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Word of the Month – July 2021

This month’s word is one every lover of stories – whether in book, movie, or play form – might like to know. It is a word borrowed from French, derived from Latin, and literally means “untie the knot” – referring to the narrative entanglements an author has woven through the stages of plot development. (source)

Denouement is the part of a narrative in which the various strands of the plot come together, usually taking place just after the climax and before the conclusion. In mystery novels, however, the climax and denouement might occur simultaneously. In most of the other forms of literature, it is merely the end of the story.

Although it may seem like a denouement is the same as a resolution, the two literary terms are actually different. A resolution is the part of the story where a character solves a main problem or resolves a conflict, often part of the climax. The denouement is what happens at the very end of the story when any remaining secrets, questions, or loose threads get linked together and wrapped up.

Word of the Month – June 2021

There are books that while reading one may come across an unfamiliar word or two. Then there are books that require tucking in a sheet of paper to keep a list. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova was one such book for me when I first read it so many years ago. Among the words on my running list, one in particular became a new favorite that really should be used at every opportunity – susurrus.

Susurrus is a noun meaning a low and soft whispering, murmuring or rustling sound. The pronunciation of the word itself seems to invoke its meaning. Most commonly you’ll read a mention of a susurrus of leaves or the susurrus of the ocean. Here are some examples taken from published works:

  • “There was a whispering noise that began then to run through the hall, a low susurrus that caused Shadow, in his dream, to experience a chilling and inexplicable fear.” –Neil Gaiman, American Gods.
  • “The chant of their vespers, mingling its notes with the soft susurrus and sighs of the branches.” — Longfellow, Evangeline.
  • “They heard the Green Fork before they saw it, an endless susurrus, like the growl of some great beast.” — George R. R. Martin, A Storm of Swords.

Will “susurrus” find its way into your vocabulary? What unfamiliar words have you come across in a recent read? Let us know in the comments. Perhaps it’ll be included in a future Word of the Month post.

CareerCenter at TPL

Are you familiar with CareerCenter of Maine? Maine CareerCenters provide a variety of employment and training services at no charge for Maine workers and businesses. Whether you are looking to improve your job qualifications, explore a different profession, find a new career or start a new business, the CareerCenter can help.

Now, you can schedule appointments here at the Topsham Public Library! We provide a laptop, reliable internet connection, a private space, and the tech support you need to speak a CareerCenter representative from the Southern Midcoast center in Brunswick.

Do you have questions about whether or not these services are for you? We answer some common questions below:

Do I need to be a Topsham resident or TPL patron? No, not necessarily. Several libraries in Maine are piloting this program. Email or call us for more info.
Are these services free to me? Yes! Career Centers are available all over the state so you can find a convenient location.
Does my income matter? Nope, not at all.
Are your services confidential? Absolutely. Public libraries pride themselves on providing no fee for service, confidential support and this is no different.
I feel like I could use some career help but I’m a little embarrassed/nervous to call. We understand. Asking for help isn’t always easy and making the phone call can be the hardest step. Our partner from the Career Center is very kind and willing to help and will put you at ease. There is no obligation to continue if it’s not for you!
I haven’t identified my exact needs. Should I still make an appointment? Yes. Don’t worry if you are not sure what specific services you are looking for. Wendy can help you talk it through! This can be a conversation that helps add new career ideas or brings to light some relevant options that you may not know about yet.

The CareerCenter can also help you if:

  • You’re a recent high school graduate and looking for jobs/internship in a specific field.
  • You have a business idea and would like help fine-tuning it. Or, if you’d like help narrowing down your ideas for a home-based business.
  • You have been out of the work force for a while and are looking for help with your resume.
  • You have an interview coming up and would like to practice either your interview skills or using technology for virtual interviews.
  • You are self-employed and are looking for marketing resources or help identifying useful online platforms.

Give us a call today to get started.

Word of the Month

Hello and welcome to a new monthly feature here on our blog!

Every month we will share a unique word – perhaps a lesser known one, perhaps a long forgotten one, perhaps one borrowed from another language. We hope you will enjoy this feature and will maybe even add a new word here and there to your repertoire. Let’s get to our first word…

Sometimes, it can seem like we wait and wait for the arrival of spring and then all of the sudden it’s here.  Not when the calendar says it’s spring but when early spring flowers bloom by the roadsides, things are looking greener, and migrating birds begin to return.

