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Staff Recommendations


  • The ballad of Black Tom

    by LaValle, Victor D., 1972-

    August 1, 2016

    In recent years, the writings of H.P. Lovecraft have become increasingly problematic. His personal views regarding race and class permeate his writing, resulting in works that are challenging at best and nearly impossible to enjoy for contemporary readers. While the subject of Lovecraft’s views on race have been the focus of many debates and disagreements, between fans and scholars, Victor Lavalle, an award winning author and instructor at Columbia University, started reading Lovecraft around the age of eleven. As he grew older, he began to recognize Lovecraft’s rampant racism, which left him... Read Full Review

  • A burglar's guide to the city

    by Manaugh, Geoff,

    Reviewed by: Andrea Borchert, Librarian, Science, Technology & Patents Department

    July 25, 2016

    Call Number: 364 M267

    I cross the street at the crosswalk. I use the entrance and exit doors as marked, even when they take me a long way around. Sometimes, I wait forlornly on deserted street corners for the sign to indicate that it is finally all right to “WALK”. So, like Geoff Manaugh, author of A burglar's guide to the city, I was thrilled to learn that there were other ways to understand and move through urban spaces. This is not an instruction manual or safety guide. It doesn’t teach you to be a burglar. Instead the book explores the ways that burglars, thieves, and assorted miscreants see and... Read Full Review

  • The dig

    by Jones, Cynan, 1975-

    July 11, 2016

    Great books can create worlds in which the strange seems familiar, and the routine feels like new. When this is done well, as in Cynan Jones’ The Dig, we aren’t merely shocked or unsettled, we are inspired to view our own lives and relationships from other angles, to reconsider our triumphs and failures against a standard we may have never before imagined. Jones weaves together the stories of two rural Welshmen laboring during lambing season to evoke grief, hope, ambition, and revulsion in a way that feels both eerily familiar and utterly new. Daniel has lived and worked on a... Read Full Review

  • Shadow box

    by Plimpton, George.

    Reviewed by: David B., Librarian, InfoNow

    July 3, 2016

    Call Number: 796.33 P728

    From “A Poem on the Annihilation of Ernie Terrell” by Muhammad Ali and Marianne Moore              " . . .He is claiming to be the real heavyweight champBut when the fight starts he will look like a trampHe has been talking too much about me and making me soreAfter I am through with him he will not be able to challenge Mrs. Moore." (Click... Read Full Review

  • The water knife

    by Bacigalupi, Paolo.

    June 27, 2016

    California has been in a state of drought for approximately six consecutive years. The drought has also affected other states: Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Texas. Therefore it is hard to imagine a more timely novel than The water knife by Paolo Bacigalupi. In this novel the fluctuations of water have wreaked havoc on the eastern seaboard: New York and Miami have disappeared under the waves as ocean levels rise. In the southwest, the lack of water is destroying cities just as thorougly, and water has become one of the most valuable commodities in the area. The... Read Full Review

  • Lab girl

    by Jahren, Hope,

    Reviewed by: Bob Timmermann, Senior Librarian, Science, Technology & Patents Dept.

    June 20, 2016

    Call Number: 570.92 J25

    The title of Hope Jahren's book, Lab Girl, does not immediately tell you what this book is about. Instead you get an idea that it has something to do with science, and probably women, but there is so much more to this book.

    Jahren's memoir details her life as the child of a father who was a longtime, community college science professor in Minnesota. Her mother also wished to pursue a career in science, but, as for many women of her time, circumstances just didn’t make it possible to be a wife and a professional scientist. This led Jahren to pursue a... Read Full Review

  • The Sherlockian

    by Moore, Graham, 1981-

    June 13, 2016

    Call Number: M

    In 1893 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes in the story, "The Final Problem." Doyle wanted to pursue writing historical novels and thought this story would be the end of Sherlock Holmes. But it wasn’t. The public wanted more stories of Holmes and his intrepid assistant, Dr. Watson, and the outcry was immediate and sustained. Even Queen Victoria is rumored to have pressured Doyle. He held out for eight years, and finally relented with the release of The Hound of the Baskervilles. While published in 1901, the novel was set prior to Holmes' death. But the public still was... Read Full Review

  • Grunt : the curious science of humans at war

    by Roach, Mary.

    Reviewed by: Andrea Borchert, Librarian, Science, Technology & Patents Department

    June 7, 2016

    Call Number: 355.0973 R628

    Having read Mary Roach's other books, all I wanted to write about this recent book is a two-sentence review: Mary Roach has a new book! Go read it!!. But several things were pointed out to me: I was abusing the exclamation mark, and not everyone has read Mary Roach.

    Mary Roach is a science writer. She wrote Gulp (about digestion), ... Read Full Review

  • Soup for Syria : recipes to celebrate our shared humanity

    by Massaad, Barbara Abdeni, compiler, photographer.

    Reviewed by: Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Central Library

    May 23, 2016

    Call Number: 641.71 M414

    This book evolved out of trips made by writer and photographer Barbara Abdeni Massaad to Syrian refugee camps forty-five minutes from her apartment in the Bekka Valley, Lebanon. At least once a week, during the winter of 2014-2015, she put food in the trunk of her car for numerous refugee camps in Lebanon. There were many who shared her dismay and concern for 3.8 million people who have been displaced throughout the region and live in temporary camps, in need of food and shelter. She enlisted the help of world food writers, chefs and others who love to cook. Everyone... Read Full Review

  • Every heart a doorway

    by McGuire, Seanan.

    Reviewed by: Andrea Borchert, Librarian, Science, Technology & Patents Department

    May 16, 2016

    When you were a kid did you ever wish that you could find a magic door that would whisk you away to somewhere stranger and better than your ordinary life? The kind of place where, against all odds, you fit in and made a difference? The kind of place where you had a chance at a new and wonderful life? It happens to children in fantasy novels all the time. They get new worlds full of adventure, and magic, and friendship. Then they have to come back here. As a reader, it is a let down. But imagine how it feels for the child, going to all the effort of building a new life and then losing it... Read Full Review

  • Los Angeles Central Library: A History of Its Art and Architecture

    by Gee, Stephen,

    Reviewed by: Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Central Library

    May 4, 2016

    Call Number: 027.47949 L881Ge

    Last Friday, April 29, 2016 was the 30th anniversary of the fire at Central Library. The remembrance of that day, and its significance in the history of the library, was admirably covered by the Library Docents, and by Christina Rice, Senior Librarian, Photo Collection.  Last week also marked the arrival of a significant new book about the Central... Read Full Review

  • In the country of last things

    by Auster, Paul, 1947-

    April 21, 2016

    Dystopian fiction, ranging from George Orwell’s classic 1984 to the modern day phenomenon of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series, typically conjures up images of oppressive regimes subverting the spirit of the common people in pursuit of some greater, yet ultimately insidious purpose. A meager resistance force struggles to overthrow this regime and restore peace, freedom, and love to these rigid, heartless worlds. Sometimes the resistance gets to wear fashionable neoprene bodysuits in wildly successful movie franchises. Sometimes things are much bleaker, and monochrome... Read Full Review