Travel the World with Your Library Resources

Despite the limited possibilities of a real escape due to the ongoing pandemic, thanks to the Internet and resources offered by your library, you can explore the world and enjoy travel – virtually!

Lately, the travel industry has cooperated with government agencies to create a wonderfully appealing virtual experience for travelers who might enjoy exploring the world from the comfort of their homes. 

Explore and discover five National Parks, a series Hidden Worlds of the National Parks created by the National Park Service with Google Arts & Culture.

You will find even more National Parks to tour virtually here.

Travel book publishers were also exploring beyond travel guide books. Here is their new product—a series called Passenger.

Greece: Passenger for Explorers of the World is the second book in the series, tailored to the tastes of armchair travelers. It concentrates on the best writing, photography, and arts of the region. Greece can be reserved in print for Curbside Pickup, or you can check out the ebook on hoopla.

America the Beautiful by the National Geographic Society is a book of gorgeous photography that celebrates the unique beauty of all the 50 states. The book offers an alternative way to see the country in the time of limited travel. It is a gratifying and very worthwhile visual journey.

Blue Sky Kingdom: An Epic Family Journey to the Heart of Himalayas by Bruce Kirby shares the author’s account of a journey that his family undertook, chartering an absolutely new and unfamiliar territory by travelling to a distant Tibetan locale, staying at the Buddhist monastery, and backpacking in the Himalayas at high altitudes.

The book is a mixture of local history, culture, travelogue, and personal experience, and very well reviewed. You can reserve it in print for Curbside Pickup or check out the ebook on hoopla.

The Lost Pianos of Siberia by Pamela Roberts is aware of and inspired by the huge role that music, and pianos in particular, played in Russian culture. The British travel writer follows the ways pianos travelled from major Russian cities to distant Russian locales, and explores and portrays Siberia – the part of Russia that has long intrigued foreigners, though it is not much travelled and understood.

The book combines a travelogue with Russian history and culture, as well as music history. You will find a New York Times review here. Reserve the book in print for Curbside Pickup or read the ebook on Overdrive or hoopla

Scandinavian Noir: In Pursuit of a Mystery by Wendy Lesser is another oeuvre by the author – a fan of Scandinavian mysteries – who has been sharing her enthusiasm and reviews with the public for almost four decades. 

Her deep interest in Scandinavian mysteries and voracious reading of numerous books written by writers from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark lead to her deep knowledge of those countries: their geography, history, culture, social norms, and laws.

When she traveled to Scandinavia, the author said she found it “even lovelier than she expected.”

Part literary criticism and part travelogue, the book was well regarded in The New York Times review.


As always, these books are available through the library catalog, either in print or digital format, sometimes both. 

Digital downloads are available through Overdrive/Libby or hoopla with your library card. 

To obtain a print copy, please carefully read the instructions for ordering and Curbside Pickup.

Learn To Be Healthy In The New Year!

Being healthy is always one of the top New Year’s Resolutions every year. Abbot Public Library has items in digital and physical formats that can help you become mentally and physically healthier in the New Year!

Overdrive’s Health & Fitness Collection has ebooks, e-audiobooks, and downloadable magazines for children, teens, and adults about eating healthier, exercising, and living a healthier life. 

Kids can learn about the current pandemic in Coronavirus: A Book for Children written by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson, and Nia Roberts; and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. The book explains in a way for children to understand how you can catch coronavirus, if there is a cure, and more about the disease that has spread across the world during this past year. In Megan Borgert-Spaniol’s and Lauren Kukla’s ebook Crafting Calm, exercises, quizzes, crafts, and activities help children improve their emotional intelligence, boost their self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and help them connect with the world around them. My First Cookbook is a fun way for children ages 5-8 to begin learning how to cook with fun food projects they can do with their families! 

Meik Wiking’s New York Times Bestseller, The Little Book of Hygge, is a guide that explores the Danish concept of living a happier life with a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. Get inspired to find your reason for living in the international bestseller Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, for which the authors interviewed the residents of the Japanese village with the highest percentage of 100-year-olds. Change Your Brain, Change Your Body by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. is one of the Health and Fitness books on Overdrive that can help you lose weight, sharpen your memory, and do more to make your mind and body healthier.