Another sure sign that spring is in full swing is when leaves start popping out. Frondescence is the term for this: the process, state, or period of putting forth leaves; the unfolding of leaves; foliage. There’s certainly plenty popping out around the library!

Do you have an interesting word to share? Pop it in the comments. You might see it as one of our monthly features.

The Season of Hope

We have endured some very stormy weather together and while the effects of it may be lingering, signs of hope and renewal are popping up all around.

We understand what it feels like to hold that hope close and allow ourselves to be excited for sunnier days. The buildup of that anticipation, however, can cause disappointment, fatigue, and frustration when we are met with yet more gray days.

The staff of Topsham Public Library works with care and diligence so that our library may continue to be a bright spot in your day. To do so safely, we are adhering to our Governor’s mandates, which includes continued mask-wearing, and because we have a high-touch environment, we are requiring hand sanitizing or handwashing upon entering the building.

On May 12, 2020, Topsham Public Library adopted an Emergency Policy. This policy allowed us to safely open our doors to the public on July 6, 2020 and continues to guide us on matters such as visitation time limits and number of visitors allowed at any one time. We are proud to be the only library in our area to consistently offer in-person services. 

Thank you for your cooperation as we prioritize the health and safety of our patrons and staff. Together we will move through the weather ahead with a shared knowing and a compassionate nod.

Keep up to date with Maine’s Covid-19 response on the Office of the Governor site and the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention site. Find information about when you’ve been fully vaccinated here. CDC tips for dealing with Covid-related stress can be found here. HelpGuide also offers some ways to help cope with this stressful time.

New to Topsham Public Library–cloudLibrary NewsStand!

Topsham Public Library is pleased to announce a new service for our patrons, cloudLibrary NewsStand, an e-magazine app to read magazines on your phone, tablet, or browser! NewsStand has currently over 6500 titles, including a variety of magazines from different countries and languages other than English. It also features at present over 150 “premium” titles including Reader’s Digest, This Old House, Taste of Home, Kiplinger’s, Yoga Journal, and PC World. NewsStand also has a fantastic collection of children’s magazines including Ladybug, Click, and Okido.

Unlike the titles in the regular cloudLibrary, NewsStand magazines are simultaneous use, meaning there are no wait times and there is no check in date—you can keep them as long as you like! Other features include searching and browsing by language, and a category filter including celebrity, food and beverage, health, investment, men’s interest, parenting, and much more. You can tag your favorites, read back issues, and bookmark your page for later! There’s also an ezRead option that makes the text and images easier to read.

CloudLibrary NewsStand is a very, very new app. The Topsham Public Library is a very early adopter of this technology. We’re in the first ten libraries to ever use this app! As such, there will be some teething problems. CloudLibrary has big plans to add more of your favorite magazines as time goes along, and it is not yet compatible with Kindle, however, you can read the magazines on your internet browser on your Kindle device. CloudLibrary does plan in the future to merge the cloudLibrary app and the NewsStand app for your convenience.

The NewsStand is incredibly easy to use. Just go to the app store on your device and download the cloudLibrary NewsStand app. You will be asked to make an account and enter your library card number, just like cloudLibrary, and then you’re good to go! If you need help, please call the library at (207) 725-1727. We’ll also be putting up instructions on our website and a link to the site.

Staff Picks 2020, Part 3

To wrap things up, Susan, Dale, and Monique will share their top picks of the past year. Though reading habits may have changed, it is still the power of story that we found enjoyment in. Here’s to reading in the new year! Enjoy!

Susan’s Top Picks:

Dale’s Top Picks:

Monique’s Top Picks:

Like Jen, I didn’t read as much in the past year. It felt more like a chore and I simply didn’t have the mind for it. However, I did enjoy a couple of gems and found some heart-warming movies to escape into.

Movies:

Troop Zero, Amazon Original – A simple but sweet story about fitting in (or not), staying true to yourself, forming deep bonds, doing hard things, and of hope. This was the perfect family feel-good movie I needed.

Peanut Butter Falcon – I was immediately drawn into the characters and their worlds set in the Southern Coast along the Atlantic. For me, this movie was full of authenticity and raw & vulnerable emotions. Another movie full of empowerment, empathy and hope.

