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Electing to Vote in June? Find Resources Here.

What with the acute level of attention focused on presidential elections, it’s easy to forget that local politics can affect our communities as much as what is decreed at the federal level of government. If you'd like to pay a little less attention to coverage of the November presidential race and spend that time digging into the biographies of candidates closer to home, start by checking our government info sheet for general information.

For San Francisco residents:

For analysis of San Francisco ballot measures, check out some of these voter guides:

City Voter Guide

SPUR's Voter guide

League of Women Voters Pros/Cons Guide

KQED's Election Guide


Don’t stop once you've gotten your "I Voted" sticker on June 7th – pay special attention to non-presidential election years too. When voter turnout is low, fringe-ideology and/or business-backed candidates can more easily slip into federal, state, and local government seats; these candidates can range from demagogues with small but ardent followings to aspiring puppet rulers with deep pockets who are unlikely to have won a district if a majority of community members had voted (see studies cited below).

In an era when 40% or less of the eligible voting population makes it to the booth in non-presidential elections, the will of the people is a concept in decline. Some of this is related to restrictive voter registration policies and gerrymandering -- what is becoming chronic low voter turnout is a complex problem -- but the lesson is clear: voting matters most when you DON’T do it. So make sure you're registered, confirm your voting location, and I'll see you at the polls!


some sources consulted:
FairVote Voter Advocacy Group Statistics
"What Causes Low Voter Turnout?" Russell Sage Foundation interview with author and researcher Jonathan Nagler


Posted on May. 6, 2016 by Heather Terrell

Play Ball: The Box Score for Beginners

Baseball season is in full swing, and you may see me at a game with a spiral bound book open on my knees, scribbling some inscrutable code onto a grid littered with little diamonds. Fans sitting nearby are always hitting me up for conversation about what it’s like scoring a game, or “what just happened!?”, or “hey, how many RBIs does that player have in today’s game?”

I love the camaraderie my scorebook sparks between us fans, but scoring a game also keeps me alert to what’s happening, heightens the suspense, and gives me something to do with my hands so I’m not wringing them nervously every time there’s a full count. I learned the intricacies of baseball by learning to score a game.

For beginners looking to learn about the game from an eminently readable (read: jargon-free) source, check out Zack Hample’s Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan’s Guide for Beginners, Semi-Experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks.

You might be wondering: what is the box score?

Henry Chadwick edited the first baseball guide for public consumption, The Beadle Dime Base-Ball Player. In the annual, he listed what are thought to be the first baseball statistics – familiar to baseball fans today – outs, runs, home runs, strikeouts. The earliest box score on record appeared in an 1859 issue of Clipper magazine, which Chadwick adapted from the cricket scorecard; he had previously covered cricket for the New York Times. This box score took the form familiar to fans today: a grid with nine rows for players and nine columns for innings. Chadwick assigned numbers to each field position to record the events of each inning.

A box score functions as shorthand for the action of the game. In 1859, remember, there were no radio or television broadcasts, so the box score was intended to jar the sports writer’s memory when penning the recap after the fact. Today, each team has an official, professional scorekeeper, and legions of fans keep score for their own pleasure. So, how exactly does one “score a game”?

I’ll urge you to check out Patrick McGovern’s scoring tutorial if you want to dig deeply into learning to score baseball. But remember, each fan scores a bit differently. If you know what your code means, that’s all that matters. Here are a few fundamentals to get you started:

Player Positions

  1. Pitcher
  2. Catcher
  3. 1st Base
  4. 2nd Base
  5. 3rd base
  6. Shortstop
  7. Left Field
  8. Center Field
  9. Right Field

Play Abbreviations

  • 1B Single Base Hit
  • 2B Double Base Hit
  • 3B Triple Base Hit
  • HR Home Run
  • DP Double Play Out
  • BB “Base on Balls” a.k.a. a Walk
  • HBP Hit by Pitch
  • DH Designated Hitter
  • CS Caught Stealing
  • K Strikeout
  • SB Stolen Base
  • WP Wild Pitch
  • E Error

Keeping Score

  • Copy down the lineup for each team, including his position on the field.
  • During gameplay, note each player’s trek along the bases by tracing the diamond from base to base as he advances. When a player scores a run, fill in the diamond.
  • If a player is tagged, caught, or struck out, note this by indicating the ball’s path using the field position numbers. For example, 5-3 would denote that the 3rd baseman picked up the ball and threw it to 1st base to beat the runner for an out at first. F7 would indicate that the hitter was out via a fly ball caught by the left fielder.
  • Experienced scorekeepers often keep record of each player’s statistics – for instance, RBIs (runs batted in), at-bats (AB), how many times he was left on base (LOB), and for pitchers, how many innings pitched (IP) and any earned runs (ER) – but you can always tally these at the end of the game if play is too frenetic as you learn, or not at all if those details don’t matter as much to you!