If you want more than what Overdrive’s collection can offer, try some of the 8,000+ titles in hoopla’s Health & Fitness ebooks collection. You’ll find some of the same titles on Overdrive plus some different titles, with many sub categories to choose from, including Diet & Nutrition, Exercise, Yoga, and Tai Chi. Learn how to make medicine with herbs and plants in Marysia Miernowska’s The Witch’s Herbal Apothecary. Figure out What to Eat When in the ebook by Michael Crupain, Michael F. Roizen, M. D., and Ted Spiker. Discover different yoga poses and how to accept your body in Jessamyn Stanley’s Every Body Yoga.

And if all these ebook titles aren’t enough, check out the Health & Fitness movies on hoopla, including the Yoga for Health with Jenny Cornero series, Kung Fu for Kids, A Healthy Diet For A Healthy Brain, In Defense of Food, and more! You can also stream video lectures with The Great Courses. Learn about everything from cooking with vegetables and making healthy food taste great to yoga, how to boost your physical and mental energy, and essentials of strength training,  as well as other interesting subjects related to being healthy. 

For those who prefer physical titles, reserve exercise books, and DVDs; health magazines, books, and DVDs, and more on you NOBLE account for Curbside Pickup! If you need help finding materials on a specific subject, feel free to contact a Reference Librarian at mar@noblenet.org or by calling 781-631-1481. 

A Virtual Garden Tour

Take a (virtual) tour through some of the most beautiful gardens of the world! 

Though the weather might not be well-suited for a garden tour right now, with books borrowed or downloaded from the library, you can enjoy armchair travelling from the safety of your home, take pleasure in looking through books with gorgeous color illustrations and photographs of splendidly designed gardens from all over the world, and learn about the people who designed them.

A Garden for All Seasons: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Hillwood by Kate Markert is the first book on the history and design of Hillwood, the estate of Marjorie Post, the businesswoman and the heir of General Foods, Inc.

The gardens were designed with the idea of planting a very diverse range of plants and trees, thus providing something flowering or simply beautiful to look at for every season. The new commissioned photography for the book perfectly reflects the beauty of the garden.

For Rachel Lambert Mellon – best known as Bunny Mellon – plants and gardens have been a passion for all her long life (1910-2014), and she was really remarkable with garden designs. Best known for her redesign of the White House Rose Garden, she planned grounds designs for all the multiple estates her family owned in various parts of the world. She also designed a couple of gardens for the celebrated French couturier, Hubert de Givenchy, and several other gardens of the White House.

The Gardens of Bunny Mellon by Linda Holden includes spectacular newly commissioned photographs of some of Mellon’s gardens, as well as her sketches and watercolors.

In American Gardens, Monty Don, an eminent British horticulturist, travels across the US with celebrated photographer Derry Moore, exploring the country’s iconic as well as lesser-known gardens. Best known as a presenter of the BBC gardening television series, Mr. Don did one of the episodes this past year on American gardens; the book complements the series, and includes some previously unpublished photographs. 

The Garden Tourist: 120 Destination Gardens and Nurseries in the Northeast by Jana Milbocker describes 120 botanical gardens, historic estates, and nurseries from Southern Maine to Pennsylvania. 

665 luscious photos make this book more than a guidebook; it offers aesthetic enjoyment of horticultural colors and designs.

For those wishing to explore outside North America, the library has the following offerings:

Japanese Gardens: Kyoto by photographer Akira Nakata showcases 96 stunning Japanese gardens of Kyoto. These awe-inspiring works of art date between the 13th and the 17th centuries.

A recognizable aspect of Japanese culture, gardens embody a philosophy about the relationship between humanity and nature through seamless incorporation of living elements with man-made design and the surroundings (such as buildings).

Not to be missed, especially if Kyoto is a travel destination.

Everyday Monet: A Giverny-inspired Gardening and Lifestyle Guide to Living Your Best Impressionist Life by Aileen Bordman will take you to France, to the third most-visited site in the country: Giverny, a commune in Normandy best known for the location of an estate that was once home to Claude Monet, one of the founders of the French Impressionism.

Gorgeously illustrated with photos of Monet’s spectacular garden designs, reproductions of his paintings, and filled with instructions, the book becomes a practical guide for creating a lifestyle inspired by Monet’s works.

As always, these books are available through the library catalog, either in print or digital format, sometimes both. 

Digital downloads are available through Overdrive/Libby with your library card. To obtain a print copy, please carefully read the instructions for reserving and Curbside Pickup.

A Gift for You: Extra hoopla Borrows for December!

This is a season for giving, and we at the Abbot Public Library have been thinking about how we can express our appreciation to our patrons. You are what makes the library so vital to our community! This year, our gift is a virtual one, and we hope you will love it—go ahead, open it!

