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Word of the Month – August 2021

Our word for August, sagacity, means incisive wisdom or sharp discernment; the quality of having or showing understanding and the ability to make good judgments (source); the quality of being wise and farsighted (source).

One famous example of its usage comes from Mary Shelley in Frankenstein: “I had sagacity enough to discover that the unnatural hideousness of my person was the chief object of horror with those who had formerly beheld me.”

Another comes from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo: “With the sad and innocent sagacity of childhood, Cosette measured the abyss which separated her from that doll.”

Some sources say that the first recorded use of sagacity comes from the 15th century and others state that in the 17th and 18th centuries, sagacity was used to refer to an animal’s acute sense of smell. For example, Merriam-Webster states, “Sagacious entered the English language around the beginning of the 17th century and, for some decades, referred to perceptiveness of sight, taste, and especially, smell. One of the first authors to use the word, Edward Topsell, wrote in 1607 of bees searching for something with “a most sagacious smelling-sence.”

While the word is used differently today, you could say that if you have sagacity you are able to sniff out good ideas from the bad.

Genres You May Have Read but Not Heard Of

A search on genres of literature will get you a multitude of responses: what the main genres are, how many main genres there are, whether or not there are sub-genres or only categories of main genres. The perspective of the TPL librarians? Genres and various sub-genres can be very helpful in identifying your interests and finding your next read (but do not feel limited by them).

Whatever your opinion on the matter may be, here are 6 sub-genres you may have read but haven’t heard of…

Cli-fi: Cli-fi stands for climate fiction and is literature that deals with the effects of climate change on human society. It has been growing in popularity, especially among high school and college-age readers, and there are many colleges now offering cli-fi courses. There’s a good selection to choose from here.

Bildungsroman: These are coming of age stories – bildungsroman (German) is a compound of the words bildungs, meaning “building or formation”, and roman meaning “a novel”. (source) Chances are you have read at least a few of these novels. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, Little Women, and The Alchemist are some examples.

Mannerpunk: A cousin of steampunk, mannerpunk is a subgenre of fantasy literature that takes place within an elaborate social structure and resembles a comedy of manners. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Stardust
by Neil Gaiman are two examples that might be familiar to you.

Grimoires: Though perhaps not exactly a literary (sub)genre, grimoires—manuals of magic or witchcraft— has had a recent resurgence can be found on the shelves of many a witch, sorcerer, or amateur spell caster. (source) We have several in our collection.

Epistolary: An epistolary novel is a story told exclusively through fictionalized letters, emails, newspaper articles, and other primary sources. The form experienced a popularity surge in the mid-1700s, and it has since structured some of the most beloved books in the English language, such as Dracula and The Color Purple.

Verse Novel: Fiction novels are usually written in prose (verbal or written language that follows the natural flow of speech). Verse novels tell a story, with the character development and narrative structure of novels, but in the form of long poetry. It does not have to rhyme but it does often have a cadence and/or use other poetic devices. You’ll find some examples here.

There you have it – some familiar titles that fall under some less familiar categories. Do you have a favorite genre or sub-genre? Let us know in the comments.

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!