Library Book Group Celebrates 20th Anniversary

October 24th, 2014

 

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The Sunset Branch Library Book Group celebrated its 20th anniversary this Fall.  Librarian Janet Tom has facilitated the group for the past 11 years – prior to Janet, there were two other staff facilitators.   Two of the current group have been members since the group was formed in 1994; another original member moved to London but keeps in touch by e-mail.  Her recent comments about her book group experience:

 

     I joined the Sunset book group in the fall of 1994. I moved to San Francisco earlier that summer from France. …..  I always loved reading, but I wanted to share that with others.  The book group became an integral part of my life, it helped me to understand life in the US and adapt to life in the city. [It] was great meeting such a different group of people who shared love for books, with different preferences to what they wanted to read – I learned to appreciate the variety of books and opinions. I was part of the group till the fall of 2012, when I moved to London. Janet kindly still send me the info, and I try to keep in touch.                                                    

     The first thing I did moving to London was join a book group. But I do miss the Sunset group. Over the years the Sunset group had various leaders, quite different, but all of them fantastic.

 

Book groups are more popular than ever. According to the results of an annual survey of 2650 U.S. women aged 25+ who read at least one book a month as reported by Bookbrowse.com, the number of responders who belonged to a book group increased from 33% in 2004 to 56% in 2012.

If you’ve been thinking about joining a book group, you have your choice of several groups at the SF Public Library – at branches and Main.  See the events calendar on the Library’s home page for a list of book groups with meeting locations and times – all welcome new members.

P.S.  The Sunset Branch Book Group meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Sunset Branch Library.

Armistead Maupin tonight at the Main Library

October 23rd, 2014

 

 

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Tonight, Thursday, October 23, Armistead Maupin, author of the 2014 One City One Book selection Tales of the City will be joined in conversation by K.M. Soehnlein at the Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Public Library at Civic Center.  The program runs from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Armistead Maupin was born in Washington, D.C., in 1944 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he served as a naval officer in the Mediterranean and with the River Patrol Force in Vietnam.

Maupin worked as a reporter for a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina, before being assigned to the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. In 1976 he launched his groundbreaking Tales of the City serial in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Maupin is the author of nine novels, including the nine-volume Tales of the City series, Maybe the Moon, The Night Listener and, most recently, Michael Tolliver Lives. Three miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney were made from the first three Tales novels. The Night Listener became a feature film starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette.

Maupin lives in San Francisco and Santa Fe with his husband, Christopher Turner.

K.M. Soehnlein is the author of the novels The World of Normal Boys, Robin and Ruby, and You Can Say You Knew Me When. He has been honored with the Lambda Literary Award and a Henfield Prize in fiction. His writing has appeared in the Village Voice, Out, San Francisco Magazine, 7×7 and other publications and anthologies. He is on the faculty of the MFA in Writing Program at the University of San Francisco

Novels you may have missed

October 21st, 2014

 

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The Bees by Laline Paull –

Flora is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive, where work and sacrifice are the greatest virtues.  Suspenseful and imaginative, The Bees and its young heroine will change the way you look at the world outside your window.  (Available at the Library in hardcover book, audiobook, and e-book formats.)

 

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Burial Rites by Hannah Kent –

The final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829 – inspired by a true story.

 

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The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker, transl. from the French –

Thirty-three years after the fact, a successful young novelist tries to solve the mystery of what happened to Nola Kellergan, a fifteen-year-old who disappeared in 1975. A fast-paced, tightly plotted thriller. (Also available as an e-book and e-audiobook.)

 

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The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Suspenseful, sweeping, and intimate, The Lowland is an engrossing family saga that spans generations and geographies.

 

 

Awards season continues with Nat’l Book Award shortlists

October 16th, 2014

See the National Book Award shortlists here released yesterday and listed in The Millions!

Booker Prize goes to Richard Flanagan

October 16th, 2014

 

 

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Australian Richard Flanagan has been awarded the Man Booker Prize for his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.  The book centers on a surgeon and his experiences in World War II.  Flanagan is the third Australian to win the Booker – along with Peter Carey and Thomas Keneally.  (Available as a hardcover book, an audiobook, and an e-book)

Nobel Prize in Literature goes to Patrick Modiano

October 9th, 2014

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to Patrick Modiano, a French author.  Few of his works have been translated into English, but that should change very soon.  Read more about Patrick Modiano in this Times Literary Supplement article.

