I try to incorporate a little fun reading during my lunch/dinner hour at the library. This week a new book caught my eye: Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work, by Tim Gunn. Hmm… there was Tim Gunn on the cover, looking perfectly groomed as an old fashioned teacher with a twinkle in his eyes. What in the world could I learn from this icon of the television reality series Project Runway? Thinking it was light, fluffy stuff to read during my break, I checked it out and waited for lunch hour. Well, as I expected, the book was totally entertaining, with lots and lots of dishy stories about Gunn’s encounters with celebrities and designers as well as heartwarming stories about his pre-Runway life. Much to my surprise, the book was well written, humorous with a serious undercurrent consisting of Gunn’s guidelines for making life a little better for yourself and others. What comes through is Gunn’s civilized philosophy of life in a world that is often way too informal and rude. Gunn is one polished gentleman who knows style: in fashion and in living a well mannered fulfilling life.
Is Origami Yoda just a green paperwad or is he actually a source of surprisingly wise advice? This is the question that sixth-grader Tommy and his friends debate in the amusing novel, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger. One day, Dwight, the nerdy guy who “wears shorts with his socks pulled up above his knees” and stares into space “like a hypnotized chicken” shows up at school with a folded paper Yoda stuck on his finger. Yoda proceeds to offer odd yet helpful counsel to Tommy’s friends. Tommy isn’t quite sure whether he should trust Origami Yoda with the really big question on his mind: should he ask a certain girl to the dance? So, he decides to use a scientific approach to figure out whether Origami Yoda is real or not. He has asked several students to write down their first-hand eyewitness accounts of their encounters with Yoda. The result is a series of funny stories about everyday life in middle school accompanied by zany hand-drawn illustrations. Instructions to help you construct your own Origami Yoda are included in the back of the book!
Many people avoid history because they’re afraid it’s just a list of facts and dates, and sometimes it can be. But in the hands of a skilled writer, history can read like a novel. Karl Friday is just such a skilled writer, and The First Samurai, his tale of an ambitious noble’s rebellious bid for power, is reminiscent of a James Clavell yarn. Friday is a historian who has figured out the trick of how much detail to leave out and how much to include, so that his books are both highly informative and highly readable.
Possibly, you’ve already heard about Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese; the epic novel that follows its characters from India and England to Ethiopia to New York. I had, too, and was anxious to get my hands on it. Daunted by the long waiting list for the print version, I decided to try out the e-audiobook version. I am so glad I did. For one thing, the waiting list was a whole lot shorter, but more importantly, the audiobook reader, Sunil Malhotra, tells the story beautifully. He convincingly performs distinctive voices for a large cast of Indian, African, British, and American characters. I was taken in and totally engrossed by this skillful narration of a magnificent story. Would you like to hear a sample? Visit the e-audiodownload page for Cutting for Stone where you can play an excerpt.
Here are two books that are perfect reads if you love dogs or animals. They are also perfect because they are definitely not boring. You will want to keep reading them until the very end. They are that good. They are so good that they both won Newbery Medals. And they both were made into films. So, let me tell you a little bit about these two outstanding books.
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is the story of a lonely girl named India Opal (Opal, for short), who finds a big old skinny, scruffy, stray dog in the local Winn-Dixie grocery store. Opal names the dog Winn-Dixie and takes it home to give it a bath, some food and a new home. Opal’s Dad is a preacher and it doesn’t take long for him to fall in love with Winn- Dixie, too. Who can resist a dog that can smile and seem to understand everything you say? As soon as Winn-Dixie enters her life, Opal seems to have lots of adventures and make new friends. Still, Opal is lonely for her mother who ran away when Opal was only three years old. Why did her mother run away? Did she love Opal? What was she like? Opal is always on the quest to find answers to these questions. But, because of Winn-Dixie and her love for him, Opal is no longer paralyzed by these questions and is able to turn her life around in a good way.
Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is the story of a boy and a beagle dog. Eleven-year-old Marty Preston comes across a beagle pup in the woods near Shiloh, not far from his hometown of Friendly, West Virginia. The beagle pup wins Marty’s heart at first sight, but Marty can’t help but notice that there is something not right with the pup. The pup is frightened and cringes when Marty approaches him. Marty soon finds out why. The pup’s owner is beating him and Marty is determined to save the pup he names Shiloh from further abuse. Marty has a lot of difficult decisions to make in his effort to rescue Shiloh. He will encounter danger, adventure and emotional moments as his love for Shiloh propels him onward to do the right thing.
Fleabag by Helen Stephens is the story of a little dog that has no home. This little dog meets a boy who is sad because he has no one to play with. They bond a friendship despite the little boy’s parent telling him to stay away from the dirty flea ridden dog. Unfortunately, their bond is put to a test when the little boy has to move away. See what happens in this adorable story about a dog who always does the right thing even if no one is watching!
Didn’t find the book you were looking for in the San Jose library? Your San Jose library card still may be able to get the item for you, even if we don’t own a copy. Our two services, Link+ and ILLiad (also called "interlibrary loan"), allow you to request items from cooperating libraries across California, or even farther away. Link+ is especially quick and easy to use, and includes all sorts of unusual and fun subjects. Some things I’ve enjoyed through Link+ include:
Buffy Goes Dark, a collection of scholarly essays about the later two seasons of the influential cult favorite TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Zothique, a rare old collection of eerie short stories by Lovecraft-circle author Clark Ashton Smith.
And The Jennifer Morgue, an installment of Charles Stross’ seriocomic tales about sorcerer/spy/computer technician, Bob Howard.
So if you don’t find what you’re looking for in our catalog, click on the “Search Link+” button, and you may be able to get it from one of our neighbors.
In the 60s and 70s, Larry Niven wrote a succession of Known Space stories which are considered some of the classics of science fiction, combining interesting hard science with fast-paced adventure. Now, like a visit from a dear old friend, he has returned to this fictional universe, in a set of collaborations with Edward Lerner. The new stories, with familiar characters, include: Fleet of Worlds; Juggler of Worlds; Destroyer of Worlds; and Betrayer of Worlds
When Jimmie is elected captain of his baseball team, he decides that he will also become the team’s pitcher. The team is not so sure this is a good decision. They already have Paul, a very skilled and experienced pitcher. Why should Paul be displaced when he has proven to be the best team player for the pitching mound? But Jimmie is the captain, and the team must follow his lead. Jimmie has a lot to learn about being a team captain and he soon finds himself tangled up in a choice he must make between his ego and the welfare of the team. Author Matt Christopher writes one of the most popular sports series for young readers. If you love baseball and fast paced, action stories you will enjoy Power Pitcher as well as all the Matt Christopher sports fiction.
There is a great show on ABC called: Secret Millionaire. The premise of the show is to have a millionaire pose as an everyday citizen and help with a charity of their choice. The catch is the members of the charitable organization and the people they are helping do not know that there is a millionaire amongst them. The secret millionaire will usually volunteer for a few different charities and by the end they decide where they will donate a significant amount of money. At the conclusion of the show the secret millionaire reveals their true identity and the generous amount of money they are donating to the charity of their choice. This was such a great and uplifting show and I was glad I was able to watch this on television on a particular Sunday night.
If you are also interested in serving your community, you can begin your journey of volunteering here at the San José Public Library by learning about our many volunteering opportunities and then volunteering.