Staff poll: What is the most memorable book you read in school?

Amanda: “Oh my… that was a long time ago! But I have to say in 5th grade we read Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle as a class and I’ve re-read it at least twice each decade since. It’s fun to see how the story reads differently as I reach different stages in my life.”


Grey: “The best book I have every read in school, without question, was The Little Prince. It is such a simple story on the surface, and fun, but it is also a very deeply written, beautiful story that I think has meaning for people of all ages. I read it in 5th or 6th grade in school, and many times since just for pleasure. ”


Eileen: “Without a doubt, All That is Solid Melts Into Air by Marshall Berman. Also, Bruno Bettelheims The Uses of Enchanment. As far as fiction? My Norton Anthologies (the Poetry and American Lit ones) are still prized possessions I have readily at hand. I remember the kick in the head reading John Berryman did for me in one, and the mental pot-stirring provided by Emerson in the other.”


Chantel: “I had a really hard time with required reading in school. I’m already an avid reader, and a huge genre snob, so having someone assign a book to me to read was sort of off-putting. As a result, I did a lot of “book skimming” for assignments. The two books that I remember fully reading – and loving – though, were Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlin in 3rd grade, and the Crucible by Arthur Miller when I was a junior in high school. The Crucible was extra fun because we went on a field trip to Salem MA after reading the play!”




From the Writing Desk: March

Time for your monthly writing prompt!

March: Slithy Toves

Invent and use a word or phrase – but don’t tell the reader what it means. Your story could have multiple interpretations!


300 words min, 500 words max. Send titled submissions to, and let us know if we have your permission to share your work with the public!


Here’s my favorite story we received in February:


“Have we done this before?” she asked. He blinked.

“I… don’t think we’ve ever met,” he replied, biting down a tense laugh. Why was he so nervous? This was an absolutely typical Friday, complete with well-dressed stranger across the table. And yet…

She flashed white teeth past her red, bee-stung lips. Botox, maybe. No big deal. He certainly saw enough tucked asses in his trade. Hard to fit into the same spandex after thirty years of awards banquets.

“I’m a hedge fund manager,” she declared, studying him through her dark lashes. “I like to get that out of the way.”

“Oh,” he said, “so you’re evil!”

They shared an awkward laugh, but by the minuscule crinkling of the foundation around her mouth, he could see that she was offended.

“I’m in energy,” he babbled. “Solar, ah, reflection.”

She raised an eyebrow. He swallowed a mouthful of water. Her crinkles deepened into valleys.

“Let’s start over,” she suggested.

“Yes, let’s,” he agreed.

“I’m in capital investment, and -”

“Wait,” it was our before he could trap his mouth closed. “Didn’t you say you were in hedge funds?”

Her smile evaporated. “That’s what I said.”

“You said you were in capital investment.”

“It’s the same.”

“No, it’s not.”

Her voice rose. “I think I know my own business.”

When had he gotten to his feet? “And what exactly is your business?”

She was an Amazon in a cocktail dress, towering over him. “I told you” she snarled, “I’m in securities!” Her almond eyes widened. Suddenly, as though he’d been struck by lightning, he remembered everything.

Transforming into Mirror Man usually took him .25 seconds. Tonight, he was barely in time: the bolt of energy that streaked across the table reflected off his chest, ricocheting around the restaurant. It slammed into a respectable-looking older couple who stood up, dazed, and began wandering into tables and walls like confused babies.

Now haloed in psychic fire, she vaulted across the table. The odds were long: he was a passive talent with a tricky rotator cudd, and she was fresh off a solo take down of Captain Truth. He remembered her telling him about it last Friday. and the Friday before.

“You think you can handle me?” she screamed, charging. “I just took down — wait.”

He threw a wild punch that she easily blocked, elbowing him so hard in the jaw that he lost his concentration. Dazed, he struggled to return to full Mirror status. A bolt hit him like scalding water, half of it searing his skin as the rest returned to its sender…

Sunlight beat through his bedroom window like the echo of his headache. Had he gotten drunk last night? Ugh. From the disheveled bed, he dragged himself to the desk. Herobook first, then InstaCape, and finally JDate. A message awaited him. The sender had very ark eyelashes, and shapely red lips. Botox, maybe? No big deal. A cheerful light bloomed in his chest despite his headache. The message preview read, Hey, cutie! 😉


Submitted by Anna

Staff poll: If you could be besties with a fictional character (or characters!), who would you pick?


Dellarobbia Turnbow from Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. That doesn’t mean I liked the book, because I didn’t! The only reason I finished it was because I liked her character so much!



I think I’d pick the Weasley twins, Fred & George. Constant jokes & pranks… not to mention all the fun experiments! They seem like a lot of fun.



