Monday, September 29, 2008

Devourer of Books Celebrates 100th Review Milestone!

Congratulations to Devourer of Books who has reviewed her 100th book on her blog! She is celebrating by giving away up to five great books from her stash. Be sure to check it out and enter her giveaway contest.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Around Downtown L.A.

I'm so excited to learn about a bookstore just a few blocks from where I live in Downtown Los Angeles called Metropolis Books! I'm thinking of walking over there this afternoon, depending on if it's open on Sunday. Anyway, apparently in honor of Halloween, they are having a book promotion of Ghost Files next Saturday that I definitely plan to attend. Here's the info:

Saturday, October 04, 2008 05:00 PM
Ghost Society, The, will be promoting Ghost Files
Appears on/at: METROPOLIS BOOKS, 440 S Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90013

Here's the website for Metropolis Books (, and here's their blog:

Stayed tuned for more information about Metropolis Books and Ghost Files.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Book Group Expo 2008 -- October 25th and 26th in San Jose

The third annual Book Group Expo is being held in San Jose, California on October 25th and 26th.

More than 75 authors will be there, including Annie Barrows, author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; Andre Dubus III, author of The Garden of Last Days; Kate Jacobs, author of The Friday Night Knitting Club; Ann Packer, author of Songs Without Words; and Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain. For a complete list of authors, click here.

There will be Literary Salons that include authors and various panel discussions as well as a Marketplace featuring onsite vendors ready to introduce you to products available to enhance your book group's reading experience, including wine, tea, chocolate and other savory and sweet treats to try and buy. Coming from out of town? Check out the discounted hotel rates at the official Book Group Expo hotels website.

Click here to find out more about Book Group Expo and to get your tickets.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Adventures in Reading

What was the most unusual (for you) book you ever read? Either because the book itself was completely from out in left field somewhere, or was a genre you never read, or was the only book available on a long flight… whatever? What (not counting school textbooks, though literature read for classes counts) was furthest outside your usual comfort zone/familiar territory?
And, did you like it? Did it stretch your boundaries? Did you shut it with a shudder the instant you were done? Did it make you think? Have nightmares? Kick off a new obsession?
I am a pretty adventurous reader, so I am often surprised by a book that I know is outside my "comfort zone." Sometimes the surprise is good, and sometimes, well, shutting it with a shudder is the mildest reaction I've had to some.
One of the books that I was certain I'd hate but which I read anyway, only because it was given to me by the Dean of the English Dept. at a college I worked at part-time when I was a senior in high school, turned out to be the very best kind of surprise. The professor told me that The Story of San Michele by Axel Munthe was his favorite novel of all time, but I was certain I wouldn't like it. It was written in the early 1900s, was a partly fictional biography of some doctor who built a bird sanctuary at San Michele overlooking the Bay of Naples, and, on top of that, was really long. Uh-huh. I was so not happy to have to read that huge tome, but I did it out of respect for the prof and fell in love! It changed the way I thought about literary novels, and it engendered a lifelong love of Italy.
Okay, that was then (about a half century ago) and this is now, and recently someone on LT recommended Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner. I only picked it up because of that and because this year I had made a pledge to myself to read more literary fiction, both contemporary and classic. I fell in love with Hotel du Lac, too, and definitely see why it won the Booker Prize! That was probably one of the latest examples of a good surprise.
The other kind of book? I tend to put them out of my mind straightaway when I finish them ~ if I even bother to finish them at all. Like Einstein, I don't believe in cluttering my mind with unnecessary information!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Exciting News on the Literacy Tutoring Front!

A couple of years ago, I started tutoring over at the Central Library's Adult Literacy Center. Considering how important reading is to me, it should come as no surprise how much it has meant to me to watch someone who has grown up without the ability to read discover the magic of books and reading. There is, literally (pun intended), nothing like it!

Unfortunately, I've been without a student since about May of this year when my then-student had to stop for awhile due to personal issues. Though it was nice to take a break over the summer, now that autumn is in the air, I'm eager to get back to it again.

Anyway, today on my lunch hour I went to the library to return a couple of books and, on the spur of the moment, thought I'd stop in at the Center to say hi and kind of remind them I'm still around and waiting to be paired with a student. It was one of those fortuitously fortunate decisions because sitting there looking somewhat downcast was a guy who, I learned, was hoping to be paired up with a tutor.

It turned out our schedules match, so we were paired up and will be starting our lessons on Wednesday, the day after tomorrow!

This isn't the first volunteer work I've done in my long life, but it is one of the most gratifying. The students in the program are highly motivated and very appreciative of the time and effort their tutors expend on preparing lessons and meeting with them. The Los Angeles Adult Literacy program requires that the tutor commit to meeting with the student 3 hours a week (1-1/2 hours twice a week) for at least six months. In addition to the 3 hours of class time, I usually spend at least one hour of prep time a week, but it could be more depending on how creative I feel like getting.

