Staff Picks 2021, Part II

We are back to share more of our staff picks from 2021. In this round we hear from Julie, Emily, and Jen.

Julie’s Top Picks

Who needed some happy endings…

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne
The Roommate by Rosie Danan
Today Tonight Tomorrow by
Rachel Lynn Solomon
One of Those Days by
Yehuda & Maya Devir

Emily’s Top Picks




Dark Downeast: If you’re interested in local true crime, this series narrates different crimes throughout the Downeast area.

Your Own Backyard: This podcast helped to re-open the case which occurred in 1996 of Cal Poly student, Kristin Smart’s, disappearance.

Jen’s Top Picks


The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles read by Edoardo Ballerini, Marin Ireland, and Dion Graham: I was hesitant about reading this book because I absolutely adore Towles’ previous work A Gentleman in Moscow. I should not have worried. It is an adventure to follow along with Emmett, his brother Billy, and the rest of the crew as they navigate relationships new and old and the voice actors bring the character’s personalities to life in a way that adds to their exploits. Towles’ prose is still as delightful, insightful, and stretching as A Gentleman in Moscow.
News of the World by Paulette Jiles read by Grover Gardner: This book has been on my “To Read” list for quite some time. A movie has been made of the book starring Tom Hanks, but I told myself I could not watch the movie until I had read the book. I wish I had read it sooner. Set in the west after the Civil War, this is the tale of a widower who travels from town to town spreading the news of the world. As he prepares to leave one place for another, he is tasked with returning a recently freed Kiowa captive to her family. Not only is it a good story with a mix of adventure, danger, kindness, evil, and love, but it also delves into the complexities of family.
Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman read by Lesley Manville: Fun. That’s the first word that pops into my head when I think of this book. But don’t make the mistake of thinking this is just a bit of fluff. It is smart, too. The cast of characters are well developed and you know you just want to hang out with them or, better yet, be like them. In a retirement village four friends create a club in which they discuss unsolved crimes, but luckily for them, a real murder takes place in their little town and they set about to find the murderer. If this isn’t already in development for Masterpiece Mystery, you know it should be!
We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker read by George Newbern: To say this is a story of a man who returns home after 30 years in prison, is to just touch the tip of the iceberg. The young girl and her younger brother who are greatly impacted by the turn of events are real, damaged, complex, and a joy. I was certainly intrigued by the who-dun-it aspect of the story, but I fell in love with the girl and her brother.
The River by Peter Heller read by Mark Deakins: This is another author that had been on my “To Read” list for a while. Two experienced outdoorsman who are also best friends decide to take a canoe trip in the wilds of northern Canada. On this trip, they experience dangers from nature and man, and whether they make it out alive is up in the air until the very end. This is a peak into a friendship between men who have experienced their own love and loss and wondering how the friendship will fare when it is tested by fire.

Staff Picks 2021, Part 1

It is just about time to say a proper goodbye to 2021 and that means it’s time to reflect on some of our favorite reads (or listens or watches). Have we read something out of our genre comfort zones? Have we been exploring particular interests? Were we in need some feel-good stories? Let’s find out by taking a look at our staff’s favorite picks from the past year. We’ll begin with Lindsay, Emma, and Tami…

Lindsay’s Top Picks:

Aniara (movie)
Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica
The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
The Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson
Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian
Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby
Six: The Musical (Soundtrack)
Girls5eva (Soundtrack)
Heathers: The Musical (World Premiere Cast Recording soundtrack)
The Anatomy of Desire: A Novel by L. R. Dorn (Audio Book)

Emma’s Top Picks:

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
I Hold a Wolf by the Ears by Laura van den Berg
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Tami’s Top Picks:

Three Sisters by Heather Morris
The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
Before We Were Yours – By Lisa Wingate

Next time we’ll share top picks from Julie, Emily, and Jen. In the meantime, if you have some favorites from 2021 that you’d like to share, drop them in the comment box below.

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.