Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Modern Girl's Guide to Life by Jane Buckingham

Hey girls! If you're looking for a fun read with practical advice about being a "Modern Girl", take a look at this book. Inside you'll find information relating to decorating, cleaning, diet and health, finances, car maintenance, sewing, recipes and so much more. You're almost guaranteed to learn something new from this enjoyable, easy-to-follow primer and will wish you had checked it out earlier!

The author is the host of the TV series Modern Girl's Guide to Life on the Style Network and a contributor to Cosmopolitan, the New York Times Syndicate and Good Morning America.

Monday, March 26, 2007

This Week in Reading March 25 - 31

This week's authors are strong on realistic drama, poetic realism, and very realistic global and philosophical insight.

This week's question: Whose name this week means "most bitter"?

Answer to last week's question:
Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Classics of the genre, pt. 3

While there were earlier authors who mined the ground of what we now call "fantasy", easily the most influential and most innovative was J.R.R. Tolkien. Previous writers indulging in the wildest flights of imagination, such as Lewis Carroll, A. A. Milne, or L. Frank Baum, wrote books that either were designed for or primarily appealed to children, as was the case with Tolkien's first major work The Hobbit.

Tolkien, however, had been assiduously working on creating an entire mythology for England's past decades before penning The Hobbit, and indeed, he continued working this hidden vein for his entire life. The Hobbit, though, was such a runaway best seller that his publisher demanded some sort of sequel, and Tolkien responded (eventually) by producing what many have called the "
Book of the Century".

I am speaking, of course, of Tolkien's masterpiece
Lord of the Rings. I realize everyone reading this has already heard of LOTR, either because of the books themselves (originally published in three parts, although Tolkien did not design LOTR as such) or the wildly successful and lucrative movie trilogy, so I won't go into detail on it. Suffice it to say that the completeness of the vision presented by Tolkien in his imagined world as seen in LOTR created a new standard for fantasy. Never again would mere plotting or characterization be enough to sate the audience for this genre; writers would now be expected to create whole and consistent settings as well.

Tolkien's exhaustively rich (he created at least 3 whole languages with their own syntaxes, grammars, and vocabularies!) unpublished history of Middle-Earth lay behind LOTR (and through a revision, The Hobbit as well), even though we only get the slightest glimpses of it in those works.

Tolkien's obsessive perfectionism in thinking (and rethinking, in an endlessly deepening pool of his own imaginary world's history and lore) and writing about the earlier history of his Middle-Earth made it impossible to publish any other completed works to complement The Hobbit and LOTR.

One of his sons took on the task of sifting through Tolkien's voluminous notes in order to present some sort of coherent narrative to an audience ravenous for more. Christopher Tolkien's first stab at editing his father's legacy,
The Silmarillion, received rapturously by Tolkien's fans, proved so tantalizing that he began to release ever more fragmentary pieces of his father's work, culminating in his massive 12-volume History of Middle-Earth--most of which can be found here. Christopher Tolkien realized that his father had left too many unconnected dots for the entire mythology to be written down as a single story. So, despite the success of The Silmarillion with fans, its omissions and lack of fidelity to the source materials frustrated its editor. Instead, Tolkien presented us with the most detailed analysis possible of his father's life work as a work of literary criticism.

While the majority of J.R.R. Tolkien's audience will never want to tackle the History of Middle-Earth, (or worse, will get bored by its repetitions and alternate narratives), it stands as a fascinating and rigorous document recording one man's obsession. That such an analysis was warranted is testament to Tolkien's peculiar genius; that each volume sold well enough for the work to be published in its entirety decades after Tolkien's death is evidence of his lasting appeal.

Next up: Michael Moorcock works just one aspect of Tolkien's legacy.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

LA Artland

LA Artland is a survey of the vibrant and influential art scene in Los Angeles, now a rival of art capital New York City. This publication is an extensive visual documentation of 100 Los Angeles based contemporary artists working in various media. Visit the Brand Library Art Galleries to see Southern California-based artists in the current exhibition Signs + Symbols on view through April 20th.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Attention all book lovers! is a great website for matching your reading interests to titles and genres. Get lots of tips and suggestions to help you navigate the sea of books out there. It's an ambitious project by a collection management librarian from Virginia.

Lamenting the Library

The March 15th, 2007 issue of the Wall Street Journal discusses the relationship (or lack thereof) between today's young people and libraries. Are libraries still relevant? What is the future of libraries? Can everything be found on the Internet? What is your opinion?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Looking for a Good Book?

The Glendale Public Library is happy to provide our community of readers with a new and exciting service—a customized reading list, tailored to your personal reading tastes and interests called "Looking for a Good Book?".

Here's how it works:
Come into the Glendale Central Library or any of the Glendale branches to pick up a blank form. Fill in as much of this reader profile as you wish. The more information you provide, the more likely it is that we can suggest books you will like. Leave areas blank when you have no preference. Librarians at the Glendale Public Library will use your answers to create a customized reading list for you. Please return the completed form to any Glendale Public Library reference desk. We will get back to you within two weeks with your list.

Sounds great, doesn't it?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

This Week in Reading March 18 - 24

Art, theatre, music, poetry, politics, psychology, mythology, even cookery of all things, done famously. From intense drama to biting characterization and comedic sagas there are thrills of many kinds among the writers born this week.

This week's question: Which of them wrote this? "Constantly risking absurdity and death whenever he performs above the heads of his audience the poet like an acrobat climbs on rime to a high wire of his own making."

