Bookmark This! #13

Bookmark This is one year old!  In its first year, this recommended reading series has shared an eclectic mix of 60 book suggestions from 58 contributors – all for your reading pleasure!  As it continues into the future, we look forward to finding out more of your favorite page-turners.  Contact Erin Sapinoso at [email protected] if you would like to provide a reading recommendation.

This first anniversary issue takes us through the life of Jenni Rivera, familial experiences during World War II, reflections on writing, mysteries of the sea, and the classical elements of cooking.


USC Professor Josh Kun, Director of the Popular Music Project at USC Annenberg’s Normal Lear Center and most recently curator of the Library Foundation’s Songs in the Key of L.A. project, is still catching up on episodes of Jenni Rivera’s reality show for Mun2, “I Love Jenni,” and still collecting early 20th century Los Angeles sheet music for the Los Angeles Public Library.

Josh recommends Unbreakable: My Story, My Way by Jenni Rivera.

“The autobiography penned by beloved Mexican-American musical icon Jenni Rivera before she was killed in a plane crash last December is a raw, wrenching survivor’s song. The Long Beach native who sold real estate before she became a media mega-star was famous for not holding back on stage. She does the same on these pages, diving into her single-mom struggles to rise in the male-dominated Regional Mexican music industry and into her “vida loca” on the working-class streets of Long Beach with candor, attitude, and confession, including numbing discussions of the domestic sexual abuse suffered by her daughters and younger sister. With Jenni’s story as our guide, the book ends up being a crucial portrait of the omnipresent, but all too rarely written about, dynamics of Mexican life and culture in multi-racial Los Angeles.”


Seeta Zieger is a Vice President of Advertising Sales and Member of The Council of the Library Foundation.  If she can’t travel in person, she counts on the Library’s books to take her to exotic and interesting locales!

Seeta recommends Winter of the World by Ken Follett.

“This novel transports the reader to a time and place in recent history that is still unfathomable to those of us who were not alive during World War II. The author’s detailed descriptions of events teach the reader interesting historical facts in the context of five families and their interactions/relationships. (Of course, I am presuming the reader will have started with the first novel in the trilogy: Fall of Giants.) I love this novel as a summer read since it is very intriguing and great company on long plane rides or lazy days at the beach!”


Mary Fitzpatrick is a fourth-generation Angeleno, poet, and Member of the Library Foundation. Having spent large swaths of her childhood at the South Pasadena Public Library, she wrote about discovering poetry there as a girl and, in 2007, was honored to read that poem in that same, beautiful 1907 library.

Mary recommends Swallowing the Sea – On Writing, Ambition, Boredom, Purity, and Secrecy by Lee Upton.

“Lee Upton has written a very clever book on the pitfalls, traps, delights, and temptations of writing. Technically a book of essays, Swallowing the Sea is more a compendium of musings – simultaneously arch, intimate, and confessional. Upton is a poet and professor with 12 books to her name, yet in one essay in which she describes the root of her reverence for books (a library is involved), she confesses she was never so bold as to hope anything she’d written could ever be published. But we’re glad it was. Upton is earnest yet bemused – a smile always at the corner of her lips – as she writes of the torments and triumphs of writers. This book’s bibliography is six packed pages and provides a vision of the author’s library – books bristling with page markers and passages tagged with her themes: ‘Ambition,’ ‘Boredom,’ ‘Purity,’ and ‘Secrecy.’ These are themes based on obsessions and, as we all know, it’s obsession (Herman Melville, anyone?) that compels the writer to the page.”


Jocelyn Yamasaki works at The Library Store in the Central Library.  She loves exploring in and around Los Angeles and capturing it all on her camera.  Otherwise, she can be found perusing the stacks for her next adventure.

Jocelyn recommends Children of the Sea: Volume 1 by Daisuke Igarashi.

“This book is the first of the Children of the Sea manga series. It was recommended to me by a friend who shares my growing love for graphic novels. The book is beautifully written, cinematically drawn, and reads in the traditional Japanese style from right to left. It tells of a young girl named Ruka who encounters a ghost in an aquarium and feels a strange connection to the sea and two boys she meets, Umi and Sora, who were raised by dugongs. Considered a book for teens, Children of the Sea tells a story that adults can appreciate, too, and unfolds in a contemplative and organic way that allowed me to fully take in the mesmerizing landscapes of Igarashi’s art. I fell in love with this book, and putting it down was extremely difficult. I don’t think I ever did, actually! I highly recommend this book to young and old readers alike!”


Nina Koske recently moved to Los Angeles from New York City and also works at The Library Store. She is adjusting quite nicely – thanks in part to the beaches, palm trees, and avocados.

Nina recommends Cooked by Michael Pollan.

“I just recently finished Michael Pollan’s new book Cooked. Having read two of his other books, I knew I was going to like it. Pollan has such a friendly and readable tone it is easy to imagine he is someone I could be friends with. While his past books have focused more on food policy and the troubling side of our food industry, this book is just about the way we cook food and why. He goes through each of the four essential elements in preparing food: fire, air, water, and earth. He explains aspects of each category I had never even thought about – things like the legend of the beginning of fire, gender-equality issues of cooking with water (which is to say, cooking in the kitchen), the erotics of disgust of cheese, and more. It is a thought-provoking, wildly interesting read about food.”


You can find these books – and more than six million others in print, audio and digital formats – through the Central Library, 72 branches and

Happy reading!

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