Monday, November 26, 2007

Evening Book Discussion Group at the Library

The next meeting of the evening book discussion group will be this Thursday, November 29th. The group will meet in the Board Room on the 2nd floor of the library at 6:30 pm. New participants are welcome to join!

This month they will be discussing the book: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Here is a brief description of the book from Amazon:

Three Cups of Tea: "The inspiring account of one man's campaign to build schools in the most dangerous, remote, and anti- American reaches of Asia.

In 1993 Greg Mortenson was the exhausted survivor of a failed attempt to ascend K2, an American climbing bum wandering emaciated and lost through Pakistan's Karakoram Himalaya. After he was taken in and nursed back to health by the people of an impoverished Pakistani village, Mortenson promised to return one day and build them a school. From that rash, earnest promise grew one of the most incredible humanitarian campaigns of our time—Greg Mortenson's one-man mission to counteract extremism by building schools, especially for girls, throughout the breeding ground of the Taliban.

Award-winning journalist David Oliver Relin has collaborated on this spellbinding account of Mortenson's incredible accomplishments in a region where Americans are often feared and hated. In pursuit of his goal, Mortenson has survived kidnapping, fatwas issued by enraged mullahs, repeated death threats, and wrenching separations from his wife and children. But his success speaks for itself. At last count, his Central Asia Institute had built fifty-five schools. Three Cups of Tea is at once an unforgettable adventure and the inspiring true story of how one man really is changing the world—one school at a time."

You can keep up to date with upcoming titles for the book discussion groups if you visit the Buena Park Library’s LibraryThing page -- just click on the link for Library Thing on our home page.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Number please....from the library world

10 number of minutes a woman had her hand stuck in the Hyannis (Mass.) Public Library’s return slot. The woman’s bracelets got caught while she was returning videos; the fire department was called and coached her on how to free herself. (from: Boston NBC affiliate WHDH-TV Sept 11, 2007)

$171.32 “Late fee” donated by Robert Nuranen to Hancock (Mich.) Public Library for the book Prince of Egypt, which he checked out on June 2, 1960, and returned January 5, 2007. (from: Houghton Daily Mining Gazette, Jan 6, 2007)

34 the number of years that the Canal Fulton (Ohio) Public Library has loaned an equipment collection that includes such items as animal traps, a wallpaper stripper, ventriloquist’s dummy, canopy tent, stud finder, and sewing machine. (from: Akron Beacon Journal, January 2, 2006)

Source: American Libraries Magazine

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New "Oprah" Book

On November 14, 2007, Oprah Winfrey chose The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett as the 60th Oprah’s Book Club selection. She said, "It’s such a great read… it’s like nothing I would ever read or had ever read before… I got to 800 pages, and I slowed myself down because I didn’t want it to end."

Follett, 58 years old, is a native of Cardiff, Wales and is known for his thrillers such as Eye of the Needle and Lie Down With Lions. He describes The Pillars of the Earth as a love story set in England in the 12th century.

National Book Awards -- 2007 : Winners Announced

The winners of the National Book Awards were announced
Wednesday evening, November 14, 2007 in New York.

The winners are:
Fiction: Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
Nonfiction: Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner
Poetry: Time and Materials by Robert Hass
Young People's Literature: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

If you couldn't make it to New York for the awards ceremony -- watch it on Book TV, C-SPAN2 on Saturday, November 17th at 10:00 PM (ET). Program time is approximate -- check local listings.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Special Literary Days in November

NOVEMBER 22: Birthday anniversary of George Eliot, novelist: November 22, 1819. English novelist George Eliot, whose real name was Mary Ann Evans, was born at Chilvers Coton, Warwickshire, England. Her works include Silas Marner and Middlemarch. She died in Chelsea on December 22, 1880.

NOVEMBER 23: Life Magazine debuts: On November 23, 1936 the illustrated magazine Life debuted. The first cover featured a dramatic photograph by Margaret Bourke-White of Fort Peck Dam.

NOVEMBER 25: Birthday anniversary of Andrew Carnegie: November 25, 1835. American financier, philanthropist and benefactor of more than 2,500 libraries, was born in Dunfermline, Scotland. Carnegie died at his summer estate, Shadowbrook, MA on August 11, 1919.

