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Author Archives:dphillips

2016 Sneak Peeks

Reserve March and April Best Sellers and Sneak Peeks

Want to get a preview of some of the new releases coming out next month?
March 2017 Fiction PrepubDownload or view the March Fiction and March Non-Fiction lists to see if anything interests you. Click on the links for the complete list with titles (in blue) linked to the Minuteman Library catalog.  Log into your account and place a reserve. You may also pick up a complete list in the library and ask librarians to request them for you.


Whether the Weather is Fine

HeliografoAs a child, when I still drank grape-flavored juice-boxes and stared into the sky, my friend Emily sat with me at a splintered picnic table under Camp Y–’s pavilion and taught me that my freckles had creative potential; that I could use pens or permanent markers or lip-stick and do what she did: connect one dot to the other, make a diamond, or a sailboat, or a horse (she had a lot of freckles).  But my freckles have always been too linear; I could come up with a line, or at best a slanting Orien’s Belt.  Otherwise, I let myself become dejected by the inferior quantity of my skin abnormalities.  For this, I need someone to blame, and so I blamed the sun.

In defiance of my mother and father, I abandoned all SPF and counted the hours of direct sunlight I could catch on my arms.  Sometimes, in school, I would sit in the window and roll my sleeves back, hoping for a freckle or two.  This, as you may imagine, did not work.  After many years of bright pink sunburn at Camp Y–, no more freckles had appeared on my arms, and I stopped trying to keep up with Emily and her horse-shaped freckle constellations.

I’d learned a lot from trying to fry my skin, more perhaps than a kid should have known; that the sun’s rays were once measured with a Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorder (think of a magnifying glass for frying ants, but adult-sized), and fascination with the power of weather lead to me to explore other weather phenomena: tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.  Twister (dir. By Jan de Bont) became my favorite film.  Then it was Volcano (dir. by Mick Jackson), then The Perfect Storm (dir. by Wolfgang Peterson)–you get the drift.

Now, I probably wouldn’t race after supercell tornadoes in a beat-up truck like the people in Lee Sandlin’s “Storm Kings,” but instead, I might look at the images of lightning strikes in Bruce Buckley, Edward J. Hopkins, Richard Whitaker’s “Weather” or lava-flows in Robert Dinwiddie, Simon Lamb, Ross Reynolds’ “Violent Earth.”

I’m also more inclined to protecting valuable resource–my skin with sunscreen, and the planet by being mindful of the ways in which I can reduce my waste and carbon footprint.  It has been a while, but I might take another look at “An Inconvenient Truth” (dir. by David Guggenhiem), “Global Climate Change” from EBSCO, or “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer, to learn about how our everyday lives can impact the environment and world around us.

Samuel Simas is the technology assistant at the Morrill Memorial library; he is a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. Read Sam’s column in the March 16th issue of the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.


Rediscover James Michener

RediscoverMichenerWhen I was a young teenager in the mid-1960s, the young adult genre of books was a mish-mash of Nancy Drew, Sue Barton, The Hardy Boys, Little Women, Treasure Island and David Copperfield. Once we teens had devoured all of those books, including Black Stallion, Johnny Tremain and I Capture the Castle, we seemed to move quickly and deliberately into books written for adults. We read John Steinbeck’s Mice and Men, Conrad Richter’s A Light in the Forest, and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. We carried dog-eared copies of Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Pearl Buck’s Good Earth, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath.

There were many of us who wanted something more meaningful than the romance, science fiction, and adventure written in the 40s and 50s for teenagers. Bestselling author Steve Berry writes that “what we now know as the young adult genre [in the early 60s] had yet to be invented”. Steven King’s Carrie was a decade away and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter was more than 30 years from being published.
One day, when he was 16, Steven Berry was handed a copy of James Michener’s Hawaii. Massive chapters, pages of descriptive prose, and centuries of history unfolded for him and a generation of older teens who were ready to devour books that opened up the world. Berry writes on his website that Michener is probably his favorite author and the one who made the greatest impression on him as a writer. It led him to write the introduction that appears in thirty-three of Michener’s books republished in paperback by Penguin Random House’s Dial Press, including Tales of the South Pacific (first published in 1947) and Miracle in Seville (Michener’s last book published, in 1995.)

