Bookmark This! #6

Jan 25, 2013

Happy New Year, everyone!

To ring in 2013, I’m excited to bring you another set of reading recommendations from more library enthusiasts.  This edition’s selections sweep us up in prose poetry; teach us about modern feminism; take us on a daring escape with a mother and her son; make us examine the concept of money in a fantasy world; and remind us about the intangible essentials to help survive the winter.

D. J. Waldie is the author of Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir and other books about Los Angeles and Southern California. The New York Times praised his “gorgeous distillation of architectural and social history” in 2007. His most recent book is House, a collaboration with Diane Keaton.

D. J. recommends Even So: New and Selected Poems by Gary Young.

“I began reading Gary Young almost 45 years ago, accompanying a writer of subtlety and emotional honesty as he perfected a form of prose poetry that exactly captures the way the ordinary and extraordinary intersect in daily life. Recollected in Young’s spare but lyrical sentences, episodes of intense significance are released from the humblest materials: a gnarled apple tree, a child’s nightmare, a scar, a meal. In this collection, drawn from his previous books with the addition of new poems, you can follow the arc of a whole life in which beauty and tragedy mingle just as they do for all of us. Work, illness, joy, loss, birth, and ever-returning nature become the matter of a man’s quiet habits. I have prayed with these poems for years, certain they are redemptive. The bravest deed, these poems assert, is to be present in this broken world with unceasing wonder and forgiveness always ready.”

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Kenon Breazeale is a Member of the Library Foundation, art history aficionado and retired professor.  She can often be seen leading tours of the art and architecture of the historic Bertram Goodhue building and new Tom Bradley wing as a board member of the Central Library docents.  Join one of the walk-in tours (starting in the lobby in front of The Library Store) every weekday at 12:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Kenon recommends How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.

“Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman is a raucous, highly entertaining treatment of a serious subject. Moran, a thirty-something columnist for the Times of London, is writing to an audience of young women (Katy Perry comes to mind) reluctant to call themselves feminists. Her challenge: ‘Do you have a vagina? Do you want to be in charge of it? Congratulations! You’re a feminist.’”

“Moran’s ability to move smoothly between personal memoir, political rant and cultural analysis makes the book an easy read.  With her background in music journalism, Moran is especially strong on the way in which celebrity culture has become the locale where young women absorb lessons about femininity. She finds much to criticize but celebrates the rise of role models like Lady Gaga, rock star godmother to “all the nerds, freaks, outcasts, intellectual pretenders, and lonely kids. “ In other words, all the kids like Moran herself, who grew up as an overweight, literature-loving misfit in a chaotic working class household.”

“One more nice thing about Moran–she’s a lover of libraries. Here is a link to an article bemoaning the Tory government’s plan to balance budgets by closing local libraries.”

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Dale Hailey is the Assistant Director of Advancement Services for the Library Foundation.  A master of organization and lover of jewelry, she also makes some delicious lemon bars that are often in high demand at the office.

Dale recommends Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue.

“Room is told from the perspective of a five year old boy, Jack, whose entire life has been spent in an 11’ by 11’ Room with his mother (Ma) and a few basic household items.   His mother was kidnapped at 19, confined in a shed and repeatedly raped; Jack was born of these rapes.  What I found compelling was the intense relationship between Jack and Ma.  Ma created an environment rich in storytelling, songs, discipline, learning and love for Jack.  She spent little time (at least in Jack’s eyes) feeling sorry for herself and more time making his world as big and “normal” as possible.  Jack and Ma escape from Room, and Jack narrates how their lives change now that his world has been turned upside down.  I didn’t think I would find a book about this subject matter enjoyable, but experiencing life through the eyes of Jack with his innocence and joy was quite unexpected.”

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Dawn Coppin is the Library Foundation’s Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations.  She has managed to avoid almost all jobs involving heavy machinery, toxic chemicals, and yappy dogs and hopes to maintain this record for the next 25 years of her working life.  As a hedonist wanna-be, Dawn nevertheless finds herself spending much of the day in front of a computer writing about the realities of life made better by the Los Angeles Public Library.

Dawn recommends Making Money by Terry Pratchett.

“What is a leader to do in the time of fiscal austerity when you need more money to maintain and expand social infrastructure?  Well, if you’re Lord Vetinari of Discworld renown then you hire/persuade Moist von Lipwig (the con-man in the gold suit who got the post office running again) to take charge of the Royal Mint and accompanying bank.  Of course, he has to answer to the chairman’s barked orders, has an unfathomable machine in the basement that appears to cause the (dis)appearance of gold, is served by a peculiar chief cashier who must be a vampire, and needs to fend off the murderous intentions of family members.  It’s a fascinating and funny look at a parallel financial system, the possibilities in moving away from the gold standard, and a thought-provoking examination of what is the role of government vis-à-vis public debt.”

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A third-year student at UCLA majoring in art, Lydia Glenn-Murray interns with the Library Foundation, works for Miranda July, and is the art editor of Graphite (the arts journal published through the Hammer museum).  Also an artist, she experiments with all sorts of media.

Lydia recommends Frederick by Leo Lionni.

“Frederick is a wonderful children’s book about a little family of mice fervently preparing for winter. As the family gathers food, only Frederick seems to be idle. When the stocks run out and spirits are low, however, Frederick brings out the supplies he collected: warm sunshine, vibrant colors and words strung into a lovely poem. His contribution is profound. As an artist myself, I am constantly developing my understanding of the role of the artist in society. Only recently did it occur to me that the foundation of my personal belief had so much to do with this sweet story that my parents read to me when I was a child. I believe that art making should be, at its core, a process of generosity and contribution to society.”

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Still looking for something else to read?  More than six million books are available at the Central Library and 72 branches throughout the city and online at www.lapl.org in print, digital and audio formats.

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

–  Posted by Erin Sapinoso


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