Thursday, February 28, 2019

WooReads Patron Book Reviews: Literary Fiction Edition

Enjoy these book reviews submitted by our wonderful WooReaders! We have less than 100 days left in our community challenge to read 5,000 books before the end of May. Log those books and if you are so inclined share your reviews with us and we might share them here!

Don't forget - those who have logged 20 or more books will be automatically entered into a drawing

By Lauren Groff

Masterfully composed short stories filled with both the wonder and menace woven into the fabric of the natural world. Whether she is describing the "hellmouth" heat of a Florida summer, the persistent chill of the Normandy coast in August, or the life threatening ferocity of a tropical storm, Groff's prose is spot on. Her protagonists, mostly female, are lost, isolated, homeless (sometimes literally).and emotionally isolated. Often they are saved but what Groff believes is all we have going for us against the indifference of the natural world, human love however imperfect. Snakes abound.
                                                      ~Joy H.

Virgil Wander 
By Leif Enger

A coming of age story for a late middle aged man facing his mortality in small town middle America on the northern lake region. Told with a voice that reads like Richard Russo giving life to Garrison Keillor characters, the novel invites you to care about quirky characters trying to make sense of their lives - the type of characters anyone from a small town knows and cares about already.

~William C.

Girls Burn Brighter 
By Shobha Rao

This has been one of my favorite books. It's a VERY heavy read and some of the parts are really disturbing... but it was quite powerful. The ending was a bit frustrating and I wished there were another 2-3 more chapters. Great book though!

~Jessica M.

Foreign Affairs 
By Alison Lurie

I really enjoyed this book - a sophisticated comedy of manners that crosses the academic erudition of David Lodge with the social bite of Meg Wolitzer. Two English professors from the same department at the same upstate New York university wind up in England simultaneously. Although their direct contact throughout the novel is minimal, they keep bumping into each other in so many other ways.

~William C.

Friday, February 22, 2019

WooReads Patron Book Reviews: We Could All Use a Good Laugh

Exploding teeth, anthropomorphic beasts, and cats, oh my! The weekend is almost here. Enjoy these reviews on some amusing titles.

Don't forget to log your books into WooReads: Adult Reading Challenge. We are just over the halfway mark of our community goal to read 5,000 books before the end of May. Books read from September 2018 - January 2019 can also be logged!

Visit Worcester Public Library today to fill up on books for the weekend!

The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities of the History of Medicine 

By: Thomas Morris

If you’re a fan of medical oddities or the Mütter Museum in Philly, this is the book for you. Morbid topics but Morris, a medical historian (not a doctor) writes in an engaging and amusing way. He translate medical speak into layman’s terms and injects not a little bit of humor into these descriptions. An enjoyable read if you’re not afraid of reading about such things as the boy who inhaled the larynx of a goose into his own throat. (Humor, Popular Science)

                                                          ~Amy K.

The Bad Guys 

By: Aaron Blabey

The first in a series featuring classically feared anthropomorphic beasts as would-be protagonists. Unabashedly silly and fun.😈 (Humor, Fiction, Graphic Novel)

~Ryan D.

I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual 

By: Luvvie Ajayi

I really wanted to like this book. I was looking forward to reading it, but it was difficult to get through. There was only one "part" of any substance, but it wasn't new thoughts regarding culture. I don't have a big internet footprint, so maybe it was just completely unreliable. I struggled to get through it and felt relieved when I was done. (Humor, Parody)

~Krystal L.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Loving Our Cats: Heartwarming and Humorous Stories about our Feline Family Members

By: Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

Mostly a fun read. Short stories about our brat cats. Some are sad because we miss them, but still nice. We have lovely memories. (Humor, Animal, Nature)

~Karen S.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Remembering "An Affair to Remember"

Because of Valentine’s Day people usually associate the month of February with romance. I recently discovered another reason to associate February with romance: the entire month is known as “An Affair to Remember Month” in honor of the 1957 romantic classic film An Affair to Remember, starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Maybe you have a hazy memory of this film that you saw years ago, or maybe you’ve never seen it at all. In either case, I suggest you watch it soon.

The film is gorgeous. Half of it is set on a cruise ship with open seascapes, lavishly dressed cruise-goers, and decadent dining with dancing. This is the place where Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr meet.  Kerr is Terry McKay, a former nightclub singer who’s been studying literature and art.  Grant plays Nickie Ferrante, a world-renowned playboy and ladies’ man.  When the two characters meet they’re instantly attracted to each other, but they’re also both engaged to someone else. Terry tries to resist Nickie’s advances more than he does hers, and despite their attempts to stay apart they’re together so often that other passengers notice. This first part of the picture contains all the witty banter and double entendres you’d expect from a romantic comedy of that time.

In the middle of their voyage, and in the middle of the movie, the cruise ship docks in Italy where Nickie’s grandmother, or Janou, lives. He invites Terry to join him on a visit.  She agrees, and watchers are rewarded with even more breathtaking seaside views.

Terry and Janou become fast friends when they meet, and Janou confides to her how she worries about her grandson.  However, after seeing Nickie with Terry, Janou feels better about his future.  This prompts lots of meaningful stares between Nickie and Terry, and Janou promises to give Terry a beautiful lace shawl.  Terry sings the movie’s theme song in French as Janou plays the piano, and Terry comments more than once on the beauty and tranquility of Janou's home.  But when the ship horn sounds the visit is ended, and at the last second Terry runs to give Janou a hug before departing with Nickie.

The scene with Janou is the turning point in the movie, when the tone turns serious and Nickie and Terry can no longer ignore their love for each other. I don’t want to give away what happens next.  Just watch it. Extend Valentine’s Day into any part of the year and remind yourself that love can win against all odds. But have a box of tissues nearby. The last scene makes me cry every time.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

John "Jack" Bogle - The Passing of My Hero

John Bogle
A giant figure in the investment world passed away on January 16. John “Jack” Bogle died at the age of 89. He founded The Vanguard Group, a mutual fund company in 1974, a firm that would emerge as an industry leader over the past few decades. Bogle brought a new type of broad-based index fund to individual investors and established a business philosophy and approach that was intent on keeping fees low. This was a radically different business model that focused on aiding the “average, everyday” investor. His philosophy about investing and insights into the markets are what inspired me to think about my own financial goals.

Bogle wrote a number of terrific books that I encourage others to read and to learn what you can from this remarkable man:

 “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing”, updated and reissued in 2017

 “Bogle on Mutual Funds: New Perspectives for the Intelligent Investor” (2015)

The Clash of Cultures: Investment vs. Speculation” (2012)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

WooReads Patron Book Reviews: For the Romantics

Valentine's Day is here. Instead of splurging on chocolates, flowers, and jewelry, pick up one of our many romance novels today! Enjoy these romance reviews and browse our Romantic Reads booklist for your next great romance.

Cat playing Cupid: a Joe Grey Mystery

By Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Cute book about special cats that can talk. They like to get involved in solving crimes. Two bodies are discovered in the beginning, cat helps by being a snitch by phone, and following people to spy on their motives. Fun read. (Mystery)

~Karen S.

The Wedding Date 

By Jasmine Guillory

This was SUCH an easy read. I literally read it in 3 days. It was fun, flirty, and although the ending was predictable, I loved it! I couldn't put it down! (Romance)

~Jessica M.

The Girl You Left Behind 

By Jojo Moyes

This wasn’t my favorite Jojo Moyes novel. I started out dreading yet another German soldier dominates an occupied woman, then I dreaded what looked to be a predictable happily-happily-ever-after. The one twist that made it interesting was the painting that was the center around which the story revolved. It wasn’t awful by any means, but it wasn’t as creative as other stories by her that I have read. (Romance)

~Judi P.

Hija de la fortuna/Daughter of Fortune

By Isabel Allende

A great character who challenges all kind of prejudices and impositions of her time, to find herself. (Romance, Historical Fiction)

~Nancy E.

Surrender The Pink

By Carrie Fisher

Ms. Fisher is my personal hero and I love her writing. This book didn't let me down. Witty and funny. I heard her voice in every line Dinah spoke. And with the knowledge that this book was written with her relationship with Paul Simon in mind, it becomes all that more poignant. My only complaint was that much of the dialog, both spoken and internal was so abstract and witty it was hard to keep up. The end was bitter sweet, but so was the life of our dear Carrie Fisher.

                                                ~Krystal L.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo is a queer duck. Her logic seems sound, but while you are taking her word for things, you kind of feel like you are slipping and sliding into a tidying cult, and Marie Kondo is the cult leader.

In "the life-changing magic of tidying up," Ms. Kondo guarantees that if you "tidy" your house top to bottom in one fell swoop, you will never need to tidy again; other than putting things away after you have used them. This is a good idea, but she recommends that you follow the program for 6 months. Who has 6 months to spare?

Marie Kondo is adamant about following KonMar method. Kon(do) Mar(ie). steps completely and in order. She made it up. She says that tidying up a little at a time will never work, and that she recommends a "special event."
There are two main points. First that the process requires discarding. She has very little patience for people who only store things. She says to keep the things that "spark joy."

