Bookmark This! #9

Hooray, April 15 has passed!  If you managed to file your income taxes on time, I invite you to relax and crack open a good book.

This issue takes us through one woman’s experience of inheriting her uncle’s mansion, mystery and adventure in Victorian England, the effects of global change on our future, life in North Korea, and the journey to becoming an artist.


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

Rebecca recommends Magnificence: A Novel by Lydia Millet.

“I placed a hold on this book at the Los Angeles Public Library and was delighted when I received the text stating it was ready for pick-up.  I had been hearing so much praise for Lydia Millet’s final work in her trilogy that I wanted to start Magnificence: A Novel as soon as possible.

Yes, I had read that this author was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and that she is considered to be one of the top writers of her generation, but I’d heard high praise like this before and was a little skeptical.

Ultimately, the payoff was all there.  I loved reading about the protagonist Susan and her ruminations on marriage, her husband and daughter.  I so enjoyed getting swept up in the adventure when she inherited her distant uncle’s Pasadena mansion.  Millet’s characters are finely-drawn, semi-sweet and unexpected.  Susan thinks deeply about the topic of death (is there any other), and while she draws no conclusions, there are many insights along the way.  I highly recommend this book!”


Paul Montgomerie has worked for the Los Angeles Public Library for 25 years. He has held positions from Messenger Clerk to Branch Manager in various libraries throughout the system and is currently the Area Manager for the Hollywood Region.

Paul recommends The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (also available as an e-audiobook).

“As a voracious mystery reader, I want to recommend a series from the past worth a second glance: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  While the traditions are from the last century, the details remain vibrant and energetic as if written recently.  I can live vicariously in Victorian England as Holmes travels through clearly described menacing towns and foreboding villages.  Although familiar present themes such as paranoid wealthy patrons or serial killers, the detail of each story is so engrossing it is almost impossible to read one adventure without finishing it.  If you’ve read the series already I recommend trying it for a second time as you will find much you missed the first time and if you’ve never tried it, and you’re a fan of mystery, I promise that it will capture you in a way many recently published stories of suspense never have.”


Joyce Cooper is a Senior Librarian and manages the International Languages Department of Central Library. She is also a Fellow in the Innovation Leadership Program, a joint program between the Los Angeles Public Library and the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Joyce loves being able to serve her community as a librarian. When not at work, Joyce enjoys traveling and spending time with friends and family.

Joyce recommends The Future by Al Gore. 

The Future is a fascinating and thought-provoking read that provides a wealth of well-researched information. Focused mainly on the United States, Mr. Gore asserts there are six drivers of global change affecting our future: the changing global economy; the new way we share information; the balance of power between nations; our depletion of natural resources; advances in medical science; and, climate change. While I was reading this book, I found myself pondering the big problems we face and trying to figure out what I could do as an individual to make things better. Ultimately though, the book’s biggest and scariest question is, what will happen to the Earth and us if we don’t change?  Mr. Gore doesn’t answer the question, but rather provides some intriguing outcomes depending on which path we choose.”


Karen Pickard-Four is the Senior Librarian at the Studio City Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library and is a Fellow in the Innovation Leadership Program.  Karen loves reading on all platforms and is currently obsessed with e-books from the Library!  When not reading, she enjoys swimming and avoiding household chores.

Karen recommends Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick.

“Barbara Demick’s fifteen-year account of the ‘ordinary’ lives of six North Korean citizens, in a time period that includes the death of Kil Il-sung and the continued tyranny when his son, Kim Jong-il, takes over, is riveting and reads like a thriller!  Through a series of interviews conducted by Demick, the reader experiences the heartbreak and resilience of a people completely subject to a totalitarian world.  A world in which neighbor is pitted against neighbor, the government controls everything, there is no Internet access, and punishment is wielded for the simplest of life’s pleasures.  Demick’s excellent reporting allows us to bear witness to the atrocious behavior of the North Korean regime.  With today’s global focus on an increasingly volatile North Korea, this book continues to be enormously relevant.  To me, there is nothing better than non-fiction that reads like a novel and Nothing to Envy falls squarely into this category.”


As the Library Foundation’s Director of New Initiatives, Justin Veach directs the Young Literati and is the host of “This is Your Library”.  He’s a third generation Angeleno, a veteran of the Coast Guard, a graduate of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and holds an MFA in Critical Studies from the California Institute of the Arts.  He’s also very skinny, recently had a moustache, and wears glasses.

Justin recommends A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce.

To discover the mode of life or of art whereby my spirit could express itself in unfettered freedom. – James Joyce (á lá Stephen Dedalus)

“I go about spouting quotes from this book as if I was some kind of human lawn sprinkler, but I haven’t read it cover to cover in too many years.  So I hope you’ll join me as I return again to Joyce’s rather straight forward semi-autobiographical narrative of a young man grappling with the ‘beautiful’ and fashioning for himself an aesthetic theory after Aquinas. To me, the death of modernism is foreshadowed a la Joyce’s young hero/self, Stephen Dedalus.  Like Icarus son of Daedalus, modernist aesthetics, born of Joyce, simply flew too close to the sun in search of the ‘beautiful’, leaving behind the incomprehensibly sublime mess we call ‘the post-modern’. Also, the picture on the cover kinda reminds me of a portrait of myself as a young man.”


Have you read something you’d like to share?  Contact Membership Director Erin Sapinoso at [email protected] to make a reading recommendation for an upcoming issue.

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

–          Posted by Erin Sapinoso

Share on