Here it is: with the shorter days and longer nights of December upon us, we’re thinking that you just might like a couple more audiobooks, movies, or music albums to brighten the darkness. So we are giving you two extra hoopla borrows during this month! Now you have seven borrows to take you right through the holiday season.

There’s just so much to explore in hoopla’s curated holiday collections. For audiobooks alone, there are three appealing categories: Holiday Mysteries, Holiday Romance, and Christmas for Kids.

Movies? Oh, yes. We’ve got you covered! For an eclectic sampling of what’s on offer, have a look at the 63 titles in Best of Holiday and 34 New Holiday Movies (not previously available on hoopla). Snuggle down with the younger members of your family and browse through the 146 age-appropriate films represented in Christmas for Kids and Hanukkah for Kids.

For a little extra helping of love with your cocoa and cookies, try the Holiday Romance and It’s a Wonderful Lifetime collections. Or just wrap up the cinematic year with the retrospective 100 Most-Borrowed Movies of 2020 and Leaving hoopla in December categories.

Want some fresh music selections to liven up your decorating, baking, and gift-wrapping efforts? You’ll not be disappointed! There are no fewer than 2597 albums available in five categories, some of them brand-new in 2020: Holiday, Holiday Classics, Holiday Jazz, Holiday Movie Soundtracks, and Spiritual Holiday. You’ll be spoilt for choice!

So go ahead and splurge a little on some cheering entertainment, all for free! Hope you like your gift from us!

If you’re new to hoopla, you can get started here. And if you don’t yet have a Marblehead library card, you can register for one here.

New for You: E-Audio Series Entries, RBG, and Sedaris on Overdrive/Libby

As 2020 winds down and the light fades earlier each day, we at the Abbot Public Library are searching for some good, solid reading fare to see us through the long evenings. There’s nothing like the comfort of familiar storylines continued and the company of characters we know and love (or love to hate). We’re also craving the words of cultural icons like the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Sedaris, both of whom saw us through many decades before we were plunged into the present reality. If you’re feeling the same, then the newest round of digital audiobooks on Overdrive/Libby should be just the ticket!

If the grandeur of historical epic is what you’re in the mood for at present, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can now listen to Ken Follett’s new prequel to the wildly popular Pillars of the Earth, which was published thirty years ago. Follett is past master at spinning tales of derring-do from the pre-Norman Conquest era in Britain. He certainly doesn’t disappoint in The Evening and the Morning, a book “rich with ambition and rivalry, death and birth, love and hate, that will end where The Pillars of the Earth begins.”*

Ann Cleeves lands us in a thoroughly modern England with her latest Vera Stanhope novel, The Darkest Evening. The irascible and complicated Detective Inspector not only finds yet another mystery on a snowy night in Northumberland but is confronted with new knowledge about her family’s past. With an atmospheric blizzard and an old country house as major plot elements, this offering is certainly one to curl up with by the fire.

There’s also the opportunity to hear more from a hero and icon lost this year, in her own voice. Jeffrey Rosen, head of the National Constitution Center, offers us an intimate series of recorded tête-à-têtes in Conversations with RBG. With observations on her own life and on Supreme Court matters, the audiobook will make you feel that this fiercely intelligent woman is in the room with you, and that she has not been and will not be silenced.

And who couldn’t do with a bit of sardonic comic relief in the form of David Sedaris’s latest? He’s compiled his funniest stories from the past three decades and added a new one in The Best of Me. You’ll also get a new interview with the writer.

So that’s your long autumnal evenings sorted! You may also want to check out the newly-added thriller One by One from Ruth Ware and The Searcher by Tana French for further bestselling listens.

If you are new to Overdrive/Libby, please have a look at our FAQ section for pointers. And if you don’t yet have a library card, you can get started here.

*Description from the publisher.

Post-Turkey Viewing: Holiday Movies on hoopla – And Don’t Forget Your Bonus Borrows!

With Thanksgiving Day nearly upon us, we here at the Abbot Public Library are beginning to think about our post-prandial plans. Wash the dishes—tick. Take a long walk—tick. Eat pie—tick, tick. And after that? Get cozy with some films that’ll help get us in the mood for the rest of the holiday season—big tick. If you’d like to join us, read on!

