Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What you're reading: Grown-up Summer Readers

What Grand Adventure Awaits? is Burbank Public Library's summer reading club for grown-ups. These are reviews of books read by some of our registered grown-ups:



The Savage Garden, by Mark Mills

Reviewed by Margaret M.   

The author is an accomplished screenwriter and award-winning novelist. The Savage Garden is a darkly provocative mystery set in the Tuscan hills; the story of two murders, four hundred years apart, and the ties that bind them together. Anyone with a background in art or architecture will feel very much at home with the narrative. I have a background in neither, and found that I couldn't put the book down.


LaRose, by Louise Erdrich

Reviewed by Rebecca F.   

This story turns on a terrible accident, an extreme sacrifice, love, jealousy, pain and the many winding journeys through it all. The story spans several generations of a family navigating between Native and European cultures in America. Where Erdrich is masterful is in her use of language, such as when she describes the quiet but devastating path of tuberculosis, or a young woman's reclaimed freedom after being released from Indian school. Unfortunately, the story lags in places despite the intriguing plot and well-drawn characters. Still, I am curious to read the two books that preceded it in this series: The Plague of Doves and The Round House. This book works as a stand-alone if so desired.


The Soloist, by Steve Lopez

Reviewed by Margaret M.   

An outstanding account of the dilemma facing the homeless, those battling mental illness, and the loved ones and friends of these individuals. Mr. Lopez explains that tackling this problem is 'do-able' but it is a process. This book is a must-read for every American citizen who wonders how to help those suffering mental illness and those who may have been driven to homelessness because of it.



A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Reviewed by Erisa B.   

Yesterday, I finished A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burrows. I originally picked up the book for the "read a book by an author with your same initials" assignment . I've always been a huge fan of fantasy and sci-fi but I had never read this one. I don't know why it's taken me so long to read this classic piece of literature. You would never know that it was released in 1912, more than 105 years ago! A Princess of Mars was originally released in a serial format from February–July, 1912 as Under the Moons of Mars in the pulp magazine All Story Magazine. It was later renamed and re-released in its entirety in 1917, and is the first of 11 books in the Barsoom series, the last known as John Carter of Mars, released in 1964.

For this serial publication, Burrows used the pen-name "Normal Bean" to show that his fantastic story was actually written by someone in his right mind. (It was accidentally "corrected" to Norman Bean in the publication). The narrative device is a great one: Edgar Rice Burrows has been made the executor of John Carter's estate, and has been given his autobiography. He is told to publish it 21 years after his death, and Burrows follows his instructions to the letter. This was intelligent on Burrows's part, as you feel part of the story right away and you feel as if you know John Carter intimately. Though Burrows set the majority of the story in Percival Lowell's version of Mars, A Princess of Mars seems to be more fantasy than scientific, with plenty of adventure, fighting and romance. Burrows's style and genre is timeless and it has been imitated time and again. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the series and getting to know John Carter a bit more. I'm so glad I finally met him.


One Step Behind, by Henning Mankell

Reviewed by Ellen S.   

For those who love mysteries and police procedurals, this is the series for you! Part of the charm of Henning Mankell's books for me is that all of his characters have a true depth to them, and are fallible. The crimes are vicious, yet plausible. In One Step Behind, a police officer is killed and the search for his killer coincides with the search for a group of missing young people who are also suspected of being murdered. How can these two very different crimes possibly be linked? This is one of my favorite Inspector Wallander books yet!



Flirting with Forever, by Gwyn Cready

Reviewed by Bonnie Y.

Trying to download a book to my reader brought me into contact with this time-travel historical romance by an award-winning writer. It's very Outlander-like, with the 17th-century painter Peter Lely of the court of Charles II meeting the modern Pittsbugh art historian, Campbell (Cam) Stratford, who is researching the artist Anthony Van Dyck. Back stories, art history, and historical figures brought richness to this fun summer read. Romance can happen between the centuries!



If you are not yet registered for the Summer Reading Club for Grown-ups at Burbank Public Library, it's not too late! Go here to do so (scroll to the bottom for the adult program), and then write some book reviews, play our activities game and, when you get tired of sitting at home alone, come to our programs! Summer fun at the library!


Sunday, June 18, 2017

This week at the library...

MONDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 10:00 a.m.

Family Shows presents...
RICHARD WOLOSKI PUPPETS
Family Shows provide summer fun for kids entering kindergarten and younger. Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and share the joy of reading.





Central Library, 6:30 p.m.

