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Thursday, January 19

at 7 PM

Jon Boilard

in conversation with Ethel Rohan

Settright Road

Settright Road is a collection of 20 short stories and one longer piece of fiction, all set in and around a string of busted Massachusetts mill towns during the cocaine-fueled 1980s. 
Its pages are colored by unforgettable characters: a teenage lothario whose plans to escape his one-horse town by hopping a train to California are monkey-wrenched when he impregnates a local girl from a prominent family; fresh-out-of-prison Sean Folan, who nearly kills a man in a bar fight just so he ll get locked up again; underage Bill Buick, who sells dope to hard-up townies and seduces high school girls, when he s not driving a wedge between his aunt and her new boyfriend; and Eskimo trouble in a too-tight dress a dancer and a poet whose unsavory relationship with a strip club owner comes to a tragic end when she falls in love with a notorious backwoods brawler. 
Jon Boilard lets loose these conflicted characters against a backdrop of the abject poverty that sits in stark contrast to the lush New England scenery; then he challenges us to root for these desperados despite the weight of their human errors. 

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Wednesday, January 25

at 7PM

Will Schwalbe

Books For Living

From the author of the beloved New York Times best-selling The End of Your Life Book Club, an inspiring and magical exploration of the power of books to shape our lives in an era of constant connectivity. 
Why is it that we read? Is it to pass time? To learn something new? To escape from reality? For Will Schwalbe, reading is a way to entertain himself but also to make sense of the world, to become a better person, and to find the answers to the big (and small) questions about how to live his life. In this delightful celebration of reading, Schwalbe invites us along on his quest for books that speak to the specific challenges of living in our modern world, with all its noise and distractions. In each chapter, he discusses a particular book what brought him to it (or vice versa), the people in his life he associates with it, and how it became a part of his understanding of himself in the world. These books span centuries and genres (from classic works of adult and children's literature to contemporary thrillers and even cookbooks), and each one relates to the questions and concerns we all share. Throughout, Schwalbe focuses on the way certain books can help us honor those we've loved and lost, and also figure out how to live each day more fully. Rich with stories and recommendations, Books for Living is a treasure for everyone who loves books and loves to hear the answer to the question: What are you reading? 

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Saturday, February 4

at 11 AM

at The West Portal Library*

*Please Note Special Date,Time and Location

Matt Richtel

The Runaway Booger

It s a bird! It s a plane! No, wait . . . it s a runaway booger!

From Lee Wildish, acclaimed children's book illustrator of the New York Times bestselling How to Babysit a Grandpa, How to Babysit a Grandma, and How to Catch Santa, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Matt Richtel comes a hilarious new picture book about a topsy-turvy day with an unlikely and disgusting turn of events.

Like such silly favorites as Walter the Farting DogRunaway Booger will spark giggles and demands to read it again.

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Thursday, February 9

at 7 PM

Alan Burdick

Why Time Flies

Time is the most commonly used noun in the English language; it's always on our minds and it advances through every living moment. But what is time, exactly? Do children experience it the same way adults do? Why does it seem to slow down when we're bored and speed by as we get older? How and why does time fly? 
In this witty and meditative exploration, award-winning author and New Yorker staff writer Alan Burdick takes readers on a personal quest to understand how time gets in us and why we perceive it the way we do. In the company of scientists, he visits the most accurate clock in the world (which exists only on paper); discovers that now actually happened a split-second ago; finds a twenty-fifth hour in the day; lives in the Arctic to lose all sense of time; and, for one fleeting moment in a neuroscientist's lab, even makes time go backward. Why Time Flies is an instant classic, a vivid and intimate examination of the clocks that tick inside us all.

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Tuesday, February 21

at 7 PM

Deborah Crombie

Garden of Lamentations

Scotland Yard detectives Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James are drawn into separate investigations that hold disturbing and deadly complications for their own lives in this powerful mystery in the bestselling series.

