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Poetry Month

by Christina S.

April is National Poetry Month so I asked the library staff to choose their favorite poems. We will post one of these poems each week day throughout April for you to enjoy. A few might surprise you and at least one inspired an Iron Maiden song!

If you feel inspired to read poetry in April, or any time of the year for that matter, SFPL has many titles on our shelves for you to choose from. If you are unsure of what you would like to read we will be happy to put together a Poetry Book Bundle for you to sample. Below are a few of the wonderful poetry titles in our collection.

Magnificent Errors: Poems by Sheryl Luna
The Curious Thing: Poems by Sandra Lim
Changing with the Tides by Shelby Leigh
My name is Jason. Mine too. Our Story Our Way by Jason Reynolds & Jason Griffin
If They Come For Us: Poems by Fatimah Asghar

If you would like to explore our Poetry collection please stop into any of our branches or call one of our Information Desks for assistance. We will be happy to put together a Poetry Book Bundle for you if you would like to sample our collection.

Main Library 505-955-6781

Oliver La Farge Branch Library 505-955-4867

Southside Branch Library 505-955-2820

A Fascinating Woman

By Aaron O.

Looking for a fascinating story in Women’s History? You might find the story of Elizabeth Smith Friedman fits the bill.

Originally a literary scholar, Friedman worked as a codebreaker during both World Wars and was responsible for the downfall of various smuggling operations during the interwar years. She helped establish many of of the common approaches to code breaking during that time and was the bane of outlaws and enemy forces.

You can learn about Elizabeth Smith Friedman in the library’s collection.

There is an hour long documentary about her available on the streaming service and we have the award winning biography about her in the collection:

American Experience: The Codebreaker (PBS Television Show)

If you would like to learn more about Elizabeth Friedman or any other amazing woman please stop into any of the three branches or call one of our Information Desks. We are happy to help!

Main Library 505-955-6781

Oliver La Farge Branch Library 505-955-4867

Southside Branch Library 505-955-2820

Get your craft going!

by Christina S.

In case you didn’t know, March is national craft month, and although the majority of the month is behind us it is not too late to get crafting!

SFPL has crafting books galore to help inspire your crafting dreams. Below is a small sample of titles we have available:

Drawing Pets by David Williams
The Paper Card Book by Lisa Kerr

If you would like to find some books on crafting please stop into any of the branches or call one of our Information Desks.

Main Library 505-955-6781

Oliver La Farge Branch Library 505-955-4867

Southside Branch Library 505-955-2820

Spooky Little Story #14

By Katherine C.

Photo by Matt Hearne

Hiding the Truth 

“I need to do everything I can to protect my reputation.  To protect her reputation.  The stakes are higher than ever and I didn’t know how much longer I could cover it up.”  I whispered out loud to myself hoping I could get everything off my chest. 

I was trying to work myself up to go into work, into what my boss considered to be a news empire, but wondered if I could actually pull it off.  I needed the money or else I wouldn’t be able to pay the rent, but the lies were so great, so big that I didn’t think I could keep it to myself any longer.  If I didn’t tell the truth about the bank robbery, I would never be able to look myself in the mirror.  I would never be able to come to terms with myself.  I had never intended to help my boss lie and to help her keep secrets. 

I was hesitant to leak the real story because I knew I would be the first one to be interrogated.  But I also couldn’t let her bury the information any longer.  I was determined to dig deeper into the investor and the stocks before I anonymously released any more information.  I needed to know what I was getting myself into before I exposed everyone who meant anything to me.  I could lose my entire livelihood and really, my life the moment my mouse clicked on publish.  Before I could do anything, there was an explosion and my car went up in smoke.  And along with it, my computer and all of my information and sources.  I practically crawled into the office, scared of who had found out my plans.  Was it my boss?  Was it Jason from the neighboring cubicle? 

Holi Festival

By Christina S.

Photo By Shubam Bochiwal

March 8th is the Hindu festival of Holi which celebrates the arrival of spring, being in love and being loved, and the victory of good over evil. It is a time for families and friends to come together, dance, pray, and most notably, playfully douse each other with water and colored powders.

