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Archive for Category: Reading Room
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Teen Reads for Summer

   Wednesday, June 18th, 2008 - by: Becky Herrmann, Library Director

"I don't have anything to wear!" The pink shirt is too babyish - the tank top is too tacky. The black jeans are too "emo." "Mom - I can't wear skinny with baggy, don't you know anything!" The list goes on.

Too tight, too wide, too tall, too small - my daughter is like Goldilocks when she dresses each morning. If only I could make everything just right - but these days I am not the Mom who can kiss the boo-boo and make it better. That is so last year - I am the mother of an almost 13-year old whose favorite retort (with an eye roll) is "I know..." Far be it for me to offer any kind of advice - although, that doesn't stop me from trying.

In spite of everything, there is still one area I seem to have some sway - books. She eagerly sorts through the piles I bring home and curls up with a book every night before bed. So, here are a few teen titles to try this summer:

For those who never feel like they fit in, try reading or listening to the confessions of Georgia Nicolson in Angus, Thongs, and Full-frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. (We have both print and audio-book versions of this series.) The laugh-out-loud antics of Georgia, a 14 year-old British girl who is trying to reduce the size of her nose, tame her wild cat and romance a popular boy at school make this a popular selection for vacation time. (And as there are multiple titles in the series, reading about Georgia could last all summer long...) Another title to try is Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. I think the title says it all.

For the girl who enjoys school settings and the social scene, a light summer read would be the L.B.D. books by Grace Dent - a series about "Les Bambinos Dangereuses" - three fast friends who put on a rock concert at their school. Lily Archer's Poison Apples about a trio of unlikely friends who meet at boarding school and all have evil step-mothers would also be a good choice.

For Harry Potter fans who enjoyed the romance between Ginny and Harry, try the romantic and comic novels of Sarah Mlynowski. The series begins with Bras and Broomsticks and continues with Frogs and French Kisses and Sleeping Bags and Spells.

For those who liked the darker side of Harry Potter, try the Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney. The first title is Revenge of the Witch and it follows one young man, Thomas Ward, who must fill the shoes of an aging Spook who has protected the local villages from evil. Twenty-nine apprentices have failed, only Thomas is left. As there are 4 books in the series, you can guess he is successful, but there are some genuinely gruesome and heart-stopping adventures along the way. Also, in a similar vein is Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landry in which a young girl inherits her odd uncle's estate -and at the reading of the will she is joined by a walking, talking skeleton who persuades her to join forces with him to save the world.

For the paranormal romance fan, Stephenie Meyer's vampire/werewolf series has been hugely popular with teens. The first in the series is Twilight - the 4th book Breaking Dawn will be published on August 2nd - just in time for a summer read. If your teen can't wait till then, try The Silver Kiss or Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause or Owl in Love by Patricia Kindl.

For those who contemplate the unknown, try Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, a remarkable envisioning of what happens when you die. It focuses on the sudden death of a 15 year old girl in a car accident, imagining her reactions to her own death. Also of interest might be Gossamer by Newbery-award-winning author Lois Lowry in which she creates a fantasy back-story for how and why some folks have pleasant dreams versus nightmares.

For those in search of a mystery, try the light-hearted Lulu Dark books by Bennett Madison. The series begins with Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls and continues with Lulu Dark and the Summer of the Fox - Lulu is a reluctant sleuth with a satirical wit and the books are fast-paced, smart and funny. Speaking of reluctant - if you are trying to coax your computer-oriented child into reading, try Cathy's Book: If found, call (650)-266-8233 by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman. This fast-paced mystery includes telephone numbers that readers can call and an interactive website to visit to help solve the mystery.

And as far as I am concerned, you never get too old to be read to. A book for parents and teens to read aloud together is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. This coming of age tale set in Brooklyn at the turn of the century still holds up. And hey, if you can't get them to sit with you at home, try popping the story into your car stereo at the beginning of your vacation trip. Happy summer reading and listening!

To see a listing of all the books mentioned here, see the Library's Reading Room webpage.

   Posted in Books, Column, Reading Room | No Comments »

Dig In At The Library!

   Wednesday, June 11th, 2008 - by: Becky Herrmann, Library Director

Chelmsford Library Educational GardenLast night my daughter shared a list that she wrote when she was five. (She is closing in on 13 now...) It was a list of the things she loved best about her mother. She loved that her mom gave her lots of hugs and kisses. She loved that her mom made her good dinners. She loved that her mom laughed at the movies with her. Ok, I said to myself; that all sounds positive - She thinks that I'm a pretty good mother!

