Thursday, January 29, 2009

ALA Notable Books & National Book Critics Circle Finalists

Award lists are great ways to find that next good book you would like to read. The Reference and User Services Association of the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) have just issued awards winners you may like to request from the library.
Some of the titles you will find on the ALA Notable books list for 2009 are:


Aslam, Nadeem. The Wasted Vigil. Knopf Publishing Group.
A new novel--at once lyrical and blistering--about war in modern times, told through the lives of five people who come together in post-9/11 Afghanistan.

Benioff, David. City of Thieves. Viking Books
A writer visits his retired grandparents in Florida to document their experience during the infamous siege of Leningrad. His grandmother won't talk about it, but his grandfather reluctantly consents. The result is the captivating odyssey of two young men trying to survive against desperate odds.

Erdrich, Louise. The Plague of Doves. Harper. The unsolved murder of a farm family haunts the small, white, off-reservation town of Pluto, North Dakota. The vengeance exacted for this crime and the subsequent distortions of truth transform the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation and shape the passions of both communities for the next generation.
Strout, Elizabeth. Olive Kitteridge. Random House At the edge of the continent, in the small town of Crosby, Maine, lives Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher who deplores the changes in her town and in the world at large but doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her.


Coll, Steve. The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century. Penguin Press. Steve Coll tells the story of the rise of the Bin Laden family and of the wildly diverse lifestyles of the generation to which Osama bin Laden belongs, and against whom he rebelled. Starting with the family's escape from famine at the beginning of the twentieth century, through its jet-set era in America after the 1970s oil boom, and finally to the family's attempts to recover from September 11, this book unearths extensive new material about the family and its relationship with the United States,
Filkins, Dexter. The Forever War. Knopf Publishing Group.
A prizewinning New York Times correspondent chronicles a remarkable chain of events that begins with the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, continues with the attacks of 9/11, and moves on to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mayer, Jane. The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals.
THE DARK SIDE is a dramatic, riveting, and definitive narrative account of how the United States made terrible decisions in the pursuit of terrorists around the world-- decisions that not only violated the Constitution to which White House officials took an oath to uphold, but also hampered the pursuit of Al Qaeda. In gripping detail, acclaimed New Yorker writer and bestselling author, Jane Mayer, relates the impact of these decisions—U.S.-held prisoners, some of them completely innocent, were subjected to treatment more reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition than the twenty-first century.

Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. Penguin Press.
From the author of the bestselling The Omnivores Dilemma comes this bracing and eloquent manifesto that shows readers how they might start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich their lives and enlarge their sense of what it means to be healthy.

Some of the titles found on the NBCC Finalists list are:

Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project, Riverhead Ben joins his ex-con brother in a robbery and faces a punishment of lethal injection. But his death sentence isn't quite what it seems. and he regains consciousness near an eerie psychiatric ward, where he's told he's been hired as the groundskeeper. With the state of his soul in question, and the love for his wife and daughter all the more real and powerful, Ben must figure out if he's truly cheated death, or if he's become part of something far more sinister.

Marilynne Robinson, Home, Farrar, Straus. Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Soon her brother, Jack--the prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty years--comes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with tormenting trouble and pain.
Paula J. Giddings, Ida, A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching. Amistad. Traces the life and legacy of the nineteenth-century activist and pioneer, documenting her birth into slavery, her career as a journalist and a pioneer for civil rights and suffrage, and her determination to counter lynching.
Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. Norton Historian and legal scholar Gordon-Reed presents this epic work that tells the story of the Hemingses, an American slave family, and their close blood ties to Thomas Jefferson.

Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the Civil War, Knopf
During the Civil War 620,000 soldiers lost their lives. The equivalent proportion of todays population would be six million. This Republic of Suffering explores the impact of the enormous death toll from every angle: material, political, intellectual, and spiritual.

Allan Lichtman, White Protestant Nation, Atlantic
Spanning nearly 100 years of American political history, and abounding with outsized characters--from Lindbergh to Goldwater to Gingrich to Abramoff--this work offers a penetrating look at the origins, evolution, and triumph (at times) of modern conservatism. SH

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Name That Tune

This is a test. It is only a test. If you heard the theme song for Gilligan's Island or The Partridge Family, would you be able to NAME THAT TUNE? Test yourself on the TV shows below. Make sure you close your eyes--no cheating, now.

1960s TV show #1
1980s TV show#1
1970s TV show #1
1960s TV show #2
1970s TV show #2
1960s TV show #3
1960s TV show #4
1970s TV show #3

Then take yourself to and listen to all 3000 televsion theme songs (sitting there with an idiotic grin on your face no doubt).