There are plenty of ways to refine your record-keeping, but the fundamentals are pretty simple: show the progress of each batter around the bases and tally the score for every inning.

If you’d like to learn more about the game, check out the 2nd Balcony of the library for books that may interest you. Baseball books are shelved at call number 796.357, including The Numbers Game: Baseball’s Lifelong Fascination with Statistics by Alan Schwarz. 


Learn more about the history of baseball scoring

“The Man Who Made Baseball’s Box Score a Hit” by Mike Pesca, from NPR’s Morning Edition, July 30, 2009

“Myth of Baseball’s Creation Endures, With a Prominent Fan” by Tim Arango, from the New York Times, November 12, 2010

“The Englishman Dubbed ‘The Father of Baseball’” by Andy Birkett, from BBC News Online, July 6, 2015

National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Biography of Henry Chadwick


[image copyright Heather Terrell, Used by Permission.]

Posted on Apr. 14, 2016 by Heather Terrell

Mechanics' Institute Book Group Survey

Mechanics’ Institute has a history of finding creative ways to support our members. We started offering fiction early in our history, a revolutionary idea at a time when libraries were for education and entertainment was pooh-poohed as trivial. Today, we host mystery book groups, classic literature book groups, author-focused book groups, world literature book groups, and even an online book group for non-fiction readers. If you’ve never attended a book group at Mechanics' Institute, check our website for upcoming meetings to see if anything sounds interesting.

The format is simple. Each month, members read a single work that they've chosen, then come together to dish about it. Some of the most interesting discussions happen when people arrive with wildly variant opinions on the book, with background information that others may not know, with life experience that adds to the group's understanding of the work, or with reading suggestions for books like (or unlike) the one on the table. Some members talk a lot, some members talk a little, and some just sit back and listen to the verbal volleys of others. If you’re interested in reading, and in reading works you might not ordinarily pick up on your own, you might find that a book group gets your mental juices flowing and adds to your enjoyment.

In the meanwhile, if you’re a Mechanics’ Institute book group member, or if you might like to be one, give us some feedback on what kinds of groups you’d like to see. Take this short, anonymous survey and tell us what you’d like to read with your fellow M.I. members this year!

Posted on Jan. 22, 2016 by Heather Terrell

Familiar Faces in New Places

Have you noticed that some familiar faces have popped up in unexpected places lately?

Diane Lai has transitioned from Public Services Librarian to Library Manager. Diane is excited to be learning new managerial skills and she will continue to staff the Reference Desk and create displays in the Archival Display Cabinet. While she will miss the lively discussions, Diane most regrets not being able to see the “regulars” in the Book Groups on a monthly basis!

Former Library Assistant Sarah Cruz is the new Catalog and Serials Librarian. Have you picked up a new book, CD, or DVD lately? There’s a 95.5% chance it has passed through Sarah’s hands, and she wants to be 99.9% certain you can find it too. If the library doesn’t have the item you’re hunting for, she can help you track it down. Interlibrary loan, anyone?

Former Library Assistant Heather Terrell has moved into the Public Services Librarian position. Heather is excited to put her newly minted MLIS to good use in book groups, classes, and publications. She would like you to know that she is not the Heather Terrell who writes fiction, but she’d be happy to recommend fiction you might like to read.

Bobbie Monzon has moved from the Library Manager role to Director of Operations for the Institute. Bobbie is eager to put the knowledge learned in managing the Library to help guide the Institute forward. She will miss engaging with members on a daily basis and though she is not physically in the Library for her new position, Bobbie will always remain a librarian at heart.

Mohammed Shaikh, former Building Assistant, is the Institute’s new Facilities Manager. Mohammed’s new role is of essential importance to members, staff, and tenants; he can be counted on to address all the hiccups and quirks that come with managing our beloved 100+ year old building.

Diane, Sarah, Heather, Bobbie, and Mohammed are looking forward to contributing their expertise to the well-being of the Mechanics’ Institute and its membership.

