Engaging Methuen Readers

Leave a comment

Anxiety and Depression Comics

Feeling down? Read a comic book! Specifically, read one of these comic books about depression and anxiety. Hey, you’re not going through it alone!

Also, if your sadness and nervousness have been bugging you for a while, therapy can be really helpful. About 20% of Americans are in therapy at any given time. It’s a really common, popular, and effective way to manage your mood when it becomes overwhelming! Psychology Today has a great directory of therapists where you can search by location and filter by what issue you’re having, your particular type of insurance, your preferred gender, and more. We encourage you to check them out.

36005028. sx318 Anxiety Is Really Strange by Steve Haines

This functions as a good first anxiety book for a teenager or older child. It lays out how anxiety works from a physiological standpoint, especially in the nervous system. It’s part of a series that includes a similar examination of trauma.

9920411Depresso, Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace Being Bonkers by Brick

Tom Freeman, loosely based on Brick, is a mess. Anti-depressants are turning him into a zombie and alternative therapies are messing up his life. Still, if there’s a way out of depression, he’ll find it!

Cover image for Hyperbole and a half :Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Brosh is known as an Internet-famous humorist, but she also chronicles her struggles with depression in her signature MS Paint style. If you’re a fan of her blog, you’ll love the book, too.

Cover image for Just peachy :Just Peachy by Holly Chisholm

Anxiety and depression are a team in this lighthearted look at mental health. (The tall one is depression, and the winged one – well, you get the idea.) Includes a list of resources at the end!


40538944. sx318 Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety by Maureen Marzi Wilson

Panic attacks and social awkwardness are par for the course in this endearing biography of obsessive fear. Join Marzi on a surprisingly humorous journey through pointless terror!

1117355. sx318 My Depression by Elizabeth Swados

Educational and honest, this book talks frankly about the triggers, treatments, and trials of someone who personally struggles with the condition of depression. Like Depresso, it deals heavily with the side effects of medication.

39296124. sx318 Super Chill: A Year of Living Anxiously by Adam Ellis

You may know Adam Ellis through his webcomics, which enjoy very wide popularity across the Internet. Here, he discusses his anxiety, which is sometimes crippling and always tough to deal with.


27039276. sx318 When Anxiety Attacks by Terian Koscik

Here’s one where therapy really, really helps! Discussing coping mechanisms and “I” statements, this book is a great resource for people who aren’t sure if therapy is right for them. (hint: if you or your family or your friends think that therapy might be right for you, you might want to try therapy!)

Leave a comment

The Wildest Classic Choose Your Own Adventure Books Still Circulating At The Library

If you’re bookish and of a certain age, then you grew up with Choose Your Own Adventure books, the popular series by R.A. Montgomery that let you choose the path of the narrative. Half game, half story, these books were video games before consoles were available for the average household. A lot of them are still fun to read today, partially because they’re incredibly zany. Each book featured a large handful of storylines, which each had to be 100% original. Wackiness was inevitable. Think “I’ve become a shark and eaten a version of myself that became an octopus because I broke into a Buddhist temple” levels of wacky. Reincarnation, kids!

Sadly, a lot of these books are now out of print. I mean it! I’d love another chance to read through You Are A Shark or the extremely bizarre, much-celebrated Inside UFO 54-40. That said, the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium still owns or circulates reprints of a number of the most insane CYOA books ever written, as well as new books in the same style. Here are some of our favorites.

Race Forever


Looks pretty innocuous, right? Well buckle up, buttercup, because one of the endings of this book sends you right back to the beginning. It’s Race Forever – get it? If you play right, you can keep reading eternally. Of course, if you want to keep going forever, you’ll need to flip through the same sequence indefinitely. Whether this is a reward or a punishment depends on you.




The Case Of The Silk King


This is pretty standard CYOA fare, except that it’s actually based on a real-life event. In 1967, silk tycoon Jim Thompson disappeared during a walk in the Thai jungle. During the investigation, it came out that he’d had money issues and might have just left it all behind. Now you – YOU! – can solve the mystery of the disappearing silk magnate!




The Trumpet Of Terror


Norse gods? Check! Time travel? Check! Doomsday weapon? Hope you paid attention in band class! This book lets you toot evil away. In the grand scheme of insane CYOA plots, this isn’t too remarkable, but the incredible lameness of the “Trumpet Of Terror” makes up for it. Especially in contrast to Mjolnir and the rest of the general Viking badassery. Really? Amongst the bloodthirsty gods of a warrior culture, no extra hammers lying around?



Project UFO


There’s an alien named Freedo who talks to you telepathically, and if you run away from the nice people in white lab coats you can go on trippy space adventures with him – yeah, this is a CYOA about a psychotic episode. In fact, if you try to get help for your delusions, you fail the book. This is a CYOA about embracing your psychotic break because believing the voices in your head is just more fun than the alternative.




