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Author Picks: R.A. Salvatore, Modern Epic Fantasy Author Top Ten Books

Posted on September 10th, 2015 by admin in General

The BPL asked modern epic fantasy author, R.A. Salvatore, for a list of his top ten favorite books.

Salvatore will appear at the Central Library in Copley Square on Saturday, September 12 at 2 p.m. to discuss the process of world building and explore the role of geography and maps in fantasy literature. A book sale and author signing will immediately follow the talk.


  1. THE HOBBIT, by JRR Tolkien: I started college as a Math Major. K-12 had taught me to hate reading and writing – and I could read long before I started kindergarten! But then, trapped in my Mom’s house during the Great Blizzard of ’78, this college freshman took out the Christmas present his sister Sue had given him, one he hadn’t appreciated, and met a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, and went with that hobbit on a more wonderful journey. Tolkien’s work gave me back the love of reading and imagination I had known as a young boy, and for that, I will be forever grateful, and I will forever name “The Hobbit” as my favorite book.
  1. A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ, by Walter M. Miller, Jr.: I don’t know what it is about this book, but it simply mesmerizes me. Miller’s work is dark and delicious, always with a promise of hope just around the next corner, but never quite getting there.
  1. THE DEAD, by James Joyce: More a novella than a novel, but this masterpiece is, to me, the greatest piece of writing I’ve ever read. Many years ago, I was working with a high school English class (they were doing some of my books). One day, I turned down the lights a bit and read to them the last few pages of “The Dead.” Those haunting words don’t need context to be effective; the rhythm and simple beauty of Joyce’s prose carried the lesson all by itself. Whenever I get cocky as a writer, I read those pages out loud, and I am humbled.
  1. SALEM’S LOT, by Stephen King: I’ve always loved a good horror story, and this tale of vampires in a small New England town scared the heck out of me, and stayed with my nightmares long after I closed the book. I was working as a bouncer at the time, in great shape and thinking myself a tough guy…well, King had me curled up in the fetal position for the better part of a week. Move over, Bram Stoker.
  1. ILL MET IN LANKHMAR, by Fritz Leiber: I’ll use this particular novella as the signpost here, but really, any of Leiber’s “Fafhrd and Gray Mouser” tales fit the bill. I consider these works the epitome of “buddy fantasy,” although I hate to sell them short – they really are timeless expositions of friendship and courage and wit. Tolkien was the one who got me into writing, reminding me of how much I loved to read and entertain my imagination, but I have to believe that Leiber’s work had even more of an effect on my writing. From the beginning, my goal in writing fantasy stories was to give my readers a band of friends, with whom they could walk the road of adventure. This is what Leiber gave to me.


  1. THE NAME OF THE ROSE by Umberto Eco: This isn’t normally the type of book I would like. I’m a very slow reader and generally prefer fast-moving tales. But something about the way Eco tackles this work, the monastery, the Franciscans, the murder, the artwork…I couldn’t put the book down. It harkened back to my childhood days in the Catholic Church – I felt like I could hear the Latin Mass echoing on every word. This book was one of the major influences on my choices in writing my DemonWars series and creating the world of Corona. I haven’t visited Eco’s work in many years. Perhaps it’s time for another go.
  1. THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS, by Kenneth Grahame: This might be the book that started it all for me, way, way back before I had even started kindergarten. Rat and Mole first took me on an adventure and showed me the horizons of my own imagination. I lost this love of fancy and fairy tale in my days through school, and it took Tolkien to give it back to me.
  1. PEANUTS, by Charles Schulz: Any and all. Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and Lucy, and all the gang were some of my best friends for many years of my youth. Every year, birthday and Christmas, I’d get more Charlie Brown books, and I’d devour them, over and over again. And that was the beauty of Schulz’s work: the books changed as I changed, and I found deeper meaning with each yearly re-read. The older I get, the more I have come to know that Charlie Brown was right…about almost everything.


