What we loved in 2018

Libraries staff pick their favorite books, music, podcasts, and more


Chris Bourg
“Favorite new music of the year: Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour — it’s country, but not like any country you’ve heard. It’s catchy and kinda pop, but with great lyrics.”




Sam Fishkind
HR Assistant
“Favorite new music of the year: Panic! at the Disco‘s Pray for the Wicked album. It is a refreshing blend of modern and old world sound — Brendon Urie pulls from jazz, synth, funk, and various genres to create a truly unique album altogether. Moreover it is soulful and feels…honest as an overall representation of the artist’s work. Highly recommended!”




Cate Gallivan
Project Assistant, Lewis Music Library
“I’ve been digging this CD we got in at Lewis Music Library: Bach Trios recorded by Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, and Edgar Meyer. It’s mellow, playful, fun. I can sit and concentrate on it, I can chat over dinner while it’s on, or I can do the dishes to it — it’s all-occasion music.”




Emilie Hardman
Program Head for Special Collections
Her Body and Other Parties is a collection of short stories by Carmen Maria Machado that came out at the end of 2017 but which I somehow didn’t get to until this year — surprising because it couldn’t be more in my wheelhouse. The obvious comparisons are to many of my favorites: Angela Carter, Kelly Link, and Karen Russell with dashes of Mary Gatskill’s darkness, Lorrie Moore’s snark and George Saunders’ gut-wrenching absurdity. Watch for an FX series in the next year which will attempt to translate this queer feminist horror/magical realism to television! (I am scared.) Also, Michelle Tea’s Against Memoir was an important read for me this year. It made me think a lot on the theme of how and why we might want and need to tell truths about our lives, what it takes to get there, to share and be open without exploitation and without preciousness. Tea is on it! For music that goes well with either of these reads, Northampton band Boy Harsher‘s 2018 Lesser Man release was a go-to for me this year, too. They’re doing amazing synth-heavy post-punk/coldwave tunes; the perfect grim and gritty soundtrack to 2018.”


Renee Hellenbrecht
Administrative Assistant
The Great British Baking Show is slightly educational if you’re a food/history nerd, and it warms the cockles of my heart to see a group of strangers get together on a competition show, and manage to actually form really strong bonds and help each other out when they see someone else struggling. It’s something lovely and positive that helps restore a little of my faith in humanity. And, on the opposite end of that spectrum: the show Nailed It! on Netflix. That’s usually 30 minutes of me crying from laughing. Everyone on that show knows they’re a terrible baker, and they’re happy to be in on the joke and have some fun with it.”


Sefanya Hope-Hiennadi
Access Services Assistant, Hayden Library
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is fantastic because it is an intergenerational story of immigration and identity, wrapped in a riveting narrative carried out by complex characters. Their trials, tribulations, and triumphs humanized history and helped readers understand some of the struggles — such as belonging, identity and culture, and being part of the minority — immigrant families faced and often still face today.”

Watch a video of Min Jin Lee’s book talk at the Starr Forum at MIT, October 30, 2018


Shannon Hunt
Executive Assistant to the Director
“I thought Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover was incredible. She went from being in a religious survivalist cult with no formal education to getting her PhD and it is a JOURNEY, especially if you (like I did) also grew up in a sort of cult-y religion that barred higher education.”




Deborah Lenares
Collections Analyst and Strategist

“For me, reading these three books together captured the zeitgeist of 2018: The Power by Naomi Alderman, Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister, and Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper.”




Gregory Padilla
Access Services Manager, Dewey Library
Levar Burton Reads podcast: Growing up with Reading Rainbow to Star Trek the Next Generation, it’s hard not to be excited with anything related to Levar Burton. But being taken away on fantastic adventures while stuck on long car drives, broken T trains, long checkout lines, or just when you have a free moment is what everyone needs from time to time, and Levar Burton delivers every time.”



Cassandra Silvia
Program Head for Access and Information Services
“My favorite reads published this year include Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Fantasy influenced by the author’s West African heritage, it tells the story of a young woman who comes from a long line of magi who have had their magic taken from them by the ruling class, and what happens to them when the magic begins to return. In IQ by Joe Ide, IQ (Isaiah Quintabe) lost his brother/surrogate parent in his late teens. Unable to become the person his brother wanted him to due to grief, he instead becomes a detective for his neighbors. My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite is what it sounds like. Korade takes care of her sister Ayoola no matter what. The story of a violent childhood is intertwined with the experiences that drive Ayoola to kill and tests the strength of the bond between two sisters. And, last but not least, Nick Harkaway’s Gnomon…OK, I haven’t finished yet, but am willing to recommend based on reading his previous novels. An omniscient, analytical computer maintains societal order in a future London. Only one person has perplexed the system by developing her own layered personalities that, as they unfold, become the history behind the creation of the system and the means of breaking it.”


Greta Suiter
Processing Archivist
“I’m gonna recommend The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll. I’m a little obsessed with bullet journals at this point, and there are a lot of people out there writing and talking about it. This book brings together Ryder’s story and method with examples from others that have used and built upon his vision. There are a lot of great examples about how to put the method to use right away which I really appreciate.”

Try it: Greta’s leading an IAP session on bullet journaling on January 8.


Stephanie Toews Moeling
Director of Finance and Administration
“I recently read The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon, which I found charming. Fiction, mystery, but mostly exploring that gray area of human behavior in which we all reside.”




Leah Walker
Resource Sharing Assistant

“My favorite new music is Novo Amor‘s Birthplace. This album is a beautiful kaleidoscope of soothing sounds. Every song is delicate and graceful and soft in a way that makes you feel a little at home and a little otherworldly all at once.”