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Ramadan Mubarak

April is National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM) and also the beginning of Ramadan in 2021. Expand your literary horizons while learning more about Islamic culture with our introductory fiction list by Muslim authors. 

To browse our shelves, call 415-393-0101 and reserve your library visit on Monday, Wednesday or Friday or request titles from our catalog and pick up library materials through our "To Go" contactless service

The Almond by Nedjma - An autobiographical novel chronicles the sexual awakening of a Muslim woman as it follows the protagonist from a stifling Algerian household to Tangiers, where she explores personal identity and sexuality, free of the constraints of her upbringing. 

American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar - A well-written, strongly plotted narrative about family conflict and teen angst. Akhtar's moving exploration of the understanding and serenity Islam imparts in a troubled boy will resonate. 

The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam - Set in the 1970s and 1980s, two siblings struggle to find common ground in their relationship despite their increasingly different religious views. 

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie - A haunting story of two families caught between love and country and loyalty versus desire. Shamsie's 2017 novel is powerful and timely. 

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - A debut novel set in Afghanistan that follows the final days of its monarchy to the rise of the Taliban regime. Hosseini's powerful novel about the friendship between two boys from very different backgrounds was a New York Times bestseller and won the American Library Association's 2004 Alex Award, an honor given to titles with a special appeal to young adults. The 2004 novel was adapted into a graphic novel in 2011 and a film in 2007.

The Last Night of a Damned Soul by Slimane Benaissa - Born into a Muslim American family in the Bay Area, Raouf never strongly identified with his Muslim heritage. But his father's untimely death throws Raouf into a spiritual crisis, who falls under the influence of a Palestinian co-worker. 

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk - Set in Istanbul in the late 1500s--a period of time that saw the Ottoman Empire at its height but increasingly challenged by Western traditions, a murder investigation offers a provacative look at the nature of art in Islamic society. 

The Patience Stone: sang-e saboor by Atiq Rahimi - A retelling of the Persian folklore story Syngue Sabour, a magical black stone that absorbs the plight of those who confide in it. Rahimi's spare novel follows the story of a married couple in which the husband is gravely injured during a skirmish under the Taliban regime. A story that opens a portal into the lives of women in Afghanistan. 

Sweet Dates in Basra by Jessica Jiji - After two Iraqi families, one Jewish and one Muslim, break through a wall in the 1930s to accommodate a shared water pipe, a Jewish boy falls in love with an Arab girl, whose mother is determined to preserve her daughter's honor in a land where the loss of it can be punishable by death.

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal - There is no shortage of fiction based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Kamal's retelling is set in modern-day Pakistan. Alys Binat has sworn never to marry -- until an encounter with Mr. Darsee at a wedding makes her reconsider. An enjoyable and substantial read. 

The Writing on My Forehead by Nafisa Haji - Muslim-American Saira Qadar rejected the constricting notions of family, duty, and obligation, choosing instead to become a journalist. But when tragedy strikes five years later, Saira finds comfort in the stories of her grandparents, a beloved aunt, and her parents. She discovers that choice is not always our own, and that faith is not just an intellectual preference. 


Posted on Apr. 19, 2021 by Celeste Steward

San Francisco Rising

San Francisco has now moved to the moderate orange tier of California's color-coded system for tracking COVID-19 cases. That means the number of cases in the City and County have decreased sufficiently enough to allow limited reopening of most businesses. According to state and national statistics, San Francisco handled its early response to the pandemic admirably. Local officials throughout the San Francisco Bay Area were quick to issue stay-at-home orders, large tech corporations pivoted speedily to remote operation, and a majority of community members complied with the public health restrictions. All of this seemed to help keep the local COVID-19 fatality rate relatively low compared to other states and municipalities.

While there may be other reasons behind San Francisco's success, much of its careful response to the pandemic lies in its past. Since 1850, the city has witnessed some significantly dark times, including the 1906 earthquake and fire, the 1918 flu pandemic and the 1980s AIDs outbreak. Indeed, San Francisco is a town that understands how to handle a crisis.

Conversely, San Francisco has also enjoyed periods of tremendous growth, from its Gold Rush roots to its role in World War II arms production to its counterculture evolution during the 1960s Summer of Love. Even now the "City by the Bay" continues to be a trendsetter, from its unique landmarks that include Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge to its eclectic music festivals and notable neighborhoods such as the Mission, Haight-Ashbury and Castro.  

Mechanics' Institute is proud to be part of this legendary city's rich and diverse heritage. To celebrate what everyone hopes will be the final days of pandemic-imposed restrictions, we offer a sampling of staff favorites from the library's impressive collection on San Francisco history. 

