Monday, May 28, 2007

Summer Reads

My already impossibly long list of books to read grew substantially after listening to NPR's Talk of the Nation on Memorial Day. book critic Laura Miller (one of my favorites), blogger Maud Newton, and local author ZZPacker (Drinking Coffee Elsewhere) were the guests and together, with some help from listener call-ins, came up with an eclectic, very intriguing summer reading list. It sounded so good that I wanted to spend the rest of the day sprawled out on the couch, engrossed in a good book. (Alas, not an option.)

So, if you're looking for a few good beach reads, you might want to listen to the 35 minute audio What to Read this Summer?
Summer reading means some tough decisions: the mystery or memoir? "Chick lit" or literary fiction? With help from some experts, it's time to craft you're summer reading list.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I used to travel alot, but these days I'm more of an armchair traveller; it's cheaper and I don't have to worry about my suitcase getting lost. Still, like many of us, I yearn to explore new places and am constantly searching for engrossing books and movies that will immerse me in another place and culture. is answering this need by creating a Literary Guide to the World. So if you still can't quite afford a plane ticket to Rio, find a book that sends you there.
Wouldn't it be cool if there was a travel guide devoted not to restaurants, hotels and museums, but to the literature of a place? Yes, it would. So here it is: Salon's Literary Guide to the World. Link to article.
BTW: I saw the movie The Painted Veil on DVD this past weekend and thoughly enjoyed it. It was shot in China in the style of Merhant/Ivory, so the scenery was beautiful and lush.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Author Tour: Kahled Hosseini

Kahled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and a new book Ten Thousand Splendid Suns, will be making several appearances in the Bay Area in early June on a book tour. You can get the date/time/places off the events page on his website.

I heard Mr. Hosseini speak last fall and thought he was very engaging and funny. He told the charming story of how he met and married his wife.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pulp Fiction As Art

Inspired by pop-up books and Viewmasters, artist Thomas Allen sculpts action shots from pulp fiction covers and then takes a picture of the sculpture. His works can be viewed on The Joseph Bellows Gallery website and feature detectives, gunslingers, boxers, femme fatales, and even a few nursery characters. So take a moment to browse these pulp pageturners and imagine what happens next. Like what happens to our handsome hero after he plunges head first off this towering stack of paperback books....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Don't Miss This!

Here's an original, hilarious idea for promoting a book. (Goodness knows how she's ever going to get her "dry-erase board" clean and white again.)

BTW: The library has the book, No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July, on order. You can place your hold now.

And thanks again to the blog SF Girl By Bay, which I visit for its pretty pictures and inspiring design tips. Just a bonus, I guess, that it's had some good bits about books lately.

John Muir Poets

Next time you're in the Main Library, stop by the big striped bulletin board in the children's library. There's some wonderful poetry from the students at John Muir Elementary School. I've posted a couple of the poems here, but there's lots more and they're all great. Also, you may have noticed that San Leandro Library has had many eye-catching, delightfully imaginative bulletin boards over the years. Credit goes to Senior Library Assistant Tina Shaffer, our resident artist, florist, storytime star, and so much more.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Event: San Francisco "Spell-In"

Local writers particpated in a spirited spelling bee on Monday night (5/14) in San Francisco. It was a fundraiser for Berkeley-based Small Point Press Distribution. SFGate has a clever, pun-happy article about the event. There's also a fun 6 minute video.
Here, have a drink -- now spell 'ukulele'
Tobias Wolff summed it up best: "I believe it's a very poor writer who can't spell a word more than one way," said Wolff, who, along with a group of the Bay Area's literary illuminati, looked a bit "illiterati" at a celebrity spelling bee in San Francisco on Monday night. Link

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Thus far in the history of the Readers Roundtable, the book Kite Runner seems to be the only unanimous favorite. Now, author Khaled Hossieni has a new book coming out on May 22, called A Thousand Splendid Suns. (The library has copies on order and you can place a hold now.)

Find out more about the book on Hossieni's website:
A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to the post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. Link to full book description.

You can also see an interview with the Hossieni on

Colbert goes after the "Book Critic Literazis"

Stephen Colbert debates the value of book reviews with author Salman Rushdie.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A good thing...

This charming idea is from the May 2007 issue of Martha Stewart Living.

"A good read always makes a nice gift, but why not make it good-looking, too? Use rubber stamps to decorate the edges with a design or message. It'll add a personal touch to any tome. To ensure a happy ending, hold the pages together as you stamp." Link.

