Spotlight On

A rotating showcase for topics of interest: current, historical, local, global. At the Library,
find a physical display highlighting materials in the collection that deepen one’s
understanding of and give context to the featured subject.

“Spotlight On” is also home to “Staff Picks,” where patrons will find reading, viewing,
and listening recommendations, and a forum for book clubs and other groups
in the community to share what they’re enjoying.

It may not be back to school for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop satisfying your curiosity. And one of the best ways is to come in and take home one of the DVDs or CDs from the
Great Courses collection, located right next to the travel books and Shakespeare collection. The collection offers everything from why the Impressionists were such a big deal, to mastering calculus, to how to take a great photograph. Philosophy, history, science, economics – for business or for pleasure, Great Courses covers it all.
Come on in and check it out.

-Mike McCoy, Reference Librarian

From Monet to Van Gogh: A History of Impressionism

Richard Brettell

Here’s a good look at the artists who made up the Impressionist movement – what did they do and how did they become some of the most famous and beloved artists in history?


John Long

Once the stuff of sci-fi, this set of DVDs looks at how robots work, what they can do, and how they are already transforming our lives.

The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking

Bill Briwa

From market to table, and covering courses from salads to desserts, this series is everything that you’d want to know about the art of cooking. Even the booklet that comes with it looks good enough to eat.

In honor of Banned Books Week, I’m choosing to highlight books I’ve enjoyed that have come under fire by critics across the country who have sought to remove from school and public libraries. The national debates surrounding book bans and challenges have reached a fever pitch. According to the American Library Association “ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 729 challenges to library, school and university materials and services in 2021, resulting in more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals. Most targeted books were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ persons.” 

This Banned Books Week, I encourage young readers to think critically about the ways books challenge us. Do books have the power to make us think about things differently? What kind of books make different people feel threatened, and why? Are there adults in your life who decide what books you get to read, both directly and indirectly? How does that make you feel, and what can you do about it?

As your local youth services librarian, I love having conversations like these and look forward to hearing your thoughts!

–Allee Manning, Youth Services Librarian

For Teens:

The Perks of Being A Wallflower

Stephen Chbosky

This book, written in 1999 and set in the early 1990s, was a favorite of mine in eighth grade. I haven’t reread it in nearly a decade, but what I remember most about it is the way it tugged on my heartstrings. It is told from the perspective of a high school “wallflower” grappling with experiences from his adolescence that included both abuse and the loss of a close friend through a series of letters. It’s heartbreaking and inspiring and will certainly resonate with teens learning to navigate challenging relationships with others. Fans of Jandy Nelson, Nicola Yoon, and John Green will appreciate the first-person narration of the protagonist, Charlie.

(Banned and Challenged for: Drug/Alcohol use, homosexuality, and offensive language, among other reasons cited. Year: 2014)

The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas’ debut novel about a teenage girl who witnesses her longtime friend killed by a police officer and joins in the ensuing protest movement is incredibly powerful and relevant. Teenagers who are interested in social and racial justice, abolition, and activism may find this book majorly compelling – albeit hard to stomach at times. A great fit for fans of Jason Reynolds, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Nic Stone. Be sure to check out our new copy of The Hate U Give Collector’s Edition.

(Banned and Challenged for: profanity, violence, and because it was thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda. Year: 2021)

All Boys Aren't Blue

George M. Johnson

This is a nonfiction “memoir manifesto” by journalist George M. Johnson, who writes about his family, friendships, and younger self with incredible honesty and candor. What really sets this book apart from other memoirs is the care with which he addresses his readers, reminding them that they are not alone and offering deeply personal advice. Even if your struggles are not the same, there is much to take from Johnson’s reflection on his life experiences. Nonfiction fans and short story fans alike will enjoy this, given the way the book is structured.

(Banned and Challenged for: LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and because it was considered to be sexually explicit. Year: 2021)

For Middle Grades:


Alex Gino

Alex Gino’s middle grade books offer an enlightening peek into the lived experiences of young LGBTQ+ people growing up in today’s world. “Melissa,” formerly titled “George” tells the story of a young transgender girl yearning to live authentically among her peers and family. When her middle school production of “Charlotte’s Web” is cast, she finds what feels like a perfect opportunity to step into the spotlight. Kids who like the work of other realistic fiction writers such as Kelly Yang, Ashley Herring Blake, and Renee Watson may find a new favorite author in Alex Gino.

(Banned and Challenged for: LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community.” Year: 2020)

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

This history of racist thoughts in America is a Jason Reynolds “remix” of a bestselling adult nonfiction book, specially rewritten for children. Young history buffs who may find they have more questions than answers when learning about slavery in America will appreciate the thorough details provided in this well-paced and tonally appropriate work.

(Banned and Challenged for: author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people. Year: 2020)

For Younger Readers:

And Tango Makes Three

Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

This sweet (and true) story is about two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who become a pair and “adopt” a fertilized egg to hatch and treat as their own. The lesson of the story is that families can be formed in more ways than one, and the illustrations of adorable penguins will certainly make young animal lovers smile.

