Bookmark This! #14

The Santa Ana winds have begun to blow again, and with them has come the start of autumn.  As you enjoy the warm breezes, the harvest of apples and pumpkins, and sitting on your front porch, consider these reading recommendations featuring: dsytopian satire; the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby; a knight and dragon; German progressive rock; and New York City’s Lower East Side.

Let us know what you think about these or other books by posting your comments below.  If you would like to provide a reading recommendation for an upcoming issue of Bookmark This!, contact Membership Director Erin Sapinoso directly at [email protected].


John Nein is a Senior Programmer at the Sundance Film Festival and the curator of the Library Foundation’s new film culture program “Lost & Found at the Movies.”  He went to film school as a director and now watches an indeterminate number of films a year while spending an indeterminate amount of time wishing he had more time to read.

John recommends Tenth of December by George Saunders.

“I don’t think any contemporary author more artfully observes the cruel contradictions of modern American life. Wickedly funny and brilliantly spare, Saunders’ prose assumes the voice and the soul of his characters, and while it’s tempting to see the worlds he creates – vaguely familiar near-future places populated by desperate castaways and crushing adversity – as sad, dark and cynical, there is something beautiful there; it lies in the profound struggle taking place to assert some form of human dignity.”


Robyn Myers has been an employee of the City of Los Angeles for more than 30 years.  Currently, she oversees building issues for all 72 branch libraries as Branch Facilities Manager for the Los Angeles Public Library.  She is always reading at least one book (possibly even two at a time) and gets nervous if there isn’t a book in the “on deck circle” on her bedside table.

Robyn recommends Cemetery John: The Undiscovered Mastermind of the Lindbergh Kidnapping by Robert Zorn.

“When people ask what I read, I usually reply, ‘History and mystery.’  I was delighted to find BOTH in Robert Zorn’s Cemetery John: the Undiscovered Mastermind of the Lindbergh Kidnapping.  Zorn takes a memory of his father (which is brought to the surface by the chance reading of an article on the case many years later), and turns it into a journalistic investigation.  He credibly proves his father’s theory that a former neighbor was the man the press dubbed ‘Cemetery John,’ one of three kidnappers of the Lindbergh Baby.  Zorn has a real storyteller’s gift, making history come alive.”


Aviva Weiner was born in Los Angeles at Queen of Angels Hospital and grew up in the Central Library in the room that is now the Language Learning Center.  Her mother taught her how to read at age three because she became tired of reading to her.  Aviva still goes to the library every week, to get books, socialize, or just breathe.

Aviva recommends The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie DePaola and A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein.

“These are two of my favorite books of all time.  I do not say children’s books, although they are certainly written for children, because I believe that a well-crafted book is appealing to people of all ages.  Both of these books are written and illustrated beautifully. They are funny and thought-provoking, and the illustrations are detailed just enough to enhance the reader’s or listener’s understanding.”

“These books are designed to bring joy to your soul and will hold your interest enough to be able to read them to your child(ren) night after night after night. (And please, do read out loud to your children, until they are at least 13 years old).”

“Maybe not these books, but something.  Maybe Tolkien, or C.S. Lewis, or even Dickens.). The Knight and The Dragon begins ‘Once upon a time’ as a good story about dragons often does, but it ends wordless.  A Giraffe and a Half begins ‘If you had a giraffe’ and ends ‘You would have a giraffe.’  In both books, it’s what happens in between that really matters.”


Daniel Tures has been a manager at Amoeba Music for 16 years.  He makes kosmische musik in his spare time as the White Widow.  He grew up in El Paso, Texas, and studied philosophy at UC Berkeley.  Now a proud Angeleno, he loves enriching his knowledge of L.A. history and culture through programs at the Los Angeles Public Library.

Daniel recommends Krautrock: Cosmic Rock and its Legacy, from Black Dog Publishing.

“German progressive rock in the 1970s was mocked as ‘krautrock’ by the English-speaking music press, and the musicians embraced the name with ironic gusto.  How could such a frumpy, unswingin’, dour defeated nation possibly compete with the likes of Rod Stewart and the Eagles?  But in its afterlife, krautrock has arisen as a vastly influential source of sounds and ideas for alternative rock, techno, and even hip-hop — Kraftwerk was essential accompaniment for early breakers.  There would be no Radiohead without Can, no Aphex Twin without Neu! and Cluster.  It’s a diverse, gnomic music scene, difficult to explore and navigate; this wonderfully designed book is the perfect introduction.  I loved reading about all these weird bands and producers, on pages packed with flyers and band photos with bad hair and big sweaters, and lysergic album art.  Even the typeface reflects the spare, futuristic sounds.  Fantastisch!”


Jennifer Kondo is the new Director of Young Literati. As a graduate student, she was afforded plenty of time to browse the fiction stacks while pretending to study.

Jennifer recommends Lush Life by Richard Price.

“I lived in New York when I first read this book, and it compelled me to look at the city more closely every time I walked out of my building.  Price’s details, characters, and dialogue are so accurately and painstakingly rendered that his prose seems as if they are the most fantastic field notes ever written.  Price sets this not-by-the-numbers police procedure in his ultra-specific version of New York’s Lower East Side in the first decade of the millennium.  Known for his writing for The Wire, he brings that careful eye to a neighborhood that is exploding with one of the most rapid gentrification trajectories in the city and traces the consequences of this trajectory when a young, white man is shot during a mugging.  By the end of this immersive, fast-paced book, you’ll feel that you are a lifelong resident of this vibrant little section of New York.”


These books – and more than six million others in print, audio and digital formats – are available through the Central Library, 72 branches and

Happy reading, and stay tuned for the next issue of Bookmark This!

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