Books:

Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor – I’m going to call this one “own-worthy”. It is packed with so much information, both fascinating and useful, but delivered in a story-telling way so that I did not feel overwhelmed. I’ll be buying my own copy and reading through it with highlighter in hand.

The Bees by Laline Paull – This book had a slow start for me but I’m glad I stuck with it. I found it to be an intriguing story and a fascinating look into the life of bees.

Sweetie by Andrea Zuill – Like Lindsay, I too adored this children’s book. My children and I may even see bits of ourselves in the main character. The summary reads, “Sweety is awkward, even for a naked mole rat, but with encouragement from her Aunt Ruth, she begins to see that being herself is the best way to find a friend.” Are you beginning to see a theme here?

Podcast:

Unlocking Us with Brené Brown – Brené Brown is so relatable, addresses sensitive topics with honesty, humility and a dose of humor, and is so good at getting to the heart of the matter. I find her podcast both entertaining and enlightening.

Staff Picks 2020, Part 2

A recurring topic of discussion amongst the staff is how our reading changed this year. One would think, given the time we all found ourselves with during the shutdown that many of us would have made progress on our “To Read” lists, but that was not so. There was a shift to shorter novels, or novels that brought comfort to the reader (however the reader defines comfort), and many of us even stopped reading for a time. What about you? Did you notice changes to your patterns of reading?

Cyndi’s Top Picks of 2020:

If Cyndi had any lingering doubts that the challenges presented by 2020 has impacted her level of concentration, reviewing the titles she has chosen for her top picks made it very obvious. She has always read and enjoyed graphic novels and novels in verse, but all of her top picks for 2020 are those exclusively.

The Hill House graphic novel series by various authors:

The Farmhand series by Rob Guillory:

The Middlewest series by Skottie Young:

Cyndi’s favorite stand alone graphic novels, with the adaptation of Jason Reynold’s Long Way Down being her No. 1 pick for 2020, are:

Two novels in verse made this year’s cut:

Emma’s To Read list only got longer this year, but, though she didn’t read as much as normal, she did find some favorites. They are:

Emma’s favorites include an audio book version of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series:

And to wrap up Emma’s list is The Little Witch by M. Rickert. It is a short story that you can read online. To read it, click here or on the image below.

Jen’s Top Picks:

My reading patterns were definitely impacted by covid. I began a number of books only to put them down thinking I don’t care. There were a couple of months where I didn’t read anything, but in retrospect this made my favorites even more favored.

Audio books:

Tom Hanks reads The Dutch House by Ann Patchett and you do not want to miss out on his performance. Patchett’s writing is enjoyable to read, and it absolutely shines with Hanks’ execution. Is there anything Hanks can’t do?

Amor Towles’ book A Gentleman in Moscow was favored among patrons when it was released in 2016 and it is still checked out with great frequency. It was not until this past summer that I listened to it. After hearing Nicholas Guy Smith’s reading, I wondered why it took me so long to get to it. The writing, the performance, the depth of characters, the turn of phrases all combine to make a beautiful, sad-that-it’s-over story.

I almost returned The Searcher by Tana French and read by Roger Clark without even trying it. I just felt rushed for time, but I found myself alone one evening, so I popped the cd into my player and after the first few minutes, I made opportunities in my schedule to finish it. Whether I was washing dishes or finishing a gift for someone for the holidays, I listened to French’s newest novel. A former police officer from the United States retires to a quiet Irish village only to be persuaded to find out what happened to a missing local lad. I have always enjoyed French’s mysteries and this was no exception.

Fiction:

Though it is a short book, Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma should not be underestimated. A gothic tale, this dragon story set in Great Britain was a delight. I enjoyed it so much that I actually bought a copy.

This is one of those children’s books that, I think, adults would enjoy as well. Witty and smart, it is a tale of a thief whose boasting finally ends him up in trouble. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner is an award winner and a thoughtful, entertaining read.

I first saw this book when it came through as an Inter-Library Loan. A Kingdom Far and Clear: the Complete Swan Lake Trilogy by Mark Helprin and illustrated Chris Van Allsburg is a beautiful book. The illustrations are luxurious and add so much to the story. Though presented as a fairy tale story, it does not sugar coat reality or follow the happy-ever-after trope.

I could not put down My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. I devoured it in almost one sitting. (I did finally have to put it down long enough to eat.) I found it sad, hilarious, and entertaining. The characters were so real. In the end, I wondered who the real serial killer actually was.

