November 2010

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Have You Checked Out a Kill-a-Watt Energy Meter?

If you have checked out one of our Kill-a-Watt energy meters, please help us improve this program by taking a short survey.


If not, check one out next time you're at a San Jose Public Library. You can plug the device into any of your household appliances to see how much energy each one uses, and how much it costs you on your monthly utility bill.  This is also a great way to find out how much energy your TV and microwave use even when you're not using them - a phenomenon called phantom load.


You can check out a Kill-a-Watt free of charge at any of our nineteen locations for three weeks, the same loan period as a book.  

We're Crafty!

Cover of Amigurumi: Super Happy Crochet CuteThere has been a resurgence in interest in hand-made crafts in the past few years. Don't expect to just see grandmas knitting and crocheting. Making something by hand is the new, hip thing to do!


There are more how-to tutorials on every craft imaginable than you could ever peruse online. Craftster is a great site that incorporates social networking with how-to's, craft swaps and contests. Instructables doesn't limit itself to just crafts. You can view and download tutorials on cooking, costuming, building robots, you name it! Ravelry specializes in knitting and crochet. It is a great site to be inspired by the handiwork of fellow needleworkers. Etsy is a site for people who love crafts but may not be skilled in doing them. This is a site to purchase the handiwork of crafters and you can put out a call for bids on a particular project you'd like to have made. The crafters there will bid on how much it would cost and how long it would take to make that special something.


And of course, at the Library, we've got books. And not just the new books like Steampunk Style Jewelry , Son of Stich n' Bitch: 45 Projects to Knit and Crochet for Men and Amigurumi!  Super Happy Crochet Cute.   Not Your Mama's Crochet: The Cool and Creative Way to Join the Chain Gang is an ebook available for download.


Not only that, we've got groups of people who come together at some branches to knit and crochet.  If you are looking for a real live person to teach you how to knit, purl or double-crochet head over to East Branch Library on Wednesdays from 6:30-7:30pm to join in with the Knitting Nook. Vineland Branch's Knitting Club meets every Saturday from 4-5pm.

The Long Song by Andrea Levy

The Long Song by Andrea LevyAndrea Levy, winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction for Small Island, which was made into a BBC Masterpiece Theatre drama, has followed with this 2010 novel, The Long Song, told by Miss July, a slave child born on a Jamaican sugar plantation.  July is taken from her mother by the owner's sister to serve her in the great house and is taught to read and write to help her mistress run her business; there she grows up and finds love, as well.   July survives the Great Jamaican Slave Revolt or Baptist War of 1831-32 and after eventually being forced to leave the plantation, tells her story with the help, at times, of her long-lost son.  Told in the words and speech patterns of 19th century Jamaica, the vivid characters suffer and survive while the reader enters and experiences this very different time and place with them.

Surviving Bipolar's Fatal Grip

Book cover for Surviving Bipolar's Fatal GripAuthors Diane and David Mariant will talk about their book Surviving Bipolar's Fatal Grip- the Journey to Hell and Back.  They will discuss their personal story with the illness, as well as coping strategies on December 9th from 4:30 - 5:45 in the West Valley Library community room.  A copy of this book is available at the Library if you want to see it before hearing the author's presentation.  This program has been paid for by the Friends of the West Valley Library.  

Looking for Anne of Green Gables

Looking for Anne of Green Gables: The Story of L.M. Montgomery and Her Literary Classic by Irene Gammel.


book coverIf a book can have a biography, Looking for Anne of Green Gables falls into this genre.

Irene Gammel delves into the magazine articles, photographs and advertisements that inspired Canadian author Lucy Maude Montgomery to write her classic children's novel. We also learn about the author's life: after her mother's death, Anne's father remarried and relocated far from Prince Edward Island where Anne grew up, raised by relatives. The author goes on to discuss the impact that the book, Anne of Green Gables has had on readers from its first publication in 1908 to the present day.  Green Gables is now a  National Heritage site visited by tourists from all corners of the globe.

Lost in Austen

For all those Jane Austen fans who’ve wondered what it would be like to be Elizabeth Bennet, check out the British television series Lost in Austen. Amanda Price is sick of the modern world. She yearns for the romance and elegance found in the books by her favorite author, Jane Austen. But she's about to get a rude awakening as one fateful evening, she is propelled into the scheming 19th century world of Pride and Prejudice while that book's Elizabeth Bennet is hurled into hers. As the book's familiar plot unfolds, Amanda triggers new romantic twists and turns within the Bennet family circle as she clumsily tries to help the sisters nab husbands and even captivates the tantalizing Mr. Darcy herself. But what about Elizabeth...and what will become of one of the world's greatest love stories?

Undead and Unwed

Undead and Unwed

This novel had me laughing with delight!  It puts a comical spin on the world of the undead (vampires).

This book is about a 30 year old former model, now an unemployed secretary.  She comes back to life after being run over by a SUV; this is when her life really begins!  In her new life, unlike other vampires she can resist feedings and doesn’t react to sunlight.  With this she becomes Queen of the Vampires with her new vampire crush Eric Sinclair by her side. This is the first book in this series, and I would suggest any of Mary Janice Davidson’s books, especially from the Undead series. 

Creation Movie Review

Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution? Before uttering the word "boring" you should watch the movie Creation. Directed by Jon Amiel (The Core, Entrapment), Creation gives you a snap shot of Darwin's (Paul Bettany) life during his long struggles of personal conflicts (religious belief vs. scientific facts) and social rejections, on the eve of the publication of his book, On the Origin of Species. Much focused is Darwin’s obsession of his deceased daughter Annie (Martha West). 


Creation, with its inspiring story of one man’s victory against all odds and devoted fatherly love, will surely warm your heart in this holiday season.


* Watch more movies by director Jon Amiel

* Watch more movies by actor Paul Bettany

* Check out On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin

* Read about Charles Darwin

Steampunk for Young Adults

Cover image of Leviathan by Scott WesterfeldScott Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy is an excellent YA series for fans of alternate history or the steampunk genre. Taking place during World War I, the books pit the British Darwinists (who use fabricated animals as their weapons and vehicles) against the German Clankers (with futuristic machines). At the center of the story are two young people: Deryn Sharp, a midshipman in the British service who has been forced to disguise her identity and present herself as a boy, and Prince Aleksandar Ferdinand, an Austrian royal on the run from the very same people that murdered his father, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, at the start of the war. When the Darwinists' new flying whale ship, the Leviathan, crash lands near Aleksandar's hideout, Deryn and Alek meet for the first time and their stories become intertwined.
Westerfeld, who also wrote the popular YA series Uglies, has created a unique alternate history and through his well written characters he keeps the story fascinating and engaging. The first book Leviathan was recently followed up by the sequel Behemoth, and according to Westerfeld's website, a third book titled Goliath should be released in October 2011.

Nonfiction Book Review: Breaking Night

Breaking Night book jacketThe essence of this book is in its subtitle. In Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey From Homeless to Harvard, Liz Murray shares her amazing true story of breaking away from a family’s self-destructiveness and despair to build a positive and meaningful life. She learns how to survive being neglected by her drug addicted parents through a combination of (1) knowing they love her, (2) forgiving them for being unable to parent her (and her older sister), and (3) forging her own way. Her transformation from a 15-year-old homeless high school dropout to a Harvard University graduate is truly awe-inspiring.


Homeless to Harvard DVD coverWhile engrossed in reading Breaking Night, I envisioned it as an excellent feature film. Only later did I read (in the library catalog notes) that in 1999 Murray's story was produced as the Lifetime Original Movie Homeless to Harvard. Have you seen it?

Good Examples of a Great Library Organization

In challenging times, dysfunctional organizations hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. Healthy organizations look around for creative solutions to the problems they face, and join in the discussion of great ideas to find the very best solutions. San Jose Public Library is one of those healthy, although challenged organizations. Over many years of change, through very difficult budget times, our staff have not only willingly joined in the discussion, in many cases we are leading the discussion.


Some recent examples:

At a recent conference entitled "Internet Librarian", people from across the library field came together to discover the best ideas for using the Internet to further the educational and informational needs of library users. Two of our Library Managers were presenters of workshops, and our entire "Digital Futures Web Team" was in attendance, learning and sharing great ideas.


Over 100 staff from libraries who are users of the circulation and purchasing system (ILS) called "Millenium" from across Northern California were hosted here at King Library on a recent Friday to share experiences, best practices, and to suggest ideas for new product development to the vendor. This event was hosted by SJPL SJSU managers and has become a great place for great solutions to issues to be discussed.


Then, the annual California Library Association Conference was held in Sacramento and San Jose Public Library was well represented by attendees as well as workshop presenters - twenty library staff spent the weekend discussing, networking, debating, and generally making the future of libraries a brighter one.


We are very proud of what we do at San Jose Public Library for the people of San Jose in providing the best possible library service, but also what we do for the library community as it comes together to solve very difficult issues and looks to making libraries relevant and effective in the future.