Test your friends. Have a blast...


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Civil War Top 20

With Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and black history month approaching I thought a look at Civil War books would be appropriate. Here are some fun facts.

  • The Wellesley Free Library has 581 books on the Civil War.
  • Last year Civil War books were checked out of the Wellesley Free Library 300 times.
  • During the Civil War, Wellesley was part of Needham often called “West Needham”.
  • Wellesley Hills was called “Grantville”, not after U.S. Grant as you might think, but instead after a “Moses Grant” who gave the Orthodox Congregational Church its bell sometime in the mid 1840s.

The Top 20 Civil War Books by Circulation since July are:

1 Team of rivals :;"the political genius of Abraham Lincoln”

2 This republic of suffering :;"death and the American Civil War"

3 Tried by war :;"Abraham Lincoln as commander in chief"

4 Vindicating Lincoln :;"defending the politics of our greatest president"

5 April 1865 :;"the month that saved America"

6 Shenandoah 1862 :;"Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign"

7 Southern storm :;"Sherman's march to the sea"

8 The great comeback :;"how Abraham Lincoln beat the odds to win the 1860 Republican nomination”

9 The slaves' war :;"the Civil War in the words of former slaves"

10 How the North won :;"a military history of the Civil War"

11 Lincoln and his admirals :;"Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Navy, and the Civil War"

12 Lincoln and the decision for war:;"the northern response to secession"

13 Our Lincoln :;"new perspectives on Lincoln and his world"

14 Mothers of invention :;"women of the slaveholding South in the American Civil War"

15 Throes of democracy :;"the American Civil War era, 1829-1877"

16 Abraham Lincoln :;"great American historians on our sixteenth president”

17 Bitterly divided :;"the South's inner Civil War"

18 Now the drum of war :;"Walt Whitman and his brothers in the Civil War"

19 The Civil War,;"a narrative."

20 Battle cry of freedom :;"the Civil War era"


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Check out these icicles

If you're near the library today take a look at these really cool (sorry) icicles hanging off the roof facing Simons Park. Inside, they're across from the Nonfiction 970s. The pictures don't do them justice. They're like giant curved claws reaching inside to get you.

All Music! All the TIme!

Your Internet Radio Directory
Find thousands of "radio" stations on the web at Stations are organized into 20 musical genres, including alternative, religious, oldies, Latin and hiphop. There are 250 world music sites (9 Tamil!) and about 150 classical sites. In my own sampling, I found some stations had commercials and some didn't. Even if the Tamil stations don't excite you, you're bound to find a gem or two here. Did you even dream that you could so easily access the Research Channel or Demented Radio or Soldiers Radio Live or ACB Radio Cafe (music from blind musicians) ? And of course there's Radio Margaritaville (all Jimmy Buffet--yes--all the time). Note that you may have to download a plug-in or two to listen to some of these stations.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Book into Movies - In Theaters Soon

Killshot (January 23) is based on the 1989 thriller by Elmore Leonard and stars Diane Lane, Mickey Rourke, Thomas Jane, Rosario Dawson and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt.

Che : Part One and Part Two (January 24) are the two halves of director Steven Soderbergh's original four hour film based on Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara's 1963 memoir Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War, with Benicio del Toro in the title role.

Coraline (February 6) is adapted from the award-winning 2002 fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman. This animated family film is directed by Henry Selick and features the voices of Dakota Fanning, Ian McShane, Teri Hatcher and Keith David.

He's Just Not That Into You (February 6) is based on the New York Times bestselling 2005 self help book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. Directed by Ken Kwapis, the film stars Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Scarlett Johansson, Drew Barrymore and Ben Affleck.

Confessions of a Shopaholic
(February 13) is based on Sophie Kinsella's bestwelling 2000 novel about a financial advice columnist
with debt issues. Directed by P.J. Hogan, the film stars Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancyand Joan Cusack.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Celebrate Edgar Allen Poe's 200th Birthday

January 19, 2009 will be the celebration of the master of the macabre's 200th birthday. Celebrate Edgar Allen Poe's birthday by checking out some of his chilling tales from the library!

If you'd like to delve straight into his works, check out one of our collections of Poe's works or some selections read on CD. If you'd like to know more about him, you might look to a biography such as Kenneth Silverman's "Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-Ending Rememberance" which was called a "mesmerizing chronicle of Poe's short and disorderly life" by Publisher's Weekly.

