Thursday, September 26, 2019

WooReads Adult Patron Book Reviews: Books for Cool Autumn Nights

Autumn has finally arrived, which means it's time to find your coziest blanket and curl up with a good book. Here's our weekly selection of patron book reviews, and all of these books sound worthy of reading on a crisp fall evening. Check out what your fellow WooReaders are saying and decide if any of these titles should be on your list.

Remember, too, that this is all part of our Adult Reading Challenge: Beyond Summer program. Logging books and writing reviews means you might win some library gear, and the more you log and write the greater chance you have of winning one of our Kindle Paperwhite Grand Prizes. If you still haven't joined the Reading Challenge, you can do so here:

Happy Reading!

The Idiot
By Fyodor Dostoevsky
This book took me a while to get through, partly because the story was very dense, and partly because the characters' names and the locations (all Russian) were a bit difficult for me to get used to. However, once I got into the story, it was well worth the time and effort. I think that a lot of the themes are relevant today, even though this book was first published in 1868. I found that it was helpful to read the introduction (my copy has an introduction by Joseph Frank, and is translated by Constance Garnett), since knowing a little bit about the author's life informed my reading of the story. It reminded me a bit of Tolstoy's 'War and Peace', except I found these characters more compelling. There's many different kinds of love and friendship, and I think that the characters' relationships with each other and the protagonist (Myshkin) are what make the story truly worth reading.

~Carrie B.

Lethal Licorice
By Amanda Flower
This is a cozy mystery which I love to read for pleasure. Bailey is a chocolatier from NY who moves to an Amish community in Ohio to help her Grandparents in their candy shop. She then gets involved in solving murder mysteries. Love this type of book.

~Frances N.

By Joe Hill
Wonderful and scary. Sad and romantic. Love it.

~Miriam V.

The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero
By William Kalush and Larry Sloman
I was impressed by the research that the author's Kalush and Sloman were able to compile in writing the book "The Secret Life of Houdini". In the year 1925 Houdini performed for two weeks in Worcester, MA.

~Paul K.

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
By H.G. Parry
The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep is a great fantasy for lovers of the "Thursday Next" novels. Professor Charlie Sutherland has a secret: he can bring book characters to life. Usually he can control them and return them to the novel they came from, but sometimes they escape into the real world. When things go wrong, he turns to his older brother, Rob. And this time, things have really gone wrong. This is an entertaining story about the love between siblings and about the magic of reading.

~Mary R.

Good in Bed
By Jennifer Weiner
Her writing is so smooth and relatable. You feel like you are Cannie or at least feel like your rooting for her! Can’t wait to read more of her work!

~Susan M.

Saturday, September 21, 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 our step by step guide to downloading library Overdrive ebooks on your computer, Kindle, smartphone or 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. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

WooReads Adult Patron Book Reviews: Crime Edition

WooReads: Adult Reading Challenge (Beyond Summer) is underway and we are excited to share another round of book reviews. Enjoy this mix of true crime and police procedural fiction that are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The more book reviews you share the more likely you are to win one of our random drawings for some Worcester Public Library swag. Sign up here to log your reading and share your reviews!

The Body In The Castle Well

By Martin Walker

When Bruno, chief of police of the small French village of St Denis, finds the body of a young American woman in the well of a local castle, it appears that it was caused by the misuse of opioids. But the more Bruno digs around, the more suspicious he feels. Could the murderer be the local art collector/hero of the Resistance with whom Claudia was working? the recently released convict? the ex-boyfriend? the new trophy wife of Claudia's wealthy father? Full of interesting history about art history, the French Resistance and the politics of de Gaulle, as well as falconry and, of course, the fabulous meals and wines enjoyed by Bruno and his friends, "The Body in the Castle Well" is a mystery story that will please everyone.

~Mary R.

It's an interesting read, especially in light of the charges against Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

~Annie S.

A Better Man

By Louise Penny

Penny continues in her most readable tradition, but this time brings Mother Nature into the fray- and Gamache is tested on new levels!

~Mary R.


By Steve Cavanagh

A serial killer, the FBI are looking for him, a lawyer that starts to figure it out. The killer seems to be one step ahead of it all. He’s on the jury of a murder trial. Fast paced action. Surprises till the end. Good read.

~Karen S.

The Library Book

By Susan Orlean

One of the most fascinating books I have read in years. It begins as an investigation of the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public library and then weaves a history of libraries and librarians- a must read for all book and library lovers!

~Mary R.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Healthy Living: The Mediterranean Diet

We recently had another great nutrition program at the Main Library focused on the Mediterranean Diet. Registered dietitian, Judy Palken, brought her knowledge of the Mediterranean Diet to our patrons along with delicious recipes to try which can be found at the bottom of this blog.

Join us on October 12th, from 1 pm to 2 pm, at the Main Library for our next nutrition program, Stay Healthy with Carb Control. Judy will discuss the health effects of eating too many of the wrong carbohydrates. Check our Adult Classes and Programs page for more events.

