Category Archives: “Classic” Books

Walt Whitman in Books

I’ve got two books for you today. Not new ones. They’ve been around a while. But one is, well, I was going to write that one will be coming out as a movie soon. But a quick look on IMDB tells me I totally missed it, and it was out last summer. So, let’s jump to it.


Paper Towns by John Green (you know, the guy who wrote The Fault in Our Stars). Just as much drama. Not nearly as much death. Quentin has always lived next to Margo, but they haven’t been friends for a long time. Until one night, she shows up at his window and asks him to be her getaway driver for the night (Quentin drives an awesome minivan). The next day, Margo has disappeared. Quentin then becomes obsessed with finding her. He thinks she’s left clues for him to find her. One of those clues is a book of poems by Walt Whitman.

This was the first John Green book I read, so it remains my favorite. Partly because Quentin and his friends are so much fun to read about. Partly because of the lack of death. And the concept of a paper town is a really cool one that has actually come up several times since I’ve read the book.

Second book is one that just has a really cool title: Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos (although, when the book first came out, I thought it was Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Pets, which I think would be equally as cool). In this story, James Whitman (named for Walt…trying to live up to his namesake in his own unique way) is dealing with high school, anxiety, depression, abusive parents, a sister who has been outcast, and secrets. How does he deal? By hugging trees (literally) and talking with Dr. Bird, his imaginary pigeon therapist.

This one is on my to-read list. But everything I’ve heard about it has been good. And it was honored as one of the best debut novels in 2014.



That is…What Would David Bowie Read?

As I’m sure many of you have heard by now, the musician David Bowie passed away over the weekend. He was cool for a million different reasons, and if you want to talk about all of them, stop in an chat. For this post, I want to focus on one. He was a reader.


David Bowie’s READ poster for ALA

In 2013, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London created a special exhibit called David Bowie is, which showcased his music and fashion. The curators of the exhibit also put together a list of David Bowie’s top 100 favorite books.

We don’t have a whole lot of them here in the library. But we do have a few. So, if you want to read like Bowie, here are a few titles to start.


From left to right: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, 1984 by George Orwell, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, As  Lay Dying by William Faulkner, and The Iliad by Homer. Not exactly light reading, but definitely interesting books.

But it made me think…can we come up with the Hill Top 100? What are the 100 books that we as a community would recommend to others? That we feel had the greatest influence on us. Stay tuned for a survey to hit your email in the next week or so.



Read Over the Break You Will


William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.

‘Nuff said.

Mrs. Gillespie as Fan Girl, Part 1


Today’s books are from one of my favorite authors, Gary D Schmidt.

The Wednesday Wars chronicles the trials and tribulations of one Holling Hoodhood. In Holling’s school, everyone is dismissed early on Wednesdays so they can go either to CCD class or Hebrew School. Holling, being neither Catholic nor Jewish, does not get to leave early. He is the only student left in Mrs. Baker’s class every week. She decides that this would be a good opportunity for him to learn some Shakespeare. He’s convinced that this is her punishing him for being the only student left. And thus begins a year long battle that will include baseball, bullies, the Vietnam War, acting, and track.

One of Holling’s good friends is Doug Swietck. A few years after the events of the Wednesday Wars, Doug’s family moves to a new town…and Doug gets his own story. According to Ryan S, this is the worst book he’s ever read. I think that just shows Ryan’s lack of good taste. But he does have a point, Doug’s life is tough and he’s got bad thing after bad thing that happens to him. But there are some good things. One of which is a librarian!

(Also sneaking into the picture is First Boy, the story of a young boy who is living alone on a farm in New Hampshire and who becomes a hot topic in a presidential race.)

I picked these books today, not just because I LOVE Gary D. Schmidt as an author, but because he’s in town! He has a new book out, Orbiting Jupiter (which we will have in the library on Monday). And as part of his book tour, he’s stopping at Children’s Book World in Haverford tonight!!!! The event starts at 7. And if you want to see me all gushy and totally fan girl over meeting someone I really admire, this is your chance.