Here are books (and some films based on books) by Modiano in the SF Public Library.

What is art for?

October 8th, 2014

See the video-guide by Alain de Botton from The Guardian website:

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/video/2014/sep/10/what-is-art-for-alain-de-botton-guide-video

靜坐的科學、醫學與心靈之旅:21世紀最實用的身心轉化指南

October 7th, 2014

untitled 2靜坐的科學、醫學與心靈之旅:21世紀最實用的身心轉化指南 Jing zuo de ke xue, yi xue yu xin ling zhi lü: 21 shi ji zui shi yong de shen xin zhuan hua zhi nan  / 楊定一,楊元寧著, 2014

在繼完成《真原醫-21世紀最完整的預防醫學》一書之後,作者楊定一及楊元寧父女合作出版了這部關於靜坐的新作。全書以問答形式闡述了關於靜坐的各類問題,相對於一般大段陳述的學術著作,這種問答形式顯得更具針對性,更容易讓讀者理解。

全書分四大部分:第一章“基礎靜坐與技巧”解釋了爲什麽要靜坐、靜坐概念、呼吸技巧,包括白骨觀、持咒等;第二章“靜坐的共同要領”講解了靜坐所要達到的目的、要領、什麽是止觀等等;第三章“靜坐對身心的影響”列舉了靜坐對健康的益處,包括減輕壓力,平衡情緒,改善消化功能等等;第四章“理解實相-一段靈性之旅”闡述了靜坐與宗教、身心變化、心靈層次方面的關係,其中包括通靈悟道,走火入魔等等很多與靜坐相關的有趣話題。

本書特別之處在於作者楊定一是生物科技方面的專家,他的專業背景毫無疑問增加了内容的權威性。書中運用了大量生理數據及圖表來顯示靜坐前後的各種生理變化,讓讀者更直觀地了解靜坐給身心帶來的客觀變化。儘管作者用了大量篇幅談到了科學對靜坐效果的驗證,但是作者也提醒讀者,靜坐後的身心變化,特別是心靈悟道這類特殊經驗並非一定會顯示在神經生理的變化上;作者也不贊同以單純科學或醫學的詮釋去描述和解釋靜坐的所有層面。書中,尤其是最後一章,作者談論了很多關於實相空性,靈性覺醒等概念,很明顯看出佛教的影響。作者也不諱言靜坐與宗教密不可分的事實。但是作者強調靜坐的科學性在於它的效果可以得到客觀的驗證。當然,作者的個別概念可能不一定能為所有讀者,尤其是“唯科學論”,“唯物論”的人士所認同,然而,單就闡述靜坐對身心的正面影響,作者是相當成功的。對於有興趣了解靜坐對身心功能影響的人士來説,這本書有極好的參考價值。

John-Chinatown

National Book Awards – Fiction Long List

October 6th, 2014

Here are the 10 books selected for the fiction long list of the National Book Awards (5 finalists in four categories – young people’s literature, poetry, nonfiction and fiction – will be selected on October 15, and winners will be announced on November 19):

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An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

 

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The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Redeployment by Phil Klay

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Thunderstruck & Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken

Orfeo by Richard Powers

Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Some Luck by Jane Smiley

 

I’ve read two of these – An Unnecessary Woman and All the Light We Cannot See - as well as earlier titles by Jane Smiley and Marilynne Robinson.

 

Gutenberg’s Apprentice, plus more historical fiction

September 30th, 2014

 

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I attended a reading last Wednesday at Arion Press (in the Presidio) by Alix Christie, author of the new historical novel, Gutenberg’s Apprentice The book focuses on apprentice printer, Peter Schoeffer, and his role in the development of the printing press – I can’t wait to read it.

For author Christie’s suggestions for additional historical fiction reads, here’s a list published in Publisher’s Weekly of her 10 favorite historical novels.