Staff Reads — New Year 2018!

Book Projector Treble Clef

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  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow: It took me 6 weeks, but I’m glad I finished it. Reading it I realized how little has changed since the American Revolution: fake news, political backstabbing, scandals – it’s all there in Hamilton’s time.
  • The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs: This was a great companion piece to the Chernow book, because the novel is historically accurate, but the info is more easily digested in fiction form.
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett: I was somewhat reluctant to read this, because I didn’t enjoy Bel Canto. But, only 1 chapter in and I’m hooked. The writing is often funny and the characters interesting. Looking forward to seeing what happens!


  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders: I really enjoyed this science fiction/fantasy/romance hybrid in which science and magic come together to either save or end the world. Protagonists Patricia and Laurence felt very real, with relatable flaws. The tone is both humorous and foreboding and I missed Patricia and Laurence when I finished the novel. This is a good read alike for those who enjoyed the fantastical elements and doomed love story in The Night Circus or for those who appreciated humor along with the world ending in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
  • Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: This plot-driven historical novel was a quick read and left me wanting to know more about “orphan trains”. The novel alternates between present day and the first half of the 20th century. I found the historical moments more compelling.
  • Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (audiobook): While I’ve always appreciated Springsteen’s songs, I am not one of his super fans and would never think to read his memoir, until a member of one of my (non Waltham Public Library) book clubs suggested it. To my surprise, I did enjoy hearing about his tales of early performances, growing up in New Jersey, and his family. Springsteen is a good storyteller and a good narrator (once I got over the fact that I thought he sounded like someone imitating him).
  • The Viceroy’s House (DVD or Netflix): This historical film is set in 1947-1948 and is the story of the independence and partitioning of India/Pakistan. I’m ashamed that I didn’t know much about this moment in history before I watched this film and look forward to reading The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India’s Partition which inspired director, Gurinder Chadha.


  • Choosing Civility by PM Forni: Hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s an inspiring short read that answers the question, “Why shouldn’t I beep at that (guy)!” in a smart way.
  • Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording: I’m embarrassingly late to this party, but Hamilton is worth the hype. Technically I’m listening to it, but it’s all good because I am also reading the Alexander Hamilton bio from Chernow which is 800 pages.
  • Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller: I’m a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, and Miller does the entire series proud with this homage to Laura’s mother, Caroline. The Little House series is great for any age, but for grown ups who’ve already read through the series a million or so times, this is an excellent read (Laura Ingalls Wilder society approved too!). Related, I have a hold on: Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser. It’s also getting great reviews and should be a nice companion piece for the grown up Little House fans.
  • Origin, the latest Dan Brown. THE LATEST DAN BROWN. Remember The Da Vinci Code? I don’t believe in being late to work, but one time I was late to work (YEARS AGO) because I could not put down The Da Vinci Code. So I have high hopes for Origin.
  • It’s All Relative : Adventures up and down the World’s Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs: Jacobs is pretty funny. In his latest, he attempts to connect us all on one huge family tree.
  • L’appart : The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home by David Lebovitz: Because Paris (and French food, culture and an apartment reno).
  • Everything Is Awful : And Other Observations by Matt Bellassai: This guy is really funny and I like his videos, so how bad can the book be?
  • The Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines: I know, shiplap, but honestly, it wasn’t the worst thing I read. This would not be a terrible gift if you know someone who loves the show.
  • Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball: The genius behind America’s Test Kitchen is now focusing on Milk Street – and this cookbook follows that journey. It’s awesome and beautiful and everything you hope for from a cookbook.
  • The Hating Game by Sally Thorne: The most fun, cute, fluffy, love story I’ve read, and it’s very well-written. If love and joy are your thing, you will love this book. If hate and misery are your thing, read this book.

Doreen: Fredrik Backman’s The Deal of a Lifetime: Moving short story.


  • Broadchurch – Season 3 (Netflix): This well-written, well-acted British drama is quietly devastating. Season three could be watched as a stand alone but builds on events that occurred in seasons one and two so I recommend starting at the beginning.
  • G.L.O.W. (Netflix): Set in 1980s L.A. about a group of women (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) selected to be part of the first women’s wrestling league. As a child of the 80s (and fan of the WWF in my childhood), I am a bit biased but the season finale was one of the best television episodes I watched all year.
  • Insecure (DVD): Full disclosure: the language may be a bit off-putting but the writing on this show is outstanding. I am slightly obsessed and desperately awaiting a season three release date. This one is binge-worthy.
  • Sex Object by Jessica Valenti: Published in 2016, this bracing and relevant memoir is a must-read for anyone who’s paying attention. #metoo #feminism
  • Evicted by Matthew Desmond: Along with Sex Object (see above) and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, this is a must-read. (editor’s note: We’ll be reading this at the Waltham Public Library book club on February 15 and 21.)
  • Smitten Kitchen Every Day: This new collection from well-known blogger Deb Perelman contains a recipe that got my kids to eat brussel sprouts and like them.

Pat O.:


  • Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed: Interesting if a bit icky feminist dystopia story.
  • There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins: YA thriller/horror novel with some great moments of suspense!
  • The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman: A wonderful companion novel to Practical Magic. Her writing is so beautiful and full of magic!
  • Watched Mindhunter on Netflix.
  • Watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime.

Louise: I am currently reading Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. This is a Teen Book, technically speaking, but this 59 year young librarian is enjoying every minute. Our main character, Aza, is a very bright sixteen year old who has OCD. Her best friend, Daisy, wrotes Star Wars fan fiction and can tell you everything you need to know about wookies and whether or not they should get involved with humans. The two of them are trying to solve the mystery of a wealthy friend’s father’s disappearance. The characters are beautifully drawn and the plot is compelling. Get on the list for this one!

Mary V.:

  • Bibliomysteries compiled by Otto Penzler: This is a collection of short mystery stories all of which have something to do with books. Some of them are very good.
  • The Face of Deception by Iris Johansen: This is the first book in a series about a forensic artist. This first book was very good and involves a sitting president and his conspiring minions.
  • The Other Woman’s House by Sophie Hannah: An insecure woman suspects her husband of cheating on her. As she tries to discover the truth, she encounters more trouble than she can handle. It has a very surprising ending.
  • I am finishing The Liars’ Gospel by Naomi Alderman. This is a novel that takes place in the early first century after the crucifixion of Christ.
  • I am watching all of the Midsomer Murders for the third time and enjoying them as much as I did the first time.



2018 Waltham Public Library Book Club Selections

The Underground Railroad In the Country We Love House of Names

Announcing the 2018 reading list for the Waltham Public Library Book Club!
Choose to come on Thursday evening at 7:15 pm or Wednesday morning at 11:00 am. Books are available at the First Floor Circulation Desk during the month before the meeting. The book club is open to everyone. No registration required. And we always provide snacks!
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