The Audacity of Inez Burns by Stephen G. Bloom, 2018 - A major player in the San Francisco underworld who rose to prominence as the most notorious abortionist in California, Inez Burns' story helped shape the city's early formation. 

The Barbary Coast: an informal history of the San Francisco Underworld by Herbert Asbury, 1933.

Beyond the Tunnel: the second life of Adolph Sutro by Mark Abbott Stern, 2018 - The forces that shaped the career of San Francisco's first Jewish mayor are intertwined with the city's early history. 

Black Death at the Golden Gate: the race to save America from the bubonic plague by David K. Randall, 2019. Also available as an eBook

A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the great California Earthquake of 1906 by Simon Winchester, 2005.

Cult City: Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and 10 days that shook San Francisco by Daniel J. Flynn, 2018.

A Diary of the Underdogs: jazz 1960 San Francisco by Don Alberts, 2019.

Growing Up in San Francisco's Western Neighborhoods: boomer memories from Kezar Stadium to Zim's Hamburgers by Frank Dunnigan, 2014.

Harlem of the West: the San Francisco Fillmore jazz era by Elizabeth Pepin and Lewis Watts, 2020.

A History of the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club: the first 100 years (1854-1953) - edited by John Donaldson, 2002.

A History of the Mechanics' Institute Chess Room (1954-2002) volume 2 - edited by John Donaldson, 2002.

Imperial San Francisco: urban power, earthly ruin by Gray Brechin, 1999.

Infinite City: a San Francisco Atlas by Rebecca Solnit, 2010.

The Magnificent Rogues of San Francisco: a gallery of fakers and frauds, rascals and robber barons, scoundrels and scalawags by Charles F. Adams, 1998.

Making San Francisco American: cultural frontiers in the urban West, 1846-1906 by Barbara Berglund, 2007.

The Mayor of Castro Street: the life & times of Harvey Milk by Randy Shilts, 1982.

Misfits, Merchants & Mayhem: tales for San Francisco's historic waterfront, 1849-1934 by Lee Bruno, 2018

Mud, Blood, and Gold: San Francisco in 1849 by Rand Richards, 2008.

Reporter's Notebook: a San Francisco Chronicle journalist's diary of the shocking seventies by Duffy Jennings, 2019.

San Francisco: instant city, promised land by Michael Johns, 2018.

San Francisco Year Zero: political upheaval, punk rock and a third place baseball team by Lincoln A. Mitchell, 2020.

Season of the Witch: enchantment, terror, and deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot - Also available as a book on CD. - A kaleidoscope narrative of San Francisco between the years 1967-1982 and the extraordinary individuals who sparked its cultural changes. 

A Short History of San Francisco by Tom Cole, 2014.

Spirits of San Francisco: voyages through the unknown city by Gary Kamiya, 2020 - Engaging narratives that present San Francisco in a unique and irresistible way. 

The Tenderloin District of San Francisco through Time by Pet M. Field, 2018.

Truth and Love: finding the soul of the sixties by Carol Blackman, 2017.

Posted on Apr. 1, 2021 by Celeste Steward

Welcome Back!

Mechanics' Institute Library is excited to welcome members back to 57 Post Street for browsing, materials pick up, checkouts, computer use, and reading. We look forward to providing you with an additional means of safe access to our collections and services. 

Beginning April 5, members may schedule appointments for library use on either the 2nd or 3rd floors from 2-4 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays by calling 415-393-0101 between the hours of 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday-Friday.

"To Go" contactless service by appointment will continue from 12-2 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays on the second floor.  

Appointments for in-person library use may be scheduled up to one week in advance and reservations are made one week out. Members are limited to one appointment per week. Each individual needs an appointment, and members may not make substitutions. Members are limited to one hour on a public computer during their visit. Please arrive a few minutes before your appointment as we are using a check in procedure in compliance with the City of San Francisco mandate. 

Be sure to dress warmly as windows are open in compliance with health mandates.


