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‘Book Buzz’ inspires library patrons

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By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter

With so many books available at the library and in book stores, voracious readers often ask themselves a perplexing question: “What should I read next?”

As librarians, the Westwood library staff members can empathize with their patrons, which is why they have begun a “Book Buzz Panel.” The idea is simple, but inspires readers to actually spend their time reading at the library, instead of meandering the stacks until a title stuck out to them. For January 25’s “Book Buzz,” five staff members chose four books of varying genres to discuss and recommend to the community.

Head of Children’s Services Lizzy McGovern began the panel by voicing her excitement to be able to share adult fiction recommendations this time around, as she primarily reads young adult novels.

One of her favorite reads that she shared with the community was “Seven Days of Us” by debut author Francesca Hornak.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m from a big family. I’m the youngest of six kids, so I love a good family drama,” she shared. “Even though this family just has two daughters, there’s enough family drama in it that it would fill up a house.”

Hornak’s novel details an English family that spends the Christmas holiday in quarantine on their countryside estate, after one of the daughters returns from treating a deadly epidemic overseas. Forced under one roof for one week, it isn’t long before family secrets emerge and the drama begins.

“The secrets keep the story moving along as the tension builds,” Lizzy said. “It’s very dry humor, but it is funny, and it can be very heartwarming at times.”

The second panelist, Liz, who works in technical services, discussed Chloe Benjamin’s “The Immortalists,” a story of the Gold children who see a fortuneteller in the 1960s. The fortuneteller is able to tell the children the exact date they will die, and Benjamin tells the stories of each of the four siblings in the order that they die.

“It’s a beautifully written novel,” said Liz, who loved how readers learned about both the Gold siblings and the various cities the book mentions. “I think, not only is this a great book, but it will make an amazing book club book. It’s just a great discussion book.”

Next, Patti, one of the circulation desk’s staff members, offered nonfiction recommendations to the audience.

“I know some people find it a little bit daunting because nonfiction books tend to be a little bit bigger, but I love it,” she said, introducing “Washington & Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America” by Stephen F. Knott and Tony Williams, the former being a local author.

“This is a wonderfully written book. It’s very easy to read,” Patti said, elaborating on the unlikely alliance between George Washington and Alexander Hamilton.

Susan, who also works in circulation, suggested Stephanie Dray’s “America’s First Daughter,” a historical fiction novel that tells the story of Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph, Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter.

“I realized how weak we women are today compared to women of that era,” Susan admitted. “She had 12 children, ran a house, ran a ranch of sorts, and managed to keep up with everything her father did.

“It piqued my interest of Jefferson and the time,” Susan continued. “It’s very well written and very well researched.”

Last but not least, Suzie from the children’s department shared one of her young adult recommendations, a novel called “Trell” by Dick Lehr.

Lehr, a former Boston Globe writer and Spotlight Team member, wrote the crime novel based on a true case of one of Boston’s youngest gunshot victims in the 1980s. Inspired by the case he once worked on, Lehr created a girl named Trell, who enlisted the help of a reporter and a lawyer to prove her father’s innocence and free him from imprisonment after being wrongly convicted of the crime.

“This was a lot of fun [reading],” said Suzie. “I love that they have real spots in Boston, particularly in Roslindale. It’s a wonderful read, it’s pretty quick, and if you like facts and if you’d like to brush up on the story, I highly recommend ‘Trell.’”

With over 20 book titles suggested to the audience, the library patrons were sure to have left the “Book Buzz” with at least one book on their list to check out. The complete list of all of the staff members’ picks is on the Westwood Public Library’s blog, found on their website.

With the next panel scheduled for March 29, Susan concluded the “Book Buzz” with one request: “Just please read,” she pleaded. “The dinosaurs didn’t, and they are now extinct.”

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