Saturday, May 4th at 11 a.m. (Registration is required. Limit 20 people.)
Join photographer and author Mathew Duman for a lecture (April 25th) and then a tour of Yale University in New Haven. Yale is an extraordinary place where you can observe gargoyles in their natural habitat! On this trek, Matt points out many of the grotesques & gargoyles that originally inspired him to explore the campus and to write his book: Those who have never been will find a visit to Yale’s campus (60 – 90-minute tour) to be a fascinating combination of academics, history, art and architecture. Those who are familiar with the campus will find that there are still many discoveries yet to be made because many of these sculptures still go unnoticed by even the most dedicated Yalie. Either way, searching out these works of art can be almost as much fun as appreciating them. Binoculars recommended!

This event is free and open to the public.


Thursday, May 2 at 6:30 p.m.
“Wings of Life” – a stunning adventure full of intrigue, drama and mesmerizing beauty. Narrated by Meryl Streep, this intimate and unprecedented look at butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, bats and flowers is a celebration of life, as a third of the world’s food supply depends on these incredible – and increasingly threatened – creatures.

This film screening is free and open to the public.

Friday, January 20th at 7 p.m. at Centerbrook Architects 67 Main St. Centerbrook

2016 marked the centennial anniversary of the Yale School of Architecture. In recognition of this occasion, Jimmy Stamp, co-author with former YSOA Dean Robert A.M. Stern of the book Pedagogy and Place: 100 Years of Architecture Education at Yale (Yale Press, 2016) will trace the development of the School’s pedagogy alongside a critical overview of the succession of buildings designed to house Yale’s architecture program. Stamp will draw parallels between historic moments in Yale’s history and things that have happened more recently.

Jimmy Stamp is a writer at Robert . M. Stern Architects whose work has appeared in The Guardian, Smithsonian, and the Journal of Architecture Education.

This program is free and open to the public.

3 More Quick-Read Titles

December 23, 2015

You can read any of these in an evening, or less. They’ll stick in your memory for a long time though.

Suggested by Librarian Ann Thompson:


The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
A beautifully-written novella about the pleasure of reading with Bennett’s inimitable manner of sending up both royalty and commoners but especially commoners around royalty.

The End Of The Alphabet by C. S. Richardson
What would you do if you had only a month to live and you were deeply, hopelessly, in love with your spouse? Sorry, cue the tissue box.

Three Men In A Boat: to say nothing of the dog by Jerome K. Jerome
A classic of English humor unscathed by time.

3 Quick, And Good, Reads

December 22, 2015

The Staff’s theme this week are titles for busy folks without a lot of time to read. Today’s titles are provided by Librarian Amy Kilkenny.


I read this book in high school, but the passage about the imagined fate of a woman with Shakespeare’s genius in Shakespeare’s day has remained with me ever since.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit.
I read this book after my daughter finished it for an elementary school assignment. It raises the telling question concerning whether we truly want to live forever.
Academy Street by Mary Costello.
I am looking forward to reading this character study describing the thoughts and emotions of a quiet woman who moves from Ireland to New York City.

You asked for more…5 Books To Get You Through A Long Winter, this time

by Library Staffer Valerie Grabek:


1)The Darkest Part of the Forest– Holly Black -Warm weather, love, a mystery, and a faerie prince keeps you enthralled in this modern fairy tale.


2) A Court of Thorns And Roses – Sarah J. Maas –
Lovers of Beauty and the Beast rejoice for an epic revision that makes you forget the world around you.


3) Raven Boys Series– Maggie Stievfater –
Steeped in Welsh lore and myths, the series really leaves the reader wondering what will happen next.


4) All Souls Trilogy– Deborah Harkness – So many layers are involved in this series for romance fanatics, supernatural lovers, and historical fiction readers; makes one forget about the raging blizzards!

 5) Iron Druid Series– Kevin Hearne – A laugh out loud and inviting universe to escape to, and the best part is there are many in the series to get lost in.


bookpilesIf you haven’t heard about it yet, Mark Zuckerberg has started an online book group called A Year Of Books on Facebook as he attempts to read 2 books per month in 2015. We won’t be offended if you join up-we think it’s great but please let us know in the comments below if you’d like us to offer an online book group too.

Click here to see the A Year Of Books page.

If we could touch base with Mr. Zuckerberg, we’d probably ask for a list of the next few titles he’s going to read so we could get some extra copies in for our patrons.

The Costa Book Awards is one of the UK’s most prestigious and popular literary prizes and recognises some of the most enjoyable books of the year by writers based in the UK and Ireland.

It’s unique for having five categories: First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book.

The winner in each category receives £5,000, and then one of the five winning books is selected as the overall Costa Book of the Year, receiving a further £30,000, and making a total prize fund of £55,000. The Costa is the only prize which places children’s books alongside adult books in this way.

The Costa Book Awards started life in 1971 as the Whitbread Literary Awards. From 1985 they were known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2006, when Costa Coffee took over ownership from Whitbread.

The 2011 Category winners were announced earlier this month.  The five category winners, each of whom will receive £5,000, were selected from 568 entries.  The five successful authors who will now compete for the 2011 Costa Book of the Year are:

Biography:  Poet and debut biographer Matthew Hollis for his first work of prose,  Now All Roads Leads to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas.

Novel:  Andrew Miller for his sixth novel,  Pure.