Second, it is very important that you discard by category and not by room. This avoids duplication of your efforts.

These are the categories:
  • Books
  • Papers
  • Komono (Miscellaneous items)
  • Sentimental Items
The question is, why would anyone listen to this tidying-obsessed nut? She tells you how to fold your socks and says hello to your house. I have seen her TV show, "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo." The answer is, not only does she, herself, spark joy, but her insistence that we create joy around us is catchy. I would love to join her cult. If only I had six months...

Bill Russell: Civil Rights Champion

"My most prized possession was my library card from the Oakland Public Library."

Civil Rights advocate and Celtics legend, William "Bill" Felton Russell, turns 85 today. Russell was born on February 12, 1934 in West Monroe, Louisiana to Charles and Katie Russell. He played at McClymonds High School in Oakland, CA, where the Russell family moved when Bill was eight years old. He won back to back high school championships in his junior and senior years. The University of San Francisco offered Russell a scholarship, where he became the new staring center. He went on to win two consecutive championships (1955,1956) with coach Phil Woolpert.

Russell won 11 championships during this 13-year career with the Boston Celtics, and is considered one of the greatest players in basketball history. When the Celtics played Milwaukee on December 26, 1964, Russell was part of the first all-African-American starting five to take the court in the NBA. Not long after, coach Red Auerbach retired before the 1966-1967 season and asked Russell to coach. On April 16, 1966, Russell agreed to coach (and still play),becoming the first African-American head coach in the NBA. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1975.

While making history on the court, Russell also became known for his work as a Civil Rights advocate. When several hotels in Oklahoma City refused to admit the African American players of the University of San Francisco basketball team, Bill, along with the rest of the team, stayed in a closed college dorm in protest. This served as a bonding experience for the team as they stood against racial injustice. In 1963, he walked in the March on Washington, and defended Muhammad Ali when he refused to serve in the military based on his religious beliefs. As one of the top athletes in the world, people relied on his support for the Civil Rights movement and he did not disappoint. In 2011, President Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Today, a statue of Bill Russell stands in front of City Hall in Boston. His first choice was the Boston Public Library. When that didn`t work out, he chose City Hall because it`s within sight of the Freedom Trail and Old State House.

Read more about Bill Russell. Available in print & audiobook.
-Red and Me: My coach, my life-long friend by Bill Russell

-Russell rules: 11 lessons on leadership from the twentieth century's greatest winner by Bill Russell with Alan Hilburg and David Faulkner

-King of the court: Bill Russell and the basketball revolution by Aram Goudsouzian

Monday, February 11, 2019

Tech Help for Seniors

Wouldn’t you like to learn how to keep your home computer secure, take and share digital photos, download apps onto your phone, surf the World Wide Web, stay in contact with your friends and relatives using email or social media, and become proficient in the use of applications like Microsoft WORD and Excel, all without grappling with confusing technical jargon?

For senior citizens - and others - who want to learn how to use their computers, smart phones, tablets, and cameras, the WPL has many books designed especially for you! Using a step-by-step approach, easy-to-understand language, and straightforward diagrams, these books try to eliminate the stress some people feel when trying to learn technical material.

Here are some of the many books you can borrow from WPL to help you achieve your goals:

 • iPad for Seniors • Laptops for Seniors in Easy Steps
 • iPhone for Seniors • Android Tablets for Seniors in Easy Steps
 • My Digital Entertainment for Seniors
 • Technology Tips for Seniors
 • Facebook for Seniors : Connect with Friends and Family in 12 Easy Lessons
 • Kindle Fire HDX for Seniors

For more great books, see Tech For Seniors List

On the Passing of Rosamunde Pilcher

Rosamunde Pilcher sits in a fancy red chair.

Last week we learned that author Rosamunde Pilcher, who had written more than 25 books in her lifetime, passed away on February 6th at the age of 94. Several of Dame Pilcher’s works, considered to be family sagas and romances, were made into movies and mini-series. I grew up seeing her books in my grandmother’s collection and on my mother’s bookshelves, but it wasn’t until her recent passing that I looked deeper into her life.

Rosamunde Pilcher published under two different names, first using the pseudonym Jane Fraser before using her own name in the 1950s. One of her most popular novels, The Shell Seekers, spent 49 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 1987. It sold over 10 million copies, was translated into over 40 languages, and was made into a TV miniseries starring Vanessa Redgrave. Some credit The Shell Seekers as changing the entire romance genre for the better.

