Bookmark This! #3

It’s that time again.  The Library Foundation of Los Angeles has new recommendations for you!

In this issue, our contributors take us on an exploration of the influence of Zen Buddhism in the arts, instruction on classical French cooking, along life’s journey with a wizard hero, through events leading up to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the experience of metaphysical poetry.  Read on and enjoy!

Louise Steinman is the curator of the award-winning ALOUD series and co-director of the Los Angeles Institute for Humanities at USC.  Her new book, The Crooked Mirror: My Conversation with Poland is slated for publication with Beacon Press fall 2013.

Louise recommends Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists by Kay Larson.

“I am particularly fascinated at how Buddhist thought found its way into American culture after WW II.  John Cage was a remarkable artist whose work influenced the American avant-garde, and Zen thinking was central to the development of his life’s work. (In the early eighties, I went mushroom hunting with John Cage in a downpour in a park outside Seattle. The rain deterred him not at all.) It’s also a great portrait of the artistic ferment in Los Angeles in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s as European émigré artists, composers, choreographers, writers clustered in Los Angeles and where young John Cage meets Frida Kahlo, Bertolt Brecht, Charlie Chaplin, Maya Deren and others at a party in the Hollywood Hills.”


Linda Rudell-Betts is the Acting Senior Librarian for the Social Science, Philosophy and Religion department at Central Library.  She spent fifteen plus years as an information science consultant working on large scale databases before re-discovering the social theater that is the reference desk.  Linda reads both print and audio books and is a dedicated amateur gardener.

Linda recommends La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking.

“This is a book I turn to for a couple of reasons.  First, I might have an ingredient about which I’ve heard can be tricky to cook.  I turn to the very proficient and extensive index to see what basics “Madame” has written about the ingredient, say French white beans, and then read her recipes.  Madame is very precise regarding food texture, color, and contrast and her dishes have always turned out well for me.  The second reason I read the book is because the experience is much like spending an afternoon with a stern, but loving, French aunt who is passing on utterly essential elements of the art of home cooking.  A favorite description (and foolproof recipe), is her discussion regarding vinaigrette on pages 463-464…  Madame may compromise to a degree, but she never wavers if her standards might be defied.  The recipes have ingredients, measurements and other basics, but her explanations of why processes must happen in her sequence and what the consequences could be otherwise make this a very personal, very French experience.”


Desiree Gagnon is the Major Gifts and Stewardship Officer for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.  A native of Denver, Colorado, Desiree has studied in Australia and backpacked through New Zealand (her favorite country).  She loves the Denver Broncos, baseball and traveling and is an avid snowboarder and arts lover.

Desiree recommends The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

“This book begins the Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy. It is a wonderful fantasy novel that tells the tale of Kvothe – a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. It’s a beautiful coming of age story that sucks you in and takes you on quite the adventure!”


Terry Dadd is a member of the Library Foundation and a frequent visitor to his home library – the Encino-Tarzana branch – and an active participant of the Central Library programs.  Shout out to the ALOUD series!

Terry recommends Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.

“What do you get when you cross America’s, arguably, greatest President and its most verbose television commentator/entertainer?  Answer: A surprisingly suspenseful and fast-paced look at the events leading up to the night of April 15th, 1865.  Face it, we all know where this train is headed, but Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard provide a book filled with emotion.  Each chapter represents a day before the final act; you feel Lincoln’s anxiety as he waits for the war to end while Grant and Lee play their cat and mouse game.  We sense Lee’s resignation and concern for his men as he surrenders to the “crumpled little general”, Grant, at Appomattox.  My bones felt old at Lincoln’s growing exhaustion from keeping the North together during the war. We lament that he didn’t get to fulfill his promise to re-unite the country.  Finally, we feel the hate of John Wilkes Booth, possibly our country’s first three-named villain.  No one will mistake O’Reilly and Dugard for Doris Kearns Goodwin, but this is a great narrative of an important chapter in our nation’s history.”


Bridgette Bates is a staff writer and “poet-in-residence” at the Library Foundation.  She has published poetry in various journals including American Letters & Commentary, Boston Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, Notre Dame Review, and Seneca Review. A graduate of The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she was a winner of the “Discovery”/ Boston Review poetry prize and was a Fulbright Fellow to Slovenia.

Bridgette recommends Tomas Tranströmer’s The Great Enigma, New Collected Poems.

“With the recent announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, I thought one more shout out to last year’s winner was in order. Tomas Tranströmer is a Swedish poet, who had a dual-career as a psychologist. His poems inhabit a world that is aptly split between those two realms: the spiritual and psychological, the dream and the reality, the individual and the social self. There is no better way to get to know his vast work than with The Great Enigma, New Collected Poems.”

You can find these books – and more than 6 million others, including print, audio and digital formats – through the Central Library, 72 branches and

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

–    Posted by Erin Sapinoso


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