Saturday, November 18, 2017

Next week at the library...

Central Library, 6:30 p.m.

Le Petit Cinema presents...
A film based around the life of Canadian folk painter Maud Lewis who, despite being crippled by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, painted every day. Maud, a bright-eyed, intelligent woman, yearns to be independent from her overly protective family. She answers an advertisement for a housekeeper by a 40-year-old bachelor, Everett, and over time, she wins his heart. Her determination for her art, along with her partnership with Everett, blossoms into a career as a famous folk artist.

Make sure you stay for the end titles, as we get some fascinating archive footage of the real-life Maud and Everett.

119 minutes / PG 13

Central Library, 12:00 noon

The club has read and will discuss The Bridge Ladies, by Betsy Lerner. Please bring your lunch and join the discussion! This club meets the third Tuesday of each month. Please direct questions to

Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

The club has read and will discuss Thin Air, by Ann Cleeves. This club also meets the third Tuesday of each month, and more information can be obtained by writing to

Central Library

This meeting of COLORING ZONE has been cancelled. Please join us on December 5!

All branches

All branches of Burbank Public Library will CLOSE EARLY at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, and will remain closed all day Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Central and Buena Vista will be open normal hours on Saturday and Sunday.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What we're reading: Neo & Buddhism

Why Buddhism is True, by Robert Wright 
Reviewed by LDU

Before we look at Why Buddhism is True, answer the following question as if your life depends on it: Would you take the red pill?

This is the question posed to Neo, the main protagonist in the Wachowski siblings’ insightful 1999 blockbuster movie, The Matrix. In the science fiction story, Neo, like millions of other people, has been living in a state of suspension, eternally dreaming in a gelatinous pod controlled by robot overlords. A rebel faction led by Morpheus offers Neo the chance to leave the dreamlike prison and face a potentially hellish life in the real world. Of course, our hero Neo takes the red pill.

All of this begs the question: So what? How does this tie in with Why Buddhism is True?

It turns out that the Wachowski siblings insisted that Keanu Reeves, the actor portraying Neo, read three books before preparing for his role. One of them, The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life, was penned by Robert Wright, bestselling author and Visiting Professor of Science and Religion at the Union Theological Seminary, in New York. Wright’s latest work looks at the practice of mindfulness as a way to transcend our daily rambling thoughts and ego-based illusions and face life as it really is ­– with all its joy and pain and terrifying finitude – moment by moment. One can argue that facing life as discussed in the book is on parallel with the rejection of our self-constructed pods of illusion. In other words, we can finally wake up.

Readers soon learn that "Why Buddhism is True” is a misleading title, since it doesn’t focus on the Eastern religion. Although Buddhist writings and philosophy are noted, sometimes in detail, throughout, it’s not the main focus. Rather, Wright’s work – laid out in a clear, often brilliant, occasionally humorous fashion – tilts heavily toward one’s own nature of reality, the (possible) existence of pure objectivity, and why the practice of mindfulness can serve as a portal toward some important answers for those who want to learn – a slow-acting, often-frustrating “red pill,” if you will. Wright discusses what has become known as “Western Buddhism,” essentially Buddhism stripped of all the religious tales that muddy the psychological and spiritual waters. Using modern psychology, neurology and philosophy as tools, he also explores the difficulty of maintaining a regular mindfulness practice, a passive effort (a typically Buddhist oxymoron) that even the wisest Zen master on the highest mountain never fully comprehends.

As such, Why Buddhism is True is not easy reading. Getting the full benefit of Wright’s thinking, rooted in far more questions than answers, ironically requires the kind of mindfulness attained by the practice of, well, mindfulness itself. Those who want to be entertained – whisked away to the interior world of a dreaming wordsmith – are encouraged to peruse the thousands of fiction works in the library. (Unlike the aforementioned robot-controlled pods, embracing someone else’s make-believe reality needn’t be permanent. Fiction makes for a welcome, though temporary, vacation.) For those who are interested in mindfulness and how it translates to their lives, give this volume a go. And if this turns out to be your cup of tea, try some of Wright’s other works, including The Evolution of God and Non-Zero: the Logic of Human Destiny.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Reminder: Open Enrollment

Enrollment for 2018 health care through the Affordable Care Act is now open. It is a shortened enrollment period; you must enroll by December 15. So be sure to visit the health care website, check out your options, and either sign up or compare plans for your health coverage.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

This week at the library...

