Reading the Great White Whale

How about reading Moby Dick this winter?

Call me Ishmael. 

You just read one of the most recognizable first lines in all literature opening one of the most immersive and rewarding reads there is. But what’s the big deal? Why read it? Here’s why. Moby Dick sprawls across the pages, from New Bedford to the South Seas and from a hopeful beginning to a disastrous end. Its language is monumental, springing from the biblical and Shakespearean texts that were Herman Melville’s cultural foundation. Its characters, Ahab, Ishmael, Starbuck, Queequeg, Tashtego, Pip, are fully alive and compelling and, to use an anachronistic word, diverse. The discursive chapters on whales and whaling draw you into
world and way of life that’s lost. The whale itself is a force of nature, both aggressor and aggressed against.

First published in 1851, Herman Melville created Moby Dick out of his own experiences as a sailor in

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10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in January 2017

Happy new year! We're starting off 2017 with 10 great books arriving this month.

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Oakland Public Library Staff’s Favorite Books of 2016

OPL staff look back on their favorite books of 2016.

As it draws to a close, some have declared 2016 the worst year ever. Whether or not we all agree with that sentiment, we can look back fondly on at least one thing: the books! Here are some of our favorite books from the past twelve months.

Please share your favorite books of 2016 in the comments.

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Cozy up to at mystery

Cozy up to a mystery this winter.

If you're in the winter doldrums, or if you've got the post-election, just spent too much money, too stuffed with pumpkin pie to move-blues, why not put up your feet and try a cozy British mystery? I've just started two series (a decade too late, as is my m.o.), Agatha Raisin and Her Royal Spyness mysteries. 
book cover with sassy blonde middle-aged womanMrs. Raisin, having

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Time to Get Baking

"A party without cake is just a meeting." -- Julia Child

December is here and the winter holidays are at our heels. The Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa all call for desserts. I don't know about you, but I'm in the mood to bake.

Though the internet is a fine place to start, the volume of material to sort through can be, well, overwhelming. When you've got a spare minute or two, Google "cookies" and work your way through 2 1/2 billion entries. Me? I love a good cookbook, and the library is just full of cookbooks to get you baking. Read on for a few suggestions and some jacket photos from our wide selection. If you're browsing the shelves go to 641.815 for most baking books. Our ebook platforms also boast an ample supply of baking and dessert cookbooks.

Two terrific go-to bakers with cookbooks in collection are Dorie Greenspan and David Lebovitz. Greenspan has a new title out this fall, Dorie's Cookies,

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10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in December 2016

If you're looking for new fiction, here are our ten picks for December.

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Reading Race and Class

Books that shed light on race and class dynamics in the U.S.

In the past, and especially during this election cycle, I've been committed to reading books that help me better understand race and class dynamics in this country. One of the books on my reading list is The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward. Ward uses James Baldwin's 1963 book The Fire Next Time as a starting point to discuss current questions of race in the U.S. Contributors such Carol Anderson, Edwidge Danticat and Isabel Wilkerson speak to their concerns about race through essays and poems.                                         

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Oakland Public Library's 2016 Holiday Gift Guide

What's the best gift to give or receive? In our opinion: a book!

If we do it two years in a row, can we call it a holiday tradition? Either way, we're glad to help you once again with your seasonal gifting duties. Our second ever Holiday Gift Guide features some of our favorite books from the past year, with a list of local indie bookstores where you can buy these gems. (Call ahead to confirm availability!)

This page has recommendations for adults and teens, plus check out our gift guide for children's books here. You can also view the teen recommendations on Pinterest.

Books for Adults

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America, America

American Panic is a sober discussion of past upheavals experienced by Americans through the media, political factions, public violence, and personal persecution.

American Panic: A history of who scares us and why

By Mark Stein

“Political panic, the irrational fear that one’s government is in danger, is by no means unique to any country.  In America, it dates back to the 1692 Salem witch hunt … “Witch hunt” remains a phrase in the American vernacular, ensconced in our dictionaries as an investigation of disloyalty based on unverified assertions and public fear.” - Mark Stein

 

In the past week I have been searching for meaning, explanation, comfort,

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November Noir

The darkening days of the year lead us to read darker books.

It’s November. The days are getting shorter and we all seem to be in a gloomy mood. What could be more bracing that to read a big bunch of noir. May we suggest a hardboiled book or three? There are hundreds of choices, from pulp paperback potboilers to dark Scandinavian frostiness. Here’s a very short sampling to get you started.

L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy. It’s got everything. Los Angeles in the ‘50s. Murder. Prostitution. Drug trafficking. Conspiracy. Political and police corruption.

Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler. This is the second of Chandler’s Philip Marlowe stories and in it Marlowe investigates two murders. There’s a missing woman, drugs, corruption, and gambling to add complication for Marlowe.

Sanctuary by William Faulkner. Noir by Faulkner? Yes. He claimed he wrote it for the money. Set during Prohibition, among bootleggers in Mississippi, the story revolves around the kidnapping of a young woman, a murder, and the ugly events that ensue.

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