Before taking on the career of a writer, Dame Pilcher worked for the Foreign Office during WW II and later, after D-Day, joined the Woman’s Royal Naval Service. She once explained that her time working during and before the war gave her ample opportunity to see many relationships flourish and fail, which gave her many ideas to base her stories on. She described her books written as Jane Fraser to be “frightfully wet little novels”, while her stories published with her own name were known as “light reading for intelligent ladies”. In 2002, Pilcher was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for her services to literature.

 If you’ve never read anything by Rosamunde Pilcher, now might be the time to do so. Reserve her books from the library's catalog today.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Read all about the New England Patriots Dynasty!

Relentless: A Memoir  
The Super Bowl champion wide receiver for the New England Patriots shares his inspiring story of an underdog kid who was always doubted to becoming one of the most reliable and inspiring players in the NFL.

The TB12 method : how to achieve a lifetime of sustained peak performance
Tom Brady explains how he developed his groundbreaking approach to long-term fitness, presenting a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to his personal practice.

The Pats : an illustrated history of the New England Patriots
Illustrated with more than 200 photographs and original sidebars and essays by Patriots chroniclers Leigh Montville, Upton Bell, Howard Bryant, Lesley Visser, and more.

Belichick: the making of the greatest football coach of all time 
A biography of the NFL's most enigmatic, controversial, and yet successful coach follows his life in football, from watching Naval Academy games with his father to his success as head coach of the New England Patriots.
It's good to be Gronk
The record-setting tight end for the New England Patriots recounts the events of his college football career at the University of Arizona and the highlights of his seasons in the NFL, including his key play in Super Bowl XLIX.

Patriot pride : my life in the New England dynasty
Spotlighting a New England sports icon and Super Bowl champion, this authorized biography chronicles the extraordinary life and career of Troy Brown, the talented athlete who played 15 seasons with the New England Patriots.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Celebrate Black History Month with Movies or Books

Celebrate Black History Month with movies or books! Check out our DVD display on the first floor

Want to stream? Download the Kanopy & Hoopla apps to stream movies with your library card!

WooReads Patron Book Reviews: Mystery, Murder, Mayhem

Our readers love mystery, thriller, and suspense genres. 
Enjoy these nail-biting reviews submitted by our patrons on WooReads: Adult Reading Challenge

The Woman in the Window 

By A.J. Finn 

Ah! I totally thought this book was going in another direction but by the end, I was bamboozled. Such a great book... I feel like I can go back and read it again and find things I missed! (Suspense, Thriller)

~Jessica M.

***Breaking News*** Dan Mallory, who used the pen name A.J. Finn, has lied his way through the publishing world. Follow the link to get more information on this fascinating and disturbing story. 


By Belinda Bauer

Snap is a great British mystery novel. The mystery is intriguing and the characters ring true. The hero is a young teenager who takes up burglary to care for his siblings and keep the family together after their mother is murdered and their father abandons them. After breaking into a house, he finds a vital clue that might help solve his mother's murder and maybe prevent another murder. How can he let the police know without giving away his secret?
(Suspense, Thriller)

~Mary R.

Remains of Innocence

By Judith Jance

This Joanna Brady novel has two murders that compete for attention from Joanna and her crew. It's somewhat intense: one involves mafia money and the other serial killing and sociopathy. It's a page turner, but the ending left me feeling a little disappointed. Some important threads were left hanging...
(Mystery, Suspense)

~Judi P.

The Narrows 

By Michael Connelly

A Harry Bosch novel. He works on the death of an old friend, and realizes an old enemy that was thought dead, is alive and out for revenge. Gets more involved, great suspenseful ending.
(Mystery, Psychological Fiction)

~Karen S.

Don't forget to log your books on WooReads: Adult Reading Challenge! We have reached 46% of our goal!! Keep reading, keep logging. Log at least 20 books before May 31st to be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle Paperwhite!

Not sure what to read? Use our Quick Picks form and a 
librarian will create and email you a personalized reading list 
of 5-10 titles within one week.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

February 3, 1959: The Day the Music Died

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the deaths of rock musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. All three were on tour with Winter Dance Party, a series of concerts throughout the Midwest, when their plane crashed in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Buddy Holly (born Charles Hardin Holley, September 7, 1936) was known for hits such as “Peggy Sue” and “That`ll be the day.” The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones have listed him as an inspiration for their careers. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Ritchie Valens (born Richard Steven Valenzuela, May 13, 1941) was a pioneer of Chicano rock music. Only seventeen at the time, Valens` most notable hits were “La Bamba” and “Donna.” He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson (born Jiles Perry Richardson Jr., October 24, 1930) was known for his boisterous personality and rockabilly style. His hit “Chantilly lace” reached #6 on the pop charts on the National Top 40 in 1958, where it spent 22 weeks.

