Sunday, June 17, 2018

This week at the library...

MONDAY
Northwest Branch, 10:00 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Our six-week session of Summer Storytime is for children age 5 and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.


TUESDAY
Northwest Branch, 10:00 a.m.

PAPER MARBLING for TEENS!
Be crafty with us! Learn how to make marbled paper in one of two sessions (today at 10:00 or tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.). Then come to our workshops on book-making the following week, as we create travel journals and use the marbled paper as either the cover or the end papers!

This program is part of Teen Summer Reading and is for teens in grades 7-12 ONLY.


Buena Vista Branch, 10:00 a.m. OR 11:00 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Due to space limitations in the storytime room at the Buena Vista Branch, we are required to limit the attendance. To ensure the safety of our guests, we will be allowing only 60 to attend.

Our six-week session of Summer Storytime is for children age 5 and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.


Central Library, 10:00 a.m.


ENGLISH NATURALLY:
A Conversation Group

Practice your English language skills, make friends, and learn about different cultures. This group meets Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Literacy Room on the second floor. Drop in or call for information. 818-238-5577.





Central Library, 12:00 noon

BROWN BAG BOOK CLUB
The club has read and will discuss Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson, "a powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time."







Central Library, 3:00 p.m.

FAMILY SHOW:
Kindergarten and younger
Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and promote the joy of reading.

June 19
FANTASTICK PATRICK combines elements of comedy and music within an explosion of incredible tricks. We never know whats going to happen at a Fantastick Patrick show, but you can trust that it’s going to be amazing.





Central Library, 7:00 p.m.

Sounds of Summer presents...
AAA JAZZ BAND!
A versatile, full-piece combo, the AAA Jazz Band plays the very best swingin’ standards. A free concert that is part of the Summer Reading for Grown-ups program, but all are welcome to attend. Bring a blanket or a beach chair!



Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

SCENE OF THE CRIME
MYSTERY BOOK CLUB
The club has read and will discuss Come to Grief, by Dick Francis.

When Sid Halley becomes convinced that his friend Ellis Quint--one of the racing world's most beloved figures--is responsible for a shocking crime, he finds himself the target of the public's wrath, and finds that proving his friend guilty could be dangerous.






WEDNESDAY
Central Library, 10:00 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Our six-week session of Summer Storytime is for children age 5 and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.


Buena Vista Branch, 11:00 a.m.

SUMMER READING CLUB:
Grades 1-6 only

This week: Percussive Storytelling brings classical music and storytelling to kids in fun and accessible ways. It will be led by multi-percussionist, composer, and improviser Cory Hills (the SplatBoomBang guy).




Northwest Branch, 5:30 p.m.

PAPER MARBLING for TEENS!
Be crafty with us! Learn how to make marbled paper, then sign up for our workshops on book-making next week, as we create travel journals and use the marbled paper as either the cover or the end papers!

This program is part of Teen Summer Reading and is for teens in grades 7-12 ONLY.




Buena Vista Branch, 6:30 p.m.

FAMILY SHOW:
Kindergarten and younger
Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and promote the joy of reading.

This week: FANTASTICK PATRICK










THURSDAY
Northwest Branch, 10:00 a.m.

FAMILY SHOW:
Kindergarten and younger
Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and promote the joy of reading.

This week: FANTASTICK PATRICK





Central Library, 10:00 a.m.


ENGLISH NATURALLY:
A Conversation Group

Practice your English language skills, make friends, and learn about different cultures. This group meets Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Literacy Room on the second floor. Drop in or call for information. 818-238-5577.




Central Library, 3:00 OR 7:00 p.m.

SUMMER READING CLUB:
Grades 1-6 only

This week: Percussive Storytelling brings classical music and storytelling to kids in fun and accessible ways. It will be led by multi-percussionist, composer, and improviser Cory Hills (the SplatBoomBang guy).




Central Library, 7:00 p.m.

