Historic School House Summer Library

About Deering Public Library

The petition to the Senate and House of Representatives in Portsmouth to incorporate a library in Deering was granted on 6 December 1797.

"To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives in general Court at Portsmouth November 1797 Humbly sheweth [sic], That Robert Alcock Thomas Merrill Thomas Aiken William Forsaith James Sherrier and others their Associates Inhabitants of Deering have purchased a number of Books, for the purpose of a social Library in said Town, but finding it necessary to be Incorporated, in order to realize the advantages thereby Intended, by purchasing books in common, your petitioners therefore pray that they may be Incorporated with such priviledges [sic] as are usually granted in such cases, and they as in duty bound will ever pray
Robert Alcock for himself and Associates"

The Deering Library's Mission is to create a vibrant community center that inspires curiosity, personal growth and opportunities for life-long learning.

To view our policies, agendas and the minutes of trustee meetings please visit the library, or use the link to the Town of Deering website.

Deering Public Library is located in Southwest New Hampshire's glorious Monadnock Region. Deering is a quintessential New England town with a white clapboard church, a town hall at its center and a population of approximately 1800 people. The library is located year round on the second floor of the town hall. Our seasonal school house library is open during the summer.


New books added to the Deering Public Library. These are mostly for younger readers, but two are for 'young adults' and two are for adults.

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts, 2016

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 2—Ada Marie Twist is an inquisitive African American second grader and a born scientist. She possesses a keen yet peculiar need to question everything she encounters, whether it be a tick-tocking clock, a pointy-stemmed rose, or the hairs in her dad's nose. Ada's parents and her teacher, Miss Greer, have their hands full as the child's science experiments wreak day-to-day havoc. On the first day of spring, the title character is tinkering outside her home when she notices an unpleasant odor. She sets out to discover what might have caused it. Beaty shows Ada using the scientific method in developing hypotheses in her smelly pursuit. The little girl demonstrates trial and error in her endeavors, while appreciating her family's full support. In one experiment, she douses fragrances on her cat and then attempts to place the feline in the washing machine. Her parents, startled by her actions, send her to the Thinking Chair, where she starts to reflect on the art of questioning by writing her thoughts on the wall—now the Great Thinking Hall. Ada shines on each page as a young scientist, like her cohorts in the author's charming series. The rhyming text playfully complements the cartoon illustrations, drawing readers into the narrative. VERDICT A winner for storytime reading and for young children interested in STEM activities. Pair with science nonfiction for an interesting elementary cross-curricular project.—Krista Welz, North Bergen High School, NJ 

You can download teaching and activity guides for this book at http://www.abramsbooks.com/adatwist/

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again), by Dan Sentat, 2017

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?
Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat's poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most.
Will he summon the courage to face his fear?
After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) is a masterful picture book that will remind readers of all ages that Life begins when you get back up.
2018 NCTE Charlotte Huck Award Winner
A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2017
A New York Times Notable Children's Book of 2017
A New York City Public Library Notable Best Book for Kids
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2017
A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of 2017
An NPR Best Book of 2017

Albert’s Almost Amazing Adventure, by Marty Kelley, 2016

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 2
Albert's vacation was amazing or so he thought. To friends, his time in Maine was boring. Dull. Lame. They've got a more vivid and exciting idea of what Albert could and should have done on his trip. But Albert might just have a surprise for his friends, after all. Marty Kelley tells this wonderful read-aloud story in a fresh and imaginative way, contrasting panels of black-and-white charcoal drawings of dull old Albert with wonderful color spreads of what Albert s friends imagine for his summer adventures. Did Albert really tussle with ninjas and parlay with pirates? Or did he spend his time in Maine in the most boring ways imaginable? What really made his amazing summer vacation so amazing?

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes , by Duncan Tunatiuth, 2016

(Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature. Commended) Hardcover – September 20, 2016)

From School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2—Princess Izta is the most beautiful and eligible maiden in the land. One day, a humble warrior named Popoca approaches the princess, offering her the promise of true love and fidelity instead of lavish gifts or material wealth. Izta falls in love with him, even though her father, the emperor, feels Popoca is unsuitable for his royal daughter. He agrees to allow Popoca and Izta to marry, under one condition: Popoca must defeat Jaguar Claw, the infamous ruler of a neighboring land. Popoca fights many battles and defeats Jaguar Claw. But with the help of a bribed messenger, a bitter Jaguar Claw manages to take one last stab at Popoca by tricking Izta into poisoning herself into a deep sleep. Just as he promised, Popoca stays by her side, lying next to her until, as legend has it, two volcanoes are formed: Popocatépetl, meaning smoky mountain, and Iztaccíhuatl (sleeping woman). Award-winning author/illustrator Tonatiuh successfully retells this ancient tale using his distinctive and artistic illustrations with spare but effective text. The action battle scenes will excite and captivate, while the images of Popoca kneeling beside Izta in determined wait will stir the hearts of readers. The integration of Nahuatl words (defined with a pronunciation guide in the glossary) into the narrative provides a rich opportunity to introduce and explore another facet of Aztec culture. VERDICT Use this Aztec legend to inspire readers while teaching a bit about dramatic irony; a first purchase for all folklore collections.—Natalie Braham, Denver Public Library 