Traditionally the festival begins the night before with a lighting of bonfires, which symbolize the destruction of evil and the following day people of all ages take to the streets to throw the colored powders and water at each other while they sing and dance to welcome love and goodness into their lives. There are blessings by the swamis to encourage many good things for the coming year.

Photo by Abhay Patel

It may seem like an odd tradition to western eyes, but Holi is an ancient celebration of unity and love whose origins are rooted in Hindu mythology. People from all walks of life come together to participate in the festivities and it is celebrated across the country. It is a time for forgiveness and letting go of woes and grudges, as the bright cheerful colors wash away any negativity and create a fresh start for the new year.

I have been lucky enough to have spent significant time in India and experiencing the festival of Holi is one of my favorite memories. The joy of it was infectious!

Photo by Vigneshwar Rajkumar

If you are ever lucky enough to experience the festival for yourself be prepared to get doused in colors and water, and join in on the joy and merriment. Don’t fret about your clothes being ruined, because they will be. Just go and enjoy. It’s an unforgettable experience that will leave you feeling uplifted and invigorated!

I wish you a Happy Holi and hope that the next 365 days brings you happiness.

Spring Cleaning – Sort Of

by Christina S.

Spring is here. The primordial urge to throw open the windows and doors, chase out the stale air of winter, clear the clutter, and make everything fresh takes hold of me. I want to start channeling my inner Marie Kondo and make everything in my life tidy, calm, and beautiful.

While this abiding desire to deep clean my home grabs me every year, my reality is that I live at 7,000+ feet in a semi-arid desert where Spring often feels like a weird survival sport. The chilly wind often whips up and sand blasts everything. Pollen counts go way up, especially for juniper and elm, and the fine yellow stuff gets into every nook and crevice. I could spend every waking moment obsessively cleaning in a vain attempt to reach deep cleaning goals or I can accept that mostly clean, and sort of clean is good enough.

Clean smart, not more is my new motto. After all I want to enjoy my home and live my life. A few of the books that have helped me find those smarter ways to clean are listed below. I hope you find them useful as well!

If you would like to find materials on cleaning please stop into any of our branches or call one of our reference desk:

Main Library 505-955-6781

Oliver La Farge Branch Library 505-955-4867

South Side Branch Library 505-955-2820

Spooky Little Story #13

By Katherine C.

The YouTube Sensation 

The day my brother came running into my bedroom screaming about a kidnapping, I wasn’t too surprised.  He was always screaming about something so I had gotten used to his sudden outbursts.  Most of the time he was screaming at his computer so I thought about maybe paying attention to what was going on.  At least this time.

I knew Mitch was big into YouTube and wanted to copy some of his favorites as an online personality, but he had so many interests, I didn’t know what he would choose.  He described his current YouTube hero as “a viral sensation who talked about gaming like it was his religion” and I tried to not tune him out all of the time.  Just part of it. 

“Please, please, Mary, please,” Mitch stuttered between his sobs.  “We need to call the police.” 

“What?  The police?  What’s happened?  Are you okay?”  I turned in my chair to find Mitch collapsing on my bedroom floor. 

“Finn96…  Kidnapped…  Host…  Livestream.”  Mitch continued to babble as I tried to make out what he was going on about when I finally followed him into his room.  I saw the YouTube homepage up on his screen and slowly started putting two and two together.

FInn96 was Mitch’s favorite YouTuber who made his fortune and fame from streaming some video game I had no interest in.  And now he had been unceremoniously kidnapped on screen.  He had now reappeared, blindfolded, handcuffed, and making a plea for his life.  All I could think was it just had to be a hoax.  Or was it? 

Small in Stature, Mighty in Word

By Maura G.

I set a goal to read 50 books this year. It’s March and I’ve already read 18. I am reveling in this reading spurt I’m in right now, because I’ve been in a reading slump for the past few years.

Through undergrad and graduate school I just didn’t have the mental bandwidth to read outside of my class-assigned books. If you, like me not all that long ago, have little brain space to read but want to be reading something, this is a list for you. Whether it’s something you can read in fits and starts in the pick-up line after school, on your lunch break, or on the train, there’s something here to take your mind off your daily life and make you think. These books are all relatively small and are easier to read when it comes to difficulty of language, but have a nice depth to them, as well.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman, 97 pages

This novella tells the incredibly moving tale of a boy and his grandfather as the grandfather slowly loses his memory. I cried every time I picked it up because Backman’s metaphor for memory and the sweetness of the relationships in the grandfather’s life are just so beautiful.