Mariah’s Top Picks:

My friend told me I HAD to watch this and SHE WAS RIGHT.  Schitt’s Creek made me laugh, then tear up, then laughcry, and then laugh some more.  This show is so bighearted, and the character growth and development are excellent, and as soon as I finished all of the seasons I started it over again.  In fact, it may now be my favorite show OF ALL TIME. Did I mention that it made me laugh?  *Disclaimer: if you watch the first episode and first episode ONLY and think “what is she raving about, this show is not all that” HANG IN THERE, it may take a few episodes to get hooked!

This show totally took me by surprise – it is AMAZING!  The acting is great, the cinematography is GORGEOUS, and the story is oddly compelling (oddly because, you wouldn’t think a series about playing chess could be exciting – IT IS!)  I was avoiding The Queen’s Gambit because it looked dark (and it definitely is dark at times) and I’ve pretty much only been wanting lighthearted comedies this year, but I am SO GLAD I watched it.

Caleb Marshall choreographs dance workouts to popular music and puts them up for free on YouTube and they are so much fun!  Did I feel silly/laugh the entire time I was dancing? Yup! Did I feel one thousand times better after a dance/laugh session? YUP! 

I listen to this CD in the morning while doing yoga, and it is exactly what I needed this year: a soothing voice and a reassuring mantra! My favorite track is “Everything I Need,” where he sings about the darkness being fruitful and not being afraid. I like all of his music, but this album in particular is excellent!

When I wasn’t listening to Trevor Hall, I was listening to The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer on audiobook for my daily dose of calm.  I have read bits and pieces of this book for years – carried it around in my car, packed it on vacations – but this is the first time I’ve actually read it start to finish and it was great!

“I brake for birds. I rock a lot of polka dots.  I have touched glitter in the last 24 hours.  I spend my entire day talking to children.” “I hope you like feminist rants, because that’s kinda my thing” “Oh my gosh.  Look, it’s food. I love food!” Jessica Day is basically me, haha.  New Girl on Netflix has been my favorite show for years, only recently replaced (tied for first?) by Schitt’s Creek.  It’s silly and funny and quirky and even though I’ve watched the whole series at least five times and can quote most of it by heart, I still am catching jokes that I missed the first five watches.  Perfect comfort watch!

Hamilton. So good.  Just so good.  That is all.

Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk is one of those kids books that I recommend to all the adults – this historical fiction was absolutely beautiful!

Was The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West (metaphorically speaking) preaching to my choir?  Sure.  Did it make me feel better? It did indeed!  Did I insist on reading multiple passages aloud to my fiancé, who knew well enough to humor me and just listen to the passage, and then to my much longer rant about whatever topic I was reading?  Yup!  Fun times!

And, we discovered sheet pan cooking during the early days of stay-at-home, and I honestly don’t know if I will ever cook vegetables any other way ever again! I have yet to taste a vegetable that doesn’t taste better roasted in the oven.  Take LITERALLY ANY VEGETABLE, cut it up, slather it in olive oil and salt/pepper and any other spices you might like, and roast in oven until done.  SO GOOD!

Staff Picks 2020

It may have been a miserable year, but at least it moved right along! Just like that we are closing the chapter on 2020 and opening a new one for 2021. Every year, it is interesting to look back on our year of reading, watching, and listening and thinking about what was going on at the time, and that is even more true this year. Here are the Staff Picks of 2020, and we hope you enjoy looking at our favorites.

First up: Linda

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

It seems that every year Penny’s books are in my top 5, and this one may be her best ever.  For the first time the setting is outside Quebec, in Paris, where we get a taste of neighborhoods and daily life. We also get a good look into the history of the Gamache family and the dynamics of their relationships. Every member of the family gets involved with this one. Once again Armand’s character is tested to the extreme. Will he, can he, do the right thing, even if his family’s lives are at stake? The mystery is as contemporary as today’s headlines and the plot intricate. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read, intelligent and clever, holding my attention and building suspense right up to the explosive climax. I didn’t know who the villains were until the smoke cleared. If I could, I’d give this one 10 stars.