A Perfect Day, by Lane Smith, 2017

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
A Spring 2017 Kids' Indie Next List Pick
"Like reaching the bottom of a candy dish and unexpectedly biting into a Sour Skittle, the clever A Perfect Day provides a delightful jolt." ―NPR
"This gently humorous book is sure to circulate well in any picture book collection. A perfect way to introduce the concept of point of view."―School Library Journal, starred review
"With the text using so few words (though, admirably, much repetition), Smith tells the story mostly through his textured mixed-media illustrations, which reflect each animal’s joy-filled frolic."―Horn Book, starred review
"Smith's mixed-media artwork masterfully explores texture and scale... Perfectly funny while offering a chance to discuss perspective."―Kirkus, starred review
"The humorous surprise ending will make children squeal as they ponder the concept of perfect... this true-to-form picture book will draw plenty of readers." ―Booklist

"An easily accessible tale that has both humor and relatability."―Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

 Wonder, by R.J. Palacios, 2012

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
 Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best Books of the Month for Kids, February 2012: Wonder is a rare gem of a novel--beautifully written and populated by characters who linger in your memory and heart. August Pullman is a 10-year-old boy who likes Star Wars and Xbox, ordinary except for his jarring facial anomalies. Homeschooled all his life, August heads to public school for fifth grade and he is not the only one changed by the experience--something we learn about first-hand through the narratives of those who orbit his world. August’s internal dialogue and interactions with students and family ring true, and though remarkably courageous he comes across as a sweet, funny boy who wants the same things others want: friendship, understanding, and the freedom to be himself. “It is only with one’s heart that one can see clearly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.” From The Little Prince and R.J. Palacio’s remarkable novel, Wonder.--Seira Wilson

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill, 2016

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9

From School Library Journal

Gr 4–6—Once a year in the Protectorate there is a Day of Sacrifice. The youngest baby is taken by the Elders and left in the forest to die, thus appeasing the witch who threatens to destroy the village if not obeyed. Unbeknownst to the people, Xan, the witch of the forest, is kind and compassionate. When she discovers the first baby left as a sacrifice, she has no idea why it has been abandoned. She rescues the infants, feeds each one starlight, and delivers the shining infants to parents in the Outside Cities who love and care for them. On one occasion, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight along with starlight, filling her with glowing magic. Xan is smitten with the beautiful baby girl, who has a crescent moon birthmark on her forehead, and chooses to raise her as her own child. Twists and turns emerge as the identity of the true evil witch becomes apparent. The swiftly paced, highly imaginative plot draws a myriad of threads together to form a web of characters, magic, and integrated lives. Spiritual overtones encompass much of the storytelling with love as the glue that holds it all together. VERDICT An expertly woven and enchanting offering for readers who love classic fairy tales.—D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH 

One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! by Eric and Natalie Yoder 2016

  • Age Range: 9 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 9
Developing higher-level thinking skills should be commonplace in the curriculum now and this book does provide a way of doing that, it might even lead to students making up their own mysteries for their classmates to solve. I would recommend this book to teachers of years 5, 6 or 7. (The Association for Science Education)

One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! is a wonderful resource for teachers who want to provide real-life math problems for their students. Each story problem is conveyed in a one-page format that asks the reader to draw a conclusion. The stories provide an insightful look into how math can be applied in the real world. Problems include discovering how much it would cost to either replace a book at the library or pay the late fees; the score you would need to win a gymnastics meet; and how to modify a recipe to accommodate a large group of people. Bonus sections include five extra math mysteries and five science mysteries. Most of the problems require higher-order thinking and may be difficult for students to complete independently. My sixth-grade classes worked in small groups with this book, which helped the students work toward a solution. Some of the stories are slightly fanciful, but they are completely math based and do not lend themselves to giving students the answer. I believe that the book would have been more coherent and beneficial for teachers if the stories had been better organized. Rather than arranged by story line, the stories could have been organized by concept (i.e., algebraic reasoning, geometry, probability, and so on). Overall this book can provide intriguing, useful, and challenging problems for a variety of students. (Jennifer G. Martin)

Encouraging critical thinking skills, it teaches children to think quickly and scientifically. One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! is a highly recommended purchase for science teachers who want to introduce a bit of extra fun into the classroom. (Willis B. Buhle, Reviewer Buhle's Bookshelf)

Conundrums, puzzles and enigmas! The scientific approach prevails overall. One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! turns us into sleuth hounds. If only textbooks were such fun! (April Holladay, Author of Globe and Mail's online science column, WonderQuest)

One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! turns kids into scientists! Each of these clever stories sets up a mystery that can be solved using a bit of creative analytical reasoning. Stimulating and great fun for the whole family! (Katrina L. Kelner, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of Life Sciences Science)

Parents and kids alike will be challenged by these stimulating, real-world science mysteries. One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! is a great way to grow a young scientist—or improve an old one! This book belongs in every school and every home. (Julie Edmonds, Co-Director, Carnegie Academy for Science Education)

Everyone loves a mystery! The father-daughter team behind One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! have done a wonderful job writing stories that draw in curious young people... and show them that science can answer many of life’s mysteries! (Patricia Sievert, MS, Physics and Physics Education, Northern Illinois University)

A wonderful novel way to get kids happily engaged in problem-solving. It not only teaches kids about science, but also demonstrates how to use science in everyday life. Relevant, real-life examples make One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! a great read for kids…and adults! (Marina Moses, Dr. PH, George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services)

These clever little science-based mysteries will have a myriad of uses. I see them as the perfect solution for stimulating kids on car journeys by really getting them to use their intellect. (Kathleen Karr, Author of Born for Adventure and Agatha Award-winning The 7th Knot)

Like potato chips, one isn’t enough—with One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Science! you’ll just want to read more: These one-minute science mysteries are fun treats for readers that will sharpen their powers of observation and improve their reasoning abilities. (Brenda Seabrooke, Author of Award-Winning The Haunting of Swain's Fancy) 

Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor, 2012

 Affectionately dubbed "the Nigerian Harry Potter," Akata Witch weaves together a heart-pounding tale of magic, mystery, and finding one's place in the world.

