Engaging Methuen Readers

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Great Backyard Bird Count 2019

How Many Birds Can You Find?


During President’s Day weekend this year, February 15th-18th, there is an amazing science project that families or individuals can do (and the statistics that you all will compile help professional scientists with their work).  It’s called the Great Backyard Bird Count.

You don’t have to come to the library to be a part of it, you don’t even have to leave your home or neighborhood. It’s easy to participate:

1. Login or Register for the count via (you can do this at home, or, if you’d like some help, come on up to the Reference Desk and we can get you all set up).

2. Count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the GBBC (Monday’s even a holiday for most). You can even count for longer than 15 minutes if you wish!

3. Count birds in as many places and on as many days as you like—one day, two days, or all four days. Submit a separate checklist on eBird for each new day, for each new location, or for the same location if you counted at a different time of day. Estimate the number of individuals of each species you saw during your count period.

4. Enter your results on the GBBC website by clicking “Submit Observations” on the home page. Or download the free eBird Mobile app to enter data on a mobile device.

The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley

A Field Guide to the Birds by Roger Tory Peterson

All the Backyard Birds: East by Jack L. Griggs

The Birds of America by John James Audubon

For more Info (and a really, really cool checklist), here’s a PDF file you can print out at home (we’ll have some here too!!).

Happy Counting!!


Some Great Black History Month Reads

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Cover of Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

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Style Guides That Will Make Your Heart Pound

Welcome to February, dear readers! This is the Doldrums of the year, so dull and uncomfortable that Hallmark had to invent a romantic holiday just to spice it up. Just kidding. Hallmark didn’t invent Valentine’s Day! Like many of our other annual holidays, this nominally Christian saint’s feast day began as a pagan fertility festival.

But let’s say you’re not the Lupercalia type. Maybe you’re single, maybe you’re over it, maybe it’s past V-Day and you’ve got a long, cold slog to Spring ahead of you. Why not start that book you’ve always been talking about? No time like the present! (And it’s not like you have anything else to do.)

So fall in love with these style guides! They’re not your classic Strunk and White – heavens, no. These guides pop, fizz, and use the Oxford comma correctly. Settle in for hours of editorial bliss as you determine how you may best explore the world of the correctly conjugated gerund.

1. The deluxe transitive vampire: the ultimate handbook of grammar for the innocent, the eager, and the doomed by Karen Elizabeth Gordon

As long as you’re diving headfirst into the terrifying world of proper grammar, you may as well do so with the lords of the night on your side. This classic uses entertainingly spooky examples derived from literary horror to drive home important lessons about verbs and infinitives.



2. Grammar snobs are great big meanies: a guide to language for fun and spite by June Casagrande

If the predicate nominative makes you itchy under the collar, then this is your grammar guide. Engage in the debate about hyphens. Revel in anecdotes about the passion and peril of grammar snobs. In the process, you will acquire something new to smugly correct people about at parties.




3. Spunk & bite: a writer’s guide to punchier, more engaging language & style by Arthur Plotnik

You’ve done the work. You’ve tried your best. Why aren’t people enjoying what you write? The answer lies in that most elusive element of E.B. White’s famous grammar manual: style. In short, unless you’re living in 1942, Strunk and White don’t have much to tell you.

Enter Plotnik. This author and publishing exec will show you how to punch up your writing and hook your reader. (Hint: brevity.) This is the book to read if you just can’t seem to get an agent sold on your draft.


4. Eats, shoots & leaves: the zero tolerance approach to punctuation by Lynne Truss

Who doesn’t love punctuation mix-ups that result in the generation of murderous pandas? I don’t know about you, but I’d read that book just for a better answer to what’s black, white, and red all over?

Focusing on punctuation, this book is less a manual and more a witty exploration of the many reasons that commas are an important part of a safe and just society. Also, you’ll learn a thing or two.

girl in glasses with a mop, ready for major cleaning

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The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Books

If you’ve been pulled into the Konmari lifestyle by the newest Netflix craze, then you’re not alone. People can’t get enough of the process, from finding items that spark joy to folding tee-shirts in neat, satisfying tents. (Although we strongly recommend keeping your beloved books.)

If you just can’t get enough tidying, or if you like the idea of Marie Kondo’s method but not the details, try these alternative tidying books available at Nevins Library!

The Queen of Clean Conquers Clutter by Linda Cobb

Image result for The Queen of Clean Conquers ClutterLinda Cobb lends a regal air to the process of cleaning your house, which is helpful when you’re feeling more like Cinderella. Her advice skews strongly practical – for example, check your antiques in buyer’s guides before you toss them. She also delivers a dose of humor that’s fun, if a little dated. (There’s at least one Roseanne joke in there.) Cobb is a big fan of upcycling too, with recommendations for turning fur coats into teddy bears and fruit baskets into tea holders.

Clean Sweep by Alison Haynes

Image result for Clean Sweep Alison Haynes bookAlison Haynes doesn’t limit herself to de-cluttering, but gives you great tips on household cleanliness as well. For example, did you know that you can turn nearly-exhausted bars of soap into liquid soap by soaking it in water, boiling it, and then pouring it into a reusable dispenser? This book is packed with interesting tips like that. It’s also very allergy-conscious and offers lots of great cleaning alternatives for people with sensitive skin.

For Packrats Only: how to clean up, clear out, and dejunk your life forever! by Don Aslett

Image result for For Packrats Only: how to clean up, clear out, and dejunk your life forever!Don Aslett was a household guru in the nineties. His books are charmingly illustrated with quirky doodles reminiscent of an old-fashioned newspaper comic strip. Unlike modern minimalists, Aslett isn’t overly concerned with what a bunch of extra stuff will do to the planet – he just wants you to have a tidier life. The book offers a lot of advice about the lifespan of household maintenance substances, like spackle and hoses, that will be useful to people forging into their first homeownership experience. Also: did you know that canned food goes bad in under 18 months? So much for my fallout shelter.

New Minimalism: decluttering and design for sustainable, intentional living by Cary Telander Fortin and Kyle Louise Quilici

Image result for New Minimalism: decluttering and design for sustainable, intentional livingThe impetus behind this minimalist manifesto is sustainability. As the books correctly points out, there is no such thing as “away” – as in, if you try to throw something “away,” it’s just going to end up in someone else’s backyard. The idea behind this minimalism is to donate, repurpose, and create less household junk going forward.

The Joy of Less: a minimalist guide to declutter, organize, and simplify by Francine Jay

Image result for The Joy of Less: a minimalist guide to declutter, organize, and simplifyIn case you haven’t heard of the STREAMLINE method, think of it as Konmari before Konmari. It’s an acronym that stands for the process by which you can minimalize and declutter your life:

Start over

Trash, treasure, or transfer

Reason for each item

Everything in its place

All surfaces clear



If one comes in, one goes out

Narrow down

Everyday maintenance

Easy, right?

Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness: one-minute tips for decluttering and refreshing your home and your life by Donna Smallin

Image result for Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness: one-minute tips for decluttering and refreshing your home and your lifeThis handy little book includes tips for managing your house that you might not think of. For example, it recommends pouring boiling water down your drains once a week to clear out soap, hair, and other stuff. It also recommends pairing chores. For example, when you feed the dog, sweep the floor at the same time.

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Native American Heritage Books: Non-Fiction