But number one on her list was that she loved that her mom had a green thumb. I read it again. A green thumb - not a black one. "Iris" - I said, "Are you sure this is your handwriting? Do you still think I have a green thumb?" She began to laugh -"Um, no Mom, you kill the hanging plants on the porch every year." "Then why did you say it when you were five?" "Oh," she said, "I'm sure all the other kids were saying it about their moms and it sounded good at the time..."

Hmmph. While it may be true that plastic plants have a better chance of surviving under my not so watchful watering eye - it is not that I don't appreciate the art of growing beautiful plants. And as an enthusiastic cook, I especially appreciate the art of growing edible plants. I just don't happen to have a talent for growing things.

But fortunately at the library we have a group of people who do have that talent. On a recent Saturday, the Country Lane Garden Club, along with family and friends, gathered to dedicate the Heritage Garden in front of the Adams section of the library building.

You may have noticed it... it is the beautiful garden that embraces our flag pole (see photos of the Garden). We think of it as our circle of generosity. The garden was first started with seed money from the Country Lane Garden Club and the Friends of the Chelmsford Public Library. The Friends also donated the big granite sign. The flagpole was donated by the Rotary Club of Chelmsford and the granite benches encircling the garden were donated by friends and family in memory of Steve Maloney, our library trustee who passed away in 2006. Our thanks to all who gave to make the Heritage Garden possible!

This organic garden was designed by Chelmsford resident Sue Spicer, a landscape design specialist and it is lovingly taken care of by the Country Lane Garden Club. It features native New England plants that were growing at the time the Adams Library was built in 1894. While it is a 19th century-style garden, it combines historic character with an eye to the contemporary advantages of sustainability. Plants were chosen that were low maintenance and the old-fashioned method used to plant the garden - preserving the sod and building a new garden's soil up in soil layers - is especially beneficial to the environment.

I invite you to drop by, pick out a book, and go read it on one of the benches outside while you breathe in the scent of thyme and chives. Perhaps these culinary herbs will entice you to read something like Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs, a humorous novel about a celebrity chef turning fifty and not loving it. Or the serenity of the spot might inspire you to pick up a copy of Stanley Kunitz's The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden or The Gardens of Emily Dickinson by Judith Farr. You could also puzzle your way through a gardening mystery - check out titles by Janis Harrison and Ann Ripley.

The beautifully layered composition of the garden might inspire you to dig a few holes and put in a few plants yourself. (On your own land, not the library's...) You might want to check out one of the recent gardening books we added in honor of the garden. Try Lasagna Gardening with Herbs : Enjoy Fresh flavor, Fragrance, and Beauty with No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding! by Patricia Lanz or Native Plants of the Northeast: A Guide for Gardening and Conservation by Leopold Donald Joseph. For a list of these and other garden-inspired titles, check out our website at www.chelmsfordlibrary.org. Happy reading and sowing!

   Posted in Events, Library Information, Reading Room | No Comments »

Proper Care & Feeding of Books

   Friday, May 16th, 2008 - by: Brian Herzog, Head of Reference

BookWe love our books,
And we know you do too.
We’re sure you want to
take good care of them –
here’s what to do:


  • Take a paperback to the beach (hardcovers don’t like the sand)
  • Use a thin, flat bookmark, like a checkout receipt, phone message, love note or bill, or even one of our bookmarks; everything else – like paperclips, straws, crackers, pens or even those pretty beaded or ribbon bookmarks you get at the bookstore - can damage the pages or binding
  • Make notes in your diary, blog or on scrap paper (but please, not in the book)
  • Keep books dry (even a little bit of moisture can make a lot of mold)
  • Enjoy a snack or drink while reading (but be careful not to spill)
  • Make copies or scans of a page or two, if you need it (don’t cut or rip the page out)
  • Renew it, or bring it back on time (so someone else can love it, too)

Sorry, here’s one DON’T:

  • DON’T fold the corner down to mark your page, even once – eventually the corner will fall off, even if it was only folded down once.

These DOs and a DON’T will ensure that we can all love our books for years to come.

These guidelines, along with the Proper Care & Feeding of DVDs, are also available for printing as a bookmark [pdf, 90kb].

   Posted in Books, Reading Room | No Comments »

Arthur C. Clarke Dies

   Friday, March 21st, 2008 - by: Vickie Turcotte, Head of Technical Services

Arthur C. ClarkeThe science fiction world is in mourning this week with the death of Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008.) He wrote over 100 books, and not all were fiction (although there was plenty of that.) He also wrote nonfiction works on space and underwater exploration, and came up with the idea of communications satellites years before such a thing existed. (Such satellites move through space in "Clarke" orbits in acknowledgment of his contribution.)

