September 25, 2017

Words Have Power: Read a Banned Book

During Banned Books Week, the American Library Association and all of us here at the Almy Library want to remind you how lucky you are to have the right to read!  

Each year hundreds of books are challenged by patrons, parents, religious organizations and even the government, because of things like perceived profanity or socialist views or violence or LGBTQ themes, etc.

Thanks to the vigilance of librarian superheroes like Ms. Dow and Ms. Duncan...

only 10% of those books ever actually get removed from the shelves.  

You, too, can stand up for your right to read by checking out a banned book today!

Here's a great short list of reasons why to read a Banned Book!

Chances are, you've already read a bunch of them.

This one for example...

 has been banned in some regions for: "references to the occult" or because it was considered "anti-family". 

Stop by the Almy Library to check out your next read from our Banned Books Display.

September 7, 2017

New in the library!  Ms. Wunder's Bookshelf

Look up and to the left of the library desk to find Ms. Wunder's bookshelf!  

I'll be pointing out a few new and notable books in our collection, starting with this week's pick:  Lit Mags!

Sometimes obscure and difficult to find, literary magazines are where a lot of new fiction and poetry germinates.  Budding writers take note!

Ploughshares is a magazine near and dear to my heart. Conceived by some folks in Cambridge in the seventies, it began its operations at the "Plough and Stars," an Irish pub on Mass Ave. Each issue is guest edited by a different literary superstar so its tone is varied and constantly in flux.  The current issue is compiled by the great Stewart O’Nan (author of 16 novels including Last Night at the Lobster) and contains stories and nonfiction by: Stephen King, Peter Orner, Lucy Corin, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum and more…

Poetry, the second new journal  in our collection is the oldest monthly magazine devoted to verse in the English language.  This month find a dedication to the late Denis Johnson, and poems by Joy Harjo (a personal fave), Patricia Lockwood and A. R. Ammons.

Check them out!

May 11, 2017

All Hail King Aaron!

The BB&N Community has elected its new King of Quiet: Aaron K., Class of 2017! 

King Aaron, in repose

Innumerable votes were cast, and though the competition was stupendously sleepy in its own right, Aaron won the crown. We're thrilled to have named the Dozing Denizen, the Restful Ruler, the Sleeping Superior of 2017! May Aaron enjoy many restful naps over the summer, as may all of you.

Keep one eye open for our camera next year; you may be the next King or Queen of Quiet!!

April 13, 2017

Welcome to Ms. Wunder's Book Corner... which I try to persuade you to take a closer look at some of the library's newest titles...

This month we're featuring memoirs by two women from the Middle East trying to forge and solidify their identities against all odds.

Imagine living in a place where being a tomboy was a death sentence. In A Different Kind of Daughter, Maria Toorpakai recounts how her liberal father honored her request at age five to burn her clothes and dress as a boy in Pakistan's violently oppressive northwest tribal region. Consequently, she began playing squash with her brothers and rose to become the number one female squash player in Pakistan. When the Taliban found out, they issued death threats against her family and hunted her down. She was rescued by an elite Canadian squash coach, who smuggled her away from Pakistan and into Canada, where she is now among the top fifty players in the world. Toorpakai's is different kind of courageous sports memoir that reveals some dark truths of global politics and the oppression of women around the world.

In The Home That Was Our Country, Alia Malek also takes a humanistic approach to the complicated political and cultural history of the Middle East. Malek relates the hopeful story of moving to Syria during the Arab Spring to restore her grandmother’s abandoned Damascus apartment. She describes the peaceful microcosm of Middle Easterners who live in the building together (Muslims, Christians, Jews, Armenians and Kurds) while contrasting this with drastic the political shifts that threaten to tear the country apart. By weaving together the story of her family with the history of a country, Malek provides a sympathetic glimpse at the devastation of the Syrian War. For anyone seeking a closer look into Syria’s history and future.

Check back in May for more blurbs from Ms. Wunder's Book Corner!