James Michener’s memoir, The World is My Home was published in 1992, five years before his death. It’s a tome to be reckoned with, spanning nearly 90 years from his birth in Buck’s County, Pennsylvania in 1907 through some of the last of his novels written before he turned 85. At 512 pages, The World is My Home is neatly split into 14 chapters – seven about his life before he became a writer and seven after that. He writes of the early years of – when he was seemingly abandoned as an infant and adopted by a widowed Quaker, Mabel Michener. In fact, he never knew his actual birth date, nor the names of his biological parents. Years later, in order to obtain a U.S. passport, he would have to apply for a birth certificate, and it included a lengthy legal process with estimated and historical information about his birth.

Although he grew up in poverty, Michener managed to attend Swarthmore College on scholarship after graduating from high school. He earned a graduate degree in northern Colorado and became a college teacher. He guest lectured at Harvard, leaving that position to become an editor of textbooks. As a Quaker, he was sent to the South Pacific during World War II as a historian for the Navy from 1942-1946. He was discharged right before his 40th birthday.

And that is where the first seven chapters end and his writing career began – with his Tales of the South Pacific. He began notes about the stories, observations, and impressions that were made on him in the Navy. Tales of the South Pacific was published the year after he left the Navy and it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1948. The Broadway musical opened in 1949 (and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950) and two film versions were released in 1958 and 2001. The 1958 big-screen film was nominated for three academy awards, winning best picture for sound. The 2001 version was made for television and starred Glenn Close and Harry Connick, Jr.

I read a dog-eared mass paperback edition of Michener’s first novel The Fires of Spring (1947); (Tales of the South Pacific is considered a book of short stories). I was in my early 20s, traveling on rapid transit along the rail running along the East Bay of San Francisco. I devoured that book during my work commute. It is the semi-autobiographical story of Michener’s own life. David Harper, a young orphan who grows up in a rural poorhouse, drifts as a young man, spends time as a scam artist at a carnival, attends college and eventually becomes a journalist and writer in the early years of the depression.. The book is a true bildungsroman, the German word for a coming of age novel (a word known to librarians as it is a descriptor for a whole genre of novels.)

A few months ago, I was remembering with nostalgia those books I read in my late teens and early adulthood. I wondered if I would still enjoy the stories of angst, poverty, despair and political upheaval that they represented. Among them were Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Steinbeck’s In Dubious Battle, and Michener’s Fires of Spring. I decided to reread Fires of Spring and I stumbled upon the entire republished collection of Michener’s works by the Dial Press. Publication began in fact, in 1987 with Fires of Spring.  It continued with the reprinting in 2016 of Michener’s commentary on the rashness of our electoral system, a work of non-fiction, The Presidential Lottery. In 1968 Michener was a Democrat elector in the Electoral College in Pennsylvania, having run for public office himself in the early 60s. What he witnessed as the possibility of disaster in trusting our system to the Electoral College drove him to warn Americans about this “reckless gamble.”

In his memoir The World is My Home, James Michener wrote “mostly I want to be remembered by that row of solid books that rest on library shelves throughout the world.”  Our shelves held about a dozen of Michener’s books, once new but greatly loved. We’ve replaced those and many other with the newest Dial Press editions and are spotlighting them in a “Rediscover James Michener” display. They include Centennial, Hawaii, the Source, Texas, Bridges at Toko-Ri and about a dozen others. You’ll find the display on top of the NEW FICTION shelves in the library. I hope you will re-experience your favorite Michener book or find a Michener treasure to love for the first time.

Charlotte Canelli is the Director at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Charlotte’s column in the March 9, 2017 issue of the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.


Discovering an Old Spirit

BourbonI took my first sip of bourbon at Thanksgiving.  A few friends gathered for a Friendsgiving celebration and I was bringing dessert.  I didn’t want to bring a traditional pie or cake.  That was boring to me.  I remembered seeing a book in our collection that had caught my eye – “Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.  The cover of the book is well done and inviting but it was the layout that really captured my attention and got me to look into it further.  Each chapter of recipes is organized by the authors’ favorite ingredients that are found in many popular dessert staples such as peanut butter, caramel, cinnamon and chocolate.  Chapter four is what got me curious – Booze.  I knew that spirits are used in both cooking and baking but I hadn’t tried adding any to desserts that I’ve made in the past, so I was intrigued. The first recipe listed in the Booze chapter is Bourbon, Vanilla, and Chocolate Milk Shakes.  That sounded, and looked, really good and super easy to do.  I had my dessert!

As I read the recipe, I saw that it called for “good-quality bourbon.”  I had no experience with this spirit.  I had no idea what “good-quality bourbon” was or even, how to find out.  I was discussing my conundrum with a friend who knew his bourbon and could recommend a brand that would work for the recipe.  It got me curious, though.  I had never really considered using this spirit in any drinks or recipes before.  I had made cocktails with vodka, gin, rum, and tequila but this was totally new to me and I wanted to find out more.  I did what any self-respecting librarian would do—I searched our catalog.  I simply typed in the term “bourbon.”  After filtering out fiction titles and materials on the Bourbon Dynasty, I realized that there was a lot written about bourbon whiskey for those who wanted to be in the know.

I wanted to know which ones to try so I thought “Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker” by Fred Minnick would be a good place to start.  The author helps readers identify what type of bourbon they might be interested in trying by organizing them by flavor profile: grain, nutmeg, caramel and cinnamon.  I knew I wanted one that would go well in a dessert, so I looked at the caramel and cinnamon sections in particular but found the whole book interesting.  I also looked at “American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation’s Favorite Spirit” by Clay Risen.  This book is an alphabetized guide of the distilleries and the brands available.  It also includes a brief history of whiskey and how it’s made with ratings and tasting notes for “more than 300 whiskeys.”  To get more information on the history of bourbon, I scoped out Dane Huckelbridge’s “Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit.”  Another title that looks into the history and industry of whiskey is “Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey” by Reid Mitenbuler.

Carla Harris Carlton, or the Bourbon Babe, as she’s known on her blog of the same name, is releasing a new book this coming May called, “Barrel Strength Bourbon: The Explosive Growth of America’s Whiskey.”  Ms. Carlton has written blog posts and articles on the topic of bourbon and has been interviewed by NPR.  And her website, The Bourbon Babe, has more than just blog posts.  She includes tasting notes, reviews of distilleries, trivia, and recipes to mix your own concoctions at home.

If all of this has you wondering how the distillation process actually works, check out “Proof: The Science of Booze” by Adam Rogers.  This book covers, in detail, the science behind the making of alcoholic beverages with chapters on each aspect of the process from the yeast and sugar to the fermentation, distillation and aging.   Rogers also goes beyond the chemistry and into the psychology and neurobiology behind alcohol consumption where he looks at how people taste and smell the beverages and how your body and brain react to the alcohol.  The final chapter is on the hangover, which most people definitely like to avoid.

All of this research was really interesting but getting me a little bit off course from investigating good bourbon for my dessert.  I had all of these books scattered on my desk one day while writing this column and one of my coworkers happened by and asked what I was up to.  Good thing she did for she recommended other dessert books that would help to develop a spirit-themed dessert with some baked goods to accompany the milkshakes.  “Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked with Spirits, Wine, and Beer” by Krystina Castella and Terry Lee Stone is filled with a variety of tasty treats that you can make with your preferred adult beverage.  The book also includes a chart that tells you how much alcohol is in the finished product so you know what you’re consuming.  “Prohibition Bakery” by Leslie Feinberg and Brook Siem is a mini cupcake cookbook with recipes based on classic cocktails like an Old Fashioned, Dark & Stormy, Mint Julep and Cosmo, to name a few.  The recipes are organized by type of alcohol to make it easy to decide what to make based on what you have in your liquor cabinet.  All recipes are based on the cupcakes available at the Manhattan store, Prohibition Bakery, and are adapted for the home baker.

