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Remember the Ladies

In a letter dated March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams urged her husband, John Adams, to "remember the ladies" as he crafted guidelines for our new country. Little did Abigail know that her advice would become a chorus for the ages. In keeping with Mrs. Adams' sentiment, M.I Library honors women's accomplishments this month.

Currently, we are racing through State of Terror by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and bestselling author Louise Penny. Clinton's debut novel is also available as a downloadable audiobook read by actress Joan Allen. We are anxiously anticipating the upcoming adaptation of a movie by the same name, also produced by Clinton and Penny, two incredibly accomplished women making their first foray into film. 

While we're on the subject of women who have run for office, we grew curious about other females who dared to break a few rules throughout history. The Scarlet Sisters by Myra MacPherson tells the story of Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president in the late 19th century and her sister, Lady Tennessee Claflin Cook, who helped create the first woman-run brokerage firm. 

If stories of spunky women appeal to you as well, try Women Who Dared by Jeremy Scott, a 2019 title that spins through history featuring highlights from remarkable females' lives, including Coco Chanel, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Aimee Semple McPherson. For an even wider sampling of strong females, check out Lee Mckenzi's Bygone Badass Broads:52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World. ScoSisters in Arms: a novel of the daring Black women who served in World War IItt's book celebrates women who dared to step outside traditional gender roles of their time, including Juliet Gordon Low, Mary Anning, Fannie Fields, and Sarah Breedlove. 

While it would be impossible to name all the influential women who helped shape our history, we'd like to mention a few notable favorites that feature remarkable females whose lives and work inspire and uplift. You'll find all of these titles and more on M.I.'s New Book shelf right now. 

All that She Carried by Tiya Miles -  A story that begins in the 1850s with an embroidered cotton sack handed from an enslaved mother to her young daughter – a strikingly vivid account of how a family heirloom can open a portal to women's history.

Lorraine Hansberry by Charles J. Shields - A meticulously researched account of one of the most celebrated playwrights. Hansberry, who wrote A Raisin in the Sun at age 28, was the first Black woman to have a play performed on Broadway. 

Always Remember Your Name by Andra Bucci - A true account told in the dual voices of two sisters who survived Auschwitz and separated from their mother. They were later reunited with their mother because they memorized important information. An amazing tale of survivorship and a historically significant document from the 20th century's darkest period. 

Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict - A novel based on the life of brilliant chemist Rosalind Franklin, whose DNA research paved the way for so many other scientific discoveries. 

Sisters in Arms: a novel of the daring Black women who served in World War II by Kaia Alderson - As the United States heads into World War II, two Black women in Harlem are dissatisfied with their career prospects. They enlist in the military, hoping to change their destinies. 


Posted on Mar. 10, 2022 by Celeste Steward

Celebrating Black History Month Through Food

We're celebrating Black History Month with a list of staff-recommended cookbooks highlighting the accomplishments of Black chefs. All are available for checkout in the library.

Black Food: stories, art and recipes from across the African diaspora by Bryant Terry- A beautiful, rich, and groundbreaking book exploring Black foodways within America and around the world, curated by food activist and author of Vegetable Kingdom, Bryant Terry.


Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue by Adrian Miller - In Black Smoke, the author chronicles how Black barbecuers, pitmasters, and restaurateurs helped develop this cornerstone of American foodways and how they are coming into their own today

The Cooking Gene: a journey through African American culinary history in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty - Food historian Twitty, creator of the Afroculinaria blog, serves up a splendid hearth-based history, at once personal and universal, of the African-American experience


Grandbaby Cakes: modern recipes, vintage charm, soulful memories by Jocelyn Delk Adams - Featuring 50 vintage cakes with modern twists and a memoir tracing the roots of the author's family recipes.



High on the Hog: a culinary journey from Africa to America by Jessica B. Harris - From chitlins and ham hocks to fried chicken and vegan soul, Harris celebrates the delicious and restorative foods of the African American experience and details how each came to form such an important part of African American culture, history, and identity.



Jubilee: recipes from two centuries of African American cooking by Toni Tipton-Martin - More than 100 recipes that paint a rich, varied picture of the true history of African American cooking.



