Staff Picks - Books

  • Increase
  • Decrease
  • Normal

Current Size: 100%

  text size

Subscribe to this blog: RSS Email

Read it Before You See it!

There are many movies coming out in this half of 2014 that were books before they were movies. Check out these 5 reads before the movie hits the theatres this fall so you can say you’ve “read your favorite movie” this fall.


WildUnbrokenDark PlacesMocking Jay Book JacketBook Jacket


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

A powerful, blazingly honest, inspiring memoir: the story of a 1,100 mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe--and built her back up again. The movie features Reese Witherspoon as the lead character; the movie is scheduled to hit theatres December 5, 2014. Check out the trailer here.  


Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared--Lt. Louis Zamperini. Captured by the Japanese and driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor.  The film adaptation, directed by Angelina Jolie, is slated to be released on December 25, 2014. View the trailer here.


Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

After witnessing the murder of her mother and sisters, seven-year-old Libby Day testifies against her brother Ben, but twenty-five years later she tries to profit from her tragic history and admit that her story might not have been accurate.   This chilling movie is set to be released on November 14, 2014 staring Charlize Theron, check out the trailer here.

Also by Gillian Flynn is another chilling novel: Gone Girl, the movie starring Ben Affleck is to be released on October 3, 2014, see a trailer here.


Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Katniss Everdeen's having survived the Hunger games twice makes her a target of the Capitol and President Snow, as well as a hero to the rebels. She must accept responsibility for countless lives in order to change the course of the future of Panem. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding. Read the last book in this trilogy before November 21, 2014 to see part one of this two part film.


This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Trooper

Siblings who spend more time quarreling than together reluctantly agree to their dying father's request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together in the same house. Like a family. See the film adaptation September 19, 2014 – starring Jason Bateman and Tina Fey, watch the trailer here.

Outlander Series

book coverOn August 9, Starz cable TV station premiered the first installment of the Outlander Series.  The production is sure to create a lot of excitement about Diana Gabaldon's beloved and addictive Outlander Series :  a collection of eight books chronicling the adventures of World War II nurse Claire Randall who travels back in time to the 18th Century Scottish Highlands.  Start with book number one: Outlander, which begins the time travel adventure.  It is post WWII and while on a vacation trip to the Scottish Highlands with her husband, Claire touches a stone in a mystical stone circle and suddenly finds herself transported back in time.  Romance and adventure follow.  Here are the eight titles, in chronological order,  in the Outlander Series:


Dragonfly in ambervoyagerdrums of autumnthe fiery crossa breatj pf smpw amd asjesan echo in the bonewritten in my own heart's blood

Mental Health Resources

Coping with Mental Ilness Book Cover  The difficulty of dealing with mental illness can be terribly compounded when
  you don't know where to turn for help. For those in need of such help, the
  Santa Clara County Mental Health Department provides a mental health
  outreach table several times a year at different SJPL branches. At an outreach
  table, you can get information about mental health education, referral services
  and other resources. Check the event calendar for the next time an outreach
  table will be at a branch near you. If you can't make it to an outreach table,
  you can still call the county mental health department at 1-800-704-0900
  or 408-885-5673.


  The SJPL catalog also has books and resources intended to help you cope with mental illness,  whether you have the illness or it's affecting someone close to you.

Why the Public Library Beats Amazon

This well-written Wall Street Journal blog post highlights the reasons that public libraries are way ahead of Amazon Unlimited and the other similar services, Oyster and Scribd.  The biggest reason is that after years of negotiations, all of the "big five" publishers are finally allowing libraries to acquire many of their top titles as ebooks.  Some of the publishers (HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Hachette) have been doing this for quite a while.  Simon & Schuster and Macmillan have joined in more recently.  Amazon Unlimited has only a few of the titles that people are anxiously wanting to read.  Libraries have lots of them.  You may have to wait in a hold queue for a while, but there's always something interesting available in the meantime.  Visit SJPL's Collections page to see what we have to offer.

The Legacy of Richard Nixon

Forty years ago this week President Richard Nixon became the first president of the United States to resign from office. Since then countless scholars and academics have discussed his legacy and what it means for America and its people. The following are several books that discuss this most infamous of American presidents:

The Invisible Bridge cover


The Invisible Bridge: the Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein.  The best-selling author of Nixonland presents a portrait of the United States during the turbulent political and economic upheavals of the 1970s, covering events ranging from the Arab oil embargo and the era of Patty Hearst to the collapse of the South Vietnamese government and the rise of Ronald Reagan




The Nixon Tapes cover

The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972 by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter.  The famous--and infamous--Nixon White House tapes that reveal for the first time President Richard Nixon uncensored, unfiltered, and in his own words President Nixon's voice-activated taping system captured every word spoken in the Oval Office, CabinetRoom, and other key locations in the White House, and at Camp David--3,700 hours of recordings between 1971 and 1973. Yet less than 5 percent of those conversations have ever been transcribed and published. Now, thanks to professor Luke Nichter's massiveeffort to digitize and transcribe the tapes, the world can finally read an unprecedented account of one of the most important and controversial presidencies in U.S. history.

The United States v. Nixon cover




The United States v. Nixon: The Watergate Scandal and Limits to U.S. Presidential Power by Erika Wittekind.  Examines the Supreme Court against the former president, discussing the history, the investigation, and the lasting impact.




