Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2013 Book Club Picks

Have you been wishing you could converse with friends about the fascinating books you're reading? Joining a book club is a great way to explore the themes and personalities you encounter in a great book. The WPL Book Club meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 o'clock in the 3rd floor ellipse. Anyone is welcome to join us. Come to one meeting or come to all of them! In 2013 we're trying out different genres and styles. So far we've read Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and Ayana Mathis's The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.

Check out the books we'll be reading for each month this year:

Hilary Mantel's Man Booker Prize-winning novel Wolf Hall brings the court the English King Henry VIII alive. She tells the story of the intrigue, politics, and religious turmoil of this Tudor king's reign from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, a minister to the king. Henry VIII is famous for his part in separating England from the Catholic church in the English Reformation and for his six marriages. As we read about Cromwell's machinations, we can imagine what it must have been like to be a 16th-century Englishman or -woman.

Massachusetts author Anita Shreve is a master at evoking New England culture and atmosphere. In The Weight of Water, a journalist delves deep into the mystery surrounding a nineteenth-century murder, while the bonds of her own family are strained during their stay on the island of Smuttynose, off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine, where the murder took place.

We'll jump into science fiction with a novel that won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. In Blackout, characters travel back in time from the Oxford of the year 2060 to the England of World War II, where and when they face air raids and other hazards of wartime. The time travelers started out as historians on fact-finding missions, but they soon find themselves questioning their own rightful places in history.

Many readers know Joan Didion for her recent memoirs, The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights, but she earned acclaim partly for nonfiction essays like those in this volume. We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live is a collection containing the essays that originally comprised her first seven nonfiction volumes. These essays reflect Didion's travels and reporting, examining American cultural life across several decades starting in the '60s. Check back with us in June to see which essays to concentrate on for the meeting.

Summer is a great time to sample some short stories, and in July we'll revisit fairy tales that may seem familiar - except that those in Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears are retold with a twist. Dragons, Sleeping Beauty, witches, and more fantastical beings appear in this collection. The way these authors interpret the old stories may surprise you. Check back with us in July to see which stories to concentrate on for the meeting.

A widely admired Canadian writer, Alice Munro is known for tales that evoke rural, small-town life, often in southern Ontario. The stories in Dear Life feature women who feel trapped and conflicted, men who grieve or feel driven to dominate. Munro's characters are in the midst of the small-scale action of their lives or the brink of a decision that will change everything. Check back with us in August to see which stories to concentrate on for the meeting.


Marie Arana grew up straddling two cultures. In American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood, she tells the story of her family: her father, descended from Peruvian aristocrats who works as an engineer, and her mother, a product of the American west who can ride horses and play the violin. At times their marriage seems like a tug-of-war between two identities; Arana's book tells of her journey to find herself.

Originally published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House is considered a progenitor of the modern horror genre. The book has the classic elements: a haunted house with a past, a group of people staying in the house who find themselves terrorized, a young woman who may be possessed. October is prime time to be unnerved.

In November we celebrate Veteran's Day, so it's a good time to read Tim O'Brien's collection of stories of men in a Vietnam War platoon, The Things They Carried.  These soldiers went from an America that gave them little choice about participating in the war to a Vietnam where one could never tell where an enemy might be. O'Brien makes readers see the blood and gore of wartime - and its at-times viscous unreality.

The book club will take a break during December. Enjoy the holidays!

Ready to get started? Place holds through the C/W MARS catalog. Remember, if the WPL doesn't have enough copies of a book, you can always request a copy from another library in our system by placing a hold.

You can find book reviews and links to other helpful resources if you join our book club online, on Goodreads.

You can RSVP to the meetings on our event calendar, but feel free to attend even if you don't RSVP. We look forward to seeing you at the meetings!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

WPL hosts Technology Open House to Promote Digital Literacy on March 21

Worcester Public Library to Host: Computer and Technology Open House:

 “Learn How to Do One Thing Better Online”

Worcester, MA- March 12, 2013: The Worcester Public Library has joined forces with the national public service Connect2Compete campaign, “Everyone On” to promote the importance of digital literacy skills. Library event launch will take place on Thursday, March 21 from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. with a “Computer and Technology Open House” at the Main library. Event is free and open to the public. 

Open Lab: Those who are interested in learning how to do “one thing better online” will have access to one-on-one assistance with a librarian in the computer lab. Learning topics include: setting up email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, resume writing, job application, Microsoft Word and more. 

 Technology Petting Zoo: Patrons are encouraged to stop in to explore various digital devices, ereaders, tablets, etc. and also to bring in their own devices to ask questions.

 The key message of “Everyone On” campaign is to encourage people who are limited or non-Internet users, to learn how to do “one thing better online”. Public libraries are integral to the success of this effort because of their demonstrated commitment to providing free access to the Internet as well as access to technology and training.

In partnership with the Ad Council, “Everyone On” is powered by Connect2Compete, a national nonprofit organization bringing together leaders from communities, the private sector, and leading foundations.