Foreign Film: THE LUNCHBOX
A mistaken delivery in Mumbai's famously efficient lunchbox delivery system connects Ila, a neglected housewife, to Saajan, a lonely man on the verge of retirement. Through a series of exchanged notes that they pass back and forth through the lunches, Saajan and Ila find comfort in their unexpected friendship. Gradually, their notes become little confessions about their loneliness, memories, regrets, fears, and even small joys. They each discover a new sense of self and find an anchor to hold on to in the big city of Mumbai that so often crushes hopes and dreams. Still strangers physically, Ila and Saajan become lost in their virtual relationship that could jeopardize both their realities. This film is in Hindi, with English subtitles. 105 minutes / rated PG


TUESDAY
Northwest Branch, 10:00 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Summer Storytime is for children entering Kindergarten and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.




Central Library, 12:00 noon

BROWN BAG BOOK CLUB
The club has read and will discuss Shakespeare Saved My Life, by Laura Bates. Bring your lunch and join in! The Brown Bag Book Club meets the third Tuesday of each month. Please call Naomi with any questions: 818-238-5620











Central Library, 7:00 p.m.

Family Shows presents...
RICHARD WOLOSKI PUPPETS
Family Shows provide summer fun for kids entering kindergarten and younger. Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and share the joy of reading.




Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

SCENE OF THE CRIME MYSTERY BOOK CLUB
The club has read and will discuss The Cutting Season, by Attica Locke, a heart-pounding thriller that interweaves two murder mysteries. The club meets the third Tuesday of each month in the Storytime Room at the Buena Vista Branch Library. Please call Naomi with any questions: 818-238-5620.










Also at Buena Vista at 7:00 p.m.


Teen Summer Reading Program presents...
BOOK CAFÉ
Book Café is a gathering place where teens can share what they're reading, trade books, and hang out for coffee house style refreshments. It's part of "Reading by Design," the summer reading program for teens. Bring whatever you're reading with you. This week's guest: Robin Benway, author of Emmy and Oliver, Also Known As, and Audrey Wait!

There are four sessions of Book Café this summer: June 6, 20, & 27, and July 11. If you attend three of the four sessions, you get a FREE BOOK! Prize drawings for books at all sessions, and a special gift for all attendees (while supplies last). For teens in grades 7-12 only.







WEDNESDAY
Northwest Branch, 10:00 a.m.

Family Shows presents...
RICHARD WOLOSKI PUPPETS
Family Shows provide summer fun for kids entering kindergarten and younger. Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and share the joy of reading.




Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

Summer Reading Club for Grades 1-6 presents...
ILLUSIONS BY ALLEN
Read! Write! Win! Submit book reviews online and come to the library to collect your prizes and enjoy super entertainment. Open to kids in grades 1-6 only. Due to limited to space, parents and caregivers must wait outside the meeting room.




THURSDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 10:00 a.m.

INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTERS
For first-time computer users. We will learn the parts of a computer, how to use a mouse, and how to get online. Space is limited. Call 818-238-5680 to sign up for this session or the one on Saturday, June 24.




Northwest Branch, 10:00 a.m.

Summer Reading Club for Grades 1-6 presents...
ILLUSIONS BY ALLEN
Read! Write! Win! Submit book reviews online and come to the library to collect your prizes and enjoy super entertainment. Open to kids in grades 1-6 only. The meeting is held outside in the park behind the library. It is shady, but in this hot weather, hats, sunscreen and water are recommended!


Buena Vista Branch, 10:15 OR 11:15 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Summer Storytime is for children entering Kindergarten and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.

A ticket is required to attend either session (10:15 or 11:15). A limited number of tickets will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis on the morning of the program at the Children’s Reference Desk at Buena Vista.

Central Library, 3:00 p.m.

Summer Reading Club for Grades 1-6 presents...
ILLUSIONS BY ALLEN
Read! Write! Win! Submit book reviews online and come to the library to collect your prizes and enjoy super entertainment. Open to kids in grades 1-6 only. Due to limited to space, parents and caregivers must wait outside the meeting room.



Central Library, 6:00 p.m.

LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES: ASSEMBLY
The Teen Summer Reading project for the summer is building three Little Free Libraries for Burbank! Tonight is our assembly stage: We have primed and painted all the pieces, and now we'll be putting them together, under the oversight of a couple of master carpenters. Then we will caulk seams and do some touch-up painting in preparation for next week's decoration session. And we may talk more about how the LFLs will be decorated! Teens in grades 7-12 please join us! Snacks will be provided. This program is for teens only!




Central Library, 7:00 p.m.

GENRE-X BOOK CLUB
(not your mother's book club)
Genre-X is a book club for Millennials and Gen-Xers to hang out, drink coffee, and read short, interesting books. Tonight: The club has read and will discuss Feed, by M. T. Anderson.