I’ve mentioned these events before and I’ll say again, author events at Children’s Book World are fantastic because it’s a small place, you get to really talk with author, ask any questions you want, and get your books signed. If you’re really brave, you can also get your picture taken with the authors (I’m always too shy to do this). But it’s definitely worth going if you can.

(And if you follow that link to the event, you can see when I will next be fan girling.)

Do You Wanna Go Back in Time?

If you’ve seen Mr. Cohen in his red puffy vest today, you know what’s special about today. If you haven’t seen him, and you’ve had no contact with social media…today is the day Marty McFly went “back to the future.”

1021So, in honor of Marty and Doc, and Jaws 19 I thought I’d pull a little literary tie travel for today’s book.

20151021_091742I just finally got around to reading Around the World in 80 Days this summer, when I needed a book over 100 years old for my Summer Reading Bingo (and it was a free audio download from Sync). This is the ultimate bar bet story. While out one night with some acquaintances, Mr. Phileas Fogg declares that given the state of travel, one could circumnavigate the globe in a mere 80 days. Now, Mr. Fogg is rather set in his ways and his trip does not take actually visiting places into account. He’s going to go from trail to steamer, to train, without bothering to see the sights. The men wager twenty thousand pounds (remember, this was written in 1873, so that’s a lot of money). Mr. Fogg sets off that night, confident in his calculations.

The trip starts out just fine, but it wouldn’t be a book that’s lasted 142 years if Mr. Fogg didn’t encounter some difficulties: bad weather, a woman in distress, cultural misunderstandings, and a cop who is convinced Fogg fled London after robbing a bank.

And believe it or not, there is an element of time travel in the story…but if you want to know what that is, you’ll have to read it for yourself. I have a copy in the library. Or, if you like to read electronically, you can download a copy from Project Gutenberg.

April is…School Library Month

We’ve been talking about how aware April is: poetry, occupational therapy, autism. But, if you remember back to the Snapple debacle, April is also School Library Month. I’m trying not to be too competitive with Mrs. Trusty this year.

In addition to being school library month, this week is also National Library Week. So, I went hunting for a good book with a good librarian in it. If any of you have aspirations to become famous authors, let me give you this piece of advice: write a good librarian in your story and you will become a librarian favorite.


This is one of my perennial favorites (that means I talk about this book at least once a year). So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld is about so many things. It’s got social media, tends, tendsetters, missing people, missing shoes, and a potenial vast conspiracy. And best of all, when Hunter, the main character, needs to crash a black-tie affair, he needs some help trying to figure out how to tie a bow tie. So what does he do? Does he look it up on the internet? No. He calls the reference desk at the New York Public Library.

And for that reason, I will always recommend Scott Westerfeld books to you!

“Classic” Book Friday – April Is…

April is OT Awareness Month.

April is Poetry Month.

April is Autism Awareness Month. And today, we’re turning Hill Top blue to show our support (even though the actual “light it up blue” day was last week…we rescheduled, since we were on spring break). So, how about a book that looks at a character who thinks a little differently?

20150410_092304In The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, Ted’s cousin Salim has come to visit. Since he hasn’t been in London before, Ted, his sister, and Salim decide to go up in the London Eye…the giant ferris wheel. The line is long and a stranger offers Salim a ticket to move up in line. Since he’s never been before, everyone goes along with it. The only problem is…when the Eye makes its full trip, Salim isn’t in the car anymore.

Naturally, everyone is frantic and the police are investigating, because people just don’t disappear. Ted, whose brain works a little differently than most folks’, thinks that he can be the key to finding Salim. He can think about things and see things in a way that the police, the adults, and even his sister can’t. He’ll be the one who finds Salim.

This is a great mystery story. How can someone just disappear from a ferris wheel? Ted’s a great character, who shows how a brain that works a little differently can be a great asset when things just don’t make sense.