Yoga Nidra

Thursday, May 23, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Yoga Nidra—also known as yogic sleep—is a guided meditation practice that is intended to bring deep physical, mental, and emotional relaxation.

Anyone can do it! No yoga experience is necessary. Bring items to make yourself comfortable lying on a carpeted floor for 45 minutes (blanket, small pillow, pad). Can’t lie on the floor? Try it seated.

Please sign up for this month’s session.

“Chris Picks” for May: Flowers

[Here are this month’s great recommendations from staff member Christopher Jennings Penders. Click on a title to place a hold. You can find previous Chris Picks through the “What to read” link at the bottom of this page or type “Chris Picks” into the search bar on our homepage.]


In celebration of the Mayflower, this month will have books with flowers associated with them, in either the author’s name or the title of the book.

Dandelion Wine
Ray Bradbury is a speculative writer I have admired for a long while. Dandelion Wine is set in the fictional town of Green Town, Illinois. The protagonist of the novel is a twelve-year-old somewhat based on Bradbury.

Flowers in the Attic
This is the book that started the V.C. Andrews craze in the late 1970s. The book is about a family of children hidden away in their grandmother’s attic.

Rose Connors
Rose Connors writes mysteries that take place in Sandwich on Cape Cod. The setting is well-drawn; it almost becomes a secondary character. Her books in order of publication follow:

Absolute certainty
Temporary sanity
Maximum security
False testimony

Killers of the Flower Moon
David Grann has quickly become one of my favorite nonfiction writers up there with Erik Larson. Killers recounts the origins of the FBI. In the wake of the murders of wealthy Osage people, the newly formed FBI investigates what happened. As with Erik Larson’s books, I found Killers hard to put down.

Rose Madder
As I have read more books by Stephen King, I have come to understand his popularity. If you have domestic violence triggers, here’s your warning. There’s also a Greek mythology trope woven through the book. This is another King book I surprisingly enjoyed.

“Chris Picks” for April: Pseudonyms

[Here are this month’s great recommendations from staff member Christopher Jennings Penders. Click on a title to place a hold. You can find previous Chris Picks through the “What to read” link at the bottom of this page or type “Chris Picks” into the search bar on our homepage.]


Since this is April (which includes April Fool’s Day), this month we highlight pseudonyms.

How many of these pen names do you know without cheating? Who is the real writer hiding behind? I’ve read at least one book from each of them.

Joe Hill
How many people know who Joe Hill is?  Once you see his picture there will be no denying his genes.

Robert Galbraith
Everyone knows Robert Galbraith now. When the author started using the name, they hoped to remain anonymous for a long time. They were discovered because a sharp-eyed bookstore employee found language and sentence structure similar in tone to the writer behind the pseudonym.

Benjamin Black
John Banville is someone I look forward to reading with each book he releases. As with Jonathan Carroll, another of my all-time favorite writers, Banville’s elegant prose makes me slow down and marvel at his art. Benjamin Black is his pen name, and he still has the talent to make you stop in the middle of a sentence and take in the magic of his words.

Richard Stark
I had no clue that Stark is Donald Westlake’s most successful pseudonym. I’ve read books authored by both Stark and Westlake and thought they were penned by different people. That’s how impressively Westlake hides behind his pseudonym.

John le Carré
I had no clue that le Carre is a pen name. Upon learning the reason he chose to use a pseudonym, I understand why he did so.

“Chris Picks” Books for March: Airplanes

[Here are this month’s great recommendations from staff member Christopher Jennings Penders. Click on a title to place a hold. You can find previous Chris Picks through the “What to read” link at the bottom of this page or type “Chris Picks” into the search bar on our homepage.]


Skyjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper
By Geoffrey Gray
I love this story! During Thanksgiving week 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper boarded a plane in Portland, Washington bound for Seattle. When in the air, Cooper opened the briefcase he had carried on and showed a flight attendant a bomb he said he had made. He demanded $200,000 in cash and four parachutes. Flight 305 landed in Seattle. Cooper released all the passengers, and the plane took off again. This time it was carrying Cooper, a flight attendant, and three pilots. Cooper demanded to be flown to Mexico. Sometime during the flight, he jumped out of the plane using the plane’s aft stairs. No one ever heard from him again.

Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle
By Marc Gonsalves
In February 2003 three American contractors, Marc Gonsalves, Tom Howes, and Keith Stansell were travelling to South America when their plane went down. They survived the plane crash only to be captured and held hostage for over five years by FARCAt just under 500 pages, this book held me in its spell from the first page. Out of Captivity is more than a story of these three people. What initially drew me to their story was the tale of their rescue.

A team of rescuers had infiltrated FARC and had spoken with FARC members who were holding 15 hostages including Marc, Tom, and Keith. The rescuers had made plans with FARC to meet and take the hostages to another location. Even the hostages were unaware of the plan, and it wasn’t until everyone was in the air aboard helicopters that the infiltration team took off their masks and revealed that the hostages were now free and were being taken to a secure location.

Into the Abyss: An Extraordinary True Story
By Carol Shaben
In October 1984 a commuter plane crashed in Alberta, British Columbia, killing six people. Four survived. This is the story of how the four survived and the bonds they made during that time.

When I Fell From the Sky: The True Story of One Woman’s Miraculous Survival
By Juliane Koepcke
Juliane Koepcke’s parents were scientists in the South American jungle. Juliane grew up with an exceptional knowledge of the forest, and this served her well when she was just seventeen. While traveling by plane with her mother back home to South America, the plane flew into a massive thunderstorm and everyone on board died. Juliane was the only survivor, but how she survived is the story. She fell two miles while still strapped into her plane seat and crashed into the leafy canopy of the very forest she grew up in.

Lost Horizon
By James Hilton
Along with The Scarlet Letter, Lost Horizon ranks high on my all-time classics list, in the top five.
Escaping the war in China, passengers on a plane are taken to a valley in the Himalayas where time seems to have stopped. I remember reading Lost Horizon for the first time in 1978 while in eighth grade. As with The Scarlet Letter, I have read the book a few more times since then, and I like it more each time I finish.


“Chris Picks” February Books

[Here are this month’s great recommendations from staff member Christopher Jennings Penders. Click on a title to place a hold. You can find previous Chris Picks through the “What to read” link at the bottom of this page or type “Chris Picks” into the search bar on our homepage.]


I know. I know. January had us thinking about Spring with our baseball theme. Now we’re back in winter mode. February is the heart of winter, so why not?

The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel
By Katherine Arden
Fantasy is one of my favorite genres, and like Orson Scott Card’s Enchantment and Kim Wilkins’ The Veil of Gold, The Bear and the Nightingale is a folklore tale set in old Russia (the 14th century). Young Vasya joins the Frost King to save her village.

A Winter’s Tale
By Mark Helprin
The New York Times singled out A Winter’s Tale as one of the best works of American fiction published in the late 20th century. It’s not difficult to understand why with its timeless themes of love, the human spirit, and New York City. A theme that caught my interest is the subplot of Peter Lake’s multiple lives, as I firmly believe in past lives.

Snow
By John Banville
John Banville has long been one of my go-to writers since I first read The Book of Evidence years ago. It looks like Snow is going to be a new series with Detective John Strafford. Strafford is called to Wexford Ireland to investigate the death of a priest during the middle of a snowstorm. Will he unravel the mystery? Banville is a master (like William Trevor) of intellectual fiction without pretense. Don’t miss out on either writer.

Endurance
By Alfred Lansing
Endurance is the story of Ernest Shackleton’s plan to cross Antarctica on foot. This is a heart-pounding book.

The Night Circus
By Erin Morgenstern
Some debut novels stay with you long after you have read them, and The Night Circus is a book that continues to resonate in my heart and mind. Filled with my favorite magic, The Night Circus unfolds in a different town every night. Two young magicians take center stage in this story as one competes to better the other. As sometimes happens with two competitors, Celia and Marco develop feelings for each other. This does not bode well.

“Chris Picks” January Books: Baseball

[Here are this month’s great recommendations from staff member Christopher Jennings Penders. Click on a title to place a hold. You can find previous Chris Picks through the “What to read” link at the bottom of this page or type “Chris Picks” into the search bar on our homepage.]

If you consider the pitchers and catchers report in February, America’s pastime is right around the corner and spring can’t be far behind. With that in mind, baseball is my theme for January this year. Six books this month as opposed to my normal five. The first three are fiction and the second three are nonfiction and Red Sox-centric.

Fiction:

Shoeless Joe
By W.P. Kinsella
The book that’s the basis for Field of Dreams.

The Natural
By Bernard Malamud
Robert Redford starred in the movie adaptation.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
Stephen King’s tale of a girl lost in the woods and pitcher Tom Gordon’s presence guiding her through the stress.

Nonfiction:

Feeding the Monster
By Seth Mnookin
This is the early 2000s story of how The Boston Red Sox came to win in 2004 and 2007 and remained contenders.

The Teammates
By David Halberstam
A last road trip made my old Red Sox players visit Ted Williams in Florida before he passed.

Bottom of the 33rd
By Dan Barry
The longest game in history.

“Chris Picks” December Books: Favorite Authors

[Here are this month’s great recommendations from staff member Christopher Jennings Penders. Click on a title to place a hold. You can find previous Chris Picks through the “What to read” link at the bottom of this page or type “Chris Picks” into the search bar on our homepage.]

Gary Braver
Gary Braver and I have been friends for several years now. He even wrote a glowing review of my book Arrivals and Departures.

I have read many of Gary’s books:
Elixir
Flashback
Skin Deep
Tunnel Vision

And his latest:
Rumor of Evil

Each one is a page-turner. For personal reasons, I resonate mostly with Tunnel Vision because it deals with a topic I intimately believe in.

Ben Mezrich
I discovered Mr. Mezrich upon reading Bringing Down the House about the college students who beat the odds at casinos. Another non-fiction book of his that I enjoyed was The 37th Parallel.

Jack Finney
Time travel fiction is another one of my favorite sub-genres. It can be wildly entertaining and obsessively read. Time and Again and From Time to Time are two of Finney’s books about time travel that are not to be missed!

Ben Bova
Ben Bova is one of my favorite “hard” science fiction writers. By hard science, I mean that he writes science-fact-based fiction. Bova has written books about every planet in our solar system. If pressed against a wall, I’d have to say that Mars is my favorite planet book. Everything he writes is worth reading, however.

Charles DeLint
I recall being introduced to Charles DeLint in the late 1980s and early 1990s through Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. DeLint always appeared in these year-end books.

DeLint writes about a fictional town in Canada called Newford. I’ve read several of his Newford books and each one is better than the last. DeLint has populated his town with a set of characters and in each book, a different set of characters takes precedence, yet all the townspeople show up in every book. The Newford titles (in chronological order) are:

The Dreaming Place
From a Whisper to a Scream
Dreams Underfoot
I’ll Be Watching You
Memory and Dream
The Ivory and the Horn
Trader
Someplace to Be Flying
Moonlight and Vines
The Newford Stories
Forests of the Heart
The Onion Girl
Seven Wild Sisters
Tapping the Dream Tree
Spirits in the Wires
A Circle of Cats
Medicine Road
The Blue Girl
The Hour Before Dawn
Widdershins
Promises to Keep
Old Man Crow
Dingo
Muse and Reverie
Juniper Wiles
Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls

I haven’t read the whole series, but those I have read have kept me in rapt attention and I highly recommend them. Mr. DeLint also writes stand-alone books and I’ve read several of those as well.