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Biebermania at the Library!!

Book cover of Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever: My StoryAre you a Belieber? Do you suffer from a bad case of Bieber Fever? If you can't get enough of Justin (sigh!) you can find him at the library. We have biographies (loaded with photos!), music, ebooks and DVDs all about your favorite pop sensation. Check out Justin Bieber and satisfy your Bieberphile cravings!

Posted by Tina Drew on Apr 16, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Inside Job

Winner of an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature of 2010 and much other acclaim, Inside Job is an analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, from which we will continue to feel the repercussions for many years to come. Prepare to be enraged as you learn of the callous and hypocritical behavior of financial insiders, politicians, and academics, and watch them squirm under the incisive interviews. It's two hours long, but worth every minute.

  • Produced, written and directed by Charles Ferguson, narrated by Matt Damon. 
  • Director's quote: "In the case of this crisis, nobody has gone to prison, despite fraud that caused trillions of dollars in losses."

View a trailer of this movie.

Meet Mary Ann Singleton

Cover of Tales of the CityRight now I’m reading Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin in preparation for the upcoming musical at the American Conservatory Theater (ACT) in San Francisco. If you’re not familiar with it, the Tales of the City series is comprised of eight books set in San Francisco and centered on Anna Madrigal’s apartment house at the fictional 28 Barbary Lane. The first book opens with 25-year-old Mary Ann Singleton phoning her mother to say she won’t be returning to Cleveland, as she has fallen in love with San Francisco. The reader understands why she loves the city – Maupin shows us the eclectic quirkiness that endears the city to so many. Mary Ann has contact with a diverse cast of characters, including Anna, her pot-smoking landlady; Mona, a bohemian neighbor; and Michael, Mona’s roommate who’s dating Jon, a gynecologist.


The first five books in the series were originally serialized in San Francisco newspapers, and this style makes the books quick reads as the chapters are short and the plot lines are lively. The first book in the series came out in 1978 and while three decades have passed since then, the characters and stories are still fun and engrossing. Since these first novels came out before HIV/AIDS, the characters still frequent bath houses and have lots of indiscriminate sex. However, later books in the series were some of the first to deal with the AIDS epidemic.


I’m eager to get on to the next book, More Tales of the City and I can’t wait to see what the ACT does with these stories and characters. 

Master Gardeners to the Rescue!

The Santa Clara County Master Gardeners are an invaluable resource for home gardeners throughout the county. They are a part of the University of California Cooperative Extension program. They can answer any gardening question you may have, simple to complex. The Master Gardeners have always been great supporters of San Jose Public Library, offering free workshops and seminars to our patrons. Find their book, California Master Gardener Handbook, at SJPL and check out their website for even more help.

Olive Kitteridge Lives Amongst Us

Book cover of Olive KitteridgeOlive Kitteridge, as portrayed by Elizabeth Strout in her 2009 Pulitzer Prize winning book, is a woman we could visualize as someone we know. She is a large presence, both in her stature, and in the ways she impacts the lives of the people who live in a small town in Maine. There are 13 short stories that comprise the novel, Olive Kitteridge.  The one common element in all of them, is the relationship between Olive and the characters in each of these stories, about whom you will become terribly concerned, or at least, extremely curious.


So many times I've read a wonderful book, and thought that it would make a great movie. Inevitably, someone will buy the rights and produce it. Whether it is an Oscar contender or not, you'll often hear people say, "Oh the book was so much better!" In the case of Olive Kitteridge, it has been adapted for theater, and I so enjoyed the play. It was presented by Word For Word Theater of San Francisco. The actors were very close to the characters I had visualized, especially Olive who was played by Patricia Silver. This production captured the essence of Olive through only two of the stories and narration.  The complexity of all of the characters and stories was impossible to stage in the play's duration. You'll really want to read the book! Frances McDormand, the brilliant Oscar winning actress in Fargo, is going to be in a HBO television production of Olive Kitteridge.  If you read the book you'll be able to judge whether the production does justice to this marvelous character and extraordinary book.


Your San José Public Library card is your passport to SJPL's databases, which are invaluable for analysis and reviews of this novel, other literature, or research on other topics. Click on this link to Academic Search Complete, and with your library card barcode, and pin, you will be able to search. Using search terms such as Olive Kitteridge and Strout, your results will include reviews and analysis from the New York Times, Library Journal, Publishers' Weekly, Atlantic Monthly, and many more sources.