NOVEMBER 28: Birthday anniversary of William Blake: November 28, 1757 in London England. English poet whose works include Songs of Innocence. He died on August 12, 1827 in London, England.

NOVEMBER 29: Birthday anniversary of Louisa May Alcott: November 29, 1832. American author, born in Philadelphia, PA. Her most famous novel was Little Women, the classic story of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. She died on March 6, 1888 in Boston, MA.

NOVEMBER 29: Birthday anniversary of C.S. (Clive Staples) Lewis: Born on November 29, 1989. British scholar, novelist and author born in Belfast, Ireland and died in Oxford, England on November 22, 1963. Some of his works include The Screwtape Letters and Chronicles of Narnia.

November 30: Birthday anniversary of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain): November 30, 1835. Celebrated American author, whose books include: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Born in Florida, MO and died on April 21, 1910 in Redding, CT.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Norman Mailer, novelist, dies at 84

Norman Mailer wrote more than 30 books, including works of non-fiction, biographies, and novels. He won two Pulitzer Prizes for The Armies of the Night (1968), which also won the National Book Award, and The Executioner’s Song (1979). His long literary career began in 1948 when he published The Naked and the Dead, a partly autobiographical novel about World War II. His most recent novel was The Castle in the Forest, published in 2007.

Mailer was born in Long Branch, N.J., on Jan. 31, 1923 and died in New York City on November 10, 2007.

A New Book Discussion Program : Mysterious California

Mysterious California is a compelling and innovative book discussion program provided free to libraries by the California Center for the Book. The Buena Park Library District will be hosting two simultaneous sessions of this program in January and February, 2008.

One session will be offered on Thursday afternoons from 1:00-2:30 pm on:
  • January 10th (features a short film, Mysterious California: Four Authors, in which the writers talk about the influence of California's places on their work)
  • January 24th
  • February 14th
  • February 28th

The second session will be offered on Thursday evenings from 6:30-7:45 pm on:
  • January 10th (features a short film, Mysterious California: Four Authors, in which the writers talk about the influence of California's places on their work)
  • January 24th
  • February 14th
  • February 28th
The four mysteries chosen for this program represent a cross-section of crime fiction spawned by California’s locales. The writers and novels to be included in the new series cover a large terrain geographically, historically, and culturally:

In Southland, Nina Revoyr brings us a compelling story of race, love, murder, and history against the backdrop of Los Angeles. A young Japanese-American law student, Jackie Ishida, discovers that four black teenagers were killed in her grandfather’s store during the Watts Riots of 1965, and that the murders were never solved or reported. In the process of piecing together the story of the boys’ deaths, Jackie unearths secrets of her family’s history. In the process of learning the truth about the crime, readers experience the satisfaction, and shock, of learning unknown stories about California’s past and the invisible influence the past plays on the present.

In Laurie R. King’s The Art of Detection, San Francisco homicide detective Kate Martinelli is drawn into the surreal world of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts, when one is murdered and it appears that an unpublished Holmes manuscript may be at the root of the crime. The novel's perspective shifts back and forth between Kate investigating the present-day crime and the unnamed narrator of the manuscript relating a tale of forbidden love and violent death. The novel beautifully evokes San Francisco in the early 20th century and in the modern day, in all its unpredictable, colorful variety.

Shell Games, the first of Kirk Russell's John Marquez novels, takes place along the northern California coast and features a unique sleuth: an ex-DEA agent who now heads a special investigative unit of the California Department of Fish and Game. As Marquez stalks the culprits in a multimillion-dollar poaching ring, he runs up against an old nemesis from his DEA days.

Nadia Gordon takes us into the heart of the food and wine culture of the wine country with her Sunny McCoskey Napa Valley Mysteries. When the heir apparent to a major vineyard is shot dead in Sharpshooter, Sunny’s eccentric wine maker friend Wade is arrested for the murder. Sunny sets out to prove his innocence. Her investigation takes her into the tangled politics and personalities of the wine industry, and to the threat posed to the valley by an insect, the glassy-winged sharpshooter.

Copies of each of these books will be available for check-out at the Library. Any questions, call the Library at 714-826-4100 x125 and ask for Phyllis.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Book Discussion Groups at the Library & LibraryThing

There are two book discussion groups for adults that meet at the Buena Park Library—one in the afternoon and one in the evening. They generally meet on the 4th Thursday of the month, unless holidays or other special programs are scheduled. New participants are always welcome—please just stop by (no reservations or notice is required).

