Monday, February 24, 2014

February 2014 Staff Book Recommendations

February 24, 2014;fg%3Aformat_filters=6;qtype=title;locg=142

The Creation of Anne Boleyn

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013
By Susan Bordo

Available as a digital download through Overdrive on the Worcester Public Library’s web page, Bordo’s book is a serious look at the religious, psychological, emotional, political, historical, fictional, non-fictional, and media interpretations of the relationship between Henry VIII and his doomed second wife, Anne Boleyn. Make no mistake: this book is not for the casual Anne Boleyn curiosity seeker that may hold a passing interest in reading about her, nor for any thin-skinned fan of some of the more popular Tudor period fiction writers. Bordo seems to have an overpowering aversion to seeing any fiction, with its interpretive creations, being construed as fact, especially facts that she does not see as facts, by readers. Bordo herself is a Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky and specializes in gender studies, feminist philosophy, and popular culture. Thus her interest in Anne Boleyn is very broad and certainly spans writings across time, and also the cultural context of each author and each author’s claims to their particular “spin” on Anne Boleyn.

One of Bordo’s focal points is body image and its language, so she is very critical of Hilary Mantel’s and Phillipa Gregory’s descriptions of Anne’s supposed physical flaws, such as small “duckies”, moles, a third nipple, and jaundiced complexion all of which indicate or imply satanic connections. Her mission is to restore Boleyn to her proper historical significance, as a strong, independent woman, free of the myths of any creative baggage hoisted upon her by historians, creative writers, playwrights, and filmmakers and directors. She is not a big fan of the very popular but soap opera-like Tudor series with its wonderful period clothing, constant drama, and frequent bedroom romps. However, she does like Natalie Dormer’s brainy interpretation Anne Boleyn, while hating Natalie Portman’s bitchy Anne in The Other Boleyn Girl. Bordo’s book is a very interesting critique and cultural interpretation on the subject of Anne Boleyn, but you should be prepared to have done substantial homework on recent print and film interpretations of her life and fall from grace with Henry VII. Additionally, be prepared for scathing remarks about novelists and movies that you might have really enjoyed. If you haven’t done the homework, her criticisms will be lost but the language she dresses them in can be enjoyed nevertheless.


February 18, 2014

My Age of Anxiety: Fear, hope, dread, and the search for peace of mind
By Scott Stossel

“According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some forty million Americans, nearly one in seven of us, are suffering from some kind of anxiety disorder at any given time, accounting for 31 percent of the expenditures on mental health care in the United States.”

Among these anxious millions is author Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic, great-grandson of a well-respected and mentally ill Harvard dean. In this book, Stossel thoroughly yet concisely summarizes the concept of anxiety as it has been observed throughout the ages. Despite the modern development of SSRIs and benzodiazapenes, philosophers and physicians have wrestled with both the soul’s unrest and its possible cures for many centuries. 

Stossel describes the history of mental illness treatment in a well-researched, page-turning style. While the title suggests a heavy, depressing read, it is the reader’s good fortune that Stossel possesses a wry, self-deprecating sense of humor that he uses to full effect while chronicling his own lifelong battle with anxiety. Highlights include a hilarious tale of incontinent mayhem while visiting the Kennedy compound in Hyannis in a chapter entitled “The History of My Nervous Stomach”, which details his still-continuing journey toward lasting serenity. Also examined is the nature-versus-nurture argument, weighing the roles of each in developing neuroses. 

Admittedly written to help save himself, Stossel does an admirable job of educating and entertaining on a devastating topic. Similar to the work of contemporary science writer Mary RoachMy Age of Anxiety will teach you tons and make you laugh out loud.


February 10, 2014

Rose Under Fire
By Elizabeth Wein

Elizabeth Wein’s historical fiction novel follows protagonist, Rose Justice, an American flygirl working for the English Air Transport Auxiliary during World War II. Rose, a pilot, a poet, a friend, a daughter, is captured by the German Luftwaffe while flying over France following D-Day. She was not strictly supposed to be flying in Europe as a female civilian pilot. She is escorted over the front line and into the Third Reich’s territory where she’s imprisoned in the infamous women’s camp Ravensbruck.

This is a book about life and death and the evil of which humans are capable. Though Wein’s book is fictional, it is exquisitely researched, and as a result, it reflects the true horror of what happened to millions of prisoners during Hitler’s regime. Wein relied on actual witness testimony to fill in the details of her story and bring it to life. Rose’s poetry, as well as excerpts from Edna St. Vincent Millay, lend a lyrical beauty to a bleak story. This companion to Code Name Verity stands on its own as a beautiful, page-turning piece of literature.