(Banned and Challenged for: LGBTQIA+ content. Year: 2019)

This Day in June

Gayle E. Pitman

Historian Gayle E. Pitman uses this rhythmic picture book to depict some of the many communities in attendance at a Pride festival. The handy guide at the end is useful for answering questions kids may have about what they see in the illustrations. 

(Challenged and burned for: LGBTQIA+ content. Year: 2018)

Memoir selections below from Regina Kelly, Reference Librarian.

Pull Me Up

Dan Barry

I read a journalistic-memoir recently, or at least a memoir by a journalist called Pull Me Up written by New York Times feature reporter, Dan Barry. This book rolls and pushes forward like a river of snow melt and is as tall and strong as the snowy peaks I can see from the foothills of the Rockies, very far away from Deer Park, Long Island where the author grew up in a working class Irish family that had quite a few glorious moments and some very hard times too. I learned about Barry’s ability to tell a story accurately, uproariously, poignantly. There are some scenes that are so good, I read them several times, but couldn’t underline–Library book!

Barry, the eldest of four children, grew up to become an award-winning journalist and he tells us that it was the tradition of storytelling that kept them all going and laughing. I understood completely.  

No monologues here, unless maybe it is very, very late and the friends are asleep in their cups. I loved this memoir.

To Begin Again

M. F. K. Fisher

On my unexpected longer stay in the foothills of the Rockies, I read Fisher’s first memoir, creative non-fiction that is beautiful and evocative. Stories of growing up in the paradise that was Southern California. The book opens in 1911, Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher is 3 years old in a rented bungalow on the beach in Santa
Monica. She sees a man in a “flying machine” fall out of the sky and her mother thought her precocious little girl had made up an exciting and implausible story.  But it was true and her observational skills never left her. Thanks to these skills, I felt like I was present when the future food writer wrote of dining in the shack on the beach:

“When the bread left from weekends got stale, Aunt Gwen would soak it in milk and beaten eggs and fry it in bacon drippings, and we would sprinkle brown sugar on it for a treat. Then she would fry some bacon, pour most of its contents in a can, and make fried egg sandwiches for us to carry greasily in our pockets on our long treks in every direction of the wild, deserted country (Laguna Beach.)”

You finish one volume and there are plenty more, plus the cookbooks, i.e. “How to Cook a Wolf.” Spoiler, no wolves are cooked.

Check out the Library’s collection of fiction, mystery and non-fiction titles in paperback format that are perfect to take along on your travels.

-Jeanne Bastone, Reference Librarian

The Cloudbuster Nine

Anne R. Keene

Meticulously researched, this book tells the untold story of Ted Williams and the baseball team that helped win World War II.

The House of Unexpected Sisters

Alexander McCall Smith

A book from the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. This series is always captivating and popular among mystery readers.

Malibu Rising

Taylor Jenkins Reid

A novel centering around four siblings who throw a grand, end of summer party that results in life changing consequences.

Wish You Were Here

Jodi Picoult

This popular fiction writer’s latest novel is thought provoking and will hold your interest to its moving end.

Explore More…

Interested in The New York Times best sellers? See them here!

200 Books That Shaped 200 Years of Literature from The Center for Fiction

Meet Libby, the library reading app that will soon replace OverDrive. Watch a video about Libby to get started.

The New York State Department of Labor is partnering with Coursera to offer free classes to unemployed New Yorkers.

Visit Westchester Library System’s website for Seniors to see library programs and services just for seniors. This includes information on VisionLabs, a program designed to find new ways for libraries to serve patrons with visual impairments and emerging vision loss.

The Television News Archive, launched September 2012, is an archive of hundreds of thousands of hours of news programming from 20 different networks, made sharable and searchable through closed captioning data. Follow this link to check it out.

Kudos to the Brooklyn Public Library for their “Books Unbanned” campaign. Read about their mission and check out the support available to libraries throughout the country from the American Library Association.

Outdoor public space has always been a bonus but it became even more coveted during the pandemic. Check out this article with photos/renderings of great outdoor public space–none of them hold a candle to the outdoor space of the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library!

Another gem from The New York Times–photos ranging from 1938 to 1994 of New Yorkers reading. Where do you see people reading outdoors around Hastings? Take a photo and DM (direct message) it to us:  @hohpubliclibrary or tag us.

Stay current on the pandemic by using this COVID-19 information page on the Community Conversations website, brought to you by Westchester Library System.

You can now turn your smart phone into a mobile PDF scanner! Download the free Adobe Scan app and scan any text, convert to PDF or JPEG, edit and share easily.


Westchester Library Events

August 25 – December 29 – Monthly High School Equivalency Information Session – Westchester Library System

September 27 – Fredrik Backman Book Launch and Signing – Chappaqua Library

September 28 – An Evening with the Puzzlemaster, NYT Crossword Puzzle Editor Will Shortz – Chappaqua Library