All posts by Julie Iatron

Women’s History Month Display



Celebrate Women’s History Month with some books written by incredible female authors and featuring strong female protagonists!  Here are some possible titles to consider:


One of my favorite reads of 2022 was When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill.  Set in a 1950s America that looks similar to ours, but with one key difference: The Mass Dragoning of 1955, in which hundreds of thousands of women sprouted wings, became dragons, and disappeared into the sky.   Our main character Alex is a young girl whose aunt transformed while her mother did not and who is forbidden from ever talking about her beloved aunt.  “In this timely and timeless speculative novel, award-winning author Kelly Barnhill boldly explores rage, memory, and the forced limitations of girlhood.”


In An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, newlyweds Celestial and Roy are just beginning their life together when Roy is arrested for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit.  Emmett is sentenced to 12 years in prison, and Celestial, alone and struggling, seeks comfort from her childhood friend Andre.  After five years, Roy’s conviction is overturned, and he returns home, thinking that their life will pick up where they left off.


In Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead, Marian and James Graves are raised by their uncle in Missoula, Montana, and a chance encounter with two pilots passing through town sparks Marian’s love of flight.  She drops out of school at 15 and finds a patron who will help her achieve her dream: circumnavigating the globe and flying her plane over the Arctic Circle.  A century later, actress Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film about Marian’s disappearance over the South Pacific.  “Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds, thrillingly, alongside Marian’s own story, as the two womens’ fates–and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times– collide.”


You’ll find these titles and many more in our display area.  For additional titles: see lists below:




“Tortured Poets Department” Display


Are you anxiously awaiting Taylor’s new album drop?  Looking for something to do pass the time until you can listen?  Check out our “Tortured Poets Department” display featuring dark academia titles and books about poets and writers!

What exactly IS dark academia?  There are varying definitions, but generally speaking, it refers to a book that features an academic setting AND a dark undertone or dark twist.  It’s not necessarily linked to a specific genre of books: Plain Bad Heroines by Emily Danforth falls into the horror category, Portrait of a Thief by Grace Li is a crime heist, and Babel by R. F. Kuang is considered an “alternative fantasy history.”  The creation of the dark academia subgenre is attributed to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, the 1992 novel that tells the story of a murder that takes place among a group of Classics students.  Dark academia has also seen a rise in popularity thanks to Internet culture and aesthetic—and new album releases.


If you’re looking for some recommendations from the display, check out Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo.  This is the first book in the Alex Sterns series set at a Yale University in a world that looks similar to our own–except that magic exists, and that magic is controlled by secret societies.


The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern features a graduate student named Zachary who discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his Vermont school—which includes a story from his own childhood.  This magical tale is filled with secret societies (notice the theme), ancient libraries, and book guardians.


If you like books in the newly minted “romantasy” genre–a combination of romance and fantasy–check out the first book in The Scholomance series by Naomi Novik.  A Deadly Education follows El, a young sorceress who fights monsters and is repeatedly saved by another student named Orion.  Surviving until graduation is the goal…


You’ll find all these books and more in our “Tortured Poets Department” display.  Click on the images below for some additional suggestions!



Blind Date with a Book is Back!



Blind Date with a Book is back–for a limited time only!  Stop by our display area to check out the blind dates we’ve arranged.  Read the description on a book to see if you’re interested in dating it–no peeking!  Once you’ve selected your “date,” grab a “Rate Your Date” bookmark and bring your date to the desk.  Check out your date, take it home, and unwrap it!


Not interested in this particular date?  No problem–no commitment necessary.  Circle “No chemistry” on your Rate Your Date sheet and bring it and the book back.  Ready to date your book?  Start reading!  Once you’re done, fill out your Rate Your Date sheet and bring both back to the library.  There is a box for the completed “Rate Your Date” sheets at the Reader Services desk.


You can check out as many Blind Dates as you’d like.  Just remember to Rate Your Dates once you’ve finished with them.  We want to hear how your date went!


If book dating isn’t your thing, you can still show us some love.  Stop by the Reader Services desk, grab a paper heart, and let us know what you love about your library.  We also have some “punny” Valentines for you to take home and give out to your friends.  There’s a lot to love about the Chelmsford Library every day, but make sure you celebrate with us this month!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside Display


Winter is coming!  Well, actually–it’s already here.  And with our first snowstorm of the season approaching, this is a great time to come in and check out a pile of books.  Why not embrace the season and take a look at our “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” display.  You’ll find lots of books that feature a cold climate or are set in winter.


