All posts by Jessica FitzHanso

Books to read after reading The Nightingale

Whether you are looking for stirring, real-life accounts of the strength and courage of women during WWII, or would like to read a sweeping historical novel like Kristin Hannah’s bestseller, this list will provide you with a great book to pick up next:


   The Unwomanly Face of War, by Svetlana Aleksievich: In this classic work of journalism, Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexiavitch relays the first hand oral accounts of women on the front lines, on the home front, and in occupied territories during WWII.
Behind Enemy Lines by Martha Cohn: Tells the courageous, true story of a young Jewish woman living in France during the German occupation who joined the French military to pose as a German Nurse and obtain valuable information for the Allied forces.
Marianne in Chains, by Robert Gildea: The author relays first hand accounts of daily-life and daily struggle in German occupied France, just as Kristin Hannah depicted in the struggles in Vianne’s Carriveau.
Resistance, by Agnes Humbert: A courageous and painful first-hand account of one of the brave women that joined the resistance during the German occupation of France, as Isabelle did in The Nightingale.
A Train in Winter, by Caroline Moorhead: A poignant collection of interviews and primary sources uncovering the dark but hopeful history of the female resistors in German-occupied France. they hailed from all over France from many different backgrounds and occupations, but all were united in their hatred and defiance of the occupiers. A remarkable celebration of the power of female friendship and conviction.


The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman: A New York Times Bestseller, The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the story of the Zabinski family, polish zookeepers, who, after their animals have been killed at the hands of the German occupying forces, begin to house Jews in the depths of the Zoo to keep them from being deported or killed. This is a brave and thrilling story.
All the Light There Was, by Nancy Kricorian: A moving story of an Armenian Family in Paris at the height of the German occupation, it depicts the gathering of provisions, and the children’s active resistance to the occupying forces, amidst the ever-increasing urgency of their situation.
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr: A beautiful, atmospheric story of love and loss in World War II France. A blind young woman falls in love with a German boy amidst the devastation of the Nazi occupation of France.
The Kites, by Romain Gary: Inspired by the author’s own experiences in the French resistance, The Kites tells the story of a young boy in Normandy thrust by his love for a Polish girl to resist the German forces that have disappeared her family.  This novel was originally published in 1980, but has been published in English by award-winning translator Miranda Richmond Mouillot in 2017 for the first time.
The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah: At once an epic story of human survival and love, and an intimate portrait of a family tested beyond endurance, The Great Alone offers a glimpse into a vanishing way of life in America. With her trademark combination of elegant prose and deeply drawn characters, Kristin Hannah has delivered an enormously powerful story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the remarkable and enduring strength of women. About the highest stakes a family can face and the bonds that can tear a community apart, this is a novel as spectacular and powerful as Alaska itself. It is the finest example of Kristin Hannah’s ability to weave together the deeply personal with the universal.
Suite Francaise by Irina Nemirovsky: A moving and poignant account of a cast of French people fighting for survival in myriad ways (scrounging for provisions, resisting, collaborating) during the occupation of France beginning in 1940. The author, herself a french citizen and a Jewish woman, was deported to the camps in Germany where she died before completing all three parts of the novel. Her daughters saved the two parts she had completed, and published her novel forty years later.
Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark Sullivan: Set in Italy during the German’s fight for control of Italy, This riveting novel tells the story of Pino, a young boy who is conscripted by the German forces to be a driver for one of Hitler’s top Generals. As he gains loyalty in his position, he becomes a spy reporting back activities to the Allied forces.

Chelmsford Staff’s picks for best of 2017!

There’s always room for one more Best of the Year list – especially if that list is made up of picks from your favorite librarians! Here is a list of fiction, nonfiction, audio and video that kept us going last year – there are favorites here for everyone! If you need more recommendations for your TBR list, contact us anytime through our Bookwise service!

