Completed book series to binge-read this winter

There is no more frustrating moment than when you finish a great book to discover it ends in a cliffhanger and the next book in the series won’t come out for another year (or, if you’re an Outlander fan, five years)!  We’re going to be stuck at home quite a bit this winter, so it’s a great time to binge-read a full series beginning to end, no cliffhangers allowed. Here are a few completed book series you can read from start to finish this winter.

The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer

  1. Annihilation
  2. Authority
  3. Acceptance

His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

  1. The Golden Compass
  2. The Amber Spyglass
  3. The Subtle Knife

The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

  1. My Brilliant Friend
  2. The Story of a New Name
  3. Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
  4. The Story of the Lost Child

Into the Wilderness series by Sara Donati

  1. Into the Wilderness
  2. Dawn on a Distant Shore
  3. Lake in the Clouds
  4. Fire Along the Sky
  5. Queen of Swords
  6. The Endless Forest

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The Dark Tower series by Stephen King

  1. The Gunslinger
  2. The Drawing of the Three
  3. The Waste Lands
  4. Wizard and Glass
  5. Wolves of Calla
  6. Song of Susannah
  7. The Dark Tower

The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan

  1. The Eye of the World
  2. The Great Hunt
  3. The Dragon Reborn
  4. The Shadow Rising
  5. The Fires of Heaven
  6. Lord of Chaos
  7. A Crown of Swords
  8. The Path of Daggers
  9. Winter’s Heart
  10. Crossroads of Twilight
  11. Knife of Dreams
  12. The Gathering Storm
  13. Towers of Midnight
  14. A Memory of Light

Mystery readers may also like these two “girl-detective” series’ we recently wrote about: A Double Dose of Girl Power: Enola Holmes and Flavia de Luce.







Review of THE GIVER by Lois Lowry

Today’s book review is written by teen volunteer Matthew Reid.

Lois Lowry is an incredible author who has written more than 30 young adult books. She received her second Newbery Medal for writing The Giver in 1993 (her first Newbery Medal was for Number the Stars). The Giver is a fascinating and intriguing novel about a society that controls everyone from birth to death. Where pain, hate and love doesn’t exist. Each individual is assigned a role in this community when they turn 12 by the Committee of Elders, whether it is being a birthmother or taking care of the elderly people. If a man or woman wants to start a family they have to apply and the Committee of Elders has to find an appropriate wife or husband, they then are given one boy and girl from birthmothers who produce 50 newchildren every year.

 The story starts when Jonas, the protagonist, is Eleven. The Ceremony of Twelve is near and new batches of Elevens are given jobs for the rest of their lives. Jonas is anxious because he has no idea what the Committee of Elders are going to assign him. At the Ceremony of Twelve, The Chief of Elders skip over Jonas and continues with assigning Elevens. After the Chief of Elders is done listing all the assignments, she announces that Jonas is selected to be the next Receiver of Memory. A rare and very honorable status. The Chief Elder says that Jonas has shown all of the qualities intelligence, integrity, courage, wisdom, and the capacity to see beyond. He meets a man that is called the Giver. The Giver holds all the memories of humanity in the past. For no ordinary person in the community know the past. The Council of Elders only goes to him for advice and nothing else. But the Giver is growing old and needs a successor to help the Council of Elders at desperate times. The Giver shows these memories to Jonas including sunshine, rainbows, and love but also hunger, war, and suffering. As Jonas continues his exploration, he uncovers truths that challenge his thinking and change his life forever.



If you like The Giver, Lois Lowry has written three more books set in the same world. Check out Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope – book review

No matter what you read lately, whether it’s political, economic, or even comedy relief, the concept of a national divide keeps popping up. It seems there is nothing that we’re not crabby about – which song got the Grammy, whether poodles are better than dalmatians, whether corn counts as a vegetable or a starch. Umpteen books have been written on the divide of “liberal” vs. “conservative,” urban vs. rural, prosperity vs. lazy poor, criminal drug abuser vs. victim of Big Pharma, and into that mix Nicholas Kristof throws out an excellent one, called Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope.

Kristof grew up in rural Yamhill, Oregon, a White, conservative town of 1100 people. More than a quarter of the kids he went to school with died of drugs, alcohol, suicide, or reckless accidents caused by drugs or alcohol. Why did he make it out in one piece, while his friends died slowly of alcoholism, often homeless most of their lives? Why did families lose 3, 4, 5 kids to drugs and alcohol? Why did some do fine?