Health and Medical Information? Start with MedlinePlus

MedlinePlus is the National Institutes of Health's Web site for patients and their families and friends. Produced by the National Library of Medicine, it brings you information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues in language you can understand. MedlinePlus offers reliable, up-to-date health information, anytime, anywhere, for free.


You can use MedlinePlus to learn about the latest treatments, look up information on a drug or supplement, find out the meanings of words, or view medical videos or illustrations. You can also get links to the latest medical research on your topic or find out about clinical trials on a disease or condition.

Oustanding Jazz Fusion

Speaking of Now, by the Pat Metheny Group, is an outstanding example of jazz fusion. The recording seamlessly blends contemporary jazz and Brazilian world music. The compositions are exemplary and the musicians are world-class. I highly recommend this recording to listeners of jazz, fusion, and world music genres.


Image courtesy of

Brent Crawford’s Carter Finally Gets It

Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford will amuse teens with all of the normal pitfalls of high school life.  Carter’s voice is genuine and hilarious. Teens will recognize themselves in some of Carter’s situations. This comedy will leave you in stitches! 


I’m not thinking at all when I take the first step toward greatness.

I hit the air brakes.  I press the chicken button as hard as I can.  But gravity has my number and it’s calling.  I flex every muscle in my body trying to stop.  Pam’s squeal turns into a terrified scream.

A familiar voice yells, “Oh, God!”

The voice is my own, and this is going to be bad.  I hear more screams from the onlookers, and then all sounds are downed out by the SSMMAAACKK!!!

My face hits the water the exact moment my chest, stomach, thighs, and feet smack down.  Perfectly level.  Arms out, legs spread like an inverted, retarded snow angel in the middle of summer.


Will Carter, aka Carter, humorously entertains with his adventures in freshman year of high school. 


Despite being one of the most popular guys in school, Carter seems oblivious to his popularity; he thinks about his stuttering and ADD all the time.  In order to fit in, he fills a beer bottle with Mountain Dew because he doesn’t care for the taste of beer.  Finally, he tries out for the school play, where he finally seems to find his voice.

The toss of a Lemon, by Padma Viswanathan

The Toss of a Lemon

Although it spans through 4 or 5 generations, the story grabs our attention and holds it. the story is set in South of India and is a story of a Brahmin family. The top in the hierarchy of the Hindu caste system. 


What kept me reading is the strength of the main character, Sivakami, who is widowed at the tender age of 18 and has to practice all the tough rigors of being a widow in the Indian society. Her strength and endurance and the brilliance through which she survives, got my attention.

The story was very interesting with the actual facts and history. I got a glimpse of the interaction, and how the  British rulers were with the uppercaste, rich Indians of the South.

The twist of how the son does not follow the norm of being a Hindu. And how the mother who is an ardent Hindu receives it.

On the whole a very interesting book, full of surprises, makes you want to turn the page to know more.

Posted by Jaya Kopalle on Nov 24, 2010 | Comments: 0 |

2010 Light Up the Village

santa program AR


The Alum Rock Business Association is partnering with the Alum Rock Branch Library to offer the Annual 2010 Light Up the Village event at the Alum Rock community. Visit Santa Claus and participate in the tree lighting ceremony for the holiday.We also invite you to join us for music, raffle prizes, kids' activities, and free books from Alum Rock Library!


Place: 3116 Alum Rock Avenue, San Jose CA 95127

Time: 12/11 1:00-5:30 PM

Visit Santa Claus - 3:30 to 5:00 PM

Tree Lighting Ceremony - 5:00 PM


ThanksgivingThanksgiving written by Janet Evanovich


Megan Murphy dresses in period costume and works at Colonial Williamsburg on weekends.  The rest of the week, she is a potter, creating tea pots and tea sets to sell in a quaint store.   One day, at her weekend job, a rabbit nibbles on her colonial skirt.  This rabbit belongs to Dr. Patrick Hunter, the new, and rather cute, pediatrician.   Throw in an abandoned baby, two sets of eccentric parents, and you’ll have a Thanksgiving to remember!  This hilarious novel is also available in Book CD format, EBSCO eBook, and Axis 360 (Blio) eBook

Posted by Dawn Imada on Nov 24, 2010 | Comments: 0 |

Picture Books about Soup

Image of the picture book Soup DayDo you enjoy soup on a cold day?  If the answer is yes, Soup Day written and illustrated by Melissa Iwai, is the book for you! 


A girl and her mother spend a snowy afternoon together buying and preparing ingredients for soup.  While the soup is simmering, mother and daughter read and have a tea party.  


Other delightful children's books about soup include Growing Vegetable Soup written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, also available in Spanish, and Mean Soup written and illustrated by Betsy Everitt, also available in Chinese.    

Library shortcuts -- try an anthology

Can't find a play, poem, essay or short story  or maybe something longer in the library catalog?  If it's literature (and sometimes if it's not) you might be able to find it in an anthology of the author's works, or a collection of a type of literature or writings on a subject.


1. Try a keyword search with the author's name and the words "collections" "complete works" or even "selections"

Here's an example for Mark Twain using "selections. "


2. Try a keyword search on a topic with the above words.

Here's what I found using "Christmas" and collections


Problem: You may still have to sift through listings to find what you want. Not all works are detailed in the catalog. You're probably not going to find a listing of all William Shakespeare's plays or poems in a catalog listing for "Complete works of William Shakespeare". You might have to ask a librarian for help or even come and look at the book.   

P.S. Works by Shakespeare are at 822.22

Peter Carey In America

Peter Carey is so associated with Australia through such works as Oscar and Lucinda that it may come as a surprise to learn he has actually lived in New York for a number of years.  His latest novel, Parrot and Olivier in America, is a riff on that chestnut of the high school civics class, Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, and has garnered nominations for both the National Book Award and the Man Booker Prize.   The adventures of two Europeans in the New World at the time of Andrew Jackson is not only highly entertaining but may leave you wondering about how much has really changed since the early nineteenth century. 


You can download a podcast of an interview with Peter Carey done for the Book Show and read a review from the New York Times, the Guardian or the Telegraph.  You can also read an excerpt, or search the catalog here.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama

Book Cover

The holiday frenzy has begun and Llama Llama gets swept up in the excitement with Mama Llama.  There are cookies to bake, shopping for gifts and special treats, a Christmas tree to decorate and ornaments and stockings to hang. All the hyperactivity increases Llama Llama’s impatience for the holiday to finally arrive. Finally on Christmas Eve Llama Llama has a little meltdown and needs some quiet time cuddled up in Mama’s lap. Sound familiar? Take time out during this busy holiday season to share Llama Llama Holiday Drama with your child .

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Blood Meridian coverCormac McCarthy is probably better known for his other works, including No Country for Old Men, The Road, and All the Pretty Horses, but many consider Blood Meridian to be his greatest, and indeed one of the finest examples of contemporary American fiction.  A master of narration, McCarthy portrays the contradictions of the Wild West, depicting brutal, gruesome scenes of savagery with a stark and lyrical prose.


In 1847, a 14 year old Tennessee boy known only as "the Kid" wanders into the Southwest, where he eventually joins with a group of bloodthirsty men who hunt Indians for a living.  Led by the mysterious and learned Judge Holden, the band kills and terrorizes their way across the lawless West.


Not for the faint of heart, this book could be described as a work of Horror as easily as it could be called a Western.  This novel jabs a thumb into the eye of the romanticized Wild West and reminds the reader how the West was really won...through blood and slaughter.

Festive Eats!

Book cover of The Healthy Hedonist HolidaysThe Healthy Hedonist Holidays: A Year of Multicultural, Vegetarian-Friendly Holiday Feasts, by Myra Kornfeld. This culinary romp is a creative collection of unique dishes including: Pumpkin Seed Pesto for Thanksgiving, Sweet Potato-Turnip Latkes for Chanukah, Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies for Christmas and Lentil Stew for Kwanzaa. But fear not, the cooking adventures don’t end with December, there are recipes for holidays throughout the year. Enjoy!

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual

Food Rules

If you want a quick read and like tips about eating healthy, you have to check out Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan.  In this book, he recommends about thirty rules including food practices from cultures around the world.  For example; did you know by skipping the middle aisles of the supermarket you will avoid most if not all processed foods?  There’s more helpful tips inside, so check it out!

Willow Glen Wags (Sassy)

Sassy the dogSassy Cody is our very first dog featured here, but look for more local pets coming soon! Extraordinarily outgoing and friendly, Sassy is a dog with a mission. As an official Furry Friends Pets Assisted Therapy Services outreach dog, Sassy visits people in nursing homes and hospitals and keeps them company. Soon she will be visiting the Willow Glen Library to perk up her shaggy ears and listen to kids read! Sassy and more of her Furry Friends will visit the library from 4 till 5 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, starting in January, 2011. Sassy is a real sweetheart of a dog. She loves people, and she can’t wait to meet you here on January 13!