The Worst Day Of Your Life


Your reward: pig farming with your uncle all summer while your family goes to Hawaii. Your failure: the worst of everything. This book isn’t so much about the carrot as the stick. If you don’t keep moving, all manner of unlikely disasters will befall you and wreck everything that matters to you.

Leave a comment

Out-Of-This-World Sci-Fi Audiobooks

Audiobooks are the best. In the car, there’s no better companion. Whether you’re washing dishes, sewing, working out, weeding petunias, or just walking along a sylvan trail basking in the warm sunshine of a beautiful late spring day, audiobooks are your best friend. This is especially true if you’re a fan of science fiction. That’s right! Books on tape aren’t just for little old cat ladies. Dive into these audio sci-fi titles on Overdrive or by borrowing them on CD from the library.

Provenance_ann_leckie Provenance by Ann Leckie

Alien intrigue. Spaceships. Family drama. Jailbreaks. Firefights. This book has it all and then some. On top of that, the narrator does impeccable accents.



Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

It’s the old biopunk-pirate-in-a-submarine shtick, but the story’s really about free will and the meaning of self-actualization. If you like your robots to have lots of romantic crises, you’ll like this.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Social media fame is the name of the game when aliens leave a secret riddle on Earth. But is Twitter really the best way to impress higher intelligence?

the_three_body_problem The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

Scientists are killing themselves. It’s no coincidence. Something is driving them all over the edge, and it’s somehow tied to a computer game that simulates life on a doomed planet with three suns.



Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

There are no names in Area X. People are their function, but function can be changed. In Area X, where an unearthly event has tangled the laws of nature, change is the only certainty.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Told largely in letters and memos, this book follows the discovery of a giant, segmented robot that appears to be looking for pilots. But is it a symbol or a weapon? As signs point to the latter, a romance between the team researching the robot complicates the situation.

the_long_earth The Long Earth by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett

What if our Earth were just one of an infinite number of Earths existing across an infinite number of alternate dimensions? As humanity struggles to reconcile unlimited resources and the possibility of a fresh start, a danger from another reality looms.

Cover of Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

When Children’s Fantasy Became A Reality

Fantasy isn’t new. The Brothers Grimm recorded fantastical stories back in the 19th century, and prior to that time, tales of dragons and warriors of stunning prowess dominated ancient literature and mythology. Originally, however, there was no distinction between fantasy for adults and fantasy for children. In fact, when the Grimms originally published the fairy and folk tales they collected from the hardworking people of far-flung corners of Europe, they were stunned to realize that well-off city people were reading them to their children. These were dark, gory tales, replete with violence and rape, that expressed complicated adult topics in metaphorical language. The Grimms had never dreamed that people would try to use them as bedtime stories.

Needless to say, they hastily printed a more kid-friendly “small edition” of their fairy tales, filing down some of the grittier details and adding a lot of pictures and Christian imagery.

The whole idea of kid-friendly stories was relatively new to the 1800s. Prior to that, kids were, at best, little adults. At worst, they could be put to work on a farm or in a factory. Childhood wasn’t considered a special time until industrialization generated a middle class, which then advocated against child labor and for education. We have an 1800s reform movement, which arose in reaction to the Industrial Revolution, to thank for the idea that people should spend their early years being educated.

Once people decided to start teaching kids instead of exploiting them, they quickly realized the value of letting kids read. Already, public libraries had caught on as a way to improve the masses and make them content in their social stations, although the reality of libraries often skewed toward entertaining the masses and making them question the status quo.

Thus it was with the development of children’s fantasy. Brothers Grimm stories painted over with Christian morality paved the way for Victorian fables like Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, an 1863 morality story so mawkish and racist that it’s a little shocking that it was ever considered a mainstay of children’s literature. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining way to force moral and social education down the throats of children. Speaking Likenesses by Christina Rosetti (1874) fell along the same moral themes. Even Oscar Wilde’s fables usually imparted a lesson of some kind. However, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published just two years after The Water Babies, moved away from moral education and proved much more enduringly popular with both adults and children. Despite its wacky, nonsensical veneer, Alice was essentially about growing up in a world that often seemed distressingly random and absurd.

Subsequent fantasies for children, like J.M. Barrie’s early 20th-century novelization of his popular play, Peter Pan, explored territory that the Grimms might have recognized. Barrie’s titular hero, Peter, wore dead leaves, kidnapped children, never aged, and flew – all traits of a ghost in a story that grappled with mortality. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, which debuted in 1900, also opted to entertain rather than preach and tapped themes of responsibility and friendship.

The 20th century would see a boom in children’s fantasy literature. In 1950, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe sought to revive the Christian allegory couched in an entertaining fantasy novel for children, while The Fellowship of the Ring generated a British mythology in 1954. Children’s fantasy continued to flourish in the 1960s, when books by Madeline L’Engle would follow in the religiously overt footsteps of C.S. Lewis, while others by Ursula LeGuin would seek to express more primal, mythologically inspired themes.