The Red Door by Charles Todd

This makes an even dozen in the Inspector Rutledge series, set in post WWI Britain. We start with a young wife from a small village, longing for her husband to come home from the war. She paints the front door red as a welcome home surprise for him. Then we visit a married man in London, going to the bank. On the way home he has an overwhelming fear for his young son, and lapses into panic and paralysis. Thus begins the knot that Ian Rutledge has to untangle. What do these two have in common and how does that set off a string of deaths encompassing the distance between them? This case is well plotted, intricate, and beautifully written. Beware the red herring. I never guessed the culprit. I give this one 5 stars.

The Stranger Diaries by Ellie Griffiths

This is a stand-alone book by the author of the Ruth Galloway mystery series. It is quite the departure from her usual fare, having a definite gothic feel to it, dark and brooding. Clare Cassidy is teaching a course on her favorite gothic writer R. M. Holland. The book opens with the beginning of one of his old stories, two men on a train and the story of a secret society and unexplained death at the school where Clare teaches. Then we move to the present time and real life. Clare’s best friend is killed. Next to her body is a note from that story. From there the story is told from three different perspectives, Clare’s, the detective’s, and Clare’s daughter, intertwined with the telling of the original fictional story. Those perspectives and the story that started it all are expertly interwoven into a seamless mystery that will hold you captive until the end. It is suspenseful and a little spooky. As an aside, also interesting to me was the assumption on the part of Clare about the thoughts of the other two people, and what they were actually thinking, and vice versa. It was a study in how we think we know what others are thinking based on our own state of mind. It was brilliantly done – 5 stars.

Enola Holmes

This Netflix movie rated PG13 and written, it seemed to me, with teens in mind, was quite original and fun to watch. Enola is Sherlock’s little sister, left in the care of Mycroft after her mother’s disappearance. Mycroft intends to send her away to a finishing school to make a proper young lady of her. That, however, is not what Enola wants. So, of course, she runs away, hoping to find her mother. Along her way she encounters a young man about her age who has also run away from his family, whose motives toward the young man do not appear honorable. And the game’s afoot!  Enola is every bit as clever as her brother. Acting as protagonist and narrator she leads us on a merry adventure filled with excitement and danger. This movie is a great escape from the stresses of our time. I give it 5 stars.

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

This is the first in new series by the author of the Shetland and Vera Stanhope mysteries, and is just as intriguing. The book begins with Detective Matthew Venn standing outside his father’s funeral. He has been estranged from his ultraconservative religious family for years and doesn’t want to be noticed. While there, he gets a call telling him that a body has been found on a nearby beach, and off to work he goes. Soon he finds himself in charge of the investigation, which makes it impossible to avoid his family and the issues that divided them. Ms. Cleeves writes an engaging story with well-drawn complex characters in a setting so real, you will think you hear the gulls screeching. I didn’t want to put this one down.

Julie’s Top Picks of 2020:

Books:

TV series:

Lyndsey’s Top Picks of 2020:

Books:

Giving Tuesday!

What a weird year. Every one of us has experienced change on levels we never imagined, and we have had to learn to adapt. Adapting is easier for some than others and can be scary for all.

Topsham Public Library has also adapted and changed the way we do things, but we have not changed our mission, and our desire to help you receive the services you need remains constant.

GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that
encourages people to do good. Over the past 8 years, this idea has
grown into a year-round global movement that inspires hundreds of
millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

Giving Tuesday is an annual opportunity for people to give to their favorite nonprofits. It is always the Tuesday after Thanksgiving which this year is December 1st. May we ask you to reimagine the ways in which you support Topsham Public Library? Perhaps you have supported us through volunteering or supplying books for the book sale, but with Covid, those avenues of support have been slim to nonexistent. Maybe that support could be shown through your gift through Giving Tuesday.

Our goal is to raise $1,000 on December 1st. Any donation amount is helpful for reaching that goal and greatly appreciated. Here’s how you can support your library on GivingTuesday…

Gracie, age 12

Now:

  • Like and share our #GivingTuesday social media posts.
  • Download the #unselfie template and share your message on your social media. Don’t forget to tag us! unselfie template

On December 1st:

  • Visit our DONATE page and give in any amount you are able. For donations of $50 or more, we will add a dedication book plate to a new book in our collection. Please select the “tribute gift” option and let us know your special message.

The support from our community has always been overwhelming. So many of you, since our reopening, have told us how much it means that we are back. In these uncertain times there may be some of you who just can’t donate right now, and we understand, but if there are those of you who can help us meet our $1000 goal it would be so appreciated.

Thank you and hope to see you at Topsham Public Library!