Posted on Sep. 15, 2015 by Heather Terrell

Staff Picks: Ladies in the Library

Women make up roughly 50% of the world, yet they are often underrepresented in the culture at large, as the title of one of this month’s selections (The rumors of our progress have been greatly exaggerated by Carolyn Maloney) points out. Women are our mothers, daughters, sisters, lovers, friends. They do amazing things, shameful things, interesting things, ridiculous things – both flawed and fantastic, they often change the world. This month, Mechanics’ Institute Library staff select books by and about all the whip-smart, rebellious, fascinating women who have changed our worlds.

Kristin recommends…

Flappers by Judith Mackrell  (920.72 M159)

The 1920's as seen through the lives of six independent women. Flappers captures the giddy energy of the era, filled with parties, affairs, cocktails, and sadly – a few heartaches. Embrace your inner flapper and read this book!

Heather recommends…

We should all be feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  (305.42 A235)

The author of the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Americanah, Adichie offers up this slim book as a primer for the uninitiated. In straightforward prose, the author unpacks the widespread cultural resistance to feminism – showing how the idea of “the f-word” is so often limited by stereotypes, and how its concepts might form the basis for a fairer society in which all members of a community can be empowered to become truer to themselves.




Ana Castillo Peel my love like an onion

Audre Lorde Zami: a new spelling of my name

Lisa Lutz The Spellman files

Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway


Antonia Murphy Dirty chick: adventures of an unlikely farmer 636 M978

Carolyn Burke No regrets: the life of Edith Piaf 780.92 P57bn

Phoebe Hoban Alice Neel: the art of not sitting pretty 750.92 N378

Patricia Albers Shadows, fire, snow: the life of Tina Modotti 92 M692

Deirdre Bair Anais Nin: a biography 92 N714b

Jean H. Baker Margaret Sanger: a life of passion 92 S223b

Evelyne Bloch-Dano Madame Proust: a biography 92 P968

Valerie Boyd Wrapped in rainbows: the life of Zora Neale Hurston 92 H9595b

Matthew Dennison Behind the mask: the life of Vita Sackville-West 92 S1215d

Kirstin Downey The woman behind the New Deal: the life of Frances Perkins, FDR's Secretary of Labor & his moral conscience 92 P448d

Gillian Gill Nightingales: the extraordinary upbringing & curious life of Miss Florence Nightingale 92 N688

Mary Gordon Circling my mother 92 G6642

Francine du Plessix Gray Madame de Stael: the first modern woman 92 S778

Joan, Maid of Orleans 92 J43g

Diane Jacobs Her own woman: the life of Mary Wollstonecraft 92 G592j

Mary Karr Lit: a memoir 92 K187L

Maxine Hong Kingston The woman warrior: memoirs of a girlhood among ghosts 92 K563

Judith Mackrell Flappers: six women of a dangerous generation 920.72 M159

Benjamin Moser Why this world: a biography of Clarice Lispector 92 L769

Aife Murray Maid as muse: how servants changed Emily Dickinson's life & language 92 D553m

Roger Poole The unknown Virginia Woolf 92 W909po

The diaries of Dawn Powell, 1931-1965 92 P8825

Barbara Reynolds Dorothy L. Sayers: her life & soul 92 S2742r

Glynis Ridley The discovery of Jeanne Baret: a story of science, the high seas & the first woman to circumnavigate the globe 92 B248

Mary Robinson Everybody matters: my life giving voice 92 R663e

Julie Salamon Wendy & the lost boys: the uncommon life of Wendy Wasserstein 92 W32s

Stacey Schiff Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) 92 N11v

Miranda Seymour Mary Shelley 92 S5445se

Calvin Trillin About Alice 92 T829a

Jennifer Uglow George Eliot 92 E42u

The memoirs of Elisabeth Vigee-Le Brun 92 V673

Evelyn C. White Alice Walker: a life 92 W177

Jeanette Winterson Why be happy when you could be normal? 92 W788

Marjane Satrapi Persepolis 92 S253 v.1

Hanne Blank The unapologetic fat girl's guide to exercise & other incendiary acts 613.71 B642

Lisa Krissoff Boehm Making a way out of no way: African American women & the second great migration 305.48 B671

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie We should all be feminists 305.42 A235

David B. Axelrod, Carol F. Thomas, Lenny Schneir Merlin Stone remembered: her life & works 305.42 S879

Andrea Barnet All-night party: the women of bohemian Greenwich Village & Harlem, 1913-1930 305.4 B261

Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Sophie Mas, Caroline De Maigret How to be Parisian wherever you are: love, style & bad habits 305.4 B491

Susan Bordo Unbearable weight: feminism, Western culture & the body 305.42 B72

Geraldine Brooks Nine parts of desire: the hidden world of Islamic women 305.48 B87

Gail Collins When everything changed: the amazing journey of American women from 1960 to the present 305.4 C71w

Virginie Despentes King Kong theory 305.42 D468

Eve Ensler Insecure at last: losing it in our security-obsessed world 305.42 E59

The essential feminist reader 305.42 E78

Femen Femen 305.4 F328

Marilyn French From Eve to dawn: a history of women: volume 1: origins 305.42 F87 v.1

Vivian Gornick The solitude of self: thinking about Elizabeth Cady Stanton 305.42 S792

Linley Erin Hall Who's afraid of Marie Curie?: the challenges facing women in science & technology 305.43 H17

Ayaan Hirsi Ali The caged virgin: an emancipation proclamation for women & Islam 305.48 H66

Laura Kipnis The female thing: dirt, sex, envy, vulnerability 305.42 K57

Carolyn B. Maloney Rumors of our progress have been greatly exaggerated: why women's lives aren't getting any easier-- & how we can make real progress for ourselves & our daughters 305.42 M257

Wendy Merrill Falling into manholes: the memoir of a bad/good girl 305.4 M571

Nothing but the truth so help me God: 51 women reveal the power of positive female connection 305.4 N912

Deborah Siegel Sisterhood, interrupted: from radical women to grrls gone wild 305.42 S571

Rebecca Solnit Men explain things to me 305.42 S688

Women's letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the present 305.4 W871

Julie Zeilinger A little f'd up: why feminism is not a dirty word 305.42 Z46

Kia Afcari & Mary Osborne Sister surfer: a woman's guide to surfing with bliss & courage 797.32 A25

Kara Goucher Kara Goucher's running for women: from first steps to marathons 796.42 G688

Posted on Aug. 10, 2015 by Heather Terrell

Staff Picks: Splendid Summer Reading

The days are longer, maybe a little lazier. You might even be tempted to use a sick day for a beach day. C’mon, what else are you planning to use all the extra daylight for, but to read by it! This month, Mechanics’ Institute’s staff bibliophiles recommend interesting, immersive fiction that we consider un-put-downable! Come check out the display and see if you agree.

A few recommendations to whet your appetite:

Chris recommends Outline by Rachel Cusk.

A quiet book of deep observation and insight, Outline follows narrator Faye during her brief teaching stint in Greece, primarily through the interactions she has with others, many fellow travelers like herself. Conversationally withholding, we glean Faye's personality and worldview through her internal assessments of those she meets. Autobiographical in a uniquely indirect manner, this look into strategies and habits of self-representation is highly intelligent, readable and original.

Deb recommends The Beekeeper's Apprentice and the other Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King.

I love Sherlock Holmes and when I stumbled upon the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King, I was able to continue my enjoyment of his adventures written from a woman's point of view who is a true match for his intellect and wit.

Heather also recommends So Much For That by Lionel Shriver.

I’ve made the pronouncement so many times, my friends are tired of hearing it: Lionel Shriver is one of the best writers of our generation. Everything about her works is atypical – she can’t be pigeonholed into a “type” of story – whether she’s writing about the risks of motherhood (We Need to Talk About Kevin), the perils of self-righteousness (Game Control), or smug terrorists caught in a cult of personality (The New Republic), Shriver’s expertise is in writing characters as if she doesn’t care whether you like them or not. Most often, you don’t (I despised the narrator of her most recent book, Big Brother, for instance). So Much For That is my favorite of her books – there’s no flinching at the interconnected trauma inflicted by the health care system, multi-layered family dynamics, and the strange jealousies that overtake the characters in this novel.


Zadie Smith White teeth

Daniel Alarcon Lost City Radio

Niccolo Ammaniti I'm not scared

Benjamin Anastas The faithful narrative of a pastor's disappearance

Alaa al Aswany Chicago

Alessandro Baricco Ocean sea

Richard Bausch Before, during, after

Matt Bell In the house upon the dirt between the lake & the woods

Naomi Benaron Running the rift

Roberto Bolano Woes of the true policeman

Agota Bozai To err is divine

Mike Bryan The afterword

NoViolet Bulawayo We need new names

A.S. Byatt A whistling woman

Angela Carter The magic toyshop

Anita Desai Fasting, feasting

Charlotte Greig A girl's guide to modern European philosophy

Daniel Handler We are pirates

Kaui Hart Hemmings The possibilities

Sheila Heti How should a person be?