Supriya:The Great Gatsby brilliantly recast in the contemporary South: a powerful first novel about an extended African-American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream.  Jeff: Presents a true account of the early twentieth-century murders of dozens of wealthy Osage and law-enforcement officials, citing the contributions and missteps of a fledgling FBI that eventually uncovered one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. Lisa: As World War I raged across the globe, hundreds of young women toiled away at the radium-dial factories, where they painted clock faces with a mysterious new substance called radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was safe, the women themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered from head to toe with the glowing dust. With such a coveted job, these "shining girls" were considered the luckiest alive--until they began to fall mysteriously ill. As the fatal poison of the radium took hold, they found themselves embroiled in one of America's biggest scandals and a groundbreaking battle for workers' rights. The Radium Girls explores the strength of extraordinary women in the face of almost impossible circumstances and the astonishing legacy they left behind. Diane: "Charles Dickens is not feeling the Christmas spirit. His newest book is an utter flop, the critics have turned against him, relatives near and far hound him for money. While his wife plans a lavish holiday party for their ever-expanding family and circle of friends, Dickens has visions of the poor house. But when his publishers try to blackmail him into writing a Christmas book to save them all from financial ruin, he refuses ... On one of his long night walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets the mysterious Eleanor Lovejoy, who might be just the muse he needs"
Donna:"Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve. Amber Patterson is fed up. She's tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more--a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne--a socialite and philanthropist--and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale. Amber's envy could eat her alive...if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne's compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family's life--the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne's closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent."   Donna's Pick - In the Midst of Winter, by Isabel Allende: "Exploring the timely issues of human rights and the plight of immigrants and refugees, the book recalls Allende’s landmark novel The House of the Spirits in the way it embraces the cause of “humanity, and it does so with passion, humor, and wisdom that transcend politics” (Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post). Eileen: Goodbye, Vitamin is the wry, beautifully observed story of a woman at a crossroads, as Ruth and her friends attempt to shore up her father's career; she and her mother obsess over the ambiguous health benefits - in the absence of a cure - of dried jellyfish supplements and vitamin pills; and they all try to forge a new relationship with the brilliant, childlike, irascible man her father has become. (From Goodreads)  

This was one of Eileen's favorites from last year: Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller and a wealth of detail about organized crime, the merchant marine and the clash of classes in New York, Egan’s first historical novel is a masterpiece, a deft, startling, intimate exploration of a transformative moment in the lives of women and men, America and the world. Manhattan Beach is a magnificent novel by one of the greatest writers of our time.

Danny:The Powder Mage Trilogy, Brian McClellan - Danny says: "There are three books in this series (and he’s writing more in that world): Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign, and The Autumn Republic. These books are (annoyingly) compulsively readable. I say annoyingly, because it was hard to function between reading sessions. The magic system is intriguing, with a whole group of people who have an affinity for black powder, and can do all sorts of interesting trick shots, such as shooting a bullet without a gun, or shooting two bullets at once from the same gun accurately. Mystery, war, intrigue, these books have almost all of it at some point. There are so many moments in these books that are just downright satisfying." (Book 1 of the trilogy pictured here)  

The Lightbringer - Danny says: "There are 5 books with book 5 releasing this year: The Black Prism, The Blinding Knife, The Broken Eye, The Blood Mirror, and The Burning White. A word of warning, the first book is a slow starter, but once this series gets going it does not slow down for a minute. The cast is seriously awesome, the intricacies of individual characters and how they interact are complex and interesting. Everything is an onion in these books, you just have to keep peeling back another layer. Couple that with a stellar magic system based on wavelengths of light and it’s a real winner…except the beginning of that first book. (Book 1 pictured)