First Novel:  Debut novelist and former Great Ormond Street nurse, Christie Watson for Tiny Sunbirds Far Away.

Poetry:  Carol Ann Duffy for The Bees, her first collection since being appointed Poet Laureate in 2009.

Children’s Book:  Former opera singer and debut children’s writer, Moira Young for Blood Red Road, currently being adapted for film by Scott Free, Ridley Scott’s production company.

The winner, selected by a panel of judges chaired by Editor of the London Evening Standard, Geordie Greig and
comprising Hugh Dennis, Dervla Kirwan, Mary Nightingale, William Fiennes, Flora Fraser, Patrick Gale,
Jojo Moyes and Eleanor Updale, will be announced on Tuesday 24th January 2012.

Since the introduction of the Book of the Year award in 1985, it has been won nine times by a novel, four
times by a first novel, five times by a biography, seven times by a collection of poetry and once by a
children’s book. The 2010 Costa Book of the Year was Of Mutability by Jo Shapcott.

We’re at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. and having a great time. Without exception, the programs we’ve attended have been inspiring and full of good ideas to be put to use when we return to Essex. We had the opportunity to attend a publishing book blast on Friday afternoon and heard about a handful of favorites from their publishers. We especially enjoyed the presentation by Ina Stern from Algonquin Books for West Of Here by Jonathan Evison (not to be released until Feb. 2011–such a long time to wait!) A brief synopsis of the plot:

An epic western adventure wrapped in the history of one small town, from the rugged mudflats of the northwestern frontier, to a rusting strip mall cornucopia, West of Here is a conversation between two epochs, one rushing blindly toward the future, and the other struggling to undo the damage of the past.

Ina also spoke passionately about the upcoming release, certain to be a bestseller, by Brock Clarke who also wrote An Arsonist’s Guide To Writer’s Homes In New England.  Exley (to be released in October, 2010), is a terrific follow-up for a writer who has been compared with John Irving and Richard Ford. The plot:

For nine-year-old Miller, who lives with his mother in Watertown, New York, life has become a struggle to make sense of his father’s disappearance, for which he blames himself. Then, when he becomes convinced that he has found his father lying comatose in the local VA hospital, a victim of the war in Iraq, Miller begins a search for the one person he believes can save him, the famously reclusive — and, unfortunately, dead — Frederick Exley, a Watertown native and the author of his father’s favorite book, the “fictional memoir” A Fan’s Notes. The story of Miller’s search, told by both Miller himself and his somewhat flaky therapist, ultimately becomes an exploration of the difference between what we believe to be real and what is in fact real, and how challenging it can be to reconcile the two.

We heard an eloquent and moving description of Sir Salman Rushdie’s forthcoming book, Luka And The Fire Of Life, a fairy tale, written for his son Milan, to be enjoyed by children and adults alike.  After hearing Sir Salman himself speak on Saturday afternoon about the book, we’re convinced it’s going to become a well-loved classic. It’s a companion book to Haroun And The Sea Of Stories. You’ll want to go read that while you wait for the release of Luka (November, 2010). The plot:

The adventure begins one beautiful starry night in the land of Alifbay, where a terrible thing happens: Luka’s father, Rashid, the legendary storyteller of Kahani, falls suddenly and inexplicably into a sleep so deep that nothing and no one can rouse him. To save him from slipping away entirely, Luka must embark on a journey through the world of magic with his loyal companions, Bear the dog and Dog the bear, as they encounter a slew of fantastical creatures, strange allies, and challenging obstacles along the way—all in the hopes of stealing the Fire of Life, a seemingly impossible and exceedingly treacherous task.

The New Yorker editors have announced their picks of the best 20 writers under 40. This is the magazine’s first such list since 1999, when it identified several future literary successes including Junot Díaz and Jhumpa Lahiri. Stories by the authors will be featured in upcoming issues of the magazine. The list is evenly divided between women and men. Some titles of novels by the author follow his/her name.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,  — Half Of A Yellow Sun;  The Thing Around Your Neck

Chris Adrian, — The Children’s Hospital;  Gob’s Grief

Daniel Alarcón,  — Lost City Radio;  The Secret Miracle: The Novelist’s Handbook

David Bezmozgis, — Natasha And Other Stories

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum,  — Ms. Hempel Chronicles;  Madeleine Is Sleeping

Joshua Ferris,  — The Unnamed;  Then We Came To The End

Jonathan Safran Foer,  — Eating Animals;  Everything Is Illuminated

Nell Freudenberger,  — The Dissident;  Lucky Girls

Rivka Galchen,  — Atmospheric Disturbances

Nicole Krauss, — Great House (due out in October);  The History Of Love
Krauss is married to another author on the list– Jonathan Safron Foer.

Yiyun Li,  — Vagrants;   A Thousand Years Of Good Prayers

Dinaw Mengestu, — How to Read The Air (due out in October);   The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears

Philipp Meyer,  — American Rust

C.E. Morgan,  — All the Living

Tea Obreht, — her first novel is due out in 2011

ZZ Packer,  — Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

Karen Russell,  — St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised By Wolves

Salvatore Scibona,  — The End

Gary Shteyngart, — Super Sad True Love Story (due out in July);  The Russian Debutante’s Handbook;  Absurdistan.

Wells Tower,  — Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned