Have a Ball with Junot Díaz, Carlos Santana, Patton Oswalt, and More

“Our libraries, in their promotion and practice of literacy, in their providing free access of information to all, in their diverse educational and artistic programs, in their astounding egalitarianism, represent what is best about our society.  And what is best about us,” writes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz, and this year’s Stay Home and Read a Book Ball Chair.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to support the incredible work of the Los Angeles Public Library,” Díaz says of the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball, which invites participants to come together on March 1 by staying at home and reading a book. “Saving lives and saving the future by the simple act of reading—I ask you: what could be more heavenly than that?”  We agree—nothing could be better! Please join us for this special event, now in its 27th year, that benefits the cultural and educational programs of the Los Angeles Public Library. Read below why others are staying home and supporting the Library, and why you should join in too!

“I invite you, wholeheartedly, to read books that remind you of your highest self and emancipate you from mental slavery or false beliefs and illusions.  The more you invest in attracting books that resonate with the frequency of your true self, the more light you will bring to the world.” –Carlos Santana

“Tonight I’m going to have a conversation that is interesting and fun and unstoppable.  I might get emotional.  I might cry.  I might break up laughing.  But I know I won’t be bored. That’s how it is whenever I open a book.” –Ceci Bastida

“You’re grounded!!!!  You can’t go out and prowl the L.A. streets.  You’ve got to do something more edifying, emboldening and altogether more groovy.  You gots to stay home tonite and read a good book!!!!!!!!!!” –James Ellroy

“L.A.’s public libraries served as refuge from the violence and suicide-inducing emptiness of my barrio existence.  Whether as a stammering Spanish-only child trying with great effort to absorb the English words in books like Charlotte’s Web.  Or as a teenaged gang member, turning tattered pages in juvenile hall or homeless inside an abandoned car. Books called me to life, to destiny, to imagination. To stay home and read a book—a luxury, a miracle, true magic.” –Luis J. Rodriguez

“Whether it’s Benito Cereno or Billy Budd or Jane Eyre or Tess, a Confidence Man, a Secret Agent, or even Two Serious Ladies instead of one – I’m guaranteed the rare satisfaction of life, in all its hues, when I skip the forgettable, the social world, and select my evening date from the pages of a book.” –Rachel Kushner

“All I’ve ever wanted was to stay inside and read a book.  Thanks to the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, that dream will come true.” –Patton Oswalt

Make your dream come true too! Learn more about attending the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball on March 1st and supporting the Los Angeles Public Library.

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Romance

As a treat to our readers this Valentine’s Day, we’ve asked Mara Alpert, a librarian at the the Los Angeles Public Library, for some steamy reading recs. See what she has to say about one of her most passionate pastimes:

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“Ah February… the month we surround ourselves with red hearts, chocolate candy, thoughtful gifts, and the companionship of that special someone (if we’re lucky)… ROMANCE in all caps.  Now would be an excellent time to indulge in a little romantic reading.  I’m going to share some of my favorite romance novels (all of which can be checked out with your Los Angeles Public Library card) in the hopes that you will be inspired to add a little more romance to your life.

Book Jacket for: The unsung hero

Suzanne Brockmann – Perhaps you like your males alpha… well, Navy SEALs are among the alpha-est.  They can do anything – fix things, rescue people, crack jokes, and make love like nobody’s business.  If you want adventure, suspense, a few gun fights, and a lot of romance, try Suzanne Brockmann.  You’ll want to start at the beginning of the Troubleshooters Series with The Unsung Hero, in which Navy SEAL Tom Paoletti returns to his hometown to find the girl he left behind (now a doctor), and glimpses a terrorist who’s supposed to be dead.

Book Jacket for: Faking it 

Jennifer Crusie – You’ll laugh.  You’ll cry.  Okay, possibly your tears will be the result of laughing so hard, but she also knows how to tug those heartstrings.  Ms. Crusie loves neurotic dogs, eccentric families, and the odd illegal activity.  Her characters are not perfect, by any means.  They’re real people – with a kick.  My absolute favorite is Faking It, which tells the tale of Tilda Goodnight, who has been pretty much supporting her family (and trying to forget about the wildly illegal forged artwork in the basement) for years, and her growing relationship with the mysterious Davy Dempsey (whose past has a few larcenous twists as well).