For fiction dealing with Poe, Matthew Pearl's second installment of literary thrillers "The Poe Shadow: A Novel" might be to your liking. Or if it's an adaptation you're after, The Simpson's first Treehouse of Horror episode has my favorite retelling of "The Raven," narrated by James Earl Jones.

For more information on Poe, you can link to the Poe Museum, which is hosting a celebration of his bicentennial online, and also see the Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore. These sites feature Poe's works as well as educational resources and biographical information.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Other Search Engines

Tired of using Google all the time? Want to know what's out there in the world of search engines? Check out for more information than you ever needed. Altsearchengines covers all kinds of searching tools, many quite subject-specific. is a green shopping search engine as easy to use as Amazon. Try to get information on any United States business. We were quite amused by , a happy hour and drink special search tool, but alas it seems to have limited functionality.

Happy searching!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ever been to Wellesley?

Discover the town via a well-produced 3.5 minute video. After zooming in from your aerial perch, the first thing you see is (you guessed it) Wellesley Free Library. You'll also see the colleges, night views of downtown, Morse Pond and other landmarks. The video was produced by Nashua Video Tours for a local real estate company.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Be A Librarian!!!

"Librarianship is an underrated career" says US News and World Report. And they're probably right. Find out just how great an occupation it is...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Don't know what to read?

Since the holidays we have had even more patrons asking, "Can you recommend a good book?" The Massachusetts Center for the Book has "Recommended Reading from the 8th Annual Massachusetts Book Awards" lists for the whole family. These lists include:
Not only are the award winners with annotations provided, there are Highly Recommended titles for you to peruse as well. The site also provides several book discussion guides which would be useful for book groups.

So browse or print out the lists. When you are looking for "a good book," this is another place to look. SH

Looking for Work?

These are tough times alright, but we want to help! Recently, we've created a new Career Center, pulling together some great titles on jobs, resumes, interview tips and other aides for the job hunter. The Career Center collection is located right next to the Reference Desk. Also in February, the new Wellesley Free Library Job Seekers' Group will begin meeting. The Job Seekers' Group is open to all job seekers. We'll be meeting once a month, and each meeting will be focused on one issue or topic within the job seeking process. Hopefully, this will be a useful group for job seekers to learn about new tools, share ideas, make connections, and find a great job! Our first meeting will be on Jnuary 14th at 10:00 in Jackie's Room.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Just What Are We Looking For?

Google Knows All
Even if you don't bow down before the God of Information, Google can tell us a lot about what Internet users are thinking. With 6 to 8 billion searches per month, Google is in a good position to report on just what people are interested in, these days. For some snapshots of 2008 trends go to Google's Zeitgeist page and check out the top searches in politics, sports, showbiz and around the world.

Accelerated Technological Change "The Singularity"

"The Singularity” refers to the idea that accelerating technology will lead to superhuman machine intelligence that will soon exceed human intelligence, possibly by the year 2030. This idea of a technological singularity has stimulated many books.


The Singularity Is Near : When Humans Transcend Biology
by Kurzweil, Ray

The great inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil is one of the best-known and controversial advocates for the role of machines in the future of humanity. In his latest, thrilling foray into the future, he envisions an event? the ?singularity??in which technological change becomes so rapid and so profound that our bodies and brains will merge with our machines. The Singularity Is Near portrays what life will be like after this event? a human-machine civilization where our experiences shift from real reality to virtual reality and where our intelligence becomes nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than unaided human intelligence. In practical terms, this means that human aging and pollution will be reversed, world hunger will be solved, and our bodies and environment transformed by nanotechnology to overcome the limitations of biology, including death. We will be able to create virtually any physical product just from information, resulting in radical wealth creation. In addition to outlining these fantastic changes, Kurzweil also considers their social and philosophical ramifications.

Rapture for the Geeks : When AI Outsmarts IQ
by Dooling, Richard

Will the Geeks inherit the earth? If computers become twice as fast and twice as capable every two years, how long is it before they’re as intelligent as humans? More intelligent? And then in two more years, twice as intelligent? How long before you won’t be able to tell if you are texting a person or an especially ingenious chatterbot program designed to simulate intelligent human conversation? According to Richard Dooling inRapture for the Geeks—maybe not that long. It took humans millions of years to develop opposable thumbs (which we now use to build computers), but computers go from megabytes to gigabytes in five years; from the invention of the PC to the Internet in less than fifteen. At the accelerating rate of technological development, AI should surpass IQ in the next seven to thirty-seven years (depending on who you ask). We are sluggish biological sorcerers, but we’ve managed to create whiz-bang machines that are evolving much faster than we are.

