Bookmark This! #16

Here it is – the holiday edition of Bookmark This!  In this issue, Library Foundation staffers recommend books to read during this season of merry-making.


Dawn Coppin will be celebrating the winter solstice with a large serving of figgy pudding and extra lashings of rum sauce.

Dawn recommends The Voluptuous Vegan: More than 200 Sinfully Delicious Recipes for Meatless, Eggless, and Dairy-Free Meals by Myra Kornfeld.

“For me, along with most other people I know, the winter holidays in particular are about eating and drinking.  Having grown up in England I enjoy celebratory foods that American friends consider somewhat peculiar, and I’m now challenged to make them vegan-friendly.  Fruit cake can indeed be made vegan, although perhaps only for those who appreciate its rich, boozy, extravagance.  The Voluptuous Vegan is my go-to book for recipes when I’m stuck for ideas.  It doesn’t hold back on the taste, fat or salt levels and shouldn’t be confused with a healthy cookbook.  The French lentil soup is an easy favorite that can remain on low heat and scales up very well for those large holiday parties.  The moussaka makes a wonderful impression for those not used to vegan cuisine, and the poached pear and pecan strudel brings the international festivities to a delicious close.”


Jean Grant likes reading (to her sons especially!), cooking and watching documentary films. When the California winters get too harsh, she dreams of the white sand beaches of Jamaica between her toes.

Jean recommends The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.

“This Caldecott winner is the tale of a young boy who is facing a personal crisis – to believe or not to believe in Christmas. He has seen department store Santas who don’t measure up and has done the calculations for delivering presents around the world in one night – the whole story just doesn’t add up. Then, one Christmas eve, the boy is magically transported to the North Pole on a magnificent steam engine. He enters into a hero’s journey of sorts where he sees firsthand the work of Santa and his elves in all its glory. In the end, his belief is firmly restored.  The Polar Express challenges both children and adults alike to never lose that sense of wonder in life and never stop believing. Since my boys were little, we’ve been reading this book at Christmas. And now, at the ripe old ages of 7 and 10 they have never tired of hearing it over and over again.”


Imani Harris loves music, his family, ideas, and good food (with good company) and is looking forward to enjoying all of these things over the next few weeks.

Imani recommends “All of Me” by Dinah Washington from the album The Jazz Sides available for free download with your Los Angeles Public Library card via Freegal.

“I don’t recall any holiday book traditions in my family.  But in honor of my forthcoming family reunion later this month in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and my late grandfather who would cozy-up in his reclining chair to listen to public jazz radio while intermittently sneaking candy from a cabinet just above his chair when my grandmother wasn’t looking — I recommend Dinah Washington’s interpretation of “All of Me.”  This song was recorded live at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958 and features an all-star cast of musicians that includes Max Roach on drums and Terry Gibbs on the vibraphone (such a nice name for an instrument).  There’s an out-of-sight video of this performance on YouTube.  Ms. Washington was of course from Tuscaloosa, and going there with the family during the holidays was a rare but memorable treat.”


Jennifer Kondo is looking forward to trying out new tequila recipes and catching up on her reading over the holidays.

Jennifer recommends Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris.

“Sometimes the sweetness of the holidays is best appreciated with a dose of sarcasm.  For years, David Sedaris has taken his readers along on his memorable daily adventures in daily life.  Holidays on Ice is a collection of some of his most hilarious short stories, with the common thread of the yuletide season.  His chronicle of his stint as a Macy’s Elf is an instant classic and has been featured on “This American Life.”  This collection is funny to be sure, but like all of Sedaris’ work, it’s also a realistic and thought-provoking reflection of family relationships during the pressure cooker of the holidays.”


Erin Sapinoso recently played a live version of “Frogger” (herself as the frog) while climbing up 300 stairs to the Batu Caves in Malaysia in an attempt to avoid the onslaught of monkeys on their hunt for food.

Erin recommends Yes, Virginia: There is a Santa Claus by Christopher Plehal.

“I just learned about this book after watching the animated television movie on Netflix.  Based on the true story of one little girl’s search to discover if Santa Claus is real (which by the way, includes a trip to the Library and an encounter with a very enthusiastic librarian), both the book and the film do fantastic jobs of spreading that feel-good sensation that sweeps over people (me, anyway) when hope, faith, and wide-eyed wonderment are restored after times of reservation and doubt.  And for those of you who are interested to know, yes, I still do believe in Santa Claus.”


Browse through more titles via the Los Angeles Public Library’s online catalog to start new holiday traditions of your own.

Seasons greetings, happy new year, and stay tuned for the next issue of Bookmark This!

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