Lindsay Hill Sea of Hooks

Takahashi Hiraide The guest cat

Eva Hoffman Appassionata

Dara Horn A guide for the perplexed

Gil Hornby The hive

Nick Hornby How to be good

Michel Houellebecq The elementary particles

Tom McCarthy Remainder

Leah Stewart The myth of you & me

Jessica Maria Tuccelli Glow

Padma Viswanathan The toss of a lemon

Wendy Wasserstein Elements of style

David Whitehouse Bed

Gene Wilder My French whore

Gabrielle Williams Beatle meets Destiny

Meg Wolitzer The wife

Daniel Woodrell The death of Sweet Mister

Tiphanie Yanique Land of love & drowning

Banana Yoshimoto The lake

Yu Hua Brothers

Alejandro Zambra; translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell Ways of going home

Jenny Offill Dept. of speculation

D. E. Stevenson; with a new preface by Aline Templeton Miss Buncle's book

Rachel Cusk Outline

Alex Gilvarry From the memoirs of a non-enemy combatant

Paolo Giordano The solitude of prime numbers

Eliza Granville Gretel & the dark

Miranda July The first bad man

Lionel Shriver So much for that

John Boyne This house is haunted

Anita Diamant The Boston girl

Peter Ackroyd The casebook of Victor Frankenstein

Antonia Arslan; translated from the Italian by Geoffrey Brock Skylark Farm

Aryeh Lev Stollman The illuminated soul

Leo Tolstoy; translated from the Russian by Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky War & peace

Sarah Jamila Stevenson The Latte Rebellion

Tonino Benacquista ; translated by Emily Read Malavita

Michael Gregorio Days of atonement

Joanne Harris Gentlemen & players

Terry Hayes I am Pilgrim: a thriller

Laurie R. King The art of detection

Jon Stock Dirty little secret

Helene Tursten; translated by Katarina E. Tucker The torso

John Brandon A million heavens

Neil Gaiman The ocean at the end of the lane: [a novel]

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie The thing around your neck

Robin Black If I loved you, I would tell you this: stories

Robert Olen Butler A good scent from a strange mountain: stories

Guo Songfen; edited & with an introduction by John Balcom Running mother & other stories

David Guterson Problems with People: Stories

Koji Suzuki; translation, Glynne Walley Birthday

Yoko Tawada; translated & with an afterword by Margaret Mitsutani Facing the bridge

Laurie R. King The god of the hive: a novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes

Kurt Vonnegut Galapagos

Julia Alvarez How the Garcia girls lost their accents

Margaret Atwood Oryx & Crake

Richard Brautigan In watermelon sugar

Mikhail Afanasʹevich Bulgakov The master & Margarita

Hortense Calisher The novellas of Hortense Calisher

Amy Ephron A cup of tea

William Gaddis J R

Peter Høeg; translated by Barbara Haveland The history of Danish dreams

Laurie R. King The beekeeper's apprentice: or, On the segregation of the queen

Vladimir Nabokov Despair

Carol Olwell; commentary by Judith Lynch Waldhorn A gift to the street

Irvine Welsh Marabou stork nightmares

Jeanette Winterson Art & lies: a piece for three voices & a bawd

Posted on Jul. 6, 2015 by Heather Terrell

Staff Recommendations: Pride Picks

In June, the city of San Francisco – and the world – commemorates the 1969 Stonewall riots, which paved the way for the Gay Liberation Movement, with Pride events and the iconic parade, held on June 28th this year. The purpose of LGBT Pride month is to recognize the historical impacts made by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. In honor of the contributions of these individuals to our collective cultural heritage, this month Mechanics’ Institute staff members select some of our favorite works by LGBTQ authors, about LGBTQ characters, and exploring subjects relevant to the LGBTQ community.

Chris recommends Fun Home : a family tragicomic by Alison Bechdel (741.5 B391)

Recently adapted into a successful Broadway musical, Bechdel's memoir recalls her relationship with her father, a gifted intellectual grappling with his homosexuality as a closeted man in a small town. When Alison goes off to college and comes out as gay, tensions rise back home. Both humorous and tragic, Fun Home is a brilliant coming of age story awash with literary reference and personal insight, uniquely told and illustrated.