Enjoy reading Olive Kitteridge and look forward to comparing your reading experience to the variety of media that will be presenting Olive. With SJPL's databases in literature, you can be ready for your book group's discussion of Olive as she teaches and learns life's lessons.

Mysteries for the Fainthearted

Do you enjoy mystery novels, but can't handle the blood and gore? Do you love the puzzles, but hate the violence? Do you prefer the light-hearted to the down-and-dirty? Then have I got a series for you! Pick up the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton, a mystery series where no one is ever murdered! Join Lori Shepherd, a young American woman who inherits a country cottage in the English Cotswolds from a friend of the family whom she thought was just a fictional character from her mother's stories. She uncovers puzzles and mysteries and goes after them with great gusto and merry mishaps. Loads of fun for the fainthearted!


Book cover of Aunt Dimity's Death Book cover of Aunt Dimity Digs In Book cover of Aunt Dimity, Snowbound Book cover of Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin

History Will Be Made

Cover of The Hockey Book by Sports IllustratedToday playoff season begins for our very own San Jose Sharks. In celebration of what will be their road to Lord Stanley’s Cup, here are some quite interesting facts about hockey, the Sharks, and anything else related. 


  • The Stanley Cup is the only professional sports trophy that is passed from team member to team member of the winning team.
  • The Montreal Canadiens have won the most Stanley Cup titles… 24!  Their nickname, “Habs” comes from “les habitants” a name given to the first settlers of New France during the 17th Century.
  • Sharks” was actually the runner-up name for the team.  The initial name for the team was going to be the Blades. 
  • Coach Todd McLellan tied former NHL coach Mike Keenan with 152 wins in his first three seasons with the Sharks.  McLellan’s former job was as assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings.
  • The Junior Sharks 12 U girls hockey team won the first national title for the programbeating the New England Jr. Falcons on April 2nd. 

Let's Go Sharks!

New Gems from an Old Master

In the 60s and 70s, Larry Niven wrote a succession of Known Space stories which are considered some of the classics of science fiction, combining interesting hard science with fast-paced adventure. Now, like a visit from a dear old friend, he has returned to this fictional universe, in a set of collaborations with Edward Lerner.  The new stories, with familiar characters, include: Fleet of Worlds; Juggler of Worlds; Destroyer of Worlds; and Betrayer of Worlds


Book cover for Fleet of WorldsBook cover for Juggler of WorldsBook cover for Destroyer of WorldsBook cover for Betrayer of Worlds

A Lengthy But Worthwhile Read

Cover of Freedom by Jonathan FranzenJonathan Franzen's long-awaited novel Freedom lives up to the promise shown in his last novel, The Corrections, which won the National Book Award in 2001. Freedom focuses on the Berglund family of St. Paul, Minnesota. The first 25 pages of the book lay out the family’s story and set up the book’s conflicts. Patty Berglund is a Volvo-driving, home renovating, stay-at-home mom who may focus too much of her attention on her son Joey. Walter Berglund is a bicycle-commuting 3M employee who, we learn in the first paragraph of the book, eventually gets into trouble for working with the coal industry. Joey chafes at his mother’s attention and rebels by taking up with a girl whose mother is Patty’s nemesis while Jessica, the Berglund’s daughter, seems to fade into the background of the story. After all these stories are laid out, Franzen dives into each one, filling in the details of each. I enjoyed each story and though many of the plot twists were out of the realm of believability, it is still a good read.


Freedom has been out for several months and though I had to wait a long time for my hold to come in, there are now copies available at the San José Public Library. You might even be able to check it out and renew it if you need to. And you might need to; this book clocks in at 562 pages.  

Posted by Jean Herriges on Apr 9, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

Cover: Garlic and SapphiresAnyone who eats in restaurants should find Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl entertaining, and a bit shocking. The author tells of her years as food critic for the New York Times and her efforts to hide her identity as she visits some of the city's most famous restaurants. With the help of friends and associates, she creates a variety of disguises, and assumes a particular identity with each one, in order to find out how some of these restaurants treat ordinary customers. It's incredible how badly she is treated in some of Manhattan's most well-known and priciest restaurants when she shows up in some of her disguises.


Available at San José Public Library as an audiobook, a downloadable ebook, and in print.