On a beautiful morning in mid-May, the body of a young woman is found in one of Notting Hill's private gardens. To passersby, the pretty girl in the white dress looks as if she's sleeping. But Reagan Keating has been murdered, and the lead detective, DI Kerry Boatman, turns to Gemma James for help. She and Gemma worked together on a previous investigation, and Gemma has a personal connection to the case: Reagan was the nanny of a child who attends the same dance studio as Toby, Gemma and Kincaid's son.

Gemma soon discovers that Reagan's death is the second tragedy in this exclusive London park; a few months before, a young boy died in a tragic accident. But when still another of the garden residents meets a violent end, it becomes clear that there are more sinister forces at play. Boatman and Gemma must stop the killer before another innocent life is taken.

While his wife is consumed with her new case, Kincaid finds himself plagued by disturbing questions about several previous and seemingly unrelated cases involving members of the force. If his suspicions are correct and the crimes are linked, are his family and friends in mortal danger as well? Kincaid's hunch turns to certainty when a Metropolitan Police officer close to him is brutally attacked. There's a traitor in the ranks, and now Kincaid wonders if he can trust anyone.

As Gemma begins to see a solution to her case, she realizes she holds a child's fate in her hands. Can she do the right thing? And can Kincaid rely on his friends, both inside and outside the Scotland Yard force, to stand beside him as he faces the deadliest challenge of his career?

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Thursday February 23

at 7 PM

Ethel Rohan

The Weight of Him

At four hundred pounds, Billy Brennan can always count on food. From his earliest memories, he has loved food's colors, textures and tastes. The way flavors go off in his mouth. How food keeps his mind still and his bad feelings quiet. Food has always made everything better, until the day Billy's beloved son Michael takes his own life.

Billy determines to make a difference in Michael's memory and undertakes a public weight-loss campaign, to raise money for suicide prevention, his first step in an ambitious plan to save himself, and to save others. However, Billy's dramatic crusade appalls his family, who want to simply try to go on.

Despite his crushing detractors, Billy gains welcome allies: his community-at-large; a co-worker who lost his father to suicide; a filmmaker with his own dubious agenda; and a secret, miniature kingdom that Billy populates with the sub-quality dolls and soldiers he rescues from disposal at the local toy factory where he works. But it is only if Billy can confront the truth of his pain, suffering, and the brokenness around him, that he and others will be able to realize the full rescue and change they need.

Set in rural, contemporary Ireland, Ethel Rohan's The Weight of Him is an unforgettable, big-hearted novel about loss and reliance that moves from tragedy to recrimination to what can be achieved when we take the stand of our lives.

Ethel Rohan is the author of the story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the former longlisted for The Edge Hill Prize and the latter longlisted for The Story Prize. Her work has appeared in The New York TimesWorld Literature TodayGUERNICA Magazine, Tin House OnlineThe Rumpus, and many more. Born and raised in Ireland, she lives in San Francisco.

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Wednesday, March 15

at 7 PM

Jacqueline Winspear

In This Grave Hour

"A female investigator every bit as brainy and battle-hardened as Lisbeth Salander." Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air, on Maisie Dobbs

Sunday September 3rd 1939. At the moment Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain broadcasts to the nation Britain's declaration of war with Germany, a senior Secret Service agent breaks into Maisie Dobbs' flat to await her return. Dr. Francesca Thomas has an urgent assignment for Maisie: to find the killer of a man who escaped occupied Belgium as a boy, some twenty-three years earlier during the Great War.

In a London shadowed by barrage balloons, bomb shelters and the threat of invasion, within days another former Belgian refugee is found murdered. And as Maisie delves deeper into the killings of the dispossessed from the last war, a new kind of refugee, an evacuee from London, appears in Maisie's life. The little girl billeted at Maisie's home in Kent does not, or cannot, speak, and the authorities do not know who the child belongs to or who might have put her on the Operation Pied Piper evacuee train. They know only that her name is Anna.

As Maisie's search for the killer escalates, the country braces for what is to come. Britain is approaching its gravest hour and Maisie could be nearing a crossroads of her own.

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestselling Maisie Dobbs series, which includes InThis Grave Hour, Journey to MunichA Dangerous PlaceLeaving Everything Most LovedElegy for Eddie, and eight other novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller and a Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.

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Saturday, April 29