10.30.2014

Patrick Modiano

The French author Patrick Modiano has won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature. There is a brief appreciation in the Guardian listing five key works, while the New Statesman has a longer analysis of his writings ; you can also see titles in English in our catalog. In addition to novels, Modiano also participated in writing the screenplays of two films, Lacombe Lucien and Bon Voyage.

10.28.2014

In Memoriam: Christopher Hogwood

The conductor Christopher Hogwood has passed away at the age of 73. Hogwood was a leading proponent of early classical music, using period instruments and historically informed performance techniques to reinterpret well-known compositions. Many of his recordings are available on Hoopla.

9.27.2014

Now Showing On Hoopla: Let The Right One In

A young boy, bullied at school and neglected by his parents, befriends a girl who moves into his apartment block. His new companion is a bit odd, though; she turns out to be impervious to the cold, never eats and says she's been 13 for a very, very long time. An unusual vampire story from Sweden, Let The Right One In has a rare 98% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes and is available both on DVD and through Hoopla.


9.25.2014

Now Showing On Hoopla: The Salt Of Life

When his employer goes bankrupt, Gianni is left with a very small pension and a lot of free time. He starts dating, attends his neighbor's rave parties and tries to hang out with the elderly men who chat in the afternoons on nearby park benches, but he feels too old for some things and too young for others. A wry comedy from Italy, The Salt of Life stars and is directed by Gianni di Gregorio; the film has an 83% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.  You can borrow the movie as a DVD or via Hoopla, our new digital service.


9.20.2014

Now Showing On Hoopla: OSS 117; Cairo, Nest of Spies

When a crisis breaks out in the Middle East, France sends its best spy to take charge. Agent OSS 117 is charming, handsome and very​ lucky, all of which prevent his superiors in Paris from realizing how spectacularly incompetent he really is. An affectionate sendup of early spy films, OSS 117; Cairo Nest of Spies was directed by Michel Hazanavicius and stars Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bernejo, all of whom went on to make the Academy Award winning film The Artist. The movie is available both on DVD and via Hoopla.

The National Book Award YA Longlist

The National Book Award longlist for teen fiction has been announced. Finalists include books by Jacqueline Woodson, Kate Milford, and Steve Sheinkin.as well as Laurie Halse Anderson  The full list is at the Los Angeles Times website.

9.18.2014

Now Showing on Hoopla: Coriolanus

Caius Marcius Coriolanus was once a great general of Roman armies; feeling betrayed and unappreciated, he defected to Rome's enemies and nearly destroyed the nation he once served. One of Shakespeare's less well known history plays. Coriolanus has been adapted for the big screen in a modern setting by Ralph Fiennes, who both directs and stars in the film. Coriolanus received a 93% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes; the movie is available both as a DVD and via Hoopla.

The Man Booker Shortlist

The short list for this year's Man Booker Prize has been announced. Two American novels are included; To Rise Again At A Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. You can read more about the finalists at the New York Times ArtsBeat blog.

9.09.2014

Now Showing on Hoopa: Farewell My Queen

A poor orphan girl in eighteenth-century France finally has a stroke of luck; she is sent to Versailles to serve the Queen.  Unfortunately, her timing is not good; the Bastille has been stormed, the peasants are rebelling, and the monarchy's days are numbered.  Farewell My Queen stars Diane Kruger and Lea Seydoux; the film has a 92% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes and is available both as a DVD and via Hoopla, our new digital service.



8.30.2014

L Magazine's Books for Fall

New York's L Magazine has an article discussing books they are looking forward to this autumn. Their picks include Some Luck by Jane Smiley, Marilynn Robinson's Lila and Eimear McBride's new book, which has won several major awards.  You can find the list here.

8.28.2014

Telegraph Book Recommendations

The Telegraph maintains a list, recompiled every week, of what their reviewers consider the best books of the year.  You can find the list here.

Sylvia Plath, In Her Own Words

Last year marked the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Sylvia Plath, something commemorated more in her adapted country than in the land of her birth. She is still widely read and very influential, but most people only know her from the written text. In 1962, she gave a thoughtful interview to the British Council; her voice still commands attention, even after a half century.


8.21.2014

Books for the Beach

The Guardian has started a blog discussing ideal books to take with you to the beach this summer.  Most are contemporary titles, with a few classics thrown in. Their latest recommendation is The Snack Thief by Italian mystery writer Andrea Camilleri. You can look at the ongoing list (and commentary on the choices) here.

The Hugo Award

This year's Hugo Award for science fiction has been awarded to Ann Leckie.  Her novel Ancillary Justice has also won a Nebula; finalists included Parasite by Mira Grant and Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross.You can see the full list here.

8.16.2014

In Memorium: Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall has passed away at the age of 89. Her best known films are the ones she made with Humphrey Bogart; The Big Sleep, To Have And Have Not, Dark Passage and Key Largo.  She also had a significant role in later films, such as The Shootist, and lent her voice to a number of animated films, including the recent Oscar-nominated Ernest and Celestine. The last two can be viewed as streaming video via Hoopla.


