Friday, August 31, 2007

What a 'Novel' Idea!

Ever get frustrated by not knowing what you should read next? This is often a fiction-lover's dilemma. Maybe you like historical romances set in Victorian England and you are voracious for more. Or, maybe you have a hankering for westerns featuring Native American lead characters. Or what about all those horror fans out there--how do you find only psychological horror stories and not those about witchcraft and ghosts?

NoveList may be just the answer! This database is chock full of ideas to help you determine what to read next. NoveList is a fiction database that provides subject heading access, reviews, annotations, and much more for over 135,000 fiction titles. It also includes other content of interest to fiction readers, such as Author Read-alikes, What We're Reading, Book Discussion Guides, BookTalks, and Annotated Book Lists. For school media specialists and teachers there are Picture Book Extenders and articles on Teaching with Fiction.

You can access NoveList via the library's homepage by clicking on the link 'Online Resources' from the left hand menu. Then, choose 'Literature Resources' and select 'NoveList'. If you are in the library, you need not login. If you are accessing the database from outside the library, you will simply use your library card number to login.

Go ahead, login--a whole new world of 'novel' ideas await you!

This Week in Reading September 2 - 8

From a week of powerhouse names of authors born last week this week turns out to be somewhat milder. Though bestselling authors like Taylor Caldwell and Cleveland Amory appear, they are decidedly from an earlier era and are not read as much as before except by older persons reclaiming past pleasures. Today's fiction readers who prefer more complex and modern relationships may well prefer award winners Alison Lurie and Ann Beattie.

It's Labor Day week, traditionally the start of school and the end of summer vacation, though more and more schools and colleges start before Labor Day now than before. It is also the first of each year's college football weekends, new seasons in the arts, in publishing, in television, and the end of wearing white until next May. (Unless you have become free of old fashion cliches which may not be needed anymore.) But do you know how Labor Day was created and what labor unions and working people's movements have meant to America? Read From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend to find out.

This Week's Question: This week marks the twenty-first anniversary of the Oprah Winfrey show which gave writers Oprah's Book Club. To be chosen to be interviewed and have one's work as a book for viewers to read and discuss means instant bestsellerdom for any author, though some older books are chosen as well. What is the current book in Oprah's Book Club?

Answer to Last Week's Question: William Saroyan wrote this at the beginning of his Pulitzer prizewinning play The Time of Your Life. In the college production in which I played the main character, Joe, a Broadway actor recorded this and we played it before the curtain opened every night. Hope some group does this show around here in Saroyan's centennial year. "In the time of your life, live – so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and where it is found, bring it out of its hiding-place and let it be free and unashamed."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New Art Books at Brand Library

Roger Vivier by Colombe Pringle
Did you know that the stiletto heel was created by Roger Vivier in 1954? Who knew that something so fashionable and everyday is only 53 years old? If the topic of shoes excites you or just the history of fashion then you will certainly want to check out this compact book. “Vivier was also the man who designed incredibly flattering and sexy black-vinyl high boots, as well as low-heeled square toed pumps--which lent urban Amazons their confident stride. His inspired innovations radicalized techniques, as he mixed fabulous embroideries and clear plastic together. Vivier persuaded the leading manufactures to accommodate his creative whims, without ever losing sight of his classical foundations. Known as the ‘Heel King,’ this master of frivolity was always one step ahead of fashion.” (Book jacket)

Timothy Yarger Fine Art gallery in Beverly Hills produced an exhibition, The 20th Century Poster, in 2005 and an accompanying catalogue. Original Exhibition Posters, 1932-1979 documents this exhibition along with an introduction by Yarger, and an informative essay and commentary by Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator in Charge, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
These original lithographic images are vintage, that is, they were created at the time of the event they document and involved the participation of the artist. “The art pictured in this catalogue provides an opportunity to reflect upon the many events which document the course of Modern Art… Collecting works of art of this nature thereby captures both a beautiful esthetic and an historical reference to this period” (Introduction). The catalogue is beautifully produced with hundred of examples of art posters by almost 30 major 19th and 20th century artists including Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Raoul Dufy, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso.

