Tag Archives: Massachusetts Book Awards

Nonfiction To Win Over Book Club Readers @MassBook

Looking to add some nonfiction to your book club’s reading list? Try one of these Massachusetts Book Award honorees – narrative nonfiction titles selected for their literary quality and discussablity in libraries and book groups.

They’re all either written by Massachusetts authors and/or have a connection to Massachusetts, but take a look and you’ll see that the subjects of these books are wide-ranging and of broad interest. The first-place winner, The Sixth Extinction, also won the Pulitzer Prize.

In other words, you don’t have to be from the Bay State to enjoy reading these award-winning nonfiction titles with your book club!

Massachusetts Book Award 2015 Nonfiction
2015_winnerThe Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert  (Holt)cover image of The Sixth Extinction

Over the last half-billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before.  – from the publisher

The Court-Martial of Paul Revere by Michael M. Greenburg (ForeEdge)

cover imageThe single event defining [Paul] Revere to this day is his ride from Charlestown to Lexington on the night of April 18, 1775, made famous by Longfellow’s poem of 1860. Greenburg’s is the first book to give a full account of Revere’s conduct before, during, and after the disastrous Penobscot Expedition, and of his questionable reputation at the time, which only Longfellow’s poem eighty years later could rehabilitate. Thanks to extensive research and a riveting narrative that brings the battles and courtroom drama to life, The Court-Martial of Paul Revere strips away the myths that surround the Sons of Liberty and reveals the humanity beneath. – from the publisher

John Quincy Adams by Fred Kaplan (Harper)

cover imageIn this fresh and lively biography rich in literary analysis and new historical detail, Fred Kaplan brings into focus the dramatic life of John Quincy Adams — the little known and much misunderstood sixth president of the United States and the first son of John and Abigail Adams — and persuasively demonstrates how Adams’s inspiring, progressive vision guided his life and helped shape the course of America. – from the publisher

The Map Thief by Michael Blanding  (Gotham Books)

Once considered a respectable cover imageantiquarian map dealer, E. Forbes Smiley spent years doubling as a map thief — until he was finally arrested slipping maps out of books in the Yale University library. The Map Thief delves into the untold history of this fascinating high-stakes criminal and the inside story of the industry that consumed him. – from the publisher

Other People’s Houses by Jennifer Taub  (Yale)

cover image of Other Peoples HousesIn the wake of the financial meltdown in 2008, many claimed that it had been inevitable, that no one saw it coming, and that subprime borrowers were to blame. This accessible, thoroughly researched book is Jennifer Taub’s response to such unfounded claims…. Taub chronicles how government officials helped bankers inflate the toxic-mortgage-backed housing bubble, then after the bubble burst ignored the plight of millions of homeowners suddenly facing foreclosure. – from the publisher

The Race Underground by Doug Most (St Martin’s)

cover image of The Race UndergroundDoug Most chronicles the science of the subway, looks at the centuries of fears people overcame about traveling underground and tells a story as exciting as any ever ripped from the pages of U.S. history. The Race Underground is a great American saga of two rival American cities, their rich, powerful and sometimes corrupt interests, and an invention that changed the lives of millions. – from the publisher

Bringing writers and readers together in libraries for meaningful conversation about books that matter to our shared lives in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Center for the Book

Massachusetts Book Awards

The Massachusetts Book Awards is a program of Massachusetts Libraries administered by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. Find out more about your state’s Center for the Book here (USA).

Nonfiction Friday badge from doing dewey decimal dot comThis post is linked up to Doing Dewey’s Nonfiction Friday post. Check out other nonfiction-related content from Katie and other book bloggers there.


Massachusetts Must Reads 2015 & Advocacy Needed

Massachusetts Book Award sealThe Massachusetts Must-Reads – finalists in the Massachusetts Book Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Children’s/Young Adult – are being announced this week on Facebook by the Massachusetts Center for the Book.

The 2015 Massachusetts Book Awards are for books published in 2014. Librarian judges serve for one year on a panel of three librarians plus a convener; they read, read, and read to decide on the best, most discussable books, either by a Massachusetts author or with a Massachusetts theme. I was disappointed to see that my personal favorite, The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis, didn’t make the short list of Must Reads in the fiction category, but clearly there was a lot of tough competition this year. (Check the Giveaways page for your chance to win your very own copy of The Orphans of Race Point this month, though!)

MassBook Must Read seal

The 2015 Must-Read Titles


cover imageAnita Diamant, The Boston Girl (Scribner)
Bret Anthony Johnston, Remember Me Like This (Random House)
Ward Just, American Romantic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Randy Susan Meyers, Accidents of Marriage (Atria)
Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You (Penguin)
Annie Weatherwax, All We Had (Scribner)

Michael Blanding, The Map Thief (Gotham Books)cover image
Michael M. Greenburg, The Court-Martial of Paul Revere (ForeEdge)
Fred Kaplan, John Quincy Adams (Harper)
Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction (Henry Holt)
Doug Most, The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry that Built America’s First Subway (St Martin’s)
Jennifer Taub, Other People’s Houses (Yale University)


cover imageLiam Day, Afforded Permanence (Aforementioned Productions)
Jeffrey Harrison, Into the Daylight (Tupelo Press)
Fanny Howe, Second Childhood (Graywolf Press)
Jennifer Markell, Samsara (Turning Point)
January Gill O’Neil, Misery Islands
Afaa Michael Weaver, City of Eternal Spring (Pittsburgh UP)

To be announced

Massachusetts residents, your help is needed! The Massachusetts Center for the Book, which administers the Massachusetts Book Awards among other programs, is struggling for its funding in the state budget again.