  1. SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE, by Kurt Vonnegut: The greatest anti-war book ever written, and really, much more than that. I remember one course I took in college where the professor asked us to write a quick essay about ourselves as an introduction. I wrote that I was Billy Pilgrim, lost in time, because I had come to feel that my own life was fractured and disjointedly episodic, and that somewhere in there was my own search for truth and my own fear of what that truth might be. Simply, unforgettably, brilliant.
  1. HENRY V, by William Shakespeare: I had a hard time between this one and “Hamlet,” but that St. Crispen’s Day Speech sealed it for me. I do think I’d love to hear Kurt Vonnegut recite it. Then my life would be complete.

Salvatore’s first published novel The Crystal Shard became the first volume of the acclaimed Icewind Dale Trilogy. Since that time, he has published numerous novels for each of his signature multi-volume series, including The Dark Elf Trilogy, Paths of Darkness, The Hunter’s Blades Trilogy, and The Cleric Quintet. His latest novel Archmage is the first book in his new Homecoming series.


Cokie Roberts speaks at the Boston Public Library

Posted on July 29th, 2015 by admin in General


On Tuesday, July 21, Cokie Roberts spoke in front of a packed room at the Central Library in Copley Square as part of the free Lowell Lecture series. After an introduction from David Leonard, Interim President of the Boston Public Library (BPL) and Jeff Hawkins, Chairman of the BPLF, Ms. Roberts talked about the importance of women shaping the United States and her new book, Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868.

Afterward, Ms. Roberts joined guests for a book signing and reception in the Map Room Café and Courtyard Restaurant. Attendees included Bill and Angela Lowell, sponsors of the Lowell Institute, and BPLF board members Ray Sullivan and Olive Darragh.

The Boston Globe published a photo of Ms. Roberts and a group of other successful “Dames” from the reception, including Judge Mary E. Heffernan, Beth Israel Deaconess Chief of Radiation Oncology Mary Ann Stevenson, realtor Tracy Campion, and Boston Public Library Clerk of the Board Deborah Kirrane.

Image (bottom right): Jeff Hawkins, BPLF Chairman of the Board of Directors, with Bill Lowell of the Lowell Institute after Cokie Roberts’ Lowell Lecture.

Photo Credits: Paige Brown

Blog post courtesy of the Boston Library Foundation

From WGBHForum Network:


The Lowell Lecture series is generously sponsored by the Lowell Institute, established in 1836 with the specific mission of making great ideas accessible to all people, free of charge.


The Boston Public Library Foundation acts as a partner of the Boston Public Library and encourages philanthropy at all levels to help the library achieve its goals. In recent years, The Boston Public Library Foundation and outside contributors have funded academic and enrichment programs for children, teens and lifelong learners. Supported programming includes summer reading programs, after school programs, senior programming, Concerts in the Courtyard, science programs for children and lecture series. To learn more, visit

July Literary Events at Boston Public Library Locations

Posted on July 1st, 2015 by admin in Media Releases

Desktop219Central Library and six branches to host

Boston Public Library locations host a variety of author talks for people of all ages this month. Highlights include Revolutionary War-themed talks, children’s story times, Emmy-award winning Cokie Roberts, and more:

