Sunday, January 21, 2018

This week at the library...

Central Library, 7:00 p.m.

Opera Talk presents...
A multi-media presentation and discussion. Freewheeling and funny, satirical and soaring, Candide takes the audience on a whirlwind tour of human folly and foolishness. Brimming with youthful innocence, Candide is certain that he lives in the best of all possible worlds. But an unrelenting series of ridiculously unfortunate events makes him question everything he has been taught.

Central Library, 6:30 p.m.

We provide the colored pencils, crayons, and coloring pages, or you can bring your own. Stop in, sit down, relax, get creative.

Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

MICHAEL CURTIZ and the making of
Author Alan K. Rode will be in conversation with George Feltenstein, Senior Vice President, Theatrical Catalog Marketing, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, discussing film director Michael Curtiz. Mr. Rode’s book is the first ever about the storied Academy Award-winning director who made, incredibly, more than 180 films, and worked for 27 years at Warner Bros., directing some of the studio's most memorable films, among them The Adventures of Robin Hood, Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and Mildred Pierce. Curtiz directed swashbuckling adventures, westerns, musicals, war epics, romances, historical dramas, horror films, tearjerkers, melodramas, comedies, and film noir masterpieces.

Click here to read the LA Times feature on director Michael Curtiz.

Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

The club has read and will discuss Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1), by Rachel Caine. This club is for enrolled teens only; to be added to the wait list, please email

Central Library, 6:30 p.m.


Buena Vista Branch, 10:00 a.m.

A program for computer novices. Space is limited, so you must sign up at the Reference Desk at the Buena Vista Branch, or by calling 818-238-5625.

We will learn:
  • the parts of a computer
  • how to open and close programs
  • how to save files and find them again
  • and all about web browsing


BABY STORYTIME (under 12 months):
Northwest Branch: Thursdays @ 10:00 a.m.

Registration is required. Please call 818 238-5640 to sign up. Winter Session begins January 11 and ends on March 15, 2018. Songs, stories, and rhymes for children under 12 months.

Buena Vista Branch:
Tuesdays and Wednesdays @ 10:00 a.m.
Buena Vista Branch Toddler Storytime is full. Our next session will be in Spring 2018. The Winter Session runs through March 13. Please visit Toddler Storytime at the Central Library on Fridays.
Central Library: Fridays @ 10:00 a.m.

Northwest Branch: Wednesdays @ 10:00 a.m.
Central Library: Thursdays @ 10:00 a.m.
Buena Vista Branch: Fridays @ 1:00 p.m. (Rhythm & Reading)

Central Library: This Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Join us for a bilingual storytime with stories, songs, and rhymes in English and Spanish. There will be a short video at the end of the program. Vengan para una hora de cuentos bilingüe con cuentos, canciones, y rimas en inglés y español. Habrá un video corto al final del programa.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Best of 2017: Adult nonfiction, fiction, and mystery

Here is Melissa E., senior librarian
for young adult services, again, this time with some adult "best of '17" books:


These are amazing stories about growing up as a mixed race kid under apartheid in South Africa, but the personal narration by Trevor makes everything so much better--more immediate, more engaging, more lively. He speaks at least six languages and uses them fluently where appropriate, but even better, he "does" all the characters, from little Trevor to his mom, his friends, the police, the Afrikaaners, all of them with humor and sympathy, and it enhances the stories tenfold. Don't miss this book! Good in hardcover, but great on audio!


The Android's Dream, by John Scalzi, was actually published back in 2006, but since I didn't discover it until this year, I'm going to include it, simply because I loved it so much! It was one of the most sheerly entertaining books I have ever read. The turn of every page, the beginning of each chapter, led to a more improbable, more hilarious, more ominous, more engaging next one, and it didn't falter once, beginning to end. It had just enough science in its science fiction to keep things on an intelligent, brain-challenging level; it had just enough philosophy and politics to start you thinking about the what-ifs of human interactions when they are backgrounded by relations with more powerful (and possibly more devious) alien races; it had action, violence, a little romantic intrigue, and a pace that never let up. Fantastic.


As reliably as Louise Penny's Armand Gamache mysteries come out, one every year sometime during August or September, it's almost a guarantee that the latest one will feature as one of my favorites, because they're just that good. This year's example, Glass Houses, was no exception. Armand Gamache continues to have unplumbed depths, and this book takes us all the way down. There is a cobrador, a menacing figure standing on the village green of Three Pines, there to call someone to account for their sins. There is a murder, there is a trial, but although all these things have to do with the story, none of them is at the heart of it. The heart of the story is Gamache's all-out, last-ditch play to reclaim both the Sûreté and Quebec from the darkness. To do it, he has to let things play out beyond anywhere he's been before, at the risk of seeming complacent, incompetent, or even corrupt. It's a painful process; Gamache is taking the Sûreté to the court of conscience, which may be antithetical to what goes on in the courts of government.