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent" with latent magical power. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?
Ursula K. Le Guin and John Green are Nnedi Okorafor fans. As soon as you start reading Akata Witch, you will be, too!


Christmas at Eagle Pond, by Donald Hall, 2012

 I read this book on Christmas Eve while seasonal music played in the background, and a good single malt filled my right hand. Just right for a very snowy evening. I much enjoyed reading Donald Hall's Seasons at Eagle Pond, which we also have in the Deering Library.

 From Booklist

Twelve-year-old Donnie spends Christmas 1940 at his grandparents’ farm. His mother is recovering from surgery rapidly, so he and her parents don’t fret as they observe the holiday. They go to church two nights before Christmas, where preteens and early teens perform seasonal music and poems, and the little kids enact the Christmas story. Relatives come for the eve and the day—Grandma’s much-elder brother and Donnie’s mother’s unmarried sister—and a few friends join them for midday Christmas dinner. Stories are told, especially about the most recently departed, until they notice it’s snowing heavily. Will Donnie be able to take the train back to a delayed second Christmas at home? The ordinary, everyday routines of a small dairy farm, in which Donnie helps now Grandpa, now Grandma, surround the familiar holiday plot, and drawings by Caldecott Medalist Mary Azarian decorate sublimely. The little book is completely truthful, though poet and former poet-laureate Hall really never spent Christmas with his grandparents. It was the gift he never received, so he gives it to himself and, as an evergreen delight, to readers. --Ray Olson 



Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward, 2014

Winner of the 2011 National Book Award

A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn't show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what food she gets; she's fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull's new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. While brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child's play and short on parenting. As the twelve days that comprise the novel's framework yield to the final day and Hurricane Katrina, the unforgettable family at the novel's heart--motherless children sacrificing for each other as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce--pulls itself up to struggle for another day. A wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bone is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.










Here is a bunch of novels, including two collections of short fiction, and non fiction from Ta-Nehisi Coates and a kids book that were added recently to the Deering Public Library

Remember: our library works on an honor system. Please indicate on the card the date you took the book. Please also write your name on the card -- so that we can keep in touch. If you would like to have a number, rather than revealing your name, please contact me.

We Were Eight Years in Power. An American tragedy. Ta-Nihisi Coates. 2017

"We were eight years in power" was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. Ta-Nihisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America's "first white president."

We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates's iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including "Fear of a Black President," "The Case for Reparations," and "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration," along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates's own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era. We Were Eight Years in Power is a vital account of modern America, from one of the definitive voices of this historic moment.

The Sign of the Beaver. Elizabeth George Speare. 1983.
Early readers, beginners, 2nd grade 

Although he faces responsibility bravely, thirteen-year-old Matt is more than a little apprehensive when his father leaves him alone to guard their new cabin in the wilderness. When a renegade white stranger steals his gun, Matt realizes he has no way to shoot game or to protect himself. When Matt meets Attean, a boy in the Beaver clan, he begins to better understand their way of life and their growing problem in adapting to the white man and the changing frontier.

Elizabeth George Speare’s Newbery Honor-winning survival story is filled with wonderful detail about living in the wilderness and the relationships that formed between settlers and natives in the 1700s. Now with an introduction by Joseph Bruchac.

New Adult Fiction 

The Late Show. Michael Connelly. 2017

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly, a new thriller introducing a driven young detective trying to prove herself in the LAPD

Renée Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing none as each morning she turns her cases over to day shift detectives. A once up-and-coming detective, she's been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.

But one night she catches two cases she doesn't want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her own partner's wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the cases entwine they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won't give up her job no matter what the department throws at her.

The Boy Who Drew Monsters. Keith Donohue. 2014. 

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Stolen Child comes a hypnotic literary horror novel about a young boy trapped inside his own world, whose drawings blur the lines between fantasy and reality.

Ever since he nearly drowned in the ocean three years earlier, ten-year-old Jack Peter Keenan has been deathly afraid to venture outdoors. Refusing to leave his home in a small coastal town in Maine, Jack Peter spends his time drawing monsters. When those drawings take on a life of their own, no one is safe from the terror they inspire. His mother, Holly, begins to hear strange sounds in the night coming from the ocean, and she seeks answers from the local Catholic priest and his Japanese housekeeper, who fill her head with stories of shipwrecks and ghosts. His father, Tim, wanders the beach, frantically searching for a strange apparition running wild in the dunes. And the boy’s only friend, Nick, becomes helplessly entangled in the eerie power of the drawings. While those around Jack Peter are haunted by what they think they see, only he knows the truth behind the frightful occurrences as the outside world encroaches upon them all.

In the tradition of The Turn of the Screw, Keith Donohue’s The Boy Who Drew Monsters is a mesmerizing tale of psychological terror and imagination run wild, a perfectly creepy read for a dark night.