For a childhood friend… Ramona (the pest) by Beverly Cleary. Then away to school and become besties with Cassandra from I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. As for my adult life, with a difficult, brilliant, brave friend, honest and pretty crazy – Nora Eldridge from Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs.

Staff question: What’s the best book you’ve read during a snow storm? Or maybe just a book you’ve read in which there is a snow storm?

With all the white stuff falling lately, we’ve got a very snowy-themed poll this week!


Snowblind by Christopher Golden. I read this one last winter during one of our many snow days and was completely sucked in (and maybe a little terrified). Reads very much like some of Stephen King’s earlier works, in that it’s incredibly complex, but so so readable. The best part is that the author is local, and while the town in which Snowblind takes place is called Coventry, we get to visit very real streets and restaurants from Haverhill! Also, there’s LOTS of snow.



Time & Again by Jack Finney. A time travel book written in 1970 with no science fiction gizmos at all. The main character travels back to the 1880’s. He does this in the Dakota apartment building in NYC (that being the least changed/modernized building around). I sat in my living room during a snow storm reading this and was so absorbed by the story that I felt like I, too, would be stepping out into 1880 if I left my house!



Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. When I first started here Eileen recommended this book to me, and kept recommending over about five years. Finally one February I read it and LOVED it. She was right! (as is so often the case). I’ve never had such a satisfying winter read since. Although I read it in the summer I also enjoyed Christopher Rice’s Snow Garden. His atmospheric sense of place was very reminiscent of his mother’s (Anne Rice) work but the story was much more subtle and thoughtful.



So many books of late have referenced fairy tales (for example, the wonderful Boy, Snow, Bird: A Novel by Helen Oyeyemi, and Stolen Child by Keith Donohue) and my favorite recent “winter book” does as well. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is a magical and beautiful read set in a 1920’s homesteading Alaskan frontier, that captivates until its very end. I gave it to my sister to bring on a trip to Alaska and she, too, was spellbound. I hope to read more by this author, as soon as she produces something else!

Staff poll: What skills do you think you have because you’re a reader?


I think being a reader has helped me be a good critical thinker. If what I read a *mumble mumble* number of years ago in a Lassie book is good information, I can grow strawberries. I remember a conversation with my father when I was very young, in which we traded examples of “real facts” gleaned through our fiction reading. I guess he could have been a world traveling spy. I was excited about the strawberry information.



I’m pretty sure I could solve a homicide based on how much horror and mystery I read. I could probably also summon demons.


Paul: Exactly the opposite… reading reminds me of all the skills I don’t possess! (Though I do think I’d be a pretty good proof-reader)



With all the space opera books I’ve read/watched/studied, I think I might be a good inter-species diplomat. Oddly, my brother teaches classes on the geo-politics of space. Must be genetic!



In reading, I have learned to be very patient. I am a slow reader, so I really do have to be patient with a book to make it to the end. That’s not to say I am not impatient at all, I am just more patient than I once was.

From the Writing Desk – Your Monthly Writing Prompt


February – Romance

Valentine’s Day. Blind date. Is it a success or a disaster? Do you have a friend waiting on stand-by to save you?

300 word minimum, 500 words max.

Title your work! Then send your story to Please include your name, and whether we have permission to share your work publicly!



Here’s one of my favorite stories from January!

January: Labyrinth

An overwhelming wave of panic, confusion, flooded my senses. Sense-making was required. Above, a cerulean sky, cloudless and reflecting high sunshine bore witness to delightful weather. A mild, warm breeze licked my face and disheveled my hair with evidence of instant red wing black bird songs. No human or machine-like sounds were detected. High six foot black green colored formal hedges surrounded the center of the labyrinth, creating a false sense of protection and calm. Where is Alice and the white rabbit?

Contemplating the words on the sign, I wondered if they constituted a warning, instruction, or a challenge? Looking down to where my standing feet were place, I saw they rested upon a pathway of fractured quartz and tourmaline crystals that illuminated light beneath the pressure of the weight. What a strange place and how strange that I am in here. Am I dreaming and will close my eyes, wake up in an hour and find myself in my comfortable bed? Could wait and see. Just wait without moving. This could be an opportunity to drink in the sensual, dreamy pleasures of the environment. This is solution number one.

I could yell out HELP, HELP, and see what happens. Will anyone hear me? Will any deus ex machina come on winged feet to life me out of this center? Shall I risk straining my vocal cords, creating internal panic and being disappointed? Solution number two is possible but risky and could disturb my calm. What if I could create mechanical energy to free myself from this enclosure without touching anything?