  • Author and illustrator Matt Tavares visits six locations in July, speaking about his book Growing Up Pedro and facilitating a drawing session for ages 7 and up.
  • Rosana Y. Wan discusses The Culinary Lives of John & Abigail Adams: A Cookbook on Monday, July 6, at 6:30 p.m. at the West Roxbury Branch, located at 1961 Centre Street. Part of the BPL’s Revolutionary War initiative, which marks the 250th anniversary of the Stamp Act crisis.
  • South End author Irene Smalls reads from her books, tells stories, and shows children, parents, and caregivers how to combine reading with healthy exercise on Wednesday, July 8, at 10:30 a.m. at the South End Branch, located at 685 Tremont Street.
  • Alan R. Hoffman, the translator of Lafayette in America in 1824 and 1825: A Firsthand Account of Lafayette’s Farewell Tour of America, brings expert insight into the Marquis and his farewell tour of America on the same week as the historic arrival of the replica of Lafayette’s frigate Hermione to Boston Harbor. Thursday, July 9, at 6 p.m. in the Commonwealth Salon at the Central Library in Copley Square, located at 700 Boylston Street. Part of the BPL’s Revolutionary War initiative, which marks the 250th anniversary of the Stamp Act crisis, and the Local & Family History Series, which shares information about the history of Boston and its diverse neighborhoods.
  • South End resident Alison Barnet shares her collection of columns from South End News about the people and places in her neighborhood on Thursday, July 9, at 2 p.m. in the Commonwealth Salon at the Central Library in Copley Square, located at 700 Boylston Street. Part of the Never Too Late Series, one of the country’s oldest, continuously running groups for seniors.
  • Local children’s author Carla Marrero reads from her books and leads the audience in a craft during Family Night Story Time on Tuesday, July 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the South End Branch, located at 685 Tremont Street.
  • Frances Driscoll, author of The Swan Boat Ride, takes children back in time as she remembers when her grandmother took her for a ride on the swan boats in the Boston Public Garden. Monday, July 20, at 1 p.m. at the South End Branch, located at 685 Tremont Street.
  • Cokie Roberts details her books Founding Mothers, Ladies of Liberty, and Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington on Tuesday, July 21, at 6 p.m. in the Abbey Room at the Central Library in Copley Square, located at 700 Boylston Street. Part of the2015 Lowell Lecture Series, which explores social, political, cultural, and economic themes related to the American Revolutionary War era.
  • Dina Vargo brings to light the remarkable stories of audacious reformers, socialites, and criminals who made Boston what it is today in Wild Women of Boston: Mettle and Moxie in the Hub on Thursday, July 23, at 2 p.m. in the Commonwealth Salon at the Central Library in Copley Square, located at 700 Boylston Street. Part of the Never Too Late Series, one of the country’s oldest, continuously running groups for seniors.


Boston Public Library Hosts Foremost Experts on American Revolution

Posted on June 10th, 2015 by BPL News in Media Releases

lowell2015 Lowell Lecture Series: “Revolutionary Ideas” includes speakers Joseph J. Ellis, Cokie Roberts, M.T. Anderson

Boston Public Library’s 2015 “Revolutionary Ideas” Lowell Lecture Series begins June 11 and runs through October, featuring some of the most eminent authorities to explore social, political, cultural, and economic themes related to the American Revolutionary War era (1750-1800).

“The Lowell Lecture Series is an opportunity to hear experts’ perspectives on the founding of our country and to reflect upon the ways in which our predecessors changed the course of history through revolutionary ideas,” said Beth Prindle, Manager of Exhibitions and Programming.

The series accompanies the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center’s gallery exhibition We Are One: Mapping America’s Road to American Independence, on view at the Central Library in Copley Square through November 29, and an expansive schedule of related programs, performances, and special events takes place in Boston Public Library locations across the city. For more information about the BPL’s Revolutionary Boston programs, visit (more…)

May Author Talks & Lectures at Boston Public Library Locations

Posted on April 23rd, 2015 by admin in Media Releases

Branches and Central Library to hostDesktop197

Boston Public Library locations across the city host several author talks this month, with topics ranging from colonial Boston to children’s literature. Highlights include:

• Enjoy reading from an eclectic mixture of published, emerging, and aspiring writers during Hispanic Writers Week on Monday, May 4, at 6 p.m. at the Connolly Branch, located at 433 Centre Street.
• In an illustrated talk, author and BPL staff member John DeVito counts down the top ten most popular First Ladies of America on your movie, TV, and computer screens at three branch locations throughout the month. (more…)