                          The Shadow Campaigns - Danny says: "There are five books in this series (book five releases on January 9th!): The Thousand Names, The Shadow Throne, The Price of Valor, Guns of Empire, and The Infernal Battalion. This fantasy world takes heavy inspiration from the Napoleonic wars and corresponding historical era, including the types of weapons and military tactics. The Thousand Names skews more towards military fantasy, while the Shadow Throne skews more towards political fantasy (though not lacking in action during a pseudo-French revolution). Later books blend those together. The quality is consistent throughout, and I was hard pressed to put these books down."                                The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison - Danny says: "First and foremost, this book is character driven. There’s something very sweet and human about the personal elements in this book. It’s not action packed. The plot centers around the mystery of the king’s death and the intrigue that accompanies his exiled, unwanted, half-goblin son taking over the throne."
Becky:Becky's Pick - One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel: "The three of them—a twelve-year-old boy, his older brother, their father—have won the war: the father’s term for his bitter divorce and custody battle. They leave their Kansas home and drive through the night to Albuquerque, eager to begin again, united by the thrilling possibility of carving out a new life together. The boys go to school, join basketball teams, make friends. Meanwhile their father works from home, smoking cheap cigars to hide another smell. But soon the little missteps—the dead-eyed absentmindedness, the late night noises, the comings and goings of increasingly odd characters—become sinister, and the boys find themselves watching their father change, grow erratic, then violent." (from the publisher)   "Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father. Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her."   Where Should We Begin takes you into the antechamber of our most intimate moments so that we might learn, explore, and experience alongside the couples who have been gracious enough to let us in.  A federal agent tracks four people who suddenly seem to possess entirely new personalities, leading to a startling discovery about humanity's future.
Sara: In the aftermath of a war between gods and men, a hero, a librarian, and a girl must battle the fantastical elements of a mysterious city stripped of its name.                             Despite his aversion to war, work, and most people (human or otherwise), teenaged Elliott, a human transported to a fantasy world where he attends a school for warriors and diplomatic advisers, finds that two unlikely ideas, friendship and world peace, may actually be possbile.                                 Feyre returns to the Spring Court on a reconaissance mission about the invading king. As a spy, the future of the entire kingdom may rely on her ability to play her part perfectly, and her decisions about who to trust and which allies are best will decide the outcome of the coming war.                              An aroma expert embarks on what she fears will be a life of solitude and dreams of a normal high school existence before an accident leads to an unexpected forbidden romance. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, Mimosa knows her future holds a lifetime of using her sense of smell to mix base notes, top notes, and heart notes into elixirs that help others fall in love-- while she remains alone. Mimosa dreams of a normal high school existence and having a boyfriend, but falling in love would take away her talent. When she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman, she must rely on the high school soccer star for help... and discovers that sometimes falling in love isn't a choice....
When her perfectly planned summer of quality time with her parents, her serious boyfriend, and her Bible camp unravels and long-hidden family secrets emerge, Lucy must figure out what she is made of and what grace really means.  After witnessing her friend's death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter's life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.  "Pay close attention and you might solve this. On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them." Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she's worked for begins to crumble.
A year after his mother disappeared in her hot air balloon, Seraphin and his father receive a clue that sends them to a Bavarian castle where lurks a force that would stop at nothing to conquer the stars.  Teenagers Rachel and Henry find their way back to each other while working in an old bookstore full of secrets and crushes, love letters and memories, grief and hope.
Vickie: In 1986, twenty-year-old Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even in winter, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store food and water, to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothes, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed, but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of the why and how of his secluded life--as well as the challenges he has faced returning to the world. A riveting story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded                  Roxane Gay addresses the experience of living in a body that she calls 'wildly undisciplined.' She casts an insightful and critical eye over her childhood, teens, and twenties -- including the devastating act of violence that was a turning point at age 12 -- and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life. With candor, vulnerability, and authority, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen.  Mike:The veteran journalist exposes the practices of opposition research to reveal how political leaders use their influence to shape public opinion, connecting popular misconceptions to strategic smear campaigns that have influenced voters.  Charlene: It's 1947 and American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a fervent belief that her beloved French cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive somewhere. So when Charlie's family banishes her to Europe to have her "little problem" take care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister. In 1915, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance to serve when she's recruited to work as a spy for the English. Sent into enemy-occupied France during The Great War, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents, right under the enemy's nose. Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launching them both on a mission to find the truth ... no matter where it leads