Services Currently Available:


  • Browsing for materials to check out

  • Computer use, by appointment only

  • Limited seating for reading or using one’s own electronic devices

  • In-person reference

Services Currently Unavailable:

  • 4th Floor Meeting Room is closed

  • Classrooms 

  • Daily Newspapers

  • Drinking fountains/water dispensers

Please be aware that the library may look and feel a bit different than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2nd and 3rd floor restrooms are open but limited to one person at a time. Seating and services have been modified with member and staff safety in mind. For more information on visiting the library during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here


Posted on Mar. 25, 2021 by Celeste Steward

The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was a favorite for many readers in 2020. A New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award finalist, Bennett's ambitious novel traces the story of identical twin sisters Desiree and Stella Vignes in the Jim Crow era South. Both girls have big dreams that don't include working as maids for white families. As teens, the sisters run away to New Orleans, where Stella soon discovers she can pass as a white person. Once inseparable, the twins' relationship begins to change dramatically. 

Soon after its 2020 release, the TV rights to The Vanishing Half were snapped up by HBO following a bidding war. The book is currently in production as a limited series and its release date has not yet been determined. If you are a fan of multi-faceted family stories that span several generations, have well-developed characters and explore compelling themes, you may enjoy other similar titles from MI Library's collection. 

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate - First-year teacher Bernadette Silva accepts a job in a rural Mississippi town in the hopes of canceling out her hefty student loan debt. While struggling to inspire a love of history in her students, Bernadette stumbles upon an account of three women who lived a century ago. She uncovers clues to the women's post-Civil War lives and discovers a strong connection to the town and its people. The author of Before We Were Yours (Ballantine Books, 2017) has written a powerful story inspired by historical events, a book that likely will stay with the reader long after it ends. 

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett - A chance encounter reverberates through the lives of four parents and six children. Spanning five decades, Patchett's story follows two families whose lives are changed forever after vows are broken and living arrangements are reshuffled. A novel that examines how lives are built and the common history that families share, this is a story to ponder and discuss. Also available in Large Print and eBook format. 

East of Eden by John Steinbeck - Published in 1952, Steinbeck's Biblical tale based on Cain and Abel, traces the intertwining stories of the Trask and Hamilton families. One of Steinbeck's finest works, East of Eden explores the themes of identity and familial competition. In 1955, the novel was adapted into a film starring James Dean and directed by Elia Kazan with several on-location scenes filmed in Mendocino.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - Two half-sisters, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. One sister marries a wealthy British slave owner while the other is imprisoned and sold into slavery. Winner of the 2017 National Book Award, Gyasi's unforgettable novel traces the generations of one family through two continents and 300 years of history. 

A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton - Evelyn is a young Creole woman who is studying to be a nurse in New Orleans at the height of World War II. Her father is a doctor and his wealth and education shield her from the harshest realities of the Jim Crow South. When Evelyn falls for a man with no money and no family, it sets off a far-reaching chain of events for future generations. 

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal - A family inheritance tears two sisters apart. Many years later, the two women have a second chance at repairing their bond. Witty and heartwarming, Stradal's novel is filled with compelling characters, Midwestern values, and perhaps best of all, beer-making secrets. 

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende - During the 1930s Spanish Civil War, two political refugees emigrate to Chile on a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda. Roser, a young pianist who is widowed and pregnant with her first child, reluctantly agrees to marry her late husband's brother because the union will improve their chances of survival as a couple. Allende's story of their evolving relationship captures the immigrant experience in a unique way as the couple struggle to embrace a new and unfamiliar culture. Also available as an eAudiobook, eBook, and a book on CD

Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides - A irresistible story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus to Asia Minor and finally, to Prohibition-era Detroit. An insightful novel that explores gender identity among other themes won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In production now, Middlesex is being adapted as a television series by Paramount Studios. Also available as an eBook and as a book on CD

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton - After the death of her beloved grandmother, Marisol Ferrera travels to Cuba to scatter her ashes. Set against Cuba's perilous political climate, Marisol discovers her family's roots and gains valuable insight into her grandmother's past. 

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - This 1967 landmark novel by Colombian author Garcia Marquez tells the multi-generational story of the Buendia family, whose patriarch founded the fictitious town of Macondo, a small South American town. A rich, thematic work, Macondo's evolution is mirrored in the Buendia family legacy. 

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee - In the early 1900s Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor but proud Korean family has an unplanned pregnancy that threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved by a young minister who offers to marry and bring her to Japan. A National Book Award Finalist for 2017, this sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland is told with wisdom and truth. Also available in Large Print

Passing by Nella Larsen - First published in 1929, the title of Larsen's novel about two light-skinned African American women who try to pass for white to escape racism refers to the term "passing," when a person classified as one racial group is accepted or "passes" as a member of another. Set in 1920s Harlem, shortly before the start of The Vanishing Half, Larsen's book shows a different moment in history with a similar story on race, class, and community. Passing would be a great pick to read either before or after The Vanishing Half. Passing is also available as an eBook. 

