All posts by Julia Sullivan

Real Librarians of Chelmsford

We asked Jill…

What was your first library?

Kellogg Hubbard Library, Montpelier, VT.  My memories of this place are about the building and being in the space.  The children’s room was in the basement with multiple nooks with books and I remember there being vines inside, which I thought was magic.


What is on your nightstand right now?

1-3 library books at all times. Currently, Billy Summers by Stephen King, Home Winemaking and The Mediterranean Diet. TBR Piles (a couple) of books from used book sale .”




What book do you like to recommend to patrons?




Why do you love working in the library?

“I’ve always been drawn to libraries, books and the world of information – talking about it, reading about it and learning about it.  Being surrounded by books and the quiet calm of a library is one of my favorite things.”

Fall Reading Challenge Kickoff!

This fall, Chelmsford Public Library is challenging you to get social! Our Fall Reading Challenge not only encourages readers to try new books and revisit classics, but also share what you’re reading with us online!

Use the prompts in the list at the bottom of this post. Then, show us your choices and photos for each prompt by tagging us on:

If you don’t know where to start with the challenge, we have suggestions to get cozy with as the weather grows colder.

Fall in love with a romance book!

Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson is a hot new romance novel to put you in the mood for Halloween.

PhD candidate Phoebe Walsh has always been obsessed with true crime. She’s even analyzing the genre in her dissertation—if she can manage to finish writing it. It’s hard to find the time while she spends the summer in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home, dealing with her obnoxiously good-natured younger brother, and grappling with the complicated feelings of mourning a father she hadn’t had a relationship with for years.

It doesn’t help that she’s low-key convinced that her new neighbor, Sam Dennings, is a serial killer (he may dress business casual by day, but at night he’s clearly up to something). It’s not long before Phoebe realizes that Sam might be something much scarier—a genuinely nice guy who can pierce her armor to reach her vulnerable heart.

Cook a new cookbook dish and show it off.

Tieghan Gerard’s cookbook Half Baked Harvest is chock full of hearty recipes that will satisfy your fall cravings. Filled with seasonal produce and easy meal prep, this cookbook is a great pick for trying something new.

While it might be a trek to get to Tieghan’s barn-turned-test kitchen, her creativity shines here: dress up that cheese board with a real honey comb; decorate a standard salad with spicy, crispy sweet potato fries; serve stir fry over forbidden black rice; give French Onion Soup an Irish kick with Guinness and soda bread; bake a secret ingredient into your apple pie (hint: it’s molasses). And a striking photograph accompanies every recipe, making Half Baked Harvest Cookbook a feast your eyes, too.
Whether you need to get dinner on the table for your family tonight or are planning your next get-together with friends, Half Baked Harvest Cookbook has your new favorite recipe.

Reread a book you’ve read for school.

The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

What Book Should You Read for Hispanic Heritage Month? *Quiz!*

At Chelmsford Public Library, Hispanic American Heritage Month celebrates the works and contributions of authors from Central and South America, as well as the great books they have published. Take this quiz for a recommendation on which book to start with, and come into the library for even more picks from our librarians!


What is something you love about reading?

  1. Strong, emotional characters
  2.  Fast paced, twisting plots
  3.  Blending our world with fantasy
  4.  Learning about other people’s lives


Why do you like to read?

  1. To feel inspired
  2. For thrilling suspense
  3. To think about the world we live in
  4. To laugh


Which character sounds most interesting to you?

  1. One who perseveres through hardship
  2. One who takes matters into their own hands
  3. One who navigates impossible events
  4. One who finds their niche in the world


Which genre is your go to?

  1. Historical Fiction
  2. Mystery/Thriller
  3. Sci-Fi/Magical Realism
  4. Memoir/Nonfiction


If you answered mostly A’s

You should read Isabel Allende’s Violeta!

Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family of five boisterous sons. From the start, her life will be marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth. Through her father’s prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling. . . .

Told through the eyes of a woman whose unforgettable passion, determination, and sense of humor will carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende once more brings us an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.


If you answered mostly B’s

You should read Velvet was the Night by Silvia Moreno Garcia.

Mexico in the 1970s is a dangerous country, even for Maite, a secretary who spends her life seeking the romance found in cheap comic books and ignoring the activists protesting around the city. When her next-door neighbor, the beautiful art student Leonora, disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents.
Mexico in the 1970s is a politically fraught land, even for Elvis, a goon with a passion for rock ’n’ roll who knows more about kidney-smashing than intrigue. When Elvis is assigned to find Leonora, he begins a blood-soaked search for the woman—and his soul.

Swirling in parallel trajectories, Maite and Elvis attempt to discover the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, encountering hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies. Because Mexico in the 1970s is a noir where life is cheap and the price of truth is high.


If you answered mostly C’s

You should try out Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties.

In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.


If you answered mostly D’s

Your next read should be Hola Papi! by John Paul Brammer.

John Paul, or JP, is the author behind a popular advice blog, and is now bringing his wisdom to the page. In ¡Hola Papi!, JP shares his story of growing up biracial and in the closet in America’s heartland, while attempting to answer some of life’s toughest questions: How do I let go of the past? How do I become the person I want to be? Is there such a thing as being too gay? Should I hook up with my grade school bully now that he’s out of the closet?

¡Hola Papi! is for anyone—gay, straight, and everything in between—who has ever taken stock of their unique place in the world.


Check out these reads and more at Chelmsford Public Library!

Caution: Banned Books Ahead

Challenges against books in libraries and schools are being reported at record rates across the country, especially against books written by LGBTQ authors and authors of color. PEN American reports that in the past year, more than 2,500 books have been banned in schools and cities nationwide. In response, libraries across the country celebrate the freedom of choice patrons deserve when browsing our collections.