Vincent Van Gogh
Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun, 1889
Minneapolis Institute of Art

Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

Judy discussed the many health benefits associated with this type of diet. Hundreds of studies have shown a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, Type 2 Diabetes and Parkinson's disease. The Mediterranean diet is also associated with lower weight, better control of rheumatoid arthritis, improved cognitive function, reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, and a longer life.

Characteristics of traditional Mediterranean Diets

  • varies based upon region
  • focus on local and seasonal foods
  • fresh, delicious ingredients
  • relatively high fat content
  • based on home cooking and traditions
  • portion sizes are controlled
  • meals are enjoyed with family and friends
  • physical activity is part of daily life
  • whole, single-ingredient foods
  • mostly plant-based meals

Judy's Reading Recommendations

4 small cod loins
2 cups heirloom tomatoes, chopped in large chunks
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
8 plums, chopped into large chunks
1 inch piece ginger, pressed
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper
1 Tbsp. butter 
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
parsley, chopped (for garnish)

  1. Season cod loins with salt and pepper and set aside. 
  2. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to a frying pan and allow to heat up for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, plums, ginger and Aleppo pepper (optional). Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 15 minutes on medium, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Add 1 Tbsp of butter and the remaining olive oil to another frying pan. Heat up for two minutes then add the cod loins to the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side until just turning flaky. Add wine to frying pan and cook for an additional two minutes. 
  4. Serve cod covered with tomato and plum sauce. Garnish with parsley. 
1 bunch Swiss chard, washed well, stems removed
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Chop chard to desired size.
  2. Heat oil in a wok or skillet on medium heat (do not overheat olive oil). Add chard and spices and saute for about 3-4 minutes until Swiss chard is wilted.
  3. Add balsamic vinegar. Saute 1 more minute.
  4. Add garlic, let sizzle for about 30 seconds and then turn off heat.


1 cup boiling water
1 cup bulgur cracked, parboiled wheat)   
1 large bunch Italian parsley, large stems removed, chopped fine   
3 cloves garlic, minced
3-5 scallions, thinly sliced  
2-3 plum tomatoes, diced small  
fresh lemon juice – start w/ juice from half a lemon
lemon zest - from 1 lemon
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil  
½ tsp Kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Pour the boiling water over the bulgur.  Cover and leave for 30 - 60 minutes, until the water is absorbed and it has cooled.  
Add the remaining ingredients, and adjust lemon juice, olive oil, and salt to taste. 

Serving suggestion - add feta cheese and chickpeas.  

Swiss Chard, Lentil, and Wild Rice Soup 

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for serving 
1 leek, sliced 
1 bunch Swiss chard, stalks cut into ½” pieces, leaves chopped into 1-2” pieces  
(keep stalks and leaves separate)  
1 generous Tbsp turmeric  
8 cups broth and/or water
1/2 cup lentils, rinsed  
½ cup wild rice
1 tsp Kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice   

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add leek, Swiss chard stalk pieces, and turmeric.  Cook, stirring frequently, until softened - about 8 minutes. 

Add broth and/or water, lentils, wild rice, salt, and pepper, and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. 

Add chard leaves, and simmer until the chard and lentils are cooked, about 15 more minutes. 
Stir in lemon juice, and ladle into bowls. 
8 servings     
2 or 3 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
4 potatoes, cut into cubes
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1 onion, sliced into thin rings
1/2 cup pitted Greek olives
3 hard boiled eggs, sliced into quarters
4 ounces of Greek feta, cubed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Boil zucchini until soft. Rinse in cold water to cool, drain.
  2. Boil potatoes until soft. Rinse in cold water to cool, drain.
  3. Add all ingredients. Toss lightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to serve. 
Stewed Prunes:
1 cup pitted prunes
2 cups water
1 teaspoon honey
1 thin slice lemon with rind, halved

Yogurt Topping:
1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
½ teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Add all stewed prune ingredients to a small pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer on a low boil, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Continue to simmer, covered, for 10 more minutes.
  2. Fill two bowls with ½ cup of yogurt each. Make a well in the yogurt and then add prunes and syrup. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Add half lemon slice from prunes for garnish.
1 ½ cups unbleached white wheat or spelt flour
¾ cups whole wheat or whole spelt flour
¾ cup raw cane sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup whole milk
¼ cup fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Combine dry ingredients, and stir/fluff well with a folk until combined, pressing out any lumps in the sugar, flour or baking powder.
In a separate mixing bowl whisk together eggs, then add olive oil, milk and rosemary. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, gently folding until combined.
Pour into an olive oil greased, 4 ½ x 13 inch loaf pan or 10 inch Springform pan, smoothing the top so it is relatively even. Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes, or until the top is golden and a tooth pick or skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. You can eat it hot right from the pan or let it cool, before removing from the pan and wrapping or putting on a serving plate. For best storage, wrap in plastic and keep in the refrigerator – will last 3 – 4 days.
Servings: 10
Note:  I use all whole wheat pastry flour – jcp.  

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

Thursday, September 12, 2019

WooReads: Adult Patron Book Reviews on History & Historical Fiction

Welcome, WooReaders, to our Adult Reading Challenge: Beyond Summer! We've already gotten lots of great book reviews from you, and this week's selection features historical fiction and history titles.  Are you interested in family secrets, biographical fiction, rare manuscripts, antislavery politics, or aristocratic Russians? If so, read on.