“This beautiful book focuses on Laurelton Hall, Louis Comfort Tiffany’s extraordinary country estate in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York. Beginning in 1902, Tiffany (1848–1933) designed every aspect of the immense home, which had eighty-four rooms and eight levels, and extensive grounds into which the house was carefully integrated. Tiffany’s residential masterpiece was also a quasi-museum, for he filled it with his own works—windows, glassware, pottery, enamels, lamps, oil paintings, and watercolors—as well as with objects from his collections of Islamic, Asian, and Native American art. Laurelton Hall burned down in 1957, but about ten years earlier most of its contents had been removed and sold. Every aspect of the estate is examined and re-created in this volume: its terraced gardens with fountains and pools; the many outbuildings; and Tiffany’s life there. The interior decoration of Laurelton Hall, a particular focus of the book, is represented by both numerous period photographs and newly commissioned color photography of surviving artworks and salvaged architectural components from the estate. For all who admire Tiffany and his work, this book presents a unique portrait of his remarkable home.” (Publisher description) This book also accompanies a major exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Masters of the genre: Michael Connelly

There is a well-known genre of fiction (and film) called the "police procedural". Procedurals can be distinguished from standard murder mysteries by their virtual ignoring of any sort of "whodunit" writing or plotting. We don't care who did what to whom in procedurals, and in many cases, we may already know who committed the crimes being investigated. What the writer focuses on instead are the details and manner of solving the crime in question--the procedures used by the police (or other investigators) to find and capture (or kill, in more lurid tales) the criminal--and the characterization of the protagonist and his/her allies.

Michael Connelly has proven to be a prolific and uniformly entertaining author of police procedurals. His main character is a tough, rules-breaking cop with the unlikely name of Hieronymous Bosch. Bosch, who goes by Harry, rarely refuses to make waves inside the department when in hot pursuit of the truth, so we are consistently placed in the position of rooting for a man who is constantly under the gun to produce results. This tension plays out in what we see of Bosch's personal life, as he is almost never allowed to have a girlfriend beyond a few chance encounters that flame out over the course of a book or two due to his obsessive need to run roughshod over anything/anyone that stands in his way to solve The Case.

Connelly, who started writing in the early 1990s, seemingly tried to retire Bosch in the mid-1990s after 4 increasingly successful novels, creating a new crime-solving protagonist in newspaper reporter Terry McCaleb. The McCaleb character only lasted for a handful of books, however, although ironically the only major film to be made so far from Connelly's work--1998's Blood Work--was one of these. Connelly has written 18 novels and 1 autobiographical non-fiction book in 15 years and shows few signs of letting up, to the delight of his growing number of fans, yours truly included.

A select few of his works, starting from the beginning:

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nonfiction Tempting Titles - August (3 of 3)

This is the last of this month's Tempting Titles - nonfiction goodies our librarians have selected for you. Happy reading!!

The books are either already in the system or on the way. To get to the online catalog record, click on the image or the book title link. There you can place a hold request, see similar subjects or other books by the same author, read first chapters, reviews or summaries, and enlarge the image.

Dewey Decimal 700s

Oscar Micheaux: the The Great and Only: the life : The Life of American’s first black filmmakerAmerica's First Black Filmmaker, by Patrick McGilligan.

"The frankly amazing story of the black D.W. Griffith. Biographer McGilligan, (Alfred Hitchcock: a life A Life in darknessDarkness), gives a fascinating account of the eventful life of Oscar Micheaux, the first significant African-American filmmaker." (Kirkus)

Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: the rise and fall of Phil Spector by Mick Brown

"This eminently readable and thoroughly researched biography from UK journalist and author Borwn chronicles the roller-coaster life of legendary, (and legendarily bizarre,) music producer Phil Spector, a man propelled by genius, insecurity, paranoia and rage. (Publishers Weekly)

Dewey Decimal 800s

Shaggy muses: the dogs who inspired Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Edith Wharton, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Emily Bronte by Maureen B. Adams.