Willow Glen Wags photo ©2010 Laura Nacorda Hole

Got Bieber fever?



Fans of Justin Bieber should definitely check out his first official book Justin Bieber : the first step 2 forever : my story.  In it you will learn more about this multi talented artist who is burning up the charts with his first album.  There's pictures, quotes and lots of stories I'm sure will satisfy his fans.

Posted by Lynda Tran on Nov 23, 2010 | Comments: 0 |

Get Your Field Guides at the Library!

Wild mushroom foraging season is in full tilt in nothern California, and your library has got the resources you need to make the right decisions in the field!


While foraging for wild mushrooms can be an exciting culinary adventure, it is *very* important to do your research first and avoid the dangers of misidentification.  Can you tell a chanterelle from an amanita?  If you plan on cooking and eating them, you better be able to!  Check out some of the books and other resources that are available in our library catalog. 


Below is a pile of chanterelles I found in the Santa Cruz mountains last winter...

chanterelle mushrooms















These are some porcini mushrooms a friend found recently at Salt Point State Park...

porcini mushrooms

Werewolves in the Library?!

Cover of Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie VaughnI know everyone is talking about Vampires and Harry Potter, but there are some great Werewolf series out there that you just might like to sink your teeth into! 


Kitty and the Midnight Hour is the first book in a series by Carrie Vaughn features Kitty, an unlikely named werewolf who just so happens to be a late-night radio talk show host. Her show is all about the supernatural from a very personal point of view. As her late-night following grows, so does the danger from mortals and supernaturals alike.


The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs features an auto mechanic who shapeshifts into a coyote. She lives next-door to the Alpha of the local Werewolf pack and has some very "super" friends. Moon Called is the book to get you started with Mercy. You won't be sorry!


For you intellectual types, Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow, is a great modern werewolf tale in epic poem format. It won't take you long to get sucked into the tale of dog catcher who falls in love with a werewolf in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.


And if you're just looking for some mindless movie fun of the lycanthropic type - check out these picks from our DVD collection:


Ginger Snaps - Two sisters are bound together by a secret. One of them is a werewolf! This is a graphicly violent movie - recommended for adults and mature teens.


Blood and Chocolate is a story of love and obsession. Vivian, a young werewolf, hopes to find love and escape the werewolf who is infatuated with her. Older teens and up might enjoy this film.


Scooby Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf - if your kid is wanting to watch their own werewolf movie check this one out. Shaggy is transformed into a werewolf by Dracula and there's only one way to turn him back!

It's a Book!

book jacketComputers have allure, but books have charm.  In It's a Book, a computer-obsessed donkey discovers the joy of books, of reading, from his friend a level-headed monkey.  But where's the power source, the plug?  There isn't any... It's a Book!  A snarky little mouse delivers the naughty punchline; kids will belly-laugh, parents will wince, and author Lane Smith drives his message home.  Hee-Haw!  At this writing, It's a Book has stayed on the New York Times children's picture books bestseller list for 13 weeks.                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Posted by Timothy Collins on Nov 23, 2010 | Comments: 0 |

Mysteries Uncovered: The Puzzle Lady Series


Cora Felton is known as the Puzzle Lady, a symbol of crossword puzzle design mastery. Her shameful secret: she doesn’t know the first thing about crossword puzzles. Her real talents: guzzling liquor and solving murder mysteries, as the central character along with her niece Sherry in the Puzzle Lady series of annual whodunits by Parnell Hall beginning in 1999.



If you enjoy mildly humorous dialogue, American small town setting, short chapters, a colorful senior woman main character, or clues in the form of various puzzles — this cozy series of 11 titles is for you.

Excerpt: “Cora, you’re getting all worked up.” “It’s the caffeine in the coffee.” “It’s decaffeinated.” “I knew it! Sherry, I need the caffeine.” “Clearly you don’t.”


Cover of the book The Puzzle Lady versus the Sudoku LadyThe First Entry: A Clue for the Puzzle Lady: Two murder victims are found in a small town, each with a crossword puzzle clue on their person. Local crossword “expert” Cora is called in to help the police investigate and solves the crimes after a series of cruciverbal clues are unfolded before the reader.

The Latest: The Puzzle Lady vs. the Sudoku Lady: These two rivals on the Japanese bestseller puzzle book list meet in Cora’s hometown. A murder gives Cora the chance to frame the Sudoku Lady for the murder, but her subsequent arrest pushes her book sales way ahead of Cora’s. Cora is forced to solve the murder to save her own skin and the Sudoku Lady’s.




Here is the author talking about the Puzzle Lady and his other series.


American Gods is a must read

American Gods coverAmerican Gods is one of Neil Gaiman's finest works--and with Gaiman, it's hard to pick because he's positively brilliant.  Shadow has recently been released from prison and on his way home meets Mr. Wednesday, a strangely knowledgeable figure who gives Shadow a job.  This job involves a trek across the United States, meeting strange, dangerous, and interesting people (if "people" is even the right word).  Unknown to Shadow, he has become involved in a conflict much larger than himself, a destiny he himself did not know he had.  An exploration of mythology of many origins, the book is both an exploration of the mind and of our larger culture.  Gaiman's writing is always intense, and American Gods is no exception.  If you are a fantasy fan or a Gaiman fan, this one's for you.  The Library has copies in both hard copy book and eBook form (PDF & MOBI).  

Worlds of Flavors and Cooking

Kansha BookcoverI heard in the news about the Annual Worlds of Flavor Conference, held by the Culinary Institute of America, November 2-4, 2010. It featured “Japan-Flavors of Culture” this year. Each year since 2003, this Conference “showcases the gold standards of world cuisines that are reshaping American palates and the U. S. foodservice industry.” I searched online and found their website and watch some of the videos from these conferences. For example, the videos of 2009 conference have highlights from a festival of “sauce-slopping, noodle-slurping, chaat-sampling, kabob-nibbling, tamale-savoring, tapas grazing epic tour of the best of world street food and world comfort food.” Go look for yourself!


Among the 2010 presenters of the Conference are several esteemed authors, all authorities in food culture and culinary art, including Ruth Reichl, Harold McGee and Elizabeth Andoh. Below are a few of their attractive and useful titles in the Library for you to consider:

Gourmet Today edited by Ruth Reichl

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

Keys to Good Cooking by Harold McGee

On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee

Kansha by Elizabeth Andoh

Washoku by Elizabeth Andoh


By the way, cooking and cookbooks are two of the largest collections in the Library, you may browse our shelves or look up in the catalog by keywords, such as:



Cooking, (Italian, Japanese, United States, etc.)

Cooking vegetables

International Cooking


Food habits


Happy cooking and good eating to you!

Discover the Arabic Language

Have you ever wanted to travel to Middle East and discover Egypt, Syria, or Lebanon? Have you ever thought to listen to Arabic music or view an Arabic movie or even learn the Arabic Language?


Have no doubt in your mind; all your dreams can become true here at San José Public Library. The Arabic Language collection includes Arabic Books, CDs, and DVDs from many parts of the Middle East. San Jose Public Library’s Arabic Language collection have materials in classical literature, fiction, philosophy, poetry, art, history, politics, and current events concerning many Middle Eastern countries including Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Morocco and others. The Arabic language materials are waiting for you explore and enjoy Middle Eastern cultures. In addition to classical Arabic, you will also distinguish many different Arabic Language dialects from Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Arabia and Gulf states.


Ahlan Wa Sahlan (Welcome) to San José Public Library!

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is wonderful! It's dramatic and sad and funny and wry. Everything a book should be. It made me want to go to Guernsey and meet these people. They became that real to me. The entire book is told through letters and telegrams, so it is very easy to read since there are no long chapters and the dialogue is conversational. The characters are vividly portrayed and by the end of the novel they seem as familiar as friends.

Posted by Susan Haddox on Nov 20, 2010 | Comments: 1 |

Mo Willems, Mo funny!

Mo Willems is best known for his Pigeon and Knuffle Bunny series, however his Gerald the Elephant & Piggie series is full of great humor for both children and adults. The friendship and adventures shared by this pair are written in a text that is easy enough for children to read on their own, but fun to read together.


The latest in the series, We Are in a Book! Gerald and Piggie discover the joy of being read, but what will happen when the book ends. Be prepared for more laughs and silliness with Elephant & Piggie.


Check out all the other books in the series, as well as other books by Mo Willems.

Finding Inner Peace with 50 Cent, the 50th Law

Judging a book by its cover would be the right thing to do, especially if you knew that the author was 50 Cent. Out with his new book 50thLaw, Curtis Jackson or better known “50 Cent” unites cultural wisdom with the ideals of Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Powerto show the importance of self empowerment and personal success. The resonating theme of this book is the idea of fearlessness and how to overcome the worst problems in life. 50 Cent’s Zen-like philosophical approach brings light to the common adversities that we face every day and through his Ten Concepts of Fearlessness, facing life’s difficult obstacles are only a matter of listening to a 50 cent song and reading the 50thlaw.