Red Rooster Cookbook: the story of food and hustle in Harlem by Marcus Samuelsson - When Samuelsson opened Red Rooster in Harlem, he envisioned a restaurant that would be the heart of his neighborhood – a meet-and-greet, serving Southern black and cross-cultural food ... and one that would reflect Harlem's rich history. 



Soul Food: the surprising story of an American cuisine, one plate at a time by Adrian Miller - In this insightful and eclectic history on the influences, ingredients, and innovations that make up soul food tradition. Each chapter focuses on the culinary and social history of one dish, such as fried chicken, chitlins, yams, and more. 



The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis - In recipes and reminiscences equally delicious, Edna Lewis celebrates the uniquely American country cooking she grew up with some fifty years ago in a small Virginia Piedmont farming community that had been settled by freed slaves. With menus for the four seasons, she shares the ways her family prepared and enjoyed food, savoring the delights of each special time of year.


Posted on Feb. 10, 2022 by Celeste Steward

M.I. 2022 Reading Challenge

The new year is a great time to fit a literary challenge into your calendar. Here at Mechanics’ Institute we begin reading this month with a book that has a title starting with "H" such as Thrity Umrigar's Honor, the January pick for Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine book club. The library has tons more titles beginning with "H" too, including J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, or Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness. 

Next month shouldn't be terribly difficult to find a book with red on the cover. How about J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, or Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire? You'll find many more in the library as well. 

For March, you'll need to find a book that features a library or a bookstore. You may like The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict, The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles, or a perennial staff favorite, 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. 

April is a good month for debut authors. Did you know that Delia Owens was 69 when she published her New York Times bestseller, Where the Crawdads Sing? You might also check out Brit Bennett's The Mothers to read before the film adaptation is finished. And who can resist Frederik Backman's A Man Called Ove, in production now as a film starring Tom Hanks?

May is a snap because all you need to do is read a New York Times Bestseller. Some member favorites include The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles, Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr, and Wish You Were Here by Judi Picoult but the library has many more. 

By June, you'll be smooth sailing into summer if you can find a book with an animal on the cover. There's Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, Awaeke Emezi's extraordinary debut novel, Freshwater, or M.I.'s World Literature book club pick, The Friend by Sigrid Nunez.

Local authors reign supreme in July and this is an area where the library excels. We have books by Rebecca Solnit, Jack Kerouac, Alice Walker, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, to name a few. You can also access all of the library's works by members if you search for Members Mechanics Institute San Francisco Calif Works as a subject heading in our catalog. 

In August we head to the shore with a book that has a "beachy" cover. Elin Hilderbrand's The Perfect Couple, Nevil Shute's On the Beach, or Queen Bee by Dorothea Benton Frank will satisfy the monthly challenge. 

Slip into fall with September's one word title challenge. Try Circe by Madeline Miller, Educated by Tara Westover, or the humorous Less by Andrew Sean Greer. 

By October, you'll be craving a spooky book and the library is bursting with scary stories. Keep the night light on as we dare you to read Silvia Morena-Garcia's Mexican Gothic, Stephen King's The Shining, or Helen Oyeyemi's White is for Witching

November is a kinder and gentler month as all you need is a non-fiction title of your choice. By December you can wrap up your challenge by reading a book that has a wintery setting, such as Boundless: tracing land and dream by the New Northwest passage by Kathleen Winter, or The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. 

If you do anything in this new year, be sure and read along with us. Stop by to see our display on the second floor to help you get started. Our staff librarians are happy to recommend books when you visit or if you prefer to stay in, just email us at [email protected]. Happy reading!

Posted on Jan. 15, 2022 by Celeste Steward

Peace on Earth

Winter is unquestionably a festive time of year. Whatever holiday you celebrate this season, now is the time to embrace peace and goodwill towards all. Here at MI, we are truly excited about reopening after the long hiatus of not being able to touch, dine, and gather. Welcoming members back to the library has made us truly appreciate human contact now more than ever. 

To capture the magic of the season, we offer members an eclectic list of holiday reading -- staff picked titles to share and bring good tidings to all. If you have a favorite holiday read of your own feel free to share it with our staff at [email protected].