To keep it real, Kristof explores people in similar situations in places like South Dakota, Oklahoma, New York City, Baltimore, and more, bastions of poverty and drugs in the U.S. What he finds is the same issues, handled differently – humanely – makes a world of difference. In places like Oklahoma, the entire penal code is stacked against poor people. Indigent and need a free legal defender? You are then arrested for being indigent, and fined for your arrest. Now you’re in debt to the state. So you are sent to prison for being a debtor – even if it’s only ONE dollar! Now you have more fines added. People are released from prison – private, for-profit prisons, of course – with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines from a mere $25 parking ticket. Can’t make the payments on your fines? Back to jail, and more fines. It’s a gerbil wheel of punishing the poor – even though intervention programs can save $10 of tax money for every dollar spent.

And of course, once you have a felony conviction, you can’t get a job. So people turn to selling meth and heroin. And get convicted, and can’t get hired, and get homeless and depressed and turn to drugs…. Over and over and over. Why are Mexicans taking the jobs from under-educated poor white people? Because the Mexicans can be counted on to show up for work, and aren’t drunk or stoned.

Kristof narrows the biggest issues down to two: One is education. Most of the people he knew didn’t graduate, had parents that barely made it to 8th grade, and grandparents who might not have made it to fifth. If you come from a home where there are no books, no magazines, and no expectations of further education, it’s harder to succeed. He explores one family where the mother had a 5th-grade education, and five children by four different fathers. When the first was expelled from kindergarten twice for behavioral issues, she – with a fifth-grade education – decided to home-school her kids (5 under the age of 6). How much of a chance do those kids have?

The second predictor of success was coming from a two-parent home. If you had two parents – and usually two incomes – you had a much greater chance of being successful. Single mothers with a trail of children left those kids in chaos. More than one child entering Yamhill kindergarten was described as “feral.”

Kristof also explores the programs – often started by those who had had enough – that give people just the right boost, whether it’s paying those $1 legal fees and freeing people from prison or getting them a job or housing or a drug treatment program. Such programs are a lifeline for the people involved, and often get them on the track to permanent success. Unfortunately, many of the government programs to do just that have been eliminated in recent years.

The book is easy to read, informative, and does not preach or even really point fingers. It’s careful to present only facts, though the family situations and the culture of violence surrounding them can be maddening. Despite the grim realities, the book ends up on a positive note. This is one to put on your To Be Read list, and check out these other titles in similar vein:

Hillbilly Elegy
The Left Behind
White Trash
Chasing the Scream
Broke, USA
Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America
Survival Math
Nickel and Dimed


What’s Happening (virtually) at Cheshire Library in December

Winter is coming, and this year looks to be a challenging one. We’re working hard to come up with fun and interesting online programs to keep you engaged & connected all winter long. Take a look what we’ve got scheduled, and visit our Event Calendar to learn more and sign up!

December Teen Volunteering Challenges

Earn community service hours by submitting a photo, video, or other content that may be added to CPL’s social media pages! Each submission will be awarded 2 community service hours. December’s challenges include:

  • Art: Make art as a gift for someone.
  • Writing: Write a story, poem, or essay, about a holiday. Any holiday. Any story. Fact or fiction or something in between.
  • Food: December 4th is National Cookie Day, so make some cookies and share them with your family and friends.
  • Reading: Read a book about a winter sport.
  • More Reading: Celebrate National Short Story Day on December 21, by exploring an anthology or collection of short stories- you can use it as inspiration to write your own short story!
  • Even More Reading: Read a book while wrapped in your favorite blanket. (Cup of hot chocolate optional).

Submit HERE for the Art, Writing, and Food Challenges. Submit a 300 word book review HERE for what you read for the Reading Challenges.

Support Through Meditation – Weekly Zoom Event

Tuesdays,  December 1-22, 11:00am – 12:00pm

This introductory meditation class is geared towards helping you through these anxious and challenging times. You will learn various meditation techniques that you will practice in session and guidance to perform meditation on your own. Presenter Tia Mandrozos will explain the purpose of meditation and interact with the participants to provide the help needed and to address specific concerns. Please register via the Event Calendar for each session you wish to attend.

Cheshire Art League – Watercolor Demo

Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 6:00 – 8:15pm

Author of the upcoming book White! Light! Bright! Weaving Subjects with Backgrounds for Distinctive Watercolor Paintings, Connecticut artist Bivenne Staiger will give a demonstration in watercolor of a bird in its natural setting. This event is sponsored by the Cheshire Art League. For more information contact Advance registration is required to join this program.

On With Life (OWL) Meeting and Program

  • Monday, December 7, 2020, 10:00am – 12:00pm
  • 10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Open Meeting, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. When the Holidays Hurt, Meditation Can Help

The Holiday season can be a painful time for many who have lost a loved one. It is difficult to be merry and bright when sadness and heartache fill your heart. In this session, we will turn to the work and the teachings of one of the biggest experts in the field of human suffering…the Buddha himself. This event is sponsored by OWL. To learn more, please visit Facebook at or email any questions to Advance registration is required to join this program.