Kevin recommends Now Is The Hour by Tom Spanbauer (FIC)

You'll get hooked on this funny, deeply moving coming-of-age tale that's not afraid to tell the messy truth about family, religion, growing up and falling in love. You could even say it's the coming-of-age, gay romance set in 1967 rural Idaho that you've been waiting for!

Taryn recommends The Drinker by Hans Fallada (FIC)

A prominent early 20th century German writer, Fallada was horribly injured as a child which marked his life with isolation, self-doubt, and crippling pain. His emerging homosexuality and society's increasing homophobia led to a bungled suicide pact and a lifelong addiction to morphine and alcohol. A gifted writer, Fallada's prose in The Drinker drags the reader deeply into the spiral of alcohol addiction……when you claw your way back to the surface you will greedily read Fallada's other books. 

Heather recommends White Girls by Hilton Als (814 A461)

Hilton Als reads race, gender, and culture like a modern artist slashing paint across the canvas – or like a musician improvising beats onstage, a verbal jam that spins so fast you can barely keep up, even though you’re setting your own reading pace. And that’s just talking about style. The great Junot Díaz calls White Girls a must-read, which was why I picked it up in the first place, but then I couldn’t put it down again, even when I’d read it all. That is to say, it sticks with you. (That’s talking about content.) In these essays, you’ll find insight on identity and sexuality, exploration of voice and the acquisition of knowledge. Whether he’s writing about the over-exposed Truman Capote or the under-appreciated Henry Dumas, Als is one of those people you imagine as a thrilling IRL raconteur with a searing intellect and a sizzling tongue. That is to say, he gets under your skin, makes you think about what it’s like to live the lives of others. This is one of those books you come away from, your head so crowded with thoughts that you can hardly bear it, but still – hungry for more.


Dorothy Allison Two or three things I know for sure

Carol Anshaw Lucky in the corner

Djuna Barnes Nightwood: the original version & related drafts Before Stonewall: activists for gay & lesbian rights in historical context

John Boswell Same-sex unions in premodern Europe

Melvin Jules Bukiet Strange fire

David Carter Stonewall: the riots that sparked the gay revolution

George Chauncey Gay New York: gender, urban culture & the making of the gay male world, 1890-1940

Sally Cline Radclyffe Hall: a woman called John

Samuel R. Delany The motion of light in water: sex & science fiction writing in the East Village, 1957-1965

Samuel R. Delany Times Square red, Times Square blue

Tom Dolby The trouble boy

Lillian Faderman Odd girls & twilight lovers: a history of lesbian life in twentieth-century America

Philip Gambone Beijing

Alan Helms Young man from the provinces: a gay life before Stonewall

Andrew Holleran The beauty of men Love makes a family: portraits of lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender parents & their families

Paul Kafka-Gibbons Dupont Circle

Jonathan Ned Katz Love stories: sex between men before homosexuality

Elisabeth Ladenson Proust's lesbianism

David Leavitt While England sleeps

Mabel Maney The case of the good-for-nothing girlfriend: a Nancy Clue mystery

Eric Marcus Making gay history: the half-century fight for lesbian & gay equal rights

Deirdre McCloskey Crossing: a memoir

Diana McLellan The girls: Sappho goes to Hollywood

Joanne Meyerowitz How sex changed: a history of transsexuality in the United States

David Moats Civil wars: a battle for gay marriage

Achy Obejas We came all the way from Cuba so you could dress like this?: stories Pages passed from hand to hand: the hidden tradition of homosexual literature in English from 1748 to 1914

Felice Picano Like people in history

Dan Savage The kid: (what happened after my boyfriend & I decided to go get pregnant): an adoption story

Sarah Schulman Rat bohemia

Randy Shilts The mayor of Castro Street: the life & times of Harvey Milk

Alan Sinfield Out on stage: lesbian & gay theatre in the twentieth century Baby Precious always shines: selected love notes between Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas

David Strah Gay dads: a celebration of gay fatherhood

Ronald Tierney Eclipse of the heart

Monique Truong The book of salt

Edmund White The burning library: writings on art, politics & sexuality 1969-1993

Edmund White The married man Wrestling with the angel: faith & religion in the lives of gay men We do: a celebration of gay & lesbian marriage

