top of page

Beauty of Winter

Newsletter, Jan 13th 2023

Hello Book lovers,

I love the winter vibe of Jan-Feb, it allows me to indulge my laziness - sitting by the fire with a book in hand anyone? But even if you're the out-and-about kind, there are so many STEM activities going on around town. From workshops, conferences, and robotics competitions to museums with new and exciting exhibits, there's something for every interest. I will try to highlight some each week. Today's recommendation comes courtesy of a favorite customer - an exhibit on snow at the Bell museum, opening Jan 21st.

And then there are the theatre shows. Stages Theatre in Hopkins - is staging a show based on the book “Maybe” by Kobi Yamada which leads nicely into our own January events:


  • Saturday, Jan 14th 12:30p - Story time with Stages Theatre. An interactive reading of the gorgeously illustrated book “Maybe”, by a Stages teaching artist, is sure to delight kids of all ages. All attendees will be entered in a raffle to win a free ticket to the show!

  • Sunday Jan 22nd 2p - Intro to Generative AI - There is so much noise going on right now around AI tools like DALL-E and ChatGPT. If you are curious but confused, you're not alone. Come join us to experience for yourself what the hoopla is all about. If you know the basics but are curious about how others are using it or what others things you can do with these tools, come join us too.

  • Saturday Jan 28th 10:30a - Intro to Dr. Fun - America's Fun Science is a group that runs STEM workshops around town and we are excited to partner with them to offer those workshops at The Thinking Spot later in the year. This session is a free introductory one to meet the people behind the group and experience some of the “fun” experiments firsthand!


  • Thursday Jan 19th 4-8pm - Family Board Game Nights are every Thursday 4-8 pm. Registration closes at 3p on the day of. You're welcome to bring your own dinner or dessert, as long as you don't mind sharing with us :)


  • Sunday Jan 15th 4p - Smart Reads Ages 8-12 meeting for "Always, Clementine" - a heartwarming story of a chess-playing mouse. February pick is “Once upon a Camel” - a novel by Newbery Honoree Kathi Appelt that follows a creaky old camel out to save two baby kestrel chicks during a massive storm in the Texas desert. A camel with stories to tell, what's not to like!

  • Sunday Jan 29th 2p - Yoga for the mind - Nonfiction club is wrapping up “Forgetting” - our quest to forgive ourselves for forgetting! Our next pick is “Four Lost Cities” by Annalee Newitz. Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, it is a quest to explore some of the most spectacular ancient cities in human history--and figure out why people abandoned them. Come join our growing group of book lovers for fun discussions and digressions on a Sunday afternoon!

  • Sunday February 5th 2p - *** NEW FICTION BOOK CLUB ALERT *** As promised, this is the first meeting for a speculative fiction book club. If you're interested, please join us as we pick the first book and pick out meeting dates/times.


  • Our MAKE ROOM FOR 2023 sale is ongoing. 30-40% off select books from all categories, including kids' books. New books are added daily, come find your next read and help us make room for all the new releases starting to come in 2023!

  • For the month of February, I am planning to offer “Blind-Date-With-a-Book” packages. This year's selections will be from the fiction, biography, and history sections. The cost will be $25 and will include a mystery book and some goodies from our friends at Picnic Basket Goods. Email me if you'd like to reserve a copy!

  • I am also thinking of doing a Bookstore Date event in February featuring an evening of drinks and desserts, a book exchange, a scavenger hunt, and a chance to hang out with books - Email me if you would be interested in something like that. Will set it up if there's enough interest.


  • Every year, MIT Technology Review identifies 10 breakthrough technologies that will have a big impact that year.

  • The Consumer Electronics Show that just ended featured a lot of cool new tech as always. Check out this year's innovation award winners. Will be interesting to see how many of these survive the test of time. A self-driving tractor is one thing but a self-driving stroller?? Who thinks that is a good idea?

Finally, lots of great new releases in the first two weeks of January, I had a hard time choosing ones to highlight!