8.14.2014

Overdrive In Other Languages

A reminder that Overdrive offers ebooks in languages besides English. At present, you can borrow titles in Spanish, Russian, and Chinese.

Now Showing On Hoopla: The Great Beauty

When he was young, Jep Gambardella wrote an amazing novel that is still read and admired. Now in his sixties, Jep presides over Rome's literary and social scene, but hasn't written anything of importance since. He begins to suspect that he has wasted his life, and ponders what to do with the time that remains. The Great Beauty has won many awards (including an Oscar and a Golden Globe); there is currently a waiting list for the DVD, but the film can be viewed any time on Hoopla.



8.10.2014

Reading Suggestions: The Year So Far

The Guardian recently asked readers what they believed were the best books of early 2014, then listed the top ten.  The choices were interesting, starting with J K Rowling's new crime novel (The Silkworm), an analysis of modern economics (Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century), a book about one writer's love of a classic Victorian novel (published in the US as My Life in Middlemarch), a collection of short stories by Lydia Davis (Can't and Won't) and even a novel about an author's wives (Mrs. Hemingway).  You can find the article here.

Novels Set In Africa

The book editors at the Telegraph assembled a list of their favorite novels set in Africa.  A number of them are by African authors who deserve to be better know, including Children of Gebelawi by Nobel Prize laureate Naguib Mahfouz, Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men. Some titles are available as ebooks and in other languages; the full article is here.

8.07.2014

Mystery Writers Of Note: Donna Leon

Guido Brunetti is a happy man. He has a wonderful wife, two well-adjusted kids, eats well and loves Venice, the city where he lives and serves as a police inspector. Still, his life is not perfect; his boss is an idiot, his children can't find work and he begins to suspect that the Italian justice system is more effective at protecting the guilty than the innocent. Brunetti is the protagonist of over twenty mystery novels by Donna Leon;  some are available as ebooks as well. 

Willful Behavior will also be the first choice of the new Golden Gate Valley Mystery Book Club this September. Please consider joining us!

Publisher Weekly's Fall Picks

Publisher's Weekly has assembled a list of some of the most anticipated books of this fall.  A few of them can already be reserved, including new releases by David Mitchell, Marlon James, Marilynne Robinson and Hilary Mantel. You can view the whole list here.

Classical Music On Demand

The world's biggest classical music festival has begun.  Every summer, dozens of orchestras visit London to perform at the Proms; for those who can't attend, BBC Radio broadcasts all of the concerts live and makes them available on demand for a limited time.  You can also listen to thousands of classical and opera recordings on Alexander Street Press and Hoopla.

8.02.2014

PEN Award Winners

The latest winners of the PEN literary awards have just been announced; recipients include James Wolcott, Frank Bidart, Linda Leavell and Carl Hart. The award for debut fiction won't be announced until September, but you can view the list of finalists.

Haruki Murakami's Latest Novel

Japan's most popular and acclaimed living writer has a new book out in English this month. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage has already been reviewed by the Independent and excerpted by Slate; you can reserve a copy in English, Japanese, and Chinese.

7.31.2014

Local History: The Metropolis of Western America

San Francisco; the Metropolis of Western America, was published in 1899, with descriptions of the city just a few years before the great earthquake. The full page photos show streets and neighborhoods just before cars and buses appeared. Thanks to the San Francisco History Center, there is now a high-resolution digital scan at the Internet Archive, where you can browse the book online and even download a copy to keep.

In Memoriam: Lorin Maazel

Conductor and composer Lorin Maazel has passed away at the age of 84. Born in France and raised in the United States, he was music director of major orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic and left a formidable discography.  The New York Philharmonic has created an audio archive featuring past concerts, including Sibelius, Mozart and Debussy; you can also listen to dozens of studio recordings on Hoopla.

7.27.2014

Local History: City Directories

One of the most useful resources for researching family history or the past residents of a property are annual city directories. Published from the nineteenth century up to the early 1980s, they list who lived at a certain address and often noted their occupation as well. Businesses could also be included, usually alphabetically and by industry; many took out advertisements as well. To save time, the San Francisco Genealogy Society has produced a page with links by year.

Explore The New Yorker Archive

The New Yorker is offering free access to their archive for the next few weeks to promote their new website. This includes material back to 2007, as well as selected content from previous decades.  If you're not sure where to start, there are recommendations at Slate and the AV Club.

7.26.2014

In Memoriam: Nadine Gordimer

Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer has passed away at the age of 90. The Guardian has an appreciation by Margaret Atwood and a piece recommending five of her books, while the Johannesburg-based Mail and Guardian notes her importance to South African literary and political life. She was also interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel.

Reading Suggestions: 100 Novels

The Telegraph has drawn up a list of 100 novels they believe everyone should read. Most of the books are standard English and American classics, but there are also some interesting suggestions from France (Old Goriot, Germinal, The Voyeur, Suite Francaise, Life: A User's Manual), South Asia (Waiting for the Mahatma, Midnight's Children, The Home and the World), China (The Dream of the Red Chamber) and Japan (The Tale of Genji). You can view the entire list here.