The Nightingale. Kristin Hannah. 2015.

Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.

As the war progresses, the sisters' relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their action.

The Fifth Season. N.K. Jemisin, 2015.


Three terrible things happen in a single day.

Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world's sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes -- those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon -- are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.

She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

The Signal Flame.  Andrew Krivak. 2017.

The stunning second novel from National Book Award finalist Andrew Krivak - a heartbreaking, captivating story about a family awaiting the return of their youngest son from the Vietnam War.

In a small town in Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains Hannah and her son Bo mourn the loss of the family patriarch, Jozef Vinich. They were three generations under one roof. Three generations, but only one branch of a scraggy tree; they are a war-haunted family in a war-torn century. Having survived the trenches of World War I as an Austro-Hungarian conscript, Vinich journeyed to America and built a life for his family. His daughter married the Hungarian-born Bexhet Konar, who enlisted to fight with the Americans in the Second World War but brought disgrace on the family when he was imprisoned for desertion. He returned home to Pennsylvania a hollow man, only to be killed in a hunting accident on the family's land. Finally, in 1971, Hannah's prodigal younger son, Sam, was reported MIA in Vietnam.

And so there is only Bo, a quiet man full of conviction, a proud work ethic, and a firstborn's sense of duty. He is left to grieve but also to hope for reunion, to create a new life, to embrace the land and work its soil through the seasons. The Signal Flame is a stirring novel about generations of men and women and the events that define them, brothers who take different paths, the old European values yielding to new world ways, and the convalescence of memory and war.

Beginning shortly after Easter in 1972 and ending on Christmas Eve this ambitious novel beautifully evokes ordinary time, a period of living and working while waiting and watching and expecting. The Signal Flame is gorgeously written, honoring the cycles of earth and body, humming with blood and passion, and it confirms Andrew Krivak as a writer of extraordinary vision and power.

The Essex Serpent. Sarah Perry. 2016.

Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890's, and enlivened by the debates on scientific and medical discovery which defined the era, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two extraordinary people who fall for each other, but not in the usual way.

They are Cora Seaborne and Will Ransome. Cora is a well-to-do London widow who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will is the local vicar. They meet as their village is engulfed by rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist is enthralled, convinced the beast may be a real undiscovered species. But Will sees his parishioners' agitation as a moral panic, a deviation from true faith. Although they can agree on absolutely nothing, as the seasons turn around them in this quiet corner of England, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart.

Told with exquisite grace and intelligence, this novel is most of all a celebration of love, and the many different guises it can take.

Since We Fell. Dennis Lehane. 2017.

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself.

Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best.

Her Body and Other Parties. Carmen Maria Machado. 2017.

In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.

A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella Especially Heinous, Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.

Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction

Sundays at Tiffany's. James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet. 2009.

As a little girl, Jane has no one. Her mother, the powerful head of a Broadway theater company, has no time for her. She does have one friend-a handsome, comforting, funny man named Michael-but only she can see him.

Years later, Jane is in her thirties and just as alone as ever. Then she meets Michael again-as handsome, smart and perfect as she remembers him to be. But not even Michael knows the reason they've really been reunited.

SUNDAYS AT TIFFANY'S is a love story with an irresistible twist, a novel about the child inside all of us-and the boundary-crossing power of love

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Arundhati Roy. 2017.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on an intimate journey of many years across the Indian subcontinent - from the cramped neighborhoods of Old Delhi and the roads of the new city to the mountains and valleys of Kashmir and beyond, where war is peace and peace is war.

It is an aching love story and a decisive remonstration, a story told in a whisper, in a shout, through unsentimental tears and sometimes with a bitter laugh. Each of its characters is indelibly, tenderly rendered. Its heroes are people who have been broken by the world they live in and then rescued, patched together by acts of love - and by hope.

The tale begins with Anjum - who used to be Aftab - unrolling a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard she calls home. We encounter the odd, unforgettable Tilo and the men who loved her - including Musa, sweetheart and ex-sweetheart, lover and ex-lover; their fates are as entwined as their arms used to be and always will be. We meet Tilo's landlord, a former suitor, now an intelligence officer posted to Kabul. And then we meet the two Miss Jebeens: the first a child born in Srinagar and buried in its overcrowded Martyrs' Graveyard; the second found at midnight, abandoned on a concrete sidewalk in the heart of New Delhi.

As this ravishing, deeply humane novel braids these lives together, it reinvents what a novel can do and can be. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness demonstrates on every page the miracle of Arundhati Roy's storytelling gifts

Trajectory. Richard Russo. 2017.

Following the best-selling Everybody's Fool, a new collection of short fiction that demonstrates that Richard Russo--winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls--is also a master of this genre.

Russo's characters in these four expansive stories bear little similarity to the blue-collar citizens we're familiar with from many of his novels. In "Horseman," a professor confronts a young plagiarist as well as her own weaknesses as the Thanksgiving holiday looms closer and closer: "And after that, who knew?" In "Intervention," a realtor facing an ominous medical prognosis finds himself in his father's shadow while he presses forward--or not. In "Voice," a semiretired academic is conned by his increasingly estranged brother into coming along on a group tour of the Venice Biennale, fleeing a mortifying incident with a traumatized student back in Massachusetts but encountering further complications in the maze of Venice. And in "Milton and Marcus," a lapsed novelist struggles with his wife's illness and tries to rekindle his screenwriting career, only to be stymied by the pratfalls of that trade when he's called to an aging, iconic star's mountaintop retreat in Wyoming.






