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Failure in Fiction: Take Heart, Readers

In my last blog entry, I noted that I would be attempting NaNoWriMo; that is, I would try to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  Succinctly put: I failed.  Utterly.  Miserably.  Horribly.  Failed.

Week one went well.  I wrote 10,000 words.  I don’t think that there was much plot, character development, or any setting of which to speak within the 10,000.  But oh there were words.  When week two rolled in, however, my little boy got sick.  Then I got what he had.  Then his sister got it.  And the thought of sitting down to write became so daunting I began actively avoiding nouns, verbs, a few adjectives, and most adverbs.  By week three I was so far in the hole that I wore my shame like a warm hug.  And week four?  Why do they even have National Novel Writing Month in November anyway?  It’s barren, freezing, dark, cold and flu season, and the gateway into winter holiday preparation!  Why would I have even wanted to finish?

The grapes of NaNoWriMo are very sour.

Nonetheless, I have 10,000 more words than I had at the beginning of November.  That’s something, as the good people of NaNoWriMo are quick to point out.  It is better to have written a few words than not to have written at all.  And for those like me who don’t always reach the goal on the first try, I give you a bibliography for reflection.  The books listed below demonstrate that if at first you don’t succeed (or even on the second, third, fourth, or fifth try), you still might be okay.


1.    Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

2.    Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Lloso

3.    The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier ( J C815c)

4.    Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (J Sp4s)

5.    Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

6.    Taking Off by Jenny Moss

7.    Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

8.    Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

9.    Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood

10.  I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak


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The Science of Food

While of course food is wonderful for eating, it is also a great way to enter the world of science and engage young learners. The Wheelock Library and the Earl Center for Learning and Innovation both have great resources to bring food in to the classroom or science in to the kitchen! Check out these two books available now!

booksThe Science Chef

This book is organized around food related questions like “How do sauces thicken?” or topics like “Make your own cheese.” Each topic is followed by an experiment that helps address the subject and answer science questions. Then a number of recipes follow using the food addressed in the experiment. The mix of science plus tasty recipes means you can go to this book for both food, fun, and education!


books (1)Foodworks:  over 100 science activities and fascinating facts that explore the magic of food

This book takes the science aspect of food to a new level by answering fun and interesting questions about food, and offering sciences experiments. For example: “Did you know you are being eaten right now by the 300,000 microbes on each dime-sized section of your skin? That you can make the soil in your yard suitable for growing anything? That a field mouse eats its own weight every day, while you eat about one ton of food each year- some one and a quarter million calories?” According to Barnes and Noble, all of the answers can be found in this book!

So bring learning to the kitchen. Have fun, learn, and eat deliciously!

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Uncovering Reference Books: Art reference sources add color to your day

Are you getting an Arts degree from Wheelock? Doing the Art History program in conjunction with Emmanuel? Need some help on a paper, presentation, or assignment for Marjorie Hall’s class that has you stumped?

Or maybe you aren’t taking classes in art. But have you ever been walking through the MFA, enjoying your life near the arts center of Boston, and found yourself in the contemporary room? And realize you have no idea what you’re looking at? Or maybe you stumbled upon the Jasper Johns: Picture Puzzle exhibition at the MFA and want to know more about his work, such as Target (1974) seen below?

Jasper Johns, Target, 1974

If this sounds familiar, then we have just the reference book to alleviate your confusion and fulfill your curiosity! Contemporary Artists is a two-volume biographic index of contemporary artists that details many aspects of each artists’ life. Read through the biographies of the artists to get a sense of their lives and understand why they are important in the art world. Finding the artist you’re looking for is easy because the set offers an alphabetical index in the beginning of volume one and an index arranged by nationality in the back of volume two.

You can browse through the book to catch glimpses of works from the artists featured within. Although the images are not in color, you can still get an idea of the dynamic and breathtaking art created by these groundbreaking contemporary artists.

And there are even more features. Doing a paper on an artist for class? There are lists of sources about the artists for further research as well as a guide to the artists’ past exhibitions. Or maybe you just want to know what other museums have your new favorite artist’s work. Look at the guide to collections and find another treasure trove of art to explore.

