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.
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!)
Books for Adults
American Panic is a sober discussion of past upheavals experienced by Americans through the media, political factions, public violence, and personal persecution.
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, and hope. As always, I
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.
Stop Dieting Right Now! You Are Totally Perfect! A booklist from author and activist Virgie Tovar
“Every person, regardless of size, weight or health status deserves a life free of discrimination.”
Words straight from the mouth of Virgie Tovar, author, activist and one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She holds a Master's degree in Human Sexuality from San Francisco State University with a focus on the intersections of body size, race and gender. Her writing has appeared in tons of print and online publications and she has lectured all over the country. She also runs Babecamp, an online course “designed to help those who are ready to break up with diet culture.”
“When women get to choose what their body size is, and they get to choose what they eat and they get to choose what kind of clothes they wear, this is indicating a major paradigm shift… I think you’ve consistently seen backlash from the culture any time a woman tries
Do you need inspiration writing your novel? Check out our selection of books to help you with the writing process.
November is National Novel Writing Month so if you've been waiting to write your story, what a great time to begin. Maybe you've been working on your novel for a while but need inspiration. Wherever you are in the process, OPL has books to to help you along the way. And if you need a change of scenery, stop by any of our libraries to work on your book.
Challenging assumptions and underlying beliefs about race; an exploration of whiteness in history and today.
“…these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white.” - Ta-nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me
Ta-nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me has been a highly requested title here at Oakland Public Library since its publication in 2015. The
Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize in Literature
Thursday morning we woke to the news that singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was named the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature. The Swedish Academy is honoring Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." He is the first American to win since 1993 when the prize in literature was awarded to Toni Morrison.
Dylan said once in an interview with NPR reporter Steve Inskeep, "Having these colossal accolades and titles, they get in the way." They can't be too much in the way since he now has another to add to his Presidential Medial of Freedom, his Oscar, his Golden Globe, his dozen Grammies, and his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Dylan's is the first songwriter to receive the prize in literature but his work is firmly in the tradition of poets like Homer and Sappho whose poems were meant to be sung and listened to.