"By using diaries, letters, illustrations, and sometimes passages from these women's writings, Adams provides a unique perspective of her subjects as pet owners. A recurrent theme is the comfort the dogs provided. Often, they kept these writers grounded during times of intense creativity and deep psychological distress—e.g., Dickinson viewed her dog as a protector, while Barrett Browning's dog helped lift her out of depression." (Library Journal)

Taz, the Blog Dog says "As the Library Journal reviewer said - ' these writers all had in common dogs that provided stability and consistency in their lives.' - Could there be any other kind? This book earns four woofs. Hawrf! Hawrf! Hawrf! Hawrf!"

Everything I needed to know about being a girl I learned from Judy Blume edited by Jennifer O’Connell

"By turns funny and poignant, this essay collection captures the essence of YA author Judy Blume's appeal. Pieces were contributed by a raft of women writers—many firmly established in chick lit—who were deeply influenced by Blume's works in their youth. Many focus on dealing with changes in bodies, relationships, and situations." (Library Journal)

"After growing up from Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing into Smart Women, these writers pay tribute, through their reflections and most cherished memories, to one of the most beloved authors." (Book jacket)

"Readers who similarly found solace and support in Blume's work should relate easily to these writers through the Blumian characters and themes they evoke. Writing in the spirit of Blume, these women present their experiences as a series of personal truths: 'girl moments. Woman moments, Human moments.' (Publisher's Weekly)

Dewey Decimal 900s

30 Days in Italy: True Stories of Escape to the Good Life by James O’Reilly

Thirty true stories of other travelers will give you ideas of where to go, what to do, and what it’s like to be there. (

The Handsomest Man in Cuba: An Escapade by Lynette Chiang

"For American adventure travelers, there is the excitement of traveling to a place your country basically forbids you to go. For solo female travelers, there are the pleasures and horrors (beware of flashers in the city of Cienfuegos) of exploring a place on your own terms. For cyclists, there is perhaps the challenge of bicycling Cuba's long and varied terrain. Although Chiang sees fantastic sites, it is really the people she meets who provide her with her fondest memories." (Library Journal)

Young J. Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare and the Assault on Civil Liberties by Kenneth D. Ackerman

"Ackerman captures well the pathological character of the young Hoover and argues effectively that there is a cautionary tale in the corrosive effect of the denial of civil liberties and extralegal measures employed in the red scare raids." (Publishers Weekly)

Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World 1940 - 1941 by Ian Kershaw

"From May 1940 to December 1941, six world leaders arrived at key decisions that heavily affected the outcome of World War II. How were these decisions reached? What influenced these decisions? Rather than writing what he would call a "counter-factual," or speculative, history, Kershaw explores whether or not such decisions were inevitable and identifies other options and their possible outcomes." (Library Journal)

The Dragon and the Foreign Devils: China and the World, 1100 B.C. to the Present by Harry Gregor Gelber

"A fluent and thorough, though understandably brief, survey of Chinese history. It is a daunting task for a historian to compress the history of 'a collection of tribes in the Yellow River valley' grown to 'the largest state of the globe, comprising one-quarter of the human race.' Uncowed, Gelber traces the rise of a discernibly Chinese state some 3,000 ago, from which emerges his overarching theme: China's constant negotiation with, and sometimes conquest by or absorption of, a stream of foreigners, from the Hsiung-nu riders beyond the walls to the European concessionaries of Shanghai and, lately, American entrepreneurs." (Kirkus)

92s - Biographies

Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power by Ross King

"King’s book is everything a short biography should be and more, due to King’s sharp wit and zesty anecdotes. It provides a strong sense of the history of both the man and his times and a nice introduction to Machiavelli’s writings. Moreover, like one of Machiavelli’s bawdy plays, it is a riveting and exhilarating read, full of salacious details and brisk prose." (Publishers Weekly)