The next afternoon discussion group will meet on Thursday, November 15, 2007 from 1:00pm--2:30 pm in the Small Meeting Room downstairs. They will be discussing A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

Here is a short review from Publishers Weekly: Afghan-American novelist Hosseini follows up his bestselling The Kite Runner with another searing epic of Afghanistan in turmoil. The story covers three decades of anti-Soviet jihad, civil war and Taliban tyranny through the lives of two women. Mariam is the scorned illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, forced at age 15 into marrying the 40-year-old Rasheed, who grows increasingly brutal as she fails to produce a child. Eighteen later, Rasheed takes another wife, 14-year-old Laila, a smart and spirited girl whose only other options, after her parents are killed by rocket fire, are prostitution or starvation. Against a backdrop of unending war, Mariam and Laila become allies in an asymmetrical battle with Rasheed, whose violent misogyny—"There was no cursing, no screaming, no pleading, no surprised yelps, only the systematic business of beating and being beaten"—is endorsed by custom and law. Hosseini gives a forceful but nuanced portrait of a patriarchal despotism where women are agonizingly dependent on fathers, husbands and especially sons, the bearing of male children being their sole path to social status. His tale is a powerful, harrowing depiction of Afghanistan, but also a lyrical evocation of the lives and enduring hopes of its resilient characters.

The next evening book discussion group will meet on Thursday, November 29, 2007 from 6:30pm--7:45pm pm in the Library Board Room on the 2nd floor. They will be discussing Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

Here is a short review from Publishers Weekly: Some failures lead to phenomenal successes, and this American nurse's unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain, is one of them. Dangerously ill when he finished his climb in 1993, Mortenson was sheltered for seven weeks by the small Pakistani village of Korphe; in return, he promised to build the impoverished town's first school, a project that grew into the Central Asia Institute, which has since constructed more than 50 schools across rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. Coauthor Relin recounts Mortenson's efforts in fascinating detail, presenting compelling portraits of the village elders, con artists, philanthropists, mujahideen, Taliban officials, ambitious school girls and upright Muslims Mortenson met along the way. As the book moves into the post-9/11 world, Mortenson and Relin argue that the United States must fight Islamic extremism in the region through collaborative efforts to alleviate poverty and improve access to education, especially for girls. Captivating and suspenseful, with engrossing accounts of both hostilities and unlikely friendships, this book will win many readers' hearts.

You can keep up to date with upcoming titles if you visit the Buena Park Library’s LibraryThing page at [Choose display style D to see when the groups meet.]

LibraryThing is an online service to help people catalog their books easily. Here is a little bit on how it works from their website:

“LibraryThing is really two sites in one.

First, it is a powerful tool to catalog your personal library. Users add books to their catalog by entering titles, authors, or ISBN numbers. LibraryThing then searches the Library of Congress, all five national Amazon sites, and over 78 world libraries, and returns with precise book data. Users can then edit the books in their catalog, tag their books with their own subjects, and use the Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal systems to organize their collections.

LibraryThing is also an amazing social space, connecting people with similar libraries. It also makes book recommendations based on the collective intelligence of the other libraries.”

Visit LibraryThing to learn more and start cataloging your books.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Read the Book Before you See the Movie

Movie: Charlie Wilson's War--a feel-good movie about Afghanistan. It tells the true story of Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, who gets involved with the Afghan Mujahedin in the 1980's. Tom Hanks plays Mr. Wilson and Julia Roberts plays a Houston socialite. [According to the Wall Street Journal: a "mystery mesa" just outside Los Angeles stood in for some of the Afghan locations.] The movie opens Christmas Day, December 25, 2007.
Book: Charlie Wilson's War by George Crile

Movie: No Country for Old Men--the Coen brothers, Joel & Ethan, directed this adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel about a hunter, played by Josh Brolin, who stumbles on $2 million in drug money in the aftermath of a shootout. Javier Bardem plays the sociopath sent to find him, and Tommy Lee Jones is the world-weary sheriff who hopes to protect him. The movie opens November 9, 2007.
Book: No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Movie: Atonement--Based on Ian McEwans acclaimed novel, the movie plays out in three acts, following the aftermath of a false rape accusation over six decades. It stars Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, and Vanessa Redgrave. The movie opens December 7, 2007.
Book: Atonement by Ian McEwan