American Covenant. A history of civil religion from the Puritans to the present, Phil Gorsky, 2017

Following are excerpts from a perceptive review on Goodreads:

"Philip Gorski is one who has looked at the history of America's culture wars and asks if there is another alternative to what he sees as the extremes of religious nationalism and radical secularism. He believes that there is and that it has a long history. He proposes that there may be a form of "civil religion" that is not invidious and that it is critical that we retrieve and strengthen a tradition that he believes has been at the center of our national life and combines what he calls "prophetic religion" and "civic republicanism." He calls this "prophetic republicanism."

Gorski's book provides, on a high level, the kind of education for citizenship, for republican virtue (not of the party-type) that we desperately need. It is the kind of education needed with our rising generation, as well as for all who sense that neither of the extremes of our culture war offer a good vision for our national life. It offers a substantive alternative and not a bland compromise to our polarized discourse. I only hope someone notices."

Churchilll's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. The maverics who plotted Hitler's defeat, Giles Milton 2016

This is a popular account of British guerilla activities during WWII.  Derring  Do and all that. One reviewer found the book to be only lightly referenced Still.. following is an excerpt from one review from Goodreads:

"The author provides us with a history of the British group known as MI(D) – Military Intelligence Destruction. This group was authorized by the top echelons of British government in the early days at the beginning of WW II. Its creation involved a lot of soul searching among the members of the cabinet because their purpose was to destroy assets of the German military force in “ungentlemanly ways.” It is what we term guerrilla warfare today – a term a far cry from the polite posture of the British people. It finally dawned on the government that fire must be fought with fire when dealing with the Nazi threat. The people recruited early on all had special skills beyond the normal military needs. There were experts in explosives, aeronautics, silent killing, etc. Mr. Milton lays out some of the main efforts of this group through the war – many of which were kept as top secret until very recently. The group was responsible for ‘limpet’ bombs, bombs which were placed against enemy ships and held there by special magnets and would explode upon proper activation. They also developed some clever weapons that were used against submarines."


Young Adult

The Sun is Also a Star, Nicola Yoon, 2016
Two teens meet by chance in New York City. She is from Jamaica and her family, after many years of being here illegally, is facing immediate deportation. He is son of a Korean family and is being pushed to take up medicine at Yale. She has one day to delay the deportation He has one day to make her fall in love with him. The story is a switch: She is the  scientist who wants to attend a university. He is the poet who has no interest in medicine. These highly engaging kids exploring love: of each other, of their families, of their cultures, of their country. Incidental characters all have interesting back stories:  the security guard who is on the brink of suicide, the lawyer whose first love is not his wife, the brother whose first love is not himself. Parents and their demands and aspirations. The backdrop is New York City, and you can feel the city. Do you  believe in Fate? God? Chance? I enjoyed this book. Good writing: the plot is interesting, the characters engaging and the author knows how to use the English language The book was written for young adults, but themes have far broader application than 'young adult,' especially in these days. Makes one think. Read it with your teenaged kids: you'll have a good time comparing notes.

Adult Fiction 

Moonglow, Michael Chabon, 2016

I will buy every book Michael Chabon writes if only for his wonderful use of the English language.

Following are excerpts from one Goodreads review:

"Michael Chabon pulls off a hybrid memoir and a contested fictional multigenerational family history peppered with anecdotes and stories from his heavily medicated grandfather on his deathbed. Chabon unashamedly states its fictional roots and perhaps questions the concept of a factual memoir, how much of a memoir can be said to be true when peoples' memories are notoriously unreliable?"

"I was entranced by the lyrical prose and the vivid metaphors in the narrative. The stories of efforts to strangle Alger Hiss with ripped out telephone cables which lands the grandfather in a New York prison, blowing up bridges, sex, war time espionage and efforts attempting to locate Nazi SS officer Wernher Von Braun in Europe only to find he ends up working for the US space programme, There is the obsession with rockets and a lovely story of the exploits of Ramon the cat and the hunt for the snake. It appears the outpouring of tales is chaotic and non linear, but this is often the nature of memory, going back and forth in time. What is particularly tender and heartbreaking is the recounting of the love and loyalty he has for Chabon's grandmother, her desperate and traumatic history and the consequent mental instability that ensued. There is the examination of what constitutes family with the inclusion of non blood family members. "

Like this reviewer, I will not soon forget this book! 

The Motion of Puppets, Keith  Donohue, 2016

I picked up this book at Toadstool because of its intriguing title. Creepy puppets? Bring 'em on!