He's probably best known for his sci-fi series that began with 2001 : A Space Odyssey. The novel evolved alongside the movie of the same name directed by Stanley Kubrick, and Clarke went on to write three more related books (see below.) Other popular novels include Childhood's End, Rendezvous with Rama and The Hammer of God.

Clarke has been honored with nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize (1994), his name has been given to a diverse group of objects including: a dinosaur (Serendipaceratops arthurcclarkei), an asteroid (4923 Clarke), a space orbiter (2001 Mars Odyssey) and the Arthur C Clarke Learning Resource Centre at Richard Huish College, Somerset, UK (Clarke was a student at their grammar school.) He was invested as a British Knight Bachelor in 2000. He'll also be remembered for inspiring many scientists and astronauts: "All of us around the table said we read Arthur C. Clarke...That was the thing that got us there." - planetary scientist Torrence Johnson.

For more information:

arthur c. clarke, clarke, sci-fi, science fiction, writer

   Posted in Books, Current News, Reading Room | No Comments »

Learning How to Grow Old Gracefully can Happen at the Library

   Thursday, February 28th, 2008 - by: Becky Herrmann, Library Director

I wore a trendy little jumper to work the other day with a jaunty black cap and a co-worker complimented me on my outfit, saying I looked “cute.”

I asked my 12 year old daughter - “So, what do you think, can someone approaching 50 still look cute?” Her response? “Sure, Mom, I think old people are cute.”

Aargh, between the hot flashes and the AARP mailings (awfully premature, if you ask me, I am NOT quite 50 yet...) - I have enough reminders of my approaching senility. I don’t need my almost-teenager chiming in... Besides - age (as they say) is “a state of mind” - and the state of my mind is decidedly young.

So if you are feeling a little creaky in your joints or you find yourself enjoying a nap on the couch more than a night out on the town or if you are constantly misplacing your keys - don’t blame it on getting old! Stop fretting and Get a Hobby - Tina Barseghian’s information packed guide gives you 101 different hobbies to explore. It has everything from beachcombing to needlework to growing bonsai.

You Can Do It! - The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-up Girls by Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas will also get you up off the couch. Whether it is running a marathon, trekking to Nepal or learning to sing on stage, this book celebrates your dreams and tells you it is never too late to start! It is all up to you. You, Staying Young: The Owner’s Manual for Extending Your Warranty is just the ticket for fighting the effects of aging. It includes a 14 day plan to help you stay young, along with information about the biological factors in growing old.

If you are still worried about crow’s feet and flabby arms, join the club. We all say I Feel Bad about My Neck along with the comic author Nora Ephron and many of us ask Martha Weinman Lear’s eternal question Where Did I Leave My Glasses? Lear’s aptly-titled book about the what, when, and why of normal memory loss reassures us that a certain amount of forgetfulness in middle-aged folks and the young elderly is normal. It is not necessarily a harbinger of Alzheimer’s. We should also take our cue from the likes of Ben Bradlee, Lena Horne and Carl Reiner, octogenarians who say they have never felt so young. They are featured in 80: Eighty Famous People in Their Eighties Talk about How They Got There and Live There by Gerald Gardner and Jim Bellows.

As we grow older, many of us find that we are becoming Predictably Irrational - Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist argues that human behavior is often anything but rational - that thoughts are not random, but instead are systematic and predictable. Or perhaps you find yourself thinking that your life is Not Quite What I Was Planning? This newly-published illustrated collection of six-word memoirs is alternately humorous, sad, and strange. It includes authors Jonathan Lethem and Richard Ford and comedians Steven Colbert and Amy Sedaris.

Ultimately though it is important to heed the advice of Nobel Prize winner James D. Watson and Avoid Boring People. Watson’s lessons from a life in science include an account of his early work in discovering the structure of DNA along with secrets he has found to getting along in the world. It is a witty and instructive memoir. You can embrace Watson’s teachings and Keep Your Brain Alive with Larry Katz and Manning Rubin’s 83 neurobics exercises designed to increase mental fitness. Start thinking hard today!

But if today is one of the days that you have a brain cramp and you still haven’t found your keys or your missing glasses - have someone drop you by the library and enjoy some of our programs. Upcoming events include a program on financial fitness, lunch box seminars, a poetry slam, a salon-style discussion group and an art reception. Join us! For more information, check out the website at www.chelmsfordlibrary.org

aging, book, books, growing, older

   Posted in Books, Column, Reading Room | No Comments »

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