Buena Vista Branch, 6:30 p.m.

Twilight Cinema presents...
Based on the worldwide best-selling memoir and starring Academy Award® winner Brie Larson and Academy Award® nominees Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts, The Glass Castle chronicles the adventures of an eccentric, resilient, tight-knit family. Jeannette had a poor but wildly adventurous childhood, raised by her free-spirited father and her mother, an eccentric artist. But when her father's behavior become erratic, Jeannette must find the courage to live on her own terms in this uplifting story of unconditional love.
127 minutes / PG-13

Central Library, 7:00 p.m.
The club has read and will discuss Variant, by Robison Wells, a teen thriller with a mind-blowing twist.

This club is for enrolled teens only, and is full; to be included on the waiting list, please email

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. The club meets the 3rd Thursday of each month upstairs at the Central Library.

The club has read and will discuss One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, by B. J. Novak, based on his stand-up performances and his work on the comedy series The Office.

Central Library, 2:00 p.m.

Friday Matinee presents...
Based on the true life story of a young Marine Corporal whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq.
117 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.

Central Library, 10:00 a.m.

Stop in between 10 a.m. and noon to build and create. This program is for children ages 2-14 and their families. Children under 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. Fall Session begins September 14 and ends on November 16, 2017. Songs, stories, and rhymes for children under 12 months.

Buena Vista Branch:
Tuesdays and Wednesdays @ 10:00 a.m.
Central Library: Fridays @ 10:00 a.m.

Registration is required for the Buena Vista Branch Toddler Storytime.  The Fall Session for Tuesdays and Wednesdays runs from September 12 to November 15, 2017, and is full(Please consider attending at the Central Library on Friday mornings at 10 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)

Spanish and English
Northwest Branch: This Thursday, 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, November 09, 2017

What we're reading: Alice Hoffman

I was at loose ends for something to read a couple of weeks ago, and discovered The Third Angel, by Alice Hoffman, on my Kindle; somehow I had never gotten around to it!

This book is basically about three women in love with the wrong men, and although the stories each take place on a different timeline, they are all connected in some way, with relationships reaching from the present into the past. Maddie is attracted to her sister's fiance--in fact, she seems to be more attracted to him than her sister is! But there are things she doesn't know about Paul.... Frieda, a doctor's daughter who is rebelling against her background (her father thinks she belongs in school) by working as a maid in a London hotel, becomes the unexpected secret muse of a rock star engaged to a socialite. Bryn is about to marry a man who adores her, but can't let go of her charismatic ex-husband. And Lucy blames herself for the tragic accident she witnessed at the age of 12, which ultimately involves all of these individuals.

I was intrigued by how Hoffman wove the three stories in together, and how Lucy was the mother of Allie and Maddy, the girls in the first story, but had died before Frieda, the mother of Paul, the groom in the first story, would have met her; yet Frieda's life, in the second story, was entangled with some of the same characters who were significant in Lucy's story, the third and earliest, although told last. This convolutedness was both appealing and confusing, so that I spent part of the story enthralled and other parts frustrated and a little confused.

I felt some of the writing was a little over the top; Hoffman is always lyrical and descriptive, but some of it felt too drama-laden and fate-filled even for her. But the imagery--the heron, the rabbit, the dog (the one at the end and the ones Michael Macklin longed to know or be), the ghost in the hallway--was lovely. I found myself wanting to find the original story of the heron wife, and do an illustrated retelling of it.

Coincidentally, right after finding The Third Angel on my Kindle, I discovered Hoffman's brand-new book, The Rules of Magic, on the new books shelf. This is the long anticipated prequel to Hoffman's most famous book, Practical Magic. It tells the story of the aunts from that book, when they were young, and gives more background on the whole Owens family, from original ancestor Maria Owens on down. In 1620, Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man, and she put a love curse on her descendents that would doom every relationship. Hundreds of years later, the two elderly aunts from Practical Magic (Franny and Jet) are young girls growing up in New York City of the 1960s, themselves coping with the dangers of entanglement and discovering their special gifts. And although there were only the two aunts left by the time Sally and Gillian in Practical Magic came to live with them in Massachusetts, once upon a time there was also a beloved brother, Vincent, and this book is partially the story of what happened to him.

