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From the Corner of the Library
Book Reviews ~ By Londa Brown

April 23rd

From the Corner of the Library #1

Welcome to a brand new offering from Washburn Memorial Library, “From the Corner of the Library.” Since we are celebrating “National Library Week,” this seemed like a good time to begin this post.  Every couple of weeks, I will give a book review of one of the books in our library.  Sometimes, word of mouth or a suggestion from a post will prompt you to check out a book to read.  My hope is that you may discover some books to add to your list.  For many years, every library book contained a pocket which was glued inside the back cover, and inside the pocket was a card containing the names of everyone who had already checked out the book.  It was fun to pick up a new book and discover the name of someone on the card who liked the same type of book you did.  You knew without a doubt that you were going to enjoy this new book.  Privacy laws no longer allow those cards, but today, everything is computerized and there are hundreds of sites informing us of the new best seller and the books we must read.  So yes, this is just one more offering to add to the list, but remember that each book can be checked out right here in Washburn.  I will try to offer hints on how to find just the right book for you through our library tools and will attempt to whet your appetite if you haven’t read a book in a while. 


This week’s selection I am going to recommend is Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.  Hitting the shelves exactly one year ago, the book was an instant success.  The main character, Elizabeth Zott, exclaimed that chemistry is life.  That certainly did not sound like a book I would enjoy so I ignored it for an entire year.  And then, I picked it up and discovered the most amazing, unusual, self-driven woman making her path in the early 1960’s in a male-controlled world.  You will find yourself laughing and crying as you turn the pages of this story.  Here are a couple of things Elizabeth shares: “Sometimes I think," she said slowly, "that if a man were to spend a day being a woman in America, he wouldn't make it past noon.”  And certainly, her motto for her life, “Courage is the root of change—and change is what we’re chemically designed to do.”  You will find yourself cheering for this woman who is determined to make her mark in the scientific world.   Check this out!  You will not be disappointed.

 

From the Corner of the Library, Londa Brown  

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May 15th

From the Corner of the Library #2

Welcome to another installment of “From the Corner of the Library.”  Today, the sun is shining, the apple blossoms are beautiful, and you want to just be outside to enjoy nature.   Northern Maine truly is a wonderful place to live, especially when the snow is gone!

There are so many writers living in Maine and writing about Maine in their books.  Of course, Stephen King is iconic, but there are many more to discover.  The Maine State Library has a listing of Maine authors at https://www.maine.gov/msl/maine/writers.htm.   

Lupines will soon begin to blossom.  The Maine Library Association gives The Lupine Award for an outstanding contribution to children's literature of Maine and derives its name from Barbara Cooney's book, Miss Rumphius. In the story, Alice tells her grandfather that when she grows up, she wants to go to faraway places and when she grows old, she will live by the sea.  Her grandfather replies that there is a third thing she must do.  He tells her that she must do something to make the world more beautiful.  In her old age, Miss Rumphius discovers what she can do to create beauty.  Share this book with a child and discover how lupines were spread across the state!  

Our Children’s Room at the library has this book and so many more books by Maine authors.  You can easily spot these books by looking for the yellow spine labels.  There are easy counting and alphabet books all about Maine, fun books like I Met a Moose in Maine One Day by Ed Shankman, A Kid’s Guide to Maine by Eileen Ogintz where you can find good ideas of what to see and where it is, and legendary authors like Robert McCloskey.  All children love Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings. 

Summertime is almost here, and it will be a great time to explore the many children’s books at the library.  Miss Courtney can help you to find the perfect book to share with your child.  Reading aloud is so enjoyable and is one of the most important things you can do.  Dr. Seus said it best, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. “Until next time, keep on reading.


 

 

 

 

 

 

June 21st

From the Corner of the Library #3

Here we are with the 3rd installment of “From the Corner of the Library.”  It’s the first day of summer, school is out, vacations are on the horizon….and if you are like me, you want to find a good book to take to the lake, the camp, wherever you might be going.  With a good book in your hands, it isn’t even necessary to leave that favorite chair!  You can go on an adventure through the pages of your story.  Summer book posts tend to list the newest romances, considering these as the best beach read.  Elin Hildebrand always has a new book out for these readers.  The library has quite a few of her books with titles like 28 Summers and Barefoot.  Emily Henry’s book, Book Lover definitely fits the genre with big city power woman meets rural country life.  Fern Michaels is my go to for an enjoyable romance.  You’ll also find Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow, a playful modern romance, and a new one by Susan Wiggs, Sugar and Salt.  

