Archive for the ‘usf book club’ category

USF Book Club: April and May Selections

March 19th, 2012

Book Club is breaking out of our habit of reading books about boys/kids who have lost their fathers!

April 13, 2012 (Fri), 12-1 pm: A Private Life by Jane Smiley. Room 209 of Gleeson Library.

Gleeson library doesn’t have a paper copy of this one (yet?), so you’ll have to request it through Link+ (comes fast–in about 4 business days!), or read it on one of our iPads or Kindle. If all else fails, the public library has it in many formats.

[This] Pulitzer Prize–winning author offers a cold-eyed view of the compromises required by marriage while also providing an intimate portrait of life in the Midwest and West during the years 1883–1942. By the time she reaches the age of 27, Margaret Mayfield has known a lot of tragedy in her life. She has lost two brothers, one to an accident, the other to illness, as well as her father, who committed suicide. Her strong-minded mother, Lavinia, knows that her daughter’s prospects for marriage are dim and takes every opportunity to encourage Margaret’s friendship with eccentric scientist Andrew Early. When the two marry and move to a naval base in San Francisco, Margaret becomes more than Andrew’s helpmeet—she is also his cook, driver, and typist as well as the captive audience for his rants against Einstein and his own quirky theories about the universe. As Smiley covers in absorbing detail both private and world events—a lovely Missouri wedding, the chaos of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the wrenching death of a baby—she keeps at the center of the narrative Margaret’s growing realization that she has married a madman and her subsequent attempts to deal with her marriage by becoming adept at “the neutral smile, the moment of patient silence,” before giving in to bitterness. Smiley casts a gimlet eye on the institution of marriage even as she offers a fascinating glimpse of a distant era. –Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist

Make sure you speed through it and start this next one early because it’s quite long:

May 11, 2012 (Fri), 12-1 pm: Storyteller : The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock. Probably in room 139 of Gleeson Library, or if the weather is nice, the USF Community Garden… stay tuned for updates.

Gleeson does have a copy of this, but it’s checked out. You can request it through Link+ and the public library has a few copies available. Of course you can also read it on one of our iPads or Kindle.

The first authorized biography of Roald Dahl [author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, most famously], Storyteller is a masterful, witty and incisive look at one of the greatest authors and eccentric characters of the modern age…

Granted unprecedented access to the Dahl estate’s extraordinary archives—personal correspondence, journals and interviews with family members and famous friends—Donald Sturrock draws on a wealth of previously unpublished materials that informed Dahl’s writing and his life. It was a life filled with incident, drama and adventure: from his harrowing experiences as an RAF fighter pilot and his work in wartime intelligence, to his many romances and turbulent marriage to the actress Patricia Neal, to the mental anguish caused by the death of his young daughter Olivia. Tracing a brilliant yet tempestuous ascent toward notoriety, Sturrock sheds new light on Dahl’s need for controversy, his abrasive manner and his fascination for the gruesome and the macabre. –

The USF Book Club is run by Kelci Baughman McDowell, Reference Library Assistant in Gleeson. For information or to sign up for the mailing list, email You can visit our wiki for more info, as well. (Please note, you do not have to join the wiki to view it.) No rsvp for the meeting is necessary–just drop by if you’ve read the book or if you’re interested in it. Lastly, feel free to bring your lunch. See you in April!

USF Book Club: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

February 23rd, 2012

Hello! USF Book Club continues its procession of books about kids who have lost their fathers with The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

We will meet on March 16, 2012 from 12-1 pm in room 314 of Gleeson Library (note the different room — up on the third floor).

How to get the book: Request it through Link+ or get it at SF Public. Unfortunately it is not available in e-format.

Interested in Book Club? Check out our wiki page or email to sign up for the mailing list.

About The Invention of Hugo Cabret:

Here is a true masterpiece—an artful blending of narrative, illustration and cinematic technique, for a story as tantalizing as it is touching.Twelve-year-old orphan Hugo lives in the walls of a Paris train station at the turn of the 20th century, where he tends to the clocks and filches what he needs to survive. Hugo’s recently deceased father, a clockmaker, worked in a museum where he discovered an automaton: a human-like figure seated at a desk, pen in hand, as if ready to deliver a message. After his father showed Hugo the robot, the boy became just as obsessed with getting the automaton to function as his father had been, and the man gave his son one of the notebooks he used to record the automaton’s inner workings. The plot grows as intricate as the robot’s gears and mechanisms [...] To Selznick’s credit, the coincidences all feel carefully orchestrated; epiphany after epiphany occurs before the book comes to its sumptuous, glorious end. Selznick hints at the toymaker’s hidden identity [...] through impressive use of meticulous charcoal drawings that grow or shrink against black backdrops, in pages-long sequences. They display the same item in increasingly tight focus or pan across scenes the way a camera might. The plot ultimately has much to do with the history of the movies, and Selznick’s genius lies in his expert use of such a visual style to spotlight the role of this highly visual media. A standout achievement.