The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson - After her mother's death, Becky begins the sad task of clearing out her empty flat. In the unopened letters piling up on the doormat, Becky finds a letter from her mother's elderly cousin begging for help to save Chynalls, her beloved Cornwall home. But when Becky arrives in Cornwall, she finds much more than a crumbling old house. As she sets to work restoring the old home, she begins to piece together her family's role in World War II. An atmospheric novel told in dual time periods.

Posted on Mar. 22, 2021 by Celeste Steward

How to Read eMagazines in Overdrive

More than 3,000 magazines are at your fingertips with our new Overdrive platform and the Libby app.The most exciting news is that members now have two options to check out and read digital magazines in Overdrive -- by downloading and using the Libby app or by reading on your computer.

To begin reading magazines on your phone or mobile device using Libby, here is a video to help you get started. 

To read magazines on your computer using a web browser, please use the following steps to access MI's digital magazine collection:

  1. Go to Mechanics' Institute's website

  2. From the Downloads tab, choose eMagazines.

  3. This will bring you to a page that says, "Browse Subjects"

  4. Click on the "See all 3, 338 Magazine titles" heading.

  5. From this page, you can sort by date added, title, popularity, etc. and browse OR type your desired title into the search window.

  6. Choose a title and click the "Borrow" button.

  1. Select the "Read Now in Browser" button. The magazine opens in a new window. See screenshot below:


  1. Click on the edge of the page and your cursor will flip the pages or use the arrow keys on your keyboard. 

  2. Click in the middle of the page and a menu will pop up so you can read by selecting the 


page number using a search box OR by sliding a menu button to scan the pages. 

  1. That's all there is to it! If you need further assistance, please email MI staff at [email protected] or call 415-393-0102 between 8:30-5, M-F. Please note, technical assistance is not available on weekends. 

Posted on Mar. 16, 2021 by Celeste Steward

Memorable Memoirs: Women's History Month 2021

Did you know that Women's History Month started as a local celebration in Santa Rosa in 1978? It's true. Sonoma County organizers had planned a weeklong celebration to correspond with International Women's Day that year. As the movement spread across the country, other communities initiated their own Women's History Week celebrations the following year. 

Congress subsequently declared March as "Women's History Month" in 1987. During this year's celebration, we invite you to read one of MI Library's many inspiring memoirs about extraordinary women from all walks of life. This list contains staff favorites from the library's collection.  

Alpha Girls: the women upstarts who took on Silicon Valley's male culture and made the deals of a lifetime by Julian Guthrie - A powerful account of five women pioneers in the field of venture capital who bucked the system and found ways to survive in the cutthroat, male-dominated world of Silicon Valley.

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein - Originally published in 1933, this 2020 version is a reinvention of quirky prose and illustrations by Maira Kalman.

Becoming by Michelle Obama - A women's reading list without Michelle Obama's classy and classic memoir, recently adapted for children in a young reader's edition, just wouldn't be complete. 

The Best We Could Do: an illustrated memoir by Thi Bui - A compelling story about a young Vietnamese immigrant describing her family's move from their war-torn home to the United States in graphic novel format. 

Broadband: the untold story of the women who made the Internet by Claire L. Evans - The history of technology isn't one of just men and machines. Women were present and part of the action, including Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Stacy Horn and many others. 

Free Thinker: the extraordinary life of Helen Hamilton Gardener by Kimberly Hamlin - This is the story of a woman who worked tirelessly toward the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that gave all women the right to vote. 

Funny in Farsi: a memoir about growing up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas - A light-hearted memoir of an engaging family that moved from Iran to Southern California in the 1970s. 

Hidden Figures: the American dream and the untold story of the Black women mathematicians who helped win the space race by Margot Lee Shetterly - An inside look at the World War II-era black female mathematicians whose invaluable assistance in the aeronautics industry while working under very segregated conditions tells an enduring story for future generations. The much-praised 2017 film by the same name was based on Shetterly's 2016 book. 

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren - A fascinating look behind the scenes of plant research told through stories of how Jahren grew up playing in her father's classroom laboratory. The author found sanctuary in science and her passion for plant life is evident throughout her memoir. The eAudiobook version is a real treat under Jahren's narration, making her story so much more personal and compelling. 

Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion - A dozen essays from a brilliant author, including one about her rejection from Stanford University. 

Memorial Drive: a daughter's memoir by Natasha Trethewey - A past U.S. poet laureate, Trethewey begins her graceful, moving memoir with her mother's 1985 murder when the author was a teen. A hopeful and redemptive story. 