October 31, 2016

Getting to Know Ms. Wunder!

We hope you've all had a chance to drop by the library desk to meet our wonderful new member of the library team, Ms. Wunder, who joined us this year! We're so happy to have her with us.

Our library intern extraordinaire, Rose Meier, took it upon herself to interview Ms. Wunder, so we can all get to know her better. Below is their conversation! Come say hi to Ms. Wunder (and Ms. Duncan and Ms. Dow!) next time you're in the library!

R: What drew you to working in libraries?

W: I've worked in books my whole life. My first job out of college was at a book distributor, where I wrote for their catalogue. So I wrote forty-word blurbs for their books for their marketing catalogues and it got me to write really quickly and concisely, and I loved that job and I lived being around books and people who loved books. I also had a job at the Emerson College Library where I was their circulation manager. Getting back to work, I decided to start at a high school.

R: Of all the libraries you've visited in your life, which has been your favorite, and why?

W: I love the BPL in Copley, I write in their quiet reading room often, and I think it's gorgeous and it was the first free public library in the United States and I feel really lucky to be able to use it. And the renovation is pretty awesome too.

R: They have quiet reading rooms?

W: Mhm, yeah, but it's kept quiet by some really ornery security guards that kick you when you fall asleep and stuff... I think they were fired in the renovation but I have this ongoing war with the security guards there. They would always give me dirty looks, and I would give them dirty looks back. Aside from that, I love that library (laughs).

R: What is your favorite book that takes place in the future?

W: I like Station 11, that was pretty amazing. I also liked The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Those are two of my more recent favorites. David Mitchell is one of my favorite authors; he's a speculative kind of guy, really has a unique mind.

R: What books are currently on your nightstand?

W: I'm reading La Rose by Louis Erdrich, and my book club is reading The Picture of Dorian Gray. The new E. Annie Proulx book, which is called Barking..? Something? [Editor's note: the title is Barkskins] Those are the big ones.

R: Is Louise Erdrich..?

W: She's a Native American writer, I have a thing for Native American fiction.

R: Oooh! That's going in the blog post.

R: Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine?

W: I have to think about that for a second. A long time ago, I really loved the book Orlando by Virginia Woolf, and the protagonist was a sort of soul who traveled through time. So Orlando was a different gender like every century or something, and it was a really cool idea for a book, I thought, and I love the soul, the character, Orlando. I have to revisit it, because I'm not sure I still love it... But I also read, when I was your age, I loved The Mists of Avalon, and it was Morgan Le Fay, and they did a feminist revision of the King Arthur tales and I remember really loving that book and having that book blow my mind for some reason.

R: What kind of reader were you as a child?

W: I wasn't the most avid reader, I have to say. I loved the Judy Bloom stuff, I loved the realistic fiction that related to my life, and devoured all that stuff. But I wasn't a reader of the classics, I wasn't a Jane Austen fan or a Little House on the Prairie fan-- I hate that book... But I liked contemporary fiction as a kid.

R: Who would you want to write your life story?

W: Oh, nobody! (laughs)

R: Would you want to write it yourself?

W: Um... I guess I would want to write it myself, yeah.

R: Or, not have it published at all?

W: Or not have it published at all. (laughs)

R: Remain in the shadows.

W: Yeah, I don't really need to have my life story out there. I'm pretty open, I'm an open book anyway. So I feel like everyone who knows me knows my whole life story. I don't think it has to be out there.

R: How are you liking BB&N? (these questions are redundant so I'm going to wing it a little)

W: I'm liking it a lot! I haven't been working full-time in like 13 years, so the hours are exhausting, (laughs) but I think I'm getting more and more used to it. And I do a little bit of time at the middle school, and I love the change of environments, and the students are really fun. I'm excited to get to know the students a little bit more. I think that's going to make the job even better.

R: And you haven't worked with middle schoolers or high schoolers before?

W: No, I taught writing at Emerson, and at Northeastern, so I've worked with college freshmen.

R: So you taught writing?