The other mystery that blew me away this year was Sharon Bolton's latest, Dead Woman Walking. It had an amazing set-up, great flashback technique, wonderful characters, tactile descriptions, the best twist EVER, and an unexpected ending. If you love maximum suspense, don't miss this book.


And finally, a collective shout-out to the books of author Jenny Colgan. They are the books I have retreated into this year when I considered my complicated existence living and working in a crowded megalopolis and contemplated what it would be like to trade it for a bakery on an island, a bookmobile in the wilds of Scotland, a beekeeper's cottage in Cornwall, or a restaurant in the south of France—pure fantasy for crazed city folk. They remind me of William Butler Yeats's immortal lines:

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Yes, I just compared William Butler Yeats to Chick Lit. Yes, I did it on purpose. No, I'm not crazy. You read one and see if it doesn't have the
same effect on you!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Best of 2017: Singapore author

Here is Katie S., Circulation Clerk, with her favorite discovery(s) of 2017....

My favorite reading experience of this year was discovering the delightful and delicious novels of Kevin Kwan, starting with Crazy Rich Asians (2013). Kwan grew up in Singapore and he appears to know well the life of its elite, insanely rich families. It is laugh-out-loud funny, but also captivating. I love to travel, but had never thought of visiting Singapore, yet after reading his descriptions of the street food alone, I am ready to hop on a plane! Kwan’s witty footnotes give the reader insight into modern Singapore (and Hong Kong) culture—and some of the history. He includes so many real places and people that I was constantly googling the locations, designers, and architects he mentions, delighted to open my eyes to this new-to-me world.

The plot involves a Chinese-American college professor taking a trip to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family, not knowing that he is from one of the richest and most distinguished families on the island. Of course, you KNOW that his mother won’t want her son to marry “beneath” him! It is so much fun, but also has heart, with characters you care about, so you’ll also shed some tears. I immediately devoured the rest of the trilogy: China Rich Girlfriend (2015), and this year’s Rich People Problems (2017).

A movie made from Crazy Rich Asians comes out in August and I can hardly wait!


Sunday, January 14, 2018

This week at the library...

MONDAY all branches of Burbank Public Library are CLOSED
in celebration of MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY.
We will reopen on Tuesday for regular hours.

Central Library, 12:00 noon

The club has read and will discuss Emma, by Jane Austen. Bring your lunch and join us!

Beautiful, clever, rich, and single, Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others...

Please email library staff at with any questions.

Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

The club has read and will discuss Wife of the Gods, by Kwei Quartey.

Introducing Detective Inspector Darko Dawson: family man, rebel in the office, ace in the field. When we first meet Dawson, he’s been ordered by his cantankerous boss to leave behind his loving wife and young son in Ghana’s capital city to lead a murder investigation: In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young woman—a promising medical student—has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Dawson is fluent in Ketanu’s indigenous language, so he’s the right man for the job, but the local police are less than thrilled with an outsider’s interference.

Please email with any questions.

Central Library, 4:00 p.m.

Family Films presents...

When a dark force threatens Ponyville, the Mane 6 go on a journey beyond Equestria to save their beloved home and meet new friends and exciting challenges along the way.

Central Library, 7:00 p.m.

(not your mother's book club...)

The club has read and will discuss The Princess Bride, by William Goldman.

Genre-X is a book club for Millennials and Gen-Xers to hang out, drink coffee, and read short, interesting books. The club meets the third Thursday of each month. For more information, email

Central Library, 2:00 p.m.

Friday Matinees presents...
After the cancellation of their flights out of Boise Airport due to stormy weather, Dr. Ben Bass (Idris Elba) and photojournalist Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) contact a local private pilot in order to get to Alex's wedding (scheduled for the following day) and Ben's emergency surgery appointment in Baltimore, Maryland. It is an uncharted flight and, shortly after takeoff, the pilot suffers a stroke, causing the plane to crash on a mountaintop. When they realize help is not coming, they embark on a perilous journey across the wilderness. 112 minutes / PG-13

Northwest Branch, 4:00 p.m.

Sign up for the book club exclusively for 4th- and 5th-grade students! Call 818-238-5640 to be added to the list. The club meets once each month during the school year to read and talk about some great books!

Buena Vista Branch, 4:00 p.m.

In honor of the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Mary Shelley's Classic Novel Frankenstein... Burbank Public Library Teen Services presents "IT'S ALIVE!" Starring a double feature and a pizza! 

Frankenweenie (87 minutes / rated PG) at 4 p.m.
Pizza at 6:00
Young Frankenstein (106 minutes /rated PG) at 6:45 p.m.

A program for TEENS in grades 6-12 only!
Parents please pick up outside the auditorium doors around 8:30 p.m.

Central Library, 10:00 a.m.

Stop in to build and create. Thousands of Legos are available for you to use. For children ages 2-14 and their families. Children under the age of 9 must be accompanied by an adult.


BABY STORYTIME (under 12 months):
Northwest Branch: Thursdays @ 10:00 a.m.

Registration is required. Please call 818 238-5640 to sign up. Winter Session begins January 11 and ends on March 15, 2018. Songs, stories, and rhymes for children under 12 months.

Buena Vista Branch:
Tuesdays and Wednesdays @ 10:00 a.m.
Buena Vista Branch Toddler Storytime is full. Our next session will be in Spring 2018. The Winter Session runs through March 13. Please visit Toddler Storytime at the Central Library on Fridays.
Central Library: Fridays @ 10:00 a.m.

Northwest Branch: Wednesdays @ 10:00 a.m.
Central Library: Thursdays @ 10:00 a.m.
Buena Vista Branch: Fridays @ 1:00 p.m. (Rhythm & Reading)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Best of 2017: Unexpected fiction

Here is Anarda W., teen librarian, with her thoughts about 2017's offerings...

It’s been an odd reading year for me; those eagerly anticipated new books from YA authors I’ve loved before have, if not disappointed me, then not quite measured up to the expectations I had placed on them.

I did, however, read a couple of books that surprised me, even if I didn’t love every page. The first was from an author new to me, Mackenzi Lee, whose reviews for her second book, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, piqued my interest. Oh my.

This story is narrated by Monty, a spoiled, thoughtless, attractive bisexual son of an English Lord in the mid-1700s, aged about 16, kicked out of school for being caught fooling around with another boy. His scandalized father will throw him out of the manor house and all its trappings, including his future lordly title, if he doesn’t “straighten out,” so to speak. His best friend, Percy, is biracial, orphaned, holds an enormous secret or two from Monty and is about to enter law school in Holland—and Monty is secretly in love with him. This abiding love, however, doesn’t stop Monty from pursuing anyone he finds attractive and willing, and so he finds himself in constant scrapes, and destined for one last chance of redemption in his father’s eyes.

Monty will go on a Grand Tour of Europe, accompanied by Percy and a dreadful tutor/chaperone who will monitor his drinking and fooling around, while focusing on his education and social polishing, much to Monty’s despair. These three “gentlemen” will also escort Monty’s sister, Felicity, to a finishing school on the Continent, the exact opposite of what she desires. Felicity is a perspicacious observer of human nature and a budding scientist; the romances she is constantly reading hide scientific tomes beneath their covers. She longs for a scholarly education, and dreads being groomed into a fine “Lady” with nothing but marriage and children ahead of her. It is Felicity who will uncover the first of Percy’s secrets, and Felicity who will help Monty understand Percy’s predicament. In fact, having Felicity on board this misbegotten Tour helps elucidate many of the ills of their entire society. There is plenty of sexism, racism, and classism to go around, and Monty is one of the worst for demanding white upper class privilege wherever he journeys. But what a journey it is!

Picaresque to the hilt, this bawdy, sensual tapestry (this book is not for the squeamish) includes seduction, theft, alchemy, graveyards, and pirates. It is an absurd adventure, laid on thick, but the real adventure occurs within the soul of the protagonist, who slowly gains control of his wits, his courage, and, most importantly, his heart, as he tries to rectify his numerous ill-mannered errors of judgement.

I was also strangely bewitched by an amusing parody of the Enchanted School trope, Sarah Rees Brennan’s In Other Lands. I had just had my head spun by Lee’s The Gentleman’s Guide when I saw the new book by Brennan, and I needed something to screw my head back on. Well. It wasn't exactly from the frying pan into the fire, but this was not the realistic novel I probably “needed.” I am normally wary of parodies; they tend to be one note sambas, and once you see the joke, it is just plodding through all the permutations until you want to scream "Enough already, I get it!" But this one was charmingly different.

Elliot is a 13-year-old know-it-all brat, and no one, NO ONE, likes him. His boring, bully-filled school (you know, the one we all attended?) offers a handful of kids a test, and Elliot earns the opportunity to try out for a different school, one he alone can enter, since he alone amongst his cohorts can “see” the enormous wall that is its boundary. This wall surrounds the Borderlands, the place where elves, trolls, dwarves, unicorns, insert-your-mythical-critter-here, exist (sometimes in harmony) with the few groups of people who can see them. Snarky Elliot is in heaven; he will be attending an elite school that trains its students to be warriors or councilors for the Borderlands! With no desire for physical activity, much less violent physical activity, Elliot will opt for the scholarly route, one he hopes will make use of his intelligence.

But wait! He spies among the several new student recruits one lovely, battle-armored elven girl, and he is immediately smitten. To his surprise, he discovers that the elves have inverted gender roles in their society, and Serene-In-the-Chaos-of-Battle is a warrior maiden through and through, absolutely delighted to protect him from any harm! Awesome! Alas, that first day Elliot also meets Luke Sunborn, a handsome “golden” boy from the Borderlands, destined by family ties and his own virtues to be a warrior hero beloved by all, and of course a thorn in small, weak, ginger-haired Elliot’s side, because Luke and Serene will, of course, become battle-mates. Elliot begins what he thinks is an uneasy truce with Luke over the affections of Serene, but in four years’ time and with much needed experience both in and out of the Borderlands, there will develop a friendship and a love between these young people none could have expected.

While familiar fairy tale tropes are upended in this book, so too are a certain number of sexist, classist, and racist tropes. I found Elliot’s journey of self-discovery a humorous one, with some unexpected twists and a couple of stabs to the heart. He is a trope himself, of course, as are the other major characters, but all experience change, and some of that change is not what you would expect. Overall, I did enjoy this book, and while it might occasionally suffer from its adherence to its parodic premise, it was well worth reading. Please note that because the journey of self-discovery ought to include the question of sexuality, this book, too, is for a more mature teen or adult reader.

So happy New Year’s reading, and may you find something different from the same old stories you’ve read before!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Best of 2017: Political humor

Here is Larry U., library monitor, with his "best of '17" selection:

P. J. O’Rourke is a rare bird: a conservative libertarian with a witty, irreverent sense of humor. His latest volume, How the Hell Did This Happen?, looks at the social conditions and unlikely chain of events that led to the election of a reality TV host and malignant narcissist to the Oval Office. Blending Beltway-insider knowledge, no-nonsense insight and blistering sarcasm, O’Rourke manages to trash alt-right wingnuts, traditional conservatives, moderate liberals, and left-wing loonballs in equal measure. In doing so, he gives us an insider’s view of the most bizarre presidential election in this nation’s history.

Readers who enjoy O’Rourke’s kind of snarky wit will love Parliament of Whores, his laugh-out-loud bestseller that looks at the (alleged) workings of the U.S. government, and Give War a Chance, which highlights his travels as Rolling Stone magazine’s international correspondent.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Best of 2017: New Teen Fiction

Here is Nicole H., on-call librarian, with her "best of '17" book:

I consider myself a Nerdfighter which, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, has many different elements to its definition but in this context means I’m a devoted fan of John Green's work – so it’s no surprise that I devoured his latest novel, Turtles All The Way Down.

Sixteen-year-old Aza is coerced by her best friend Daisy into investigating the disappearance of Russell Pickett, a fugitive billionaire who happens to be the father of Davis Pickett, a rather cute former summer camp acquaintance of Aza's. Getting in the way of their gumshoe detective work, and making relationships with the most important people in her life difficult, is Aza’s serious struggle with anxiety and her obsessive compulsive behaviors.

Green is often criticized for writing intellectually superior teenage characters who spend too much time thinking about “adult” issues like death and legacy. I, for one, don’t mind reading about unusually insightful teenagers, and I find that he makes his characters and their struggle to survive adolescence relatively unscathed feel familiar. The most insightful and also the hardest thing to read in this book is its raw and honest perspective on living with a mental illness. In recent years, TV protagonists such as Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock), Dr. Gregory House (House), and Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) have almost romanticized mental illness; but Green’s story, stemming from his own personal experience, is an unapologetic take on how it can cripple one's ability to carry out everyday tasks instead of making one into a loveable, if not socially awkward, crime-solving genius.