Book cover of The 50th LawJudging a book by its cover would be the right thing to do, especially if you knew that the author was 50 Cent. Out with his new book 50th Law, Curtis Jackson or better known “50 Cent” unites cultural wisdom with the ideals of Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power to show the importance of self empowerment and personal success. The resonating theme of this book is the idea of fearlessness and how to overcome the worst problems in life. 50 Cent’s Zen-like philosophical approach brings light to the common adversities that we face every day and through his Ten Concepts of Fearlessness, facing life’s difficult obstacles are only a matter of listening to a 50 cent song and reading The 50th Law.

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

In Lorrie Moore’s long awaited novel A Gate at the Stairs we meet Tassie Keltjin, a 20-year-old college student who is trying to figure out where she fits in the world. In this post-9/11 story, Tassie takes a job as a nanny for a couple that is trying to adopt a baby, where she gradually fits into the tenuous family structure. At school she meets and falls in love with a mysterious man that may be Brazilian. There is also a parallel story of Tassie at home with her own family, where her younger brother considers joining the army to help fight in Afghanistan and Tassie helps her potato-farmer father by donning a bird costume to scare off rodents.


Tassie is a great narrator. She is naïve but also aware of her innocence. Her voice is authentic and humorous, and she often takes the narrative in unexpected directions.

Community Health Information Center at Joyce Ellington Branch Library

The Community Health Information Center at the Joyce Ellington Branch Library was created by San José Public Library and PlaneTree Health Library. This unique collaboration, funded by The Health Trust* in partnership with the San José Public Library Foundation, offers health information resources in a variety of formats and languages. The collection reflects The Health Trust’s strategic initiatives to promote healthy living and healthy aging and to reduce health care disparities in Silicon Valley.


The Center includes resources in the three languages that are prevalent in the neighborhood (English, Spanish, and Vietnamese). The books and media are organized to be browsed quickly and easily. Most items can be borrowed for the standard three week checkout period. Customers are able to watch health DVDs while in the Center or borrow them to take home. They can also search the unique “health portal” databases and websites on the Library’s website – – using the Center’s two computers. These online resources are freely available remotely to anyone with an Internet connection.


Library staff have received special training by PlaneTree to help customers with their health information needs. A variety of health information programs are offered at the branch throughout the year.


The Center is open when the Joyce Ellington Branch Library is open.


*The Health Trust is a nonprofit public charity committed to improving the health and wellness of residents of the greater Santa Clara Valley.

Maisy Bakes A Cake by Lucy Cousins


We just received a Maisy Bakes a Cake (pull the tab) book by Lucy Cousins. The author and illustrator of numerous picture books.  This is a wonderful interactive book for two to three year olds and aspiring little chefs.  Maisy washes her hands, measures flour on a scale that moves up and down, mixes ingredients, and opens the oven door to see the cake rise.  The last page of Charley the crocodile showing his sharp teeth eating a piece of cake might be a little frightening to some, but fascinating to others. Overall, this is a fun baking basics title for Toddlers.

Keep Looking Up


Book cover of Always Looking UpLike so many other kids, when I was growing up I wanted to be like Marty McFly traveling through time in a DeLorean. In 1985, the movie Back to the Future launched Michael J. Fox not only back in time, but in to a promising acting career and in to the hearts of millions of people. In 1998 the world was shocked when Fox announced that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.


In his book Always Looking Up, Fox describes his trials of going from “Michael J. Fox the actor” to “Michael J. Fox with Parkinson’s disease.” He tells stories about family events ranging from a road trip with his son, to the death of his sister. Throughout the book, Fox illustrates his struggles just to keep his body under control and complete the most basic of tasks. Yet he never falls in to self-pity. The book is a wonderful insight into the daily life of someone struggling with this disease, and lined with the sense of humor of Michael J. Fox. It is the perfect read for anyone who needs a reminder to keep looking up.


Other books by Michael J. Fox:

  • Lucky Man in which Fox tells of his childhood and early acting career as well as his dealing with his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future where Fox, a high school drop-out, talks about getting his education from the school of life.

Clueless No More!

Book cover with photograph of Alicia SilverstoneAfter patiently waiting for The Kind Diet to arrive to my home branch, I was very excited to see that it was finally mine for three weeks! This is Clueless star Alicia Silverstone's, first book and I really enjoyed it! It's a cooking and diet book to those who want to get into a vegetarian or vegan macrobiotic lifestyle. All the recipes looked really delicious and the concept of the diet was easily explained in the beginning chapters. Also at the end of the book she lists other recommended reading and even has a website to join to help keep you motivated, ask questions or get recipes. I hope there will be more of her books to come. Another plus? This book used soy based ink and was printed on recycled paper!

Robert Schumann : Life and Death of a Musician

"Robert Schumann: life and death of a musician" bookcoverRobert Schumann : Life and Death of a Musician by John Worthen


More than any other books, John Worthen’s biography brings readers closer to Schumann, the man behind a composer and pianist. Without a single music example, this book focuses on various intimate insights into the romantic composer’s life from his wild rebellious youth, to his fairytale romance with Clara Wieck, to outbursts of creativity in middle-age, and to his ultimate death at the age of 46.


The author’s overall objective is to dispel traditional misconceptions on the links of Schumann’s final mental illness with his musical creativity and characters. Worthen also successfully demystifies the image of Schumann as a Romantic who suffered chronic depression. Based almost entirely on the composer’s and his wife’s diaries, accompanied by doctors’ notes and autopsy reports, this book provides an incredibly true and detailed life accounts of a genius filled with challenges and untimely death.


With an intriguingly narrative style, Worthen book reads sometimes like an Austen’s novel that will never fail to move readers with its beautiful love story of Robert and Clara Schumann during their struggles for marriage (Clara’s father fiercely opposed the union) and final separation at Endenich mental institution. This book may not belong on the musicologist’s shelves, but it is a marvelous gift to anyone who loves Schumann and simply wants to learn the true story of his life.


* Read other books by John Worthen.

* Read more books about Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

* Check out a recording of Robert Schumann's music.

* Check out a composition by Robert Schumann.


A reminder: 2010 is Schumann's bicentennial!

A New Egyptian Adventure

The Red Pyramid is the first book in The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan, who wrote the Percy Jackson series.  Volume one introduces us to 14 year-old Carter Kane, his 12 year-old sister, Sadie and a cast of characters from an ancient land. 


The story begins with a Christmas day visit to the British Museum and takes you on a magical journey to Paris, Ancient Egypt and yes, even Graceland! 


I really enjoyed this book and it looks like this series will be just as enjoyable as the Percy Jackson series. 

Jeremy Draws a Monster

Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty


Jeremy is a boy who uses his imagination to draw a friend for himself.  His new friend is very demanding and expects quite a bit from Jeremy.  However, Jeremy learns that it might be good to go outside and make some real friends so he sends the monster packing!


Great illustrations and a wonderful story about making new friends!

Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

Someone Comes to Town book coverCory Doctorow is the most epic author of our time, as well as a proponent for the freedom of digital information and internet users' rights.  His book Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town is hard to pin down, but best described as a fantastical story about an exceedingly strange family, its children, and one child (Alan) and his interactions with "the regular world."  The plot is enthralling and if you're a fantasy or science fiction fan, this story won't disappoint.  If you're an HP Lovecraft fan, the style will seem quite familiar to you.  Otherwise, think of it as urban fantasy and magical realism, with a dash of identity crisis.  Alan's progress through the world and his flashbacks to his strange upbringing shed some light on our own families, identities, and future.

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War.

book coverMayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick. Every November Americans celebrate Thanksgiving as a national holiday of feasting and school children are taught the story of the Pilgrims who arrived on the ship Mayflower in 1620 and settled New England. In this well-researched historical narrative Nathaniel Philbrick fleshes out the background of this American story and its underlying issues of race, violence and religion which began long before the landing of the Mayflower and continued for decades after the first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims (not all religious separatists) at first kept a tenuous but peaceful relationship with Native Americans.  Both groups were decimated by disease, and soon were at war with one another.  This is the book to read if you want to know the adult version of the widely publicized, but probably not the first, Thanksgiving.


Interview with Nathaniel Philbrick

100 Year Wait Is Over ! Autobiography of Mark Twain. Vol. 1

book coverMark Twain's will stipulated that his autobiography could only be published 100 years after his death.  Twain died at the age of 75 in April 1910, so finally the time has come for the world to read this long suppressed work.  Volume 1 has just been published and has generated enough excitement and curiosity to catapult it onto the New York Times Bestseller List.  Be sure to reserve a library copy from our online catalog. 

Girl in Translation

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok


An novel about  immigrant teenager's life in New York's Chinatown, based on the writer's experience


Edenvale Community Center Environmentally Friendly Too!

