All posts by Deanna Parsi
Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!
Did you know?
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week was established in 1978. The first ten days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad completed May 10, 1869.
In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a monthlong celebration that is now known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. It is a month for recognizing the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the history, culture, literature, and achievements of the United States.
Join us for these events:
The Story of Sriracha on Thursday May 19th at 7:00 PM.
One Book Chelmsford, A Conversation with Ocean Vuong on Thursday May 26th at 7:00 PM
And check out our recommended reading below!
Spotlight: Social Justice Book Group
Here at CPL, we have a wide variety of book groups, many of which are using the “hybrid” meeting model – meaning that you can come to the main branch to meet in person, or you can zoom in from the comfort of your own home. All of our groups are happy to welcome new members at any time – drop in when you can or come every month, it is up to you! Over the next few months, we will spotlight each of our groups – first up is the Social Justice Book Group.
Are you interested in engaging in conversations about how we as a community can move towards a more socially just future? Well then the Social Justice Book Group may be the book group for you! The books we read address civic engagement and cover themes of identity, equality, justice, the environment, and much more. We meet at 7:00 PM on the third Tuesday of every month for lively conversation about our book picks, a mix of fiction and non-fiction titles that cover these subjects. See our 2021-2022 reading list below. Our next meeting is scheduled for May 17, where we will be discussing Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century edited by Alice Wong. You can register for the meeting HERE. We hope to see you there!
Book Brunch Recommendations
Thanks to all who joined us for our Book Brunch book share meeting this month! Jess and Deanna shared some new titles coming into the library, and attendees (readers just like you!) told us what they have been reading and recommending.
This month’s selection has a bit of everything to keep your TBR pile stocked – literary fiction, twisty mysteries and thrillers, historical fiction, family sagas, and a few time travel tales. Take a peek at the list below and get yourself on the hold list for these soon-to-be-popular titles. Need more recommendations? Check out our Reading Room blog, sign up for the next Book Brunch on June 8 and check out our latest episode of Bookmarked! featuring our One Book 2022 title On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong.
The Pop-Up Library!
Spring is here and our mobile Pop-Up Library is back out on the road starting TODAY!
Did you know that the Pop-Up Library was funded by the community through the Impact Fund campaign? Every few years, the Fund looks to add an innovative service, a new building feature, or a series of unique programs that will enrich the community and add to the library experience.
Fun facts about our Pop-Up Library:
- You can browse and check out books, and even get a new library card.
- During the week, we visit schools, playgrounds, parks, and senior housing. You can also find us after-hours at places like the farmer’s market and community events.
- We have fiction, biographies & memoirs, nonfiction, and kids books – and we often have surprise items like Launch Pads, puzzles, and even doggie treats!
And here is a tip from one avid reader to another: Are you looking for one of the new hot titles that never seem to be on the shelf? You might find them on the Pop-Up Library! The photo here shows just a few of the titles you could find this week.
Our April schedule includes stops at the MacKay Branch Library, Friendship Park, the Senior Center, Varney Park, Summer Place, and the Palm Center. Look for the most updated version of the Pop-Up calendar HERE.
We hope to see you around town in the coming weeks!
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
As everyone knows by now, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong is our One Book Chelmsford 2022 title.
Jess and Deanna talk about On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous in the latest installment of Bookmarked! They discuss several of the main themes of the novel, as well as offer some great readalike suggestions.
The narrator of the story is Little Dog, a young Vietnamese American, and is written as a letter to his mother. In it, he tells the story of his family – from his grandmother to his mother to himself – encompassing their hardships in Vietnam, their immigration to Hartford CT, and Little Dog’s childhood which was filled with both love and abuse. The story is painful and powerful, in part because Little Dog’s mother is illiterate, having left school at age seven, and will likely never read the letter. In fact, he feels that the impossibility of her reading it is what allows him to write it. It is a story about family, about self-discovery and acceptance, and about the redemptive power of storytelling.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous was the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction and was nominated for the National Book Award. Vuong is also a critically acclaimed poet, with a new collection, Time Is a Mother, due out this month. We look forward to hosting Ocean Vuong in May – be sure to reserve yourself a spot for this web event: A Conversation with Ocean Vuong, Thursday May 26 at 7:00 PM.
