Archive | December, 2015

My Six Favorite Books of 2015

30 Dec

I first created a Goodreads account in 2011, but this year have used it more actively. My plan was to follow the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge for 2015, but I lost track of it. So many books, so little time. But I will try again with the 2016 Challenge!

I used to track books I read in a little notebook that eventually ran out of pages. I decided that Goodreads would be a better place for this information, and abandoned the notebook to go digital. Goodreads tracks the amount of books and pages I read, plus maintains a list of books I want to read. I challenge myself to write a review of each book I finish to keep my writing skills sharp. According to Goodreads, I read 35 books this year (beating the goal of 33 I set for myself) and 8,559 pages. As a stats nerd, this information is fun for me.

In this post I will write about some of my favorite books I’ve read this year from my Goodreads list.


The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer

What stuck out to me most about The Art of Asking by artist, creator of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, and TED presenter Amanda Palmer was her loyalty to her fans and her focus on connecting with them. She collected email addresses and built a list before email marketing was even a practice, and she wouldn’t share the information with a major label that signed her. I now count myself among Palmer’s fans, as I admire her dedication to them. I listened to the audiobook available on eBCCLS, which is read by Amanda and features musical performances.



We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a short book (also an eBook on eBCCLS) that transcribes Adichie’s TED Talk of the same name, which was sampled in Beyonce’s track “***Flawless”. I read it while waiting to board a flight last winter, and was so inspired by this accessible explanation of feminism. I’ve long identified as a feminist (fun fact: we don’t hate men!) but it’s great to see the movement, and Adichie’s talk, embraced by someone as influential as Beyonce. (Remember this?) Everyone should read We Should All Be Feminists, and then explore Adichie’s body of work.



The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation, by Sid Jacobson

This graphic novelization of the 9/11 Commission’s report on the worst act of terrorism in the United States should be required reading for anyone that wants to understand the events leading up to September 11, 2001. I learned a great deal about Middle Eastern history and the rise of Al Qaeda from this book. The world has changed immensely since 2001, with ISIS as the new threat, but I feel that reading the 9/11 Report, either in text form, audiobook from eBCCLS, or the graphic novel, is more important than ever.




Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari


Modern Romance, with all its research, focus groups, and statistics could have been boring (unless you love stats like I do), but Aziz Ansari’s intelligence and humor made this book thoroughly enjoyable. One of his points (that I agree with as someone that’s been using online dating platforms for several years) is that online dating has given people too many choices, which can almost be paralyzing. After reading this book (as an eBook through the 3M Cloud Library or eLibraryNJ, or an audiobook through eBCCLS or eLibraryNJ), you will have learned a lot and laughed a lot about dating in the digital age, where men and women equally obsess over how long it takes for a potential date to respond to a text message.


The Knockoff, by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

As you may have gathered from this list so far, I prefer reading nonfiction. But the Mile Square City Readers Book Club that I co-run at the library compels me to read more fiction than I would choose on my own. I liked The Knockoff (the group’s September choice) a lot as someone that has long loved reading fashion magazines. My favorite part was figuring out the real-life inspirations for certain characters featured in the book. This title is available as an eBook and audiobook in eBCCLS, and as an eBook in eLibraryNJ.




The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo

This book is a game-changer. I have followed Kondo’s advice about folding my clothes, and my dresser has never been so organized. I have to restrain myself from showing houseguests how neat my sock drawer looks. Luckily a good friend has read the book, too, so we talk about how we use the KonMari method in our homes. Kondo feels the objects in our home should “spark joy”, which makes sense to me. I still have a lot of work to do (the notion of going through my papers is frightening) but I am pleased with the results thus far. If you enjoy organizing and rearranging your space, you will like this book. eBooks and audiobooks are available in both eLibraryNJ and eBCCLS, and Hoopla Digital has an audiobook.

What books have you loved in 2015? Are you on Goodreads? Cheers to reading great books in 2016!

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

HPL Staff: Holiday Traditions

23 Dec

It’s almost Christmas! Similar to last month’s #Gratitude post, I asked my Hoboken Public Library colleagues about their favorite Christmas books, films, and music. Following are their favorites, which are available at the library or through interlibrary loan.

