All posts by Jessica FitzHanso

What should you read next? Ask us!

Over the summer, as part of our Summer Reading Bingo Challenge, we asked readers to try out our BookWise service. We’ve just finished answering a few requests, and I thought I’d share the results so far. How did we do? Let us know, or try the service for yourself!

Person 1:

Liked: Number one Chinese Restaurant, Chemistry (a novel), The Tenth Muse

Did not Like: The Signature of All Things

Looks for most in a book: Believable characters

What I want now: Something like A Gentleman in Moscow

  • The Tiger’s Wife, a lush, mystical novel. It is incredibly absorbing and the language is lyrical with captivating authentic characters and a mythic quality, as in The Tenth Muse. Obreht is a beautiful writer.
  • Another well-known novel that is similar to A Gentleman in Moscow is Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto. It’s sophisticated and compelling and deals with well-to-do characters humbled by political circumstances and held captive in luxurious surroundings. It’s character-driven, though in this case, a cast of characters take turns being in the spotlight.
  • Based on some of the other selections, try The Sympathizer, an excellent novel about a Vietnamese spy hiding out in Los Angeles who relates his tales of war from the perspective of having been captured. It’s very sharp, smart, funny and a little dark at times too, but ultimately poignant and unforgettable.
  • Also try A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki. It’s a character-driven, engaging novel about a struggling writer who happens upon the letters of a troubled Japanese teenager who is determined to write the story of her grandmother. It’s a moving tale and a challenging one, but like the previous recommendation, won’t easily be forgotten.
  • Finally, if you’re looking for something to follow up on the The Number One Chinese Restaurant, I would suggest either The Nest by Cynthia D’aprix Sweeney, or Family Trust by Kathy Wang. Both are character-laden, and engaging. They both concern the children of successful families forced to reckon with the realities of what their parents have sacrificed for their state of being.

Person 2:

What I liked: The Giver, The Hunger Games, Amazonia, The Host

What I didn’t like: Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons, The Plague Dogs

What I look for most in a book: Something at least a little suspenseful, whether a simmering romance, criminal investigation or legal proceeding, or something “unknown”.

What would you like this time: Something that leaves me with a sense of satisfaction with the resolution.

Our recommendations:

  • The Stand, by Stephen King: “A monumentally devastating plague leaves only a few survivors in a desert world who move toward the ultimate confrontation of good and evil, in the expanded original version of King’s novel.”
  • The Program, by Suzanne Young: “When suicide becomes a worldwide epidemic, the only known cure is The Program, a treatment in which painful memories are erased, a fate worse than death to seventeen-year-old Sloane who knows that The Program will steal memories of her dead brother and boyfriend.”
  • The Rule of One, by Ashley and Leslie Saunders:In the near-future United States, a one-child policy is ruthlessly enforced. Everyone follows the Rule of One. But Ava Goodwin, daughter of the head of the Texas Family Planning Division, has a secret—one her mother died to keep and her father has helped to hide for her entire life. She has an identical twin sister, Mira.”
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N. K. Jemisen After Yeine Darr is summoned to the majestic city of Sky and named an heiress to the king of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, she is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had, drawing ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history.
  • In The Woods, by Tana French: “Detective Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, investigate the murder of a 12-year-old girl near a Dublin suburb. The case resonates with similarities to a murder committed twenty years before that involved two children and the young Ryan.”

Person 3:

Liked:  Circle of Friends – Maeve Binchy, The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah, The Secret History – Donna Tartt

Did not like: The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George (Wanted to like it but couldn’t even finish it)

Look for most in a book: Good pacing, interesting characters, beautiful sentences

What would you like now: Something that sucks me in immediately and I can’t put down. But not dense or bleak. A hearty “summer read”

Our recommendations:

  • Try The Guest Book by Sarah Blake. Despite its size it moves quickly. It’s a family saga that looks back from the present generation to the 1930s and the late 1950s, as secrets about this very wealthy, white, New York family are slowly uncovered. Blake writes really well, and the first chapter will shock you and compel you to read on.
  • Next, try The Furies by Natalie Haynes, about a teacher in Scotland sent to instruct a small drama group for troubled youths. The teens in the program are mesmerizing characters, and the result is a good slow-burn suspense novel, not unlike The Secret History.
  • Speaking of suspense and excellent characters, have you read Tana French’s novels? She can be a bit dark, but she is a really great writer with good pacing. The second is very good, The Likeness, but a lot of people claim the third is the best, Faithful Place. The first is In the Woods. They can be read out of order, though the stories are linked.
  • You might also like Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, a coming-of-age story about a group of friends who call themselves The Interestings. Wolitzer is a very engaging writer. What it’s about: Forging a powerful bond in the mid-1970s that lasts throughout subsequent decades, six individuals pursue respective challenges into their midlife years, including an aspiring actress who harbors jealousy toward friends who achieve successful creative careers.
  • Finally, Elin Hildebrand is a great writer for a weekend getaway. She writes lighter reads, but with authentic characters and engaging plot lines. She also really loves her setting. Here’s to Us is a popular one: “Gathering at a ramshackle Nantucket cottage, a late celebrity chef’s former wives and children confront the sources of their bitter rivalries and slowly let go of resentments as they remember positive times and share long-held secrets.”

Get your summer books here!

OK, you’re looking at some time off, maybe even a whole week, at a lake or the beach or your own back deck. This is the perfect opportunity to attack that growing TBR pile. But wait, recent bestsellers, the latest by your favorite author, and the three recommended by your sister-in-law are checked out – what to do?? Never fear, we have some guaranteed great books for every taste, and the best part is, they are checked in! That is, until you get here…

Read below for some info on each, and then run in and pick them up from our display!


Adult Summer Reading is Back for 2019

Now Adults can join in the summer reading fun too!

Adult summer challenge Bingo cards can be downloaded and printed, or you can pick one up at the Circulation Desk on the main floor starting June 1st.

Cross off spaces for reading different genres, but also for attending summer programs, downloading music and movies, connecting with us on social media and much more! Turn in your completed card to the Main desk and be entered into a raffle for prizes by August 31

Also check out our displays in the library and our monthly Friday Fiction lists for suggestions on what to read this summer. If nothing there looks good, we’re here to help!


Start summer with the right book!

This month’s list is packed with highly anticipated reads from all genres.  Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim, is a compelling court room drama that tackles some pretty heavy issues. I couldn’t put it down. Also, Sarah Blake’s latest, The Guest Book, a lush family saga that already has over 50 holds. For those interested in wading into speculative fiction, there’s the thoroughly original and engaging Light From Other Stars by Erika Swyler.

Read through the whole list to find many many more, (we’ve included some RA hints as additional guides) and don’t forget to join us in July for our next live event! In the meantime, we’ll have another list in June (Yay summer!), and if you need even more ideas contact us anytime!

Join us for Book Tastings!

Have recent recommendations left a bad taste in your mouth? Looking for a new book to devour? Join us for a book tasting! We’re curating a delectable selection of new fiction to pique your appetite, from all genres so we’re certain you won’t leave hungry for new book to read. Sample each title, chat with your fellow diners, and enjoy some sweet treats. Next Wednesday evening at 7PM we’ll have the tables set so come and take you seat – your reservation awaits! Click here for our calendar entry.

Friday Fiction: Read around the world!

At this point in Winter, we all need a break. If you’re like most people, it’s not feasible to hop on a plane. Instead, try immersing yourself in a new book from a far off place, and travel without leaving your favorite reading nook! Our January Friday Fiction presentation took us around the world with titles that are sure to provide you with plenty of new “destinations” and thought-provoking experiences to carry through until Spring.

We started in the US with Asymmetry,a debut by Lisa Halliday, which examined New York and America through the eyes of two very different and seemingly unconnected individuals. The connection is there, and finding it is the true reward of this novel. Then, Essayist Pam Houston took us to the great American Rockies of Colorado for an exploration of humanity’s relationship to the earth in Deep Creek. David Kipen paints a vivid picture of three centuries in Los Angeles through the writings of its famous denizens and visitors, and The Paragon Hotel fictionalizes the often overlooked history of Portland, Oregon.

From there we moved abroad to the mountain villages of China for a horrific satire in famed Chinese writer Yan Liang’s latest The Day the Sun Died, and then to the brutal realities of the Philipine-American War through the lens of a filmmaker in the experimental and ambitious Insurrecto. Then west to Madhuri Vijay’s tale of family secrets, political turmoil, and difficult choices in the Kashmiri region of India in her moving, atmospheric novel, The Far Field.

Next we visited West Africa and two very different novels from Nigeria: In the first, prize winning author Chigozie Obioma weaves Nigerian folklore and Greek legend into an intricate, heart wrenching tale of modern Nigeria.  In the second, first time novelist Oyinkan Braithwaite treats us to a darkly humorous story about a young woman that has a bad habit of killing her boyfriends and the sister who has a bad habit of covering for her – that is until the latter’s new crush becomes the former’s new target.

Up on the European continent, we made many stops: First in Israel, for Amanda Sthers’ Holy Lands which contemplates modern technologies through the struggles of an estranged family. Then to Greece for a contemplative conversational novel that seeks the ultimate answers to difficult questions about acclaim, identity and sacrifice with Rachel Cusk’s Kudos. In Norway, North of Dawn describes the struggles of assimilation for a Somali family, and The Red Address Book describes the long, eventful and heartwarming life of a 96-six year old woman as she pages through her address book.

Finally, in England, we get two thrilling tales from very different corners. The first is a small but powerful novelization of a real and terrifying event that took place in the council estates in London, told through the eyes of several witnesses called In Our Mad and Furious City. The second is a true to form thriller-mystery set on the summer coast in Norfolk, England, where a long lost Au Pair must be tracked down years later to uncover long kept family secrets, a novel appropriately titled The Au Pair.

And finally, we are back in New York, with a gem of a novel called the Museum of Modern Love. This inspired story is framed by the moving performance art of the real Marina Abramovic, specifically an exhibition from 2010 called The Artist is Present, around which the heart broken fictional characters revolve. It’s a lovely book.

Our next live Friday Fiction presentation at the library is April 19, at 10:30AM. We will also be adding a second, evening event for readers, called Book Tastings, on April 24 at 7PM, which will feature many of the books from the April Friday Fiction. More details on that soon. Need more recommendations now? Contact Us!

Chelmsford Library’s Best Reads of 2018!

If you’re still thinking about what to give the book-lover in your life, or if you just need something new to read, our expert librarians have put together a great list of their favorite reads of 2018. So, whether you’re a fantasy fan, a kitchen savant, a graphic guru, or a master/ mistress of suspense, this list has something for you. And better still – many on this list are from previous years, so they’re a great option for people waiting in long hold queues for the latest bestsellers.

Need more ideas for what to read? Contact our Bookwise team!

Fiction | Nonfiction | Picture Books | Middle Grade | Teen and Young Adult | Graphic Novels and Manga | Scifi and Fantasy | Mystery and Suspense | Historical Fiction | Book club picks Cookbooks | Memoir and Biography | History


Lindsay Trupti Eileen
Jessica Sara

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