Men We Reaped: a memoir by Jesmyn Ward - A gifted novelist writes eloquently of her youth in rural Mississippi, a life touched by racism, poverty and sadness. Also available as an eAudiobook

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayer - The first Hispanic-American judge on the U.S. Supreme Court tells a candid and personal story, describing her journey from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench. 

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem - Journalist, activist and organizer, Steinem discusses her early upbringing traveling extensively with her restless parents. As an adult, Steinem spent considerable time on the road, organizing national campaigns for women's rights, including the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and supporting female political activities. Also available as an eBook

Queen of Bebop: the musical lives of Sarah Vaughan by Elaine M. Hayes - A success story of one of America's most influential female musicians of the 20th century. Vaughan helped desegregate American airwaves, open doors for future African American artists. She was often a lone female in male-dominated world, singing as a teenager with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and the Earl Hines band. 

Rachel Maddow by Lisa Rogak - Years before she became an anchor for MSNBC, Rachel Maddow went rogue while giving her 1990 high school graduation speech, calling on her conservative East Bay hometown to be more open-minded about sex education instead of banning textbooks and promoting prayer in public schools. Even then, it was apparent that young Rachel was unusually independent for her age and destined for future fame. 

Radium Girls: the dark story of America's shining women by Kate Moore - This exhaustively researched narrative about the female factory workers who painted glowing numbers on dials reads like a true crime novel. Readers may find it challenging not to feel outraged at the doctors, companies and laws that failed to protect these women from radium poisoning. 

Reading Lolita: a memoir in books in Tehran by Azar Nafisi - A sparkling memoir of life in post-revolutionary Iran. A teacher at the University of Tehran, Nafisi gathers seven former female students in her home to read forbidden works of Western literature, including Pride and Prejudice, Lolita, Ulysses and others. A rare glimpse into the lives of women in revolutionary Iran.  

Recollections of My Nonexistence by Rebecca Solnit - As a young woman in San Francisco in the 1980s, Rebecca Solnit felt silenced by a society that effaced women and expected them to adopt a demure attitude that perpetuates invisibility. The author of Hope in the Dark (Haymarket Books, 2016) describes her development as a writer and as a feminist and her exploration of the forces that liberated her as a person. 

Rise of the Rocket Girls: the women who propelled us, from missiles to the moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt - The story of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's elite group of women mathematicians and scientists who began working in the 1940s on projects that would carry the U.S. into space. Their work eventually helped launch lunar missions, planetary explorations and satellites.

The Smallest Lights in the Universe by Sara Seager - A luminous memoir of an MIT astrophysicist's search for an exoplanet told against the backdrop of her own personal tragedy -- the death of her husband to cancer and the challenge of raising their children as a single parent. As she struggles to navigate life after loss, Seager discovers the earthbound connections that feel every bit as wondrous as her passion for the alien beauty of exoplanets and stars. 

This Will Be My Undoing: living at the intersection of black, female, and feminist in (white) America by Morgan Jenkins - In a series of linked essays, Jenkins meditates on how it feels to be a Black woman in the United States today. Jenkins' 2018 debut memoir was a New York Times bestseller. 

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala - A devastating and ultimately redemptive memoir of a woman who survived the 2004 Sri Lankan tsunami. Deraniyagala recounts how she lost her parents, her husband and their two sons to a natural disaster that somehow spared her. A sobering account that is made more powerful by its spareness of literary flourish. 

Wrapped in Rainbows: the life of Zora Neale Hurston by Valerie Boyd - When Zora Neale Hurston died in 1960 at the age of 69, she was buried in an unmarked grave and her books were out of print. Since then her 1937 novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is regarded as a classic of African-American and feminist literature. Boyd has written a definitive biography of one of America's most influential writers. 

Posted on Mar. 11, 2021 by Celeste Steward

Ireland On My Mind

It began as a Christian feast to celebrate the life of St. Patrick and the spread of Christianity to Ireland. Today, St. Patrick's Day means a time of revelry and a celebration of all things Irish. But parades and pints in a crowded bar won't be feasible this year. If you're staying in, why not grab a glass of your favorite beverage and choose a title from MI Library's Irish fiction reading list? You'll be dreaming of the Emerald Isle in no time. All titles are available through MI's "To Go" service or downloadable anytime from our website

Actress by Anne Enright - Katherine O'Dell is an Irish theatrical legend. As her daughter Norah retraces her mother's celebrated career and bohemian life from Ireland to London's West End, she discovers long-kept secrets. Long-listed for the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction, O'Dell has written a brilliant novel about celebrity, power, and a daughter's search to understand her mother's hidden truths. Also available as an eAudiobook

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin - In 1950s Ireland, Ellis Lacey is one of many who cannot find work. She accepts a job offer in America but leaving family and her beloved homeland will be painful. Once arrived in New York City, Ellis finds the crowded boardinghouse and other unfamiliar rhythms of life only add to her isolation. If she is to stay, she must find happiness in a new country. Toibin's 2009 novel was adapted into a feature film by the same name. Brooklyn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture for 2015. 