Einstein: A Biography by Jurgen Neffe

"A comprehensive, sympathetic and very readable portrait of the man, the celebrity, the scientist and the theories that transformed physics and the modern world." (Kirkus)

The Verneys: A True Story of Love, War and Madness in Seventeenth-century England by Adrian Tinniswood

"Civil war and religious reform sometimes divided the family, but Tinniswood is equally interested in narrating their private dramas: a scandalous out-of-wedlock pregnancy, coming-of-age conflicts between fathers and sons and arguments about whether one should marry for love or money. Although Tinniswood isn't afraid to reveal the less likable qualities of his protagonists, such as the men's sexual liberties, readers will find themselves genuinely enjoying the Verneys. Throughout, Tinniswood ably explains the basics of 17th-century English politics, so that even readers unfamiliar with English history will be able to enjoy this absorbing family history." (Publishers Weekly)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Grace Paley 1922 -2007

Grace Paley, poet, political activist, and author of numerous "metafiction" short stories, has passed away at the age of eighty-four. She has been described as having a writer's voice that was warm and humane. The following is from the most recent Wikipedia entry about her: "In a May 2007 interview with Vermont Woman newspaper – one of her last – Paley said of her dreams for her grandchildren: “'t would be a world without militarism and racism and greed – and where women don't have to fight for their place in the world.'" She will be missed by many young writers whom she taught.

You may read more about Grace Paley and her influence on American literary circles through the Glendale Public Library databases, Contemporary Authors through Biography Resouce Center, Magill on Literature, and the magazine database Infortrac.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

This Week in Reading August 26- Sept 1

Not only do we find the creator of Frankenstein's monster born this week but also the creator of Tarzan of the Apes. One of the authors this week is not only a Nobel prizewinner and a potential saint, another was perhaps the most influential Supreme Court Justice ever. (I particularly like his witty poetry, however, especially The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay.) The rest are merely justifiably famous for literature itself, philosophy, psychology, ornithology, and the law.
But the Pulitizer prizewinning author that lifted the spirits of millions of downhearted Americans during the Great Depression and World War II was California's own William Saroyan, also born this week. Look for big doings around the state this time next year, the one hundreth anniversary of the birth of this humane, charming and altogether sentimental writer who understood a lot about people.

This Week's Question: There is a sentimental quote from one of William Saroyan's works next to his picture on the author birthday list this week. On which of his novels, stories, plays did he write this timely advice?
Answer to Last Week's Question: If you followed the link in the question you may have found out that the word used to describe books printed in the infancy of printing is 'incunabula,' from the Latin word 'cunae' which means 'cradle.' We don't have much to look at here but you can see many examples on the Berkeley Incunabula database or better yet, visit the Huntington Library in nearby San Marino and look at some real copies of rare books from this period and later, such as the Gutenberg Bible itself and some of Shakespeare's folios. Have high tea while you're there.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Nonfiction Tempting Titles - August (2 of 3)

Here are some more tempting titles of nonfiction goodies our librarians have selected for you recently.

The books are either already in the system or on the way. To get to the online catalog record, click on the image or the book title link. There you can place a hold request, see similar subjects or other books by the same author, read first chapters, reviews or summaries, and enlarge the image.

Dewey Decimal 300s

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

"The imagined scenario presented here offers a provocative perspective on life on Earth and the degree to which human activity has shaped the planet. If every human on Earth suddenly vanished, what would become of this world? Science journalist Weisman ponders numerous questions, e.g., How long would it take for nature to reclaim dense urban areas, like Manhattan Island? What endangered fauna would recover, and what new species might evolve? What would become of humankind's most enduring pollutants, such as plastics, greenhouse gasses, and nuclear wastes? The book's strength lies in its audacious willingness to confront uncomfortable questions while offering glimpses of answers in areas of recent wars, diseases, and ecological disasters. This is neither a warning to human beings to change their errant ways, nor a wishful paean to returning to the Garden of Eden; instead it is a sober, analytical elucidation of the effects of human dominance on this planet, intriguing if not especially comforting. This book should be broadly read and discussed." (Library Journal)