February 3, 2014

“Maybe we just lived between hurting and healing. Like my father. I think that’s where he lived. In that in-between space. In that ecotone. My mother, too, maybe. She’d locked my brother somewhere deep inside of her. And now she was trying to let him out.”
This lyrical novel tells a story of friendship, family, and self-discovery. Ari is angry and sad all the time and doesn’t know why. His brother is in prison and his parents won’t open up to him. Dante is enlightened, intelligent, and keeping a secret from his parents. Though Ari seems emotionally closed off, the reader discovers that this boy hides a deep well of confusion, curiosity and pain beneath his cold fa├žade. In contrast, Dante is an open book. He shares his feelings freely and cries over injured birds and friends alike. But he is hiding a truth from his family that he fears will disappoint them. The two boys seem like opposites, but when they meet at the pool one day, they form a friendship that will endure trials, pains, and revelations.
Throughout the novel Dante and Ari ask themselves philosophical questions about life, the universe and everything. Each struggles with his identity; Dante feels at odds with his Mexican heritage, while Ari clashes with his family and denies the transforming nature of his friendship with Dante. This beautiful and compelling young adult novel will appeal to readers young and old. Its emphasis on self-discovery and coming-of-age make it particularly appropriate for older teen readers.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

OverDrive’s Big Library Read is back in 2014!

OverDrive has announced the next title for the Big Library Read project! This year patrons from around the world can borrow “Keys to the Kitchen” by Food Network star Aida Mollenkamp starting February 17th through March 5th by visiting the digital catalog page. Patrons will be able to select a lending period which begins at the date of checkout. The eBook will be available for simultaneous use, meaning no holds or waitlists for users. Title will automatically expire at the end of the lending period. There are no late fees!

To borrow the title simply go to Worcester Public Lirbary's digital downloads page and click on OverDrive. You’ll see the title on the home page ready to checkout. A valid library card is required.

Big Library Read is an international program that gives libraries and library patrons unlimited simultaneous access to a popular title during the program, creating a virtual, global book club.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Winter in the Teen Room

This February in the Teen Room we will be welcoming the return of many programs that took a hiatus over the winter! Learn to Draw Manga classes resumed on January 31st and will run every other Friday through April 11th from 3-4pm. Crafternoons will be returning on Fridays, and we will be trying out a new program, Edible Art! Teens can come make edible creations on the last Friday of every month, starting on February 28th.

We will also be welcoming middle grade author Anna Staniszewski to our Spilled Ink writing club on February 26th from 6-7:30. Anna will run a writing workshop for aspiring teen writers, talk about her latest book, and answer questions about pursuing writing as a career! Our chess club, which meets on Thursdays from 3:30-5:30, will welcome instructor Donna Alarie to our meeting on February 20th. Donna will do an in-depth workshop on strategy, catering to all ability levels.

And don’t forget about our teen magazine: Turtle Soup! This magazine features articles, poetry, stories, photography and artwork by Worcester teens. If you are a teenager who would like to get involved or submit a work to the magazine, contact Teen Librarian Samantha at

In 2014, make your New Years' resolution to read more! We have brand new copies of all of the best series including The Hunger Games, Divergent, Beautiful Creatures, Skip Beat!, One Piece and an expanding manga section!

We had lots of fun programs in December, including a gingerbread house workshop that yielded many amazing gingerbread fortresses! Make sure to check out our calendar of events for January, as we continue to have a great series of teen programs!

Don't forget about our Spilled Ink writers group for teens which meets on the last Wednesday of every month. Our January meeting will be held on the 29th at 6pm and we will have poet Alex Charalambides come in to conduct a poetry writing workshop! This program is free and no registration is required.

January 31st will be the first class in the new session of Learn to Draw Manga classes taught by artists Andy Fish and Jamie Buckmaster. These teen drawing classes take place every other Friday from 3-4pm and are free and open to all teens.

February Fun in the Children's Room

It may be cold out, but school is clearly heating up! Are you working on your science fair project? Researching a famous individual? We’re here to help! Of course, we have books (beat out the competition and besure to place a hold) but also consider using our online databases. All you need is your library card to access reliable resources. Need help? Ask a friendly librarian at the desk or call 508-799-1671.

For your scientific needs, we recommend
Science Online, which has a section dedicated to Science Experiments. Browse this database for project ideas. They’re organized by area, from Biology to Weather and Climate, and each suggestion includes the procedure, materials, and background information.

Biography in Context to get the facts about historical figures, athletes, and celebrities -- the famous and the infamous. Find articles, videos, and photographs from encyclopedias, journals, and other excellent sources.

We want you to take full advantage of our online resources, but we’d also love to see you in the children’s room! We’ve had a blast in January, with storytimes, story-acting, legos, videogames, valentine-making, and more. In February we’ll be celebrating the Chinese New Year, watching the Winter Olympics, learning to draw manga, playing board games, and staying warm. Keep an eye on the calendar and on Facebook for up-to-date information. Also, come by and meet our new Youth Services Coordinator, Chantell McDowell! She will be joining us in early February. Hailing from North Carolina, she’ll need a warm welcome! We hope to see you soon!