The Book of Joy: lasting happiness in a changing world by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu - Two of the world's most supreme human beings explore one of life's most burning questions: how does one find joy amid inevitable suffering as part of the human condition? They share stories, wisdom, and science that leave readers with a lasting foundation for happiness. 

Celebrations: rituals of peace and prayer by Maya Angelou - A collection of timely and timeless poems that are an integral part of the global fabric. Several works have become nearly as iconic as Angelou herself: the inspiring 'On the Pulse of Morning', read at President William Jefferson Clinton's 1993 inauguration; the heartening 'Amazing Peace, ' presented at the 2005 lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the White House, as well as many others.

The Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot -  "My favorite book to read around the holidays is The Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot (or any of Herriot's stories). The illustrations are wonderful and the narrative is appealing to both children and adults. The story starts on Christmas day when a country veterinarian is called to the farm of Mrs. Pickering to tend to a desperately ill stray cat that has just given birth. The cat, known as Debbie, passes away before Dr. Herriott can do anything to save her. Mrs. Pickering however takes charge of the young kitten and quickly becomes entranced with his antics. Like all Herriot's stories, this is set in the gorgeous Yorkshire countryside - perfect to enjoy with a cup of cocoa before a warm hearth." -- Taryn, Library

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote - "This autobiographical story describes an unconventional friendship between a young boy, Buddy, and his elder cousin. They are each other's best friend, and share a house together with other relatives. They make for an interesting pair. Buddy (Capote) looks back on a particular Christmas that he spent with his older cousin, in a Christmas ritual of baking and then giving away fruitcakes to people whom they barely knew." -- Craig, Library

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury - A simple, profoundly touching story of a boy in a small town discovering what it truly means to be alive. Bradbury's 1957 novel was set in the summer of 1928 in the fictional town of Green Town, Illinois and based on his childhood home in Waukegan, Illinois.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein - "I like to reread old favorites during the holidays. Since childhood, I've been re-reading J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings nearly every winter. The friendship between Frodo, Sam, Pip, and Merry -- as well as their journey of discovery that the world is so much larger, scarier, and richer than their sheltered existence in the Shire -- always comforts me. Despite the complexity of the "happy ending" that encompasses both a triumph over evil and a heartbreaking loss of innocence, I love revisiting these old friends (hobbits and elves and humans and dwarves) in a Middle Earth not much different than our own.`` -- Heather, Membership

Nicholas Nickleby (or the Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby) by Charles Dickens - A young man, Nicholas Nickelby appeals to his uncle for help after he is left penniless after his own father's death. But Ralph Nickelby proves hard-hearted and unscrupulous and his nephew must make his own way in the world. -- Pam, Events

Night by Elie Wiesel - "At first glance this seems an odd title to bring comfort during the holiday season. I found Wiesel's intimate memoir of his time spent in a World War II concentration camp and his ultimate survival incredibly humbling, particularly because the author's Nobel Prize acceptance speech is included in the book. In it, Wiesel says, "We know that every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering: to not share them would mean to betray them" -- a basic thread that runs throughout his powerful book." -- Celeste, Library

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger - Through the voice of 11-year-old Reuben Land, an asthmatic boy obsessed with cowboys living in 1960s Minnesota, the story is told of the Land family's cross-country search for Reuben's outlaw older brother, who has been charged with murder. Handsomely written and rich with a bounty of miracles. 

Pete the Cat's 12 Groovy Days of Christmas by James Dean - If you have a special young person in your life, there's no better holiday treat than Pete the Cat, a groovy creature who counts down the days before Christmas with his own special brand of hip, energetic spirit, adding a bit of California beach flair to the usual snowy festivities. For an introduction to the series, check out the classic Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons at MI.  -- Kimberly, Administration

The Scorpio Races (on order) by Maggie Stiefvater - Every year, riders in the Scorpio Races attempt to hold their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live while others die. For the first time ever, a girl has entered the competition and no one is prepared for the outcome. "It's really a November read but I always like to reread the Scorpio Races at this time of the year." -- Hannah, Membership

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis - A humorous and perceptive exchange between two devils, C.S. Lewis delves into moral questions about good versus evil, temptation, repentance, and grace. Lewis' classic masterpiece of religious satire will entertain with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to "Our Father Below." The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi - At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, NPR, Publisher's Weekly, and many others, Kalanithi's exquisitely observed memoir finds hope and beauty in the face of insurmountable odds. 