 

If it were my choice, I would pick up Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt.  The description of this book is just strange, all the way around.  Who would pick up a book with an octopus as the main character!  And, this is Van Pelt’s very first novel.  This warm-hearted read focuses on a very stoic 70-year-old Tova who is still grieving the loss of her beloved son at age 18.  His death has never been solved and she finds herself having conversations with Marcellus, the octopus who has resided at the aquarium where she is the night cleaner.  Tova’s quest to discover what has happened to her son all of those years ago weaves her into the lives of others in her town who look out for her.  Although some of the subjects dealt with in the novel are heavy, this book has a light-hearted tone, and of course, we learn things we never knew about an octopus.

 

Don’t forget to take a trip to the Washburn Memorial Library before you leave on your vacation.  Do you want to search for more ideas?  Go to:  https://www.washburnlibrary.com/

Look across the tabs at the top and click on “Card Catalog.”  You can type in romance, thriller, mystery, etc., click “subject” in the blue box, and take a look at a list of ideas.  Or, you can search by author or title.  This is a database, so make sure your spelling is correct.  For example, if you type in Harlin Coban for Harlen Coben, you will be very disappointed.  Luckily, if your spelling is close, you may see the correct name come up in red as you finish typing.  

Happy Summer Reading!  


August 25th

From the Corner of the Library #4

Welcome to the latest installment of “From the Corner of the Library.”  Summer is over!  That’s a pretty dramatic statement for those of us living in Northern Maine.  School is back in, the golden rod is blooming (that was always my signal that it was time to head back to school), vacations are only memories, and harvest is upon us.  I waited until this week to post since we have many things taking place in the library during August Fest.  If you are coming home to visit your old stomping grounds, don’t forget to stop in and see all of the wonderful changes.  You will be greeted by tables filled with baskets donated by local businesses. Raffle tickets are 2 for $1.00.   This is such a boost to our library, and we really appreciate our local business folks!

 

When I was in the library the other day, my focus turned to biographies.  Now, I am not a non-fiction reader, unfortunately.  I’d rather be whisked away in a make-believe story.  However, I do like some biographies; especially those about normal, everyday people.  Presidential, movie star, singer biographies are all fine, but do not interest me at all.  My very favorite biography is one written by Kate Braestrup entitled Here If You Need Me, her personal journey​ as she finds her calling to become a chaplain for the Maine Warden’s Service.  Her author’s note at the beginning of her book sums up why she has chosen to tell her story.  Here is the excerpt: “Along with four small children, three hairy dogs, a life insurance policy, assorted size 10 ½ shoes, and a set of iron barbells I cannot lift, I have inherited the bulk of my late husband’s Logos, or story.  A marriage, willy-nilly, requires you to trust that your spouse will tell your story truthfully and lovingly when you are no longer around to tell it yourself.  I hope I haven’t betrayed Drew’s implicit trust in me by how I have represented him here.”  

 

You will find other wonderful biographies in the library including The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.  I wish that every graduating senior would have the chance to read this before leaving for college.  Another one is I am Malala: the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai.  Browse around this weekend and enjoy the library!  Ask Cara or Courtney to show you the biography sections.  We have a section just for Maine folks.  

 

October 2nd 

From the Corner of the Library #5
Welcome!  Good things are happening in our library.  This week I was finally able to take part in Cara’s new offering called “Books and Brews Social Hour.”  This is offered the first Monday of every month at 12:00 in the Barbara Porter room downstairs.  Cara describes it as “simply an hour to get together and chat about what we're reading, what we've read, what we'd like to read in the future - basically all things bookish!   Light snacks and beverages are served.  We also do a monthly raffle giveaway at each of these gatherings!”  If you love reading, this is definitely for you.  Cara showed us some of the new books just added to the library, including Ken Follett’s last entry in the Kingbridge series entitled The Armor of Light.  This series started with Pillars of the Earth focusing on the 12th century and the building of a magnificent cathedral.  “Follett weaves a story of betrayal, revenge, and love, which begins with the public hanging of an innocent man and ends with the humiliation of a king.”  He is a masterful storyteller who has entertained readers for many years.  He was recently interviewed on CBS.  One new book I will be reading is Ann Patchett’s new book, Tom Lake.  