After much research and some tasting, I not only found a brand of bourbon that would work well in the milkshake recipe, and an accompanying cupcake, but I also learned that bourbon has been a part of the American culture for a long time.  Clearly, it’s here to stay.

Diane Phillips is the Technical Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Diane’s column in the March 2, 2017 issue of the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

Woman Walking

My Shoes Are Made for Walking

Woman Walking“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow”
Henry David Thoreau
“If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish”
Charles Dickens
“Thoughts come clearly while one walks”
Thomas Mann

Walking has become a part of my daily routine – not just around the house but outside in my neighborhood or with friends whenever I can. The joys of walking are multitude. I greet neighbors walking their dogs. I am not a dog person (cats are my favorite) but have met some nice friendly well-behaved dogs. There is one orange and white cat who rules the street on my route and I delight seeing him roll in front of me on “his” street. I might hear or see a bird or two (and remember how much my husband enjoyed bird-watching) or check the local pond for ducks! I watch for hawks sitting high up in the trees or in the sky. I occasionally see our postman who has family on an island in Maine so, of course, I check in with him as I have a house on a Maine island. While walking last week a neighbor said “I have just read the best book – ‘News of the World’ by Paulette Jiles”. I exclaimed I loved that book and just recommended it in the Fireside Reads program at the library. I guess everyone knows I am a librarian and a book person! Walking lifts my spirits.

Sometimes I talk to myself to try to organize my thoughts on a particular problem or project. Occasionally I might compose a letter in my head to someone – a note of concern or thanks – often just the right words rise up. I do not count steps or have a ‘fitbit’. I just try to walk about 45 minutes a day. I like the comments about mindful walking – bring your attention to movement around you – wind, leaves, birds, clouds, people, colors – just helps to relax. Upon return home I always feel refreshed and ready to tackle whatever the rest of the day might bring.

Two special places for me to walk are Back Bay in Boston and the Cape Cod Canal. I worked at the Boston Public Library as did my husband and I have many many memories of walking along Boylston St. around Trinity Church up to the Public Garden and down Newbury Street poking my head in art galleries and shops. Those memories are vivid and pleasant. Over many years library colleagues and I have walked the Cape Cod Canal watching the water, boats, birds, and of course talking and also reminiscing. I also do recommend the Massachusetts Audubon sanctuaries for walking – check their website online for a sanctuary near you.

The library has many books on the subject of walking mostly in the travel section of 917. A few are “Historic Walks in Old Boston” by John Harris (917.44 Boston|Harris), “AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the Berkshires” by Rene Laubach (917.44 Berkshires), and “Washington on Foot: 24 Walking Tours and Maps of Washington, DC” (917.53 Washington). On the shelves were books on walking on the Cape, my favorite state of Maine, and even walking tours of London and Paris. A different approach to walking is the book “Wanderlust: a History of Walking” by Rebecca Solnit (796.51 Solnit). The book profiles significant walkers in history and fiction – kind of a fun interesting way to think about walking. The book “Mindfulness on the Go – Inner Peace in Your Pocket” by Padraig O’Morain (158.12 O’Morain) has a short chapter on mindful walking which has shown one’s mood improves with whatever kind of walking one chooses.

I hope I have presented some ideas and resources to make walking a routine and pleasurable part of your daily life.

Margot Sullivan is a part-time Reference and Readers’ Advisory Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Margot’s column in the February 23, 2017 issue of the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

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