Answer to last week’s question: As it turns out, the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom gave its James Madison Award to the founder of the National Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame, Paul K. McMasters.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Author Events - Civil War historian Ed Bearss

Smithsonian Magazine celebrated its 35th year in 2005 with an issue that profiled "35 Who Made A Difference." The Authors, Artists & Friends lecture series will feature a second member of those thirty-five illustrious difference makers. One of those people, John Dobson, the father of sidewalk astronomy and the designer of a portable mount that supports his large, inexpensive telescopes, and perhaps astronomy's greatest cheerleader, spoke at the Library in January. Our next lecture will feature historian Ed Bearss (pronounced bars) on Monday, April 16, to help kick off National Library Week.

After serving in the Marines and earning degrees at Georgetown and Indiana universities, Bearss joined the National Park Service (where he is now chief historian emeritus) and devoted himself to the study of the American past, particularly the struggle between the blue and the gray. When he compares contemporary America to the 1860s, his allegiance is clear, as he stated in Smithsonian Magazine (November 2005), "We're in an age of Teflon people now. People then were more original, more individual."

Yet when he has to, Bearss can stand squarely in the present, as he has proved rather often of late, enmeshed in one 21st-century battle after another—over the suburban development that has threatened to engulf Civil War battlefields.

At Gettysburg, for instance, an "idyllic vista is broken by a water tower that went up a few years ago, part of a new industrial park. Just to the right of it, investors want to build a casino with 3,000 slot machines. He remembers visiting Manassas in 1941, when it was a sleepy rural area; now, when he leads bus tours there, they often end up stalled in shopping center traffic. At Petersburg in the early 1960s, he saw where an 1864 fort was bulldozed to make way for a mall; now the mall itself is nearly derelict. 'The development is advancing more irresistibly than Grant's army did on Richmond," Bearss grumbles.'" (Smithsonian Magazine, November 2005)

For more information about authors at the Library see our website,

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Night Swimming by Robin Schwartz

Overweight Charlotte Clapp is told she only has one more year to live. Stunned by the tragic news, she robs $2 million from the bank where she works and escapes from New Hampshire to Los Angeles. While in hiding, Charlotte manages to buy a posh apartment in the Hills, unexpectedly lose weight and make a few good friends.

This first novel by Robin Schwartz is a fun and worthwhile read. It's not perfect, and you may not believe every scenario that's described in the story, but you will have an enjoyable time reading it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Jean Baudrillard 1929 - 2007

Jean Baudrillard, called "the guru of postmodern thought", (LA Times 3/11/2007), passed away this weekend. He postulated that "history has become its own dustbin" because people are unable to discern electronically reproduced "simulacra" from reality. McLuhan's global village did not come to be; the copy, reconstructed, becomes the reality. For more accessible thoughts read The Matrix and Philosophy, welcome to the desert of the real.

Book review: The End of Iraq

Anyone interested in learning about what's going on in Iraq should read The End of Iraq. Peter Galbraith is one of the few people who has been involved in that hapless country from before the current Administration took over and has continued his involvement there.

Galbraith, therefore, has a fairly unique insider's viewpoint, and his insights, gleaned from his years of service, are quite starkly presented in this book.

Galbraith minces no words, whether regarding Saddam Hussein's intransigence and genocidal tendencies, or our government's short-sightedness and failures. Galbraith outlines, in a concise and quite readable manner, how Iraq's 3 ethnic and religious groups are ill-equipped to sustain a stable government, let alone behave as the first "democratic domino" for the region.

Galbraith's frank appraisal of Iraq's current instability is buttressed by his knowledge of the country's history, but more grippingly by his conversations and interviews of the Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis he has interacted with over the years. His conclusions are so commonsensical as to beg the question: why would anyone think anything different could have happened once the US stepped in? (Galbraith answers that with conviction as well.)

Friday, March 9, 2007

This Week in Reading March 11 - 17

If you're suddenly running out of energy but have more light in the evening to read by this week it's because Daylight Savings Time has kicked in. Nothing to do but curl up with your pet and read any of the authors, events, or ideas presented in our list. Click on, read on.

Answer to last week's question:
Mickey Spillane, of course.

This week's question is unusual but, we hope, interesting: Who is going to win this year's American Library Association
James Madison award for Freedom of Information? We have guesses. Do you?

Shell Scott Author Dies

Richard S. Prather, writer of the Shell Scott mysteries series, has passed away. His mysteries were escapist 1950s pulp centered in Southern California with titles like Take a Murder, Darling, The Trojan Hearse, and Over Her Dead Body. The last began with "We were dancing, my client and I. But it was much more than just a dance. It was like doing the fox trot and getting your pants pressed at the same time."

Few libraries have his books anymore but you can always request that we look for a copy from other libraries using InterLibrary Loan. Information on his life and career: Biography Resource Center.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

This Week in Reading March 4 - 10

This week's authors include everything from a Nobel prizewinner to a pulp mystery writer but the biggest theme is biography.

Answer to last week's questions: John Steinbeck. The Grapes of Wrath was the first book chosen for California in 2004 for the Library of Congress One Book program. He married his first wife, Carol, at the Glendale Courthouse as they lived in Eagle Rock. In 1932-1933 they rented a home in Montrose briefly as he lectured at Occidental.

This Week's Question: Who said, "Those big shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar"?

Friday, March 2, 2007

Haven't Read It? Fake It!

Recommending a book about not reading books has a rather ironic twist to it. But this article from the New York Times offers just that--ways to skim books and still manage to sound erudite and informed. It's a bit tongue in cheek and cheeky!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. 1917-2007

Twice Pulitzer prizewinning American historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr, best known for his books about the presidency, died yesterday. His obituary can be read in the Los Angeles Times and will remain accessible through Glendale Public Library's Online Resources which you can access remotely with your library card number. Biographies about him can be read also through Biography Resource Center on the same page, under "General Resources."

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