Small Things Like These by Clare Keegan, 118 pages

A coal merchant in a small Irish town is delivering an order to a local convent when he makes a startling discovery. Set in the 1980s, this story wrestles with the complicit silence of those living in a town controlled by the church.

Animal Farm by George Orwell, 122 pages

If you missed reading this in school, it’s a must-read. One of the most prevalent fables of our time, it tells the story of mistreated farm animals who set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 96 pages

This beloved French children’s tale is worth your time, for, “All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.” It tells the sweet tale of a pilot crashing over the Sahara Desert and meeting a quite peculiar yet startlingly wise young boy.

Bluets by Maggie Nelson, 112 pages

A collection of brilliant and devourable (it’s so good it requires me to make up words!) lyric essays on the color and the idea of blue.

The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros, 101 pages

A classic homage to Chicago and its Latino population, this series of vignettes is a must-read if you missed it in school, and a great one to revisit if you didn’t!

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka, 129 pages

A beautiful and raw telling of the stories of Japanese picture-brides brought to San Francisco nearly a century ago.

I hope these bring you some enjoyment in times of busyness or amid a reading slump. Happy reading!

Spooky Little Story #12

By Katherine C.

Photo by Damien Tupinier

The Magic Bees 

I knew the bees were special from day one.  I knew because my grandmother had shared the secrets of the hives as soon as I turned eight.  I had been helping her with the bees as long as I could remember and I liked to tell anyone who would listen that I was friends with a Queen.  I learned incantations as soon as I could talk and knew to keep the bees a secret when we sold our harvest at the Farmer’s Market.  The honey our bees produces was special and we had to keep the hives hidden deep in the forest. 

I knew the bees were special because they told me.  I had learned at an early age about their magic and had marveled at how their magic strengthened the longer we tended to them.  The buzz coming from the hive kept us in a trance that kept us constantly coming back for more.  I sometimes wondered if the colony knew we were under their spell.  If they knew they had us at their mercy.  The one time I had stayed away from the bees was the one time I had lost myself. Now I knew I needed them.  That the world needed them even though they didn’t know it yet. They were the only reason we were still alive. 

Memoir Situations

By Marika

Over the past few decades, memoir as a genre has been undergoing a quiet revolution. New voices are broadening the scope far beyond the ghost-written celebrity tell-all, and it’s a great time to explore the genre.

The form has long had an undeserved reputation as self-indulgent or narcissistic. It’s true that many of the best memoirs are written after a long period of self-examination, sometimes involving therapy. They can represent a journey through adversity to self-acceptance, self-actualization, and healing. Many are coming of age stories. Memoirists ask, “How did I become myself?” Memoir fans appreciate (maybe even crave) the unflinching honesty required of the form.

While autobiography encompasses an entire life (usually that of a famous person), the scope of memoir is limited to a specific segment in time, an event, or a theme in a person’s life. This tighter focus is an opportunity for imparting insights into specific issues and situations. Memoir fans appreciate that this form explores the lived experience of regular people – whether they share something in common with us or challenge us to step outside our comfort zones.

Like most readers, I am deeply curious about other people. How do they make sense of their lives? What do people do with their gifts, their burdens?

During the month of November for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I drafted a truly hideous memoir of my own, which has only deepened my respect for the form. What makes a compelling memoir? Those who write great ones are courageous beyond compare.

Here are some of the memoirs I have enjoyed recently. I included Mary Karr’s masterful Art of Memoir, an inspiration for those who want to write.

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
Ancestor Trouble by Maud Newton
The Man Who Could Move Clouds by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr
Toil & Trouble by Augusten Burroughs
Fierce Attachments: a memoir by Vivian Gornick

If you would like assistance finding a Memoir please stop by the reference desk at any of our branches or call us at:

Main Branch 505-955-6781

Oliver La Farge Branch 505-955-4867

Southside Branch 505-955-2820