The Edenvale Community Center opened a couple of months ago to a very welcoming and eager neighborhood. Along with the various programs and services offered by the center, it is also San José’s first LEED Gold Standard community center. What does this mean? LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), is a certification system that rates buildings on energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, and other environmental impact elements. The center has come up with ways to reduce water consumption and three-quarters of the building construction can be recycled.

Want to know more about LEED or how to make your own home more environmentally friendly? The Engineering Guide to LEED has info about designing sustainable buildings. For those looking at your own dwelling, Green from the Ground Up and Little House on a Small Planet are guides for homeowners. And you can always come into any of our branches to browse our Home and Garden section for even more resources!

Preparing for the Feast

The First Thanksgiving 1621 - by Jean Leon Gerome FerrisThanksgiving is next week and my mind is on it.  We've got some books that can help you prepare for the holiday whether you are cooking, decorating or traveling.  We've even got some things on how to deal with your relatives!



I'll mention Paula Deen as someone who's cooking I am trying not to emulate.  But if you are interested - we've got Paula Deen Celebrates!.  Her cooking tends to use a lot of butter and is delicious but not necessarily healthy!


What I'm thinking more about is the Cooking Light Holiday Cookbook or Hungry Girl Happy Hour: 75 recipes for amazingly fantastic guilt-free cocktails and party foods.



I remember making a pinecone turkey for a Thanksgiving centerpiece as a kid.  Kids crafts for Thanksgiving have gone way beyond that!  Check out All New Crafts for Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day Crafts.  For the grown-ups, check out Martha's Classic Thanksgiving on DVD.



Thanksgiving is based in the history of our country.  I have always been moved by the story of Squanto.  This is definitely one to share with your children, to give the holiday more perspective.  Check out The Story of Squanto: first friend to the pilgrims.  And your kids will love Two Bad Pilgrims - the story of John and Francis Billington who were two brothers who arrived on the Mayflower.  They caused a lot of trouble back in the day and this book shares some of their hilarious exploits in a comic book format.



Deborah Tannen's I Only Say This Because I Love You may be an inroads to understanding some family relationship issues.  Listen to David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim to gain some perspective, have a lot of belly laughs and feel better about your loved ones.



It may be a little late for major trips, but with a few days off, you might take a day trip with your family or friends.  Fun with the Family in Northern California, Best Places in Northern California and Grassroutes Northern California Wine Country are just a few of the many books we have on travel in the area. 


Whatever your plans are for next week - here's wishing you alll a Happy Thanksgiving!

Business Question of the Day

"I'm thinking about starting a small business. What resources do you recommend to help me get started?"

San José Public Library has a ton of resources in print and online to support entrpreneurs!

Check these books out:

The Small Business Start-Up Kit for California

by Peri H. Pakroo





The Small Business Bible : Everything You Need to Know to Succeed in Your Small Business

by Steven D. Strauss





Or check out our online resources...

Your First Business Plan [e-book] : a Simple Question-and-Answer Format Designed to Help You Write Your Own Plan

by Joseph Covello and Brian Hazelgren






Small Business Reference Center

has full text books and videos all about starting, growing, or rescuing a business.

Poets and Murder, a Judge Dee Mystery

Poets and Murder, a Judge Dee Mystery by Robert van Gulik

Add “Cold Case” to “Law and Order” and “CSI,” throw in a dash of “X Files,” and you have a winning recipe for a multifaceted murder mystery in Poets and Murder.  Learn how two seemingly unrelated deaths of a student and a maid Challenge Judge Dee’s “little grey cells.”  Why is the wearing of a cap of great significance?  How can a central character’s boy friend be at her side 24/7 yet having no need of sustenance?  Foxes turning into women – fact or fiction?  Van Gulik’s narrative, set in ancient China, is not only provocative but culturally accurate.  Travel back in time with him to the Tang dynasty for excitement and intellectual stimulation, to a fascinating culture and place where human nature strikes a familiar chord.  This book is available in Chinese and media productions on the legendary Judge Dee are also available in Chinese.

Ivy + Bean What's the Big Idea?

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to hear author Anne Barrows read a chapter from her newest book, Ivy + Bean: What’s the Big Idea? at Hicklebee’s, an independent children’s bookstore in this area. 


This is the seventh book in the Ivy and Bean series and it has the irresistible girls trying to come up with a science fair project that can solve global warming.  A pretty big assignment for two second graders but as usual, Anne Barrows can take a serious topic and infuse it with wit and charm with exactly the nuances of how a second grader would attempt to solve such a complex problem.  


In case you’re wondering why that author's name sounds familiar even though you may not have read one of her children's books, it is because Burrows is the coauthor of the immensely popular fiction title, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Enjoy this delighful author in both the children's and the adult sections of the library. 

Bright Star (movie review)

Bright Star is a heartbroken love story of famed poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and his beloved Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish.)  Beautifully shot in Hertfordshire and other rural areas of England, the movie is the latest cinema masterpiece of award-winning director Jane Campion (The Piano, Holy Smoke) that showcases scenes of serenity mixed with characters' emotional outbursts.  Watching Bright Star is like to read one of Keats' verses of love and death in the midst of nature's calmest night.


"Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art-- 
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death."

                              -- John Keats 


Check out this DVD tonight at your local library.

* Check out more movies by Jane Campion.

* Read some poems by John Keats (1795-1821)

* Read about John Keats (1795-1821)

Black Eyed Peas

The Black Eyed Peas with,, Taboo and Fergie?  Oh yes, please, let's have a helping of Peas!


For the past week I've been bobbing my head to Rock That Body and Imma be from their CD - The E.N.D  which stands for energy never dies.   Here is the video that combines the two songs and is about 10 minutes of awesome!  Hot beats and dancing robots!  That's my version of fun!  If you have the time - take a watch and listen!


Previously I had heard a few of their songs in passing and didn't pay them much attention.  But their focus on futuristic themes and positive experiences has made me delve further back into their past works. is a first generation immigrant from the Phillipines and the apl song on Elephunk is in Tagalog and English and is all about his journey from the Phillipines to the US.  


Their next album, The Beginning, is being released at the end of this month.  The library already has it on order, so look for it in a few weeks.  The Black-Eyed Peas are shelved in the Rap section.


And just because I love actual black-eyed peas - here's my family recipe:



1 can black-eyed peas - drained

1 small onion - diced

2 Tablespoons oil


Saute the diced onion in the oil until translucent. 

Add the black-eyed peas. 

Cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. 

Add salt and pepper to taste. 



Forget Sorrow by Belle Yang - graphic novel memoir

  Forget Sorrow bookcover by Belle Yang

Graphic Novels aren’t just for kids and geeks.  I read a great one called Forget Sorrow by local artist and author Belle Yang.  She lives in Carmel and has illustrated and written several books for children.  This is her first foray into graphic novels.  It chronicles her family history in Manchuria during the Second World War.  A history she couldn’t relate to growing up in America.  It’s only when she returns to her parent’s home, seeking protection from an abusive boyfriend, does she start to become interested in her father’s tales. I really enjoyed the graphic novel format in telling such a personal story. Graphic novels for adults are becoming more and more prevalent, check out these other titles:



Picture Books about Squirrels

The Busy Little Squirrel The Busy Little Squirrel written and illustrated by Nancy Tafuri is a delightful book for early readers and a fun read-aloud for younger children. A diligent squirrel busily prepares for winter by gathering a variety of foods.  Several friendly animals want to socialize with Squirrel; however, he is too busy to take a break.  


Nancy Tafuri’s website contains excerpts from some of her colorful books. 


Earl the SquirrelIn the book Earl the Squirrel, written and illustrated by Don Freeman, the reader meets

Earl, a gray squirrel whose mother wants him to learn how to find acorns.   A young girl gives Earl an acorn and a bright red scarf.  Earl's mother scolds him for accepting the gifts.  Earl wants to show his mother he can find acorns on his own.  Can he find them?  Read and find out!  


Don Freeman’s website, maintained by his son Roy Freeman, has a lot of information about his writing and art, including a comprehensive bibliography

Why Buy When You Can Borrow? Save Money for Holiday Gifts or Yourself...

Picture of a cabin in the snow with smoke coming from its chimney, three snow-covered pine trees and mistletoe.Your local San Jose library has a fantastic selection of holiday music CDs for grownups and kids available for you to enjoy this season, all FREE of charge. Where else can you access for free Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Mariah Carey, Dora the Explorer, Gene Autry, Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, and Doris Day each singing their special rendition of "Here Comes Santa Claus"? Other songs that may be found range from novelty hits such as "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" to traditional favorites such as "Silent Night" or the Barenaked Ladies’ version of “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah.” It’s all here!


You can borrow library music CDs for one week and renew them online for another week, as you sip a cup of creamy eggnog. Music CDs are not requestable, so it’s good to visit your library soon before the best are taken. The lovable Christmas Scrooge would applaud your holiday spirit, and the pre-Christmas Scrooge would champion your fiscal responsibility. You can't lose.

