Bill's blog

The Most Popular Books of the Past Five Years

Looking for some good summer reads? If you aren't yet on the list for this year's top titles and want something right away, why not try the best from the past? Here is a list of the top ten books in each of the past five calendar years, as judged by how many times they were checked out of the library. Do you see any that you wanted to read but missed? With one exception all of these are novels written primarily for adults. Who can figure out what the one exception is?


  1. "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn.
  2. "Guilty Wives" by James Patterson.
  3. "Kill Alex Cross" by James Patterson.
  4. "Fifty Shades of Grey" by E.L. James.
  5. "Explosive Eighteen" by Janet Evanovich.
  6. "The Litigators" by John Grisham.
  7. "Unnatural Acts" by Stuart Woods.
  8. "Defending Jacob" by William Landay.
  9. "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins.
  10. "D.C. Dead" by Stuart Woods.


  1. "Live Wire" by Harlan Coben.
  2. "Toys" by James Patterson.
  3. "Rescue" by Anita Shreve.
  4. "Tick Tock" by James Patterson.
  5. "10th Anniversary" by James Patterson.
  6. "Sing You Home" by Jodi Picoult.
  7. "Worth Dying For" by Lee Child.
  8. "Hell's Corner" by David Baldacci.
  9. "Strategic Moves" by Stuart Woods.
  10. "I'll Walk Alone" by Mary Higgins Clark.


  1. "The 9th Judgment" by James Patterson.
  2. "Deliver Us From Evil" by David Baldacci.
  3. "U is for Undertow" by Sue Grafton.
  4. "Kisser" by Stuart Woods.
  5. "Lucid Intervals" by Stuart Woods.
  6. "The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks.
  7. "Caught" by Harlan Coben.
  8. "Worst Case" by James Patterson.
  9. "Split Image" by Robert B. Parker.
  10. "Alex Cross's Trial" by James Patterson.


  1. "Cross Country" by James Patterson.
  2. "Run for Your Life" by James Patterson.
  3. "Loitering With Intent" by Stuart Woods.
  4. "Handle With Care" by Jodi Picoult.
  5. "The Associate" by John Grisham.
  6. "Finger Lickin' Fifteen" by Janet Evanovich.
  7. "Hot Mahogany" by Stuart Woods.
  8. "Plum Spooky" by Janet Evanovich.
  9. "Night and Day" by Robert B. Parker.
  10. "Rough Weather" by Robert B. Parker.


  1. "Double Cross" by James Patterson.
  2. "Playing For Pizza" by John Grisham.
  3. "Stranger in Paradise" by Robert B. Parker.
  4. "Change of Heart" by Jodi Picoult.
  5. "Fearless Fourteen" by Janet Evanovich.
  6. "Honor Thyself" by Danielle Steel.
  7. "Twilight" by Brendan DuBois.
  8. "The Appeal" by John Grisham.
  9. "Body Surfing" by Anita Shreve.
  10. "Beverly Hills Dead" by Stuart Woods.

Tech Help Central

Why is Technology Confusing?Walk into just about any library today and one of the first things you'll notice is books - and usually LOTS of them. This is the way it has been for the lifetime of everyone who is alive today, and is likely to continue for some time yet. Some say the day will come when that isn't the case, but exactly when and if that will happen is anyone's guess. But look around a little more closely and you will see that amongst and around the books are growing collections of movies, documentaries and audiobooks, as well as large groups of public access computers where library patrons spend their time on activities from games to filling out job applications.

It is this latter service that is commanding more and more of a librarian's attention. But beyond merely helping our users navigate the Web or use their email or use word processing software, we are helping more and more people navigate the confusing waters of today's endlessly changing technology. Even those of us who spend most of our day glued to a computer screen find ourselves in a constant battle to keep up with the change.

For those who rarely if ever use computers, this can be very daunting. It used to be that one could ignore computers and the Internet and get along just fine, but that is no longer the case. In one afternoon the other day I had three perfect examples of how true this is, and how the library can be the go-to place for people who need help with technology.

One woman had been in the process of purchasing real estate, and the mortgage company had emailed her a document that they wanted her to sign and email back. She had no idea how this could be done. I printed out the document for her, then she signed it and we used our public scanning station to scan the document back into digital form so it could be saved on the computer and sent back via email.

Another was interested in advertising her home nursing services and had been told she should do it on craigslist, but barely knew what that was let alone how to use it. So we helped her get an account on craigslist and showed her how to create a simple classified ad. Hopefully she'll get some good responses!

And finally, if you want to take a photo today you are likely going to be using a digital camera or your smart phone. I've run into lots of people who really have no idea how to get them off the camera and end up storing large numbers of them on the little memory cards that come with the camera. This isn't the safest place to store irreplaceable photos, and our third patron needed some help connecting her camera to our computer and copying the photos on it to a flash drive.