Dewey Decimal 400s

Um – slips, stumbles and verbal blunders, and what they mean by Michael Erard

"Erard plots a comprehensive outline of verbal blunder studies throughout history, from Freud's fascination with the slip to Allen Funt's Candid Camera. Smoothly summarizing complex linguistic theories, Erard shows how slip studies undermine some well-established ideas on language acquisition and speech. Included throughout are hilarious highlight reels of bloopers, boners, Spoonerisms, malapropisms and eggcorns." (Publishers Weekly)

Dewey Decimal 500s

Chasing Kangaroos: a continent, a scientist, and a search for the wold’s most extraordinary creature by Tim Flannery

“They are, in my opinion, the most remarkable animals that ever lived, and the truest expression of my country,” [Flannery] writes. [His] untamed youthful adventures … provide the frame here for lively chapters filled with colorful Australian characters and occasionally perilous encounters with the continent’s scattered Aborigine population." (Kirkus)

Dewey Decimal 600s

The Lonely Patient: How We Experience Illness by Michael Stein

'Beautifully written, this is a look into the hearts and minds of people suffering serious illness: into the terrors that they often don't express directly. This is a moving and eloquent testimony from a caring practitioner." (Publishers Weekly)

Going Home without Going Crazy: How to Get Along With Your Parents & Family (Even When They Push Your Buttons) by Andra Medea

"Medea, a renowned conflict management expert, offers a variety of creative strategies for resolving family conflicts and strengthening relationships." (Book Summary)

Balance: In Search of the Lost Sense by Scott McCredie

"Balance is the first book written for a general audience to explain not only the multilayered mechanisms that allow our bodies to counteract the force of gravity as we move through space, but also the myriad ways balance has been studied, practiced, and perfected - in the audacious experiments of Henry James, throughout the public parks of China, and behind the scenes at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus, to name a few. Scott McCredie elevates this intricate human faculty to its rightful place in the pantheon of the senses." (Book jacket).

Dog Days: Dispatches from Bedlam Farm by Jon Katz

"Not only has Katz written 16 books, he cohosts Dog Talk on public radio, freelances for a variety of newspapers and magazines, and operates the eponymous Bedlam Farm in upstate New York—sometimes with his wife, but always with dogs and chickens and sheep and even a few donkeys and cows. Readers familiar only with Katz's suburban mystery novels will find that his farm memoirs set out to do basically the same thing, bring order to chaos. Anyone who loves animals or country life, but maybe can't have a pet or actually live in the country, will find Katz a perfect armchair companion. (Publishers Weekly)

"Hawrf!, Hawrf! Hawrf and a half hawrf!" (That's three and half woofs to you) - Taz, the blog dog

Rogues, Writers & Whores: dining with the rich & infamous by Daniel Rogov

"The title is not the only thing saucy in this rich collection that matches 69 brief, punchy biographies of historical foodies with the recipes for which they are associated. Several of the subjects are, themselves, the essence of sauce. There's Louis de Bachameil, for whom the famous French concoction was named; the mysterious Suzette, she of the flaming crepe; and tart-baker Franz Sacher, 'a fun-loving man who consumed enormous amounts of his own pastries.' (Publishers Weekly)

The Essence of Chocolate: recipes for baking and cooking with fine chocolate by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg

"In their first cookbook, the founders of Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker are clear from the start: chocolate is their passion. Every section of their book reflects that, from the recipes drawn from the Scharffen Berger Company and various pastry chefs to the detailed sections on how chocolate is made and where its future lies. Throughout the book are 'Legends & Lore,' delightful one-page chocolate trivia facts (such as how Devil’s Food got its name), and 'Quick Fix' pages, with instructions on fast and easy chocolate treats like chocolate-dipped potato chips and pretzels. (Publishers Weekly)