Posted on Dec. 14, 2021 by Celeste Steward

Holiday Book Bingo

Did you know the library has extended its hours from 12-6 Monday through Friday? Now that there's more time to visit, we invite members to participate in our Holiday Book Bingo -- a literary challenge guaranteed to lift your spirits. Just mention that you are reading your way through the Holiday Book Bingo at the library service desks on both the second and third floors and we'll give you a special treat. 

Let's begin by reading a book that has a four-letter word title. A few of our staff picks include Emma by Jane Austen, Dune by Frank Herbert, Mort by Terry Pratchett, Jaws by Peter Benchley, and Dust by Yvonne Owuor. 

Next, read a book that features an indigenous main character. We liked The Birchbark House by Louise Erdich, There There by Tommy Orange, The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, and The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline but feel free to unearth a title of your choice. 

Feeling hungry? Find a book that includes a recipe. Here are a few staff favorites from our fiction collection: The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs, Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg, The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. You'll want to devour them all but you only have to read one to complete the challenge.  

This month, let's read a book that was published in November. A few of our favorites include: Becoming by Michelle Obama, The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly, Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdich, and if you are a true crime fan, Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe. You will find more suggestions here

With December around the corner, let's find a book published in December. Our staff loved listening to The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. We also adored Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield, Eight Flavors: the untold story of American cuisine by Sarah Lohman, and The Wives by Tarryn Fisher. .  

For a wild card read, we had fun searching for titles that feature red-headed characters. A few of our staff picks include Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, The Wives of Henry the VIII by Antonia Fraser, Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison, Cover Her Face by P.D. James, and The Pesthouse by Jim Crace

Since the holidays are nearly upon us, we wanted to enjoy a seasonal selection. Our staff loved The Thanksgiving Visitor by Truman Capote, Skipping Christmas by John Grisham, Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris, The Ice Storm by Rick Moody, and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. We hope you'll choose one of these titles or discover one of yourself at the library.


Posted on Nov. 15, 2021 by Celeste Steward

Oh the Drama!

We are huge nonfiction fans here at Mechanics’ Institute Library, and we are thrilled that TV and film producers have chosen to adapt several recent bestsellers, such as Nomadland, Dopesick, Maid, and others. Watching true stories migrate to film and TV is high excitement indeed. Even better, the library has all these titles and more waiting to be explored by our members. 

If you happened to read Dopesick before viewing the riveting new television series by the same name, you'll know that Beth Macy's 2018 book is a great example of how award-winning nonfiction can be even more compelling as a dramatization. A long-time journalist, Macy drew upon 30 years of reporting from Southwest Virginia communities for her book about OxyContin, a highly addictive painkiller. Dopesick won the LA Times Book Prize for Science and Technology and was shortlisted for the Kirkus Prize and the Carnegie Medal. Actor and writer Danny Strong adapted Dopesick into the television series that was released earlier this month on HULU. 

While some directors may take creative license with real-life stories, we think minor blurring of the line between fact and fiction enhances the storytelling. A prime example of this is Netflix's new series Maid, based on Stephanie Land's quiet memoir by the same name. Maid chronicles the author's years as a single mother working as a lowly-paid domestic worker for wealthy employers, contrasting the privileges of the upper-middle class to the realities of the overworked laborers supporting them. 

Other books, such as Nomadland by Jessica Bruder, contain stories so powerful, they nearly jump off the page and project their intensity on screen. Bruder's 2017 bestseller about older Americans living nomadic lives in search of seasonal employment was adapted into a film by the same name in 2021. Nomadland garnered a bounty of awards, including Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress. 

Some nonfiction titles are so cinematic they beg to be dramatized, such as the recent theatrical release of The Last Duel, based on the 2004 book by Eric Jager. Set in medieval France, The Last Duel is a gripping, true story of a trial by combat pitting a knight against a squire accused of violating the knight's beautiful young wife. Directed by Ridley Scott, the film stars Adam Driver, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. 