Christine:Dauer recounts how she found Sadie while donating blankets to a no-kill shelter. Sadie had been found in the mountains of Kentucky with a bullet hole between her eyes and one in her back-- put there after she had a litter of puppies and left to die. Strangers found her and took her to a veterinarian; Sadie's back legs were paralyzed, and the prognosis was grim. Dauer explains how Sadie's life-- and her own-- was transformed through unconditional love and second chances.                    Eric O'Grey was 150 pounds overweight, depressed, and sick. After a lifetime of failed diet attempts, and the onset of type 2 diabetes, O'Grey went to a new doctor, who surprisingly prescribed a shelter dog. And that's when O'Grey met Peety: an overweight, middle-aged, and forgotten dog who, like O'Grey, had seen better days. The two adopted each other and began an incredible journey, forming a bond of unconditional love that forever changed their lives. Over the course of their first year together, O'Grey lost 150 pounds, and Peety lost 25. As a result, O'Grey reversed his diabetes, got off all medication, and became happy and healthy for the first time in his life. He started dating after being alone for fifteen years--and eventually reconnected with the long-lost love of his life. And Peety? His affection would lead the way on the doggie adventure of a lifetime.                                    A sports journalist relates the story of Ivy League freshman and track star Maddy Holleran, who seemingly had it all and succeeded at everything she tried, but who secretly grappled with mental illness before taking her own life during the spring semester.                        A coming-of-age memoir by a young woman who was Jackie Kennedy's personal assistant and sometime nanny for thirteen years describes her witness to significant historical events and the lessons about life and love she learned from the beloved First Lady.
Courtney:Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the north to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi's has written a modern masterpiece, a novel that moves through histories and geographies and--with outstanding economy and force--captures the troubled spirit of our own nation   Presents a literary memoir of poems, essays, and intimate family photos that reflect on the author's complicated relationship with his mother and his disadvantaged childhood on a Native American reservation.   Birds of all feathers flock together in a fun, rhyme-filled offering by the creator of Maisy.
Lyndsey:Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. That, combined with her unusual appearance (scarred cheek, tendency to wear the same clothes year in, year out), means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kind of friends who rescue each other from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond's big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one   Told in mesmerizing prose, with charm and rhythm entirely its own, Castle of Water is more than just a reimagining of the classic castaway story. It is a stirring reflection on love's restorative potential, as well as a poignant reminder that home--be it a flat in Paris, a New York apartment, or a desolate atoll a world away--is where the heart is   Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski, along with his dog, Carl Sagan, makes big discoveries about his family on a road trip and he records it all on a golden iPod he intends to launch into space
Jessica:Jess: Women with a biological ability to emit electic shocks and turn centuries of female oppression on it's head! This thrilling, immensly original and fantastically written novel by Naoimi Alderman has to be your next book. It's in the vein of Margaret Atwood and Ursula Le Guin, both of whom informed her writing, and great for anyone looking for an entertaining, literary-sci-fi mediatation on history and the stories we tell ourselves to support the status quo.   Jessica: "This epic, atmospheric love story set during WWII in German-occupied France and then Germany tells the story of two sisters: one who jumps into the resistance at the first chance, risking her life and love, and one more reluctantly drawn in as the threats to he family and friends increase. It's a thrilling, enduring tale, based on true events, and it's our OneBook Chelmsford selection for 2018!"   A fantastic puzzle within a puzzle, a great layered mystery with well-drawn, instriguing characters. Ava has returned home to upstate NY and her family's failing vineyard and the life she tried to escape becasue her wild child sister Zelda has died. But Ava doesn't belive it becasue 1. Zelda wouldn't be so clumsy and unadventurous as to die in a fire from a lit cigarette, and 2. because Zelda is still communicating with Ava even after her apparent death! Zelda leads Ava on a scavenger hunt that takes her through a fantastic cast of characters and adventures. Will Ava find out the truth of Zelda's disappearance? This book was very hard to put down.                         A powerful and moving novel about a young boy, navigating life in the suoth with a drug addicted and haunted mother, an incarcerated father, a little baby sister to protect and the beauty and tragedy of the American South. Ward's novel is mesmerizing.
As the twentieth century draws to a close, Maria is at the start of a life she never thought possible. She and Khalil, her college sweetheart, are planning their wedding. They are the perfect couple, "King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom." Their skin is the same shade of beige. They live together in a black bohemian enclave in Brooklyn, where Khalil is riding the wave of the first dot-com boom and Maria is plugging away at her dissertation, on the Jonestown massacre. They've even landed a starring role in a documentary about "new people" like them, who are blurring the old boundaries as a brave new era dawns. Everything Maria knows she should want lies before her--yet she can't stop daydreaming about another man, a poet she barely knows.  On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son's body. Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel - in its form and voice - completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace.  John despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.

