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Local History

Discover the beautiful towns of Westerly, RI and Stonington, CT.

*Important update* We are happy to announce, that from September 14th on, walk-ins are now welcome. **Please note, we are still operating at a limited capacity. Reservations are encouraged for anyone wanting to ensure access to the building, however if we have not reached capacity with reservations, walk-ins will be accepted. Monday-Friday hours have also been extended to 9 am - 6 pm | Saturday - Library Take-out Service ONLY 9 am - 1 pm

Staff Picks

September 2020

Keara B. recommends:

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

I love this book, I'm a big visual learner, so the pictures on how to fold and organize are super helpful and inspiring for me. From amazon.com: Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo has revolutionized homes—and lives—across the world. Now, Kondo presents an illustrated guide to using her acclaimed KonMari Method to create a joy-filled home that works the way you need it to.

Spark Joy features step-by-step folding illustrations for everything from shirts to socks, plus drawings of perfectly organized drawers and closets. Kondo also answers frequently asked questions, such as whether to keep “necessary” items that may not bring you joy. With guidance on specific categories including kitchen tools, cleaning supplies, hobby goods, digital photos, and even building your own personal “power spot” in your home, this comprehensive companion is sure to spark joy in anyone who wants to simplify their life.

Organization

 

Caroline B. recommends:

Broken Glass: Mies van der Rohe, Edith Farnsworth, and the Fight Over a Modernist Masterpiece by Alex Beam

The true story of the intimate relationship that gave birth to the Farnsworth House, a masterpiece of twentieth-century architecture—and disintegrated into a bitter feud over love, money, gender, and the very nature of art. —from the publisher.

I became (slightly) interested in Mies van der Rohe after I did an architectural boat tour in Chicago. The guide was clearly a fan because she invoked his name constantly! I really enjoyed this book, especially learning more about Farnsworth who was a bit of a radical for her time- a doctor, researcher, a poet, and so much more.

Architectural history 

 

Stacy C. recommends:

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin 

From amazon.com: Ever since her true-crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall has become a household name — and the last hope for people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help.

The new season of Rachel's podcast has brought her to a small town being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. A local golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season 3 a success, Rachel throws herself into her investigation―but the mysterious letters keep coming. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insist she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody in town wants to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases―and a revelation that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?

Thriller

 

Brigitte H. recommends:

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Fiction

 

Betsey M. recommends:

Hamilton by Ron Chernow

From amazon.com: Alexander Hamilton was an illegitimate self-taught orphan from the Caribbean who overcame all the odds to become George Washington's aide-de-camp and the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.

Few figures in American history are more controversial than Alexander Hamilton. In this masterful work, Chernow shows how the political and economic power of America today is the result of Hamilton's willingness to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. He charts his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Monroe and Burr; his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds; his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza; and the notorious duel with Aaron Burr that led to his death in July 1804.

Biography

 

Hannah B. recommends:

Wood Works by The Danish String Quartet

Wood Works by The Danish String Quartet was released in 2014. This music CD was my constant companion during the early days of Covid-19.

From amazon.com: Fresh and distinctive Nordic string music… This young but confident string quartet, alongside standard classical repertoire, offer listeners distinctive Nordic music in the traditional/classic crossover genre.

Classical music

-and-

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

From goodreads.com: It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety…

An extraordinary, propulsive novel, We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the twentieth century’s darkest moment, the human spirit can endure and even thrive.

Historical fiction

 

Colleen W. recommends:

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

From amazon.com: Anyone who has heard David Sedaris speaking live or on the radio will tell you that a collection from him is cause for jubilation. A move to Paris from New York inspired these hilarious pieces, including 'Me Talk Pretty One Day', about his attempts to learn French from a sadistic teacher who declares that 'every day spent with you is like having a caesarean section'.

His family is another inspiration. 'You Can't Kill the Rooster' is a portrait of his brother, who talks incessant hip-hop slang to his bewildered father. And no one hones a finer fury in response to such modern annoyances as restaurant meals presented in ludicrous towers of food and cashiers with six-inch fingernails.

Essays

 -and-

Troll 2 (1991 movie)

It's so bad it's good! There's no need to see Troll before watching Troll 2 - it actually has nothing to do with its predecessor, which is how you know it's truly a bad movie. Another sign? There's actually no trolls in Troll 2. Prepare to have a good laugh at how poorly this movie was executed.

Horror

 

Sara C. recommends:

Fox 8 by George Saunders (audiobook)

It is read by the author which I love because he seems to deliver it as it was intended. It was only about 35 minutes. I enjoyed it very much and highly recommend it.

Fox 8 has always been known as the daydreamer in his pack, the one his fellow foxes regard with a knowing snort and a roll of the eyes. That is, until he develops a unique skill: He teaches himself to speak “Yuman” by hiding in the bushes outside a house and listening to children’s bedtime stories. The power of language fuels his abundant curiosity about people—even after “danjer” arrives in the form of a new shopping mall that cuts off his food supply, sending Fox 8 on a harrowing quest to help save his pack. —from the publisher.

Fiction

-and-

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (audiobook)

From amazon.com: Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him, as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It's a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie's five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his "meaningless" life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: "Why was I here?"

Fiction

 

Sandra K. recommends:

Ghost Story by Peter Straub

From goodreads.com: For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past -- and get away with murder.

Horror

-and-

Danse Macabre by Stephen King

From amazon.com: It was not long after Halloween when Stephen King received a telephone call from his editor. 'Why don't you do a book about the entire horror phenomenon as you see it? Books, movies, radio, TV, the whole thing.'

The result is this unique combination of fantasy and autobiography, of classic horror writing honed to an unforgettable edge by the bestselling master of the genre.

Danse Macbre ranges across the whole spectrum of horror in popular culture from the seminal classics of Dracula and Frankenstein. It is a charming and fascinating book, replete with pertinent anecdote and observation, in which Stephen King describes his ideas on how horror works on many levels and how he brings it to bear on his own inimitable novels.

Pop culture