Speaking of French history, we eagerly await Starz' upcoming series entitled The Serpent Queen, based on Leonie Frieda's Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France. The television series follows Catherine de Medici, who marries into the French court as an orphaned teenager expected to bring a generous dowry and produce heirs, only to discover that her husband is in love with an older woman and she cannot conceive children. With any luck, the TV series will align with Frieda's book in portraying Catherine de Medici as a woman who did what she had to do to survive. 

Still another class of nonfiction tells important stories of unsung heroes. For instance, Judy Batalion's The Light of Days: the untold story of women resistance fighters in Hitler's ghettos is a resounding history of the brave Jewish women who fought the German invaders during World War II. Batalion, a child of Holocaust survivors, is working with Amblin Pictures to adapt her 2021 book into a film.. 

Also in development and due out soon is the first season of Apple TV's Five Days at Memorial, based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Sheri Fink's Five Days at Memorial: life and death in a storm-ravaged hospital. The author, a physician and reporter, provides a landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Readers of Fink's 2013 work will be drawn into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amid chaos -- page-turning nonfiction at its finest.

Posted on Oct. 22, 2021 by Celeste Steward

Waiting for Dune

If you're anxiously awaiting Dune in theaters later this month, we are right there with you. Frank Herbert's science fiction masterpiece about the dangerous mining of a life-extending substance called "the spice" has fascinated readers ever since it was first published in 1965. A blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the 1966 Nebula Award and tied with Roger Zelazny's The Immortals for the Hugo Award that same year.

In 1984, Herbert's visionary novel was adapted into a film directed by David Lynch. Several years later, the book was adapted a second time as a miniseries that appeared on the Sci-Fi Channel. The 2021 adaptation, directed by Denis Villenueve, features a cast of heavyweight stars, including Timothee Chalamet, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, and Charlotte Rampling.

But what to read while we're waiting? If you haven't read Dune, it's a good place to begin. If you've already read it, we have a list of staff-recommended titles, all available in the library. 

You might want to consider Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. This 1951 science fiction saga covers a thousand years and follows a band of exiles during the fall of an empire and the rise of a new one. When you're finished reading, you can watch the new miniseries by the same name. The Foundation TV series began streaming this month on Apple TV.

For those who enjoy the excitement of an alternate world escape, Dan Simmons' Hyperion (Doubleday, 1989) is perfect. Simmons uses the structure of The Canterbury Tales to explore the Hegemony of Man, a huge planetary network linked by farcaster portals. He crafts a vast universe dense with philosophical struggles. 

For a more classic utopian world, Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed takes us to Tau Ceti, where Shevek, a brilliant physicist from the anarchist moon Anarres, risks his life by traveling to the mother planet of Urras in the hope of offering wisdom to its inhabitants and to reunite two long-alienated worlds. Le Guin's 1975 Nebula award winner was unusual for its exploration of the themes of anarchy and capitalism, among others. 

In the sea of alternate world fiction, a few of our newer picks include Pierce Brown's Red Rising (Del Ray, 2014), which takes place in a futuristic, color-coded caste society on Mars. As inferior members of society, the "Reds" work in the mines, believing that their labor will someday make the surface of Mars habitable. When it is discovered that the planet has had sprawling cities and people living on the surface for generations, the stage is set for revolution. 

The intricate and complex world in N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season (Orbit, 2015), also begins with social oppression against a backdrop of climate change. The first in Jemisin's Broken Earth series, the novel is told by three narrators -- all orogenes, an oppressed class of people capable of manipulating energy -- delivering intertwined tales. 

Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem (Tor Books, 2014), has the scope of Dune with an intriguing twist -- an alien-contact story that goes sideways -- the first  in the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy from China's most celebrated science fiction author. Liu's novel covers eons of time and weaves remarkable threads into a speculative tale about a secret military project set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution.

Posted on Oct. 13, 2021 by Celeste Steward

Down the Rabbit Hole

There's a crispness in the air these days that makes us want to grab a pile of mysteries and head down the rabbit hole (figuratively, of course). If you too can't get enough of those dark thrillers that make you shiver with the lights on, here are our recommendations to keep you turning the pages well after sundown. 