I'm thinking that maybe I just picked the wrong week to read this, or that two books heavy on magical realism were too many in a row. Because...I didn't adore it. I loved the characters, I loved the magical elements and some of the situations, and the love stories and the back story for Practical Magic...but the entire book somehow just didn't gel for me. It didn't feel like a story.

It made me feel like I did when I read book #5 in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. I thought at the time that the first three books were fantastic, and that #4 was pretty good too; but when she started on the ones in which she told the back stories of the individual peripheral vampires (Armand, Pandora, Vittorio), they all felt to me like a series of events with no story arc; like, "This happened, and then this, and then this," and the book ended. That's what this book felt like to me. I don't mean to insult it, because her characters and imaginative details were as amazing as just didn't feel like a satisfying tale with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

But don't let my experience dictate yours; there are dozens of readers on Goodreads who gave this five stars and raved about it. And if you like magical realism, you will be delighted by its witchy imagery.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Author Event: Henry Fonda and James Stewart

Bestselling author and distinguished film critic Scott Eyman will be at our Buena Vista Branch this Wednesday night (November 8) at 7:00 p.m. to discuss his latest book (reviewed below). This event is free to the public.
We will have copies of the book for sale, and the author will autograph
after his talk.

Hank and Jim: The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart,
by Scott Eyman.

If you are a fan of Fonda or Stewart and the stars of “Classic Hollywood,” Scott Eyman’s new book is, of course, going to be of interest to you. But even if you don’t have a particular interest in these two wonderful actors, this book is fascinating social history, and it also tells a compelling human story. Eyman has studied and written about some of the major directors and stars of early 20th-century Hollywood—he has coauthored with Robert Wagner three installments to date of that actor’s memoirs; he has written biographies about John Wayne and Mary Pickford, and he’s produced monumental studies of Cecil B. DeMille, Louis B. Mayer, and John Ford. He knows intimately the society and culture of the era, and this knowledge informs his story of "Hank and Jim."

Eyman places the story of the development of their careers and the story of their long friendship in that evolving context, and in the course of reading this book you will learn a great deal about how movies were made—and how a movie star’s career was made—during this time. Eyman explains how America changed and how stars adapted to the changing demands of the public for what it wanted to see in its screen icons. As Leonard Maltin has written, “Scott Eyman has a gift for exploring subjects we think we know, then deepening and enriching that knowledge through diligent research and his gift of observation.”

James Stewart was a decorated bomber pilot and commander
in World War II. Fonda served in the Navy in the Pacific during the war.
This photo shows Stewart visiting Fonda on the set of the art western
The Ox-Bow Incident, shortly before he was deployed to his post in England.
Photo credit: Leonard Maltin Collection

Beyond the story of two young men on the rise together in the early years of the movie industry, what draws the reader in is the apparent mystery of their friendship. They seemed unalike in so many ways, not only in their screen personas but also in their private lives. Their careers took very different paths: Fonda and Stewart each made memorable movies, but they starred opposite each other in only three, one a comedy in mid-career called On Our Merry Way, and (much later) two westerns, Firecreek, and the Cheyenne Social Club.

Fonda was a ladies’ man who was married five times, and involved in troubled and sometimes tragic relationships. Stewart married later in life, and remained married to the same woman for 45 years. Politically, they were poles apart. Fonda was a liberal Democrat, and Stewart a conservative and sometimes outspoken Republican. They both had served in World War II, but Stewart’s military career and ambitions differed from Fonda’s. When it came to the divisive war in Vietnam, Fonda’s daughter Jane, of course, was an outspoken opponent of the war. Stewart’s son was killed while serving in Vietnam. 

Fonda and Stewart shared a passion for building and flying model airplanes.
Happy to be alone together, they didn't talk much to each other while doing this.