If you like mysteries and thrillers, there are plenty to choose.  Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” is a classic with a snowy setting.  “Crossed Skis” by Carol Carnac is a British mystery with an alpine setting.  “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” by Peter Hoeg, “Snowblind” by Ragnar Jonasson, and “The Ice Princess” by Camilla Lackberg will scratch that Nordic noir itch.


If you’re a sci fi fan, check out “The City in the Middle of the Night” by Charlie Jane Anders.  Naomi Novik’s “Spinning Silver” is another possibility.  You can also try “The Snow Queen” by Joan Vinge.


If you’re looking for something in general fiction, “Snow Falling on Cedars” by David Guterson and “Cold Mountain” by Charles Frazier are popular titles.  “The Bellweather Rhapsody” by Kate Racculia is excellent.  If you’re looking for historic fiction, Jennifer Laam’s “The Lost Season of Love and Snow” or Greer Macallister’s “The Arctic Fury” are great choices.


Visit our display area to find these titles and lots more.  Lists of featured titles are also below.



Chelmsford Library Staff Picks: Best Books From 2023!



2023 was a great reading year for the staff at the Chelmsford Library!  We read a huge variety of new releases in fiction and nonfiction, we checked out some back list titles, and we borrowed cookbooks, picture books, and YA novels.  Personally, the second half of the year was really strong for me, since three of my top picks for the year were released after the midway point.  If you’re looking to see what we read throughout last year, check out the list below:


Cover image for The haunting of Alejandra  The haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro (fiction)

Cover image for Endangered eating :  Endangered Eating by Sarah Lohman  (nonfiction)


Mike H: 

Cover image for Dead fall :  Dead Fall by Brad Thor



Cover image for The Wager :  The Wager by David Grann (nonfiction)

Cover image for Remarkably bright creatures :  Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt (fiction)



Cover image for Homecoming :  Homecoming by Kate Morton

Cover image for Games and rituals :  Games & Rituals – stories by Katherine Heiny



Cover image for Legends & lattes :  Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree (I think Julia really liked this too!)

Cover image for Leviathan Falls  Leviathan Falls by James S.A. Corey

Cover image for What moves the dead  What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher (also one of Lesley’s faves)



Cover image for White cat, black dog :  White Cat, Black Dog by Kelly Link

Cover image for Chain-gang all-stars  Chain-Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Cover image for Biography of X  Biography of X by Catherine Lacey

Cover image for Camp Damascus  Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle

Cover image for Apeirogon :  Apeirogon by Colum McCann



Cover image for The wife upstairs  The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins



Cover image for This other Eden :  This Other Eden by Paul Harding

Cover image for Night wherever we go :  Night Wherever We Go by Tracey Rose Peyton

Cover image for Ink blood sister scribe :  Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Torzs

Cover image for The history of a difficult child  The History of a Difficult Child by Mihret Sibhat

Cover image for The seven moons of Maali Almeida :  Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka

Cover image for The unmaking of June Farrow :  The Unmaking of June Farrow by Adrienne Young

Cover image for Crook manifesto :  Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead

Cover image for The deep sky  The Deep Sky by Yumi Kitasei

Cover image for I am homeless if this is not my home  I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore


Cover image for Milk Street noodles  Milk Street Noodles by Christopher Kimball

Cover image for The world keeps ending, and the world goes on  The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On by Franny Choi

Cover image for Wound is the origin of wonder :  Wound is the Origin of Wonder by Maya Popa

Pub in 2022 but I read in 2023 and they deserve attention 🙂 

Cover image for The sorcerer of Pyongyang :  Sorcerer of Pyongyang by Marcel Theroux

Cover image for What moves the dead  What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher (I think Jeff maybe submitted this already)

Cover image for Checkout 19  Checkout 19 by Claire-Louise Bennett

Cover image for The half life of Valery K :  The Half Life of Valery K by Natasha Pulley



Cover image for Once upon a chef :  Once Upon a Chef Weeknight/Weekend by Jennifer Segal

That’s the top-rated bibliobites book this year!