W: Yeah, I taught writing and worked in the library after that.

R: And you've written several novels.

W: Two. They're YA books, so I don't know if you'd call them novels, but yeah. And then I have a third that's in the drafting process. It's not YA, it's a sort of an adult crime novel that's linked to a television series. So it's sort of a collaborative project with a TV writer.

R: So you're also screenwriting?

W: He wrote the screen stuff, but I'm writing the novel portion.

R: That's awesome! Are we going to see it someday soon on TV?

W: I don't know, they're still in negotiations about whether the TV will be sold. But the book has been sold, so the book will exist and the TV show may exist.

R: And what do you like to write about?

W: Families. Sad stuff with a sense of humor. The laughing through tears kind of stuff. I try to get to that somehow. Girls, families, emotions.

R: And you go with the realistic stuff?

W: Yeah, there is a bit of magic realism in my first book, a little bit of fantasy. I don't know if I did it well, but it was fun to try that. Quasi-magic realism.

R: What do you feel like you put into the writing process?

W: You can't avoid putting in your own life. That's what makes YA interesting, because I'm not writing about a forty-whatever year old woman, I'm writing about this teenager, so I can put myself into some other character and easily write a beginning middle and end because my teenager years are over; I can shape it better. That's why I'm attracted to YA, because I can remove myself from it. When I first started writing there was a little bit too much of myself in it, like I couldn't finish the story because the story..

R: Wasn't over?

W: Wasn't over! So I enjoy writing YA books because I can figure out an ending for the story, and a shape for the story. I do put a little bit of myself in it, but it's measured, which is good. And it's sort of interesting, I feel like the second book I wrote was sort of the two-sided, two characters were the different sides of myself. Like the Itt side [It side?] and the super-ego side battling it out in this friendship. So yeah, it's unavoidable to put yourself in there.

R: How would you describe your writing style?

W: I definitely enjoy writers who enjoy the act of writing, so there has to be some joy in the process. And some sense of humor. So I would describe it as dramedy. (laughs)

R: Is that how you describe your lifestyle? Your life is a dramedy?

W: (laughing) My life is a dramedy, yes.

May 9, 2016

All Hail the King!

The BB&N Community has elected its new King of Quiet: Jack T., Class of 2016! 

King Jack, in repose

Innumerable votes were cast, and though the competition was stupendously sleepy in its own right, Jack won the crown.  Although he'll be ruling from afar at college next year, we're thrilled to have named the Dozing Denizen, the Restful Ruler, the Sleeping Superior of 2016! May Jack enjoy many long naps at college, and may all of you catch up on your sleep this summer.

Keep one eye open for our camera next year; you may be the next King or Queen of Quiet!!

April 12, 2016

Good Bye, Dear Al. Welcome, Atticus!

We all miss Al Aptop, but are comforted to know that he is now swimming in a better place. The tributes to Al were many and all were heartfelt. Perhaps the most moving tribute was the poem Lucas Fried and Jacob Licht wrote (poem below).

However, the time has come to welcome the Almy Library's new fish! Our wonderful BB&N community has taken this little blue guy to our communal heart. Students and faculty alike submitted many great names for our new FOTAL (Fish of the Almy Library), but only one name could be voted the best for our little aquatic friend.  Please come by the Library soon and say hello to ATTICUS FISH!

text of Lucas & Jacob's poem:
In Memoriam

Our dear friend Albert,
With whom we shared much joy.
We cannot begin to express our hurt,
But we are glad we had a betta and not a koi.

Even though by our standards your lifespan was scant,
In fish years you lived to seventy.
You loved to dwell under the plant,
And your floating will now be heavenly.

You may be called a fighting fish,
But you brought peace and joy to the school.
You fulfilled our every wish,
And your fight against injustice was your only duel.

They said we had bigger fish to fry,
But from the beginning you caught our eye.
Even though your battery is now drained,
Your memory will always keep us entertained.

                                             Lucas Fried & Jacob Licht