Bookmark This #5

The holidays are upon us and what better way to celebrate than reading a story while waiting in a seemingly non-moving checkout line to make gift purchases; listening to a book on tape while inching along in traffic on the way to see the lights on Candy Cane Lane; standing in a crowded airport terminal with the hope of boarding the plane on time; or, cozying up under a warm blanket in your very own bedroom as the cold winter winds blow your neighbors’ decorations around the yard outside.

I hope you consider any one of the following recommendations for your reading pleasure.  This time, we journey with a high schooler in existential crisis; a victim of unrequited love; a sailor in the employ of a captain obsessed with finding a great white whale; characters in grim situations in Wyoming; and the Peanuts gang as they define happiness.


Candice Mack is the Teen Services & Outreach Librarian at Teen’Scape in the Central Library.  She is a 2012 American Library Association (ALA) Emerging Leader and reviews fiction, comics and manga for Booklist, ALA’s review journal.  A former Music Director at KUCR 88.9 FM in Riverside, she sometimes DJs at Young Literati events.

Candice recommends Tina’s Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary by Keshni Kashyap.

“One of my favorite nominees for the Young Adult Library Services Association’s 2013 Great Graphic Novels for Teens booklist is Tina’s Mouth, written by Keshni Kashyap and illustrated by Mari Araki. I would describe it as a mixture of “Daria” and Gene Luen Yang’s “America-Born Chinese”, but set in Los Angeles. Tina is a South Asian teen and sophomore at Yarlborough Academy. While on her quest to find herself, Tina seeks philosophical advice on high school romance, friendship, identity and more from her favorite existentialist, Jean-Paul Sartre. The artwork is unique, fun, and expressive, the dialogue authentic, and I love that Tina frequently wears Doc Martens and a Six Pistols shirt. (No, that’s not a typo. I heard their manager is Milton McLoren.)”


Donna Kern is the Library Foundation’s Development Assistant. A lifelong library lover, her first job was at her local public library near Philadelphia. When not reading gloomy books, Donna loves traveling and adventures.  She swam into a Belizean cave full of crystalized skeletons, walked inside Japan’s Great Buddha of Kamakura, danced in a GDR Ballhaus in East Berlin and lost her favorite sunglasses on top of a Guatemalan pyramid.

Donna recommends The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

“In 1774, 225 years before bands like Bright Eyes made being overly sensitive cool, a brokenhearted and rather emo 25 year old Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote The Sorrows of Young Werther. Through a series of letters we meet our tragic hero who spends his free time laying in fields and swooning over nature’s beauty, from blades of grass blowing in the wind to the worms crawling among them. He falls in love with an engaged woman, and Werther’s sorrows become his undoing. His story resonated deeply for young European men of the time, and was even blamed for a rash of suicides. But in the introduction, Goethe advises: “And you, good soul, that feels the same pressures as he, take comfort from his sufferings and let this little book be your friend.” Goethe’s own broken heart healed, with time and writing’s cathartic power, and he became one of the greatest writers and thinkers of all time. He also inspired the name of our own Vice President’s mini dachshund!”


Raised on a corn farm in Illinois with a twin sister, Jean Grant is the Assistant Vice President for Advancement with the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and recent winner of the organization’s “Fan Favorite” award for her homemade caramels (using a recipe that was handed down to her by her grandmother).

Jean recommends Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.

“I am always reading more than one book at a time, and I have a rule that if a book isn’t doing it for me, I’m allowed to set it aside and come back to it later. This happened to me when I began reading Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, an ambitious endeavor, I admit. A friend recommended Nathaniel Philbrick’s book, Why Read Moby Dick, in which the author made such an intriguing case for engaging with Moby-Dick that I felt empowered to tackle the epic work in a new way. Then, I discovered Philbrick’s book called, In the Heart of the Sea: The Sinking of the Whaleship Essex a non-fiction book describing in eloquent detail the true story that inspired Moby-Dick. I found myself talking about 19th century whaling with anyone who would listen. Even more inspired, I returned to Moby-Dick where I am now in chapter 79 of its 135 chapters, and loving every word!”


Lloyd Smith is a stalwart member of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.  A native of the San Fernando Valley, he attended school for a short time with Natalie Wood and enjoys traveling around the world (most recently to Turkey and Armenia).

Lloyd recommends Close Range: Wyoming Stories by E. Annie Proulx.

“The stories in this book are crazy and wild, and the movie, Brokeback Mountain, is based on one of them.  The writing is kind of cartoon-y, so the book is an easy read, but it definitely details some sad and tragic events in Wyoming.  I am familiar with the area, and the author does a great job of describing life there.  The author also wrote The Shipping News which is another good story, though, that one is set in Newfoundland.”


Erin Sapinoso is the Library Foundation’s Membership Director.  An avid Lindy Hopper and Griffith Park Sierra Club night hiker when not working, she is the proud owner of a Pippi Longstocking wig, a gift recently collected from the company holiday party (thank you, Louise).

Erin recommends Happiness is a Warm Puppy by Charles M. Schultz.

“I received this book as a Christmas present last year, and it came at a time when I was brand new to living by myself in my very own apartment.  A VERY short read, each page is dedicated to one image and one sentence about what happiness is.  What I love most (aside from the fact that this is a Peanuts book) is that each definition of happiness is something very simple and that together they remind me that happiness really is in the little things.”


The Los Angeles Public Library has more than 6 million books at the 73 central and branch libraries throughout the city and online at for you to enjoy.

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

–          Posted by Erin Sapinoso

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