Bookmark This #15

Halloween is just around the corner, so how about picking up a good book to read in between doling out candy to your cutely or frighteningly-costumed neighbors?  The selections in this issue take you behind the scenes for a look at costume collection in the movie-making industry, a road trip with a very special coonhound, a personal journey on Wall Street, and the lives of playwright Harold Pinter and musician Gram Parsons.

Are you interested in providing a reading recommendation for an upcoming issue of Bookmark This?  Contact Membership Director Erin Sapinoso at [email protected].


Christina Rice has been with the Los Angeles Public Library since 2005 and has spent the past four years overseeing the library’s extensive photo collection. A compulsive collector, obsessive researcher, and classic film fanatic since birth, she managed to channel these three traits into her first book, Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel due out in early November from the University Press of Kentucky.

Christina recommends The Ruby Slippers of Oz by Rhys Thomas.

“I have been devouring film-related books since I was a teenager, and few titles are as great a guilty pleasure as The Ruby Slippers of Oz. Rhys Thomas journeys deep into the surreal underworld of movie costume collecting, where Debbie Reynolds is a diabolical villain, and a certain pair of shoes is the ultimate prize. The narrative provides an insightful and entertaining look at one aspect of movie making history and the passion it inspires in a small group of collectors. Since the book was published in 1989, the one drawback is that the reader is left wanting an update!”


Library Commissioner Bich Ngoc Cao is often maxed out on the number of e-books she can borrow from LAPL.  A lover of Bruce Springsteen and Chihuahuas, she is also a true believer in people-powered politics, having written an essay about online organizing for the New York Times bestseller MoveOn’s 50 Ways to Love Your Country.

Bich Ngoc recommends Maddie on Things by Theron Humphrey.

Maddie on Things is so many things: a sweet look at the relationship between man and dog, a chronicle of the greatest American road trip, a testament for animal rescue, an intimate journal by a man who wants to change the world, and of course, a photo book featuring a coon dog with an astonishing sense of balance. Can you pick a favorite photo?”


A Member of the Young Literati, Antonio Spears considers the Library his second home – a place where he can discover the unknown.  He grew up in a library in rural Harnett County, North Carolina and previously worked in library services planning programs, seminars, and employment training.  He plans on visiting 50 countries by the age of 50. 

Antonio recommends Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story by Greg Smith.

“As an up-and-coming Wall Street Guy, I wanted to fully understand the trajectory of Wall Street culture, people, and identity.  Why I Left Goldman Sachs is an insider’s account from a veteran at one of the world’s most prestigious investment companies.  Author Greg Smith, a capitalist with a conscience, relays his journey from being an intern – who held the company in high esteem – to the head of Goldman Sach’s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa – who walked away from it all when he saw integrity and quality sacrificed for past growth momentum.  This thoughtful, well-written, humorous and brutally honest book is a glimpse into what’s wrong with Wall Street today rather than an indictment of the entire industry. It is not an analysis of the financial crisis or a prescription for how to fix the system, but an accessible and fascinating anthropological survey of the culture of Wall Street.”


Kathy Weiss has worked as a public relations consultant and photographer for the last 10 years and volunteers in the art therapy program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles: Healing Arts Reaching Kids (HARK), which raises funds to provide art, music, dance, and writing to patients and their families. She and her husband are lucky to have four grandchildren who live in Los Angeles.

Kathy recommends Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser.

“Having enjoyed both the historical biographies of Antonia Fraser and the plays of Harold Pinter, I was drawn to Fraser’s Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter.  The title ‘Must You Go?’ is taken from words murmured by Pinter after he met Fraser in 1975.  Both were immediately smitten and left their respective married partners soon afterward.  Fraser chronicles their life intermingling with such luminaries as John Gielgud, Ian Richardson, Salman Rushdie, Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer, Claire Bloom and Philip Roth, Tom Stoppard, and Vaclav Havel. Rather than name-drop, Fraser uses her diaries to catalog her life in a straight-forward manner.  Her writing is honest and unemotional.  The Harold Pinter that Antonia reveals is much different from the characters in his plays.  Instead of a brooding, angry man, she reveals a Pinter who writes love poems to her during their marriage of 33 years until Pinter’s death in 2008.”

(In case you missed the ALOUD program featuring Antonia Fraser in conversation with Howard Rodman, click here to listen to the podcast.)


Sarah Lancaster is Program Coordinator for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.  Born in New Mexico and raised in Santa Fe and San Diego, she collects antiques and is fixing up an 1895 bungalow with her husband.

Sarah recommends Hickory Wind by Ben Fong-Torres.

“Gram Parsons was the original cosmic cowboy. Free-spirited from the get-go, he was a bright flame in the rock-and-roll world that burned out much too soon, at the early age of 26.  Hickory Wind tells the tale of his life lived in a world of rock legends like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Emmylou Harris.  Coming from his poor-little-rich-kid roots with a father who drank himself to death in a jail cell on Christmas night, Gram went on to become a seminal member of the Byrds and inspire the Rolling Stones, among others, leaving behind a legacy that became what we now know as cosmic American country rock.  Ben Fong-Torres tells the tale of Gram’s legendary life in a way that makes you feel like you’re a fly on the wall while he hangs out with the rock gods of the ‘60s and ‘70s.  Before you know it, you’ll be planning your pilgrimage to Joshua Tree to see the site where Gram’s manager cremated his body under the stars after stealing it from the morgue in a tale that’s almost too crazy to be real. Although, in the life of Gram Parsons, it might just be true.”


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

What do you think of these books?  Post your comments and let us know.

Happy reading, and stay tuned for next month’s issue of Bookmark This!

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