Reviews of this book were mixed. Here is one of the good ones

""Never enter a toy shop after midnight" is a warning that appears early in this lovely horror story. Unfortunately, it comes too late for acrobat Kay, working for the summer in Quebec City and fascinated by the weird little shop filled with puppets. Returning home to her husband late one night after a performance, she fears she is being followed; as she passes the toy shop, she finds it unlocked and enters. By the next morning, she can be measured in inches, not feet, and is one of the eerie collection of once-human puppets. Meanwhile, her French professor husband Theo is beside himself, looking for her over and over with no success until months later, he learns of a puppet show and sees a news clip of a puppet who looks remarkably like Kay. And since this is a re-imagining of Orpheus and Eurydice, is there a chance he can save her? Very satisfying horror novel, when so many ultimately disappoint me by laying out all the tricks. Pacing here is relentless but not really fast, as there are lots of clues to investigate and we follow Kay's life in the puppet troop and Theo's endless search in alternating points of view; involving, compelling characters; intricately plotted, inventive story line that's layered with references to classical roots of Orpheus and Eurydice tale and fascinating information about photographer Eadweard Muybridge, the photographer famed for his photographs of animals in motion (proved that a galloping horse does have all 4 feet in air); "hypnotic prose"; suspenseful, nightmare tone. Narrator Bronson Pinchot's performance is a fabulous way to experience this fine story."

The Sojourn, Andrew Krivak, 2011
This little book was a National Book Award Finalist and is particularly relevant on the 100th anniversary of USA entering WW I. 

Here is the publisher's blurb:

"The Sojourn is the story of Jozef Vinich, who was uprooted from a 19th-century mining town in Colorado by a family tragedy and returns with his father to an impoverished shepherd’s life in rural Austria-Hungary. When World War One comes, Jozef joins his adopted brother as a sharpshooter in the Kaiser’s army, surviving a perilous trek across the frozen Italian Alps and capture by a victorious enemy.

A stirring tale of brotherhood, coming-of-age, and survival, that was inspired by the author’s own family history, this novel evokes a time when Czechs, Slovaks, Austrians, and Germans fought on the same side while divided by language, ethnicity, and social class in the most brutal war to date. It is also a poignant tale of fathers and sons, addressing the great immigration to America and the desire to live the American dream amidst the unfolding tragedy in Europe.

In the opening pages a desperate mother throws her infant son into a river. The son is saved and mom dies. The boy's immigrant father moves them from Colorado at the end of the 19th Century to his country of origin, Slovakia, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The boy and his father take up sheep herding when they speak and read English. They are joined by another young boy, who becomes Jozef's brother, in name if not in fact. Jozef becomes disillusioned by something his father does and the two  boys join the Kaiser's army where they become snipers. This is followed by death, capture by a victorious enemy and a long coming home.

Michael Dirda said in the Washington Post:

Although “The Sojourn” is rightly marketed as a literary novel, it should also appeal to fans of Stephen Hunter’s sniper novels and David Morrell’s early thrillers, and I really shouldn’t say any more about its plot, certainly not about the sudden deaths on the snowy mountain pass or the raped Gypsy girl or the bags of gold hidden in a cave. Yet throughout, Krivak returns, again and again, to the love between a father and his son, to the burden of tragic memories, and to the fraught nature of national or ethnic identity. As Jozef says at one point: “What was a Czecho-Slovak to me, though, a boy raised among Carpathian peasants in a Magyar culture, professing loyalty in a poor school to a Hapsburg, and speaking a language in secret they spoke in a land called America?”

"Packed with violence and death, yet wonderfully serene in its tone, Andrew Krivak’s The Sojourn — shortlisted for this year’s [2011] National Book Award — reminds us that one never knows from where the blow will fall and that, always, in the midst of life we are in death: “His foot slipped from the poor hold he had chosen on the next step and he pitched forward and began to slide and spin sideways down the hill, letting go of the rifle, which picked up its own speed and outstripped him as it dropped straight and slammed into a rock not twenty yards from my father and went off, shooting the man through the heart. He was dead before he came to rest."

I  thought The Sojourn was a very satisfying book that begs me to read it again. Soon.

Heretics, Leonardo Padura, 2013 (translation, 2017)
 The Good Ship S.S. St Louis and its 900 Jews who are trying to escape Nazi Germany comes to Havana in the hope that Cuba will accept these refugees. We know they won't. Nobody did. They perished back in Europe. But in this story mom and dad and one daughter of the Kaminsky family are on the boat, and the 9-yr-old son Daniel is in Cuba with an uncle, having arrived some time earlier. There is a Rembrandt painting in the family and it is supposed to buy entry into Cuba for the ship-bound Kaminskys. It doesn't. The painting disappears along with the family. The painting resurfaces 70 year later in a London auction house. This leads Daniel to return to Cuba and engage former detective and somewhat down-on-his-luck Mario Conde to try to find out what happened to the painting.

The story really begins in 17th Century Amsterdam where the Jews who were driven out of the Iberian peninsula in the 15th and 16th Centuries have been welcomed and have established a thriving community. The problem is that painting the human figure is not permitted by Jewish law. Despite that Elias is accepted to learn from the great Rembrandt and eventually is given a signed portrait of Christ, for which Elias was the model. The tensions within Amsterdam's Jewish community, something I knew nothing about, are the major theme of the second novel. Elias is ultimately excluded from the Jewish community and he migrates to Poland. On his death bed he gives the painting to a Dr. Kaminsky. Thus the Rembrandt painting enters the Kaminsky family. 

The book ends in modern day Havana with a Kaminsky girl disappears after becoming and emo (me either), a group of totally despairing youth who paint their faces, wear dark clothes and, oh yes, they hurt themselves.   There are lesbians and sleazy Italian druggies too.  Mario Conde tries to find the missing Judith. 

This is a long book over 500 pages. It tends to be discursive, but there is the missing painting, murder, exile and a description of pre Revolutionary Havana -- and Mario Conde drinks a lot of rum with friends and, then, there is the woman -- Tamara -- he might propose marriage to.  