Like many students, I decorated (defaced?) the edges of my high school textbooks with colored pens and highlighters. It was a fun way to avoid actually doing my homework --especially my math homework. Leave it to Martha to turn this idea into something useful and pretty.

Note, however, that any markings you make on a book could lower its value if it ever becomes collectable. -Lori

Thanks to the design blog SFGirlByBay for this item.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Bill Clinton's Puzzling New Pastime

The documentary WordPlay revealed that ex-President Bill Clinton loves doing crosswords, and now, it seems that he also wants to create them. Last Sunday's edition of The New York Times Magazine (May 5) features a special boomer-edition crossword called Twistin' the Oldies with clues penned by the ex-president himself.

BTW: If you're also a crossword puzzle fan and haven't seen Wordplay, then shame on you! It's a fun film. Here's a preview.

"The Tender Bar" is a Bestseller in Germany

The New York Times has an interview with J.R. Moehringer, the author of the "beery" memoir The Tender Bar (Readers Roundtable March 2007 book). Moehringer is asked why his book, set mostly in Long Island, New York, has become a such big seller in Germany of all places, and he gamely comes up with some pretty plausible explanations.
BIG IN BERLIN: J. R. Moehringer’s memoir The Tender Bar (2005), about how the author, as a boy, found a family of sorts in a Long Island saloon, was a best seller in the States — it spent four weeks on our hardcover list and seven more in paperback. Interestingly, the book has found an enthusiastic audience as well in Germany, where it was recently No. 3 on Der Spiegel’s best-seller list. Link to article.

Author Photo: Marion Ettinger/Hyperion

Barbara Kingsolver in Berkeley

Some of you have mentioned how much you like Barbara Kingsolver's work, so I wanted to alert you to an upcoming local appearance.

On Tuesday, May 15 at 7:30 p.m. Ms. Kingsolver be at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley (2345 Channing Way at Dana, Berkeley) to talk about her new book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, this book makes a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life, and diversified farms at the center of the American diet.

This event will benefit for The Edible Schoolyard and the Ecology Center's Farmers Market. Tickets are $20/$10 and available ONLY at Cody’s Books or by phone with credit card, 510-559-9500.

If you're willing to travel further, she'll also be visiting bookstores in Marin and Sonoma counties.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
01:00 PM

51 Tamal Vista BLVD Corte Madera, CA 94925
(415) 927-0960

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
08:00 PM

Copperfield's Books
Santa Rosa, CA
(707) 578-8938

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Orwell's Home

Here's the link to the SF Chronicle article Writer's Retreat (3/18/07) on George Orwell's home in Scotland for those who haven't read it yet.

BTW: I enjoyed Saturday's lively discussion about Nineteen Eighty-Four and am still mulling it all over. (Thanks Connie for sharing the article...and the cartoon. ;-)
After wrenching free of my habitual moorings, last summer I stood below the whitewashed stone wall of an old farmhouse on a remote Scottish isle. I stared out at the same wild, coastal view that a dying George Orwell took in whenever he raised his eyes from writing his last book, the dystopian epic, "1984." Link to article.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Reminder: Reader's Roundtable Meeting

Attention Thoughtcriminals:

Reader's Roundtable is tomorrow, Saturday, May 5 at 2 p.m. We'll be discussing George Orwell's classic dystopian novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four."

See you then!
-Big Brother

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Links: The Complete Newspeak Dictionary

The Complete Newspeak Dictionary is a fan website devoted to the novel 1984. The part of the site I've found most helpful is the Newspeak Wiktionary. You can access it via the 1984 - Newspeak Button. Here, you'll find newspeak word definitions:
Bellyfull: Full emotional understanding. Blind, enthusiastic acceptance of a concept.
You'll also find profiles of the characters in 1984 as well as descriptions of the various settings, organizations, and countries mentioned in the book.

Another section worth checking out is the Modern Newspeak section. Here, the website's author/s propose a provocative list of modern-day newspeak equivalents.

FYI: It seems like this website leans a little to the political left (as did George Orwell), so just be aware as you peruse the site that there might be a bit of a bias. Also, keep in mind that the Newspeak Wikitionary, like Wikipedia (which also has some interesting articles on 1984), is a collaborative online resource. There are many authors of varied expertise and opinion, and as we've discovered in our own book discussions, a work of fiction is open to a variety of interpretations--that's what makes it interesting!

However, the overall tone of the The Complete Newspeak Dictionary website is very much in-keeping with the novel and offers some plusgood insights into the world of 1984.