GENRE-X BOOK CLUB
(not your mother's book club) is a group intended for Millennials and Gen-Xers to get together, hang out, and talk about diverse, interesting books. The club reads a mix of realistic fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, nonfiction, and graphic novels, and sometimes ranges into young adult fiction. It meets the third Thursday of the month, upstairs at the Central Library in the Literacy Conference Room, at 7:00 p.m.

This month, the club has read and will discuss The Lock Artist, by Steve Hamilton, an Edgar Award-winner and also selected for the Alex Award (adult books with teen appeal).



FRIDAY
Central Library, 10:00 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Our six-week session of Summer Storytime is for children age 5 and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.


Northwest Branch, 6:30 p.m. (after hours)

SUMMER READING CLUB:
Grades 1-6 only

This week: Percussive Storytelling brings classical music and storytelling to kids in fun and accessible ways. It will be led by multi-percussionist, composer, and improviser Cory Hills (the SplatBoomBang guy).


SATURDAY
Central Library, 10:15 a.m.

MUSIC & MOVEMENT
A program for preschoolers and their families. Join us for a fun introduction to movement, coordination, rhythm, and dance, using shaker eggs and scarves and listening to music. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

What we're reading: Essays


Reviewed by Laura M., reference librarian


Calypso is David Sedaris’s newest collection of essays, and it doesn’t disappoint. In it, he’s mining new territory: his relationship with his father, his sister Tiffany’s suicide, and his mother’s alcoholism. As you might imagine with topics like these, the essays are a bit heavier than those in his previous laugh-out-loud collections. They are also more introspective and touching. We witness the last time he saw his sister Tiffany, and it doesn’t exactly paint him in a good light. We see him struggling to maintain a relationship with his Republican father after the presidential election, and wondering how to deal with him growing older and still living on his own.

It’s not all heaviness, though. There are plenty of laughs and signature Sedaris weirdness.
The Fitbit becomes an obsession in one of my favorite essays, “Stepping Out.” We learn that he spends most of his time in England on the side of the road picking up trash, getting in as many steps as possible--so much so that his township names a trash truck after him. By the end of the essay he is walking 65,000 steps a day, and you get the feeling he’s not even satisfied with that. The Fitbit reappears in the essay “I’m Still Standing” when Sedaris gets a gastrointestinal virus and, despite being extremely ill and in imminent danger of having an accident, he insists on walking around the airport in order to get his steps in.

What I enjoy most about Sedaris is his curiosity and childlike delight in the unusual. In “The Perfect Fit,” he describes shopping at his favorite store in Japan, Kapital, where he says, “If I had to use one word to describe Kapital’s clothing, I’d be torn between ‘wrong’ and ‘tragic.’” Yet he and his sisters can’t get enough of the beat-up, crazy clothing. In the essay “And While You’re Up There, Check on my Prostate,” he asks people from around the world what are common insults they hurl at people while driving. Some of them are truly spectacular. This is another great collection from a master storyteller.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

What we're reading: Hijacked by Eleanor

Every once in a while, I like to pick up something that is being lauded as a bestseller, just to check in with what's popular at the moment. Honestly, I much prefer to discover the dark horses on the library shelf than to go with the crowd onto the holds list; but several of my friends had bookmarked Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine as "to read" on Goodreads, so I decided to do likewise.

Many times, I am discouraged by my foray into popular fiction. I didn't enjoy The Girl on the Train; wasn't a fan of the Christian Grey saga; and am less engaged with each subsequent Dan Brown tome that emerges. So I never approach bestsellers with either faith or anticipation. But this time I wasn't disappointed.

My initial reaction to the first third of this book (despite some clues in the opening pages that would have led me elsewhere had I been paying sufficient attention) was that it reminded me of The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion. Socially awkward protagonist with no friends, wedded to routine, on whom a random suggestion acts as a catalyst to start changing things up, check. Protagonist meets someone completely outside their wheelhouse and makes an unexpected connection, check. But that's not quite how this book ended up going. The two books share a sense of humor, and their protagonists share the quality of being literal and inept at human relations and thus unintentionally funny (and sometimes pathetic) as they attempt to navigate their way through life. But the reasons behind their similar states are different, as are the resolutions.