Cover of With This Ring

Carla Kelly – Regency Romances generally take place in and around England in the early part of the 19th century, almost always among the aristocracy.  If you’re only going to read one modern Regency author, Carla Kelly is the one to pick.  Her characters are complex (even the minor ones), she has a great feel for both humor and pathos, and she KNOWS HER HISTORY.  She also doesn’t shy away from sensitive issues – many of her books deal with war and its aftermath, and it’s not pretty.  An excellent example would be With This Ring, which tells the story of Lydia Perkins, who defies convention to volunteer in a dilapidated church full of wounded and dying soldiers after the Battle of Toulouse, and Major Sam Reed, who finds her altogether admirable.

Book Jacket for: Trust no one

Jayne Ann Krentz / Jayne Castle / Amanda Quick – She writes under three different names, and she writes EVERYTHING… contemporary humorous romantic suspense (with a little paranormality thrown in), romantic science fiction (with a little paranormality thrown in), and historical romances touched with mystery, humor, and oh, just for fun, a little paranormality thrown in.  Okay, and she does also write more traditional romantic suspense – her most recent title, written under the name Jayne Ann Krentz, is Trust No One, in which Grace Elland finds events from her past rising up to play a terrifying part in her turbulent present, after she discovered the dead body of her employer.  Fortunately, an awkward blind date has connected her with the one man who can help.

Book Jacket for: Naked in death

Nora Roberts / J.D. Robb – Here is another author with so much to say that she needs two personas to say it (over 200 titles and counting).  As Nora Roberts, she writes contemporary romances spiced with mystery and suspense (every once in a while a little magic appears); as J.D. Robb, she has one of the best futuristic/police procedural/thriller romantic series around (well, the only one around), built around one of the most interesting married couples in any genre – police lieutenant Eve Dallas and her mega-rich, mega-hunky, ex-con husband Roarke.  I like Roberts’ books, but I LOVE Robb’s.  Start the long-running series with Naked in Death, and prepare yourself for a wildly romantic ride.

Enjoy!”
–Post by Mara Alpert

Top Image: From the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection. February 7, 1947. Andre ‘Bandi’ De Toth, enterprise studio director receives his Valentine present early from his wife, screen star Veronica Lake, the gift being a four place Navion airplane.

Young Literati Family Day

On Sunday, the youngest of the Young Literati took over Central Library for a magical morning of books, crafts, photo shoots, face painting, story time, food, and all around fun.

In the first-ever Young Literati Family Day, hosted by Honorary Chair Samantha Hanks (pictured left with her family), Young Literati Members celebrated their love for libraries with the tiniest readers–many of whom signed up for their first library card!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Families piled into the Children’s Library for an uproarious reading of “Dinosaurs Vs. Libraries” by comedian and actor Paul Scheer.

Kids of all ages enjoyed the festivities, which helped to raise awareness for the Los Angeles Public Library’s mission to provide over 100,000 children a week with critical learning and literacy resources.

Many thanks to the dedicated Members of the Young Literati for their lively support of the Library Foundation!

If you are not already a Member, learn more about this group of culturally and civically engaged Angelenos in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who raise awareness and support for the Los Angeles Public Library.

A Valentine for You!

The Library Store has your back this Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re celebrating a lifetime together or an awkward night with someone you just met, we’ve got the cards and gifts for you. Stop on by Central Library and visit us! You can do better than just a box of chocolates from the drugstore…

Will you be mine?
The Library Store

P.S. The Pride & Prejudice Playset is a great gift for your little valentine.

ALOUD Launches Spring Line-up

From a Nobel Prize winner to an acclaimed hip-hop artist, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ critically-acclaimed ALOUD series presents an exciting slate of free public programs this spring exploring issues of activism, poetry, politics, performance, and more at downtown’s historic Central Library.

On Wednesday, March 4, ALOUD welcomes Eric Foner, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and consultant on the Academy Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave, to discuss his latest book, which reveals extraordinary new findings about the Underground Railroad. The next day, Thursday, March 5, the multi-talented dancer, choreographer, and director Bill T. Jones (pictured above) visits ALOUD for a conversation and performance with dancers from his company, celebrating the publication of a new book based on his brilliant work as an African American artist in the white-dominated dance world.

Historian Timothy Snyder and journalist Masha Gessen, two essential thinkers on Eastern European politics, convene to offer a revelatory look at the propaganda and reality of the war in Ukraine on Tuesday, March 10. On Monday, March 23, together for the first time on stage, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Adam Johnson and bestselling nonfiction author Blaine Harden explore how different paths of storytelling led them to similar truths about the illusive culture of North Korea.

Thomas McGuane joins ALOUD on Tuesday, March 31, for a reading and conversation about Crow Fair: Stories, his first collection in nine years, which confirms his status as one of America’s most deeply admired storytellers.

On Thursday, April 2, Karima Bennoune, a 20-year veteran of human rights research and activism, offers an eye-opening chronicle of peaceful resistance to extremism with Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. Continuing these same themes, on Wednesday, April 8, local filmmakers Julia Metzer and Laura Nix offer a rare look into the female experience of contemporary Islam with a screening of their documentary, A Light in Her Eyes, filmed in Syria (film still pictured above.)  Veteran journalist and critically-acclaimed author Sandy Tolan brings another true story of hope in the Palestinian-Israeli impasse with Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land on Tuesday, April 21.

On Thursday, April 23, in partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, ALOUD presents GRAMMY-nominated Chilean hip hop artist Ana Tijoux (pictured above) for a conversation and performance of her politically powered verses and rebel spirit.

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist,  speaks with journalist Jim Newton  about the yawning gap between rich and poor in America on Monday, April 27.

On Thursday, April 30, ALOUD presents the second annual gathering of students from five Southland graduate writing programs – CalArts, Otis College, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and USC – to share recent work and tune audience ears to the future of language.

In collaboration with LéaLA, Feria del Libro en Español de Los Ángeles, on Thursday, May 14, award-winning author and former PEN Mexico President Jennifer Clement, presents her fictionalized account – drawn from ten years of field research and the author’s own time living in Mexico – of young women in rural Guerrero living in the shadows of the drug war.

And closing out the season, ALOUD presents two incredible evenings of poetry: On Tuesday, May 19, masterful poet and essayist Jane Hirshfield shares her latest two works, Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World and The Beauty, for a close look at poetry’s power to expand perception; and on Thursday, May 28, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith (pictured above) reads her poetry and discusses her new memoir, Ordinary Light, a gorgeous kaleidoscope of self and family that explores the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, religion, and unbreakable bonds.

The entire ALOUD spring 2015 calendar is now available to the public at lfla.org/aloud. Library Foundation Members receive advance notice of ALOUD programs.

Photo Credits:
First image: Photos from performance of Story/Time. Credit: Paul B. Goode
Second image: Arirang Festival- Pyongyang, North Korea. Credit: (Stephan)
Third image: Film still from documentary, The Light in Her Eyes.
Last image: Tracy K. Smith at the Brooklyn Public Library in Brooklyn, New York.
Credit: Rolex/ Tina Ruisinger

A Day in the Life of a City Librarian

When your job is to oversee the country’s largest and most diverse public library system, no two days are the same. City Librarian John Szabo is marking his third anniversary at the Los Angeles Public Library this fall, and he’s made it his mission to stay personally connected to the frontline of the Library and the work of his staff at Central Library and each of the 72 branches. Here’s how he connects throughout the day.


Szabo kicks off the special exhibit No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station.

Head Start
Before I get out of bed in the morning, I’m looking at e-mail to get ahead of the messages. I read the L.A. Times digitally for the news, and then I consume lots of coffee.

Off to City Hall
An interesting first meeting I recently had was at City Hall over an initiative of the Mayor’s that builds on the work the Library has already been doing on citizenship and naturalization. The mayors of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles have jointly launched  “Cities for Citizenship,” which emphasizes the importance of citizenship, including the economic impact of it. At this meeting, the Mayor’s office convened multiple nonprofits around the table to work with us in this space of citizenship, which the Library is very much at the center.

Szabo talking to City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell and staffer.

Poetry Before Noon
One late morning back at Central Library, the Mayor stopped by to announce Luis Rodríguez as our new Poet Laureate of L.A. Although we do so much great programming around poetry from the teen poetry slams to the ALOUD programs bringing in poet laureates of the United States, this occasion was particularly significant for us because the poet Luis Rodríguez has a long and wonderful relationship with the Los Angeles Public Library. We will so be looking forward to the year ahead with him and his poetry programs for children, teens, and adults.

Central Hub
For lunch, I might grab a salad and eat it at my desk as I prepare for an upcoming board meeting. At our next board meeting, we are accepting a generous gift from the Friends of the Library Group and we are discussing the strategic plan for the Library. Being at the Central Library, it’s easy to go in and out and see our staff and pop into The Library Store and do a little shopping—I absolutely love anything “hardcore library.” I recently got a pair of library card socks and the library card iPhone case. I bought my partner a fantastic grilled cheese cookbook.

At Central, we also have our big staff meetings in the Taper Auditorium with all 72 branch managers. I particularly enjoy seeing everyone from Eagle Rock to San Pedro together in one place, and I love the one-on-one conversations afterwards to hear what’s happening in the communities and with our very big staff.