Cover image for Daisy Jones & The Six  Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Fabulous full-cast audio.  Just thinking about it makes me want to listen to it again.  All of the voices are so perfect and really bring the characters to life.

Cover image for Vera Wong's unsolicited advice for murderers  Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice For Murderers  by Jesse Sutanto                         

Just a fun romp!  Lots of Asian and ageist stereotyping, but hilarious all the same.  Written by an Asian author so I guess the stereotyping is OK.

Cover image for The mistress of Bhatia House  Mistress of Bhatia House by Sujata Massey                                                        

Third (fourth?) in a series that takes place in 1920s India.  The protagonist is based on India’s real-life first female lawyer.  Our intrepid heroine, Perveen Mistry, is drawn into crime-solving and uses her legal training in the pursuit of justice.  Lots of evocative description creates a vivid sense of time and place.  Ongoing subplots involving the Mistry family and a love interest for Perveen.  Oops– that’s two titles in the Mystery category!  Or we could call this one historical fiction.

Cover image for The road to Roswell :  The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis                                                                            

I think I got this title from one of your displays or lists.  (She did!  This was an unexpected delight for me in 2023! -Julie)  Though I rarely read sci-fi, one of my favorite books ever is Willis’ earlier title, Passages, so I decided to try this one.  I was not disappointed!  This is a plot-heavy tale of alien abduction with a cast of your basic quirky characters, and a hero who may or may not be what he seems.  A nice subtext about not rushing to judgment when encountering someone (or something) that you’ve never seen before/don’t understand.


Jess H:

Cover image for Stone blind :  Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes 

Cover image for In defense of witches : 

In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women Are Still on Trial by Mona Chollet 


Jess F:

Cover image for Yellowface :  Yellowface by R. F. Kuang

Cover image for The vulnerables :   The Vulnerables by Sigrid Nunez

Cover image for Rouge :  Rouge by Mona Awad

Cover image for I have some questions for you  I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai

Cover image for All the sinners bleed  All the Sinners Bleed by S. A. Cosby

Cover image for Small mercies :  Small Mercies by Dennis Lehane

Cover image for Birnam Wood  Birnum Wood by Elinor Catton

Cover image for The fraud  The Fraud by Zadie Smith

Cover image for The vaster wilds  Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff

Cover image for Exiles :  Exiles by Jane Harper



Cover image for The kind worth saving :  The Kind Worth Saving by Peter Swanson



Cover image for The golden doves :  Golden Doves by Martha Hall Kelly

Cover image for Spare  Spare by Prince Harry



Cover image for No two persons  No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister



Cover image for Tom Lake :  Tom Lake by Ann Pachett

An Astronomer in Love by Antoine Laurain (not available in MVLC)



Cover image for System collapse  System Collapse by Martha Wells

Cover image for Wild Massive  Wild Massive by Scotto Moore

Cover image for Legends & lattes :  Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree



Cover image for How to do nothing :  How to do nothing: resisting the attention economy by Jenny Odell



Cover image for Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow  Tomorrow and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin



Cover image for Wishing season  The Wishing Season by Anica Mrose Rissi

Cover image for The peach rebellion  The Peach Rebellion by Wendelin Van Draanen

Cover image for Holding her breath :  Holding Her Breath by Eimear Ryan



Cover image for A deadly vow  A Deadly Vow by Carla Simpson

Murder of the Seven Dials by Cara Devlin (not available in MVLC)


Staff Pick: 

Cover image for The seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo :  The 7 Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Cover image for Hello beautiful :  Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano



Cover image for The Inheritance Games  Inheritance Games series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes



Cover image for Hester :  Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese



Cover image for Doppelganger :  Doppelganger by Naomi Klein

Cover image for Pirate enlightenment, or the real Libertalia  Pirate Enlightenment by David Graeber

Cover image for The internet con :  The Internet Con by Cory Doctorow



Cover image for The berry pickers :  The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters

Cover image for North woods :  North Woods by Daniel Mason

Cover image for Shark heart :  Shark Heart by Emily Habeck

Cover image for A most agreeable murder :  A Most Agreeable Murder by Julia Seales

Cover image for The ferryman :  The Ferryman by Justin Cronin



Cover image for A light in the forest  A Light in the Forest by Melissa Payne

Cover image for A storm of infinite beauty :  A Storm of Infinite Beauty by Julianne Maclean