There are lots of books out there (fiction and nonfiction) about various kinds of mental health issues. Not many of them, however, address the situation of profound loneliness as either a cause or an outcome. Eleanor believes that she is completely self-sufficient--after all, all of her physical needs are being met, and in all her years in the foster care system, she didn't get a chance to indulge any emotional needs, or even recognize that she had any. But when she has two chance encounters that change her focus, these events and the people connected with them worm their way into her formerly solitary existence and begin to show her that she had very little idea what a full life could be like.

Eleanor is, in many ways, profoundly broken, and her metamorphosis depends on courage that she wouldn't have found without making some human connections, but it is not a romantic book, for which I was grateful. This is a book about Eleanor, and Gail Honeyman doesn't fall into the trap of leading her out of her unhappiness by making her fall in love. Her story is told in a tender, sweet, and humorous way that isn't manipulative and never descends into mawkishness, that pulls both Eleanor and the reader out of melancholy into hopefulness. I was impressed that this is the author's debut novel: The language, the characters, and the world in which she places them are smart and engaging, and she writes with confidence.

I have encountered only a few books that, the minute I turned the last page, I wanted to go back and re-read to see what I missed or to re-experience the emotions brought forth by the story. This was one of them.



Monday, June 11, 2018

This week at the library...

MONDAY
Northwest Branch, 10:00 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Our six-week session of Summer Storytime is for children age 5 and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.


TUESDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 10:00 a.m. OR 11:00 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Due to space limitations in the storytime room at the Buena Vista Branch, we are required to limit the attendance. To ensure the safety of our guests, we will be allowing only 60 to attend.

Our six-week session of Summer Storytime is for children age 5 and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.


Central Library, 10:00 a.m.


ENGLISH NATURALLY:
A Conversation Group

Practice your English language skills, make friends, and learn about different cultures. This group meets Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Literacy Room on the second floor. Drop in or call for information. 818-238-5577.




Central Library, 3:00 p.m.

FAMILY SHOW:
Kindergarten and younger
Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and promote the joy of reading.

June 12 - ROBBO
Robbo is a Parent's Choice Gold award-winning singer and songwriter of children's songs, and is one of the most sought after children's performers in America. He has performed in hundreds of cities across the United States since 1989. (He's also a lot of fun!)
























Buena Vista Branch, 6:30 p.m.

Summer Screenings presents...
BLACK PANTHER
After the death of his father, T'Challa returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T'Challa's mettle as king -- and as Black Panther -- gets tested when he's drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people. 134 minutes / Rated PG-13



WEDNESDAY
Central Library, 10:00 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Our six-week session of Summer Storytime is for children age 5 and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.


Buena Vista Branch, 11:00 a.m.

SUMMER READING CLUB:
Grades 1-6 only

This week: Storyteller BABA will be our special guest, taking listeners on an adventure with his captivating storytelling and interactions with colorful and imaginative characters.






Central Library, 5:30 p.m.

MEETING:
LIBRARY BOARD OF TRUSTEES
For more information, call 818 238-5551.


Buena Vista Branch, 6:30 p.m.

FAMILY SHOW:
Kindergarten and younger
Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and promote the joy of reading.

June 12 - ROBBO










THURSDAY
Northwest Branch, 10:00 a.m.

FAMILY SHOW:
Kindergarten and younger
Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and promote the joy of reading.

June 12 - ROBBO








Central Library, 10:00 a.m.


ENGLISH NATURALLY:
A Conversation Group

Practice your English language skills, make friends, and learn about different cultures. This group meets Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Literacy Room on the second floor. Drop in or call for information. 818-238-5577.




Central Library, 3:00 OR 7:00 p.m.

SUMMER READING CLUB:
Grades 1-6 only

This week: Storyteller BABA will be our special guest, taking listeners on an adventure with his captivating storytelling and interactions with colorful and imaginative characters.





Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

Teen Summer Reading presents...
BOOK CAFE!
TEENS: Gather on Thursday evenings at Buena Vista Branch for coffee-house treats and book-talking. Meet people who read, tell them what you’re reading, and get some new-to-you recommendations. Teens who attend this first Book Café and who are registered for the program receive a surprise gift (while supplies last)!

Attend all three Book Café sessions to win a free book, June 14, 28, and July 12. This program is part of Teen Summer Reading 2018: Reading Takes You Everywhere!



FRIDAY
Central Library, 10:00 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Our six-week session of Summer Storytime is for children age 5 and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.


Northwest Branch, 6:30 p.m. (after hours)

SUMMER READING CLUB:
Grades 1-6 only

This week: Storyteller BABA will be our special guest, taking listeners on an adventure with his captivating storytelling and interactions with colorful and imaginative characters.




SATURDAY
Northwest Branch,
12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m.

POP-UP BOOK SALE!
The Friends of the Library are having a One Day Book Sale. Find thousands of books in the PARKING LOT behind Northwest Branch Library. Book BARGAINS galore! Prices start at 25 cents. The proceeds from Friends book sales and book stores pay for all the above programs for summer reading, so please come to the sale and support your library programs!


Saturday, June 09, 2018

What We're Reading: New Military Memoir



Eat the Apple: A Memoir, by Matt Young

This is a debut book by former U.S. Marine Matt Young who served three tours of duty during the Iran War. It is not, however, what would be called a combat memoir, as it is focused not mainly on action and firefights but on the nature of military service. Young gives us a portrait of the unidealized and perhaps enduring realities of enlistment and going to war. His personal experience, he believes, is representative of the experience of young men of his age and socioeconomic background. He looks broadly at the reasons why young men choose to go into military service, what they expect that experience will be like, and what they hope to get from that service, finding a disjunction between the needs that drive young men like himself into military service (the sense they have of themselves as being immature, wounded and undisciplined, directionless, and seeking “authentic” self-testing and self-defining experiences) and what that military experience delivers.

It would not be too much to say that Eat the Apple is the description of a bad bargain, one born of a compelling sense of personal need and entered into with naivete, where the military experience only amplifies the feelings of inadequacy, personal failures, and guilt. If there is any value in the experience, if Young experiences any redemption, it is found in retrospect, gained from his unflinching self-examination (some book reviewers have called it “self-laceration”) reflected in these pages. For Young, military service did not heal anything, it only made the wounds of the young man who joined up more self-apparent…eventually.

Matt Young
While Young is out to enlighten a general readership about the nature of military service and disabuse prospective recruits regarding any romantic or heroic notions they might have embraced, Eat the Apple is also notable for the way he does this. To make the reality clear, and to drive his feelings home, he will spare neither himself nor the Corps. This is an intimate, shockingly honest, guilt-ridden, angry, and frequently lewd narrative. It’s a story of sexual and emotional loneliness, boredom, cruelty, fear, faithlessness, and drunkenness that characterized Young’s life and that of his fellow marines during his service in the Corps.

 Although he talks movingly in some passages about the intense bonding among soldiers, his narrative describes a purgatory of lost souls more than the proverbial “band of brothers.” With Young and the soldiers he knew, selflessness and patriotism were not the major motivation for joining the service. It was a decision that had more to do with their attempt to face the uncertainties and personal challenges confronting them at a crucial moment of passage in their lives, vulnerabilities that the military was practiced in exploiting, and it was a dependency, as we are shown in Young’s account of his psychiatric examination for redeployment, that was sustained by complicity between the soldier and the Corps.

If Young’s perspective about military service is iconoclastic, and the truth told here merciless and shocking, perhaps the most notable thing about Eat the Apple is Young’s inventiveness and variation in literary forms he uses to tell his story. As he moves from chapter to chapter in his narrative, he constructs the right form for the topic, perspective, and emotion at hand. In one chapter he uses lists, in another he creates an interview format, and in a third he makes his point with a multiple choice test. He tells one story in a form that mimics a dream, another chapter uses the form of a graphic novel, another uses the style of a “how-to” manual replete with instructive drawings. He does all of this while changing from first person to third person to omniscient narrator--whatever seems to work best with the chosen form. Yet the point of view remains the same, and the voice familiar; the technique is not disorienting, nor does it feel like it's a gimmick.

Matt Young on patrol in Iraq
It would be interesting to know what women reading this book would think. The unflattering picture of the selfishness, sex obsession, and emotional immaturity of young American males might not be surprising. This is an angry book, but Young has steadied himself enough to hit his target. Military recruiters will want to burn this book. Let’s hope that before too many copies go up in flames, it will make its way into the hands of those thinking about joining up, young men like Matt Young who didn’t know what they were getting into, who didn’t know it couldn’t heal their wounds, and who didn’t know what finding that out the hard way would cost them.


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

What we're reading: Legal thriller series

John Lescroart is known as one of the masters of the legal thriller, and his most-read books are from his long-running series about attorney Dismas Hardy. He's up to #17 now. He has also done spin-offs from this series with subsidiary characters: There are three books that "star" police detective Abe Glitzky, three featuring private investigator Wyatt Hunt, and one with Hardy's daughter, Rebecca ("the Beck"), also an attorney, in the lead role, all from the Hardy universe, which encompasses the San Francisco law-and-order scene. And finally, Lescroart has penned a few stand-alone books, including an historical mystery about the son of Sherlock Holmes. He has been one of my go-to authors for the entire length of the Hardy series.



In his newest (#17), Poison, businessman Grant Carver has apparently been murdered.
At first it looked like a simple heart attack; but when his daughter asks the coroner to take a closer look, it seems that Carver has been the victim of foul play.

His bookkeeper, Abby Jarvis, whom Dismas Hardy defended on a DUI charge eleven years ago, is the prime suspect, after police discover she’s been embezzling funds from the company—but she insists she didn't do it.

On closer investigation of the Carver clan,  Hardy discovers that Abby was not the only one who stood to profit from the company’s $25 million dollar market value if Grant Carver died. Children, step-children, the exes, the girlfriends—really, it could be any of them.

This case, however, may spell the end of Hardy's career, one way or another. Either he'll solve this mystery and find out who should actually be prosecuted, or he'll be targeted for death for trying. 

What is the line about "damning with faint praise"? I liked this book well enough, but honestly, I think Dismas Hardy's star is waning as the hero for fresh fiction from Lescroart, and maybe he needs to take the giant leap of making a new start with someone else. Not someone from this franchise, either (like he's already done with Glitzky etc.), and maybe not set in San Francisco! Everything has become so familiar, so entrenched in its tracks that I could almost write the book for him—Dismas's relationships with Frannie, with Glitzky, with Hunt, the way he thinks and the things he does to figure out his cases, the places he hangs out (if I have to read one more description of Lou the Greek's...) —all completely predictable.

Because this has been true for a while, the only variable in this series has been the crime story—what the client and the circumstances bring to the table—and this one was a bit lackluster. The client wasn't made either particularly accessible or likable, the suspects for the initial crime were a parade of people without a lot of depth, and the most interesting characters in the book were the police officers (but even they verged on cliché, jumping to the arrest way before they should have, and then stubbornly hanging on). Also, it became fairly obvious (to me) about halfway through the book who the murderer must be, and then it was a waiting game to see how long and in what way Hardy would figure it out himself and what he would do. And what he did—I can't picture it working. I feel like the criminal would have seen through his ploy.

So over all, although it was a pleasant and faintly engaging read, I'm not sure I'll be back. But I'm going to hope that Lescroart takes a new and exciting detour into different territory; and until then, if you haven't read any of his books, I would, despite this less-than-enthusiastic review of his latest, urge you to try the Dismas Hardy series from the beginning. You will have a lot of entertaining and absorbing reading ahead of you before you arrive at my conclusion! Start with Dead Irish, original publication date 1989!





Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Vote today!

Don't forget to VOTE today! There are some big offices and some important measures on the ballot. Polling places are open until 8 p.m.

Did you know: Employers must grant employees up to one hour of paid time off to vote during polling place hours, if the employee does not have three consecutive hours either before or after work that the polls are open.