Castro Valley Library

Good reads this past year by library1.5
Thursday, December 31, 2009, 12:25 pm
Filed under: Books, Libraries

We have the technology, we have DVD’s, books and music on CD and e-books to download, but our biggest checkout activity is still print books. The Christian Science Monitor recently posed the idea that it might be the last decade for the dominance of printed books as the e-book readers like Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Reader gain in popularity.
Electronic or paper, it’s still the stories that pull many of us into the Library, and here are a few of my favorites from this past year:

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. Kite Runner meets Grey’s Anatomy in this dramatic saga of two men born in India who become doctors, one in the U.S., one in Ethiopia. It’s epic in scale but touching and intimate with wonderfully memorable characters to care about. The author is a physician at Stanford Hospital.

City Of Thieves by David Benioff. Until I read this book, World War II’s Siege of Leningrad was mostly a statistic from a history book to me. This short novel (under 300 pages) tells the story of two young Russian soldiers on a mission behind German lines in the harsh winter landscape. A great buddy story, a great war story, with cinematic descriptions. (The author is a screen writer with 25th Hour and Kite Runner among his credits)

Half Broke Horses: a True Life Novel, by Jeanette Walls. Until James Frey blurred the lines between memoir and novel, this one might have been called non-fiction. It is the fictionalized story of Walls’ grandmother Lily, who became a teacher at age 15, in a remote southwest frontier town she reaches after a solo 28-day horseback ride. Lily is a spirited heroine, fiercely outspoken against hypocrisy and prejudice, a rodeo rider and breaker of horses, and a ruthless poker player. It’s one of those heartwarming stories about indomitable women. If you like Walls’ Glass Castle, you’ll find this a delight!

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Anne Barrows. Yet another look at WWII from a lesser known perspective. The story unfolds in letters from our newspaper columnist heroine, after the war ends, to citizens on the isle of Guernsey which was occupied by the Germans during the war. With the enemy just a stone’s throw from British soil, it was a harrowing time that took a mix of courage and guile to survive.

U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton. I know they are formulaic and good for a quick read, but this one rises above her most recent entries in the ABC mysteries. Kinsey follows a case that involves a decade old kidnapping that leads to suspects that she knew in high school. It’s like when you have a friend over for dinner and you take up where you left off last time. I thought it was a satisfying read.
Happy New Year

Let’s hear your favorites!

Holidays in the Holy Land by library1.5
Saturday, December 5, 2009, 2:22 pm
Filed under: Displays, Libraries

“Holidays in the Holy Land,” is a display created by Castro Valley Citizens for Middle East Awareness. In the days following 9/11, a group of Muslim, Jewish and Christian women from Castro Valley, who had been casual acquaintances, forged a friendship and created a network to foster tolerance through education. They have made presentations in local schools and at the Library. It’s the ninth year the Library has hosted the display. Among the original members are several who were born in Jordan, Syria, and Israel. A number of beautiful sacred and decorative objects are included in the display case in the Library Lobby, including a wooden creche that was hand carved in Bethlehem, antique Muslim prayer beads, and Hanukkah decorations created by the children of Congregation Shir Ami in Castro Valley.

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