Checkup
Also at Central Library, I might have a meeting with the community health councils to talk about our “Know Your Digits,” campaign, which is occurring in seven of our branch libraries as part of our “Health Matters” initiative. We are trying to leverage the physical presence of libraries as trusted, valued institutions to fight health issues and disparities in particular areas of Los Angeles with high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease by helping people get screened.

Dreams Come True
Once in awhile, I’ll have a meeting cancel that will free up my afternoon, so over the last two years I use this time to go out and visit branches. I’ve now visited 65 of the 73 branches—only 8 left to go! I absolutely love going out and visiting our branches because every single one is different—they are different architecturally, the staff is different, the collections are different, the services are different—and all are uniquely positioned to serve their community. The branches are always packed with families or some kind of children’s program like “Storytime.” Recently, I visited the Platt Branch in the West Valley and I got to see an English language study course in action—students from Korea and Guatemala and Mexico and Croatia. It’s the dream of the City Librarian to see these wonderful scenes happening over and over at each branch.

Szabo at the 2014 Book Drop Bash with authors T.C. Boyle and Mona Simpson.

After Hours
My assistant and I are usually in the office until at least six or a little after, and then there’s often evening meetings or events. Sometimes it’s something at City Hall or a Library Foundation event. I love being the “library guy” and representing the Los Angeles Public Library 24-7-365.

When I get home, if I have time, I do some reading. I’m an only child and my dad is a single parent, so my father and I are best friends. He lives in Montgomery, Alabama and is retired, and ever since I went off to college at 18, he has sent me clippings in the mail of interesting things to read. I, as I’m able, do the same. In the evening, it’s a real pleasure and treasure to read through what he’s sent.

Learn more about all the initiatives of the Los Angeles Public Library here.

 

 

Coming Soon: Oscar-Nominated Filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski

If you attended last February’s Lost & Found at the Movies with series curator John Nein, you’ll remember that he shared his list of favorite films from Sundance and other festivals that we should lookout for in the year ahead. Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida was unequivocally at the top of that list. Like many last year who fell in love with Ida–from The New Yorker‘s David Denby, who called it “a masterpiece,” and the Wall Street Journal‘s Joe Morgenstern, who called it “exquisite”–the Academy of Motion Pictures has also honored Ida by nominating it for two Oscars for Best Foreign Film and Best Cinematography.

On Wednesday, February 11th, John Nein returns for the first installment of Lost & Found in the new year with an exclusive interview with Pawel Pawlikowski at Central Library on the cusp of the Academy Awards. Join us for this special evening when one of Europe’s most fascinating filmmakers will discuss the creative process behind Ida, his cinematic influences, and a career that has spanned fiction and documentary.

IdaMajestically shot in black and white, Ida is a visceral portrait of discovery as it follows the story of Anna, a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland who is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the Nazi occupation. If you haven’t yet been able to catch this breathtaking film, it is available to view now via Netflix Streaming. Watch the trailer below, and read reviews from The New York Times, The New Yorker, Slate, and Kenneth Turan for the Los Angeles Times, before you join us for this rare conversation about one of last year’s most remarkable films.

Learn more about this program and make your free reservation to attend here.

Eras Colliding: Patton Oswalt at ALOUD

Before Patton Oswalt became a beloved fixture in comedy, film, and television, including roles in Young Adult, Big Fan, and Ratatouille, he was obsessively watching classic movies at the legendary New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. Discussing his new memoir which takes the reader on a journey into the mind of a film buff, next week Patton will join ALOUD at the Writers Guild Theater for a familial and likely irreverent conversation with his brother and fellow film fanatic, Matt Oswalt. Before the Oswalts take the stage, we caught up with Patton about his addiction to the big screen, books, and his 1.75 million Twitter followers.

 

You’ve watched a lot of films at the New Beverly Cinema, but you also watch films at library programs. What’s the importance of watching films in a communal setting for you? How does a library screening differ from other cinematic experiences?
Patton:
Watching films in a communal setting adds a subconscious dimension to the movie that no one—not the director, writers, actors, and not even each individual audience member anticipated would be a part of the experience. Something that you’d shrug your shoulders at watching alone—or that a director, writer and actor conceived and executed as a means to get from point A to point B—can suddenly become a laugh, or a scream, or a groan of exasperation to an audience, wired together emotionally in the dark.

Watching a film in a library adds another aspect—the feeling of eras colliding and battling each other. You’re surrounded by books, which used to be movies for the masses, and there they sit, like tombstones, while up there on the screen is a moving glow which pushed those books further back into the shadows. Very dramatic, if you’re in the right mind for it.

