Reading Room Blog

01/18/2010 - 4:04pm

I'm here in blustery, snowy Boston with about a thousand librarians and publishers gathered in the convention center to find out what books have won the prestigious awards for young people's literature.  There’s a buzz of speculation as people ask each other, “What do you think will win?” or “What is the book you gave your heart to this year?” 

01/18/2010 - 10:34am


My grandfather, when in his nineties, wrote me a letter in which he listed everything he and my uncle had eaten in the past week. That was the news. I love this poem by Nancyrose Houston of Seattle for the way it plays with the character of those letters from home that many of us have received.


The Letter From Home

01/14/2010 - 2:14pm

    Last Tuesday, our librarians discussed ten books we found worthy of the Coretta Scott King author and illustrator awards.  The actual winners will be announced next Monday, January 18, at the American Library Association conference in Boston.  Click here on Monday morning at 7:45 for a live webcast of the announcements.

    The Coretta Scott King Awards are given to African American authors and illustrators for outstanding inspirational and educational contributions.  Among our nominations for the Illustrator Award is “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” a poem by Langston Hughes illustrated by E. B. Lewis. 

01/13/2010 - 3:50pm

Nancy Thayer wrote the "Hot Flash Club" books, which always feature smart, sassy, sexy women - perhaps past the first blush of youth. If you are looking for books like those, then you may like:

These book lists in the Reading Room

  •  Mid-Life Madness: stories for People of a Certain Age
  • Marriage Can be Murder
  • Later Love
  • That Would be Ma'am to You

Some specific titles you may enjoy:

09/06/2012 - 2:27pm

A loving relative (or maybe it was you, yourself!) was good to you this holiday season and now you want to fill up your Kindle or Sony Reader with books.  Or you are looking for even more to do with your iPod Touch. Try these sites for free eBooks:

01/12/2010 - 5:05pm


The poet Lyn Lifshin, who divides her time between New York and Virginia, is one of the most prolific poets among my contemporaries, and has thousands of poems in print, by my loose reckoning. I have been reading her work in literary magazines for at least thirty years. Here’s a good example of this poet at her best.


The Other Fathers

01/12/2010 - 4:39pm

When you think of Sherlock Holmes, do you think of a middle-aged man in a deerstalker cap, blowing smoke from a pipe and peering through a magnifiying glass while saying "It's elementary, my dear Watson"?

Many writers have tried to emulate, imitate and improve on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective tales.  Check out the book list "Sleuthing Sherlock Holmes" for many different portrayals of the Great Detective. 

01/27/2010 - 10:39am

On Tuesday, January 26, 2010, the University of Mary Washington invites the public to a free lecture on Thomas Jefferson.

01/07/2010 - 9:36am

    Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah was in New York studying to be a doctor when the September 11th attacks took place.  When he returned to his native Kenya in 2002, he told the story of what happened to his unbelieving Maasai friends and family. 

“Buildings so tall they can touch the sky? Fires so hot they can melt iron? Smoke and dust so thick they can block out the sun?”  Appalled, the villagers wanted to do something for these poor Americans.  For the Maasai herders, cows are life, so they decided to donate a herd of fourteen cows to America, in a ceremony that brought tears to the eyes of the American ambassador.

01/04/2010 - 4:10pm


I’m very fond of poems that demonstrate their authors’ attentiveness to the world about them, as regular readers of this column have no doubt noticed. Here is a nine-word poem by Joette Giorgis, who lives in Pennsylvania, that is based upon noticing and then thinking about something so ordinary that it might otherwise be overlooked. Even the separate words are flat and commonplace. But so much feeling comes through!




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