Since the 1960s, children’s fantasy has burgeoned to include works as diverse as Roald Dahl’s Matilda and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. They run the gamut of themes and serve a vast array of audiences. Recently, fantasy for children has begun to focus on authors and characters of marginalized demographics, who haven’t generally historically experienced a great deal of representation in this genre. Female authors, authors of color, and LGBTQ authors are all experiencing an increase in representation among children’s fantasy.

As children’s fantasy continues to grow in popularity, it will continue to evolve to suit new generations of reading children. Where it goes next is anybody’s guess. However, wherever that is, both kids and adults will avidly follow.

LOL: Humorous Non-Fiction

Leave a comment

This gallery contains 10 photos

Leave a comment

A Year in the Life of a Honeybee Colony and its Beekeeper

Nevins Library Presents:

A Year in the Life of a Honeybee Colony

and its Beekeeper

Thursday, April 27th at 7pm


Birgit deWeerd is a beekeeper in Bedford, MA. She became fascinated by beekeeping 30 years ago and has been committed to expanding the understanding of, and the respect for, the importance of honeybees in our environment ever since.

With her slide show, Birgit takes you through the activities in and around a beehive, starting in January and ending in the Fall with the honey harvest.

She also will talk about many of the pollen and nectar producing blossoms the bees visit on their foraging trips throughout the seasons, opening another gardening dimension and, maybe, setting the seed for the start of a most interesting hobby: of becoming a beekeeper yourself.

She will also have honey and bee related items to sell after the program!

Click here to register for this program.  For more information, contact Danielle at 978-686-4080 x12 or


Yay, we’re #1!



Today, April 1st 2016, is the Nevins Buzz’s one year anniversary.   And that’s no fooling! (we had to say that, given the date… 😉

To celebrate our being one year older and wiser, we’ll like to share with you our new Resources Page. Here you’ll find a plethora of recommended reading websites for all different genres; book club resources; book and author databases to help you find your next read; and other book suggestion tools from the Nevins Library.

Are there other websites or blogs that you would suggest we add to help other readers find just the right book?



Leave a comment

Procrastination and Book Clubs


I’m sorry I procrastinated.  Again.

I think it happens to every person who has ever been part of a book club:  waiting until the very last minute to read that month’s book.  How often have you said, “My book club meets in three days, and I haven’t even started the book yet!!”  I know I’ve said it many times even though I try really hard to avoid procrastinating.  The thing is, I am a pretty fast reader (usually) and I don’t want to read the book too far ahead because I’m afraid I’ll forget key points or thoughts by the time the club meets.  I should also mention that I’m terrible at taking notes.

It’s a gamble, every month, choosing exactly when to start the book so that I can finish in time and hope nothing destroys my reading plan.  It is awful to have not finished a book in time and then go to book club and have the ending ruined for you.  Especially since you can’t really ask for “no spoilers” as that is the entire point of book club in the first place – to have a group with whom you can discuss every little detail of a book.

Sometimes I’ll admit that I procrastinate even more if the book club choice is not one I’m looking forward to reading.  Sometimes these books surprise me, but mostly I know if it is really a book for me or not.  If it isn’t, I will definitely procrastinate.  I also don’t feel sorry or guilty if I “accidentally” don’t finish in time.  That’s a pretty easy situation to move on from.

But what about if I was enjoying the book and don’t quite finish in time?  I would feel guilty about missing the meeting, but as I said before – I don’t want the ending to be ruined for me.  So what to do?  These are a few options:

  1. Reading marathon time!  Stay up late, get up early, let the laundry and the dishes go for a day or two longer but read read read every chance you get!  Taking time off of work is probably a little extreme, but maybe you would want to grab some extra coffee?
  2. How about an audiobook?  How many precious reading minutes do you lose driving to and from work each day?  Or picking the kids up from sports?  Or working out?  You can fill those minutes with your book club book!  Check to see if the library has the audiobook on the shelves or if it is available to be downloaded to your phone or other device and go back and forth between your print copy and the audio copy until you finish!
  3. Accept the fact that spoilers will happen, but take charge of it:  read online reviews of the book before book club.  This is not my favorite option, but it is still an option. users will often post reviews of books that are filled with spoilers or talking points – check them out if you think this will help.  You can also search for “title of the book reviews” through your web browser, and you’ll be sure to get plenty of reviews from book bloggers as well.
  4. Come to the meeting a little late.  Maybe you only have a handful of pages left to read – power through them even if it means you’ll be late to the meeting.  As long as you aren’t hosting or bringing the snacks, you should be okay with only a small amount of guilt.  You will miss some of the discussion – but hey!  You finished the book, didn’t you?
  5. Miss the meeting entirely.  This will produce the most guilt for sure – and it may not be possible if you are the host or snack provider.  It would be great if the meeting could be rescheduled – but you know that would be nearly impossible, especially if you have a large group.  If this is the option you take, make doubly sure that you get a jump on the next book!

How do you handle procrastinating with your book club books?  Have you ever done something extreme to make up for it?  Let us know in the comments!