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney - A clever novel about smart, creative 20-something females and their complex relationships. Set in Dublin, Rooney's 2017 debut novel perfectly captures the flavor of Irish millennial life, soon to be a TV series. HULU is adapting the novel and production is well underway. 

Dubliners by James Joyce - First published in 1914, Joyce's collection of 15 short stories depicting Irish middle-class life evoke the character, atmosphere and people of Dublin at the turn of the 19th century. Also available in large print and as an eAudiobook. Required reading for fans of classic literature. 

The Guest List by Lucy Foley - On a remote island off the coast of Ireland, wedding guests gather to celebrate the happy couple. Despite spotty cell-phone service and rough seas, the guests are comfortably settled in and anticipation builds. But when someone turns up dead, visitors wonder who didn't wish the happy couple well. Also available as an e-Audiobook

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne - Adopted by a well-to-do, eccentric Dublin couple who remind him that he is not a real member of their family, Cyril embarks on a journey to find his own identity, a home, a country and much more throughout a long lifetime. Sweeping and magnetic, Oprah Magazine reviewed Boyne's 2017 book, "bleak, bittersweet, and Irish to the bone."

In the Woods by Tana French - Detective Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox investigate the murder of a 12-year-old girl near a Dublin suburb. This title is the first in the Dublin Murder series and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 2008. The STARZ television series entitled Dublin Murders is based on In the Woods and book number two, The Likeness

The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen - In their country home in County Cork, Sir Richard Naylor and his wife, Lady Myra, maintain a lavish lifestyle of 1920s tennis parties and dances, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the end is approaching -- the end of British rule in the south of Ireland and the demise of the way of life that has survived for centuries. Bowen's 1952 novel was adapted into a film by the same name in 1999, available on DVD at MI Library.  

Milkman by Anna Burns - Set in Belfast during the 1970s, readers are given a glimpse of life in a police state. Shootings, bombings, riots and more lurk around every corner as the story's 18-year-old narrator known only as the "middle sister" walks home. When a man known in the district as the "sinister, omniscient milkman" begins stalking her, the story resonates with the anxieties of today's era of sexual harassment and fear. Burns' third novel won the 2018 Man Booker Prize. 

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - A classic novel about Dorian Gray, a handsome young man who strikes a Faustian bargain for immortality. While he maintains a public life devoted to aestheticism, his private life is filled with hedonism and immorality. In the years to come, Dorian's physical appearance remains youthful while his portrait reflects the shameful vices of his secret activities. Wilde's 1890 novel was adapted into a film by the same name starring George Sanders and Hurd Hatfield in 1945.  

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue - A nurse in a Dublin hospital works in an understaffed maternity ward during the worldwide 1918 flu pandemic. There, she takes on an assistant, Bridie Sweeney, an ill-treated teen from a nearby Catholic convent. They develop a friendship while struggling to care for patients without adequate sanitation and medical supplies. Donoghue began writing this novel during the centennial year of the 1918 flu before COVID-19 gave it the grim contemporary relevance of stores running out of disinfectant and hospitals overflowing with patients -- a deeply moving story.

Quentin's by Maeve Binchy - While filming a documentary about Quentin's, a famed Dublin restaurant, Ella Brady explores the changing face of the city from the 1970s to the present day as she captures the stories of the people who have made Quentin's a center of their lives. Binchy's 2002 novel has a few familiar characters from the author's previous books amid the new but readers won't be left behind. Her dry humor and sharp wit will keep them chuckling right to the last page. 

The Searcher by Tana French - Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a bucolic Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force and a painful divorce, he wants a quiet life in a small town where nothing much happens. But when a local kid whose brother has gone missing convinces Cal to investigate, he learns that even small towns have a dark side. Also available as an eBook

Snow by John Banville - In 1957, Detective Inspector St. John Strafford is summoned to County Wexford to investigate a murder. A parish priest has been found dead in Ballyglass House, the family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family. In a Catholic Church-controlled Ireland, the visibly Protestant Strafford finds himself unwelcome in a tight-knit community's culture of silence.

