Staff Picks Top 15 Part 2: Helen, Liz, and Emma

As part of Topsham Public Library’s 15th anniversary on Foreside Road, the staff has chosen their Top 15 picks of all time. The staff was allowed to choose the Top 15 over all or the Top 15 in up to three categories. Have fun with the lists!


Helen’s Top 15 Books in no particular order:


Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child



The Strain by Guillermo del Toro



It by Stephen King



Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough



Red Hill by Jamie McGuire



Werewolf Cop by Andred Klavan



The Graveyard Apartment  by Koike Mariko



Don’t Look Back by Greg Hurwitz



Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant



Creepers by David Morrell



Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty



The Yard by Alex Grecian



Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye



Blood Gospel by James Rollins



Ararat by Christopher Golden



Liz’s Top 15:

Ryan Adams Love is Hell



Elton John Honky Chateau


John Mayall Jazz/Blues Fusion



The B-52’s The B-52’s



Gillian Welch Time (The Revelator)







Mad Men Season 7






Harold & Maude








Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov




Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself by Sabrina Ward Harrison



Just Kids by Patti Smith



Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed



Ishmael by Daniel Quinn




Emma’s Top 15 Fiction in no particular order:


The Secret History by Donna Tartt



House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski



Tenth of December by George Saunders



The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake



We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson



Moby Dick by Herman Melville



American Gods by Neil Gaiman



The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter



Get in Trouble by Kelly Link



Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke




Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell



Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier



The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco



My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews



One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey



Emma’s Top 15 Nonfiction in no particular order:


The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson



The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr



The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean




How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran




Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen




Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty



Zen In the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury



Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson



Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain




Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh




Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs




The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown




The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer




The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson




The Misfit’s Manifesto by Lidia Yuknavitch



Emma’s Top 15 Movies in no particular order:


Heathers (1988)




Amadeus (1984)




Lilo & Stitch (2002)




Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)




Flash Gordon (1980)




The Red Curtain Trilogy (Strictly Ballroom/Romeo & Juliet/Moulin Rouge)




Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)








Donnie Darko (2001)




Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)




The Lost Boys (1987)




The Goonies (1985)




The ‘Burbs (1989)




Dangerous Liaisons (1988)




What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

Staff Picks Top 15 Part 1: Dave, Cyndi, and Monique

As part of Topsham Public Library’s 15th anniversary on Foreside Road, the staff has chosen their Top 15 picks of all time. The staff was allowed to choose the Top 15 over all or the Top 15 in up to three categories. Have fun with the lists!

Dave’s Top 15 Books in no particular order:


Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner



The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy



To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee



Barrel Fever by David Sedaris



And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie



Stuart Little by E.B. White



Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney



The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough



All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr



Empire Falls by Richard Russo



The Shipping News by Annie Proulx



The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk



A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley




No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin



Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling



Dave’s Top 15 Movies in no particular order:


Driving Miss Daisy



The Shawshank Redemption



The Lion in Winter



To Kill a Mockingbird



The Hunt for Red October



Schindler’s List 



The Bridge on the River Kwai



The African Queen



The Sound of Music



The Silence of the Lambs



A Place in the Sun









All About Eve






Cyndi’s Top 15 Books in no particular order:


The Stand by Stephen King – I loved this epic adventure first reading the original 823 page novel as a teenager and even more so as an adult reading the 90’s uncut version with an additional 400+ pages.



Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – This book is a blend of genres with something for almost everyone. Hard to describe and hard to put down.



Chocolate War by Robert Cormier – First story I read where the good guy loses at the end. This was so unexpected, I loved it!



Watership Down by Richard Adams – The lesson of fattened rabbits for the price of a snare was embedded. Too good to be true often is.



Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds – Harshly realistic look at the human toll of a cycle of violence. Is Will brave enough to break it? Would you be?



We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – I was totally surprised by the ending of this book. This novel also produced the strongest reaction of any book our teen book group has read. They still talk about this book years later!


A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – This blend of prose and dark illustrations presents a compelling narrative of life’s monsters as seen through the eyes of a 13 year old boy.


Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of The Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer – This haunting narrative of the 1996 disaster kicked off my “mountaineering” reading phase specifically and my appetite for nonfiction that has continued to grow over the years.


Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs and Communications of the Dying by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley – How to have conversations in an honest, empathetic and caring manner when someone is approaching the end of their life. Learn to validate the process of dying and give the final gift of compassion.



Close to Shore by Michael Capuzzo – History and horror. A book that started and still stands out from my “shark attack” reading period.



Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande – I think everyone would benefit from reading this book. I am on team Quality, Not Quantity!



Speak: the Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson



Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka



Stitches: a Memoir by David Small


Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem and Other Things that Happened by Allie Brosh – I can’t tell you why I love this book, I just do!



Monique’s Top 15 Picks in no particular order:

I can remember the anticipation I felt every time my mother (who acted out Grover’s part perfectly) read The Monster At the End of This Book by Jon Stone. I could empathize with Grover’s anxiety and I admired his efforts to prevent the reader from turning the pages. Silly Grover! Such a fun book for reader and listener.

Changes, Changes by Pat Hutchins is the first wordless book I remember reading and I loved every second. I felt that I was right in the middle of the action with the little wooden characters. Who knew such a simple book could impart important life lessons – handle what comes your way in life with flexibility and ingenuity.


The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry



The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf



How to Raise a Wild Child by Scott Sampson



Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver


My mother was a vampire enthusiast, an interest I didn’t share or understand. Several years after her death I read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova in her honor, knowing she would have bought it immediately. To my surprise I loved it and have read it several times since.



The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson




Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 






Life is Beautiful



Little Miss Sunshine



anything by Beck


Glory of Gershwin


jazz (Coltrane, Davis, Brubeck, Fitzgerald, Ellington, Gillespie, Miller, Goodman, Simone, etc.)






Hot Sauce, Anyone?

I was intrigued when I first saw The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila. It is a cookbook full of recipes for foods “you can stop buying and start making”. Do you like Twinkies? You can make them at home! Pop Tarts, Peanut Butter Cups, and Oreos are just some of the treats Chernila has adapted so we can make them ourselves.

As you can tell, the sweets and junk food caught my attention right away, but there is a wide variety of recipes from ricotta and cream cheese to hamburg buns, fish sticks, graham crackers, fruit roll-ups and homemade pasta from the pasta dough to the pasta sauce.

Chernila teaches cheese making and sells vegetables and these recipes are born from sharing recipes with those that stop by her stall at the farmer’s market. She is budget conscious and due in part to being a mother to two girls, wants to change the way we think about food and draw us away from packaged foods. She created the blog Eating From the Ground Up and lives in western Massachusetts with her family. The Homemade Pantry is her first cookbook, but she has since authored two more: The Homemade Kitchen and Eating From the Ground Up.

Each section has an introduction and each recipe has a story behind it with tips and encouragement when recipes might not go the way you want it to. After her introduction, in which she is transparent about her messy kitchen and the stress that can accompany meal time, she discusses different kitchen equipment and food storage techniques. And though I could always do with more pictures, there are numerous pictures throughout the book and each of them is beautiful.

My sweet tooth was begging me to try the recipes that would make it happy, but I was intrigued by the condiment section, especially the hot sauce recipe. I have a number of family members that love hot sauce. Hot sauce on eggs, hot sauce on burgers, hot sauce in soups. Hot sauce. Hot sauce. Hot sauce. I decided I would make the hot sauce, the ketchup, and the mustard.

I made the ketchup first. The recipe was easy to follow with step-by-step directions. She offers three ways to store the finished ketchup and notes how long the ketchup will last in each storage option. The most challenging step to the ketchup was getting it smooth enough with my ancient and needs-to-be-replaced blender. To be honest, her recipe calls for 1 tsp of cinnamon. I found it too much. At first taste, I didn’t notice it but it lingered in the aftertaste. My family did like it, and I will try it again, but will decrease the cinnamon or leave it out all together.

My husband loves brats (no, not our kids when they’re overtired, but a type of sausage), so mustard is very important to him. Again, very easy step-by-step directions with few ingredients, and it really was mustard when it was done. She does note that the mustard will be spicy at first but will mellow over time, and she was right. I honestly don’t think you could tell the difference between her mustard and store bought mustard except for the difference in color. The homemade is not quite so yellow.