Straight off the library's New Mystery shelf, we found four titles with a hefty chill factor. A Study in Crimson: Sherlock Holmes 1942 by Robert J. Harris follows the killing spree of "Crimson Jack," a stalker who roams the wartime streets of London murdering women on the exact dates of the infamous Jack the Ripper killings of 1888. But even quiet neighborhoods are not immune to murder. Megan Miranda's Such a Quiet Place is a new novel about a sleepy, idyllic town where, after more than a year of as the topic of negative news in the media, residents are  trapped, unable to sell their homes and confronted by the empty house where a grisly murder took place. We're left breathless over The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Mattheson, a story about a serial killer and his copycat locked in a violent game of cat and mouse. Topping the gruesome list  is C.J. Box's Dark Sky, his new novel about Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett who must accompany a Silicon Valley CEO on a hunting trip--but soon learns that he himself may be the prey. 

On the cusp of autumn, sinister titles set in the north have a compass-like attraction. Settling in with Jamey Bradbury's electrifying 2018 debut, The Wild Inside, a horror novel about a woman who is attacked by a mysterious stranger while hunting near her family home in remote Alaska--we found it an engaging read for fans of Stephen King or Chris Bohjalian. And speaking of faraway lands, prolific author Ann Cleeves' Red Bones (Minotaur Books, 2009) spins a noirish yarn about an archeological dig where the human remains discovered are recent and the subsequent murder of an elderly woman further disturbs a sparsely-populated Shetland community. Yrsa Sigurdardóttir's The Absolution (Minotaur Books, 2020) about a serial killer who brands his victims with numbers will keep you frozen on the sofa long into the night. The creep factor rises a few more notches with Lars Kepler's The Rabbit Hunter (Knopf, 2020), a haunting story that begins with a Swedish nursery rhyme, then launches into a murder investigation about a  killer who savors the slow deaths of his victims--frosty fare of the highest order. 

If you gravitate toward thrillers about political intrigue and manhunts, Frederik Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal, a 1971 classic thriller about a plot to assassinate Charles de Gaulle will not fail to satisfy. Ditto for Michael Connelly's The Poet, a 1996 mystery about a serial killer who hunts homicide detectives. For a more historical twist on manhunts, C.S. Harris' new novel, What the Devil Knows reaches back to 19th-century London, where police search for a serial killer who murders entire families in their homes, paralyzing the city in fear. 

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the scariest of all? That would be none other than We Were Killers Once by Becky Masterman, a speculative work loosely based on Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, the 1966 true crime story about two ex-prisoners whose random murder of a rural family shocked the nation. The premise of Masterman's 2019 novel is that the Holcomb, Kansas crime involved a third man who somehow escaped detection all those years ago and has now resurfaced. We're betting you won't sleep until the very last page!

Posted on Sep. 14, 2021 by Celeste Steward

Learn New Technology Skills at MI

Learning new technology skills is easy with your Mechanics' Institute library membership. Our librarians are available to answer technology questions Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays from 12-4 pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-6 pm in the library or by phone at 415-393-0102. 

On the Library's website at www.milibrary.org, under the Events tab, you'll find two September workshops of interest. What's Streaming on Kanopy (plenty!) happens on Wednesday, September 1 from 7:00-8:00 pm. This free virtual class will show you how to explore and discover MI's Kanopy streaming service to find films, classes, documentaries, and more. We'll also show you how to set up Kanopy on your TV or mobile device. 

If you use a free email service and want to learn more, don't miss Email Basics on September 15 from 1:00-1:45 pm. This is an in-person workshop on the third floor of the Library in Classroom A. You'll learn how to compose an email message, organize your inbox effectively, filter out unwanted messages and much more. Both classes are led by staff Librarian Myles Cooper. 

If you're interested in learning online, there are several free or low cost teaching tools available to help. 

  • GetSetUp.io - This is one of the best online learning websites that partners with guides to provide training on tech tools for older adults. You'll find more than 350 online classes taught in real-time by retired teachers and tech industry experts. Most of the classes are free, however some charge a minimal fee. 

  • SeniorPlanet.org - Created and sponsored by national nonprofit OATS (Older Adults Technology Services) and AARP, Senior Planet offers 60-and-older adults a wide variety of free online courses, programs, and activities taught in real time to help seniors learn new technology skills. Some of the more popular tech classes include topics such as getting started on Zoom, using smartphones and introduction to social media. 

