Rare Readers – What were your favorites this year?


As always, the Rare Reads book group read a variety of books this year. What were your favorites? Which had the best discussions? Let us know in the comments below! Here’s the list to remind you:

Rare Reads Book List 2017-2018

September: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

October: Pink Chimneys by Ardeana Hamlin

November: Wonder Woman by various
December: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

January: Life on Mars: Poems by Tracy K. Smith

February: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

March: Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch

April: Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

May: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Tips On Requesting A Movie

With the recent release of Murder on the Orient Express, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Dunkirk we have noticed a pattern of confusion as patrons request movies and TV shows from home. So, I’m going to give you some tips to keep in mind when requesting those items.

The most important step to take when searching for a movie is to limit the search to Topsham Public Library:

This is especially important when it comes to new releases or popular movies. When holds are placed on items, the owning library’s copy goes to their patrons first. As a Topsham Public Library patron, when you place a hold on a movie that Topsham Public Library owns, it will go to you before it will go to another library. So, when a movie has sixty or seventy or sometimes one hundred holds, if you request the Topsham Public Library copy, then it will come to you sooner than if you request a copy from another library.

If Topsham Public Library does not own a copy of the movie you want, then search All Minerva Locations:    

If another library has the item, and it does not have any holds on it, you should get it rather quickly (a week-ish). If it is a popular item, there will be a wait as, again, owning library’s copy goes to owning library’s patron first.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that the first item that pops up on your search may not be the item you want. For example, Murder on the Orient Express:


As you can see, there are two movie versions of Murder on the Orient Express that Topsham Public Library owns. The first one on the list is an older version from 1974, and the second is the 2017 theatrical release. Make sure you are choosing the one that you want by checking the release date and the cast that’s listed. Don’t just request the first one that pops up.

Also, make sure you have the right format. If you want a DVD rather than a book or a Blu-ray, for example, check the icon to the left of the listing. DVD has a green icon.

As always, if you need help requesting something, don’t hesitate to ask for help when you visit Topsham Public Library, or you may call us at 725-1727.

Summer Reading Begins June 1

It’s that time of year again. I think it comes more quickly each year! If you are a regular, you are familiar with the summer reading program at Topsham Public Library. If you are new, you don’t want to miss out!

Every summer, we host a summer reading program, and this summer it begins Friday, June 1. There are programs for children, teens, and yes, adults, too. Every age group has goals and incentives to encourage reading, and prizes are earned and won. Plus, throughout the summer there are special activities planned. Come on in to Topsham Public Library and pick up your summer reading packet and get in on all the fun!

Did You Watch The Great American Read?

On Tuesday, May 22, PBS aired the premier of The Great American Read. Did you watch it? In case you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, PBS is hosting The Great American Read in which the public votes on their favorite book from a 100 book list and in Fall, 2018 PBS will air 7 episodes covering the voting process and announcing America’s favorite book.

I did watch last night’s kick-off episode, and I have one complaint: I feel like they squeezed too much in to the two-hour episode. They quickly covered each title on the list of 100 books, and though it was informative, I would have liked to have spent more time on each title. But, that’s just me.

On the positive side, my opinion changed on some of the titles. I have not read every book on the list, and there are some titles I will read this summer, and there are others that don’t interest me, but after watching the show last night, some of those that I have no interest in reading are now on my “To Read” list.

To cast your vote on your favorite book visit The Great American Read website. If you haven’t seen the list it is on their website or you may request a copy at Topsham Public Library.

Happy reading!

Wanna Go Fishing?

Thank you to Keith Spiro for this photograph taken at Fishing Rally 2017.

My father loved to fish. He would get up early in the morning, and by the time I woke up fish would be frying on the stove. I remember two times Dad took me fishing. My earliest memory was picnicking on the bank of the Little Black River. After a little lunch, my dad taught me to put a worm on the hook, and then he showed me how to cast. I then put a worm on the hook, and I cast my rod, and I caught something. The hook had caught on my brother Tim’s ear. I was done fishing for the day.

My second memory finds us again on the Little Black only this time Dad, Tim, and I were in a canoe. I might be seven, and Tim was four. We were actually on our way back to shore, and dad suggested I try catching a fish one more time. This time, I actually hooked a fish. I was reeling it in when Tim tried to grab it and instead of grabbing the wriggling fish, he fell over the side of the canoe head first into the deep water. In my mind’s eye, all I can see is my father’s hand coming out of nowhere, plunging into the dark water and pulling my brother up from the depths. I knew I was safe with my dad.

I think that was my last time fishing. Though I don’t fish anymore, I am thankful for the role fishing has in my heritage. That’s why I appreciate the Fishing Rally that Topsham Public Library, Topsham Parks and Recreation, and Topsham Solid Waste Facility sponsor annually. There won’t be canoes to fall out of, and hopefully the only thing your hook snags is a fish, but it’s sure to be an adventure.

So, don’t miss your opportunity on Saturday, June 2, 8am-11am to learn to fish, or to fish again after a long absence, or if you’re an avid fishing enthusiast to just enjoy a few hours fishing with your community. The event will be held rain or shine at “the Ponds” behind the Solid Waste Facility on Foreside Road. Try your luck—and maybe win a prize! Topsham Public Library will provide fishing poles and bait for those who need them. This is a catch and release program, and for this one day only, a fishing license is not required.

All ages welcome! Coffee and refreshments will be provided by the Friends of the Topsham Public Library. This program is free and open to the public.


Odd Items at Topsham Public Library

Naturally, Maine is the place to be in the summer time, and already Topsham Public Library is noticing an influx of people “from away.” One such visitor was pleasantly surprised to discover we have telescopes that can be checked out by our patrons. This led to a further discussion about the binoculars and fishing poles that are also available for check out. The gentleman remarked that at his local library, they offer small tool kits for check out to their patrons. Some libraries, like New Gloucester Public Library, even have a collection of bake ware, and they have canoes and kayaks available as well.