I was nervous about making the hot sauce, it came out great and my family loved it. At first taste you think it tastes fine, but there’s nothing amazing about it, but if you wait a few seconds, you feel the heat. The family has requested that I always have some on hand, and the recipe is so easy, it’s definitely do-able. It was such a hit at home that I brought some in to work one day. It was a winner. This recipe has few ingredients. It calls for a variety of hot chiles so you can play with the level of heat you want. Easy step-by-step instructions and storage ideas.

The Homemade Pantry was fun, and I might even need to buy my own copy as it will be a staple in my kitchen. Wanna give it a try? Stop by Topsham Public Library and check it out!

Topsham Public Library to Open Mondays!

There is excitement in the air! Topsham Public Library is changing our operating hours, and we are so pleased to announce that beginning July 1, we will be open on Mondays!

Because of the generosity of Mrs. Janice Solomon, Topsham Public Library is setting aside a portion of the Solomon bequest and using it to offer Monday hours. So, as of July 1, the hours of Topsham Public Library are Monday 9am-5pm, Tuesday 9am-8pm, Wednesday 9am-8pm, Thursday 9am-8pm, Friday 9am-5pm, and Saturday 9am-4pm.

The additional hours will be offered on a  three-year trial basis. After the three years, hours will be evaluated to ensure we are meeting the needs of the community.

We are so appreciative of the support we receive from our patrons and the community, and we are always looking for the best ways we can serve this community. We aim to be a community center for all ages, and we believe these new hours will further enable us to do that.

See you Monday, July 1 at 9am at Topsham Public Library!

Free Non-Residential Card for Bowdoin and Bowdoinham MSAD 75 Students

Do you know an elementary school through high school aged student who lives in Bowdoin or Bowdoinham and attends a MSAD 75 school? If so, let them know that a free Topsham Public Library card is available for them now and is valid through September 1, 2019.

This program is made available due to a grant from MSAD 75. You might be asking what about Harpswell students? The Town of Harpswell has an agreement with Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick and they may get a library card there.

These cards are just like a regular Topsham Public Library card and offer the same services as the regular card, but they are only valid for the summer months and will expire September 1. These cards are for student use only. That does not mean that the card is only for educational purposes – it means that the student uses it for whatever they want and the offer is not for family members not in school.

If you have any questions, please call Topsham Public Library at (207)725-1727 for more information.

Hope to see you soon!

Help Us Celebrate 15 Years!

Hopefully, by now you are aware that Topsham Public Library is celebrating our 15th Anniversary at our Foreside Road location on Saturday, June 8 with events scheduled all day long. (For a schedule of events click here.) If you are unable to join us that day and you are looking for another way to celebrate our 15th Anniversary, we have the answer! Visit Topsham Public Library between June 1-15 and pick a selection from our Gift-a-Book display. For $15 you can select from one of the titles on display, or choose a genre card from our gift “tree” and let our librarians decide. This is an excellent way to boost our purchasing abilities and bring more selection to our shelves!

Each month, our librarians do their best to stretch our buying budget to purchase something for everyone, but they always have to slim down their lists. Last time we did this during our 10th Anniversary, our patrons added 60+ books to the collection! Join us in reaching our goal of 100 books or DVDs during our 15 year milestone.


Gelato Isn’t Supposed to Be Chewy

There is a Gelato Fiasco cookbook!! When I saw it, I knew I had to try it! But the folks at Gelato Fiasco can rest assured, I won’t be posing a threat to their success! Along the way, my gelato turned chewy, and believe me chewy gelato is yucky, but it was worth trying and I will try it again in the future.

Gelato Fiasco: Recipes and Stories from America’s Best Gelato Makers by Joshua Davis, Bruno Tropeano, and Cynthia Finnemore Simonds was released in September, 2018 by Down East Books, and the book is beautiful from the front cover to the final page.

You need to read the cookbook before beginning the gelato making process. The story of Gelato Fiasco’s beginning is fun and interesting, but more importantly, they discuss the process of gelato making and why certain ingredients matter. Gelato does take time to make due to the freezing process and the steps required in making the base and any flavors you want to add. I had to read through the recipes and directions a few times and I made sure I had all ingredients on hand. Running to the grocery store because I forgot something would have been catastrophic! The key to a successful gelato is the freezing process, and believe me, it’s important.

Every gelato begins with a base, and then you add ingredients depending on the flavor you desire. I made the Classic White Gelato Base with the Wild Maine Blueberry variegate (that’s the fancy term for fruit additions) to add to it. The key to a successful gelato is the freezing process, and believe me, it’s important.