 

Then, it was our turn to share.  And we started to write down titles as we heard what others were reading.  So many good suggestions to think about.  Cara sent us an email the following day with the list of books we discussed and the books she would be ordering as a result of our discussion.  

 

Please join us and share your love of reading with others.  Let Cara know you are interested, and she will send you an email reminder of our next meeting.  Unfortunately, it will soon be too cold to work outside, so a good book with a cup of tea or coffee on a cold winter day will be delightful.  Until next time, keep reading!

-Londa Brown

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November 15th

From the Corner of the Library, #6

Welcome to the WML library.  As we get ready for the Thanksgiving season, I’d like to touch on some of the things I am thankful for at our local library.  At the top of the list is the wonderful atmosphere you encounter as you walk through the door.  Cara and Courtney are there to greet you and find out what they can do to help you find something that will provide hours of reading pleasure.  I have included a picture of new books which will greet you as you walk in the door.  I was there a few days ago and watched one patron hurry through the door with a huge armful of books which she set down to return and then quickly walked to the back of the library and pulled out four more novels.  She was reading a series and couldn’t wait to get back home to start the next one.  Another patron walked in with a book and a puzzle.  She also knew exactly what she wanted and left with another book and puzzle a few minutes later.  Puzzles are a great item for folks to check out.  One of the regulars was there as the library opened to return his books and pick through the pile that Cara had waiting for him to peruse and choose his entertainment for the next week.  

 

Another thing we have to be thankful for is our Children’s Room which has been very busy this Fall.  I just happened to be there for the Toddler Halloween Party and had the fun job of handing out bookmarks as the children came upstairs to trick or treat.  

 

And I am especially thankful for the wonderful selection of books, magazines, ebooks and audiobooks we have to choose from.  Our access to the WML card catalog online and the Cloud Library allows us to check right away if the girls have a new book in or if the state library has it available for us online.  One very real advantage of living in a small town is that we don’t have to wait for weeks and months to read that new book that just arrived at the library.

 

The last two days, different booksellers have been listing their top picks for 2023.  Yesterday, Barnes & Noble named The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride as their top pick of the year.  Today on CBS Mornings, Amazon top editor Sarah Gelman named this same book as their #1 pick.  She noted that this was not based on being a best seller or on computer algorithms, but based on the fact that a roomful of editors who have picked the top books for each month of the year determined that this novel, which they referred to as a great American novel, hit all of the marks they judge by including a great cast of characters in the time period of the 1920s-1930s who are immigrants and Blacks working together to help a young deaf boy and each other.  It is a joyful and hopeful novel with many moments of laugh out loud humor.  I had to read this novel for my book club and thought at first it was quirky and definitely not my type of book.  But, I was so wrong.  Not only was it delightful, but the setting took place very near to where I grew up in PA.  The second book on Sarah Gelman’s list is The Berry Pickers, a debut novel by Amanda Peters.  This book is not in our library yet, but I know that the girls welcome suggestions, so I know this will soon be part of our collection because it is a book which takes place in Maine and is a highly recommended book of the year.  A short summary from Amazon states: July 1962. A Mi’kmaq family from Nova Scotia arrives in Maine to pick blueberries for the summer. Weeks later, four-year-old Ruthie, the family’s youngest child, vanishes. She is last seen by her six-year-old brother, Joe, sitting on a favorite rock at the edge of a berry field. Joe will remain distraught by his sister’s disappearance for years to come.  And finally, the 3rd book on her list is The Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros, the first in a series of 5 books described as a “romantasy” - Game of Thrones meets 50 shades of Gray.  This book is in our library and should prove to be very popular. 

 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Share the joy of reading.

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