After the publication of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Vuong was interviewed many times about the process of writing the novel, and the choices he made in language and style. If you are struggling with the complexity or the weight of this year’s choice, it may help to watch some of the appearances to appreciate the artist and process behind the book. Here are some we suggest:
- Ocean Vuong in conversation with Waterstones Bookstore
- The Artist-in -Residence Welcome Event for Ocean Vuong at NYU
- On Earth with Ocean Vuong: An episode of Talk Easy with Sam Fragosa
- Ocean Vuong on Late Night with Seth Myers
We also have other virtual events leading up to the that will help us think about some of the themes of the book. They include programs about Writing Family Stories, Vietnam Video and Discussion, and Stories of the Vietnamese Diaspora.
Also, most of our book groups have taken a month off from their usual schedule to read On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Every book group is always glad to welcome new members, so if you want to talk about this moving and complex novel, feel free to join in on a discussion that fits your schedule:
- Evening Book Group, Monday 4/4 at 7:00 PM
- Knit Lit Book Group, Friday 4/8 at 10:30 AM
- Morning Book Group, Wednesday 4/20 at 10:00 AM
- Mystery Book Group, Wednesday 4/27 at 2:00 PM
- Classics Book Group, on Goodreads throughout April
And here is a list of questions about the book you may find helpful for conversation: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/600633/on-earth-were-briefly-gorgeous-by-ocean-vuong/9780525562047/readers-guide/
We still have copies of our One Book title available, courtesy of the Friends of the Library. Stop by the library to get one and join the conversation!
While You Are Waiting…The Maid
You may be one of the many readers eagerly waiting for The Maid by Nita Prose. It is a locked room mystery, featuring a neurodivergent sleuth (the maid of the title), with a heartwarming cast of characters – no wonder this book is getting so much buzz!
To me, the most intriguing part of the premise is the locked room mystery, a fun sub-genre in the mystery and thriller category. The stories are based on a crime, usually a murder, which occurs in a seemingly impossible place – a location that is locked, sealed off, or cut off from the outside – leaving the cast of characters to figure out the crime on their own. All the while knowing one of their number is the criminal!
Of course, the best known example of this is And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Modern thriller writers like Lucy Foley (The Guest List, The Hunting Party), Ruth Ware (The Woman in Cabin 10, One By One), and Peter Swanson (Every Vow You Break, Nine Lives) have continued the tradition. See our list for some other great books to try, including: They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall, A Death in the Family by Tessa Wegert, Nine Perfect Strangers by Lianne Moriarty, and Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins.
Learn More About Ukraine
If you are like us, the current war in Ukraine has raised many questions – about the origins of the crisis, about the history of Ukraine, and about the Ukrainian people themselves. We have compiled some reading lists, both fiction and nonfiction, for those who wish to learn more.
Winter Reading Wrap-Up
Thanks to everyone who participated in our Winter Reading Challenge! We hope you had fun expanding your reading horizons. We have certainly had a good time seeing what you read as the game cards came back in!
We thought you might also like to see what some of your fellow Challengers read, you know, in case your TBR pile is getting low! From fiction to memoirs, short stories to young adult – there is something for everyone on this list.
March Minutes Madness
Winter Reading Challenge: The Final Stretch
Well, this year’s Winter Reading Challenge is drawing to a close. Over the last two months, we have had a lot of fun reading new things – we hope you have too! We are now in the home stretch, so if you are looking for a few “quick read” suggestions to pad your game card before turning it in, try these categories:
Read a book that is less than 200 pages
The pleasures of a short book cannot be denied – from the feeling of accomplishment when you finish it so quickly to the sense of admiration for the author who has managed to tell a great story in 200 pages or less. For me, Stephen King is the master of the novella. I always marvel how he can capture my imagination (and usually scare me!) in just a few pages. Many popular authors have tried their hand at the short format. You can find titles by Sandra Cisneros, Lorrie Moore, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, Jenny Offill, George Saunders and more. Or do you want to try something new? If you browse our shelves for those thin spines. something is sure to strike your fancy!
Read a graphic novel
Graphic novels are a very popular storytelling format – great stories, beautiful illustrations, quick reads – what is not to like? Even better, there is a graphic novel for every reading taste. Do you like classics? Try The Handmaid’s Tale, The Parable of the Sower, or To Kill a Mockingbird. How about books about animals? Fetch will make you cry and How To Tell If You’re Cat Is Plotting To Kill You will make you laugh. Maybe nonfiction is your thing? We have biographies (my two favorites: Radioactive and The Life of Frederick Douglass), memoirs, and history. And if superheroes and zombies are more your thing, we have you covered!
Remember, game cards are due back by Friday March 4th. We look forward to learning what you have been reading this winter!