Motion in the Ocean

I checked out this movie as a possible selection for movie night with my little sister. She has developed a large fascination with the ocean and I selected Disney's Oceans. The movie is filled with everything from beautiful sea life to scary sharks. It touches on everything from creatures and how they live to what we can do protect the ocean from any further dangers. While the movie is great for young children be aware there are scene's involving natural predators.

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

cover of The Reader by Bernhard SchlinkThe Reader by Bernhard Schlink

Read by Campbell Scott

An unabridged production


It was just a coincidence … fifteen-year-old Michael Berg becomes ill on his way to school and he is dramatically rescued by Hanna. His rescuer, Hanna, is twice his age and in time becomes his lover. Michael falls head-over-heels in love with Hanna; beguiled by her interest and passion. There’s one odd thing.  Hanna never speaks about her past, especially the war years (World War II). This puzzles him and he is even more confused when she simply disappears from his life.


Years later, Michael is a law student and he sees Hanna once again as the defendant in a gripping war crimes trial.  Hanna is on trial for a cruel and inhuman war crime; a crime of unfathomable treachery.  He can’t believe what he is hearing and feels confused and betrayed on many levels.  Michael slowly realizes that Hanna may be guarding a secret she considers more shameful than murder.

Mystery in History

I recently attended a presentation by author David V. Herlihy, talking about his new book, The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance. Last Saturday, at Willow Glen, the author revealed the fascinating story of Frank Lenz, an avid cyclist and photographer, who dreamed of circling the globe on a bicycle in the 1890's. His struggle to find a sponsor and his failure to find a companion cyclist did not daunt him; he decided to go it alone. Lenz planned his solo trek across America, China, the Near East, and Europe, following the setting sun while lugging approximately 50 pounds of camera equipment. He nearly succeeded, making it all the way into Turkey before he vanished as completely as Amelia Earhart would thirty years later. The amazing photos Lenz took along the way are a fascinating glimpse into a world rarely seen. I can't wait to read the book!

Interred With Their Bones

Cover of Interred With Their BonesLike adventure stories?  Mysteries?  Treasure hunts?  Intrigue?  Maybe you're a history enthusiast.  Ah, and let's not forget that touch of romance. 


Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell has it all.  The library has the book, ebook, and audiobook versions!  Our hero Kate Stanley is on the track of a long-lost Shakespeare play.  Who will get it first?  Kate?  The killers?  Which set of killers?  In the course of this tale of derring-do, we globetrot from England to Harvard to Washington DC to Spain to the US Southwest. 


While the bulk of the tale takes place in the present, two other time periods are covered: early 1600s England, where we meet a young playwright caught up in a romantic triangle at King James' Court.  Guess who?  And later on, in the great American Wild West of the late 1800s, we catch up with a few more colorful characters, miners and adventurers and con artists, setting the stage for the web of intrigue that Kate Stanley and company face in the present. 


As an added benefit, author Jennifer Lee Carrell has a knack for passing on Shakespearean information, and yes, trivia, in a fun, exciting, give-me-more manner.  Who knew that a Mexican War lieutenant by the name of Ulysses S. Grant, sans beard, played Desdemona?


Altogether, this is a rollicking, page-turning adventure.  Enjoy!



Rushing to Review - Less Than 1/4 Through!

Life, by Keith Richards, is a captivating, intriguing, joy of a biography. After just 100 pages (nearly every one of which has made me laugh out loud), I have a new best friend in this book and will be sad when it ends. The lead guitarist of the Rolling Stones reviews his life with unique candor, wit, and warmth. To chronicle his youth, Keith relies on conversations and correspondence with close relatives, his own diary and journal entries, and his memory (yes, he does remember, contrary to popular belief). With heartfelt enthusiasm, he expresses his early love of music, discovery of Rhythm & Blues, and incessant work to acquire acoustic and electric guitar skills. But don’t take my word for it – request this book and read it for yourself. There are currently 44 holds on San José Public Library’s 7 copies of the book (also available now at and Borders for $16).

Posted by Ronna Nemer on Nov 17, 2010 | Comments: 3 |

Iconic Images


Book cover of Vanity Fair, The PortaritsLately I've been noticing new acquisitions to our 'oversized' book collection or what I like to call "Coffee table books".  One that especially caught my eye is Vanity Fair, The Portraits: A Century of Iconic Images.  Inside you will find 95 years of beautifully commissioned photography for Vanity Fair. 


This collection showcases the talents of Edward Steichen, Omogen Cunningham, Annie Liebovitz, Mario Testino, David LaChapelle and Bruce Weber to name a few.  There is a wide range of subjects including writers, athletes, musicians, and actors.  Sit back, relax and enjoy the skillful work on display here!

Compelling & Contemporary Fiction

cover of Freedom, by Jonathan FranzenWhen your book is residing in the majority of best-seller lists you typically don't need any additional publicity to alert the reading public to a title's existence. That being said, Jonathan Franzen will never sell as many books as a lot of other writers on those lists, but his writing will, and does, speak for itself as the voice of an important and serious American novelist of the era. His latest book Freedom is a story about a midwestern American family, like his previous book The Corrections, and the sweep of time it takes to grow-up, raise a family, and generally live a life. The thing is, nobody can seem to write as convincingly as Franzen when it comes to creating densely rendered characters and, in fact, creating life from the pages of text he is so expertly adept at producing. Franzen's writing is impressive in its scope and provides innumerable episodes in which the reader can ponder insightful passages or just simply admire the manner in which he can combine expertly crafted sentences to make the process of writing a novel, correct that, a great novel, seem all so simple.


A word of caution, reader: this is in many ways a dark story, but eminently fulfilling nonetheless. There are plenty of holds on the book at the moment, but great art is worth waiting for and I, for one, haven't read a better piece of serious contemporary fiction this year. Highly recommended? It's Franzen ... READ IT!

Teen Fiction: What's New in Paperback?

Books can be so expensive, right?! That's why the library is so awesome. Borrow them for free! But on the flipside, what this also means is that we often must wait until books are released in paperback before we can buy a lot of copies of them. Sometimes this can take months, even years. (Ahem...Mr. Potter and Mr. Cullen, I'm looking in your direction.) But hey, maybe you missed these the first time around, or maybe it's time for a re-read. Check out some of these Young Adult Fiction titles newly released in paperback and coming to a branch near you:


 Witch & Wizard by James PattersonWitch & Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet


 Check out prolific author James Patterson's first novel for teens. Torn from their parents in a society increasingly controlled by the government, siblings Wisty and Whit are incarcerated in a totalitarian prison where they discover they have incredible supernatural powers.


Overblown marketing riding on Patterson's coattails, or actually a good book? The reviews for this book have been pretty mixed, but why not decide for yourself? The sequel The Gift is coming out next month, whether you like it or not.



Touch cover by Francine Prose Touch by Francine Prose


 Ninth-grader Maisie's concepts of friendship, loyalty, self-acceptance, and truth are tested to their limit after a school bus incident with the three boys who have been her best friends since early childhood.


I read this last year when it was published in hardcover. It is intense and thought-provoking. You get to see so many different perspectives, and your assumptions will likely change multiple times while reading. It would be a great book for a book club discussion or essay assignment.



Reformed Vampire Support Group The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks


 Fifteen-year-old vampire Nina has been stuck for fifty-one years in a boring support group for vampires, and nothing exciting has ever happened to them--until one of them is murdered and the others must try to solve the crime.


This isn't your typical vampire romance. It's got mystery, lots of humor, and yes...vampires. Even if you are feeling "vampired-out", this is a fun read. 



Hush, Hush cover by Becca Fitzpatrick Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick


 So maybe you are still in the mood for some paranormal forbidden love. Sure, why not? There are plenty of new titles to choose from, like Hush, Hush, finally now in paperback!


High school sophomore Nora has always been very cautious in her relationships, but when Patch, who has a dark side she can sense, enrolls at her school, she is mysteriously and strongly drawn to him, despite warnings from her best friend, the school counselor, and her own instincts. His deal...He's a fallen angel. Cool, right? And not too much of a spoiler due to the obviousness of the cover. ;) 



Well, that's my Teen Fiction paperback roundup for November. You can always check out what's new for teens by checking our regularly-updated New Teen Materials page or by subscribing to the RSS feed there. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Reading!

Santa Teresa Library Homework Club: Winner's Circle

 chalkboard, apples and "ABC"

Winner's Circle is a homework club at the Santa Teresa Branch Library that takes place on Wednesdays 3:30-5:30 PM in the Community Room. It is for all kids in grades kindergarten through eighth grade.


Sign up takes place at the beginning of each Winner's Circle. Parents must arrange for transportation from school to the Library.