Happy reading and see you at The Spot soon,


New Releases this week

The Good Life

By Robert Waldinger

January 10th, 2023; Self-Help / Personal Growth / Happiness

What makes for a happy life, a fulfilling life? A good life? According to the directors of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted, the answer to these questions may be closer than you realize. What makes a life fulfilling and meaningful? The simple but surprising answer is: relationships. The stronger our relationships, the more likely we are to live happy, satisfying, and overall healthier lives. In fact, the Harvard Study of Adult Development reveals that the strength of our connections with others can predict the health of both our bodies and our brains as we go through life. The invaluable insights in this book emerge from the revealing personal stories of hundreds of participants in the Harvard Study as they were followed year after year for their entire adult lives, and this wisdom is bolstered by research findings from this and many other studies. Relationships in all their forms—friendships, romantic partnerships, families, coworkers, tennis partners, book club members, Bible study groups—all contribute to a happier, healthier life. And as The Good Life shows us, it’s never too late to strengthen the relationships you have, and never too late to build new ones. Dr. Waldinger’s TED Talk about the Harvard Study, “What Makes a Good Life,” has been viewed more than 42 million times and is one of the ten most-watched TED talks ever. The Good Life has been praised by bestselling authors Jay Shetty (“Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz lead us on an empowering quest towards our greatest need: meaningful human connection”), Angela Duckworth (“In a crowded field of life advice and even life advice based on scientific research, Schulz and Waldinger stand apart”), and happiness expert Laurie Santos (“Waldinger and Schulz are world experts on the counterintuitive things that make life meaningful”). With warmth, wisdom, and compelling life stories, The Good Life shows us how we can make our lives happier and more meaningful through our connections to others.Dr. Robert Waldinger is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development at Massachusetts General Hospital, and cofounder of the Lifespan Research Foundation. Dr. Waldinger received his AB from Harvard College and his MD from Harvard Medical School. He is a practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, and he directs a psychotherapy teaching program for Harvard psychiatry residents. He is also a Zen master (Roshi) and teaches meditation in New England and around the world. Marc Schulz is the associate director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development and the Sue Kardas PhD 1971 Chair in Psychology at Bryn Mawr College. He also directs the Data Science Program and previously chaired the psychology department and Clinical Developmental Psychology PhD program at Bryn Mawr. Dr. Schulz received his BA from Amherst College and his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a practicing therapist with postdoctoral training in health and clinical psychology at Harvard Medical School.


By Dacher Keltner

January 3rd 2023; Psychology / Emotions

From a foremost expert on the science of emotions and consultant to Pixar’s Inside Out, a groundbreaking and essential exploration into the history, science, and greater understanding of awe Awe is mysterious. How do we begin to quantify the goose bumps we feel when we see the Grand Canyon, or the utter amazement when we watch a child walk for the first time? How do you put into words the collective effervescence of standing in a crowd and singing in unison, or the wonder you feel while gazing at centuries-old works of art? Up until fifteen years ago, there was no science of awe, the feeling we experience when we encounter vast mysteries that transcend our understanding of the world. Scientists were studying emotions like fear and disgust, emotions that seemed essential to human survival. Revolutionary thinking, though, has brought into focus how, through the span of evolution, we’ve met our most basic needs socially. We’ve survived thanks to our capacities to cooperate, form communities, and create culture that strengthens our sense of shared identity—actions that are sparked and spurred by awe. In Awe, Dacher Keltner presents a radical investigation and deeply personal inquiry into this elusive emotion. Revealing new research into how awe transforms our brains and bodies, alongside an examination of awe across history, culture, and within his own life during a period of grief, Keltner shows us how cultivating awe in our everyday life leads us to appreciate what is most humane in our human nature. And during a moment in which our world feels more divided than ever before, and more imperiled by crises of different kinds, we are greatly in need of awe. If we open our minds, it is awe that sharpens our reasoning and orients us toward big ideas and new insights, that cools our immune system’s inflammation response and strengthens our bodies. It is awe that activates our inclination to share and create strong networks, to take actions that are good for the natural and social world around us. It is awe that transforms who we are, that inspires the creation of art, music, and religion. At turns radical and profound, brimming with enlightening and practical insights, Awe is our field guide, from not only one of the leading voices on the subject but a fellow seeker of awe in his own right, for how to place awe as a vital force within our lives.

Dacher Keltner is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the faculty director of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. A renowned expert in the science of human emotion, Dr. Keltner studies compassion and awe, how we express emotion, and how emotions guide our moral identities and search for meaning. His research interests also span issues of power, status, inequality, and social class. He is the author of The Power Paradox and the bestselling book Born to Be Good, and the coeditor of The Compassionate Instinct.

Hoofprints on the Land

By Ilse Köhler-Rollefson

January 5th 2023; Nature / Environmental Conservation & Protection

Perfect for fans of English Pastoral and Wilding, Hoofprints on the Land shows that herding cultures are not a thing of the past but a regenerative model for our future.