So we are engaged and lead along by a mystery in this book. We wonder why they were friends, what was the common ground that held their friendship together, that made for their enduring life-long bond? That is the mystery Eyman gradually unfolds here, showing his understanding and insight, and often illustrating with wonderful anecdotes and vignettes, such as the amusing account of the “conversation” between Hank and Jim while building a model airplane, told by Peter Fonda. This is a poignant tracing of the arc of two famous lives. Through this exploration of the friendship between Fonda and Stewart, the reader comes to understand something more fundamental about the nature of each man; we get behind the screen image to who they were as individuals. You can’t go back to watching either man on the screen again without what you have come to learn about them in Hank and Jim enriching their performances. And that seems exactly what a book like this should do.

Stewart would play the accordion to amuse his friends. Here he serenades Fonda in
London's Hyde Park in 1975. Stewart was performing for London audiences in the play

Sunday, November 05, 2017

This week at the library...

Central Library, 6:30 p.m.

The club has read and will discuss Séraphine, by Marie Desplechin. For more information about this club, call Isabelle at 818-238-5620.

Central Library, 5:30 p.m.


Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

MEET SCOTT EYMAN, the author of
HANK AND JIM: The 50-Year Friendship of
Henry Fonda and James Stewart

New York Times bestselling author Scott Eyman tells the story of the remarkable friendship of two Hollywood legends. Henry Fonda and James Stewart met as young actors and remained close until Fonda’s death 50 years later. They were roommates as stage actors in New York, and when they began making films in Hollywood, they roomed together again. They were about as different as two people could be, and Eyman tells us the story of what made for this extraordinary and seemingly improbable friendship.

To write the book, Eyman spoke with Fonda’s widow and children as well as with three of Stewart’s, and interviewed actors and directors who had worked with the men. He also did extensive archival research to get the full details of their time together. This is not just another Hollywood story, but a fascinating portrait of a friendship that lasted through war, marriages, children, and careers. And it’s filled with fascinating anecdotes about the others Fonda and Stewart worked with over the course of their careers.

Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Central Library, 4:00 p.m.

Family Films presents...
Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers led by arrogant hotshot Jackson Storm, the legendary Lightning McQueen is suddenly sidelined and pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back on track, he'll need the help of eager young racing technician Cruz Ramirez, inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet, and a few unexpected twists and turns of fate. A high-octane hit that's fully loaded with unforgettable characters and spectacular animation!
103 minutes / Rated G

A second screening will be held at the Buena Vista Branch on Tuesday, November 14.

Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.

Book-talking and coffee house treats! Bring whatever you’re reading, stand up and tell others how amazing it is. That’s what we do at Book Café!

ALSO: Find out who will be named the TOP WRITERS in the “Stranger in a Strange Land” story-writing contest. Prizes will be awarded, so if you submitted a story, be sure to come to this session of Book Café to see if you won a prize! This event is for teens in grades 6-12 only.

All branches of Burbank Public Library will be CLOSED on Friday, November 10 and Saturday, November 11, in observance of Veterans' Day.

Join the City of Burbank at 11:00 a.m. Friday morning at McCambridge Park, 1515 N. Glenoaks Blvd., for a time of song, word, remembrance and celebration as we honor our U.S. Troops at the Annual Veterans' Day Ceremony. This event will take place at the McCambridge Park War Memorial, which is on the corner of Amherst and San Fernando. For more information, please call 818.238.5378.

For a listing of other upcoming veteran-related events in California, check out the CalVet website calendar.


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

Registration is required. Please call 818 238-5640 to sign up. Fall Session begins September 14 and ends on November 16, 2017. Songs, stories, and rhymes for children under 12 months.

this week:
Buena Vista Branch:
Tuesday and Wednesday @ 10:00 a.m.

Registration is required for the Buena Vista Branch Toddler Storytime.  The Fall Session for Tuesdays and Wednesdays runs from September 12 to November 15, 2017, and is full.

PRESCHOOL STORYTIMES (ages 3-5) this week:
Northwest Branch: Wednesday @ 10:00 a.m.
Central Library: Thursday @ 10:00 a.m.