Holiday Cooking in the Time of Quarantine

Monday, December 7, 2020, 6:30 – 8:00pm

The holidays won’t be the same this year for ANY of us, but we can still enjoy cooking and discussing our some of our favorite holiday recipes! Please join Cheshire librarians and avid cooks, Sandy and Deb (who are both already stocking up on flour and yeast), for our special holiday edition of Cooking During Covid. Get out your cookbooks and recipe files, fire up that cookie press and be ready to share a favorite holiday recipe or talk about one of your special holiday food traditions. Please register in advance to receive a link to join this online program.

Family Trivia Night

Monday, December 7, 2020, 6:30 – 7:15pm

Looking for something that you can do as a whole family? Team up for this virtual trivia challenge! Trivia questions will cover a variety of topics and will be appropriate for children of all ages. Each family will need a device (or devices) to participate in Zoom and answer trivia questions. Advance registration is required–please register once per family participating. You will receive a link via email for the Zoom meeting prior to the event.

Technology Chat: Holiday Gifts

Tuesday, December 8, 2020, 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Join us for a Technology Chat! We’ll informally discuss the latest gadgets (see below for examples of what we could discuss) and make recommendations for the perfect holiday gift. This is a great opportunity to ask questions about gadget features and utility. Our technology obsessed Librarians will answer questions and give advice. Please register in advance to receive a link to join this online program.

CT Partnership for Long Term Care

Wednesday, December 9, 2020, 2:00pm – 3:30pm

Just one year in a Connecticut nursing home can cost more than $162,100. And Medicare and health insurance may only cover a fraction of these costs. If you’re 40 or older, long-term care insurance approved by the State’s Connecticut Partnership for Long-Term Care should be part of your retirement plan. These policies provide asset protection, protect against inflation, and – most important – give you peace of mind through your retirement years. Guest speaker Aldo Pantano, from the CT Partnership for Long-Term Care, with the State Office of Policy and Management will present this free seminar. Please register in advance to receive a link to join this online program.

Waiting for Winter Storytime

Wednesday, December 16, 2020, 10:00am – 10:30am

As the weather gets cooler and we wait for winter, get cozy at home with a virtual storytime! We’ll enjoy the changing season by talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing together! Best for children ages 2-5. Younger and older siblings are welcome. Registration is required. Registered participants will receive a Zoom link in a confirmation email, and a reminder email 1 hour before the program begins.

Book Buzz Teen Book Club

Wednesday, December 16, 2020, 3:00pm – 4:00pm

This month we are going to do something different- we will each read a book of our choice (all different books) and then share the stories with each other. Books will be provided and are yours to keep! You can pick up a Book Buzz book at the Children’s Desk, starting on November 2nd. Registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link on the day of the program. For grades 6-12.

Comics Club: New Kid

Thursday, December 17, 2020, 4:00 – 4:45pm

This month we’ll make our own memory boxes in addition to discussing the book, New Kid by Jerry Craft. Please read the book before attending this virtual event. Copies of the book are available at the children’s information desk. For children in grades 3-5.  Registration is required, kids must be registered in order to pick up a copy of the book and craft supplies. Registered participants will receive a Zoom link 1 hour prior to the event start time.

Family Holiday Baking

Join Katie, Registered Dietitian from Food Explorers and learn to make delicious holiday treats! Ingredients needed are on the Event Calendar listings for each program. Registration is required, one registration per family. You will receive a link to join the program 1 hour prior to the start time.

Pajama Storytime

Monday, December 28, 2020, 7:00 – 7:30pm

Put on your pajamas and fuzzy slippers and tune in for a fun-filled evening of stories, songs, and adventures! Best for ages 2-5. Registration is required for this virtual event. You will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the event start time.

Books Over Coffee: The Queen’s Gambit

Wednesday, December 30, 2020, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Want to engage in great discussions about books? Meet new people? Join us for an adult monthly book club program called Books Over Coffee. We will meet over Zoom. This month’s book is The Queen’s Gambit  by Walter Tevis. Advance registration is required, registered participants will receive a Zoom link on the day of the program.

Thanksgiving-themed Books for Kids and Adults

For many of us, Thanksgiving has been a time when family members far and wide gather together, with as many people and as much food crammed around the dinner table as we can fit. Ah, the good old days! Thanksgiving may look a little different this year,  when social distancing and travel restrictions can put a damper on social gatherings.  Never fear! We’ve put together some Thanksgiving-themed reading to help keep your holiday spirit going, even if you’re celebrating from a distance.

For Kids:


For Adults: