Books & Media

  • Increase
  • Decrease
  • Normal

Current Size: 100%

  text size

Subscribe to this blog: RSS Email

Classic Literature with The League!

Cover of The League of Extraordinary GentlemenReaders may recall the popcorn flick lead by Sean Connery, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003). The film did atrociously in theaters, receiving an embarrassing 17% 'rotten' rating over at I am here to profess that the original graphic novel by known-eccentric author Alan Moore is actually worth your time! I just recently finished Volume I for a class, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. For those unfamiliar with the graphic novel series, Moore takes a rag-tag group of Victorian era literature's greatest characters (including The Invisible Man and Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) and blends them together to create a group of elite mercenaries for British Intelligence.


The book is decidedly steampunk in aesthetic, which compliments the source material nicely. It's ripe with references to classic literature that the reader is sure to get a kick out of. One of the most engaging aspects of Alan Moore titles (Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke) are the morally ambiguous natures of a lot of his characters. Even if the protagonists of the The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen aren't necessarily virtuous, Moore has a knack for keeping the reader interested and invested in the plot and how these characters interact. It's refreshing to read stories where the players straddle the line between moral and immoral.


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is definitely worth a read, and it's still going! Moore is currently finishing Volume III as I type this!

Read Around the U.S. Starting With These....

Book cover of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Most readers know that Stephen King's novels usually take place in the state of Maine, where the novel Olive Kitteridge (2008), by Elizabeth Strout also takes place, but King broke out of the mold with the popular Duma Key (2008),which takes place in Florida. Many novels take place in New York, both city and state.


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005), by Jonathan Safran Foer, a moving 9/11 novel, features a child as the main character. Most of the Agent Pendergrast series of novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, such as Cemetery Dance (2009), start in New York City as well, while also visiting, among other sites, Prendergast's childhood home in New Orleans, Louisiana. Gone Tomorrow (2009), one of Lee Child's best thrillers, also takes place in New York.


Moving West, Jeannette Walls' novel, Half-Broke Horses (2009), is based on her grandmother's incredible life growing up in Texas and Arizona. Alaska is featured in the mysteries of Dana Stabenow and in a bleak new novel about marriage and relationships, Caribou Island (2011), by David Vann. Finally, the "granddaddy" of all writers of novels about states, James Michener, wrote one of the best ever, Hawaii (1959).

Agatha Raisin - Anti-hero

Agatha Raisin is an amateur detective unlike most you will find in cozy mysteries. She's grumpy, opinionated, and man-crazy. Agatha is in semi-retirement in the English Cotswolds. She thought that was what successful businesswomen were supposed to do when they retired, but she finds it boring and tedious. When puzzles pop up, she begrudgingly sets out to figure out what's going on. She also tries her darnedest to hook up with whichever handsome gentleman lands in her line of sight. Amazingly, she has managed to make a few friends - mostly those who find her ornery temperament a refreshing change. Hilarity happens and she always solves the case - so maybe she's not so unlike all those other cozy mystery heroines, after all. If a cranky, crotchety crone sounds like a character you'd crave, read the Agatha Raisin series by M.C. Beaton.


Book cover - Agatha Raisin and the Love from HellBook cover - Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of DeathBook cover - Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham

Royal Wedding Fever

Cover of William and Kate: A Love StoryIn case you hadn't heard, Prince William is getting married on Friday to Catherine Middleton, who he has been dating for years.   There will be digital coverage, so if you are so inclined, you can log in at around midnight and watch the nuptials via streaming video.  The wedding also has an official website and if you want to send the happy couple your well wishes you can upload a video here.


We've got some biographies of Prince William in the library's collection.  I daresay they are all checked out, but you can request one on the catalog.  We've also got a biography of Kate as well.


Snoop Dogg wrote a song for Prince William's bachelor party.  There's been some controversy about the title.  Well it is a Snoop Dogg song...


Are you planning on staying up late to watch the Royal Wedding?  Anybody have a party planned?   For myself, I'll be dreaming of the wedding, but not watching it live.

Library Books from Outside the Library

Didn’t find the book you were looking for in the San Jose library? Your San Jose library card still may be able to get the item for you, even if we don’t own a copy. Our two services, Link+ and ILLiad (also called "interlibrary loan"), allow you to request items from cooperating libraries across California, or even farther away. Link+ is especially quick and easy to use, and includes all sorts of unusual and fun subjects. Some things I’ve enjoyed through Link+ include:


Buffy Goes Dark, a collection of scholarly essays about the later two seasons of the influential cult favorite TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 


Zothique, a rare old collection of eerie short stories by Lovecraft-circle author Clark Ashton Smith.