Start your New Year off right at the Chelmsford Library!

Coming up in January, we have a whole host of new programs aimed at getting your 2018 resolutions off to a winning start! Are you planning a new diet? Hoping to finally make headway in your cleaning and organizing? Looking for some practical tips to remove stress and find peace in your life? Join us for a great line-up of programs at the library this month! All of these programs are free and open to the public:

Healthy Body, Healthy Planet: Want to improve your eating habits to help prevent heart disease and diabetes, help manage your weight AND benefit the environment, all at the same time? Certified Plant-based chef Tracie Hines will join us at 2PM on Sunday, January 7 to instruct attendees on the basics and benefits of plant-based nutrition. She’ll also handout recipes to try at home and have a better chance of success!

The Importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle: On Wednesday evening at 7PM January 17, join Dr. Renee Barille, registered dietitian and nutrition professor from the UML College of Health Sciences for a presentation sharing tips and tricks that will help you to begin and continue a healthier lifestyle this year, and make your resolutions a reality! This program brought to as part of the Chelmsford Board of Health’s Wednesday Wellness Series.

Friday Fiction, Best of the Year Edition:  Are you joining a New Year’s reading challenge or just planning to spend more time reading this year? Join us for Friday Fiction on January 19 at 10:30AM! We’ll highlight some of 2017s best reads and also suggest some new and upcoming titles to build your 2018 TBR list!

Mindfulness and meditation workshops: Be mindful with us this year! Learn to remove stress, meditate, be more present and improve overall health and wellness in a dramatic way with these two workshops. Attend both and achieve a greater chance of success!

Career Workshops: Thinking about changing, or starting, and new career path this year? Come to a new series of career workshops, beginning January 23, from 6:30-8 PM.  Chelmsford Public Library is hosting this series put on by the Lowell Career Center. If you’re a job seeker, these workshops are meant to help you get the edge you need to complete in your job search. January’s workshop will focus on LinkedIn and the steps needed to have a successful LinkedIn campaign.

Clutter Control 101 with Dave Downs: Tackle that clutter and get all of that “stuff” under control once and for all in 2018 using the tips from this engaging and informative program presented by humorist Dave Downs! Guaranteed to leave you with new ideas, methods and hints to reverse the tendency to bury yourself in treasures!

Let the Chelmsford Library help you reach your goals in 2018!

Friday Fiction – Holiday Book-Buying edition!

Here we are in the thick of another holiday season trying to figure out which books are going to be favorites for the people on our list. Well, scratch the task of matching books to readers off your to-do list! We’ve put together this list of our fiction favorites from the last 12 months that will make great gifts this year.

Check out all of the complete lists on our Reading room page, and, while you’re there, check out our other blog posts, like this one, for even more recommendations. And of course, contact us directly, in the library or through our Bookwise service for reviews or recommendations anytime!

Great books to give if they like:

Science Fiction: Back to the Future: The Martian:             
Black Mirror: The Handmaid’s Tale: Stranger Things:
Gone Girl:
Mean Girls:                      Stories from the city: 
Holiday classics:
Celebrity Tell-Alls: Historical Fiction:  
Hollywood scandals: Foodie culture: Cooking shows:       
College adventures:

Much ado about nothing:
Political scandals:
Hockey:                Puzzles:                        
Stories about strong young people:
Funny, quirky characters:
Romance in France:
National Parks:
Texas noir:           Alaskan Wilderness:
Snow and micro-brews: 
Humor and heartbreak: Bio-Terror:       
Dance:          Dark Fairy tales:
Edge-of-your-seat thrillers:       33155777

Chelmsford Library’s Annual Apple Pie Contest is here!

Do you make the best double crust in town? Do butter and brown sugar blend with the cinnamon and Cortlands so that each bite of your pie evokes the most perfect crisp fall day? Do you sometimes entertain thoughts of quitting your day job and baking for the rest of your life? Well, now’s your chance to show everyone what’s in your oven – enter our annual apple pie contest!
Here are the rules: Pies are to be homemade, with that famous homemade double crust. Filling is to be just apples (no raisins, cranberries, etc.) and the recipe must include the type of apple(s) used a.k.a. your winning combination! Contestants must pre-register online and prepare a printed copy of your recipe to submit with the pie, or submit your recipe in advance via email to Jessica at Pies must be brought to the library on the day of the contest (Sunday November 5) by 1:30 pm for judging.
And not to put too much pressure on the situation, but our judges this year are some of the most knowledgeable around, including Candy Liu, owner and manager of the Java Room in Chelmsford; Jennifer Gryckiewicz of Sugar Coated Bakery in Dracut, MA; Kathy Munro, Food Service Director at the Senior Center in Chelmsford; and Andrea Grant, Chelmsford librarian and our resident cooking and baking expert (read some of her food writing here.) It’ll be a tough job, but they are up for the challenge!
So find your favorite pie dish and start perfecting your recipe because the contest is just 2 weeks away. Teens are encouraged to enter too if they are interested, or maybe it could be an inter-generational project! Entry is free so go to to review the rules and enter today.
Pie lovers are welcome to come and feast on the hard work of others once the judging is complete, beginning around 2:30 pm. Visit for contest times and details. 

