For over 200 years, Japan isolated itself from the rest of the world; the only Europeans allowed to enter Japan were merchants and traders living in the Dutch East India Company outpost on Dejima Island in Nagasaki Harbor. This lonely outpost, which received an average of two trading ships a year is the setting for David Mitchell’s historical novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet. In 1799, the last year of the eighteenth century, young and devout Dutch East India clerk Jacob de Zoet comes to Dejima with a commission to solve discrepancies in Company trading accounts. As one of the dozen Europeans allowed to live and work on the island trading post, Jacob quickly becomes involved in the intrigue, corruption and scandal of the commerce between East and West.
This book is a page turner – action and events seem fantastic (scarred female midwife chases ape with human amputated arm, martial arts team scales remote monastery ) but many of the book's characters and scenes are based on historical facts.
Read more about the book at David Mitchell's website
The island of Dejima is now a historical park which you can visit online.
Many of you are probably already anticipating this year’s film conclusions to the popular Harry Potter and Twilight series, but did you know that there are plenty of other book-to-film adaptations set to release in 2011, including more young adult fiction? Take a look at these teen titles set to release in the first half of the year, and be sure to read before you watch!
The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
In theaters Feb. 11, releasing as The Eagle
Books, TV shows, and movies set in Ancient Rome continue to rise in popularity. This novel was actually published over 50 years ago but has been given new life with a re-publication and a new film adaptation. In this historical adventure, a young centurion ventures among the hostile tribes beyond the Roman Wall to recover the eagle standard of the Ninth, a legion which mysteriously disappeared under his father's command.
I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
In rural Ohio, friendships and a beautiful girl prove distracting to a fifteen-year-old who has hidden on Earth for ten years waiting to develop the Legacies, or powers, he will need to rejoin the other six surviving Garde members and fight the Mogadorians who destroyed their planet, Lorien. The film will star up-and-coming teen heartthrob Alex Pettyfer and Glee’s Dianna Agron.
Beastly by Alex Flinn
The film adaptation of Alex Flinn’s popular and modern re-telling of “Beauty and the Beast” was supposed to come out last summer, but after studio delays, it finally hits theaters this spring, featuring Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen, Neil Patrick Harris, and…Alex Pettyfer! Two YA film adaptations in two months for this guy! Pettyfer plays a vain Manhattan snob who suffers a disfiguring curse that can only be broken by finding his one true love, played by Hudgens.
I'm always looking for books that are interesting to read on topics that I don't know much about -- or have forgotten. In The Canon : A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science, Natalie Angier, a science writer for the New York Times, re-introduces the science you left behind at high school and updates it, relating basic principles to current controversial issues and reporting conversations with leading scientists, in a style that is not only readable but enjoyable.
Though each chapter is an essay on its own, it's best to start with the first chapter, Thinking scientifically. Other topics include: probabilities , calibration, physics, chemistry, evolutionary biology, molecular biology, geology and astronomy.
Read an excerpt and listen to an interview at the author's website.
According to an article in Sports Media Watch, 65 of the top 100 televised sporting events in 2010 were football games. Of the top 25, football accounted for 20 of the broadcasts. The beloved SF Giants could only reach 97 on the list with Game Four of the World Series. San Jose Public Library has many books and some DVDs on all aspects of football. As of late April 2011, there was a lockout between the players and the owners, and fans are getting nervous.
Great food, narrow streets, and a good place to find a unique gift – many times, these are the first thoughts people have when they think of Chinatown, whether it is in San Francisco, New York City, or any other location. But the history and reasons why Chinatown communities have developed are way more complex. American Chinatown: A People’s History of Five Neighborhoods by Bonnie Tsui, is an excellent read about the history and cultural significance of Chinatowns in San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Las Vegas. Tsui takes an in depth look at how and why each community was developed and how current trends in American culture and economy are guiding the future of them. It reads more like a series of short stories than a chronological history book. Very interesting and eye opening for those who aren’t familiar with Chinatowns. For more information about San Francisco’s Chinatown, there are also other resources including something from the Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco, as well as many resources about it here.
Tango is the most romantic dance form I can think of and there's a whole lot of Tango going on at the Library this month!