FRIDAY
Central Library, 10:00 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Summer Storytime is for children entering Kindergarten 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.

A GUIDE TO ANCESTRY.COM
Learn the basics of Ancestry.com with Barbara Randall of the Southern California Genealogical Society. No sign-ups necessary for this class. Ancestry.com is free and available for use within all Burbank Public Libraries.



SATURDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 10:00 a.m.

INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTERS
For first-time computer users. We will learn the parts of a computer, how to use a mouse, and how to get online. Space is limited. Call 818-238-5680 to sign up for this session.






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! We'll be dancing using shaker eggs & scarves and listening to music.





It's not too late to sign up for any of our summer reading clubs: Preschoolers, Grades 1-6, Teens, and Grown-ups! Go here to register, and then read, write, win, come to our programs and concerts, enjoy the summer at Burbank Public Library!


Thursday, June 15, 2017

More books about books and reading

I promised more books for the bibliographically "afflicted," so here is another list of titles to add to my previous post on books about books for those who love them. Some of these verge on Chick Lit, while others are incredibly complex philosophical explorations of the written word, and there's even some nonfiction:

The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett

Queen Elizabeth, in search of her beloved corgis, stumbles upon a bookmobile near the palace. She feels compelled by good manners to check out a book, which she struggles through, returns, and again feels compelled to take out another. But this one she enjoys! This behavior is out of character for the Queen, who has previously allowed herself few hobbies or interests that express a preference for anything, and now here she is, preferring books, which habit begins to influence the person she is and how she reigns and interacts with her subjects. Not everyone approves, however; politicians and staff collaborate to steer her away from this selfish, isolating, alienating addiction! A charming and clever novella that contains some astringent commentary within its simple story.


The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend,
by Katarina Bivald

Sara travels all the way from Sweden to small-town Iowa to meet her penpal, Amy, only to discover that it's the day of Amy's funeral. The town's residents rally around to make her feel better, and she ends up staying in Amy's home, surrounded by Amy's wide-ranging collection of books. She doesn't want to return to Sweden, so she decides to open up one of the depressed town's abandoned storefronts and sell Amy's books. But she's in the United States on a tourist visa...


The Jane Austen Book Club, by Karen Joy Fowler   

Set in California's Central Valley, this book follows the stories of five women and one man who start a book club to read and discuss the novels of Jane Austen. The action takes place over a six-month period, during which many interpersonal issues (some of which reflect what's happening within the novels of Austen) take place among and between these fans. This is a book about people who love reading and love talking about reading. It's a little satirical, and apparently not for everyone--there are some passionate expressions both for and against in the review on Goodreads! Try it for yourself (or chicken out and watch the movie).



The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,
by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

A book based on letters between a London writer and a man on the island of Guernsey immediately after World War II. He finds her name and address in a used book, and writes to her about the literary club he and his friends formed to evade the curfew imposed by the German occupying force of their island. A celebration of the written word.



The Reading Group, by Elizabeth Noble

Five English women form a book club. Over the course of a year, they read 12 novels, and through their discussions they bond while coping with life events that sometimes mirror the events of the books they choose to read.




If On A Winter's Night A Traveler, by Italo Calvino

This is a book about why people read, how they read, what reading does for them, and how readers interact with writers. It is an experimental novel that is simultaneously a work of philosophy, stories within stories within stories, and one reviewer on Goodreads opined that the movie could only be directed by David Lynch! If you read it, I want a book review from you afterwards!





The Bookseller of Kabul, by Åsne Seierstad   (nonfiction)

In spring 2002, following the fall of the Taliban, Åsne Seierstad spent four months living with a bookseller and his family in Kabul, Afghanistan. For more than 20 years the bookseller, Sultan Khan, defied the authorities (communist or Taliban) to supply books to the people of Kabul. He was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned by the communists, and watched illiterate Taliban soldiers burn piles of his books in the street. Although this book is ostensibly about censorship and courage, it is a politically controversial book. The bookseller's admirable fight against censorship is offset by his traditional (i.e., oppressive) views about women, and there is also the contention by some readers that a young, white, liberal Norwegian woman couldn't possibly adequately translate Afghan society for the world through a four-month stay with one family. But the book is a bestseller and an award-winner, so try it for yourself.



The Man Who Loved Books Too Much:
The True Story of a Thief, a Detective,
and a World of Literary Obsession,
by Allison Hoover Bartlett   (nonfiction)

A journalist befriends both an obsessive (and successful) book thief and the book dealer (and self-appointed detective) determined to catch him.


A Novel Bookstore, by Laurence Cossé

Francesca, the lonely but wealthy Italian wife of a Parisian captain of industry, and Ivan, an indigent seller of comic books and classic novels, combine forces to open a bookstore in the heart of Paris that has one simple goal: to sell only good novels. They form a secret committee of eight celebrated writers, asking each to submit a list of six hundred titles. These dictate the inventory that fills the shelves of The Good Novel Bookstore. Imagine what happens when the publishing industry and the "literati" get wind of this pair who are daring to narrowly define what constitutes a good novel--especially when their enterprise is successful!

BPL doesn't own this one, but I'm putting in a request.

The Book of Air and Shadows, by Michael Gruber  

A literary mystery, in which a fire in an antiquarian bookstore reveals a cache of letters containing a secret about William Shakespeare that puts intellectual property lawyer Jake Mishkin in the middle of a dangerous conspiracy.


Voices, by Ursula K. LeGuin  

Ansul was a peaceful town filled with libraries and books before the Alds came. The conquerors didn't just pillage the town and rape its occupants, they burned all the books and set up an oppressive regime under which the people of Ansul suffer. Memer, an orphan who is a product of the rape of an Ansul woman by an Ald, has a secret bond with the Waylord, who hides and preserves books for his people. LeGuin explores the role of the occupier and the occupied, the double-edged sword of religion as a force of peace and war, and the value of storytelling to transform the lives of individuals and their culture. This is the second book of The Annals of the Western Shore series, but can be read as a stand-alone. (in Young Adult Fiction)


If you are enrolled in the Summer Reading Club for Grown-ups, don't forget to review these books for 5 points per review. If you rack up 20 points, you will be entered in a drawing for some large, valuable prizes at the end of the summer! (If you are not enrolled, it's easy to do so. Go here, scroll down to the Grown-ups' program, and register.) And of course, this goes for any teens reading these titles as well!



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What we're reading: 14 Billion Years in a Nutshell


Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
by Neil deGrasse Tyson

We have attempted to answer the question in various guises and with imaginative constructions throughout human history: The nature of the cosmos and our place in it remains our most enduring and fundamental question. So a contemporary understanding of what we have come to know about the origins and makeup of the universe--through both the discovery and operation of fundamental physical laws and through experimental validation--would seem to be, if anything is, essential reading. This book is an attempt to make lay readers conversant with the basic outlines of that knowledge without resource to complicated physics or mathematical equations.

On this level, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry succeeds, although the workings of the cosmos described here are in some respects so conceptually astonishing that you may find yourself wondering if what you think you got, you only understood on a tertiary level, that it hasn't really sunk in when it comes to your deeper understanding. Perhaps, too, you will be left with the feeling that you want to know more, that this is not a subject that people, however hurried, ought to give only cursory attention. Understanding the ideas that structure our modern paradigm of how the universe functions deserves maybe a little more of our time. Maybe it’s something we ought to slow down for. The author, doubtless, would not disagree,  He's designed this book in a way that whets your appetite to increase your knowledge.

View of the Milky Way taken from Mangaia in the Cook Islands by Tunc Tezel
 
A theoretical representation of
what the supernova SN 200664
might have looked like
Tyson explains the Big Bang and the origins of the universe (this is the most mind-blowing part), and he touches on all the major forces and components in the universe: dark matter, relativity, gravity, the nature and forms of light and energy in the universe, stars, planets, nebulae, pulsars, quasars, supernovas, and the various methods and tools we have developed to measure and understand these phenomena. He takes us to the edges of what we know or might reasonably surmise, and leaves us hanging there.

James Ferguson explained in 1757 (in Astronomy Explained Upon Sir Issac Newton’s Principles) why he viewed astronomy as the most “sublime” science, "...our faculties are enlarged with the grandeur of the ideas it conveys, our minds exalted above their low contracted prejudices.” It is an exercise, an enlargement in mind and spirit that Tyson argues we seek because it is endemic to our nature, it is defining. He argues that it is also a state of mind that is critical if we are to be able to deal successfully with our problems here on Earth. And yet things of wonder, by their nature, can leave us feeling powerless and small, especially when the wonder involves large things.  It can be existentially terrifying. But our future depends on us feeling deeply both the wonder and the terror of the cosmos. 

An X- ray image of a pulsar in the crab nebula taken by
the Chandra X- Ray observatory


Sunday, June 11, 2017

This week at the library...

MONDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 10:00 a.m.

FAMILY SHOW
(Kindergarten and younger) presents...

BARNYARD EXTRAVAGANZA
Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and share the joy of reading.




TUESDAY
Northwest Branch, 10:00 a.m.