Chelmsford Public Library is proud to house books that broaden our perspectives and give us insight into others’ lives. Read on for our recommendations for restricted books.

Lawn Boy, Jonathan Evison

Banned: for LGBTQIA+ content and because it was considered to be sexually explicit

In this funny, angry, touching, and ultimately deeply inspiring novel, bestselling author Jonathan Evison takes the reader into the heart and mind of a young man on a journey to discover himself, a search to find the secret to achieving the American dream of happiness and prosperity. That’s the birthright for all Americans, isn’t it? If so, then what is Mike Muñoz’s problem? Though he tries time and again to get his foot on the first rung of that ladder to success, he can’t seem to get a break. But then things start to change for Mike, and after a raucous, jarring, and challenging trip, he finds he can finally see the future and his place in it. And it’s looking really good.

Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson

Banned: because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint and it was claimed to be biased against male students

Melinda is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication.

The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas

Banned: because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Check these, or another one of our challenged books, out today!


While You’re Waiting For… I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

Child Actress Jennette McCurdy worked with Nickelodeon Studios for seven years before leaving acting and hiding from the public eye in 2014. This summer McCurdy broke her silence, releasing her controversially titled memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died. This book leapt to the the top of the New York Times Bestseller list,  and is currently one of the top requested books from the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium.

Jennette McCurdy discusses her childhood in detail with stark honesty and dark humor in her memoir I’m Glad My Mom Died. She chronicles her life from first acting audition at age six to when her overbearing mother finally stopped bathing her in the shower at age sixteen. McCurdy tackles tough topics such as eating disorders, addiction, and the deep pressure placed on her by the entertainment industry and her own family. There are already almost 200 holds on this new title, but don’t worry! We have some other great titles that will dish out the family drama and hazards of child stardom while you wait.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner: This fellow hot title memoir by the lead singer of the band Japanese Breakfast tackles a complicated mother daughter relationship, and the grief process when Zauner’s mother tragically loses her battle with cancer. At 25, Zauner is a struggling musician, who craves distance from her hometown. However, after the passing of her mother, Zauner, who feels that she still hasn’t found herself yet, struggles to cling to her Korean heritage through traditional food.  I cried along with Zauner through this touching memoir, and her descriptions of the food she and her family share inspire me to pick up a Korean cookbook next time I’m at the library!

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs: For a more fraught family relationship, loaded with dark humor and touching revelations on childhood, Burroughs has a series of memoirs, the most well known being Running with Scissors. Burroughs’ mother, who doesn’t see herself so much as a mother than as an aspiring artist, sends Augusten to live with her unorthodox psychiatrist in Northampton, MA. Borroughs grows up in a home with no rules, and just as little stability. This puts him time after time into hilarious, over-the-top shenanigans that will leave you scratching your head for this ordinary boy in extraordinary circumstances.

Wildflower by Drew Barrymore: If you’re looking for the wild, sometimes tragic ways that child stars navigate their careers, Barrymore’s recent memoir depicts the highs and lows she experienced after gaining emancipation from her parents at age 14. Barrymore was exposed to drugs and alcohol starting at age nine, three years after her first acting job. After getting help for her addictions at age 13, Barrymore has worked to create a happy, stable life for herself. She speaks to her wild past with humor and optimism, and writes with hope for the future for herself and the family she has built. Barrymore and McCurdy both write about the freedoms of escaping a toxic family with a wit and compassion that is both endearing and inspirational.

The Real Librarians of Chelmsford

We asked Jianna…

What was your first library?

“My first library was Memorial Hall Library in Andover, MA. I grew up in Andover and went to the library often with my mother and brother for all of their fun programs. I now work part-time in their Reference Department. Funny how things come full circle!”

What is on your nightstand right now?

“On my nightstand right now is a mish-mash of books. I have Ken Follett’s World Without End, The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, The Witch of Eye: Essays by Kathryn Nuernberg, and Lighting the Wick by authors Leanne Marrama and Sandra Mariah Wright.”


What book do you like to recommend to patrons?

“I love suggesting historical fiction to patrons because I think they can have an interest for a wide variety of readers. The historical research that writers use to paint the background of a story may interest the history buffs out there. Many times, there are themes of action, adventure and romance that could touch on a variety of genres. For these reasons, if someone ever came in to the library looking for a next read but unsure of where to start, I find historical fiction is a safe bet.”

Who is your favorite character from a book?

“Aunt Frances and Aunt Jet from Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman. I could not choose one as I see them as an absolute pair, just as they were in the books. I love them for their outlook on life. They always made examples of how not to take life too seriously and to always be true to yourself.”



What book would you like to read again for the first time?

“Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I read it for the first time when I was in high school and I still consider it one of my all-time favorites.”

Who are your top five favorite authors?


Where is your favorite place to read?

“In the sun room of my house. I love being in nature so when I cannot sit outside to read, it is a great place to be all year and in any type of weather.”

Why do you like working at the library?

“I love working in a library because I love sharing in the excitement patrons have for the materials they are looking for. Often times, I am lucky enough to talk to patrons about what they are looking for and why. Maybe it is for research or just for fun, but whatever it might be, I am able to learn from patrons about topics and ideas that I may never have considered before. I think of myself a naturally curious person. I hope as patrons approach me at the reference desk, they feel comfortable striking up a conversation and trusting that I am genuinely interested in their own curiosities. It is a fun way to connect with people that I have a unique opportunity to have while working in a library!”