Staff Picks Spring 2015 Thursday, Mar 19 2015 


“When spring comes to Paris the humblest mortal alive must feel that
he dwells in Paris.”
Henry Miller

“He who contemplates the depth of Paris is seized with vertigo.
Nothing is more fantastic. Nothing is more tragic.  Nothing is more sublime.”
Victor Hugo


The latest installment of staff picks will immerse you in the streets of Paris.  The selection, like the city, is multifaceted.  It features, for example, espionage, mystery, drama, comedy, gourmet cuisine and a nineteenth century giraffe!  So, whatever, your reading preferences, leave the darkness of winter behind and explore the City of Light!

Zarafa: A Giraffe’s True Story; from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris – Michael Allin

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery

Gourmet Rhapsody – Muriel Barbery

Brassaï: For the Love of Paris – Brassaï

Mission to Paris – Alan Furst

The Other Paris: Mavis Gallant

Paris Notebooks: Essays and Reviews – Mavis Gallant

Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home – Ina Garten

Paris to the Moon – Adam Gopnik

A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway

A Giraffe goes to Paris – Mary Tavener Holmes

Strangled in Paris – Claude Izner

Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris – Sarah Kennel

Henri’s Walk to Paris – Leonore Klein

Missing Person – Patrick Modiano

Suite Française – Irene Némirosky

By Kirsty Dain, Circulation Assistant

A Panoply of Jane Austen Friday, Jul 19 2013 

One of the most clever things Ravenous saw this week is an online exhibit called What Jane Saw. The website is based on a visit Jane Austen made to an art exhibit in London in 1813, of the works of Sir Joshua Reynolds.  The reconstruction of the exhibit is done room by room with descriptions of each of the works of art she would have seen, taken from the exhibit catalogue. Brilliant!

This year Pride and Prejudice celebrates the bicentennial of it’s publication and the BBC produced a reenactment of the book’s Regency Ball:

If this is your year to travel to Austen’s England then the Wall Street Journal has a wonderful travelogue for you to use.

Digital copies of her books can be found many places, here is just one, and if you’d love to own a Jane Austen memento try the giftshop at Jane


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Tuesday, Oct 23 2012 

I refer, of course, to the 4th annual Boston Book Festival, which will be held this Saturday, October 27th at Copley Square in Boston. The schedule for this year is rather packed, with highlights including keynotes from Richard Ford and Lemony Snicket, a presentation by Alexander McCall Smith, several YA panels (there was only one last year), and panels on Edith Wharton and The Iliad. As in the past, all of the events, as well as the street festival, are free. I’m personally making the trip for the Hobbit panel, if nothing else.

The Athenaeum Does NaNoWriMo Wednesday, Sep 19 2012 


November is National Novel Writing Month, the month a morass of aspiring (and not-so-aspiring) writers take up the challenge to write an entire 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Yes, you read that right. That’s about 200 pages. In 30 days. Trust me, it is SO much more fun than that just sounded.

So in honor of National Novel Writing Month, we have selected several different groups of books. Firstly, to gear you up and get you ready to go, we have some great books from our collection about the art and craft of novel writing. Old standbys like John Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist, Stephen King’s wildly popular On Writing, and my favorite, mystery author Elizabeth George’s Write Away, where she lays her writing process bare for the reader. We’ve also  included some published novels that began as NaNoWriMo projects! Sara Gruen’s Water For Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Anna and the French Kissby Stephanie Perkins. See? You never know what might happen.

Additionally, I thought I’d include several of our very own members who have books out: Athenaeum staff member Tina Egnoski’s Perishables, a lovely study in short fiction, Ann Hood’s very first novel Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine, Taylor Polites brand new historical novel of the Civil War, The Rebel Wife , and our own Bon Vivant Brett Rutherford’s chilling horror novel, The Lost Children. We’ve also included some favorite, prolific and well known authors – in their first novels. Isabel Allende, Margaret Atwood, mystery authors Ruth Rendell and Peter Lovesey — they all started somewhere. And remember, YOU CAN DO IT TOO! We encourage ANY and ALL patrons to join us in trying to write a novel during the month of November. All you have to do is go to and sign up! Its quick, its easy and its free!

If you do decide to take up the challenge, come see Amy or Megh on the Circulation Desk. We are Old Hats at Nanowrimo (as its affectionately called), and can help you get acclimated. Hope to see you in the Novel Writing Seas!         

(Click the title to see if it’s available)

Books About Writing:

Books By Members:

First Novels:

NaNoWriMo Books:

Amy Eller Lewis, Writer and Circulation Assistant Extraordinaire, presents staff picks on our website each season and is responsible for this post.  Thanks Amy.

Charles Dickens, Bicentenary Thursday, Jan 19 2012 

The 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens birthday is on February 7th 2012 and the planned celebrations abound. One of England’s greatest 19th century novelists, Dickens has contributed much to the world, as Alex Hudson writes in this BBC News article.

Abe Books has pulled together some interesting tidbits below:

And many of Charles Dickens titles are available in electronic format from Project Gutenberg.  The Providence Athenaeum has an extensive collection of Dickens works including many 19th century editions.

WatchMojo has produced a three minute video montage of films produced from Dickens works. The most popular being A Christmas Carol. Take a look:


Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Wednesday, Nov 9 2011 

Kurt Vonnegut’s official biography came out yesterday And so it goes: Kurt Vonnegut a life by Charles J. Shields.

    The New York Times review is mixed but I predict our members will be interested. Vonnegut is immensely quotable and Flavorwire has put together a great post of his utterances. I loved Vonnegut in my 20’s, I eagerly awaited each new novel, but I had to give him up in my 30’s, he was too cynical and dark for someone raising babies. Now it’s time to return to his form of genius.

YouTube has an assortment of interviews, tributes and pans, but this lecture on the shape of stories is classically, cleverly, Vonnegut. Enjoy!


Rogue Island Thursday, May 5 2011 

  Bruce De Silva has won the Edgar Award for best first novel for Rogue Island, a crime novel set in Providence. He spent some of his 40 year journalism career at the Providence Journal and he says of the city:

“I made Providence not just the setting, but something akin to a main character, in Rogue Island. I never considered setting the series anywhere else.

We’ll forgive him for living in New Jersey, so long as he continues to use quirky little Rhody for his series setting. Book number two titled Cliff Walk is to be published early next year and he’s working on the third novel.

The Athenaeum has two copies. Check it out next time you’re in.

Author Interviews at the Paris Review Saturday, Oct 30 2010 

Current issue of the Paris Review

The Paris Review has been interviewing authors since the early 1950’s and now they are easily accessible from their website. They have grouped the interviews alphabetically and by decade and it is an impressive collection of voices.  Each of them has a brief biography before the text of the interview.  I had expected audio clips but c’est la vie.

Thanks John and the Resource Shelf

Hidden Treasures from the Library of Congress Friday, Sep 24 2010 

The Library of Congress collaborated with the History Channel to produce short videos on items of interest from their collections. I watched a number of these and I think this story titled A Tale of Two Books about Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman exchanging books in 1856 will intrigue our bibliophile friends.
A Tale of Two Books Thanks to the Resource Shelf

Attention Faulkner Fans Saturday, Jul 24 2010 

The University of Virginia has launched a digital audio collection of William Faulkner’s two years as writer in residence in the late 1950’s.  Over the past ten years they have converted 28 hours of reel-to-reel tape recordings of Faulkner’s speeches, informal talks, with question and answers, and they have done a wonderful job! I’m going to link to the context page, but you can browse or search the collection too. 

The audio files require Quicktime, but it’s an easy download. Thanks to the ResourceShelf for this.

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