Heretics, the title? From the NPR book review:

"And in all of this, the uniting strand is the idea of heresy — of rules broken that can never be unbroken, of modernity grinding away at tradition. The Jewish art student who posed for Rembrandt's Christ painting, the Kaminsky family displaying it in a fit of atheistic pride, the kids in Cuba, the "most remarkable tip of the iceberg of a generation of certified heretics." This is what Padura spends 500 pages talking about: Heresy as a forgetting of the past."

Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders, 2017

Bardo? bardo. " (in Tibetan Buddhism) a state of existence between death and rebirth, varying in length according to a person's conduct in life and manner of, or age at, death. " (English Oxford Dictionary) 

This is the description from Goodreads:

On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln [Abraham Lincoln's son who died probably from typhoid] was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son’s body.

Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel - in its form and voice - completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace

This is what one reviewer wrote:

"George Saunders has written a magnificent, unique, experimental work that is both heartbreaking and humourous, both heavenly and in the mire. This novel examines death and existence thereafter, while exalting the beauty of life, each precious moment of it. It reveals the unbearable grief felt at the loss of a child. It shows, in a chorus of voices, the many hues memory paints of an event. All the while, it magnifies the undeniable dignity of Abraham Lincoln.

The range of this book is astonishing. The format is original - part historical accounting, part Shakespearean play. The concept is this: Willie Lincoln, at 11 years old, dies, breaking his presidential father's heart. He finds himself (amongst a host of other spirits) in the "Bardo" (essentially purgatory), where he is visited by his father, and where he decides he will stay in order to see him again. The rest of the story is ghostly, Godly, mystical, mysterious, and oh-so-human. I loved it."

This is from Thomas Mallon's New Yorker review:

"Saunders’s witty and garrulous graveyard is filled with semi-spirits in a state of denial. They believe that their dead bodies are merely a “sick-form,” and that the coffins and crypts containing them are “sick-boxes,” as if Oak Hill were a hospital instead of a cemetery. They have chosen to resist passage to a genuine afterlife, and with their defiance has come boredom: “Each night passed with a devastating sameness,” Hans Vollman, one of those who have adamantly “soldiered on,” says. A printer with an enormous penis, he was, back in the eighteen-forties, just beginning to experience the joy of bedding his much younger wife when a ceiling beam fell and killed him. Vollman’s best posthumous pal is the campy, once closeted Roger Bevins III, now sporting multiple limbs like a Hindu god. The two are frequently in the company of a straitlaced “old bore,” the Reverend Everly Thomas, the closest thing to a Stage Manager in Saunders’s netherworld. Unlike Vollman and Bevins, he knows he is dead, as well as damned."

George Saunders has previously published several collections of short fiction. This is his first novel. Most reviews are very good. There are many characters in this book and becauses of that  several reviewers said that the book was better when heard in the audio version, and then it was otherworldly (or words to that effect). l


The Winter Solstice is nearly on us, in a few days on December twenty-first. Here in New England  it's getting dark at around 4:00 pm, or at least so dark that lights on cars and in rooms are called for.

For many, the short days of Winter are difficult. Not enough endorphins. Too much unknown  lurking in the surrounding darkness maybe.Of course, it's cold as well and the cold and dark night could trigger all kinds of fear.

I like this time. The long night emphasizes the warmth of my own cozy house. The fire in the hearth (as likely real as figurative)  The cold and, if we're lucky snow, preclude travel. The sense of isolation this brings is more like an old quilt taken from the cupboard in my childhood home than it is something to fret over, to be afraid of.

This is a time I like to read with some 'cool' jazz music in the background. Whatever pressing tasks are on the list just have to wait. Nothing I can do about them now.

Short stories are a favorite form of literature for me. One book can be like a box of mixed chocolates, except that if a small bite of one does not please me today, I can return it to its place and select another.

There are a lot of stories for the end of the year. I'm of the Christian tradtion, and so my end of year stories tend in that direction.  Sentimental, funny, uplifting: these stories can take me back the seventy-off years to  a fondly remembered home town (that, in remembrance, was never as in actuality. But, still....).

Although this is not the way things went in my largely unreading childhood,  I have a romantic vision of how it could have been. Reading together, as a family, is part of that vision.

With this in mind, I have gathered together some stories that I think you might like to read. Please follow the links and enjoy! Please let me know if you would like to share one of your stories and I will distribute it.

 Light returns with the Solstice,and with it another kind of joy. But, for  now, enjoy this peaceful time.

The first story, a poem actually, is,simply stated, obligatory for this season! Twas the Night Before Christmas

The Winter Spirit and His Visitor is a Cherokee tale of the Winter Solstice

The Christmas Masquerade is the tale of an ill-conceived chamber of commerce Christmas party that goes really wrong!

The Boy With the Box and Little Piccola are uplifting stories of  kids at Christmas.

L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz, describes a kidnapping: Of Santa no less!

The Tailor of Goucester is a classical tell of mice and men by Beatrix Potter

Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking, by O. Henry, is a funny story of a Hobo  who doesn't want his just rewards for doing good.

Christmas Eve in War Time is an admittedly maudlin story from the period of the Civil War, but, wuss that I am, it brought tears to my jaded old eyes.


The Trustees of the Deering Public Library continue the tradition of presenting the End of Year/Solstice/Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah party and we need your help.

