continue on to the sequel.

Highly recommended for fantasy lovers.


November 4, 2013

Attention mystery readers: new noir fiction by Worcester native

No Regrets, Coyote
By John Dufresne

If you are a lover of detective fiction, give No Regrets, Coyote by Worcester native John Dufresne a try. It contains everything you could desire in a modern mystery novel: suspense, intrigue, gory details, cleverness, and humor. Or, mix the curiosity and intellect of Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware, the wit and heart of Robert Parker’s Spenser, and Carl Hiassen’s South Florida setting, and then add Dufresne’s signature compassion and a bit of wordplay, and you’ve got a new book on your Must Read list.

The crime: an entire family is shot to death by the father, or so it would seem. Enter Wylie “Coyote” Melville, psychotherapist and forensic consultant to the local police, who isn’t buying the crime scene at face value. The reader also gets to meet Coyote’s family and friends, whose eccentricities could fill a chapter of the DSM-5. A fun read that will keep the pages turning effortlessly.

And if you've never read Dufresne's novels, check out Requiem, Mass. (Worcesterites will recognize the neighborhood) or Love Warps the Mind a Little. You won’t be disappointed!