This is Happiness by Niall Williams - The small Irish community of Faha hasn't changed in a thousand years. But change is coming, from the unexpected break in rainfall to the advent of electricity. When a stranger arrives in Faha, 17-year-old Noel Crowe knows that something has shifted. A tender portrait of a community anchors this lyrical coming-of-age tale. 


Posted on Mar. 9, 2021 by Celeste Steward

MI's eMaterials Moving to Libby

MI Library's eAudiobook, eBook, and eMagazine collections are moving to Libby and Overdrive with some exciting perks for members! 

Members can now access more than 3,000 eMagazines alongside eBooks and eAudiobooks with one Libby app. Full-color and always available, our digital magazines have no wait lists, check out for 21 days, and are renewable. Users can enjoy Kindle books delivered through Overdrive on their Kindle device or the Kindle app. 

Here is a helpful video to get started with the Libby app

Want to enjoy eMaterials on your computer? We have you covered! Overdrive allows members to access eMaterials on a web browser

For help downloading eBooks, click here. For eAudiobooks assistance, click here. As always, MI staff is here for you! For help with the Libby app, click here. For live downloading assistance, call us at 415-393-0101 or email us at [email protected]

Wondering where our Axis360 books are going? 

Members may still use Axis360 for eBooks as well. Later this year, our Axis360 eBook titles will move to Overdrive. We will update you on the transition.

Note: Librarians Myles Cooper and Steven Dunlap contributed to this post.

Posted on Mar. 1, 2021 by Celeste Steward

A Garden of Adaptations for Spring

If you look closely, signs of spring are all around. Red-breasted robins sing a merry tune, the hills are once again green, and there's an earthy smell outside. For those of us just emerging from a pile of winter reading, it's time to sit up and take notice of these recently released book-based television and film adaptations. There are no rules here -- you can watch first and read later or vice versa -- either way is enjoyable. All titles are available through MI's To Go service. 

Streaming now:

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough - Louise meets the man of her dreams in a bar one night. The next morning, she starts a new job and comes face to face with David Martin, the psychiatrist who hired her sight unseen as his new secretary and the same man from her one-night stand. To further complicate matters, Louise develops a friendship with David's wife, Adele, bonding with her over gym classes and coffee dates. While both women keep their friendship a secret from David, Louise soon finds herself caught in a web of twisted mind games. This limited TV series based on Sarah Pinborough's novel by the same name began airing on Netflix in February. 

The Dig by John Preston - A priceless treasure is discovered in East Anglia on the eve of World War II. Preston's 2007 novel about the 1939 Sutton Hoo excavation began as a premonition from the owner of a riverside farm in Suffolk. However, the foibles and emotions of the people involved in the three-month long archeological dig makes an equally engrossing film by the same name starring Ralph Fiennes and Lily James. The Dig began streaming in December on Netflix. 

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness - Brilliant historian Diana Bishop is a witch denying her own heritage. When she accidentally calls up an ancient, enchanted manuscript from Oxford's Bodleian Library, the discovery attracts a host of supernatural creatures, all claiming ownership of Ashmole 782. Unless Diana can solve the mystery of the bewitched manuscript, she is in extreme danger. The show based on Harkness' 2011 book by the same name stars Matthew Goode and was nominated for several awards, including one for best horror television series by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, USA. You can watch the show on Sundance Now, AMC+ or Amazon Prime. 

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah - This heartwarming tale of a lifelong friendship begins in the 1970s and follows the lives of Kate and Tully over three decades. For fans of women's fiction featuring promises, secrets and betrayals, Hannah's 2008 coming-of-age novel explores the nature of best friends and the choices that test the even the strongest of relationships. While the TV series by the same name doesn't exactly follow the book, its twists and turns are highly entertaining. The show is streaming now on Netflix and stars Katherine Hiegl. A second season is already in production.  

Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai - Arjie is the playful second son of a privileged family in Sri Lanka. But Arjie prefers staging make-believe wedding pageants with his female cousins rather than playing ball with the other boys. When his parents discover his innocent pastime, Arjie is forced to abandon childhood games and adopt the rigid rules of the adult world. Set against the backdrop of the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict, Selvadurai's coming-of-age novel won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction in 1996. The 2020 film by the same name is now streaming on Netflix. 