The Spike : How Our Lives Are Being Transformed by Rapidly Advancing Technologies
by Broderick, Damien
The rate at which technology is changing our world--not just on a global leve
l like space travel and instant worldwide communications but on the level of what we choose to wear, where we live, and what we eat--is staggeringly fast and getting faster all the time. The rate of change has become so fast that a concept that started off sounding like science fiction has become a widely expected outcome in the near future - a singularity referred to as The

Spike. At that point of singularity, the cumulative changes on all fronts will affect the existence of humanity as a species and cause a leap of evolution into a new state of being. On the other side of that divide, intelligence will be freed from the constraints of the flesh; machines will achieve a level of intelligence in excess of our own and boundless in its ultimate potential; engineering will take place at the level of molecular reconstruction, which will allow everything from food to building materials to be assembled as needed from microscopic components rather than grown or manufactured; we'll all become effectively immortal by either digitizing and uploading our minds into organic machines or by transforming our bodies into illness-free, undecaying exemplars of permanent health and vitality. The results of all these changes will be unimaginable social dislocation, a complete

restructuring of human society and a great leap forward into a dazzlingly transcendent future that even SF writers have been too timid to imagine.


Beyond Singularity

by Dozois, Gardner (Editor); Dann, Jack (Editor)

Featuring stellar contributions from some of today's most masterful practitioners of speculative fiction, Beyond Singularity presents fourteen visions of a tomorrow where rapid technological and genetic breakthroughs have rendered humanity obsolete.

by Stross, Charles

Expanding upon his award-winning short story cycle from

the pages of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Charles Stross-author of such revolutionary science fiction novels as Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise-delivers the story fans have been anticipating with Accelerando, a novel destined to change the face of the genre. For three generations, the Macz family has struggled to cope with the rampant technological achievements that have rendered humans near obsolete. And mankind's end encroaches even closer when something starts to dismantle the nine planets of the solar system in an effort to annihilate all biological lifeforms.

Marooned in Realtime

by Vinge, Vernor; Frenkel, Jim (Editor)

Multiple Hugo Award winner Vernor Vinge takes readers on a fifty-million-year trip to a future where humanity's fate will be decided in a dangerous game of high-tech survival. In this taut thriller, a Hugo finalist for Best Novel, nobody knows why there are only three hundred humans left alive on the Earth fifty million years from now. Opinion is fiercely divided on whether to settle in and plant the seed of mankind anew, or to continue using high-energy stasis fields, or "bobbles," in venturing into the future. When somebody is murdered, it's obvious someone has a secret he or she is willing to kill to preserve. The murder intensifies the rift between the two factions, threatening the survival of the human race.

Ranibows End

by Vinge, Vernor

Four time Hugo Award winner Vernor Vinge has taken readers to the depths of space and into the far future in his bestselling novels A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. Now, he has written a science-fiction thriller set in a place and time as exciting and strange as any far-future world: San Diego, California, 2025.Robert Gu is a recovering Alzheimer's patient. The world that he remembers was much as we know it today. Now, as he regains his faculties through a cure developed during the years of his near-fatal decline, he discovers that the world has changed and so has his place in it. He was a world-renowned poet. Now he is seventy-five years old, though by a medical miracle he looks much younger, and he's starting over, for the first time unsure of his poetic gifts . Living with his son's family, he has no choice but to learn how to cope with a new information age in which the virtual and the real are a seamless continuum, layers of reality built on digital views seen by a single person or millions, depending on your choice. But the consensus reality of the digital world is available only if, like his thirteen-year-old granddaughter Miri, you know how to wear your wireless access-through nodes designed into smart clothes-and to see the digital context-through smart contact lenses. With knowledge comes risk.

by Anders, Lou (Editor)

Experience sensory overload in this anthology of stories from today's masters of speculative fiction as they reveal the terrors, triumphs, and seeming impossibilities awaiting humanity in the years to come. From artificial intelligences and bioengineering to transhumans threatening to make mankind obsolete, these cutting-edge tales present a future in which every day brings shocking new developments undreamed of the day before-a future in which tomorrow never knows what may follow.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Keeping Hope Alive in "The Beehive of Industry"*

*(a.k.a. Providence RI)
As we mentioned way back in 2008, libraries are often an easy target for budget cutters, when times are tough. Providence residents have taken a new tack in response to the Providence Public Library's proposal to close 5 neighborhood branches.
A new non-profit organization, Providence Community Library, has pledged to raise the necessary money to run the libraries. The effort is supported by a number of Friends groups, city council members, youth groups and city unions.
[The photo at right is the "New Your City" building project at Providence's Fox Point Branch.]