Friday, June 22, 2007

Free movie: The Maltese Falcon

Don't forget: we'll be having a free showing of the classic 1941 noir film The Maltese Falcon on Thursday, June 28, at 7 p.m in the lecture hall of the Main Library, which is located at 300 Estudillo Avenue. Everyone is invited to attend.

Based on the mystery novel by Dashiell Hammett, the movie stars Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade, a shopworn San Francisco private eye, and Mary Astor as Brigid O'Shaugnessy, the beautiful, yet treacherous woman looking for a treasure that she’s willing to kill for. Also on the murderous hunt are a grafter played by Peter Lorre and a fat man named Gutman played by Sydney Greenstreet.

The Maltese Falcon was a career-making film for its stars as well as for its first-time director, John Huston. It was nominated for three Academy Awards in 1942 and is widely considered to be one of the first and finest noir films. The American Film Institute (AFI) ranked it #23 in their list of the best 100 movies in American cinema and the film ends with a line that is #14 on the AFI's list of top movie quotes in cinematic history: "The stuff that dreams are made of."

Pick up your free movie tickets at the Main Library’s Information Desk. Refreshments and door prizes are included. For more information, call (510) 577-3971.

Save Money on Books has an article on how to get your "word fix for free" or almost free: 12 Ways to Save Money on Books. Some are so obvious that it seems silly that there were even listed. For example: go to library (an idea that I heartly endorse)...share with used books. But the author also lists some online book trading and rental sites (ala Netflix) that I thought you might want to check out. Anyway, here's the article:
Reading books can quickly become an expensive pastime, but it doesn't have to be that way. There are many ways that you can greatly decrease the cost of reading -- sometimes to literally nothing -- without compromising the breadth of literature available. Here are five ways to get your fix for the written word for free.
And by the way, don't forget you can purchase books very inexpensively at The San Leandro Friends of the Library Bookstore as well as at their biannual booksales in October and April. Additionally, when your bookshelves start to overflow, you can donate books to the Friends throughout the year.

Still looking for some good summer books? is running a four part series on summer reads that promise to "engage your imagination just enough, but not so much that your brain's gears start to grind." Each part focuses on a different genre.

The first part is called Killer Thrillers and includes "a quest for a lost Shakespeare manuscript [which is the one I'm reading and enjoying right now], the case of a missing girl's mysterious return, a dying man's search for the truth about his ex-wife, an Australian detective whose time off turns grisly, and the mystery of a tattooed corpse."

The second part's titled Chic Lit and its novel suggestions range from "a saga of 17th century maidens to a 21st century mom flirting with disaster," and promises to "make you feel cheap and sexy in the best possible way."

The third article is Great Escapes, and its book recommendations "involve some kind of escape from average, everyday reality. Some document an actual journey...[while] other books provide a peek at a different way of life."

The fourth is yet to be published, but I'll post a link once it is.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New York Times Book Blog

The New York Times began a book blog on June 6 called Paper Cuts that, as far as I can tell, doesn't require registration or a subscription. Writer/blogger Dwight Garner's first entry is as follows:

Welcome to the first post of the Book Review’s first blog.

Paper Cuts will be a daily round-up of news and opinion about books and other printed matter. Make that an almost daily round-up. There won’t be posts on weekends. Or holidays. Or on the mornings after the Book Review’s bimonthly drinks nights at Jimmy’s Corner, a bar in midtown Manhattan.

But most days, we’ll be here.

I've been enjoying reading Paper Cuts over the past week and thought you might too. Thus far, I've found it insightful, newsy, opinionated, and smart. Let me know what you think.


Dashiell Hammett's SF Apartment

Dashiell Hammet is thought to have lived in the big building to the left, 891 Post, Apartment #401 while a resident of San Francisco. As best I can tell, #401 would be located on the top floor in the right corner. Apparently, this is also where the character Sam Spade lived in The Maltese Falcon.

I don't think we'll get to tour the actual apartment on our Hammett Walk. However, local mystery author Michael Coggins was lucky enough to get a walk-thru, and he's posted pictures on his website.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Civil War Reactment

In our last meeting we discussed civil war reenactments held in California. Elizabeth mentioned that the San Lorenzo Middle School down in King City does a civil war reenactment annually and she just sent me the link. They have a nice web page that has movies and pictures of their reenactments from previous years. It looks like they really go all out with uniforms, equipments, battle plans, etc.

This seems like a fun way to help kids better understand and appreciate history. It can make a history lesson come alive, so kids realize that it's not just about dates, battles, and treaties, but that there's alot of human drama, alot of blood, sweat and tears involved; which is of course, what makes history so fascinating...and so memorable. Anyway, I thought you might like to visit the website in case you wanted to share the idea with your kids' or grandkids' school.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Film: Out of the Book

Powell's Books is producing a series of short films about authors and their works called Out of the Book. The first in the series will focus on Ian McEwan and his newest book, On Chesil Beach. It will be released on DVD Wednedsay, June 13. (I've requested a copy for the library). There will also be screenings in cities across the country.