Recommendations from readers in your community!

Sometimes, it’s great to sit back and let you do the recommending! As part of our Adult Summer Reading program this past summer, we let the participants do just that. Below is a list of books they recommended as part of their entries. Read through their reviews  – maybe one of them will appeal to you too!

The House at the End of Hope Street, by Meena Van Praag: My new favorite book – It’s about women who need hope in their lives, and a special house (and the special people) that help them find it.
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston: It is set in Florida in the early 1900s and is the story of Janie’s journey in life – surviving an arranged marriage , the husband’s death, a younger man and a hurricane – Super Read!
Blankets, by Craig Thompson: I did not like the book as it did not seem to flow well together. The beginning was funny. Synopsis: Loosely based on the author’s life, chronicles Craig’s journey from childhood to adulthood, exploring the people, experiences, and beliefs that he encountered along the way.
Always, by Sarah Jio: Kailey is engaged to be married to Ryan. 10 years ago the love of her life, Cade, disappeared with no trace. She sees him living as a homeless man who doesn’t remember his past life. She gets him help and now she must choose between her new life with Ryan or the life she could have had with Cade.
The Shack, by William Paul Young: I love this story. It is real love, but with a twist, forgiveness and healing after a family’s worst nightmare-a kidnapped child. I reread this every year over the summer.
Wonder by R. S. Palacio: I think this is a book everyone needs to read. Great example for young adults and older adults. Such a great message, “Never judge someone based on what they look like.”
Little White Lies, by Robert Parker: “I feel somewhat traitorous to Mr. Parker but I am enjoying the Ace Atkins “Spenser” novels as much as the original series. He does a great job of the quick repartee that is hallmark of all the Spenser books.”
Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher: “It is not really a plot driven book, but the characters are so well-drawn that you could go on reading about them forever. And it was a long book, but I would have been happy for t to go on.”
Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the House of Dread Desire, by Neil Gaiman: a writer is horribly bored with writing books about real life – real life is living in a dark house in a dark forest with ghosts and goblins in the basement mysterious faces staring out of the mirrors. He keeps adding sarcasm and humor to his stories. He’s advised to write fantasy and scifi. No no! he says – I only want to write about real life. Finally, he gives in, writing about businessmen, stock brokers, a blonde housewife burning the toast while husband is immersed in the newspaper. HIs non-real life fantasy book is wildly successful!
Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon: I’ve read it 3 times!Time travel, standing stones, Scotland in the 1700s. In the third book of the series is one of the greatest scenes in literature where they meet after twenty years. I’ve re-read these few pages over and over again and cry every time – just thinking about the scene makes me cry! And yes, the tv series is good too, but not as good as the book.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey: Phenomenal characters and plot. Big Book, but a guaranteed page-turner! I felt for every single person, even Nurse Ratched!
Knuckler, by Tim Wakefield: I am an avid Red Sox fan and it was fun to read about the player’s during Tim’s time with the red socks.
The Patriot Threat, by Steve Berry, It was a very good story with an excellent mix of characters, past history, modern events, facts, fiction and intrigue. I enjoy finding out at the end what parts are facts!
The Photograph, by Beverly Lewis: It’s about an Amish Family whose parents died leaving 3 girls on their own. The youngest girl runs away and the story follows the search to bring her back to the Amish life.
Perfect Strangers, by Roseann Sdoia. We also got to hear her speak at the library! The book reminded me of the goodness of people and showed how – in spite of horrific tragedy and sorrow – people can support each other and carry each other through.










New Programs in October

We’ve always tried to design new and innovative programming that meets the needs and desires of our community. This fall, we’re debuting a new line-up of programs, in new time-slots. Of course, we have had programs after-hours, but four after-hours programs in a season, including a coffee house with live music, a jazz night, a trivia night and a live-action board game inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft? How about a fantastic series of discussions on science led by real experts in their fields on timely topics such as climate change and radiometric dating? How about workshops on tasting chocolate, preserving fruits and veggies, or brewing beer?