Dear readers, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

-Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian


Image via Amazon

Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

My favorite holiday tradition as a child was when each year after stuffing ourselves with Thanksgiving turkey my mom would pull out our personal collection of Christmas books from storage so that bedtime was full of stories of reindeer, snow men, and elves. Our December library visits also found us lugging home books with a holiday theme. Now I love getting to read Christmas stories to my own son. My favorite as a kid that I enjoy getting to share with him is Santa Mouse by Michael Brown and illustrated by Elfrieda DeWitt, which features an adorable mouse who decides to give Santa a present of his own. It is available from several BCCLS libraries. Of course there are plenty of other books my son likes as well; several of his current favorites are How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague, Merry Christmas, Splat by Rob Scotton, and A Pirate’s Twelve Days of Christmas by Philip Yates and illustrations by Sebastia Serra. I also delight in reading my own holiday themed books; some of my favorite choices for adults are Rhys Bowen’s The Twelve Clues of Christmas, Donna Andrews’s The Nightingale Before Christmas, and Miracle, and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis.




Sharlene Edwards, Senior Children’s Librarian

I love old-timey black and white films. I enjoy the thoughtful dialogue and the simplicity of old school visual effects. My top five B&W movies in order: Miracle on 34th Street12 Angry Men, Invasion of the Body SnatchersThe Bad Seed (have you seen this movie?!), and It’s a Wonderful Life, which also happens to be my favorite movie of ALL-TIME. I even have a dog named Zuzu!

I’ve watched IAWL at least once a year (usually twice a year) for the past 15 years. My mom and I have a tradition on Thanksgiving which involves getting comfy on the couch, flipping on the film, and crying tears upon tears of joy. For those not familiar with the film, the story revolves around George Bailey, a kind and passionate soul who puts others’ needs before his own, often to his own detriment. George finds himself in serious trouble after his scatterbrained uncle’s actions result in a warrant for George’s arrest. Convincing himself that he is more valuable to his family dead than alive due to a life insurance policy, George resolve to throw himself off the local bridge. An angel named Clarence intervenes and, after failing to convince George that his life is valuable, he decides to show George by unveiling an alternate reality in which George has never been born. As the two explore this new reality, it becomes increasingly apparent just how many lives George has influenced in positive ways…and how much worse off everyone would be if George had never existed.

This movie is a heartwarming annual reminder that “each man’s life touches so many other lives” and “no man is a failure who has friends.” Gosh, I’m practically tearing up as I write this!

Shannon Campbell, Children’s Librarian

Every Christmas Eve night, after all the family festivities have occurred, my family and I cuddle up in our living room and watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Despite watching it every year, I’ve always fallen asleep during the second half of the film (to ensure that Santa will come, of course). Sadly, I have never actually seen the second half. But I usually do wake up just in time for the famous quote: “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

Carolyn Hartwick, Account Clerk

Aside from the smell of gingerbread, for me Christmas is all about the music. I would have these songs playing the entire month of December if it did not irritate the rest of my family.  My playlist: Nat King Cole’s Christmas for Kids From One to Ninety-TwoBing Crosby’s Christmas, Diana Krall’s Christmas SongsThe Complete Christmas Recordings of Andy Williams, Light of the Stable by Emmylou Harris, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Martin Sexton’s Camp Holiday.  An additional gift is that all this holiday music is available through BCCLS!

Kim Iacucci, Young Adult Librarian
I love Christmas movies! Every year I have to watch certain movies and TV specials before it truly feels like the holiday season to me. I always start on Thanksgiving night with the original Miracle on 34th Street and end on Christmas day with repeated viewings of A Christmas Story. It’s a tradition that’s been going on since I was a kid.

Many of my favorites are movies that are already popular, such as National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or Elf, so I’ll recommend one that doesn’t seem as well-known… Santa Claus: The Movie (1985) starring David Huddleston, Dudley Moore and John Lithgow. When I was little I thought that this was the true story of Kris Kringle since it starts out with his origin story, explaining how a simple toymaker became the world-famous gift giver. Today, this movie still has magic and nostalgia and makes me excited for the holiday. If you need to get into the spirit of the season, I’d suggest adding this film to your preparations. The movie can be borrowed from the library.




Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

Every Christmas I like to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol, based on Charles Dickens’ classic story A Christmas Carol. The movie features original music, the lyrics of which I still remember since first hearing them when I was 10. “Scrooge”, which introduces Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Michael Caine), includes the line “no cheeses for us meeces [sic]” sung by the Muppet mice that never fails to crack me up. Here is a clip of that song from YouTube.

My family is also Jewish, so we celebrate Hanukkah. Without a doubt more music, film, and movies are dedicated to Christmas, but we like to listen to Adam Sandler’s four iterations of “The Chanukah Song”. The original and Part 2 can be streamed on Hoopla Digital, and Part 3 is on the soundtrack for Eight Crazy Nights. Part 4 can be heard on YouTube, which we replayed over and over again during Thanksgiving, laughing and giving thanks for Adam Sandler being a mensch and filling the Hanukkah music void.



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