Not into contemporary art? Or maybe you’re taking Women, Art, and Society with Marjorie Hall? Love gender studies or feminism? Interested in seeing the strides women in the United Stated made in art in the twentieth century? Or maybe during that same visit to the MFA, you find a great work by Georgia O’Keeffe, such as Deer Skull with Pedernal (1936) seen below, and want to know more about her and her work?

Georgia O'Keefe, Deer Skull with Pedernal, 1936

If so, you need to check out North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: a Biographical DictionaryThis volume contains biographic entries about influential women in the Untied States over the last century. Read through the text, gleaning information about the artists’ birth, life, and awards as you read about their importance and impact on the art world. See how women have empowered themselves through artistic expression and made strides in a male dominated field.

Like Contemporary Artiststhis book gives you reference for further reading, a resource that is essential when writing research papers! Flip through the book to see the styles and techniques of women artists throughout the 1900s. Maybe even pick up some artists to look for next time you go to a museum.

Whether you’re a scholar or a casual observer, you should browse Contemporary Artists and North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century. You’ll never know what you might discover.

Contemporary Artistsed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Call number: R 709 C76 2002; North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Centuryed. Jules Heller and Nancy G. Heller. Call Number:   R 709.2 N81

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Where Do You Keep Your “Fun” Books?

Floor 1 by the whiteboard columns and they’re organized by the author’s last name.  It’s our new and exciting Popular Reading Collection!

Not that our children’s lit on Floor2M or our literature books on Floor 4M can’t be fun. Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is absolutely filled with hijinx.

The Popular Reading Collection was created in response to our patrons who come to the Library looking for something to read outside of their academic lives. We selected books for this collection based on recommendations written on our whiteboard columns. The books were then purchased with part of the proceeds from Better World Books donations.  You can add further title suggestions to the whiteboard column labelled “Books Worth Reading”.

This Fall, we’ve started the collection out with about 30-something titles. Here are just a few of them:


bookthiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Death tells the story of Liesel, a young German girl, who loves books so much that she steals them. She shares their stories with her family, the Jewish man hiding in her house, and her neighbors, providing respite to the horrors of World War II.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
In a future dystopian Chicago, members of society must dedicate their entire lives to one of five personality-based factions. After taking an aptitude test, sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior finds out that she is “Divergent” and does not fall neatly into one group, making her a threat to the status quo.

eleanorparkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
New girl, Eleanor, is overweight, weirdly dressed, abused, and bullied.  Park has always been a bit of a loner. Set over the course of one school year in 1986, the two teenage misfits fall in love over comic books and mixed tapes. Fans of John Green’s Fault in Our Stars may want to check this book out.

Feed by M.T. Anderson
The story takes place in a hyper-computerized future where most people are connected with a computer network through a feed, or transmitter, implanted in their brains. The narrator is a teenage boy, Titus, who has lived his entire life communicating using the feed. He meets a girl, Violet, who has decided that she wants to resist the feed.

knifeofneverlettinggoThe Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Todd lives in a small dystopian colony where a germ has killed off all the women and as a side effect of the germ, everyone can hear each other’s thoughts, described as “Noise”. One day, Todd discovers a spot of silence.  Once everyone hears about it, they set out to capture him. It turns out that the colony’s past is not what it seems.

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
This book contains seven stories that are mysteriously linked and all take place on a Scandinavian island inhabited by Vikings, vampires, ghosts, and a curiously powerful plant.

peculiarchildrenMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
After his grandfather’s unexpected death, Jacob is given a letter that leads him to a Welsh island where his grandfather grew up. He finds an abandoned orphanage where he meets a girl who uses time travel to take him back to 1940. He discovers disturbing facts about the children who were kept there. The author’s incorporation of vintage photos of children really drives the eerie atmosphere.

Paper Towns by John Green
Quentin “Q” Jacobsen has a crush on his neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, since they were kids.  Margo shows up one night at Quentin’s bedroom window dressed like a ninja and takes him on an adventure to get revenge on people who have hurt her. She then mysteriously disappears. Q searches for her using clues he believes she has left behind.

