Nobel Prize for Literature awarded to Mo Yan

Congratulations to Mo Yan, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for literature.

Mo Yan of China has won the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature. He is internationally known as a prolific and revered portraitist of Chinese rural life. The Swedish Academy says of his work: “Through a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives, Mo Yan has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition.”

Currently the Oakland libraries own most of his books that have been translated into English, in addition to works in the original Chinese. Early birds have already started placing holds on his books.

Read more at the Nobel Prize website, the New York Times, or listen to this 

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National Book Award Finalists Announced

How many of this year's National Book Award finalists have you read?

Congratulations to the finalists for the National Book Awards!

The National Book Awards are given annually to writers of U.S. citizenship in order “to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America”. Panels of distinguished writers (including past National Book Award recipients) are convened to select the best books in four categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry and young people’s literature. The final awards will be announced on November 14.

You may recognize some of these authors—in addition to being well regarded, many of them are already popular with Oakland readers. Catalog links and short summaries have been provided below for books that are already available through the library. Books that are not yet owned by the library will be ordered this month and will appear in the catalog in early November.

And the finalists are:


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Coming in October: Five Hit Novels & Story Collections and Five More to Look Out For

Place your holds now for October's most anticipated new releases.

Place your holds now on these upcoming hits:

  • Set in a North Dakota Ojibwe community, Louise Erdrich’s The Round House is the second installment in a planned trilogy that started with 2008’s Pulitzer finalist The Plague of Doves.
  • Best-selling mystery author Donna Leon takes a break from her Commissiario Guido Brunetti series, but still features the Venetian setting she’s famous for in her newest, The Jewels of Paradise.
  • Dennis Lehane’s newest thriller Live by Night is being described as “an utterly magnetic novel on every level, a reimagining of the great themes of popular fiction--crime, family, passion, betrayal--set against an exquisitely rendered historical backdrop” (Booklist).
  • New story collections from beloved award-winning authors: Sherman Alexie’s newest is Blasphemy; Emma Donoghue’s Astray follows

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2012 Booker Shortlist Announced

This year's winner of the prestigious literary award the Man Booker Prize will be announced soon. Check out the finalists and recent winners available at OPL.

Last week, the six finalists for the Man Booker Prize were announced. If you’re not familiar with the Booker, it is the United Kingdom’s most prominent literary award. It has been awarded annually since 1969 to a novel written in English by a citizen of the U.K., the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. Winners of the Booker Prize tend to enjoy critical and popular success in the United States as well.

This year’s shortlist includes Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, the sequel to 2009 Booker winner Wolf Hall. Mantel’s latest has already been a bestseller in the U.S. and a hit at Oakland Public Library. Other finalists include The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng, Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil, Swimming Home by Deborah Levy, The Lighthouse by Alison Moore, and 

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Coming in September: Five Hit Novels and Five More to Look Out For

Several highly anticipated new books are coming out in September. See our hot list here, and place your holds soon!

Place your holds now for these upcoming hits:

  • The Bay Area’s own Michael Chabon has a new book out in September, and his Oakland fans will be especially interested in the local focus. It’s called Telegraph Avenue, and features two down-and-out record store owners battling the encroachment of an entertainment megastore. You can get a preview from NPR here.
  • Pulitzer prizewinner Junot Díaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) and Orange Prize winner Zadie Smith (White Teeth) also have new books out next month that are sure to garner lots of attention. 
  • In September we’ll also see a new novel from Lee Child, the seventeenth thrilling novel featuring the mysterious drifter Jack Reacher. If you’ve never heard of this award winning and extremely popular series, you will soon: Tom Cruise will play Reacher in a feature film this December.
  • Readers are already placing

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Happy Birthday Julia! Plus some tasty fiction

In honor of culinary great Julia Child's 100th birthday, check out one of these great food and restaurant themed books.

This month marks what would have been the 100th birthday of Julia Child, a beloved and iconic individual who changed the way Americans think about food and cooking. Accordingly, a new biography called Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child has just been released. Author Bob Spitz brings together personal diaries and letters to tell her story in a captivating new way, cooking up a “deliciously satisfying read” (Huffington Post).

If you’d like to commemorate her birthday with a book, another great choice would be My Life in FrancePublished in 2006, this memoir was written in part by Julia Child and completed after her death by a grand nephew, Alex Prud'homme. It recounts her time in France: the great

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Bike Books Worth Making the Trip

Inspired by the new Chris Cleave novel Gold, a list of bicycle-related books, from practical how-tos and touring guides, to literary fiction and first person memoirs.

British author Chris Cleave’s novel Little Bee was probably one of the most popular library books of 2009, besides being a bestseller and a huge hit with book clubs. The story in his new novel, Gold, centers around the turmoil bubbling between the lives of two rival Olympic cyclists. According to Publisher’s Weekly, Cleave “pulls out all the stops getting inside the hearts and minds of his engagingly complex characters.” If that weren’t enough adrenaline, PW goes on to note that “the race scenes have true visceral intensity, leaving the reader feeling as breathless as a cyclist.” Gold, likely to be another hit, provided the inspiration for this list of bike-themed books.

I am eager to read the new book by the Bay Area’s own Grant Petersen, owner of Rivendell Bicycle Works in Walnut Creek. Last month he published the opinionated myth-busting manifesto 

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Highlights from our 2012 Adult Summer Reading Program

Get book recommendations from other library patrons. Here are a few reviews from participants in our Adult Summer Reading program.

You still have one week (until August 11) to participate in Oakland Public Library's summer reading programs and win some great prizes! To participate in the adult program, just sign up here and submit a book review. Each review enters you in a raffle with different prizes at each branch. You can sign up from home or from any library computer.

Plus, if you need a suggestion for your next book, the Adult Summer Reading Program website is a fantastic resource! Readers from all over town have posted their recommendations. The sheer variety of books is simply stunning, and I found many of the reviews to be both helpful and entertaining. A few are featured below, but for more just visit the Adult Summer Reading Program reviews page.

Some recommendations from Oakland readers:

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What to read while you're waiting for Gone Girl

We have a long wait for a copy of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, but there are plenty of other great mysteries to read until you can get a copy.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is one of the most popular books of this summer so far. Flynn's first two novels, Dark Places and Sharp Objects, earned much acclaim, but Gone Girl has proven to be her breakthrough novel, topping the New York Times bestseller list as well as numerous lists of summer reading recommendations. Described as "an intelligent, gripping tour de force, mixing a riveting plot and psychological intrigue with a compelling prose style that unobtrusively yet forcefully carries the reader from page to page" (Library Journal), Gone Girl tells the story of Nick and Amy, celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary when Amy suddenly disappears. As evidence begins stacking up against Nick as the main suspect, the story of a toxic and deceitful marriage unfolds through a series of disturbing twists.

Do not fret if you find yourself on the hold list for this book! Here are some suggestions of similarly gripping psychological thrillers and mysteries (with quick

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