SUMMER STORYTIME
Summer Storytime is for children entering Kindergarten and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.




Northwest Branch, 4:00 p.m.

TEENS: LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES
Teens in grades 7-12 can help at any or all stages of building three Little Free Libraries for Burbank. Today, we are continuing our design discussions while painting the LFL components with their primer coat, at the picnic tables in the park behind the Northwest Branch, from 4:00 to about 7:00. Teens please join us! Remember to wear clothes you wouldn't mind splattering with paint! For more information, email burbank.teens@gmail.com.


Buena Vista Branch, 6:30 p.m.

Summer Reading for Grown-ups presents...
THE ILLUSIONIST
From the director of the Oscar®-nominated classic The Triplets of Belleville, The Illusionist is a story about two paths that cross. While touring concert halls, theaters, and pubs, an aging, down-on-his-luck magician encounters a young girl at the start of her life’s journey. Alice is a teenage girl with all her capacity for childish wonder still intact. She plays at being a woman without realizing the day to stop pretending is fast approaching. She doesn’t know yet that she loves The Illusionist like she would a father; he already knows that he loves her as he would a daughter. Their destinies will collide, but nothing – not even magic or the power of illusion – can stop the voyage of discovery. 80 minutes / rated PG

The film is in French with English subititles.


Central Library, 7:00 p.m.

FAMILY SHOW (Kindergarten and younger) presents...
BARNYARD EXTRAVAGANZA
Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and share the joy of reading.


WEDNESDAY
Northwest Branch, 10:00 a.m.

FAMILY SHOW (Kindergarten and younger) presents...
BARNYARD EXTRAVAGANZA
Weekly entertainment will inform and entertain preschoolers and share the joy of reading.


Central Library, 5:30 p.m.

MEETING: Board of Library Trustees


Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

Summer Reading Club (grades 1-6) presents...
WILDLIFE WENDY
Open to kids in grades 1-6 only.

Kids who read a lot over the summer not only maintain reading skills, they go back to school better prepared for all subjects. The library makes summer reading fun.

Read! Write! Win! Submit book reviews online and come to the library to collect your prizes and enjoy super entertainment. Due to limited to space, parents and caregivers must wait outside the meeting room.



THURSDAY
Northwest Branch, 10:00 a.m.

Summer Reading Club (grades 1-6) presents...
WILDLIFE WENDY
Open to kids in grades 1-6 only.


Buena Vista Branch

SUMMER STORYTIME
Two sessions:
10:15 to 10:45, and 11:15 to 11:45


Summer Storytime is for children entering Kindergarten and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.

A ticket is required to attend either session (10:15 or 11:15). A limited number of tickets will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis on the morning of the program, at the Buena Vista Children’s Reference Desk.


Central Library, 3:00 p.m.

Summer Reading Club (grades 1-6) presents...
WILDLIFE WENDY
Open to kids in grades 1-6 only.

Northwest Branch, 4:00 p.m.

TEENS: LITTLE FREE LIBRARIES
Teens in grades 7-12 can help at any or all stages of building three Little Free Libraries for Burbank. Today, we will paint the LFL components with their final base (background) coat, at the picnic tables in the park behind the Northwest Branch, from 4:00 to about 7:00. Teens please join us! Remember to wear clothes you wouldn't mind splattering with paint! For more information, email burbank.teens@gmail.com.



Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

Summer Reading for Grown-ups presents...
AN AUTHOR EVENT: FATA MORGANA

Ambitious, genre-busting, and grippingly believable, Fata Morgana is a beautifully crafted thrill ride that is part World War II adventure, part mind-bending science fiction, and part love story that is literally timeless.

At the height of the air war in Europe, Captain Joe Farley and the baseball-loving, wisecracking crew of the B-17 Flying Fortress Fata Morgana are in the middle of a harrowing bombing mission over East Germany when everything goes sideways. The bombs are still falling and flak is still exploding all around the 20-ton bomber as it is knocked like a bathtub duck into another world.

Authors Steven R. Boyett and Ken Mitchroney present an entertaining performance piece of some of the Fata Morgana cockpit conversations that take place in the book. For more information, click here. This event is presented by Summer Reading for Grown-ups, but all are welcome to attend! If you'd like to join the adult summer reading program, click here to register.


FRIDAY
Central Library, 10:00 a.m.
SUMMER STORYTIME


Summer Storytime is for children entering Kindergarten and younger. Storytime programs expose children and their parents and caregivers to books, simple songs, finger plays, rhymes, and crafts.


SATURDAY
Central Library, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

LITERACY TUTOR WORKSHOP
You can be part of this great program.
Call 818-238-5577 for more information.