  • OasisEverywhere.org - This nonprofit educational organization for older adults provides low cost/free online computer, internet and mobile technology courses for beginners. 

  • TechBoomers.com - This free educational website provides video and article tutorials that teach adults how to navigate popular and trusted websites, such as Angie's List, Amazon, PayPal,and many others as well as basic technology skills, such as internet safety and internet privacy. 

Your MI membership allows access to public computers in the Library. If you want to bring your own device, the Library's wifi is free to members. Headsets are available for checkout on both the second and third floor service desks. 


Posted on Aug. 25, 2021 by Celeste Steward

Fall's Harvest of Book to Movie & TV Adaptations

If you enjoy reading the book before you view its movie or TV series adaptation, we have several exciting titles to get you started before fall. Here at MI Library, we also like to read first, then watch. As it happens, we've been busy staying on top of all the book-based films and series coming soon to theaters and television.  

One of the biggest surprises thus far has been the popularity of Netflix's Lupin, based on Maurice LeBlanc's 1905 series Ars̴ẽne Lupin, Gentleman Burglar. To say that Arsẽne Lupin, also known as Assane Diop on the Netflix show, is suave would be an understatement. He is handsome, debonair and devilishly charming. But it sure is fun to watch this consummate thief continuously outsmarting his would-be captors. Season 2 of Lupin began streaming on Netflix in June but there's still time to read The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsẽne Lupin before Season 3 starts streaming in late 2021. 

Filmmakers just can't resist another remake of Frank Herbert's science fiction novel Dune. If you haven't read this 1966 classic, there's plenty of time to check it out from MI Library before Dune: Part One arrives in theaters this fall. The series begins in a far off future on a distant planet, where Paul Atriedes plans to take his family's business empire to the next level. In 1984, Dune was adapted into a film by director David Lynch. The 2021 movie, directed by Denis Villanueve  stars Timothẽe Chalamet, Josh Brolin, Zendaya, and Charlotte Rampling. 

Another highly anticipated film coming this fall is The Last Duel, based on the book by the same name by Eric Jager. In 1386, Jean de Carrouges, a Norman knight returns from combat in Scotland to to find his wife, Marguerite accusing Jacques Le Gris, her husband's old friend and fellow courtier, of brutally raping her. Based on  true events, the knight takes his cause before the teenage King Charles VI, the highest judge in France. Amid Le Gris's vociferous claims of innocence and doubts about the now pregnant Marguerite's charges (and about the paternity of her child), the deadlocked court decrees a "trial by combat" that leaves her fate, too, in the balance. The movie adaptation stars Ben Affleck, Adam Driver and Matt Damon. The Last Duel is scheduled to be released in theaters this October. 

Fashion fans who read Sara Gay Forden's The House of Gucci will not want to miss this fall's upcoming film by the same name. This 2001 true crime story chronicles the rollercoaster ride of Maurizio Gucci, from Guccio Gucci's leather shop in the early 1900s to the Investscorp takeover of the multimillion dollar corporation in 1993 and Maurizio's 1995 murder by his ex-wife. The new film stars Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Salma Hayek, and Jared Leto. 

The movie we're most excited about is Nightmare Alley, based on William Lindsey Gresham's 1946 book by the same name. Gresham's psychological thriller about a circus performer's rise and fall was adapted into a haunting film by the same title in 1947 that starred Tyrone Power, whose stunning performance was not easily forgotten. Nightmare Alley's second adaptation will be directed by Guillermo del Toro, the 2017 Best Picture Oscar winner for The Shape of Water, and stars Bradley Cooper, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett.   

Just in time for Halloween, MGM's Dark Harvest will arrive in theaters. Based on Norman Partridge's 2007 Bram Stoker award-winning novel by the same name, the story is set in a small Midwestern town on Halloween, 1963. Each year, the October boy, also known as Sawtooth Jack emerges from the cornfields holding a butcher knife with evil intent. The town's teenage boys eagerly await the chance to face this legendary nightmare. For Pete McCormick, one such  teenager facing what he considers to be a dead-end fate in a one-horse town, killing the October Boy and winning the annual prize presents the ticket to his escape. But before the terrifying night is over, Pete will discover the awful secret of the October boy.

Posted on Aug. 5, 2021 by Celeste Steward