The party will be held on 10 December in Deering Town Hall

Beginning at 1:00 pm there will be an hour of crafting.
At 2:00 multi instrumentalist Roger Tincknell will present his Solstice Celebration of music and stories.
Santa will arrive at 3:00.

There will be a drawing for a home-made gingerbread house, the (undecorated) Christmas tree and for two gift cards to Toadstool Bookstore.

Light refreshments with cocoa will  be served.

How can you help? Can you contribute a craft and manage the table of little kids? These crafts should be simple things; something a child can complete within the hour, to take home. Crafts can be themed in any tradition, not just Christmas.

We expect anywhere from forty to seventy children, probably closer to the lower number.

There are only two library trustees. We are determined to make this party a success but could certainly use your help to ensure success.

If you can help, please leave a comment here.



Last night, October 29, Deering Town Hall became positively ghoulish as about sixty children brought their elders to the Library Trustee's Third Annual Halloween party.

There were games, decorating sugar cookies and coloring Halloween pictures. To enter town hall everybody had to pass a deliciously icky GHOULISH pantry, complete with maggotts and vampire brains, jars of eyeballs and little kid fingers. Some kids brought spooky carved pumpkins and every one wore a delightful costume.

Prizes in the form of gift cards from Toadstool Bookshop were awarded for best costumes, jack-o-lanterns and scarecrows.

Outside there was a fire pit where you could warm and toast marshmallows, tended by Michael and Matthew Krill.

The highlight of the party was a hayride on Gregg Hill, thanks to suitably costumed driver Bob Carter. Thanks very much  Bob and the whole Carter family for helping make this party  a success.

You can see from these pictures everybody had a good time. 



Henry James, a Week in October


The following is drawn from The Daily Henry James: A Year of Quotes from the Work of the Master, which compiles a quote from Henry James’s work for every day of the year, and first appeared in 1911 with James’s cooperation.

I have copied this from the November 10, 2016 issue of The New York Review of Books


It might be an ado about trifles—and half the poetry, roundabout, the poetry in solution in the air, was doubtless but the alertness of the touch of Autumn, the imprisoned painter, the Bohemian with a rusty jacket, who had already broken out with palette and brush; yet the way the color begins in those days to be dabbed, the way, here and there, for a start, a solitary maple on a woodside flames in single scarlet, recalls nothing so much as the daughter of a noble house dressed for a fancy-ball, with the whole family gathered round to admire her before she goes. One speaks, at the same time of the orchards; but there are properly no orchards when half the countryside shows, the easiest, most familiar sacrifice to Pomona. The apple tree in New England plays the part of the olive in Italy, charges itself with the effect of detail, for the most part otherwise too scantly produced, and, engaged in this charming care, becomes infinitely decorative and delicate. What it must do for the too under-dressed land in May and June is easily supposable; but its office in the early autumn is to scatter coral and gold. The apples are everywhere and every interval, every old clearing, an orchard. You pick them up from under your feet but to bite into them, for fellowship, and throw them away; but as you catch their young brightness in the blue air, where they suggest strings of strange-colored pearls tangled in the knotted boughs, as you notice their manner of swarming for a brief and wasted gayety, they seem to ask to be praised only by the cheerful shepherd and the oaten pipe.
—New England: An Autumn Impression, 1905


The talk was so low, with pauses somehow so not of embarrassment that it could only have been earnest, and the air, an air of privilege and privacy to our young woman’s sense, seemed charged with fine things taken for granted.
The Papers, 1903

One of the things she loved him for, however, was that he gave you touching surprises in this line, had sudden in consistencies of temper that were all to your advantage. He was by no means always mild when he ought to have been, but he was sometimes so when there was no obligation.
The Princess Casamassima, 1886


Sanin’s history is weighted with the moral that salvation lies in being able, at a given moment, to turn on one’s will like a screw. If Mr. Turgénieff pays his tribute to the magic of sense he leaves us also eloquently reminded that soul in the long run claims her own.
Ivan Turgénieff, 1878


The old gentleman, heaven knew, had prejudices, but if they were numerous, and some of them very curious, they were not rigid. He had also such nice inconsistent feelings, such irrepressible indulgences, and they would ease everything off.
The Reverberator, 1888


Surprise, it was true, was not, on the other hand, what the eyes of Strether’s friend most showed him. They had taken hold of him straightway, measuring him up and down, as if they knew how; as if he were human material they had already in some sort handled. Their possessor was in truth, it may be communicated, the mistress of a hundred cases or categories, receptacles of the mind, subdivisions for convenience, in which, from a full experience, she pigeon-holed her fellow-mortals with a hand as free as that of a compositor scattering type.
The Ambassadors, 1903


“If you’ll help me, you know, I’ll help you,” he concluded in the pleasant fraternizing, equalizing, not a bit patronizing way which made the child ready to go through anything for him, and the beauty of which, as she dimly felt, was that it was not a deceitful descent to her years, but a real indifference to them.
What Maisie Knew, 1898


A suppositious spectator would certainly, on this, have imagined in the girl’s face the delicate dawn of a sense that her mother had suddenly become vulgar, together with a general consciousness that the way to meet vulgarity was always to be frank and simple.
The Awkward Age, 1899

The Daily Henry James: A Year of Quotes from the Work of the Master will be published, with a new introduction by Michael Gorra, by the University of Chicago Press on November 12th
mber 12.