Although your main passion is film, you are also very literary—you’ve written two books and you took part in the Library Foundation’s Moby Dick project last year. What role did books play in your life growing up—and did they influence your love of film?
Patton: Books were a comfortable bolt-hole out of reality, and prepared me to be comfortable with looking through different windows at the way someone who wasn’t me interpreted reality. Any window—page of a book, comic panel, painting canvas, cathode ray tube, movie screen—the mind wants an expanded horizon.

You are very active on Twitter, yet you recently took a break from it. Do you think such forms of communication enhance or pose a threat to the way we use language today?
Patton:
Any new form of communication can enhance the world we live in—ask the people in Tahrir Square if they think Twitter is a threat—but, like anything, it can get misused or, worse, replace life. There are just as many people who have fallen into the pages of books and never re-emerged as have dissolved their consciousnesses online.

You often take your daughter to the Los Angeles Public Library. Can you talk about your visits to the Library? Why is the Library important to you as a father?
Patton:
I never go with a specific thing I want to do or don’t want to do. Mainly I like her seeing people excited to get into the stacks, to thumb through pages, to brush up against other minds. The looks on the faces of the freaks, waiting by the main entrance with their notebooks and pages and manifestos? It’s like I’m taking her to see a vanishing species.

An Evening with Patton Oswalt
Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film
In conversation with writer and director (and brother) Matt Oswalt

Friday, January 23, 7:30 PM
Writers Guild Theater

Tickets: lfla.org/aloud

Author Chang-rae Lee Talks Alternate Realities at ALOUD

From The Surrendered to Native Speaker, novelist Chang-rae Lee has been hailed for his beautifully crafted character portraits of Asians grappling with race, class, and identity divisions of contemporary society. His latest novel, On Such a Full Sea, is no different thematically, although it’s a fiercely imagined story set in a chilling near-future America, where abandoned post-industrial cities have been converted into forced labor colonies populated with immigrant workers. Lee’s shift to a dystopian world is a bold move for such a masterful writer of realism, but his introspective prose offers a welcomed elevation to the ever-popular field of apocalyptic storytelling. Before he takes the ALOUD stage on Thursday, January 15th for a conversation with the story-bending author Charles Yu (How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe), we talked to Lee about Bladerunner, The Odyssey, libraries, and what inspired his alternative reality.

Your new novel is rooted in a dystopian America although your past novels are set mostly in reality. Can you talk about this shift in writing modes and where the idea for this dystopian world came from?
Lee:
I didn’t originally plan to write a ‘dystopian’ fiction or in fact anything speculative. But I had this very strange idea for a story about re-populating abandoned urban areas of America with former factory workers from China, who would emigrate en masse and settle and ‘revitalize’ forlorn neighborhoods in places like Detroit and Baltimore. Of course nothing of the sort could ever happen in our present reality, so I decided to set the story in the future, though in a future with very different social conditions.

Can you talk more about those cities that inspired this imagined place?
Lee:
In fact Baltimore was the inspiration, as I’d seen, over many years, this particular forlorn neighborhood from the train while traveling between NYC and Washington D.C.; the novel is set in ‘B-Mor’, a once proud city that is now a massive production facility/settlement, where the worker inhabitants grow pristine fish and vegetables for an elite ‘Charter’ class.

Los Angeles has often been the setting for dystopian stories in books, and especially films like the cult classic Bladerunner. Are there any films or books that influenced On Such a Full Sea?
Lee:
Bladerunner is one of my very favorite films — in fact I wrote part of my undergraduate senior thesis on the film, focusing on the question of genre in both art and identity. But I would say that if there’s any significant influence for OSAFS it would have to be The Odyssey, which is a narrative of adventure and discovery of strange peoples, lands, and of course, of self.

Since ALOUD takes place at the Los Angeles Public Library, we’re curious if you have any personal connections to public libraries?
Lee:
I spent much of my childhood in libraries, as my mother would leave me and my younger sister at the local library on weekend afternoons and pick us up before dinner. She was an immigrant and never felt comfortable guiding us on what to read but believed in the importance of reading, and so she left us in the care of the librarians. They were always wonderful and kind, very eager to help, something for which I’ll always be grateful.

Make your free reservation for Lee’s upcoming ALOUD program here.

Main image: Chang-rae Lee (credit: Anika Lee), and cover art for On Such a Full Sea

The Library Store’s Annual Post-Holiday Sale!

IT’S HERE!!!

Starting today (Monday, January 5th), visit The Library Store‘s annual post holiday sale at Central Library to find tons of great items marked down as low as 50% off*! Everything from children’s gifts and books, to t-shirts and boxed notes, cards, calendars and more! Quantities are limited, so make sure to visit while supplies last. New items will also be added daily.

*No further discount on sale items.