 American Pie (1971)

It wasn`t until 1971 that the tragedy was referred to as “the day the music died" when singer-songwriter Don McLean released his song “American Pie." Critics immediately started analyzing the lyrics. Was it really about Buddy Holly? Is it biblical? A protest song?

Bob Dearborn, a DJ for Chicago`s WCFL-AM, did his own interpretation of the song. People were so interested in his interpretation, which was too long to read on air, that they started sending letters to the station requesting copies of the full version. Dearborn thought that McLean was singing an ode to the fun rock music of the fifties that he grew up on, which had been replaced by the political and psychedelic music of the 1960s. The king and queen were Elvis Presley and Connie Francis. Bob Dylan, the jester, took over the charts with his folk songs and protest anthems. Dearborn also thought "Miss American Pie" was the all-American "girl next door."

The only confirmation of any lyric from the song by Don McLean himself is that of when he heard of the death of Buddy Holly, when he was 13 years old and working as a paperboy. 

“But February made me shiver, with every paper I delivered 
 Bad news on the doorstep, I couldn’t take one more step 
 I can’t remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride 
But something touched me deep inside 
The day the music died” 

Don McLean has often refused to discuss the lyrics behind American Pie. He decided to share his story with Alan Howard, who wrote the biography “The Don McLean Story: Killing Us Softly with His Songs.” 

McLean said about his lyrics: "American Pie is about my life, what I’ve lived through and what I’ve experienced as a participant and witness to American music and politics.” He then goes on to explain his unwillingness to discuss the lyrics: “in my opinion, to write lyrics and then stand around telling people what you mean is tacky.”

American Pie has developed a mythology all its own. While many continue to debate its meaning, we can all relate to the journey from childhood to adulthood. Each generation has dealt with the sense of loss felt as a new generation changes the cultural landscape. McLean expressed his feelings in a way that allowed all of America to reflect upon the past and cope with the present.

Read an excerpt from Don McLean`s biography

American Pie lyrics 

Download music on the Freegal app with your library card!

Check out music from the 1950s & 1960s, available on CD

Friday, February 1, 2019

Essential Awards Season Periodicals

Oscar nominations have been released, and it’s the perfect time to resolve to spend more quality time with your Netflix account! In a season of snowstorms, gym trips, and tax forms, awards shows provide an excellent escape from reality. Whether you’re tuning in for the fashion, the Twitter fodder, or a genuine interest in the nominees, the periodicals staff has selected some of our favorite reads to get you caught up on all things pop culture before the red carpet rolls out.

“The Golden Globes Effect” 
by Piya Sinha-Roy
Entertainment Weekly - Jan. 18, 2019

Entertainment Weekly devoted ten pages – nearly 1/6 of the magazine! – to in-depth coverage of the fashion, makeup, and tweetable moments from the Golden Globes, which kicked off the awards season on January 6. Especially notable are EW’s predictions for the Oscars, which will be held on February 24.

“Golden Globes 2019”
Us Weekly - Jan. 20, 2019

If celebrity gossip is your guilty pleasure, Us Weekly has you covered. Like EW, Us Weekly included a ten-page spread featuring the Golden Globes’ best (and worst) dressed, red carpet photos, and even a minute-by-minute breakdown of the behind-the-scenes moments you didn’t see on TV.

“Evening News”
Vogue - Jan. 2019

This January’s issue of Vogue kicks off awards show season by diving into the hair and makeup trends that fans can expect to see on the red carpet. A must-read for beauty buffs, Vogue staff named the hair and makeup products that the stars will be wearing.

Where to find these titles and more:
Print: Us Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, and Vogue are available at the main branch of the Worcester Public Library. Magazines can be borrowed for one week with up to two renewals.

Digital: For an electronic copy of a magazine that you would like to download from the comfort of your couch, head to either of the library’s online magazine services - RB Digital (requires WPL card) or OverDrive. These titles are available to download instantly on your laptop, desktop, or mobile device. There is no limit to the number of magazines you can borrow, no wait time for new titles, and no fines!

Non-circulating items: Lastly, if you’re looking for a blast from the past, the Worcester Public Library houses older copies of magazines in our collection. In fact, we carry issues of Vogue dating back to 1915! Although these items cannot be checked out, you may request to read them in the Periodicals room on the third floor of the Main library. Staff will retrieve a bound periodical or a reel of microfilm containing the magazine you wish to read. If you have a specific title in mind, please call the library at 508-799-1655, ext.3 to ensure that your selection is available.