Bookmark This! #7

Friday, March 1, 2013 marks the 25th Edition of the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball!  Support the Los Angeles Public Library by picking up a book wherever you might be and whenever you feel like doing so.  Make reservations to the most popular “non-event” of the year by donating at and share how you’re celebrating on Twitter (@LibraryFoundLA #LFLAStayHome) and Facebook (Library Foundation of Los Angeles).

If you’re still figuring out what to read in honor of this special occasion, this month’s issue of Bookmark This! gives suggestions of books that range in topics from arts and walks in Los Angeles to a New England family’s story; and a woman’s experience living through Argentina’s Dirty War to a chronicle of a post-apocalyptic future.


John Szabo is the City Librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library.  He moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles last summer, has jumped out of an airplane and has twice competed in the national adult spelling bee.

John recommends Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp.

“As a newcomer to this amazing city (and someone who can’t get enough of all things L.A.), this book and the stories it tells of the Los Angeles arts landscape of the 60s just seems to perfectly exemplify this City as a place of opportunity and where great ideas find fertile soil and are made even better.  I loved reading about the Ferus Gallery, the important role L.A. played in the conceptual and pop art movements, and the vibrant and experimental nature of visual arts in the city.  Reading this book made me love L.A. even more!”


Ken Brecher is President of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, celebrating his three year anniversary this February.  He studied anthropology at Oxford University, has lectured and published widely, and has the more extensive and interesting collection of socks of anyone at the Central Library.

Ken recommends See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid.

“I was enthralled by the new novel by Jamaica Kincaid, See Now Then and knew from the first page that I was in the presence of not only a daring but truly original writer. When I finished this short but unforgettable novel, I was aware of something else. The reading of this story of a family’s deeply personal history and eventual dissolution put me in mind of the tribal myths that I had studied and written about as a cultural anthropologist.

A collection of myths from the tribes of the central Amazon forest in Brazil which I edited (Xingu: The Indians, Their Myths, Farrar Straus), is an expression of the profound understanding that indigenous storytellers have of the human condition. Kincaid’s latest novel, her first in ten years (she is best known for her much-praised early novels Annie John and A Small Place) calls out to be read aloud. She uses repetition to build a rhythm of revelations, subtle but very powerful. The book describes the end of a marriage and the inner thoughts of a wife and two children trying to make sense of parents whose unhappiness obstructs and destroys the world as they knew and understood it.

Kincaid participated in the Library Foundation’s ALOUD authors series in 2011. At that time she generously read a section from the manuscript of See Now Then but commented that she was not interested in having the audience’s reaction. We can now understand that it is profoundly personal and revelatory. As readers, we are the beneficiaries of her courage and great talent.”


Jacqueline Welsh is a Resident of the Innovation Leadership Program.  She is a recent graduate of the University of Arizona’s School of Information Resources & Library Science, loves road trips and can make newspaper hats in seconds flat.

Jacquie recommends Perla by Carolina De Robertis.

“Generally, novels with ‘coming of age’ as a descriptor or in the subject heading leave me a bit wary that I may be embarking upon pages of ‘angsty’ narrative. But, in De Robertis’ Perla, it is quite the opposite. Perla, the daughter of an Argentinian naval officer, often struggled with her family’s role in the country’s recent and bloody past. However, the appearance of a stranger forces her to examine her life’s origin and events through a much more haunting context, and presents an outcome that could fundamentally change who she is or may become. De Robertis tells the story of Perla’s life and that of her guest with prose that is both haunting and beautiful. And, perhaps more importantly, the book brings a voice to the mainstream for the ‘desaparecidos’, and those who remained, in more recent Latin American narratives and history.”


Mary Abler is also a Resident of the Innovation Leadership Program.  Besides libraries, she is interested in baking, cooking with fresh, local ingredients, crafting and exploring Los Angeles, on foot and by bike.

Mary recommends Stairway Walks in Los Angeles by Adah Bakalinsky.

“Being a recent transplant to Los Angeles from San Francisco, I was apprehensive about moving to a city with such a ‘car-centric’ reputation. Fortunately, my aunt and uncle, longtime residents of Silver Lake, let me borrow their copy of Stairway Walks in Los Angeles, a book that proves that at least some people walk in L.A. I have tried both of the Silver Lake walks and I found the guides in the book to be easy to follow and full of interesting historic tidbits. Rather than simply mapping out the walks for us, Bakalinsky and Gordon draw our attention to interesting sights along the way and how these stairways fit in with the fabric of life in Los Angeles, both now and back when they were first built. This book will help new residents to explore the hidden aspects of L.A. and longtime Angelenos to rediscover the neighborhoods they call home.”


John Martin is an intern with the Library Foundation.  Originally from Encinitas, he is currently a sophomore at the University of Southern California studying Theatre and Philosophy, Politics, and Law.  He drinks a lot of coffee and likes to write plays.

John recommends A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

“I’ve read A Canticle for Leibowitz twice now, and I know that I will read it a third time. It’s three separate stories, each taking place at different stages of rebuilding civilization after a nuclear war. The three anecdotes, different in their time, share a common place: a catholic monastery. Running throughout the novel is a river of social critique, rendered all the more powerful for being in the fantastical light of re-civilizing a radioactive planet. Leaving aside the plot, the characters are interesting and always morally struggling with something.”


Check out these or another of the more than six million books that are available through the Los Angele Public Library and celebrate the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball with us this Friday.

Happy reading and stay tuned for the next issue of Bookmark This!

–   Posted by Erin Sapinoso

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