This is a wonderful program, and similar programs are in place in many other cities and towns across the United States. In case anyone has a few extra hours a week and would like to volunteer, I strongly encourage you to check out becoming an adult literacy tutor and give the gift of literacy to someone in your home town!
If you are interested and want more information, please be sure and leave a comment with your email address and I'll be happy to answer or find the answers to your questions.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Just One More Page

I had originally meant this blog to be mostly about books and reading, since that is my greatest pleasure in life (surpassing even dark chocolate, really!). Awhile back, I was reading over all I've written, and I realized that the blog has become cluttered with other subjects and issues, more or less hiding the posts about books amongst posts about goats grazing in downtown Los Angeles, personal musings about the meaning of 9/11, and other non-bookish subjects.

So, I decided to start a new blog that would be devoted to books ~ a place where I can share my views and reviews, have book giveaways and contests, and interact with others interested mainly in bookish things. So began Just One More Page.

I hope you will visit my new book blog and enter the drawing for Mr. White's Confession, and let me know what you think about the layout and content. So far I've only written two posts, but I plan to post at least two reviews a week, in addition to having contests and polls about books and authors, and other such diversions.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Literature Map Locates Authors For You!

Here's a neat little e-toy I learned about awhile back from BookCrossing: a "map" of authors which aligns authors you like with others, the theory being that, if you like the one, you will like the others that are closest in proximity. Try it ~ I'm not sure how accurate it is, but it's really fun!

Other information about the website:
the literature-map is a part of gnooks (check this out too!)
gnooks is apart of gnod (books, movies, music!)
gnod is a projectof marek gibney

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 - Just Another Day?

It is odd to think that seven years have gone by since the horrific day the Twin Towers in NYC were destroyed by evil madmen, taking the lives of thousands of innocent people ~ not to mention those who were killed at the Pentagon and the heroes who died in a field in Pennsylvania, thereby foiling the plot of the hijackers to crash the plane they were on into the White House. Odder still to think that, since that time, very little seems to have changed in the way Americans act and think.
Oddest of all is the fact that, except for the news program I watched while getting ready for work, nothing was said or done, either at my office or anywhere else in Los Angeles as far as I have heard, to commemorate the day, a day that will live in infamy as long as the last American who was living on that day remains alive, perhaps even beyond, though that may be a bit overly optimistic (witness how little interest there is in Pearl Harbor Day, not to mention the anniversary of the November day President Kennedy was assassinated, in my opinion two of the most traumatic and horrific days in recent American history ~ at least until 9/11/01).
As for me, it wasn't until late afternoon, when I couldn't stand the silence anymore and said something about today being the 7-year anniversary since 9/11 that the significance of the day was acknowledged. Anthony, who had been hurrying out to meet his sister for dinner, turned back and began talking about what he had been doing that morning and how he had found out about the attacks and how it had stunned and horrified him, especially since he'd been up to the top of one of the Towers only a week or so before 9/11, while on a Labor Day weekend vacation.
Nikki popped out of her office across the hall and asked if I knew one of our co-workers from another office who had, the morning of 9/11/01, been working inside the second of the Towers to be hit. Hearing about how this woman, knowing that the first building had been hit, had been all "so what?" about it, until friends and family started calling and begging her to get out right away, was chilling. Even then, she had delayed until a security guard ~ apparently one who was an independent thinker ~ urged her and her companions to leave. Nikki said they had been on their way down the stairs when the second plane hit their building, causing it to shake like an earthquake.
I related that I'd gone with my sister to Ground Zero in February of '02, and how, before we even knew the site was just around the corner, both my sister and I stopped in our tracks and felt a wave of energy pass through us, almost like what I imagine it would be like to run into a force field. We started to walk forward again, crying now, and, turning the corner, came face-to-face with the emptiness that had been The World Trade Center's Twin Towers. Later, trying to analyze what it was I'd felt, I could only believe it had to have been the force of the emotions of those who died there as well as those who had been there that day, watching in disbelief and horror, still lingering there months after the event.
After we'd shared our stories, Anthony left to meet his sister and Nikki went back to her office, but I think we were all relieved to have been able to talk about it, to acknowledge the gravity of the day and the immensity of the loss and also, and perhaps most important, our common humanity. As anyone who has gone through a terrible loss will tell you, it is only through acknowledging the grief that we are able to deal with the pain. I would go further and say that it is only through accepting and cherishing each other as fellow human beings that we will be able to ensure that 9/11 doesn't happen again.
As the sign at Ground Zero said, "We will never forget."

Monday, September 8, 2008

Home on the Range - in Downtown L.A.

A strange sight met my eyes as I walked home from work this evening. In a small, previously weed-choked lot across the street from my apartment building in downtown Los Angeles, near a subway entrance and just down the street from the business center with its tall skyscrapers filled with high-powered lawyers, bankers, and investment brokers, grazed a herd of goats. Not just a few of the critters, mind, but dozens of them ~ calmly nibbling on weeds, rearing up on hind legs to get at the tender leaves of small trees, wandering from one denuded area to another that might have a few strands of greenery left.

The buzz is that the City of Los Angeles wanted to enlarge the nearby park, but the incline was too steep and the shrubbery and weeds too dense to make clearing it in the usual way ~ using men and machines ~ economically feasible. So they brought in a herd of goats.

Goats! In the middle of the city! What a fantastic idea! Good for the ecology, relatively cheap, quiet, and very, very thorough. Sometimes the bureaucrats get things right! Who'da thunk?

Here are some more pix of those cute li'l goats. (Who needs a County Fair, when you live in L.A.?)