If homework assistance is required outside of the Winner's Circle homework club, students may access Live Homework Help online on the San Jose Public Library's  website. There are a variety of resources available on the Library's website for students of all ages.

Searching for Sookie Stackhouse in the Stacks...

Cover of Dead Until Dark by Charlaine HarrisWhen I first read Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris I was hooked!  Sookie Stackhouse is a loveable psychic who falls in love with a vampire because she can't read his mind!  I couldn't wait to get to the next book, Living Dead in Dallas.  Now, all these years later, there have been 10 Sookie Stackhouse novels and a collection of short stories published. 


AndCover of True Blood: Season One DVD of course, I can't leave out the HBO series, True Blood.  This is the tv series that brought Sookie to the masses.  It seems like everybody knows True Blood but not everybody knows the novels that came first.


For those of you who've seen True Blood and find it a little too adult themed and graphic, you will be pleasantly surprised at the way the stories are told in Charlaine Harris' novels.  Let's just say that HBO decided to spice things up for the small screen and leave it at that...


Sookie Stackhouse navigates the treacherous world of the supernatural and as each book unfolds, discovers new wonders and dangers.  Vampires are only the tip of the iceberg.  She meets and fights and falls in love with werewolves, shape-shifters, fae creatures, witches - you name it!  And each of these are fully formed characters who are more than just their supernatural abilities - some are sweet and loveable, some are tightly wound and some are just plain evil.


If you're ready to jump in and give Sookie a try - here's your reading list in order and in numerous formats!

Dead Until Dark                       ebook

Living Dead in Dallas               ebook   large print

Club Dead                                 ebook 

Dead to the World                  ebook   

Dead as a Doornail                  ebook   large print

Definitely Dead                        ebook   large print

All Together Dead                   ebook    large print    audio book

From Dead to Worse              ebook    large print    audio book

Dead and Gone                       ebook    large print    audio book

Dead in the Family                  ebook    large print    audio book

A Touch of Dead - Sookie Stackhouse Short Story Collection ebook  audio book  large print

Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma DonoghueRoom by Emma Donoghue is told from the point-of-view of five-year-old Jack, who lives in Room with his beloved Ma.  Every object in Room, such as Lamp and Floor, has a name because it is so important to Jack.  But it gradually becomes clear to the reader that Jack and Ma are really prisoners and that Jack's well-loved Room is a prison created from a fortified shed by Old Nick who kidnapped Ma and is Jack's biological father.


I admired how Ma tries to teach Jack using whatever is available and tries to keep him happy and healthy and protected in spite of their circumstances.  But gradually the true nature of their situation has to be revealed by Ma to Jack.  His profound disorientation when he comes in contact with the outside world and other people is beautifully conveyed.


This novel stayed in my head as I struggled with what I would have done in such dire circumstances and how I would react to Ma and Jack in order to help them on the "outside."


The plot of Room is similar in plot to Still Missing by Chevy Stevens, but quite different in tone.  Room is not a thriller, although it has some pulse-pounding parts, and is not as graphic as Still Missing; rather, Room is the story of a woman's desperate attempts to save her little boy and herself.

Notable Nonfiction: Digital Age Degeneration

Cover of the book The Dumbest Generation by Mark BauerleinHow does the future of society look, to you? It doesn't look too bright according to these recent books that credit the effects of information technology on humans for decreases in reading and other signs of impending societal decline. The fact that these interesting books are not flying off our library shelves kind of supports their arguments, if you get my drift. Check them out.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr is a very well written book positing the view that your behavior on the inherently distracting Internet impedes your ability to achieve deep reading behavior that is necessary for education, professional work, and other endeavors. Carr references scientific research to buttress his claims and is an excellent writer even on a subject that could be hard to make interesting. This is an easy-to-deep-read book.

The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future  by Mark Bauerlein is a book that is hard to stop reading, not because it is well written so much as because it paints a riveting but depressing portrait of Generation Y's educational and intellectual shortcomings. Well documented, the book focuses on the intellect of under-30-year-olds, not only concluding that they are the "dumbest generation" but doing a good job of refuting those academics who contend otherwise.

Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age by Maggie Jackson is an easy-to-read book that includes significant documentation in support of its thesis that modern multitaskers' inability to focus attention will usher in a period of societal decline. Unfortunately, the book itself would be better, if more tightly focused on fewer points and less sensationalistic in predicting a Dark Age due to general inattention.

Related books that are also recommended for this topic are You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier and The Overflowing Brain: Information Overload and the Limits of Working Memory by Torkel Klingberg.

TumbleBook Library

San Jose Public Library has many online resources for parents and children. One of these is the TumbleBook Library which is an online collection of animated, talking picture books. TumbleBooks are created by adding animation, sound, music and narration to existing picture books in order to produce an electronic picture book which a child can read, or have read to them.  The TumbleBook Library has a big selection of story books for children. Old time favorites such as "The Paper Bag Princess" by Robert Munsch, as well as fairy tales such as "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "Old Mother Hubbard" come to life in an educational and interactive way.


The TumbleBook Library provides enrichment to students who are reading independently with a variety of high interest material. It also provides support to students who require skill building with a variety of exercises that can be matched with other areas of the curriculum. The TumbleBook Library collection is accessed online from every computer in your library with Internet connection, or from home through the link on our Downloads page (under eMedia).

Keep Your Kids Moving!

I'm often asked about the music we use for the library's popular Music and Movement with Preschoolers program. Some of my favorite action songs for young children are by Hap Palmer, Greg and Steve, and Jim Gill.  You can find them, and lots of other great music for kids, in the children's section of our music CD racks. 


Add to the fun by making simple musical instruments from household items. For instance, a pair of wooden spoons make great rhythm sticks. Fill plastic Easter eggs with dried beans and tape shut, and you've got a pair of maracas.


Have fun, and join us for the next Music and Movement program at Willow Glen Library on Wednesday, December 1, at 11:30 a.m.

Posted by Mary Cage on Nov 13, 2010 | Comments: 0 |

Troublemaker Book One

Troublemaker Book OneTroublemaker Book One: a Barnaby and Hooker Graphic Novel

Written by Janet Evanovich and Alex Evanovich

Illustrated by Joëlle Jones, and others.


Are you a fan of Janet Evanovich’s humorous mysteries?  Would you like to read something interesting that a mother and daughter wrote together?  Do you like graphic novels?   If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, you are likely to enjoy Troublemaker Book One, which features popular characters Alex Barnaby and Sam Hooker.   This book is colorfully illustrated by a team of illustrators including Joëlle Jones.  I’m looking forward to Book 2.  


Janet and her daughter Alex promote this book in a YouTube clip.  

Binky the Space Cat

Do you love cats?   If the answer is yes, check out Binky the Space Cat,  written and illustrated by Ashley Spires. Binky is an adorable black and white cat who takes care of his household which consists of a big human, a little human, and a toy mouse.   Binky protects his household from tiny, pesky “aliens” with six legs and wings.   This whimsically illustrated book is great for elementary school students, including reluctant readers.  Preschoolers with longer attention spans may also enjoy this book. 


Other delightful books by the same author include Binky To The Rescue, Binky Under Pressure and Binky Takes Charge


     Binky the Space Cat Book Cover Binky to the Rescue book Cover Binky Under Pressure Binky Takes Charge

Picture Books by Il Sung Na

In Cover of A Book of SleepA Book of Sleep, written and illustrated by Il Sung Na, a watchful owl observes many animals sleeping, and notices that different species of animals have different ways of sleeping. This sweet, simple story is beautifully illustrated in mixed media.  This would be a nice bedtime story for babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and kindergarteners. This book is also available in Spanish.    


Hide & Seek Book Cover


A variety of friendly wild animals play a game of hide and seek. Elephant closes his eyes, counts to ten, then looks for all the animals. Will he find his friends?   Read Hide and Seek and find out!  


Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit book cover



In Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: a Book of Changing Seasons, an observant rabbit watches other animals migrate, hibernate, or gather food during the winter.   This is a nice story for children interested in seasons.    This books is also available in ebook format through Axis 360

Thư Pháp Chữ Việt

Lớp học Thư Pháp Chữ Việt đã bắt đầu Ngày 6 Tháng 11 mỗi Thứ Bảy.  Nếu quý vị thích thơ, ca dao Việt Nam, mời quý vị đến học đông đủ.  Lớp học miễn phí.  Lớp học tại phòng Family Learning Center.  Không cần ghi danh trước.

I have a test and I need help!

LearningExpress logoThe Library offers an awesome online resource called LearningExpress.  LearningExpress offers online practice tests, test-taking guides, testing eBooks, and more for many of the common tests we face at different times in life.  You'll find standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, GED, and GRE, as well as citizenship exams, Civil Service exams, and more.  There are also learning centers for general skills improvement for all ages -- elementary, middle, and high school, as well as college prep and college level exams.  There are also resources available in Spanish and for general job skills building.