The Nixon Defense cover

The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It by John W. Dean.  In this book, former White House Counsel John W. Dean, one of the last major surviving figures of Watergate, draws on his own transcripts of almost a thousand conversations, a wealth of Nixon’s secretly recorded information, and more than 150,000 pages of documents in the National Archives and the Nixon Library to provide the definitive answer to the question: What did President Nixon know and when did he know it?

New Features from OverDrive (eBooks & eAudiobooks)

OverDrive launched several new features to their eBook/eAudiobook service this week.  You can now elect to have an eBook or eAudiobook that is being held for you automatically be checked out to you instead of having to watch your email for a notification.  And, if you've got more holds than you can read at once or aren't going to have time to read, you can "freeze" your holds and keep your place in the queue.


Read more about these and other new features on the OverDrive blog.

Posted by Laurie Willis on Aug 7, 2014 | Comments: 0 |

July 2014: Top 10 Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction Checkouts

It's that time again for the monthly check on what the community's reading! Here's a selection from the top titles for July. Here are the previous lists for May and June. Enjoy!


Top Fiction

  1. Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hr Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  2. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
  3. Inferno by Dan Brown
  4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  5. And The Mountains Echoed by Hosseini Khaled
  6. Never Go Back by Lee Child
  7. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
  8. W Is For Wasted by Sue Grafton
  9. Sycamore Row by John Grisham
  10. King & Maxwell by David Baldacci

Top Non-Fiction

  1. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
  2. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  3. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  4. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey
  5. What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles
  6. Lao Fuzi by Ze Wang
  7. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
  8. David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
  9. Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  10. In Defense of Food by Michael Lewis

6 Books for the First Day of School

Summer is ending and in its place will start a new school year. For many kids, this new school year will be their first school year. Children will be filled with questions, hesitation and excitement about what will be in store for them. Here are some great books to start the discussion on what types of experiences they'll encounter during the next few months.


Various Book Covers


  1. First Day of School by Margaret McNamara - After a summer of playing with his puppy, Michael is sad to learn that she cannot stay with him on the first day of school (J Easy Reader McNamara)
  2. Mouse’s First Day of School by Lauren Thompson - When he goes to school, Mouse finds a world of new objects and new friends. (J Picture Book Thompson)
  3. Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School by Herman Parish - A literal-minded first-grader's first day of school is filled with confusing adventures, much to her delight. (J Picture Book Parish)
  4. Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman - On the first day of school, a young panda learns about the special things his animal classmates can do. (J Picture Book Gaiman)
  5. My First Day of School by by Nancy Skarmeas - Daniel liked preschool just fine, but he is not so sure he wants to go to kindergarten. (J Picture Book Skarmeas)
  6. Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney - Llama Llama experiences separation anxiety on his first day of nursery school.  (J Picture Book Dewdney)

Meta Critics


Reading reviews of the documentary Life Itself on is, well, indeed a “meta” experience.  The reviews are about a movie about someone who wrote movie reviews.

The new documentary’s source material is largely based on film critic Roger Ebert’s memoir, called Life Itself itself (there’s another meta moment for you). It can be checked out in print or audio CD format from the library. 


Here are other books about the lives of well-known critics, all available in SJPL's catalog:


Film Critic
Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark by Brian Kellow 
"The most powerful, loved and hated film critic of her time" - Roger Ebert, critic.


Literary Critic

The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life by Harold Bloom 
"It is admirable to want to write criticism for someone other than one's colleagues and graduate students, and Bloom's intelligence, erudition, and charm have made him America's best-known man of letters." - James Wood, critic.

Music Critic

Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic by Jim DeRogatis

"An elegy for one of the few critics whose work is worth reading for itself, apart from its subjects." - Roger Ebert, critic. 

Theater Critic
White Girls by Hilton Als

"Als is one of the most consistently unpredictable and surprising essayists out there, an author who confounds our expectations virtually every time he writes." - David Ulin, critic.


"We are all allotted an unknown but finite number of hours of consciousness. Maybe a critic can help you spend them more meaningfully." - Roger Ebert, critic

New Audiobooks on Overdrive!

Bird Box cover

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

In an abandoned house by a river, Malorie and her two children seek refuge against the violence that terrorized their town five years ago. Under the comfort of their house, Malorie and her family are safe, that is until their supplies start to run low. With the help of Tom, another refugee, Malorie  steps outside and confront the unknown.





Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael KorytaThose Who Wish Me Dead cover

When he was thirteen, Jace Wilson witnessed the Blackwell Brothers brutally murder someone. Now the brothers are after him. To hide from them, Jace dawns a new identity and hides in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The only thing stopping the brothers from getting Jace are Ethan and Allison, who own the camp, and miles and miles of mountains. But the brothers are closer than you think. Will Jace survive or will the Blackwell Brothers bring him to his grave?



Big Little Lies by Liane MoriartyBig Little Lies cover

you would expect a school Trivia night to be the most uneventful night ever, right? You are wrong. One parent is left dead during Pirriwee Public's annual school event. The public is call it a tragic accident; however, the police are calling it cold-blooded murder. The murderer can be anyone, a school official, another parent, or even a student. Nobody is safe, but everybody is a suspect.