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton - A compelling science fiction novel about two brilliant scientists who have sacrificed family and friendships for research. When a global emergency traps Augustine in an Arctic outpost and prevents Sullivan, an astronaut, from landing while returning to Earth, both are  forced to revisit their priorities during the resulting  communication breakdown. The author deftly weaves the two narratives together into an exploration of what endures at the end of the world. Brooks-Dalton's 2016 apocalyptic novel was adapted into a 2020 film entitled The Midnight Sky and stars George Clooney and Felicity Jones on Netflix. 

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby - An oldie but goodie that just came out streaming on HULU, although you can watch the film on DVD from MI. British journalist Hornby's first novel about Rob Fleming, a "Generation X" pop music fanatic and record store owner, never fails to bring a slow smile with its dry humor. Does pop music fandom set the stage for an unhappy life or does an intense love of sad pop songs delay one's own coming of age? To be sure, you'll be laughing alongside Rob Fleming whether you're reading the book or watching the movie. 

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton - A murder mystery set in a remote gold-mining frontier town in 19th-century New Zealand. Weary Englishman Walter Moody arrives in 1866, intent on making his fortune on the New Zealand coast. Instead, he stumbles upon several suspicious events, town secrets and more intrigue. Catton's 834-page novel won the Man Booker Prize in 2013 but every page is worth reading. The television series by the same name was filmed on location in New Zealand and began streaming on STARZ in February. Also available as an eBook

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder - A non-fiction book that examines a relatively recent subculture of low-income seniors who trade mortgages for vehicles, traveling between work sites and surviving on seasonal employment to supplement their social security income. Journalist Bruder takes to the road for a compelling look at a growing trend of transient life -- older Americans trying to make the best of a tough situation. Bruder's book was named a 2017 Notable Title by the New York Times. The 2020 feature film by the same name starring Frances McDormand received four Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture for Drama and is currently streaming on HULU. Also available as an eBook

White Tiger by Aravind Adiga - Balram Halwai is a charismatic entrepreneur in India -- and a murderer. Over the course of seven nights, Balram tells his terrible story of how he became successful, surviving with nothing but his wits. Adiga's debut novel won the 2008 Man Booker Prize. The 2020 film by the same name was filmed on location in Delhi and began streaming in January on Netflix. 

Posted on Feb. 25, 2021 by Celeste Steward

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

The best news yet for 2021 is that the COVID-19 vaccine is rolling out in California. But navigating through all the information surrounding how, when and where to receive the vaccine can be a challenge. The reference staff at MI Library has compiled a list of websites to help you sign up for notices, find out when it's your turn, and access other important COVID-19 resources. 

If you do not have internet service at home, call 2-1-1 for updated COVID-19 information. 

  1. California Department of Public Health's My Turn website: https://myturn.ca.gov/

You can determine your eligibility and sign up for vaccine alerts here. 

  1. San Francisco Department of Public Health: https://sf.gov/covid-19-vaccine-san-francisco

Sign up for alerts from the SFDPH, find information on COVID-19 testing, city services, free or low-cost internet access, and learn about the safety of the vaccine.

  1. In San Francisco, get notified when you’re eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine: https://sf.gov/get-notified-when-youre-eligible-covid-19-vaccine

  1. Alameda County Public Health Department: https://covid-19.acgov.org/vaccines

You'll find vaccine guidance and other resources here. 

  1. California State COVID-19 website: https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccines/

You'll find a wealth of information here, including how to get vaccinated by county, how to determine if you are in the high risk category, vaccine locations, vaccine statistics by county, and what to expect after getting vaccinated.

  1. The State of California's COVID-19 Hotline number is 1-833-422-4255. The line is open M-F 8am-8pm and Sat-Sun 8am-5pm.

  1. If you are not in the Bay Area, you will find your local health department website anywhere in the United States from this website: https://www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/healthdirectories/index.html

  1. National Public Radio has an online tool to help you understand the COVID-19 vaccine sign up process in any state: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/02/18/967448680/how-to-sign-up-for-a-covid-19-vaccine-in-your-state

  1. Check the websites of your local pharmacies, such as Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens to see if they have vaccination appointments. If you want to know which pharmacies are participating in a federal partnership to offer the COVID-19 vaccine, you will find a list on this website: https://www.abc10.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/vaccine/which-pharmacies-will-be-receiving-additional-covid-vaccines/507-f4748f86-97e2-4c90-88c6-161524a14a45

  1. Check with your medical insurance provider to see if they have an alert system to notify you when vaccines are available. 

Note: Librarians Taryn Edwards and Myles Cooper contributed to this resource list.

Posted on Feb. 22, 2021 by Celeste Steward