Category Archives: Booklists

Marie’s Currently Reading: Blizzard Edition II

Ugh.  Last time I could make jokes but this time digging out our driveway took three hours and I don’t want to talk about it except to say:



On the plus side, I did spend the not-shoveling part of the snowstorm with some great books!

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan.  This book about the women who worked at Oak Ridge during World War II reads like a novel.  Since this is still within living memory, the author was able to interview lots of people, and to focus on a few individual stories.  The first-person accounts really add an immersive layer to the history.  In alternate chapters, the history and science behind the atomic bomb is explored.  A nice introduction to the making of the atomic bomb, and also a great exploration of the women who had a hand in making it happen.

The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman.  Very much my usual, and Goodman is very much in her wheelhouse with a novel about two writers who go back to their college town in upstate New York to work as caretakers for a former teacher.  The teacher’s house has a tragic past, and lots of family secrets and maybe a ghost.  Entertaining and enjoyable, and I’m just getting into the meat of it now.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  This book was all the rage when it was first published.  Everyone was reading it and talking about it.  It’s been on my TBR pile for years, and I just started it the other night.  The first chapter was a promising, atmospheric, and mysterious beginning to a story about rival magicians in the late 19th century.

Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry.  Yet another novel I’m reading in preparation for Horror month!  I’ve loved all the short stories I’ve read by Maberry, so I decided to give this title a try.  It’s about an ancient evil in a small town.  If it spooks me, you’ll see it in October!

That was all I had time for before the shoveling began.  And the watching of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, which is awesome and you should stop reading this right now and go watch it.  Maybe this weekend I’ll have time for more books and Gently.  After shoveling.




Marie’s Currently Reading…Blizzard Edition!

As most of you have probably  heard, there’s a blizzard on the way to Maine tonight.  CRIPPLING, you guys.  It’s going to be CRIPPLING:


I’ll do my level best not to go insane.  No promises.

Tomorrow is looking like a wash.  A whitewash.  We’ve called a closure already here at the library, because…seriously, CRIPPLING BLIZZARD, guys.   In between shoveling out our driveway from the snowdrifts and baking brownies and praying that the power stays on, I’ve got lots of great books on the go for tomorrow’s snowstorm!

Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air by Richard Holmes–a history of hot air ballooning!  There’s something incredibly inspiring about the early aeronauts and their quest to take to the air.  Balloonists were showmen, scientists, adventurers, and everything in between.

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart–fun, rollicking historical fiction with a fascinating lead and some cracking good dialogue.  It’s about a woman named Constance Kopp, who was one of the first deputy sheriffs in America.

The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stewart–this is a witty and very entertaining novel about a barber in a small French village.  When he starts losing clients due to baldness, he decides that he’ll become the village matchmaker instead.  It’s clever and cozy but not twee.

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon–I need at least one thriller on standby.  An alcoholic journalist tries to redeem her life and career by taking on an unsolved case.

Not a bad set of companions for the day.  Apart from Snow Shovel, of course, who I’ll be seeing a lot of.  I hope you’re all holed up somewhere snug and safe tomorrow!






Marie’s Favorites of 2016

If nothing else, 2016 has at least been a good reading year.  One of the best in recent memory, I’d say.  I discovered new favorites (Helen Ellis) and rediscovered lots of old ones (Grady Hendrix, Donald Ray Pollock, and Shirley Jackson).  Thanks to my book club I’ve read some outstanding nonfiction this year, too!

Here’s a link to my 2016 Reading Challenge over at Goodreads.  In general I’m not a huge fan of reading challenges that are purely numbers-based, but I think it’s great to have a way to track my reading over the course of a year.  Looking over my list from 2016, I see that I branched out a bit more into contemporary women writers.  I’ve also dipped back into the historical fiction well, which used to be one of my favorites.  I burned out on thrillers, but still love crime (thank you thank you for the new book this year, Tana French!).