I recalled the definition of piezoelectricity as the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials such as crystals, certain ceramics, biological matter like DNA, bone and certain proteins in response to a mechanical stress. What is I could ac as the ignition source for the push-start source for a piezoelectric pathway for electricity? How would I do that? What harm would it cause? What is the worst thing that could happen? To do nothing and wait is no the solution for a results oriented person. Control the situation and think big!

Jumping high and fast, in place repeatedly, both my feet generated the pressure upon the crystallized pathway. This foot traffic provided increased electricity to illuminate the entire pathway within the center of the maze. The labyrinth shimmered with light movement an harvested an energy in the crystals from my repeated applied pressure. My speed and jumping energy was beginning to falter after three minutes and my spirits wane, when a clicking sound was detected. The energy generated adequate power to automatically trigger an exit system. My excitement was profound!

Smoothly, with a slight pulling sounds, the serpentine labyrinth moved me out of the maze and onto a large green field. There’s Alice and the white rabbit running away.

Susan, We are done here. I felt the therapist remove her hands from my head. Shall we make another appointment?


Submitted by Susan


Staff question: Do you set a reading goal each year? If so, how many books do you hope to read in 2016? Any titles in particular?


No. The only regular reading goal I set for myself is that I read something very long for the month of February. Somehow it makes the month go faster. (FYI, February is my least favorite month)



I do not set a goal. Although, being in a book group with some highly literary folks “forces” me to read books I would unlikely gravitate to on my own. My goal regarding reading, is this case, is to not disappoint my compatriots and secondly, to remain open to new ideas and new genres.



I do set reading goals for myself. My goal for 2016 is to read 52 books this year. Which, just saying it that way doesn’t sound like much, but it works out to one book a week, and I think that seems fair.  As far as specific titles, not really. Though I do request a lot of advanced reader copies from publishers, because I want to read certain things before they hit shelves!



No annual goal. I try to be sure to read at least a little each day. When moving I had many days that didn’t include reading time, so I’m trying to make up for that now!



I try to catch up on all the books on my shelf I haven’t read yet, but I continue to buy books faster than I can read them.



How about you, reader? Do you set any reading goals for yourself?

Jibber Jabber – What would be your dream job (besides bookselling, obviously)?


Rock & Roll Goddess with my own fashion line on the side, of course!



I’m not sure. Garden Designer? Literacy teacher? Mother of ten orphans? Not being able to  decide is how I ended up in this job, for which I feel well suited and grateful.



An author. I’d like to work in my pajamas all day and on my own schedule (mostly). I’d also like to adopt lots of cats & dogs to keep me company while I’m writing. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at writing, but I am pretty good at reading & talking about books!

Literary Massachusetts

NOTE: This is not a blog about the Salem Witch Trials/The Crucible (which is a favorite of mine)/the House of Seven Gables.

It is a short blog about literary places to go and things to see that you may or may not have done yet!

  1. Make Way for Ducklings Statue – Boston Public Garden
    The statues of Mrs. Mallard leading her famous brood attract visitors from all over the world to the Boston Public Garden across from Beacon Hill. Based on the book Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, the sculpture was created by Nancy Schon.
  2. Walden Pond – Concord
    In 1845, Henry David Thoreau built a small home for himself on Walden pond, on property that was owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson. He spent more than two years there seeking a simpler type of life. In doing so, he worked as little as possible, and avoided working six days on, one day off, which was the norm at the time. This gave Thoreau plenty of time to ponder and to devote his efforts to philosophy and literary interests.
    thoreau's cabin
  3. Edward Gorey House – Yarmouth Port
    In 1979 Edward Gorey purchased the 200 year-old sea captain’s home at 8 Strawberry Lane on the Yarmouth Port Common, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. After his death in 2000 the house became a museum, dedicated to Gorey’s life and work and his devotion to animal welfare. The house and its annual Gorey exhibits are open to the public from April through December. The house will re-open on Friday, April 15, 2016!
    edward gorey
  4. Orchard House – Concord
    The Orchard House was the home of Louisa May Alcott from 1858 – 1877. It is the house in which she penned Little Women at a “shelf-desk” that her father built for her. Not much has changed at the Orchard House since her time there, and 80% of the furnishings in the home belonged to the Alcott family.
    Orchard House contemporary
  5. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery – Concord
    Located inside Concord’s largest cemetery is Authors Ridge. It is there that you will find  modest headstones, marking the final resting places of Louisa May Alcott (as well as the rest of her family), Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau.
    authors ridge


While this is by no means a complete list of all of the literary sites to be seen in Massachusetts, it’s at least a fun starting point! Have you been to any of these locations? What did you think?!