Put on your dancing shoes and head for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library on Saturday, January 8th (this Saturday) at 3pm in Room 255! Jurek Mazur and Company will be presenting a program on the roots of Tango (including demonstrations).
Carlos Gardel is known as the most prominent figure in the history of Tango. Although he died in 1935, his songs and recordings live on and on. You may recall a famous scene from Scent of a Woman which featured Al Pacino dancing to a Gardel song - Por Una Cabeza. This video features the original recording of that song.
The Tango Singer by Tomás Eloy Martínez is a wonderful story about a student seeking out an elusive tango singer in Buenos Aires who has never recorded his voice and who shows up in random parts of the city to sing for whoever happens to be on the street at the time. It is a quick read and evocative of the tango culture of Argentina.
If you want to learn more about Tango, the website Todo Tango is a great place to get info on historical Tango as well as todays dancers and singers.
To start dancing the Tango yourself and with a partner, we've got some instructional videos that just might help you! Latin Dancing for Beginners or Learn to Dance in Minutes: Latin Dances are available at libraries all over the city.
Though this film isn't exactly about Tango, Strictly Ballroom is a really great film about ballroom dancing. Don't expect the usual with this Australian movie by Baz Luhrmann who also made Moulin Rouge and William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet.
The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan is an engrossing vampire tale set in modern day New York City. A passenger jet lands and goes dark on the tarmac at JFK airport. When airport security enter the plane, they discover all the passengers are dead, though they cannot determine the cause. The Centers for Disease Control is called in and discover 4 passengers that were left alive. Meanwhile, an elderly jewish man is watching the news footage about the mystery plane and knows exactly what is going on. A vampire has arrived and all those dead bodies are about to rise as vampires themselves! This book is a real page-turner that I just couldn't stop reading! If you are expecting the sexy vampires of Twilight or True Blood, think again! These vampires are vermin - a literal human virus that threatens to eliminate all of humanity.
On this first Monday of 2011, we're receiving a variety of questions related to calendars. For example: What other years in the future will be like 2010, with both Christmas and New Year's Eves on Fridays? Another example: where can I get single-sheet calendar printouts for February and March 2011? You can find answers to both questions at several websites, such as: TimeandDate.com and VPCalendar.net. These sites have helpful tools such as perpetual calendars, lists of milleniums and centuries, timezones, and - in case you want to start early - countdown counters to the next new year (or to any date of your choice). The answer to the first question above is here.
If you're interested in the history of calendars, you might check library availability of Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History (also available as a library eBook) or perhaps Calendar: Humanity's Epic Struggle to Determine a True and Accurate Year. For children, try Calendar or The Time Book: A Brief History From Lunar Calendars to Atomic Clocks.
For a print reference work, there is no better bang for your buck than a good ole Almanac. Every year, these books are published and for quick access to more statistical and reference information - they can't be beat.
World Almanac for Kids 2011 - If your kid is a lover of facts, this is a great book to give as a present, or a fun check out from the library. Topics covered include sports statistics, information about the 50 states, weather highlights, olympic medalists and many more!
My parents always bought a copy of the Old Farmer's Almanac every year to decide things like when to plant tomatoes and what the weather might be like on a particular day- very helpful when planning an outdoor wedding or party! Now the Old Farmer's Almanac has an online site - which will give you some of what you get in print.
Old Almanacs give you a glimpse into what life was like in years past - The California Room has a copy of the California Miner's Almanac for 1864. This work contains metallurgical information and "useful directions for prospecting gold, silver or copper."
In these days of the internet, one could reasonably argue that the time of almanacs has past. But I have found that in most cases, if you give someone an almanac and their friend the internet and have them both look up the same fact, the person with the almanac is more likely to find the information first! Don't believe me? Check out an almanac and try it out for yourself!
Edward de Bono, who was a physician, author, inventor and most importantly - the originator of the term Lateral Thinking wrote several books on decision making process. The most famous is Six Thinking Hats. Another good book by him is Creativity Workout: 62 Exercises to Unlock Your Most Creative Ideas. His books are simple, logical and easy to understand.
I would like also to suggest a couple more books from the library's collection on the same topic: