Bookmark This #17

Happy 2014, everyone!

If you are still looking for something to read in celebration of the start of this new year, consider any one of the following five recommended books OR choose from more than six million others that are available through the Central Library, 72 branches and

Also, if you are you interested in providing a reading recommendation for an upcoming issue of Bookmark This, contact Library Foundation staffer Erin Sapinoso at [email protected].


A new Member of the Library Foundation, Jonathan Lorenzo can’t believe it’s already 2014! His favorite movie trilogy is the “Back to the Future” series, and he looks forward to flying cars, hoverboards, and power laces next year… a la Part Two.

Jonathan recommends The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.

“This book is a classic.  I used to read it every six months or so because it’s that good.  I wanted its lessons to be second nature to me, so I just kept reading it and reading it.  Stephen Covey lays out the fundamental principles I try to live by every day.  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a must-read for everyone who wants to make the most of their lives, both professionally and personally.”


Rebecca Shehee is the Vice President of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.  A voracious reader and stalwart supporter of libraries, she is also an accomplished quilter.

Rebecca recommends The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner.

“A book that really captured my imagination recently is The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner.  This novel tells the very compelling story of a young artist, our narrator, Reno, and her experiences with an older Italian lover, her own quest to understand her art and herself.  Reno self-describes as one who is “shopping for experience.”  After a violent brush with an underground fascist group in Italy, Reno returns to America and considers her past and future but draws no conclusions.

This novel received immense praise from reliable sources, and I certainly had high expectations after reading Dwight Garner’s review in the New York Times:  ‘Her prose has a poise and wariness and moral graininess that puts you in mind of weary-souled visionaries like Robert Stone and Joan Didion.’  In my humble opinion, he was right!  My favorite type of novel is one that is very literary but also has a can’t-put-it-down plot, and this is one of those.

The Flamethrowers was short-listed for the National Book Award.  I enjoyed it so much that I now want to go back and read Kushner’s prior novel, Telex from Cuba.”


A Library Foundation staffer for six years, Libby McCarthy is an avid reader and recently completed a very glamorous quilt.

Libby recommends Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.

“I’m such a fan of true survival stories, and this might be the ultimate one. The book chronicles the incredible life of Louie Zamperini, the arc of which goes something like this: Louie attends USC, breaks track records; he competes in the 1936 Olympics where his performance attracts Adolf Hitler, who requests a personal introduction; he joins the army during WWII as a bombardier; his plane gets shot down over the Pacific and he survives for 47 days at sea….all of this before being captured by the Japanese Navy and held as a POW until the end of the war. The whole story is so much more riveting and triumphant than I could ever describe, but also an important one about war, endurance, and forgiveness. If you haven’t already read it, I urge you to do so before the movie adaptation comes out later this year. Even better, celebrate Louie’s 97th birthday on January 26th. Happy birthday Louie!”


Natalie Arps-Bumbera is a Development Assistant at the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. In addition to a fondness for Jurassic creatures of all sorts, she also loves Jurassic technology like astrolabes, 1920’s Underwood typewriters, and 1919 Contessa Nettle “accordion” cameras.

Natalie recommends Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time by James Gurney.

“I received a copy of Dinotopia from my parents when I was in elementary school, and my copy is still a cherished part of my ‘grown-up’ home library today—broken spine, well-worn cover, loose leaves and all!  The story follows Victorian scientist Arthur Denison and his son, Will, as they set out on a scientific voyage of discovery, only to be shipwrecked before they reach their destination.  Arthur and Will wash ashore on the hitherto undiscovered island of Dinotopia, and are shocked to find it populated by a colony of shipwreck survivors and ancient prehistoric creatures they assumed had long since gone extinct.  I was enthralled by Dinotopia as a child—after all, who doesn’t want to live in a city made of waterfalls, or fly on the back of a huge, winged Quetzalcoatlus Skybax? As an adult, my appreciation of the story has deepened—I love the idea of a utopian society made up of a blend of cultures, animals, and people; I’m impressed by the many ways in which James Gurney incorporates his anthropological background into his work; and I’m enchanted by the beauty of Gurney’s paintings.  Ultimately, Dinotopia does what the best children’s books do: teaches you something new, makes the learning process fun, and presents sophisticated concepts in a simple, elegant way.”


Sarah Charleton is Cultural Programs Coordinator for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, and works primarily on the ALOUD author series. She one day hopes to achieve her overly ambitious goal of reading all the featured books from an entire ALOUD season.

Sarah recommends the sound recording of Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin (He reads the book in the recording!).

“I knew very little about Armistead Maupin, except that his Tales of the City series has spanned three decades. After hearing that Maupin would be featured at ALOUD for The Days of Anna Madrigal – his final book for the series – I checked out the Los Angeles Public Library’s catalogue to find his books and familiarize myself with his writing. Though it’s not the first in his series, I started off with an audio recording of Mary Ann in Autumn, read by the author himself. Maupin’s writing is so funny and truly contemporary. I appreciated his extraordinary ability to weave together the lives and relationships of the many fictional characters that Tales of the City follows, so readers can jump into any book from the series and still feel they’ve really gotten to know the characters. I would recommend Maupin’s books to any reader, as a humorous but real-life look into the San Francisco lifestyle and its LGBT community.”


Roll on 2014, and stay tuned for next month’s issue of Bookmark This!

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