Alan Hollinghurst The line of beauty

Peter Parker Isherwood: a life revealed

Darcey Steinke Milk

Deborah Rudacille The riddle of gender: science, activism & transgender rights

Michelle Tea The beautiful: collected poems

Alan Downs The velvet rage: overcoming the pain of growing up gay in a straight man's world

Hans Fallada The drinker

Dan Savage The commitment: love, sex, marriage & my family

Aaron Hamburger Faith for beginners

Matt Houlbrook Queer London: perils & pleasures in the sexual metropolis, 1918-1957

Richard Tagett Breaking the silence: epistles Hitched!: wedding stories from San Francisco City Hall

Michelle Tea Rose of no man's land

Joe Keenan My lucky star The collected poems: with notes toward the memoirs

Tahar Ben Jelloun The last friend

Josh Kilmer-Purcell I am not myself these days: a memoir

Barry McCrea The first verse

Alison Bechdel Fun home: a family tragicomic

Tom Spanbauer Now is the hour

Lillian Faderman & Stuart Timmons Gay L.A.: a history of sexual outlaws, power politics & lipstick lesbians

Marcia M. Gallo Different daughters: a history of the Daughters of Bilitis & the rise of the lesbian rights movement

William Lipsky Gay & lesbian San Francisco Baby remember my name: an anthology of new queer girl writing

Peter Plate Soon the rest will fall

Christopher Bram Exiles in America

Michael Schiefelbein Body & blood

Michael Thomas Ford Changing tides

Catherine McCall Lifeguarding: a memoir of secrets, swimming & the South

Ali Smith Girl meets boy: the myth of Iphis

Nancy D. Polikoff Beyond (straight & gay) marriage: valuing all families under the law

Stephanie Grant Map of Ireland

Alain Claude Sulzer A perfect waiter

Timothy James Beck When you don't see me

Russell Bush Affectionate men: a photographic history of a century of male couples (1850's to 1950's)

Jill Malone Red Audrey & the roping

Stella Duffy Mouths of babes

Joanne Passet Sex variant woman: the life of Jeannette Howard Foster

Maureen Seaton Sex talks to girls: a memoir

Elinor Lipman The family man

William J. Mann Object of desire

Jack Fritscher Stonewall: stories of gay liberation

Peter Gadol Silver Lake

Edmund White City boy: my life in New York during the 1960s & 70s

Leila J. Rupp Sapphistries: a global history of love between women

Terry Castle The professor & other writings

Amie Klempnauer Miller She looks just like you: a memoir of (nonbiological lesbian) motherhood

Wendy Moffat A great unrecorded history: a new life of E.M. Forster

Carlos A. Ball From the closet to the courtroom: five LGBT rights lawsuits that have changed our nation

Stephen McCauley Insignificant others

Justin Spring Secret historian: the life & times of Samuel Steward, professor, tattoo artist & sexual renegade

Charles Higham In & out of Hollywood: a biographer's memoir

Will Fellows & Helen P. Branson Gay bar: the fabulous, true story of a daring woman & her boys in the 1950s

David Levithan Boy meets boy

Max Schaefer Children of the sun

Craig Chester Adam & Steve

Michael Sledge The more I owe you

Jodi Picoult Sing you home

Rupert Smith Man's world Gay in America

Sally Bellerose The Girls Club

Ian Holding Of beasts & beings

James C. Hormel & Erin Martin Fit to serve: reflections on a secret life, private struggle & public battle to become America's first openly gay U.S. ambassador

Meredith Maran A theory of small earthquakes

Jeanette Winterson Why be happy when you could be normal?

Kim Stanley Robinson 2312

Linda Hirshman Victory: the triumphant gay revolution

David M. Halperin How to be gay

Sarah Schulman The gentrification of the mind: witness to a lost imagination

John Rechy City of night

Madeleine George The difference between you & me

Emily M. Danforth The miseducation of Cameron Post

Virginia Woolf Orlando: a biography

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore The end of San Francisco

Sara Farizan If you could be mine

Wally Lamb We are water

Kristin Elizabeth Clark Freakboy

Alysia Abbott Fairyland: a memoir of my father

E. M. Forster A room with a view ; Howards end ; Maurice

Hilton Als White girls

Audre Lorde Zami: a new spelling of my name

Tess Sharpe Far from you

Francine Prose Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932

Edan Lepucki California

Suzanna Danuta Walters The tolerance trap: how God, genes & good intentions are sabotaging gay equality

Amin Ghaziani There goes the gayborhood?