I could go on and on with examples of how libraries sometimes feel like Tech Help Central. Want to apply for a job? Many if not most will require you to fill out an application online, which assumes a level of sophistication with technology that not everyone has. We help people with this task regularly. Do you have a photo or document you need scanned but don't own a scanner. We do, and can help you use it. Did a friend or relative generously give you an ebook read you have no idea how to use? Come on in and ask for help.

So remember. The library isn't only a place where you can find a good book, ready today's newspaper, check out the latest movie, or bring your children to story time. It might also be the place to go when your grandchildren in California have finally convinced you that the best way to stay in touch with them is on Facebook. Only you have no computer and haven't the slightest idea how to get on Facebook!

Did Sam Adams have a Hampton connection?

Sam AdamsMemory is fickle sometimes. A few days ago I was asked a question by a visiting genealogist. By the way, we get lots of those. With a history going back almost 375 years there are people from every corner of our country who can trace their ancestries back to one of the founders of our town. It's not unusual to see someone here doing research just about every day, especially in the summertime. But I digress. The question had to do with Massachusetts revolutionary Samuel Adams and his Hampton ancestors. I was surprised by the question because I have been looking up Hampton genealogy for more than three decades and this was the first (or so I thought) that I had heard about Sam Adams having Hampton ancestry. I was a bit dubious about whether or not it was true. So I ventured up to our New Hampshire room and cracked open some books to figure it out. To my surprise it turned out to be true. Sam Adams' mother was Mary Fifield, daughter of Richard Fifield, and granddaughter of Giles Fifield and Mary Perkins, who both lived in Hampton in the mid-1600s. Mary was the daughter of Abraham Perkins, one of the founders of the town and, coincidentally, one of my own personal ancestors.

So, like I say, I was very surprised. How did I not know this already? I'm sure you've already figured out that I had known it, but had just forgotten. In fact, thirteen years ago I wrote an article for the local newspaper about famous people with Hampton ancestry, and Sam Adams was included. Oh well, so my memory is not the greatest sometimes. Maybe in another thirteen years I can "discover" the news about Sam Adams all over again!

If you'd like to read the article it is available on our website, and is as timely as ever. Well, except for the final paragraph where I talk about something new at the library - audiobooks on CD! We still have plenty of those and they are enormously popular even though many people are now using the library's subscription to Overdrive to download audiobooks onto their mobile devices. Most of our books on tape are gone now though, as very few people use them any more.

Six Years in Three Hours (or less)

Six YearsHarlan Coben's new thriller might be titled "Six Years" but I doubt it took me even three hours to get through it. I love a good page-turner, even if it does cut into my sleep and make me (almost) late for work! Coben's novels are almost always good, but this one was especially hard to put down. The story of Professor Jake Fisher and the trouble he gets into when he tries to look up the ex love-of-his-life is one of those that draws you in and keeps you guessing until the very end. Here's a brief synopsis to whet your appetite:

Six years have passed since Jake Fisher watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd. But six years haven't come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd's obituary, he can't keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd's wife he's hoping for . . . but she is not Natalie. Whoever the mourning widow is, she's been married to Todd for more than a decade, and with that fact everything Jake thought he knew about the best time of his life--a time he has never gotten over--is turned completely inside out. As Jake searches for the truth, his picture-perfect memories of Natalie begin to unravel. Mutual friends of the couple either can't be found or don't remember Jake. No one has seen Natalie in years. Jake's search for the woman who broke his heart, and who lied to him, soon puts his very life at risk as it dawns on him that the man he has become may be based on carefully constructed fiction.

For most thriller readers Coben is probably a very familiar name. Once you work your way through all of his books might I suggest a lesser known alternative that I recently discovered myself? Search our catalog for titles by Andrew Gross to get a list of a number of good thrillers. I recently finished "Eyes Wide Open" and it was another that was hard to put down. Gross also is the co-author of several books penned with the über-prolific James Patterson, the man who can't seem to let more than a month or two go by without putting out another best-seller.

Joan Kahl, R.I.P.

Late last week a former library staff member gave me the sad news that Joan Kahl, another former library staffer, had had a massive stroke and was in the hospital, not doing well. Sunday morning I learned that she had passed away the previous evening. Knowing Joan's views on funerals I wasn't at all surprised to hear that her children Danny and Marcia had decided to honor her wishes and not have any services.

Joan first came to work at Lane Memorial Library in 1974, at a time when there were only six employees working here. I came along five years later, straight out of college and still wet behind the ears, and Joan somehow put up with this young upstart who was now one of her bosses. Joan was no shrinking violet, and was never afraid to let me know when she was displeased with me. I remember one time she literally walked out of the building to head home (for a drink, as I recall!) after we had gotten into an argument over some matter of policy. In the end we worked it all out, as we usually did, with both of us giving a little bit. Most of the time we got along great and I always respected her for her love of the library and its patrons, her great sense of humor, and her willingness to work hard. When the new library was built between 1983 and 1985 the entire staff pitched in to pack and unpack innumerable boxes of books, and Joan was right in the middle of it, as you can see in this photo taken at the time. I think we all had bad backs by the time we were all done!