And don't forget that, like the last WooReads Adult Reading Challenge, we're offering a Kindle Paperwhite to 2 lucky Grand Prize winners. May 2020 might feel a long ways off, but every book you log counts!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders
By Julianna Baggott
This novel was an interesting tale about love under difficult circumstances, and about the bonds that keep families together, even when they've drifted apart. It's romantic, but also harsh, and told from the alternating points of view of four different characters (mother, two daughters, and deceased grandmother). It's not really a page turner, but I found that after a few chapters, I would have to pause and digest what I read, and I found myself engrossed in the characters' individual narratives. The historical and psychological elements were also interesting. Definitely worth reading if you're looking for a love story with jagged edges.

~Carrie B.

The Only Woman in the Room
By Marie Benedict
A small fictional bio of Hedy Lamarr the screen star. Not only beautiful but smart. Goes thru her start as a Jewish actress and her marriage to an arms dealer. Escapes to the USA. Tries to help us win the war. Very interesting person!

~Karen S.

Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts
By Christopher De Hamel
This book was a fascinating in depth look at the history, travels and artistry of some of the most famous manuscripts, including the Book of Kells, the Hours of Jeanne of Navarre and the Spinola Hours. Far from dry and boring, the author tracks down lost manuscripts, figures out connections between manuscripts and solves a few mysteries. Easy to read, the art and writing of the manuscripts are shown close up in beautiful photographs. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

~Mary R.

The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics
By James Oakes
This book is about two of America's master politicians, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. They both made history in which American politics worked in the Civil War era. It explains how radicalism and party politics came together to overthrow American slavery. At times the worlds of the radical abolitionist Frederick Douglass and of the Republican politician Abraham Lincoln seemed almost as far apart as black and white, but these two giants of the Civil War era found themselves on a converging course that was led by political alliance and personal friendship. Very insightful with sensitivity on the part of the author. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 😉

~Valdajean J.

A Gentleman in Moscow
By Amor Towles
This is an engaging and charming story that follows an aristocrat (a "former Person") through the aftermath of the Russian revolution. The characters are very personable and relatable and the story brings the history of that time to life. Don't be put off if you don't like historical fiction; there is much more story than historical detail here. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story.👍

~Michele F.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Dr John Green Collection at the Worcester Public Library

If you’ve seen my previous post, you know that Dr John Green donated 7,000 volumes to the city of Worcester for the purpose of establishing a public library.

By the time of his death in 1865, he had donated 5,000 more. Dr Green deliberately shaped his collection to represent the interests and concerns of 19th century New Englanders and his donation encompasses a broad range of topics and genres, including theology, contemporary politics and social issues, spiritualism, the sciences, art, music, travel, history and biography. While each individual volume is a treasure in itself, the value of the collection as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts, in that it reflects the social and cultural values of the world in which it was created.

Over the past 160 years the Green books have inevitably suffered the ravages of time; water damage, light damage, brittle paper, degraded leather, torn pages, detached bindings, and dirt, dirt, dirt. Library staff in the past have attempted to address these issues by gluing, taping, re-binding, wrapping, tying, and enclosing vulnerable items. Some of these methods are just plain bad (scotch tape for example); others are merely inadequate by today’s standards. A few especially valuable items have been sent for full-scale conservation at the New England Document Conservation Center, but that level of treatment is too expensive to be a viable option for the collection as a whole.

So, what can the library do to preserve this precious legacy? In 2017, WPL received a $30,000 grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to stabilize a small portion of the Dr John Green collection over a period of two years. These funds enabled us to purchase approximately 1,500 custom-made, state-of the art archival- quality boxes to house items in particular need of protection. Once selected, each volume was carefully measured for the best fit possible, then gently cleaned, boxed and returned to the shelf. This is in line with the conservative “first do no harm” philosophy of most contemporary book conservators.


What next? The 1,500 items re-housed as part of the Green collection preservation project, represent a small component of WPL’s historic collections as a whole We hope to use the enthusiasm and knowledge we’ve acquired in the past two years to generate an ongoing commitment stabilizing, conserving, and where appropriate, digitizing these irreplaceable materials for the benefit of future generations. 

Care to learn more? Please visit our exhibit on Dr John Green and his collection, which will run until September 30 2019 on the 1st floor of the main library, and feel free to call Joy Hennig, Local History and Genealogy Librarian, at 508-799-1670 for further information.

Online Resources For Back to School

Worcester Public Library provides access to many resources for students and educators, whether you are looking for books to check out and take home or online resources for your homework and research. Now that the school year has begun, this is the perfect time to get familiar with all the resources we have to offer.

Stop at the reference desk when you come in and our knowledgeable librarians can put you in touch with the right information for your project! No time to stop by? No worries! Check out this list of online resources on our website. You get instant access to materials on arts, business, career, consumer, culinary, downloadable ebooks & audio, encyclopedias, education, health, history, journal articles, magazines, science, test prep and more! All you need is a Worcester Public Library card to access these subscription databases from the comforts of your home.