Cover image for Unlikely animals  Unlikely Animals by Annie Hartnett

Cover image for Going zero :  Going Zero by Anthony McCarten

Cover image for The puzzle master :  The Puzzle Master by Danielle Trussoni

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted! Display


I don’t know about you, but this is the time of year when I start to feel ready to pack it all in, pack it all up, and head off on a vacation.  In the winter, I always want to head off to a tropical vacation or a European market, but I know loads of other folks love a good ski chalet or mountain cabin.  Can’t actually pick up and go anywhere?  How about you enjoy a book where the characters take the trip for you?  Check out our “Vacation, All I Ever Wanted” Display for some great titles that feature characters who get away from it all.


Looking to mix a beach villa vacation with a little murder?  Try Rachel Hawkins’ “The Villa.”  I also think that Liane Moriarty’s “Nine Perfect Strangers” fits this bill, and bonus–you could watch the TV series after you read it.  If you’re looking for a girls’ weekend read, try “Beach House Reunion” by Mary Alice Monroe.  If you want a darker take on the weekend getaway theme, try “Summer House With Swimming Pool” by Herman Koch or “Device Free Weekend” by Sean Doolittle.  One of my personal favorites is “Killers of a Certain Age” by Deanna Raybourn.  Four female assassins take a cruise to celebrate their reluctant retirement and quickly realize that the cruise is intended to be their final farewell.  So they set out to save their own lives and figure out who is trying to end them.  It’s wickedly funny and a great exploration of women and society’s ideas about aging.


If you’re looking for a little more romance in our reading, try Emily Henry’s “The People We Meet on Vacation” or “Book Lovers.”  “One Italian Summer” by Rebecca Serle will take you off on an Italian trip, and “Eight Weeks in Paris” by S.R. Lane will whisk you off to France.  There are also some great thrillers that feature a vacation.  Check out “An Honest Lie” by Tarryn Fisher or “Her Dark Lies” by J.T. Ellison.

Visit our display area to find these titles and lots more.  If you can’t stop by, here are the titles featured – in cover format as well as a list.

Crime! Mysteries! Thrillers! Display


Loads of people like to read mysteries, crime novels, and thrillers, but do you know the differences between them?  Mysteries follow clues to reveal the person who committed a crime.  They can be standalone or part of a series.  Dorothy Sayers is a classic example of a mystery writer with a long-running series in her Lord Peter Wimsey books.  Within the mystery genre, there are several subgenres, including cozy mysteries like Jennifer Chow’s “Death By Bubble Tea,” hardboiled mysteries like those by author Walter Mosley, police procedurals such as “Wife of the Gods” by Kwei Quartey, and speculative mysteries that are set in a science fiction or fantasy setting.  Mystery novel themes include “proving one’s innocence,” “solving the puzzle,” featuring famous characters, and “rookie on the beat.”  “The Woman in the Library” by Sulari Gentill is a great example of a “solve the puzzle” mystery, while Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen mysteries will appeal to Austen lovers out there.  You may like one of these mystery subgenres more than another, so don’t give up after just reading one mystery novel–you might not have found your subgenre yet!


Thriller subgenres include legal thrillers such as Robyn Gigl’s “Remain Silent,” psychological thrillers written by authors like Alyssa Cole, supernatural thrillers, and spy fiction.  “Shutter” by Ramona Emerson is a great example of a supernatural thriller, while “Prophet” by Helen Macdonald and Sin Blanche falls into the spy fiction subgenre.  Thrillers might feature unreliable narrators, like in Mara Dong’s “Liar, Dreamer, Thief.”  They might have a plot that seems “too good to be true,” like in Riley Sager’s “The House Across the Lake.”  Thrillers are often set “behind the Iron Curtain” or in a similar setting.  “The Apollo Murders” by Chris Hadfield is a great example of this theme.  Thrillers might also feature missing memories, as found in Brian Freeman’s “I Remember You.”  Again, one of these themes may appeal to you more than another, so you may need to try reading a few thrillers to really get a feel for what you like.