I know we’ve still got more than a week to go before the year officially ends, but trust me when I tell you that it is highly unlikely that I’ll be able to finish anything before New Year’s.  So below please find my list of favorite reads of 2016.  Click the cover to go to the blog post for that book.

Happy holidays, folks!

american housewife

the other typist

wonder garden

lake of dead

calamity leek


Not Working


Heavenly Table



Marie’s Not Reading This: Holiday Edition!

…holiday in that the holidays are swiftly approaching and my cookie-laden brain can only handle Christmas specials, not that these are holiday books.

I’ve got a bookmark in quite a few titles right now, but nothing at the point where I can write about it.  So here’s what’s on my coffee table/in my bookbag:

Mischling by Affinity Konar (so tough to read but so so good)

The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis (fans of Daniel Woodrell and Cormac McCarthy take note!)

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (it is time to finally read past the first few pages of this!)

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (haven’t started this yet, but I’m so excited for it–it’s been on a ton of best of 2016 lists)

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin (thank you NPR Book Concierge for alerting me to the existence of this new biography!)

Not so long as other lists in this category!  Also, in looking over these titles, I realize I’ve made a rookie mistake in my reading choices.  Winter is not the time for sad/upsetting/bleak/generally heavy reads. No wonder I’m dragging my feet and reaching for Bill Bryson and Terry Pratchett.

I’m going to go home to eat candy and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  I’ll grapple with this list another day.


Marie’s Reading: Comfort Books

It’s been a rough couple of weeks all around, hasn’t it?   I’ve decided to turn to bibliotherapy to cope.

Bibliotherapy is a therapeutic technique which uses literature to support good mental health.  Bibliotherapists do a sort of readers advisory therapy session with readers, with the goal of providing a suggested reading list which will help the reader through challenging times.   Ceridwen Dovey talked about it over at The New Yorker last summer.

I decided to come up with my own list of books which make me feel better, either by distracting me, making me laugh, or providing some hope. Yours, of course, would probably differ.  There’s always the book mentioned in Dovey’s article, The Novel Cure, if you need some guidance.

Here’s my highly personal list of self-medication titles, which I am taking as needed:

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, especially Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and the final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

The Huge Book of Hell: A Cartoon Book by Matt Groening

The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, the Death books in particular

Take it easy out there, friends.



Marie’s Not Reading This: Spring Fever Edition

It’s been a weird cold spring around here.  Gray and chilly and still freezing at night.  It snowed yesterday.  I had to dig out my wool skirt and turtleneck sweater.

But today.

Today it’s beautiful out, sunny and breezy and warm, and I’m stuck at the library working.  Working to catalog books and write about books and check books out and process books for your interlibrary loans.  So that you can take them to the beach or to your porch or to your yacht or to your treehouse to blissfully read in the sunshine.  While I sit at a desk and type and stare out the window at the beautiful library lawn and wish I could at least smell the ocean.

I forgot where I was going with this.

Oh yeah: there are lots of books I could take to my yacht if I had one.  Time for another edition of Marie’s Not Reading This!

As always, these are books I have in progress.  Clearly publishers know that lovely days like today have been few this spring, so they’re publishing all the good books now so that we have something to read.  We’re also a little less than half-way to Halloween, so I’ve been reading more Horror in preparation.

Here you go, in descending order of how far along I am in each book.

Marie’s Not Reading (Because She’d Rather Be Playing Outside):

The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War
by Lynn H. Nicholas
The City & The City by China Mieville
Fellside by M.R. Carey
Travelers Rest by Keith Lee Morris
The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni
Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks
The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman by Nancy Marie Brown

Enjoy the weather, tourists and people who don’t have to work today.



Marie’s Not Reading This

Lots and lots of blogs and websites present a feature where they talk about the TBR (“to-be-read”) pile.  Those ominously swaying stacks on your coffee table, the scribbled list on a napkin you carry around in your pocket, your “to-read” virtual bookshelf on Goodreads, they all count.  Your TBR Pile consists of the books you have on-deck, the ones you’ve been meaning to get to, the ones you’re going to start soon.


Marie at home.

I haven’t really got one of those.  What I do have, though, is a Not Reading This pile.

I’ve talked about this before.  I’m not saying I’m not reading these books because I don’t like them.  I’m actually hoarding them because I like them so much.  I read a chapter or two here and there of each, and just cycle through the pile as the mood strikes me.   I’m particularly bad at this when it comes to books I own.  There’s an entire shelf of books in my office containing books that all have bookmarks in them.

So here are the books I’m not reading.  Or just barely reading.  The list is in descending order based on how long I’ve been working on them.
The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor by Flannery O’Connor
The Provincial Lady in America by E.M. Delafield
The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950’s America by Laura Shapiro
The Shape of Snakes by Minette Walters
The Crooked House by Christobel Kent
Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression by Morris Dickstein

In my defense, those first two (which, incidentally, live on that shelf I mentioned above), are really nice nightstand reads, ones to keep close and dip into as more of a comfort kind of thing.  The others…I have no excuse besides the simple fact that everything just looks so good.

I’ve also been reading Dancing in the Dark pretty hard, even though it’s taking me a while.  Book club is coming up, so I have to focus!

In closing: I hope you accept this list in lieu of actual content.  A proper post will be forthcoming.  I’ve just got a lot I’m not reading.



What YOU’RE Reading, 2015

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been asked to run a lot of stats about the top-circulating books of the year.  Running all the reports about kids’ items got me wondering: what did the grown-ups read at the Camden Public Library this year?

I put together the list based solely on the number of checkouts a title had in the past year.  As is traditional this time of year, we’ll count down from 10 to 1, 1 being the number one most-circulated book of 2015.

And here’s our countdown!

Continue reading →

Marie’s Favorite Reads of 2015

2015 was a tough reading year for me, in terms of favorite books.  In years past I’ve always had a few stand-outs, books I loved and devoured and then went off in search of more like them.  This year, not so much.

The sole honor in that category goes to Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series, which I discovered and adored this past year.  French rekindled my love of Crime fiction, and I’ve been gravitating more and more toward that genre after spending quite a long time in Horror and Thriller/Suspense.  So the first in the series, In The Woods, is at the tip-top of my favorite reads list.

This past year has been tough in terms of getting out of my reading comfort zone as well.  Thanks to the lovely nonfiction reading group I belong to, I’ve been guaranteed to read at least one nonfiction title a month for the past year and a half.  I’m still really slow about it, though.  For some reason I never tear through nonfiction as I do a novel, despite the fact that we’ve read some great ones in that group.  You can check out our reading list here.  Though I loved them all, I starred my particular favorites.

All that said, here’s the pretty short list of my faves from 2015.  These aren’t necessarily books published in the past year, just ones I read.  Clicking on the title will take you to the blog post I wrote about the book.  Enjoy!

Marie’s Favorite Books of 2015

In the Woods

florence gordon



head full of ghosts


Tune in next time for the post where I’ll admit defeat on the Reading Challenge.   Happy reading!



Holiday Reading


What’s on your must-read list every holiday season?

While I enjoy Dickens and O. Henry as much as the next person, my personal Christmas favorites are The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore and Hogfather by Terry Pratchett.  I’ve talked about both on the blog in years past.  You can find the posts here and here.

This year, I found a surprising Christmas read in  Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh, one of my favorite books of the year.  It’s set during the lead-up to Christmas.  And it’s a dark one.  I wrote about it for a Halloween post, here.

One I’m planning to re-read this year is the adorable How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas by Jeff Guinn (also author of the equally sweet and charming The Autobiography of Santa Claus).  It’s been years since I read either one, and I think dear old Mrs. Claus is due for a re-visit.  I particularly enjoy this one because it’s set in England in 1647, when the Puritans have taken control of Parliament and pass a law that will punish anyone who celebrates Christmas.  I recall this as a great blend of historical fiction and Christmas coziness.

Happy holidays!  I hope you all get lovely books to read this season!