Thankfully, hoopla has anticipated our cravings and has curated a collection of 62 “Best of Holiday” titles. There’s a smorgasbord to choose from. Of course, there are the romances: some from Lifetime, and at least one from Harlequin (A Very Country Christmas). Kids’ options abound, with everything from Caillou’s Holiday Movie to the family-friendly, dog-centered Alone for Christmas—which is also a Bonus Borrow title through the end of this month! You can also catch some of the BBC series Christmas specials you may have missed: Call the Midwife: Christmas Special 2018, The Great British Baking Show: Christmas Masterclass, and Murdoch Mysteries: Home for the Holidays.

Indulge in some classics like the 1955 Miracle on 34th Street and The Snowman, or watch the likes of Katherine Hepburn and Henry Winkler in One Christmas, which is based on an autobiographical short story by Truman Capote.

And if, after the tribulations of 2020, you just need a holiday-themed laugh, we have you covered. For ex-con shenanigans, try All Is Bright, starring Paul Rudd, Paul Giamatti, and Sally Hawkins. Or join a New Zealand family as they attempt to return Santa to the North Pole in Kiwi Christmas.

If you’re running low on borrows this month, don’t forget that you can watch, read, or listen to anything in hoopla’s special Bonus Borrows collection through the end of November—without using any of your monthly allotment!

If you’re new to hoopla, you can visit our FAQs page to get started. If you do not have a library card, go here.

Happy holiday watching to you and yours!

New in Nonfiction: Spine-Tingling True Spy Stories

If you find spy stories thrilling and captivating, the Abbot Public Library has recommendations from our newest collection additions.

Our previous post on nonfiction spy stories introduced brilliant British historian and writer Ben Macintyre. His series of books on 20th century espionage were very highly regarded.

Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy is Ben Macintyre’s newest book, very much anticipated by his numerous readers and fans. It is a story of the most celebrated female spy (alias Agent Sonya), who had worked for the Soviet Union. Her long (1907-2000), very effective espionage work, full of many accomplishments, and her colorful personal life make her an excellent subject for a nonfiction spy thriller. Ben Macintyre has excelled at creating a narrative centered around this very complex and extraordinary person. You can find a review in The New York Times here. Reserve a print copy for Curbside Pickup or check it out in ebook format on Overdrive.

Atomic Spy: The Dark Lives of Klaus Fuchs by Nancy Greenspan is a biography of one of the most infamous spies of the Cold War, another true-life story of a spy who belonged to the same ring as Agent Sonya. 

A brilliant scientist and a Nazi fighter, Klaus Fuchs immigrated to Great Britain and soon joined the atomic bomb research project… at the same time handing the materials over to the Russians. Unlike previous biographies of Klaus Fuchs, Greenspan’s book features a biographical account of a very complex character, portraying him as a passionate person with very strong ideological beliefs that motivated him to share secrets with Cold War enemies of the British and Americans. Very well researched due to access to numerous German, British, and American archives, as well as Fuchs’s correspondences, the story, full of tension, captures readers entirely. Here is The New York Times review.

In addition to spies, the library also owns books on American spymasters and the Intelligence Agency itself, their accomplishments and failures:

Dead Doubles: The Extraordinary Worldwide Hunt for One of the Cold War’s Most Notorious Spy Rings by Trevor Barnes is an incredible story of the CIA and the British Intelligence Service cooperation in cracking the most damaging spy ring of the Cold War in the 1960s. Barnes uses tools and his skills as a fiction writer to make this real-life story as fast-paced and compelling as fiction.

The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War: A Tragedy in Three Acts by Scott Anderson, war correspondent and writer, is a story of the spying world during WWII and, later, the Cold War, through the eyes and lives of four remarkable, very talented American spies who helped shape the earliest CIA operations. Read The New York Times review here.

The Spymasters: How the CIA Directors Shape History and the Future by Chris Whipple is a fascinating behind-the-scenes story of the CIA recounted through the actions of its directors. The book is well-documented and based on interviews with every living CIA director. It delivers an informative history of the agency, describing how it works and what the director’s job is.

Reflecting on some of the operational failures, the author proposes some reforms to improve the agency’s performance. Here is a NYT review.

As always, these books can be reserved through the library, either in print or digital format, and sometimes both. 

Digital downloads are available through Overdrive/the Libby app with your library card. 

To obtain a print copy, please carefully read the instructions for Curbside Pickup.

Something to Be Thankful For: November Is Bonus Borrows Month on hoopla!