At first, the House zeroed out funding for the Center for the Book in their proposed FY2016 budget, but then amended it to $200,000, thanks to Rep. Kate Hogan and other library advocates in the House, including Rep. Tom Calter.  However the Senate then voted to zero it out of their budget, and voted not to adopt the amendment sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Flanagan to keep funding for the Center at $200,000, despite support from Senators Eldridge, Brownsberger and (my own senator) Sen. Tom Kennedy.

Now, since the House and Senate budgets don’t match, the budget is in joint conference committee. If you live in Massachusetts and want to advocate for your local library on the state level, now is the time to contact members of the Senate/House Conference Committee to ask them to support the FY2016 Library Legislative Agenda, especially the following line items:

7000-9501 State Aid to Public Libraries (This is local aid that goes directly to support local public libraries throughout the state.)

7000-9506 Automated Networks/Library Technology & Resource Sharing (This goes straight to supporting the networks that connect libraries throughout the state, helping to lower costs for local libraries.)

7000-9508 “For the Massachusetts Center for the Book, Inc., chartered as the Commonwealth Affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress; to continue its work as a public-private partnership……$200,000”

Conference Committee (click for contact info)

Brian Dempsey, Haverhill
Steven Kulik, Worthington
Todd Smola, Warren

Karen Spilka, Ashland
Sal DiDomenico, Everett
Viriato (Vinny) deMacedo, Plymouth

Thank you!!!

Part 2 — Speed Dating with Mass. Authors 2015 @massbook @MassLibAssoc

shot of room with books in foreground, authors in backgroundIn a post earlier this week I wrote about the Speed Dating with Massachusetts Authors event during the Massachusetts Library Association conference last week, but only got to describe part of it. So here’s the second post about this wicked fun event – organized and hosted by the Massachusetts Center for the Book – which is always my favorite part of the library conference.

Tcover imagehe young adult novel Being Henry David by first-time author Cal Armistead is set in Concord, Mass., the site of Walden Pond made famous by Henry David Thoreau. A Boston teen wakes up in Boston not knowing where he comes from or even his own name, and flees to Concord, where he calls himself “Henry David” after the author of Walden, the book he had waken up holding. “Thoreau keeps coming back as a spirit guide for him,” the author explained during her speed date with our table.

holding a copy of Being Henry David
Her book contains many Thoreau quotations, making it “an easy way to introduce students to transcendentalism and Thoreau,” author Cal Armistead said.

cover imageThe Massachusetts co-author of Saving Baby: How One Woman’s Love for a Racehorse Led Her to Redemption, Lawrence “Larry” Lindner, was a dog person not a horse person but was still captivated by the story of Michigan resident Jo Anne Normile who was converted from being a successful and fanatical breeder and owner of racehorses to rescuing injured racehorses and questioning the entire horse racing industry.

author at table
Hingham, Mass. resident Lawrence Lindner said he was dubious about co-authoring a memoir about racehorses, until he heard Jo Anne Normile’s amazing story.


cover imageRandy Susan Meyers is a high-energy personality and a lot of fun. She obviously has a serious side, though, because, as she said, her novels “tend to deal with family dysfunction.” Accidents of Marriage, her third and latest,  is no exception, being about a family in turmoil when Madeline, mother of three, is gravely injured by her husband Ben. Randy Susan Meyers is also the author of two previous novels, The Murderer’s Daughters and The Comfort of Lies.

signing books
“I like looking at a family from all different angles,” said Randy Susan Meyers, author of Accidents of Marriage.


 cover imageAgainst Football by Steve Almond is a contender in the nonfiction category of the Massachusetts Book Awards for books published in 2014. The author of Candyfreak, a lighthearted look at his lifelong candy addiction, gets serious here by laying out his reasons for deciding he can no longer, in good conscience, continue to be the rabid football fan he had been for years, because of the risk of brain injury to the players. “When your brain is gone, you’re gone,” he told us. “There’s no helmet that will fix physics.”

author holding copy of Against Football
“That’s the nature of football. It’s profoundly violent, but we hide from the violence.” — Steve Almond, author of Against Football


cover imageRichard “Rich” Michelson has published several collections of poetry – his latest is More Money Than God – and several children’s picture books – the most recent is S Is for Sea Glass – so he talked a little about both when he visited our table. “My books are not all still in print,” he said. “Thank God for libraries.” (Playing to the audience, but we loved it.) Rich Michelson said he often visits schools to talk with students about race and diversity, poetry, or other topics.

photo of author at table

Thank you to the Massachusetts Center for the Book for bringing Speed Dating with Massachusetts Authors to the conference again this year!

Sadly, the Massachusetts Center for the Book is once again having to struggle for its annual funding, as the state budget works its way through the House and Senate. It’s strange, in a state that prides itself on being so literate and smart, that we can’t stabilize funding for our Center for the Book as so many other states have. (There is a Center for the Book in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.)

How can you help? If you’re a Massachusetts resident, please call your state senator today and ask him/her to sign on to Sen. Jennifer Flanagan’s amendment 137 to fund budget line 7000-9508, Massachusetts Center for the Book:


This amendment matches the allocation in the House budget. If passed it would mean that MCB could hire a program coordinator so that its director was able to focus on developing new projects, securing new collaborations, and raising the funds needed to realize the potential of an organization charged with developing, supporting, and promoting cultural programming to enhance library outreach and to advance the cause of lifelong literacy.

Not sure how to contact your state senator? Check out CapWiz through the Massachusetts Library Association, which makes it really easy!