How to Log In: You can find the link to LearningExpress in the Research section of our site, on the Research Resources page under "Careers, Education, and Testing."  Just follow this link any time you want to log in, which is accessible from anywhere with your library card number and PIN.  First time users will need to create an account with LearningExpress--this is so that you can save practice test results, or finish one part way and come back to it later.  


There is so much here for test-takers, people wanting to improve their general skills, or students wanting to improve their grades.  Take a look!

Autumn = The Cure

The Cure band photoEvery autumn, I find myself listening to music by The Cure again.  


It might be Robert Smith's wailing vocals, teen angsty lyrics, or perhaps the generally slower pace of the songs meshes up with the slower pace I feel as colder weather sets in.  The Library has several albums by The Cure, all good for fall-time listening.  We also have a DVD of live performances and music videos, titled (go figure) The Cure.  


An 80s and 90s sensation, this alternative-goth-punk-rock band is still touring...and yes, Robert Smith's hair is still poofy.  If you are completely unfamiliar with the band, a good album to start with is Staring at the Sea, a collection of singles from earlier in their career.  You're likely to enjoy The Cure if you're a fan of Depeche Mode, New Order, Morrissey, or Echo and the Bunnymen.


You can listen to preview clips of many of The Cure's songs on Amazon, see a plethora of their videos on YouTube (including the epic "Lovesong"), and read more about the band's history on Wikipedia and  


I maintain that The Cure's Disintegration is the best album ever made by any band.  What's your favorite album?

Geeks Unite (with The IT Crowd)!

The IT Crowd DVD coverThe BBC4 Series The IT Crowd (is absolutely a must-watch for anyone with a job involving any technology at all.  And if you're in tech support, the tag line "Have you tried turning it off and back on again?" will resonate with you truly.  Beyond that, pretty much anyone who works in an office setting will find this hilarious as well.  Much along the same lines as the original UK version of The Office, The IT Crowd is often slapstick to the point of ridiculousness.


The poor unappreciated IT guys down in the basement, Roy and Moss, get a new boss, Jen, with no knowledge of technology at all.  In fact, she doesn't know what IT stands for (that Information Technology, hey!).  Hilarity ensues.  Not many shows make me actually laugh out loud, but every episode of The IT Crowd does just that.  I'm such a fan that I have a "Team Moss" t-shirt that I will not part with for anything.


The Library has the first three seasons, with the fourth one just released and soon to come.  So start watching from the beginning now and be ready for more!

Poetry Center San Jose

Love poetry? Love to create poetry? Plan to visit with Poetry Center San Jose every third Thursday from 6:30 - 9 PM in Willow Glen Branch Library's Community Room. The group features readings from a local poet, critques, and an open mic session. Come and celebrate the poetry artform!

Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy from Mars

Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy from Mars book coverEver feel like you don't quite fit in? Like you'd love something exciting to come whisk you away from your everyday life? Then you're not only like the rest of us, but you're just like Leonard in Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy from Mars by Daniel Pinkwater, the author of many children's and young adult books. So who's Alan, you might be wondering? Well, therein lies the book. This science fiction adventure takes them from a bookstore to aliens, space, and beyond. Recommended for readers as young as 4th grade, this is still a completely entertaining read for adults too. If you've ever felt picked on or bored out of your head with school, check out Alan and Leonard's adventures.

Soothing Chinese Soups for All Seasons!

Book cover of A Tradition of SoupAfter I brought home A Tradition of Soup: Flavors from China's Pearl River Delta I began to look at Chinese herbs and vegetables and how I could begin to use these new discoveries in my kitchen. The author, Teresa Chen, beautifully introduces Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and its love affair with ingredients. She wonderfully exposes traditional Chinese ingredients using photographs, alternative names, and health benefits. As a frequent shopper at the downtown Vietnamese grocery markets Dai Thanh and Thien Thanh, I love trying to use different herbs and vegetables and Chen’s glossary of these healing herbs and roots opened up new doors. Check it out!

Library Shortcuts -- Put It in Quotation Marks

If you are searching a title, phrase or name, enclose it in quotation marks. 


Why this works. Suppose you are searching for Daniel Smith. If you just type in Daniel Smith, you might get Daniel Smith, but also Daniel Boone, Daniel Jones, even Daniel in the lions den! (well maybe) as well as John Smith, Joseph Smith, Smith Brothers, etc.


If you type it like this "Daniel Smith", you just get Daniel Smith. Try it.


The computer doesn't think -- it just matches words!!  This works too for San Francisco, organic chemistry, Catcher in the Rye ... give it a try!

No Rooms of Their Own: Women Writers of Early California

From before the time Mark Twain and Bret Harte wrote about the gold rush, women in the new state of California were also writing about their experiences.  A good starting point for finding more about these women writers is No Rooms of Their Own: Women Writers of Early California, edited by Ida Rae Egli.  This anthology includes poems, stories and essays by Sarah Eleanor Royce, Lucy Young, Dame Shirley, Helen McCowen Carpenter, Frances Fuller Victor, Josephine Clifford McCrackin, Jessie Benton Fremont, Hipolita Orendain de Medina, Georgiana Kirby, Ina Coolbrith, Mary Hallock Foote, Charlotte L. Brown, Ellen Sterling Cummins Mighels, Adah Isaacs Menken, Ada Clare. 


Read more about these writers in this review from California Historian.

Read selections from this anthology in Google Books

Scripts and podcasts of selections by some of these authors can be found at the California Legacy Project


The California Room of San José Public Library has works by and about many of these writers.

The Library is for Gleeks!

Cover Image of Glee, the beginning: an original novel by Sophia LowellI'm a Gleek and I'm proud!  The television show, Glee, is my guilty pleasure!  It features exhuberant musical numbers held up by flimsy but fun plotlines.  If you want to catch up to the Glee phenomena and watch the first season or take a listen to the great covers the performers do of some of the best of pop music and musical theatre, we've got your back!


DVDs- We've got Glee: Season One Volume 1 and Volume 2 available for check out at the library. 


CDs - We've got Season One CDs (yes, they made more than one because every episode features at least 5 musical numbers!)


Download MP3's - using Freegal - you can download individual tracks of your favorite Glee songs - I recommend - Bust Your Windows - a messy break-up tango and Dream On featuring Neil Patrick Harris!


Book - Let's not forget books, shall we?  I love a fun TV-based read!  Check out Glee, the beginning: an original novel by Sophia Lowell.


Old Movies Are New Again with Steve Hayes

Steve Hayes photographNew York based Actor and old movie afficianado, Steve Hayes, has been hosting a video blog for the past year all about the great old movies you may have never seen. 


His vlog, Tired Old Queen at the Movies, features one great movie a week.  Steve is really knowledgeable about the movie industry and all the Hollywood dish from back in the day and he shares all of it with you in a conversational style.   He's your friend who can tell you just which film to watch when you're in the mood for a film noir or a grand hollywood musical.


Recently, he shared one of Hitchcock's lesser known works, Stage Fright, starring Marlene Dietrich and Jane Wyman.  Once you hear what Steve has to say about it, you'll be sure to want to come to the Library and pick up a copy from our DVD collection. 


The Library has most of the over 55 movies he has profiled.

You Can Write a Poem in 5 Easy Steps

Whether you are an experienced or novice poet, try your skills at writing a five-line, 22-syllable form called a cinquain.  It combines haiku with tanka and was created by American poet Adelaide Crapsey. You can read her own cinquains in the book Verse. If you like her work, we have other books by and about her. You can even listen to recordings of her poems set to music.

Greg's Adventures Continue in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth

The Ugly Truth coverGreg's adventures continue in the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book: The Ugly Truth. Find and request a copy for yourself now! 


Here's a quick summary: While trying to find a new best friend after feuding with Rowley, middle-school slacker Greg Heffley is warned by older family members that adolescence is a time to act more responsibly and to think seriously about his future.

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

A Fine Balance by Rohinton MistryA Fine Balance book cover

Refusing to become an unpaid servant in her brother’s household, widow Dina Dalal takes in a student boarder and hires two pariah tailors to do piecework in her simple tenement flat.  These four unlikely characters together form a household unit, dependent on each other for sustenance and support.  A tale of urban slum life in Mrs. Gandhi’s India of the 1970s, where everything can be fixed – for a price – and where being in the right place at the wrong time can have disastrous consequences.  A comparable book with a similar theme is The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.

eBooks Frustrating You? We Can Help.

ebooksThe Library has a vast collection of tens of thousands of downloadable eBooks, eAudioBooks, and eMusic.  Each collection we buy has its own rules, though, and its own device compatibility.  We know it can be confusing!  But hey -- free eBooks?  It's worth figuring it out.


We've got a brand new "Need Help?" section on our Downloads page just for helping people figure this stuff out.  We have a guide for new users, frequently asked questions, a list of supported devices, and where to go for troubleshooting if you still get stuck.  Check it out and contact us if you have any questions!

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