Joan Kahl

In time Joan was given the title of "Circulation Supervisor," being in charge of the whole business of checking in and out. Sometimes that meant calling people about overdue books. One of our current staff members who worked with Joan loves to joke that when you got a call about an overdue book from Joan Kahl you dropped everything and rushed right down with the book, lest you face the wrath of Joan! While she was definitely not a computer person, she dove right in and had no trouble keeping up when the library automated its circulation system back in 1992. Towards the end of her time here she was also responsible for ordering all the new audio books (on cassette tapes in those days) and large print titles. She made trips to Dearborn House to bring books over to the residents there, and pick up the ones they were done with.

Every year the library would have a book sale or two, and maybe a craft sale, and for a few years back in the early 1990s we held big yard sales, where we asked patrons to bring in just about anything for our sale. I do believe we even got a kitchen sink one year! Joan loved yard sales and was usually in charge of organizing everything, setting the prices, and manning the sales. With many hundreds of books and untold numbers of other items, this was no small  task and Joan did a great job of it, helping to raise thousands of dollars for the library that was put back into the purchase of more books, or some kind of equipment for the library. For years before and after her retirement she also knitted mittens for our craft sales, and I still have two or three pairs that I use every winter.

In 1997 she came up with the idea of turning our spare meeting room, now known as the "Little Room" after former library trustee Dorothy Little, into a senior citizen drop-in center. The town had no such center for its seniors so this little room was very welcomed by a number of our seniors who came to play cards, bingo and just to socialize. Sixteen years later the drop-in center is still going strong and the card and bingo games take place just about every day down there.

At the end of 1998, after nearly a quarter century of employment at the library, Joan surprised us all with news that she was going to retire at the end of the year. Most of us (including Joan at times) thought she'd never leave. But all good things must come to an end. For the next few years she came in occasionally as a volunteer, and continued to help with our book sales and to knit mittens for craft sales. Eventually the Joan Kahl era in our library's history came to a close, but those of us who knew and loved her remember her fondly. She was quite a character at times, but always genuine and a good friend of the library. R.I.P. Joan Kahl. You'll never be forgotten.

- Bill Teschek, April 8, 2013

If you have some memories of Joan you'd like to share on this page, email me at and I'll add them below.

Dexter Dexter

Double Dexter book jacketOne of our more popular television series on DVD that you can borrow here at the library is "Dexter," now available through season six, with season seven soon to come. Dexter is a serial killer, but don't judge him too harshly just because he likes to kill people. He's really quite a loveable killer - the kind of guy you'd invite over to dinner or to spend time with your children perhaps. Although some of the people he interacts with might come over to play as well, and you wouldn't want that. You see, Dexter only kills evil people, and some of those evil people can take exception to his actions, which lead to some very interesting plot lines. If you're a fan of the even more popular "Breaking Bad," "Homeland" or "The Walking Dead," (all of which we stock) but haven't seen Dexter, give him a try some day.

For those of you who are already Dexter fans, did you know that there is also a series of novels about Dexter? Most Dexter fans have no idea, but there are now six novels by author Jeff Lindsay, who dreamed up the character in the first place. His writing is deliciously witty, but the best part - for this Dexter fan - is that reading his novels is like entering a slightly parallel Dexter-universe. Dexter is still Dexter, but you get to learn a lot more about the way he thinks than you do from watching the show, and he comes off as just a bit different. A little bit funnier, as well as a little bit less loveable. Many of the characters from the TV show are also present. Some take on larger roles, while others who have major roles in the show are rarely mentioned. But the best part is that some of the characters who have died in the show are still alive and kicking. Like Doakes, for example. He's the same unloveable character but, and how shall I put this, he's not quite all there. At least after the second book in the series that is. And wait till you learn about Rita's kids Astor and Cody. They are not at all the same children.

I don't want to risk giving away any big spoilers so I'll stop right there. But if you like suspenseful plot lines with interesting characters, introduce yourself to that loveable serial killer Dexter Morgan.

New Category Added to the Online Newsstand

The Online NewsstandThere is now a "Marketing" category included with the library's Online Newsstand service. At present there are only two titles included: Advertising Age and Adweek. This brings the number of categories available to twenty.

The Online Newsstand gives you easy access to recent feature-length articles from a wide variety of popular magazines in such categories as Weekly News & Analysis, Money, Business & Consumer News, People, Music & Entertainment, History, Home Life, Computers, Children, and much, much more.

These articles are made available through the library's Ebsco service subscription, available on computers in the library or from home with your library card barcode number. The Online Newsstand is a visual interface to just a few dozen of the more popular titles in Ebsco's database of hundreds of periodicals.

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