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Showing posts from August, 2018

Why I Read Books

Every year, on a Friday in late June, the library closes for its annual Staff Development Day. The entire staff of the Wallingford Public Library spends the day participating in workshops, lectures and other collaborative events. We share information about our annual summer reading programs for children, teens and adults. We have lunch together. And we laugh a lot. It's a fun, useful and engaging day, and the time always passes quickly.

As part of the planning for this year's Staff Development Day, we were asked to complete the Compliment Project by complimenting one another. Each of us wrote a sentence or a phrase or a set of words that we felt captured the strengths and positive qualities of our co-workers. Jenn Nash, the library's wonderful Teen Librarian, compiled the responses, and as we broke for lunch on Staff Development Day, we received envelopes containing the compliments that our colleagues had given us. Some of us opened the envelopes right away. Others waited…

Thursday Night Book Club -- August, 2018

Traditionally, the Thursday Night Book Club takes the month of August off, the better to accommodate summer vacations and the "big book" that we read each September. Late last year, we decided to do away with tradition and meet once a month, every month of the year. To usher in the first August meeting of the Thursday Night Book Club, a record number of members gathered in the library on Thursday, August 16th to discuss Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift.

In the United Kingdom, Mothering Sunday was originally a religious event. On the fourth Sunday of Lent, people returned home to their "mother church" for services. Over time, this pilgrimage became a holiday, and servants were given the day off to visit their own families, as well as to attend church. Graham Swift's 177-page novel contains the reflections of 98-year-old Jane Fairchild, noted author, about an unseasonably warm Mothering Sunday in March of 1924. Jane, an orphan, was placed "in service" …

Dear Mrs. Bird

I've been reading a lot of non fiction this summer. While typically I spend the hot weather months reading lighter fare with some big (Man Booker) books thrown in for those very lazy afternoons when it's just too warm to be outside, this summer I've been immersed in facts, research and intellectual thought. Some standouts among the 15 or so non-fiction titles I've read since Memorial Day include Squeezed, about the struggle of America's middle class to afford to live here, the quietly unnerving 1947: Where Now Begins, about one year in the post World War II era and Factfulness, a fascinating study of how our instincts about global trends are frequently wrong. Most recently, I spent an afternoon reading Nathaniel Rich's extraordinary article "Losing Earth," which filled the entire August 5th issue of the New York Times Magazine and could easily have been an engrossing and quietly devastating book.

All of this non-fiction reading has been stimulating a…