And The Jennifer Morgue, an installment of Charles Stross’ seriocomic tales about sorcerer/spy/computer technician, Bob Howard.


So if you don’t find what you’re looking for in our catalog, click on the “Search Link+” button, and you may be able to get it from one of our neighbors.

Time to Make a Change?

Book Cover for M.J. Ryan's "This Year I Will...""Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state."

  • William James (American Philosopher/Psychologist)

This Year I Will... How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True 


M.J. Ryan, life coach and author, shows that (happily!) change is possible at any age in this highly readable and practical book.  Ms. Ryan readily acknowledges that change is not easy -- whether it is in our relationships, finding or changing jobs, getting out of debt, exercising and losing weight -- or for that matter anything else! However, in concise and pithy chapters, with surprising empathy, she uses insights from psychology and neuroscience to give the reader the courage and skills to change amidst life’s many ups and downs.


M.J. Ryan’s blog

I Ate Your Heart in San Francisco

Book cover of Every Zombie Eats Somebody Sometime... No, that obvious title isn't part of this collection, but that's the only bone I have to pick. 


Every Zombie Eats Somebody Sometime: A Book of Zombie Love Songs is a marvelous laugh-out-loud anthology that brings new life, or rather, undeadness, to old favorites. Besides the title hit, we have such heart-stopping makeovers as You've Lost That Livin' Feeling, I Bit You Babe, My Undead Love, I Can't Stop Chewing You, Do You Think I'm Tasty?, Killing Him Swiftly and You Blight Up My Life.  As the author says in the preface, "Now, when you are forced to kill the one you're with, you can share one last memory of "your" song before you send that slobbering, drooling, gray-matter-munching, shuffling pile of human tissue straight to ..... ".  


I highly recommended that we add this book to our UnDead Storytime Box. But you needn't wait for that to relish this fine tome. Reanimate! Put down that brain you're chomping, it won't get cold. Place a hold on Every Zombie Eats Somebody Sometime chop chop! 

The Invention of Air

Book cover of The Invention of AirFor his biography The Invention of Air Steven Johnson has chosen a fascinating subject in Joseph Priestley. He was amazingly productive, working energetically on the cutting edge of science and publishing extensively. At the same time he explored ideas in politics and religion and was remarkably influential. His contributions range from discovering the role of plants in producing oxygen to being one of the founders of the Unitarian Church in England. He had a robust interaction with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. The breadth and depth of Priestley's involvement in the intellectual life of his time is truly impressive. It is enlightening to see that intellectually active people at that time expected to be aware of developments in science, politics and religion. Priestley in particular saw progress in each area complementing the others. Steven Johnson does an intriguing job of showing Priestley's links to trends large and small, from geological eras to the advent of the coffee house. (The explanation of the geological reference is that the large deposits of coal in England are linked to the industrial revolution that allowed for technological advances and the wealth the helped support Priestley's research.) It is remarkable to note that in the extensive correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson after their presidencies, Washington, Hamilton, and Franklin together are mentioned less than 10 times, while Joseph Priestley is mentioned 52 times.

Who Was The Real Jackie Kennedy?

Book cover of Reading JackieReading Jackie by William Kuhn explores the Jackie Kennedy Onassis who became a notable editor at Doubleday Publications after the death of her two husbands. Tracing her childhood love of books to the books and authors she nurtured into publication demonstrates a vibrant, multi-faceted, professional. You will meet the woman who is described as:

  • an iron fist in a velvet glove
  • a flying barefoot woman rushing down the halls to finish a deadline
  • butting heads with mega stars like Michael Jackson

Poetry in Willow Glen

Cover of Remembering Poems Read at Willow Glen Books, with photo showing the window of Willow Glen BooksFor several years, Willow Glen Books hosted a poetry group. As a memorial to this group, editor Pushpa MacFarlane assembled 107 of the poems read over the years, and put them together in the book Remembering: Poems Read at Willow Glen Books: An Anthology. The poems run the gamut from funny to sad, from realistic to romantic, mirroring the human experience. Willow Glen Books was a fixture in the community, and it's fitting that a book like this commemorate the well-loved store. 


But local poetry lovers in need of camaraderie, weep not!  A successor group, Poetry Center San Jose meets at the Willow Glen Library on the third Thursday of the month at 7pm. So if your soul could use a dash of poetry and good fellowship, join in!  Who knows, maybe in time to come, there will be a sequel to "Remembering"! How's "Keep on Remembering" for a title? Willow Glen Library staff members, if you have any more information about this or a related topic which you would like to share with the big wide Internet world, please chime in!  


For a bit more information, here is a San Jose Mercury News article about the book.

Posted by Timothy Collins on Apr 19, 2011 | Comments: 3 |