Proxy by Alex Londonproxy
The story takes place in a world of wealthy Patrons and poorer Proxies.    When a Patron breaks a law, the Proxy takes the punishment in his place.  When Knox, a Patron, kills someone in a car crash, his Proxy, Syd, is sentenced to death. Syd flees and Knox, realizing how unfair the system is, joins him. Together, they try to beat the system.

Reality Boy by A.S. King
Seventeen-year-old, Gerald Faust, has been struggling to control his anger, a result of suffering from a dysfunctional family. When he was 5, his family signed up to take part in a reality show where a nanny would come teach the family how to behave healthily and properly. The entire world watched as Gerald defecated in anger and he was given the nickname, Crapper. He meets a no-nonsense girl, Hannah, also from dysfunctional family, and she helps him put his anger to rest.


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Happy Halloween!

Trick or treat! It’s the time of year when we indulge in all things scary and consume copious amounts of candy. Need a little help getting into the Halloween spirit? The Library’s got you covered! Check out these films and books and get yourself ready for all things creepy and spooky. We’ve also included some kid-friendly suggestions for those of you who, like me, can’t sleep for a week after being forced to watch a scary movie.

Ghost Train
Streaming video in Academic Video Online
This documentary, produced by Edward Mirzoeff, features people who have witnessed ghosts and other supernatural phenomena talk about their experiences.

Secret Lives Of Ghosts and Werewolves
Streaming video in Academic Video Online
This documentary explores the facts behind myths, including the Monkey Man of Delhi and a ghost who inhabits the crypts of Edinburgh Castle.

scary_stories_cover_largeScary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
J 398.25 Sch9s
Technically, this is a children’s book but to this day, the eerie illustrations in the Scary stories series still freak me out. Growing up, I had a hard time getting the stringy, distorted images out of my head but I’m pretty sure I still read every book in the series.

Tales of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe
813 P75ta
A true classic. My favorites are Masque of the Red Death and The Cask of the Amontillado.

Haunted Halls Ghostlore of American College Campuses by Elizabeth Tucker
Why do so many American college students tell stories about encounters with ghosts? In Haunted Halls, the first book-length interpretive study of college ghostlore, Elizabeth Tucker takes the reader back to school to get acquainted with a wide range of college spirits. Some of the best-known ghosts that she discusses are Emory University’s Dooley, who can disband classes by shooting professors with his water pistol; Mansfield University’s Sara, who threw herself down a flight of stairs after being rejected by her boyfriend; and Huntingdon College’s Red Lady, who slit her wrists while dressed in a red robe.

Victorian Ghost Stories by Mike Stocks
Six spine-tingling stories dug up and dusted down for today’s readers. Enter the terrifying world of Victorian ghouls and ghostly apparitions – if you dare.

halloween treatsHalloween Treats Simply Spooky Recipes for Ghoulish Sweet Treats by Annie Rigg
In this spooky new book, queen of cakes, Annie Rigg, turns her hand to simple, cute and creepy cakes, cookies and other edible sweet treats to delight any Halloween-loving child. You’ll find chapters on Cookies; Cupcakes; Big Cakes; and Other Treats. Kooky recipes include cookie ghouls, gingerbread witches’ hats, spidery cupcakes, and jack-o-lantern cookies.

Behind the Mask by Yangsook Choi
J-P C4542b
Kimin, a young Korean-American boy, has trouble deciding on a Halloween costume, but as he looks through an old trunk of his grandfather’s things, he suddenly unlocks a childhood mystery.

The Story of Halloween by Carol Greene
J 394.2646 G83s
Explores the history of Halloween from the holiday’s Celtic origins over 2000 years ago to present-day celebrations, and provides spooky riddles and ideas for pumpkin art.

Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann
J-P R635b
Although devastated when his pet dog dies, a young boy goes trick-or-treating and receives a timely visit from an old friend during a scary encounter with graveyard skeletons.

bone dog

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