Cooking from the Hip: fast, easy, phenomenal meals by Cat Cora

"Although she has worked in a number of high-profile California restaurants, Cora is no doubt best known as the only female chef on Iron Chef America. The recipes in her second cookbook are divided into four categories—'Fast,' 'Easy,' 'Fun,' and 'Phenomenal'—and most of them are quick and easy, even the 'phenomenal' ones, which are for special occasions. She has a young son, and some of his favorite dishes are included here; other recipes are more sophisticated but still simple to prepare. Cora encourages flexibility and spontaneity, and she includes variations as well as other useful suggestions to that end." (Library Journal)

Monday, August 20, 2007

This Week in Reading August 19 - 25

It's hard to imagine an author born this week who has not, in some way, created works that many of us would consider as delightful. From Rachael Ray's recipes to Jorge Luis Borges' fictions there is much to snack on, so to speak.

If your taste is light verse no one satisfies people like me more than Ogden Nash whose small humanistic tidbits would make perfect blog comments today. Ditto for Dorothy Parker whose tart wit made intelligent woman feel much better about themselves. If your taste runs more to the bitter and ironic, H.P.Lovecraft and that great library supporter Ray Bradbury also hit the spot.

It's also a week to celebrate some strong events, not the least of which is the birth of printing in the West through the Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed for a larger audience. Far from mass printing, which took nearly another three hundred years to develop, - Samuel Richardson's epistolary novels were among the first of those - the first books printed often had beautiful engravings which were colored in by artists as prior illuminated manuscripts had been. Along with the development of printing also artistically designed typefaces were developed for the growing market of bourgeois book purchasers.

This Week's Question: What is the name given by book collectors to the very valuable books printed in the infancy of printing during its first fifty or so years, i.e. before 1500?

Answer to Last Week's Question: There were many small computers created from 1950 on, some appearing as kits for engineers to make at home from the pages of such magazines as Radio Electronics, but others such as the Altair in the early seventies and HP's early 9830 helped create the variety of PCs we have today. The Altair used 4K and 12K Basic programs that were written by the team of Paul Allen and Bill Gates. They started a software writing company they called "Micro-Soft" and the rest is not only history, it is the software history is written on.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton

Philosopher Alain de Botton is a modern-day Montaigne, whose accessible and thought-provoking writings combine serious scholarship with anecdotal insights based on personal experience. Whether writing about love, travel, or literature his work consistently makes difficult philosophical themes accessible to a wide audience.

In his newest book, The Architecture of Happiness, de Botton trains his lively intellect and wit on the subject of architecture and its influence in our lives. He poses the question What is a beautiful building? and discusses the nature of beauty in architecture, and how it is related to the well-being and general contentment of the individual and society. We are reminded that architecture affects us every day, even though in the course of our daily lives it often goes unnoticed. Exploring how humans have related to architecture through the ages de Botton guides us from the 19th century through modernism, providing insights into the meaning of style. Numerous black-and-white photographs accompany the text.

With this entertaining and stimulating work, de Botton aims to change the way we think about our homes, streets, and ourselves. The great strength of his book is that it encourages us to open our eyes and really look at, and think about, the buildings in which we live and work.

If you enjoy this book, check out the many other titles in Brand Library’s collection that address the psychological aspects of architecture!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Nonfiction Tempting Titles - August (1 of 3)

Here are some more Tempting Titles of nonfiction goodies our librarians have selected for you to enjoy.

The books are either already in the system or on the way. To get to the online catalog record, click on the image or the book title link. There you can place a hold request, see similar subjects or other books by the same author, read first chapters, reviews or summaries, and enlarge the image.

Dewey Decimal 000s

Witness: one of the great foreign correspondents of the twentieth century tells her story by Ruth Gruber

"Journalist Gruber, a Ph.D. at age 19, became an international correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune in 1935, launching a career that covered the liberation of Nazi concentration camps, the establishment of Israel and the first glimpse of Siberian gulags. Gruber has a charming, feminine perspective rare to the times; combined with her knack for (very) telling details, she makes a riveting storyteller. …. Complemented by a slew of Gruber's own photographs-which succinctly record the desolation and hope of the times - this life story makes for a fascinating journey." (Publishers Weekly)

Miniature Books: 4,000 years of tiny treasures by Anne C. Bromer and Julian I. Edison

"This beautifully made, gilt-edged volume, published in association with the Grolier Club of New York, complements an exhibit traveling to four institutions. But it is more than a catalog, offering a concise and careful history of the miniature book as well as more than 260 carefully chosen full-color illustrations, most of which are examples of books reproduced in their actual size. A miniature book is generally any book smaller than three inches in height and, as shown by the examples—beginning with Babylonian tablets and ending with a Bible on a silicon chip." (Library Journal)

Mission Al Jazeera: build a bridge, seek the truth, change the world by Josh Rushing

"From gyrene to jihadi journalist—it's not the usual American career trajectory. Those who have seen the remarkable documentary Control Room will recall debut author Rushing as the Marine public-affairs officer doubtfully interpreting the American invasion of Iraq for a doubtful press corps. Located behind the lines in Qatar, Rushing found some of the most interesting and confounding questions coming from the journalists of Al Jazeera, the Arabic-language news network headquartered there. 'Al Jazeera was a hostile network, and its portrayal of the U.S.'s actions frustrated my superiors,' he recalls. Against that official line, he advanced the argument that progressive Arab journalists might be able to explain the U.S. version of things to the Arab world; for so doing, he was all but accused of treason. He left the Corps and was preparing to take a job in PR in Texas when the programming director of the new Al Jazeera English station, headquartered in D.C., called to offer him a job—whereupon, well, his difficulties truly begin, not least with the FBI. Rushing and as-told-to partner Elder turn in an earnest but often plodding narrative, but this story tells itself: Rushing is still trying to explain America to the Arab world and vice versa, and his vignettes clearly reveal what a tough job that is." (Kirkus)

Dewey Decimal 100s

Everyday Greatness: inspiration for a meaningful life – insights and commentary by Stephen Covey, compiled by David K. Hatch.

"In this powerful work, well-respected author Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) joins forces with leadership consultant Hatch to collect inspiring stories of ordinary people who embody “everyday greatness.” This quality is quiet by nature and has more to do with character and contribution than with achievement. The stories, which the authors have gleaned from Reader’s Digest, illustrate 21 principles such as integrity, gratitude, respect, and perseverance. Covey provides commentary, reflections, and further insights on how readers can apply each principle to their own lives in today’s world." (Library Journal)

Dewey Decimal 200s

Jesus After the Crucifixion: From Jerusalem to Rennes-le-Château by Graham Simmans

"Is it possible that Jesus did not die on the cross but instead traveled to Egypt and later to the south of France to live out his days with his wife, Mary Magdalene? This is the position taken by Simmans (coauthor, Rex Deus: The True Mystery of Rennes-le-Château), who died in 2005. Simmans was well qualified to write such a book, having lived and researched for 15 years in Rennes-le-Château, the area in France where Jesus is believed to have resided. He provides a great deal of helpful information about the traditions surrounding Jesus and Rennes-le-Château. He does not, however, present scholarly arguments that prove his theory; rather, he offers more popular thoughts as to why such a theory might be considered plausible and interesting. His book will attract those who enjoy speculating about religious matters. Readers of such best-selling works as Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and Michael Baigent and others' Holy Blood, Holy Grail would fit into this category." (Library Journal)

"Whether they stare austerely from stained-glass windows in churches or sit among the collectibles in Hallmark stores, angels are a ubiquitous part of American popular culture. In this combination of angelic history and encyclopedia, acclaimed novelist Wright (Dwelling Places ), who describes herself as a believer in angels, investigates their manifestations in Judaism, Christianity and Islam." (Publishers Weekly)