Crime fiction subgenres include rural noir, capers, organized crime, and “inspired by read events.”  S.A. Cosby’s “Razorblade Tears” is a great example of rural noir, while “Dr. No” by Percival Everett is a classic caper novel.  A recent example of organized crime is “The Plotters” by Un-Su Kim.  “Northern Heist” by Richard O’Rawe is inspired by real events.  Within the crime novel genre, popular themes include “on the run,” “criminal masterpieces,” “rural noir,” and “vengeance is mine.”  If you’re looking for a new “on the run” title, try “Burn It All Down” by Nicholas DiDomizio.  Another great rural noir title is “Barbed Wire Heart” by Tess Sharpe.  If you like the “vengeance is mine” theme, try “How to Kill Your Family” by Bella Mackie.


Never read a mystery and are looking to try one?  I recommend Jessa Maxwell’s “The Golden Spoon.”  Think Great British Bakeoff but with a murder to solve.  If you think a thriller might be what you need, “What Never Happened” by Rachel Howzell Hall fits the bill.  If you’re looking for a classic crime novel, try “Confidence” by Rafael Frumkin.  These are all great “first books to try” within these genres.


There are also lots of movies, TV, and podcasts tied to these genres as well.  In fact, thriller novels are often made into movies or TV shows.  Since these genres are some of my favorites, I’m also keeping an eye on what S.A. Cosby, Mia P. Manansala, Erin E. Adams, and Eli Cranor are writing.  These are some authors to watch when it comes to your mysteries, thrillers, and crime novels.


Visit our display area to find these titles and lots more.  Lists of featured titles are also below.





November 2023 Book Brunch








November’s Book Brunch was amazing!  Jill and Julie each brought 15 books to discuss–that’s 30 new releases to add to your TBR pile!  Attendees shared an additional 20 titles that they’ve recently read and liked.  We chatted about books and enjoyed coffee and yummy baked goods.  It was the perfect morning.


Missed out on Book Brunch but want all the details?  You can find the book lists at the Reader Services desk or see below:

Our next Book Brunch is scheduled for Friday, January 19, 2024 at 10:30 AM.  It will be held in person only (no virtual attendance option) in the fireplace area.  This will give us room to spread out and spend some time talking books together!  For more information or if you have any questions, please email Julie at

“Fiction for Food Lovers” Display


This is the time of year when food is a big part of our conversations and preparations–we’re talking about big meals we’re planning, we’re preparing what we’ll serve, we dream about our favorite holiday dishes.  What better way to celebrate our love of food then with some food-themed reading that AREN’T cookbooks.  These titles feature protagonists who work in the food industry, a specific dish that provides the overall theme of the book, or characters who love things savory or sweet.  You’ll find titles like “The Kitchen Front” by Jennifer Ryan.  Set in Britain during World War II, it features four women who are vying for a spot hosting a BBC wartime cookery program.  All set with World War II fiction?  Try “The Coincident of Coconut Cake” by Amy Reichert.  Chef Lou Johnson struggles to keep her beloved restaurant afloat and is visited by a food critic Al on the worst possible day.  When his review comes out, Lou is wallowing at a pub when Al walks in.  Lou accepts the Englishman’s challenge to show him the best of Milwaukee cuisine–before she knows who he is and what he wrote about her restaurant.  Can they overcome the past and “savor a future together?”  Grab the book and find out.    Looking for a book that features recipes?  Try “Black Cake” by Charmaine Wilkerson and try your hand at baking a Jamaican rum cake at home.


Visit our display area to find these titles and lots more food-themed fiction.  Lists of featured titles are also linked below.




“Read With A Box of Tissues” Display


Sometimes you read a book that wrecks you emotionally and it’s all you can talk about for weeks.  I finished Audrey Niffenegger’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife” on a commuter rail train and cried throughout the entire ride.  Who hasn’t read “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold and sobbed?  And let’s face it–sometimes you just need a good cry.  That’s the intention behind our latest display, “Read With a Box of Tissues.”  These are books you’ll want to read with those tissues close by.  Some of them, like “The Time Traveler’s Wife” and JoJo Moyes’s “Me Before You” feature an overall theme that is heartbreaking.  Some have unexpected moments of laughter, like Trish Doller’s “Off the Map: A Novel.”  Many of them have movie or television adaptations that you could watch after reading: “The Green Mile” by Stephen King, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, and “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker.  Grab one of these titles, a favorite beverage, a box of tissues, and settle in for an emotional afternoon of reading.  Let the feelings catharsis begin!

You can find these titles and many more in our display area.  Lists of featured titles are also linked below.