Believe it or not, there have been some good things about 2020. In the spring and summer of this year, hoopla introduced a hugely popular Bonus Borrows initiative, meaning that patrons could borrow from a generous group of titles in various formats without using any of their monthly borrowing allowance. Guess what? The Bonus Borrows are back!

Just in time for the longer autumnal evenings ahead, you’re being treated to over a thousand new titles to choose from in five formats: audiobook, ebook, movie, television, and comic book. In the “Bonus Borrows – Nov 2020 – All Audiobooks” category, you’ll find a number of classics in both adult and children’s fiction. What better time than now to catch up on that book you’ve meant to read since high school, or to introduce your kids to beloved favorites? Sign on for the literary adventure that is Moby Dick or get a taste of thwarted love in Edwardian America with The Age of Innocence. For the little ones, Beatrix Potter is well-represented, with classic titles like The Tale of Benjamin Bunny and The Tailor of Gloucester on offer.

If you’d prefer to read rather than listen, then you’ve also got an ample curated collection of ebooks to choose from: “Bonus Borrows – Nov 2020 – All eBooks.” Here, you can browse some cozy seasonal offerings from the likes of Charles Dickens and Louisa May Alcott or go on an adventure with Jules Verne in Around the World in 80 Days—and of course, there are 257 titles to try, modern books included.

With the 358 films included in “Bonus Borrows – Nov 2020 – All Movies,” there’s something to please every viewer, as holiday movies, documentaries, and features are all well-represented. There’s so much on offer that you’ll just have to take a look yourself! The TV Bonus Borrows selections have an educational focus, which may be particularly welcome right now.

And if all of that isn’t enough, hoopla has truly outdone itself in the comics category, offering two different collections, one with standalone titles and first volumes, and another with “Series You’ll Love”. Truly a feast for the eye!

So, in this season that celebrates abundance, make sure that you take advantage of all the goodness on offer through November 30! If you are new to hoopla, please visit our FAQs page to learn how to set up your account. And if you don’t yet have a Marblehead library card, you can start your adventure here!

Have a Household Party This Halloween!

If you’re planning on playing it safe and staying in this Halloween, it’s not too late to plan a household party. 

The most important part of a Halloween party is making it look good. Learn how to craft costumes, create decorations, or just make some fun crafts to celebrate on Halloween. You can even draw and color Halloween pictures with your kids!

Music makes the perfect backdrop for Halloween crafting or cooking and baking up some Halloween treats. The music on hoopla is available with no wait! Choose from any of the titles here and enjoy the sounds of the spooky season. To make sure the music is child-appropriate, simply click “Children’s titles only” to the left. 

There are plenty of cookbooks with delicious spooky Halloween treats you can check out on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla. Betty Crocker Halloween Cookbook is in ebook format on Overdrive and hoopla, complete with almost 100 recipes, each with a full-color photo, of frightening delights such as Boneyard Dirt Pops, Spiderweb Black Bean Burgers, Chilling Jack-o’-Lantern Smoothies, and more, and it even has tips for setting up a Halloween buffet. Include the Pillsbury Dough Boy in your celebration with Pillsbury Halloween Fun! Below are some more cookbooks with recipes for main dishes, deserts, beverages, and more to make your Halloween full of delicious fun! 

Check out this collection of children’s Holidays & Celebrations Halloween ebooks with more ways to celebrate on Saturday with the family!

Celebrate National Cat Day With These Cat Stories!

October 29th is National Cat Day, and what better way to appreciate cats than a good cat book? Take a look at our previous blog post, Cat Stories To Purr-use!, or browse through the titles below! 

If you’re feline like a good cozy, Rita Mae Brown and Lilian Jackson Braun both have a series of cozy mysteries with cats! The Mrs. Murphey Series by Rita Mae Brown, which you can check out in ebook or e-audio format, features Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen and her cat, Mrs. Murphy in the small town of Crozet, Virginia. In the first title, Wish You Were Here, victims receive a postcard with a tombstone and the message, “Wish you were here,” before being found dead. Mrs. Murphy and her corgi companion, Tucker, help find clues to save their human friend.

In Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who series (previously mentioned in Cat Stories To Purr-use!), read or listen along as Jim Qwilleran solves mysteries with her siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum in Pickax City, Moose County, Michigan. 

Black cats have the unfortunate connection with bad luck if they cross your path. In Black Cats and Superstitions, Chloe Rhodes explores the stories behind legends and superstitions and how fear of the supernatural leads people to performing rituals and wearing or hanging talismans to repel evil spirits.