Libraries aren’t just for books anymore. Come visit Topsham Public Library and check out what’s available to read, listen to, watch, and participate in. You might just be surprised!

The Great American Read Book List Released

PBS is hosting a national contest, The Great American Read, to engage people in choosing America’s favorite book. On April 20 a list of 100 books was released, and on May 22 at 8pm PBS will air a launch special “kicking off a summer of reading and voting.” Then, we have all summer to read what we want from the list and to vote for our favorite one. In Fall 2018, PBS will air seven more episodes following the “quest to find America’s most beloved book.”

So, this list has been released! I was excited to see it, and I was surprised by the selection. I’ve read a little over one-third of the books on the list. Naturally, my list of 100 books would look different than this list, as I’m sure your list would look different as well. It’s fun though, to think about what books you would or would not have on your list.

From The Great American Read website, here are some frequently asked questions:

How were the top 100 books chosen? 

PBS and the producers worked with the public opinion polling service “YouGov” to conduct a demographically and statistically representative survey asking Americans to name their most-loved novel. Approximately 7,200 people participated.

How did you narrow that list to the top 100?

The results were tallied and organized based on the selection criteria and overseen by an advisory panel of 13 literary industry professionals. The criteria for inclusion on the top 100 list were as follows:

  1. Each author was limited to one title on the list (to keep the list varied).
  2. Books published in series or featuring ongoing characters counted as one eligible entry on the list (e.g. the Harry Potter series or Lord of the Rings) to increase variety.
  3. Books could be from anywhere in the world as long as they were published in English.
  4. Only fiction could be included in the poll.
  5. Each advisory panel member was permitted to select one book for discussion and possible inclusion on the top 100 list from the longer list of survey results.

What books are included on the list?

The list contains a broad range of fictional titles, authors, time periods, countries, genres and subject matter. The list includes books from as far back as the 1600s and as recent as 2016. From beloved world literature to contemporary best sellers, many categories are represented: 20th century American classics, thrillers, young adult novels, sci-fi/fantasy, adventure, historical fiction, romantic stories, and books that represent the human experience told from a diverse range of perspectives.

Why are there only fiction books included? Why aren’t religious works included?

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is searching for the country’s best-loved novel. While GAR recognizes the broad categories of books available, they chose to narrow their focus to works of fiction because it would be impossible to cover them all over the course of an eight-part series. .

How does the voting work?

Voting will open online and on social media with the launch of the two-hour premiere episode and continue throughout the summer, leading up to the finale in October 2018. Over the summer, viewers can vote online and through hashtag voting via Facebook and Twitter. In the fall, viewers will also be able to cast their votes by using SMS and toll-free voting.

Have you checked out the list? Have you read them all? Will you be participating in The Great American Read and casting your vote?

If you would like a paper copy of the list, Topsham Public Library can get one for you – just ask at the circulation desk!

New Development Coordinator at Topsham Public Library

I would like to introduce you to Barbara Hawkes the new Development Coordinator at Topsham Public Library. Barbara and her family have recently moved back to Maine and when she heard of the opportunity here, she applied. You will see from her experience that she has worked in a variety of areas that are real assets in her role as Development Coordinator.

Before the return to Maine, Barbara was living in Naples, Florida where she served at Hodges University as Director of Lifelong Learning, Director of Community Outreach, and as an academic librarian with English as a Second Language responsibilities. Prior to her work in the academic world, Barbara spent twenty years in Portland, Maine conducting research in the environmental engineering field, and for ten years after that she was awarded a grant to help family services organizations and  government departments work together to help children transition to kindergarten.

It is evident that Barbara is adept at working with public and private sectors and helping them work together toward a common goal. As a matter of fact, that is one opportunity she likes to tackle: “I enjoy bringing different groups together that don’t know each other.” And that is what being a Development Coordinator offers her. She likes to engage with people and get the broader community involved. She wants to develop relationships with the business community in order to partner with and support the mission of Topsham Public Library.

In these times, where money is tight, being a development coordinator has its challenges, but Barbara is ready. She is looking for ways to partner and leverage resources. And problems, well Barbara likes to look at problems “and find the opportunities in them.”

As well as her responsibilities here, Barbara keeps busy with her twelve year old twins who both play hockey, so whether she likes it or not, these days Barbara is a bit of an early bird to get that much coveted ice time. She also likes to relax by walking and practicing yoga when she has the time.

Although she bemoans how little time she has to read for fun (don’t we all), her recent favorites include All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. And like us all, Barbara has a chink in her armor – a sweet tooth. She prefers chocolate to vanilla, cake over pie, and a doughnut instead of a muffin. Oh, and ditch the salad, her dark side wants the fries.

If her path had taken a different turn, she would have wanted to be a journalist and/or a writer. Poetry would have a major place in her writing. She has written poetry and when she was an undergraduate, she had five of her works were chosen for her collegiate poetry publication.

We are glad to have Barbara on board, and we hope you give her a great Topsham Public Library welcome!

The Great American Read Presented by PBS

Have you heard about The Great American Read? PBS is hosting a national contest to engage people in choosing America’s favorite book. On April 20 a list of 100 books will be released, and on May 22 at 8pm PBS will air a launch special “kicking off a summer of reading and voting.”  We have all summer to read what we want from the list and to vote for our favorite one. Then, in Fall 2018, PBS will air seven more episodes following the “quest to find America’s most beloved book.”

I am intrigued and excited to see the list of the books. What do you think? Do you want to play? I’ll keep you posted.