Blogs

Historic El Camino Real sign
Photo: El Camino Real marker along The Alameda in San Jose Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I was curious about the green bell poles that you occasionally see alongside our roadways. I got to thinking about them recently, and decided to research them a little. It turns out that they mark roadways that are generally considered to be a part of the original El Camino Real, or "Royal Road" ( California Historical Landmark #784 ). The El Camino Real began as a footpath to connect a series of twenty-one Spanish missions (from San Diego to Solano), two pueblos...Read more...
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David Crockett cover
I always thought that Casanova was a legendary, if not mythical, figure -- a one-dimensional Don Juan who seduced women and did little else. I found out recently I was wrong. Casanova was an historical person. He wrote a book about his adventures, and those adventures go considerably beyond a series of romantic conquests. To find out for yourself, check out our translation of Casanova’s History of My Life , as well as these other stories about adventurous lives. History of My Life by Giacomo Casanova: The colorful memoirs of the legendary eighteenth-century lover recall not only his amorous exploits,...Read more...
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Anonymous
Schurra's Candy store in the 1930s
Schurra's in the 1930s. Photo courtesy of Schurra's Fine Confections Back in the 1980s (not so long ago), I had a girlfriend who lived on Sunol Street. One end of the street meets The Alameda, and right on the southeast corner was Schurra’s Candy Factory. Walking passed the store at night, we’d put our noses near the narrow crack between the double doors near the back of the building where they made the candy. Pure heaven. We felt like Charlie Bucket standing outside the gates of Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory. Before moving next door to the present location, you could...Read more...
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Positive Discipline for Preschoolers
Are you a parent interested in raising emotionally and financially responsible children? Then check out the titles below. Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children by Thomas Gordon : This is the revised addition of an old favorite of many enthusiastic readers, which aims to teach parents to use better communication and less permissiveness to encourage children to own and solve their own problems. The P.E.T. methods will allow the child to become more responsible in a loving and nurturing environment, resulting in less tantrums and conflict. Positive Discipline for Preschoolers: For Their Early Years--Raising Children Who...Read more...
Graceling cover
If you’re a fan of lighter fantasy with a romantic slant for younger adults, you might enjoy these five books: Sunshine by Robin McKinley. When Sunshine, a coffee shop baker, finds herself shackled inside an old mansion, she must draw upon her inner strength to escape. Her fellow captive, Constantine, turns out to be an appealing vampire with common enemies. Sunshine and Constantine become entangled in a complicated, shadowy and sometimes amusing relationship. Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Katsa lives in a world in which some people are born with natural skills, called Graces. Horrified to learn that her own Grace...Read more...
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Anonymous
Graham Avenue
Photo courtesy of San Jose Evening News A foreman of the San Jose Mercury Herald Press Room for forty-one years (1893 – 1934), John (Jack) Martin Graham was one of the valley’s best known baseball writers. Writing columns in the Mercury Herald, he promoted amateur baseball, even arranging games and settling disputes. In the early 1920s, he encouraged readers to visit Japantown to watch the Japanese community’s team at a time when anti-Asian sentiment was strong. Jack also enjoyed composing, and he published two songs, My Mariposa Lily (1930) and We’ll Fight for Yankee Doodle (1917). The sheet music for...Read more...
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Still Missing cover
As the nights grow longer and the days feel cooler, fall is the perfect season to relish in the twisting and winding of a well written mystery. The women in these stories are complex characters brought to life by female authors who fuel their writing with the everyday struggles and triumphs of modern women; ideas of feminism, amoral behavior, mental illness, motherhood, justice, and fear commingle with the standard "whodunit" plot. A word of caution, most of these titles will keep you up into the wee hours of the night through thrilling plot twists as well as the deeper meanings...Read more...
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Anonymous
The Power of Habit cover
Ever wonder why things are the way they are? In these titles, experts from different fields all use economics to support their theories on the what, how, and why our world operates as it does. The authors observe everyday objects and events and create accessible anecdotes to explain their theories. Explore these titles and read seemingly random observations on topics as varied as the success of duct tape to the impact of World War II on the stock market. Try a new perspective on familiar items and events that try to answer the age old question, "WHY?" Outliers by Malcolm...Read more...
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Anonymous
River Town cover
If you’ve got an itch to travel, but no time or cash, this list might just be the next best thing! Better than Fiction: True Travel Tales from Great Fiction Writers . Edited by Don George. Discover Buenos Aires with Alexander McCall Smith, the Sudan with Joe Yogerst, and India with Isabel Allende. Check out where you’d like to go or not go (San Quentin with Joyce Carol Oates, anyone?) This collection will give you an interesting taste of some authors you might not have read before. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson . Bill Bryson is at...Read more...
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Anonymous
Melonhead cover
Do you know someone who likes to read funny books about awkward boys? Here are some great titles for kids in grades 2-4: My Rotten Life by David Lubar : Sick of getting picked on, Nathan Abercrombie uses a serum that is supposed to block emotions, but instead it turns him into a partial zombie. Adventures involving half-dead body parts and staying up late ensue... Stuart's Cape by Sarah Pennypacker : Moving to a new home and starting third grade at a new school has Stuart worried, until he realizes all he needs to overcome his fears is a magical...Read more...
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Anonymous