Once I decided what flavor I wanted, I chose my base and gathered the ingredients. The base I made called for guar gum which I found at Morning Glory Natural Foods in Brunswick. You can substitute eggs for the guar gum if you prefer not to use it, but I wanted to try it. The rest of the ingredients are pretty basic and easy to find. The key to a successful gelato is the freezing process, and believe me, it’s important

As I mentioned, the freezing process is vital to a good gelato. They suggest using an ice cream maker, but they do offer an option if you do not have one. There are also some other tools they prefer to use, but I used what I had. For instance they suggested a certain type of thermometer for the cooking step when making the base, but I used my candy thermometer and that seemed to work fine.

I followed the recipes exactly as they directed, so why did my gelato turn out chewy? Have I  mentioned that the key to a successful gelato is the freezing process? Everything seemed like it was progressing along well – it looked like gelato, it smelled like gelato, it tasted like gelato until I took it out of my ice cream maker. Unbeknownst to me, at some point my ice cream maker stopped churning on the inside, although everything looked fine from the outside, so the gelato on the bottom was frozen, but the gelato on top wasn’t quite so frozen. But I pressed on. I thought really, how much of a difference will it make? The key to a successful gelato is the freezing process, and believe me, it’s important. I folded in the blueberry variegate and put it in the freezer.

Gelato should not be chewy. Chewy gelato is yucky. Even though it looked like gelato, and it looked beautiful, it had a taste related to gelato but that was not gelato. Even if you do not want to try and make gelato, I suggest you read the cookbook anyway. The photos  are pieces of art all by themselves, and there are recipes for foods that are added to gelato that sound yummy even if you don’t make the gelato like the brownies and the peanut brittle.

Though my gelato was a failure, I enjoyed the process and next time I visit Gelato Fiasco whatever flavor I get will taste just a little bit sweeter.

Did Someone Say Summer Reading?!

You wouldn’t know it by the weather we’ve been experiencing, but summer is on its way and with summer comes Topsham Public Library’s summer reading programs.

The staff has been busy finalizing details and confirming programs and on June 1 we are launching A Universe of Stories.

If you are a regular patron, you know what’s coming. If you are new to our library, you  want to make sure you pick up your summer reading packet on or after June 1. There are challenges to complete (don’t worry – nothing complex – it’s summertime so relax and enjoy it) and prizes to be earned through reading and participating in our programs like free movies, crafting opportunities, and other programming all summer long. The summer reading program is for all ages and free for everyone.

Do we dare hope that by June 1 the skies will be sunny and the temps higher? We can hope, but no matter what, Topsham Public Library has something for you!

It’s Our Anniversary!

Can you believe it?! Next month Topsham Public Library is celebrating 15 years at our Foreside Road location! We are so thankful for the support from our community. It would not be possible without you!

Of course we are throwing a party! Saturday, June 8 is filled with activities and the schedule of events is as follows:

10am-12noon – Photo Booth – take home a free pic

10am-11:30am – Family Tye Dye – weather permitting, bring your own shirts, while supplies last

10am-11am – Team Scavenger Hunt – for all ages

11am – Live Music

11:30am – Library Mad Libs

12noon – Picnic – bring you own lunch and blanket, weather permitting

12:30pm – Cookie Decorating

12:30pm – Happy 15th Birthday – cake for everyone

1pm-3:30pm – Movie – Treasure Island (1990)

You do not want to miss this celebration! Bring your family and friends and have food and fun with your community!

Joy of the Lens

If you have not been in to see the Joy of the Lens exhibit, you need to do so.

Joy of the Lens is an annual photography show at Topsham Public Library that is sponsored by Friends of the Topsham Public Library.

Though every year is amazing, there is something about this year’s show that is inspiring.

On Saturday, May 4 at 11 am, Joy of the Lens Photographers Talk will take place. The winners of this year’s People’s Choice Award and the Friends’ Photo Lottery will be announced. The winning photographers in all categories will discuss their work. This event is free and open to the public.

Whether you can make it to the photographers talk or not, come alone or bring a friend and check out the Joy of the Lens exhibit. Hurry because after the talk on Saturday the show will be taken down. Our hours are Tuesday-Thursday 9am-8pm, Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday 9am-4pm.