Other books that will soon have a movie version out:
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (wide release December 28, 2007)
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (wide release November 16, 2007)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Revisiting "A Gesture Life" by Chang rae-Lee

“All I wished for was to be part (if but a millionth) of the massing, and that I pass through with something more than a life of gestures.” So are the thoughts of Franklin “Doc” Hata, a well-respected retired medical supply dealer who lives a seemingly blissful life of habitual content. He is a man familiarly greeted every morning by those on the sidewalk, in the local stores and family shops, and in all the varied public places of Bedley Run, a small, close-knit, and beautifully preserved community in upstate New York.

Author Chang-rae Lee (whose first novel “Native Speaker” won the Hemingway Foundation/Pen Award in 1995) has brought us again into the land of John Cheever, into those upscale bedroom communities where all seems well until someone’s private torment cracks the familial fa├žade. And, as with Cheever, alienation betrays the antithesis of the setting. Lee’s elegant prose pulls us slowly into the mind of an aging single man whose outward appearance seems one of simple gentility and respect.

Unlike Cheever’s men though, Hata has had to overcome the barrier of race; he immigrated to the United States from Japan after World War II, and due to his penchant for passivity and non-confrontation (and a genuine concern for appearances), he assimilates almost invisibly into his new surroundings. As the years pass on, “Doc” Hata becomes as integral to Bedley Run as the paintbrush lawns and the faux Tudor homes. Indeed, one of the town’s most prominent citizens remarks that “Franklin Hata is our town. He’s what this place is all about.”

While recovering from an accident he suffered in his home, he is given cause to reflect upon his life. As he peels back the layers of his past, we feel the chill of a man who slowly begins to fear that his carefully constructed existence was a fraud, a deceit in the guise of a kind smile and good intentions. His adopted daughter had left him years ago. His single attempt at love, with an attractive and willing widow, suffered dearly by his restraint. Running beneath all of this is an experience that forged his emotional self, one that was borne of forbidden feelings for a Korean “comfort woman” he attended to as a young Japanese army medic while stationed in Burma.

Hata is thrice an alien; as a Korean orphan raised in a Japanese home, as a Japanese immigrant in the midst of Cheever country, and as a man isolated from those who would love him. Three relationships central to his life are explored as his mind flits back and forth between the past and present, attempting to reconcile his decent standing in society with the unbearable emptiness he himself has wrought.

What informs this novel with a graceful honesty is the narration of Hata’s singular voice. Never does Lee break the stride of Doc’s obsession with politeness and humility. His thoughts, even those that unclothe the secret horrors of Burma, are restrained, methodical, and painfully tuned to his habits of emotional retreat. We are forced to suffer his inability to connect, and in the end, desperate to find a sense of redemption within a life already written.

"A Gesture Life" by Chang rae-Lee
Riverhead Books, 1999

New J.K. Rowling Book

Yes -- there is a new J.K. Rowling book, but No -- the library will not be getting it **[see below for details of why not].

Rowling has just published The Tales of Beedle the Bard, an illustrated collection of magical fairy stories. This book is mentioned in the final Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) as a gift left by headmaster Albus Dumbledore to Harry's friend Hermione.

Only seven copies of this handwritten book have been made and they will be auctioned off in December, 2007 to raise money for Children's Voice, a charity that helps children in Europe.

The volume, bound in leather and mounted with silver and semiprecious stones, will be auctioned at Sotheby's with a starting price of **$62,000. Wow!!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Good News for "Inheritance" Fans

Christopher Paolini's million-selling "Inheritance" fantasy series, originally planned as a trilogy, is being extended to four books, publisher Alfred A. Knopf announced Tuesday, October 30th.

The first two books, "Eragon" and "Eldest," have sold more than 12 million copies worldwide. The third book, currently untitled, will come out in the fall of 2008.

Paolini said "I plotted out the 'Inheritance' series as a trilogy nine years ago, when I was 15. At that time, I never imagined I'd write all three books, much less that they would be published."

"When I finally delved into Book Three, it soon became obvious that the remainder of the story was far too big to fit in one volume. ... In order to be true to my characters and to address all of the plot points and unanswered questions Eragon and Eldest raised, I needed to split the end of the series into two books."