"Peters, professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at NYU and author of The Children of Abraham, lucidly explains how Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities understand and interact with their sacred texts—the Tanakh, the Bible and the Qur'an. Unsurprisingly, he opens with discussions of authorship and canonization: who wrote the books, how did the sacred texts achieve their final form, and how do religious authorities discern what counts as "the Word of God"? He also takes up the question of translation, elucidating the theology that underlies the Islamic belief that "a translated Qur'an is not really a Qur'an." But the truly fascinating sections of the book investigate quirkier topics, such as the different religions' regulations about the conditions under which people are allowed to handle sacred books. One of the most interesting chapters addresses the relationship between art and text, examining how various scribes and calligraphers have illustrated holy books; Peters makes an intriguing claim about the Qur'an, suggesting that despite Islamic insistence that the meaning of the text lies solely in the words, "Qur'anic decoration"—geometric and floral imagery—may "add another layer of meaning." This is undoubtedly one of the best single volumes on the history of sacred text in the Abrahamic faiths, and many readers will find it an invaluable resource." (Publishers Weekly)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Want to join in on civic discussions in the library?

Every month a group of civic minded individuals meet here in the library to discuss civic issues and personalities that appear on Bill Moyers Journal shown each Friday evening on PBS. The gathering is facilitated by one of our librarians, Bill.

On his web site Bill Moyers created a national blog for people to share comments and he encouraged groups to meet in public libraries and other venues around the country. Glendale's own group of Moyers Talkers has even created its own local blog.

During the monthly session the group determines which of the last month's program segments they would like to see again and a few minutes of it are shown in the Learning Center computer classroom. The group then engages in an open discussion about the topic and in the last half hour they send individual and group comments to the national blog and to the local one. Using library online resources and other links provided by the editors of the Bill Moyers Journal web site, discussion can be aided by facts, figures and more opinion. Talk is always lively and varied. All opinions are welcome and discussion is respectful.

The following is from the latest post on the local blog:

[Last Friday's show was] a repeat of the one about impeachment and we'll likely continue to discuss it at our next gathering of Moyers Talkers, Thursday, August 16, at 7:00 PM in the Learning Center of the Glendale Public Library Central Library.

Also up for consideration are topics from [previous] week's guests, Barbara Ehrenreich on the gap between rich and poor, and cultural critic, Clive James on politics and the arts, as well as two earlier programs which featured earmark reform, who's the enemy in Iraq, the Yes Men political theater events, and poet Martin Espada.You can visit the Moyers archive to review any of the last shows to decide what you want to talk about this Thursday.

Are you civic minded? Do have something to add to the discussions? If the mainstream media is not listening to you, check out the blogs and the programs and come on out to the library to find someone who is.

"Authors, Artists & Friends" Series

All About Armenia With Sylva Manoogian and Kay Mouradian"The oral tradition has provided the chain of continuity for the long-lived Armenians from generation to generation," states Manoogian. Come hear about Armenia from two marvelous storytellers as they discuss the history, culture and life of Armenia, providing insight into its people and places. Wednesday, August 15, 7 p.m. Free at the Glendale Public Library.

Librarian and scholar Sylva Manoogian is the author of numerous articles on international librarianship and Armenian culture and heritage. She served as principal librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library and was the Library Project Director for the revitalization, virtualization, and internationalization of the Calouste Gulbenkian Library of the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem. A full-time doctoral student at UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, she is currently engaged in very challenging research, including a comparative study of Armenian and Chinese diasporas, the latter together with her doctoral advisor and mentor, Dr. Clara M. Chu.

Dr. Kay Mouradian is a retired Professor of Health and Physical Education from the Los Angeles Community Colleges. She wrote her first novel, A Gift in the Sunlight: An Armenian Story, after her mother's remarkable recoveries from death's door prompted her to examine her own ancestral past. The novel was chosen by the University of Georgia as required reading for its 2007 Armenia International Business and Relations Study Abroad Program in Armenia.

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