-Publisher’s Weekly

USF Book Club: February and March Selections

January 14th, 2012

Howdy! The USF Book Club picked its next two selections:

Friday, February 17, 2012 (12-1 pm): Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

How to get the book: Request it through Link+ (it’s in high demand right now, so you might need to get creative with how you request it — large print, as a double edition, etc.), get it at SF Public, or check out our Kindle or one of our iPads to read it digitally.

Meet us in the seminar room of Gleeson Library (#209)

Friday, March 16, 2012 (12-1 pm): The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

How to get the book: Request it through Link+ or get it at SF Public. Unfortunately it is not available in e-format.

Since we like to read books of all genres, we decided to do a children’s book, and that’s why we chose Hugo Cabret, considering the recent attention the book has received due to the movie.

For this meeting, we’ll be on the third floor of the library — room 314.

Are you wondering about the Book Club? Click on over to our wiki page where most of your questions will be answered. Or, send an email to to sign up for the mailing list.

USF Book Club: The History of Love

December 12th, 2011

Do you read? Do you like discussing what you read in a casual environment? Then come to a USF Book Club monthly meeting!

The next book we will discuss is The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and we’ll meet on January 13th (Friday the 13th!) from 12 noon – 1 pm in the Seminar Room (#209) of Gleeson Library. We welcome people from the entire USF Community — students, staff, and faculty.

To get the book, request it through Link+ (arrives in about 4 business days), get it at SF Public, or check out an iPad or Kindle over the break, both of which have the e-book loaded on them. Request your copy soon — many libraries close over the holidays, so don’t wait.

The last words of this haunting novel resonate like a pealing bell. “He fell in love. It was his life.” This is the unofficial obituary of octogenarian Leo Gursky, a character whose mordant wit, gallows humor and searching heart create an unforgettable portrait. Born in Poland and a WWII refugee in New York, Leo has become invisible to the world. When he leaves his tiny apartment, he deliberately draws attention to himself to be sure he exists. What’s really missing in his life is the woman he has always loved, the son who doesn’t know that Leo is his father, and his lost novel, called The History of Love, which, unbeknownst to Leo, was published years ago in Chile under a different man’s name. Another family in New York has also been truncated by loss. Teenager Alma Singer, who was named after the heroine of The History of Love, is trying to ease the loneliness of her widowed mother, Charlotte. When a stranger asks Charlotte to translate The History of Love from Spanish for an exorbitant sum, the mysteries deepen. Krauss (Man Walks into a Room) ties these and other plot strands together with surprising twists and turns, chronicling the survival of the human spirit against all odds. Writing with tenderness about eccentric characters, she uses earthy humor to mask pain and to question the universe. Her distinctive voice is both plangent and wry, and her imagination encompasses many worlds.

–Publishers Weekly

Author Nicole Krauss will be at the JCCSF on Sunday February 26 to deliver a keynote for Book Fest. Get your tickets quick because it will probably sell out.

One of the book club members sent me this glossary that she said can be very helpful when reading The History of Love… she’s Jewish and even she was enlightened by some of the entries.

Still craving more Krauss? They have a page dedicated to her on NPR!

Also for next time, the book club would like you to bring a list of children’s books you adore, or books that greatly influenced you when growing up. We just might break another taboo and do a children’s book for February!

Have a great holiday season and we’ll see you all in the new year!

USF Book Club: Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

November 14th, 2011

Howdy everyone! The Book Club will read and discuss Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay for December. We will meet on December 9, 2011 in Room 139 of Gleeson Library from 12-1 pm.

Gleeson has a copy of Savage Beauty that you can request, but it will probably go fast so your alternatives are requesting it through Link+, getting it from the SF Public Library, or reading it on one of our iPads or our Kindle.

Millay is one of my personal role models… she was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, and in her day, she achieved the level of celebrity now reserved for movie stars and reality show idiot savants. She was an anti-war activist and led a unconventional love life. I can only imagine how much better the U.S. would be if we celebritized our poets the way we do those in the entertainment industry.

One thing that boosted her to this level of celebrity was her spellbinding performances. She did a lot of radio broadcasts and reading tours in support of her work, and her thick, lustrous voice and classic early 20th century North East accent bewitched all those who tuned in.

Appropriate for the spirit of Christmas we are approaching, here is an old radio recording of Millay reading her poem “Ballad of the Harpweaver” in the Christmas edition of Anthology.

And my personal favorite… a classic

(Poem #34First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends--
It gives a lovely light!

– Edna St Vincent Millay