I look forward to seeing the film. From the preview, it looks like a quality production and will hopefully help promote interest in and discussions of contemporary literature...just like book groups do.
Powell's Books introduces a groundbreaking series of compelling short films about authors. Out of the Book™ delivers engaging portraits of writers and their work. More expansive than traditional readings, the project aims to generate spirited discussion about great new books and their impact on readers' lives.

Out of the Book's first edition features bestselling British author Ian McEwan and his novel, On Chesil Beach. Directed by Doug Biro (Herbie Hancock: Possibilities) and shot over four days in England and the United States, the film includes interviews with McEwan in London, on-location footage from Chesil Beach, an original soundtrack, commentary from peers and critics, and more.
Local Screenings can be seen at:
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925

1090 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025

You can watch a preview here:

Thanks to Young Adult Librarian Kelly Keefer for this tip.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Where Writers Write

Many years ago I saw this picture of the writing shed in Wales where the Dylan Thomas penned some of his famous poetry and thought, "Yeah, well I could write great poetry if I worked in a room like that!" Unfortunately, I now know better. However, I still enjoy seeing where writers practice their craft, and apparently, so do others.

The Guardian has a webpage with links to photos of the rooms where contemporary British authors do their writing. I love the pictures partly because it doesn't appear that they were "styled" for the cameras, but instead, left in their natural state, revealing each author's preferred creative style: neat and organized or cluttered and chaotic.

U.K.'s Orange Prize for Fiction Announced

Linda passed me this BBC news item announcing this year's winner of the Orange Prize. She said that she just finished reading the book and that it blew her away. The judges must have had a similar reaction:
Author Adichie wins Orange Prize

Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been named winner of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction.

She beat five other contenders for the £30,000 women-only award, including Kiran Desai, shortlisted for her Booker Prize winner The Inheritance of Loss. Adichie's novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, is her second work and set during the Biafran War of the 1960s. Link to full article.

Place a library hold on this book here.

Oprah interviews Cormac McCarthy

Oprah interviewed publicity-shy author Cormac McCarthy yesterday (June 5) on her show. If you missed the broadcast, watch it on her book club website. (Registration required.)

FYI: Readers Roundtable will be discussing McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Road on Saturday, October 6.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

"Read Any Good Books Lately?"

Looking for a good book to read, why not read what your favorite writer recommends in this New York Time article?
Read Any Good Books Lately?
We asked a handful of writers what books they've enjoyed most over the last few months, and why. Their choices --from best sellers to poetry collections to a philosophy of science -- are idiosyncratic and instructive. Link to full article.
Thanks for the tip Linda!

Definitive Book of the 20th Century

As sponsor of last week's Hay Book Festival in Wales, The Guardian newspaper did an online survey to find out which book best defined the 20th Century. Not surprisingly, 1984 claimed a decisive victory, getting 22% of all votes. The article goes on to list the other top ten titles. Most are what you'd expect, but two titles definitely belie a British bias: One I've never heard of; and the other is, to my mind, way out of its league (even though it's a charming book). See what you think:
"Paranoia, propaganda and a state of perpetual war are the defining characteristics of the last century, according to the results of a national survey announced at the Hay festival today." Link to full article.
BTW: If you like charming pictures of quaint villages, visit The Guardian's Hay Festival website and click on the Hay Vision link. The website also has links to festival news, articles and interviews.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Readers Roundtable Meeting

Reader's Roundtable is tomorrow, Saturday, June 2 at 2 p.m. We'll be discussing the book Confederates in the Attic. Until then, here are a few websites you can visit.

Farbs, Fireants, and Catfish Whiskers
This is a humorous "diary of the deep south" written by Tony Horwitz in 1998 after the release of Confederates in the Attic. It begins with him and civil wargasm companion Robert Lee Hodge--in full odoriferous uniform flying to a reenactment in Mississippi. There's also a picture of Hodge. I think he looks like the guy on the cover of our book. What do you think?

National Park Service: Civil War Parks
This web page has links to Civil War sites that are now part of the National Park Service. The second picture in this post is Shiloh's Bloody Pond, mentioned in the book. The caption says "This shallow pool offered cool comfort to the suffering wounded during the battle. Their blood stained its water red."

And here are a few websites that I found with information on Civil War Reenactments. There are lots more if you're interested. Just do a Google search.

News: Future Book Sales Look Flat

The AP is reporting that book sales will remain steady. Since I feared that sales were in a permanent, precipitous decline, this is reassuring news to me. Of course, independent book stores are still struggling to stay open and publishers' marketing budgets are still lavished on proven bestselling authors. But at least people (and libraries) aren't abandoning books altogether. - Lori
Future Book Sales Look Flat, Group Says

For the foreseeable future, book sales are looking flat.

According to the latest report from the Book Industry Study Group, released Friday, dollar sales and the number of books sold will increase by small levels through 2011, rising by 3 percent or less each year. Link to full article.