Hoofprints on the Land is a fascinating and lyrical book exploring the deep and ancient working partnerships between people and animals. UN advocate and camel conservationist Ilse Köhler-Rollefson writes a passionate rallying cry for those invisible and forgotten herding cultures that exist all over the world, and how by embracing these traditional nomadic practices, we can help restore and regenerate the Earth. Ilse has spent the last 30 years living with and studying the Raika camel herders in Rajasthan, India, and she shows how pastoralists can address many of the problems humanity faces.

Whether it be sheep, cattle, reindeer, camels, alpacas, goats, or yaks—this ancient and natural means of keeping livestock challenges the myth that animal-free agriculture is the only way forward for a healthy planet.

From the need to produce food more sustainably and equitably to the consequences of climate change, land degradation and loss of biodiversity, we can learn from pastoralists to help repair the human relationship with livestock to return to a model of intelligent cooperation rather than dominance.

As Ilse writes: Herding is therapy, not just for the planet, but also for our souls.

Ilse Köhler-Rollefson lives in Rajasthan, India where she owns a small herd of camels and has co-founded the country's first camel dairy. Her work has been recognised by the Maharaja of Jodhpur and she has received India's highest award for women from its president as well as the Order of Merit from the President of Germany. Ilse studied veterinary medicine in Germany before working as an archaeozoologist in Jordan where she discovered her fascination with camels and herding cultures. After completing her Ph.D. on camel domestication, she studied the Raika camel culture of India which led her to found the League for Pastoral Peoples (, an international advocacy organisation that is giving a voice to herders at the global level. Ilse is regularly quoted and interviewed by mainstream media, including the BBC, Forbes India and the Hindustan Times and she has given a TEDX Talk about The Nomads that feed us. Twitter @IlseKohler

Fred Provenza is professor emeritus of Behavioral Ecology in the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University. At Utah State Provenza directed an award-winning research group that pioneered an understanding of how learning influences foraging behavior and how behavior links soils and plants with herbivores and humans. Provenza is one of the founders of BEHAVE, an international network of scientists and land managers committed to integrating behavioral principles with local knowledge to enhance environmental, economic, and cultural values of rural and urban communities. He is also the author of Foraging Behavior and the co-author of The Art & Science of Shepherding.

The Secret Language of Flowers


January 10th 2023; Nature / Plants / Flowers

An illustrated guide to the symbolic meaning of flowers throughout history, exploring their significance in folklore and mythology in cultures around the world. Discover the uses and symbolic meanings of flowers around the world and throughout history. Flowers have been depicted as objects of beauty and wonder in countless paintings and poems, exchanged as tokens of love and affection, and displayed as symbols of both celebration and remembrance—“saying it with flowers” is truly part of the human experience. But how does the significance of flowers vary across cultures and at different points in history? And what makes certain flowers special?

The Secret Language of Flowers explores the meaning of more than 80 flowers, tracing their history as symbols and charting their role in folklore and mythology around the world.

Uncover the rich and fascinating histories of individual flowers—the sunflower, for example, which was regarded by the Aztecs as a symbol of war, but became a symbol of devotion in 19th-century painting due to the fact that it “turns its head” to follow the sun. Learn about the function of flowers in society, from the practical to the playful: flowers have been used as remedies—to soothe burns and aid digestion, for example—and as a means of sending cryptic communications.

From the humble marigold to the complex orchid, the flowers in this book are arranged by season. The rose is celebrated in a dedicated chapter, reflecting its popularity in a variety of cultures and societies. Quirky, accessible, and informative, The Secret Language of Flowers is an entertaining guide to the rich stories that lie beyond the seductive aromas and dazzling beauty of flowers of all kinds.

Cool. Awkward. Black.

By Karen Strong

January 10th 2023; Young Adult Fiction / Short Stories, Collections & Anthologies; Ages 12 And Up,

Grades 7 And Up

Real or imaginary, geekdom is where it's at in this multi-genre YA anthology that celebrates "the geek," with stories by some of today's top bestselling, critically acclaimed Black authors. Contributors include Amerie, Kalynn Bayron, Terry J. Benton-Walker, Roseanne A. Brown, Elise Bryant, Tracy Deonn, Desiree S. Evans, Isaac Fitzsimons, Lamar Giles, Jordan Ifueko, Leah Johnson, Amanda Joy, Kwame Mbalia, Tochi Onyebuchi, Shari B. Pennant, K. Arsenault Rivera, Julian Winters, and Ibi Zoboi. A girl who believes in UFOs; a boy who might have finally found his Prince Charming; a hopeful performer who dreams of being cast in her school’s production of The Sound of Music; a misunderstood magician of sorts with a power she doesn’t quite understand. These plotlines and many more compose the eclectic stories found within the pages of this dynamic, exciting, and expansive collection featuring exclusively Black characters. From contemporary to historical, fantasy to sci-fi, magical to realistic, and with contributions from a powerhouse list of self-proclaimed geeks and bestselling, award-winning authors, this life-affirming anthology celebrates and redefines the many facets of Blackness and geekiness—both in the real world and those imagined.

Karen Strong is a lifelong technology and science geek and the author of the critically acclaimed middle-grade novels Just South of Home and Eden’s Everdark. She has also written short fiction for Star Wars and other award-winning anthologies. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Karen lives in Atlanta. You can visit Karen Strong online at or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @KarenMusings.

We're Not Weird

By Michael Garland

January 3rd 2023; Juvenile Nonfiction / Science & Nature / Zoology; Ages 4 to 8, Grades P to 3

Meet nature’s most extraordinary-looking creatures. But they aren’t weird! Birds with blue feet, fish that walk, unicorns in the sea, and more! Learn how these animals' quirks help them survive. Perfect for budding naturalists who are always ready to share a cool (or gross) animal fact. Very hard scales protect me, and my long tongue is perfect for eating ants. When I feel threatened, I roll myself into a ball. I am a Pangolin. See these animals’ amazing body parts in vibrant and detailed woodcut illustrations, from the thorny dragon’s spiky skin to the star-nosed mole's twenty-two feelers. Read how these creatures' unique traits help them thrive and survive in their environments. Learn where they live, what they eat, how they protect themselves, and more. With easy-to-read text vetted by an expert, this book aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards on adaptation, structure, and function for kindergarten through 3rd grade. With supplementary information on each animal’s habitat and diet.

Michael Garland has written and illustrated many books for children, including Fish Had a Wish (Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Children's Books), Tugboat (Best Children's Books for Family Literacy), Pizza Mouse (Junior Library Guild Selection), and Birds Make Nests (Correll Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Informational Text and NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book). His art for James Patterson's Santa Kid inspired Saks Fifth Avenue's Christmas Holiday windows.

The Animal Song

By Jonty Howley

January 10th 2023; Juvenile Fiction / Animals; Ages 4 to 8, Grades P to 3

From musician and author/artist Jonty Howley comes a lively celebration of friendship and music, perfect for a gentle nighttime read. The story comes with a link to an original song by the author! Snap! Poom-poom! Jingle-Jangle! Three talented animals--a crocodile playing a snare drum, a big brown bear with a bass, and a weasel with a banjo--form a traveling band to sing and play for the other animals in the woods. From spring to fall, they always attract an eager crowd. But when winter comes, the animals in the audience go off to bed and the band searches for a new stage. Skipping their own bedtime, the musical trio parades through the forest, moving on to the next performance until--Snore! Phew! Grumble-grumble!--even the band falls asleep. A rhythmic text interspersed with onomatopoeia make the story in The Animal Song nicely noisy until the very end when--shh!--everyone is asleep. Featuring a website with original music composed by the author/illustrator, this book is perfect for helping young readers to get their sillies out right before it’s time to sleep!

JONTY HOWLEY is a British author, illustrator, and musician. From a young age, Jonty has always loved to draw, and few things excite him more than beautiful books and the worlds you can find inside them.

Line Up!

By Susan Stockdale

January 10th 2023; Juvenile Nonfiction / Animals; Ages 2 to 5, Grades K And Under

Line up for this fascinating exploration of animal behavior from an award-winning author-illustrator! Much like humans, many animals line up for a variety of reasons. Rather than forming lines for the school bus or recess, the animals featured in Susan Stockdale’s book form lines for

  • safety: baby Mallard ducklings follow their mother to the water for their first swim

  • warmth: turtles climb into a stacked line for a better share of the sun’s rays

  • navigation: Arctic wolves follow the prints in the snow left by the pack leader

  • food: ants line up to follow the scent of their leader to food and safety

  • travel: pink flamingos form a line to reduce wind resistance and fly more efficiently

Featuring birds, crustaceans, fish, insects, mammals, and reptiles from around the world, Line Up is a cozy and comforting book that reminds us of our similarities while illuminating some specific, distinctive behaviors.

Susan Stockdale began her art career as a textile designer for the apparel industry, providing her an opportunity to express her love of pattern and color. Today, pattern and color remain central to her work as the author and illustrator of critically acclaimed picture books that celebrate nature. Her books have won a variety of awards including the ALSC Notable Children’s Book, NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts, NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12, and the Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year.

6 views0 comments
bottom of page