Many of these programs will require registration, so check the individual details on our calendar.

And we still plan and enjoy all our traditional programs you’ve come to love too. We have great book groups, and lectures, fun and interesting gardening and nature related programming, story times for babies and children, tech help and art receptions and more that continue to be popular. Not to mention all of the fantastic Teen programs, like Haunted Halloween Cupcake Wars. Check our complete calendar for all that is happening at your library!

New picks from the Chelmsford Library staff!

Here’s the latest list of books staff are recommending for readers in these waning days of summer. This one’s all fiction – stay tuned for great nonfiction selections in a couple of weeks!

Wes: Soon I Will Be Invincible, by Austin Grossman (Funny, Science-Fiction, Adventure, Superheroes): When Doctor Impossible, an evil genius and ambitious wannabe world dominator, launches a new plot to seize control of the world, Fatale, a woman built by the NSA to be the next generation of weaponry, joins a group of misfit superheroes in their quest to destroy Doctor Impossible.              
Danny: The Black Prism, by Brent Weeks (Action, Epic Fantasy, First book in the series): In a world where color is the basis of all magic, Kip has yet to realize his powers, but he soon begins to learn the truth behind the great rift between his father–Gavin Guile, the current Prism–and his uncle, Javen, and discovers that time is running out for the world.
Lisa: Lock In, by John Scalzi (Horror, Thriller, Science Fiction, Near Future): When a new virus causes one percent of the population to become completely paralyzed in body but not in mind, America pursues a scientific initiative to develop a virtual-reality world for victims, with unexpected consequences. By the Hugo Award-winning author of Redshirts.
Heidi: Jazz, by Toni Morrison: (American classics, Historical fiction, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Lyrical, Haunting) Jazz compels the reader to the Harlem of the 1920s in a novel framed by the story of Violet and Joe Trace, married for more than 20 years, and how they deal with the fact that he has recently shot his lover, a girl of 18.
Jess: The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen: (Historical Fiction, Pulitzer Prize Winner, suspenseful, spies, Southeast Asia and California) A spy for the North Vietnamese goes from exile in Los Angeles to working on a film set in the Philippines before finally being caught and imprisoned back in Vietnam. Told through a series of confessions after capture, he relates his own struggle and that of his country during and after the ugly conflict in Vietnam. I listened to this one on audio book, and the voice of the reader really captures the sardonic tone of the narrator.


Adult Summer Reading Ends 8/25!

Playing Adult Summer BINGO this summer? Finish up you cards and turn them in by August 25 to be entered into a raffle for prizes like literary themed coffee mugs, tote bags and reading journals. You could also win one of 2 gift certificates to the Friends of the Library Book sale in September!

If you haven’t picked up a Bingo card yet, there’s still time to earn an entry – though many of the programs have passed, lots of activities like “Read a book to a child,” or “Read a book from a genre you think you don’t like” are available any time.  Use the link in this post to download and print one for yourself, or come into the library to pick one up at the Main desk.

And don’t forget, if you need recommendations, we’re always here to help!

Get back to the book

On Thursday July 20, an article by Philip Yancey was published in the Washington Post’s titled, The Death of Reading is Threatening the Soul. In it he articulates a crisis that many of us can probably relate to, though we have not had the patience and insight to name it. He discusses the familiar problem of being too inundated with the digital world to take time for the acquisition of knowledge which largely requires the concentrated and sustained reading of books. This argument may sound condescending, but read his article, in which he frames the argument  in the context of his own personal dilemma, and you’ll find it surprisingly relateable.

In his article, he identifies a number of texts he remembers from his heavy reading days, as well as a number of books which have helped him to sort out this dilemma and formulate a plan to return to the reading he loves. We’ve collected many of the titles he mentions here, with links to our catalog so you can read them for yourself.

Shakespeare’s collected plays
Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains, by Nicholas Carr
The Gutenberg Elegies: The fate of reading in an electronic age
A Secular Age, by Charles Taylor
The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard
 Poetry of George Herbert
Poetry and Prose of Gerard Manley Hopkins
 The Benedict Option