Terry Mutchler Under this beautiful dome: a senator, a journalist & the politics of gay love in America

Robbie Rogers with Eric Marcus Coming out to play

Robert Beachy Gay Berlin: birthplace of a modern identity

Posted on Jun. 3, 2015 by Heather Terrell

Staff Picks:Bibliophilia

Libraries have been in the business of books for centuries, from the cuneiform repositories of Sumer to the digital holdings at Bexar County Bibliotech. We bookworms love to read, no matter the format, and this month, Mechanics’ Institute staff select books which reflect certain bibliophilic tendencies. A few selections you’ll find on the display, this month, include:

Heather recommends…

The Novel Cure by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin (809.39 B542)

Structured like a reference book, the reader of The Novel Cure can look up her ailment and -- voila! – an appropriate novel will be provided as an antidote to one’s woes. Whether you’re plagued by agoraphobia, cowardice, or midlife crisis – Berthoud has you covered!

Chris recommends…

Always apprentices : the Believer magazine presents twenty-two conversations between writers edited by Vendela Vida, Ross Simonini, and Sheila Heti (809 A477)

Compiling previously published material from the Bay Area's own Believer magazine, these interviews highlight some of contemporary literature's most fascinating writers in conversation with one another. Great pairings (Don DeLillo with Bret Easton Ellis!) and often in front of a live audiences (ensuring quick, genuine responses), these exchanges are animated, illuminating, and inspiring.

A few more recommendations…

Republic of Imagination: America in three books by Azar Nafisi (92N 139r)

The author of Reading Lolita in Tehran returns with an emphatic response to a skeptical reader who posits that Americans don’t care about books – Nafisi argues that fiction has much to teach us, and she supports her point with close readings of her favorite American novels. This passionate polemic on reading fiction will have you cheering along with the other citizens of the Republic of Imagination. Vive le Rêve!

Why We Read What We Read: a delightfully opinionated journey through contemporary bestsellers by Lisa Adams and John Heath (028.9 A21)

The authors peruse two hundred bestselling books to identify common themes and what our reading choices might say about us. This is a humorous book, including lots of interesting factoids to impress your friends. For instance, did you know that over a million Americans read more than fifty nearly-identical books every year?  -- uh oh, will your strange reading habits show up in this book?

On Rereading by Patricia Meyer Spacks (028.9 S73)

A retired literature teacher decides to spend a year rereading novels: those she read as a child, books she often rereads, guilty pleasures, and academic darlings included. She raises interesting questions about why we reread books whose plots we already know – what psychological needs does rereading fulfill, and why do we so often choose old favorites rather than exploring new stories?

Posted on May. 4, 2015 by Heather Terrell

Staff Picks: Astronomy Domine

The “final frontier” of outer space has consistently captured humanity’s imagination from time immemorial. We seek to understand the universe and our place in it by studying the seemingly unknowable expanse of what lies beyond our own livable nook of the macrocosm. From music and film to scientific discovery and science fiction, this month, Mechanics’ Institute staff selects books, both fact and fiction, rooted in what we know and imagine about the cosmos.

Taryn recommends Stranger in a Strange Land (FIC) by Robert Heinlein.

Named one of the 88 books that "shaped America", I don't know how you can go through life without reading this!

Chris recommends Cosmicomics (FIC) by Italo Calvino.

A set of fables detailing the evolution of the universe as observed by Qfwfq, a timeless, immaterial presence and charmingly unreliable narrator. Although Calvino has a demonstrable grasp of astrology and science, his tales quickly leave factual orbit, inviting the reader to join in on a romantic and absurd imagining of the cosmos.

Heather recommends An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything (629.45 H129) by Chris Hadfield.

Colonel Hadfield may be best known in popular culture for his in-orbit rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, but he has also logged 4000+ hours in space, serving as commander of the International Space Station before his retirement in 2013. In his autobiography, he discusses his professional philosophy: “prepare for the worst…and enjoy every moment of it.” Hadfield is a charmer, and this book sparkles with his personality.

Posted on Apr. 1, 2015 by Heather Terrell

Brains on the Brain: Staff Picks, Meta Edition


The brain is a fascinating organ: some say it’s the seat of the soul, some think it’s more like a microprocessor, and others think of it as the motor of consciousness. This month, Mechanics’ Institute staff select books on the mind, the brain, and consciousness – the whys and wherefores of self-awareness.

Chris selects Moonwalking with Einstein : the art and science of remembering everything (153.14 F654) by Joshua Foer.

A tour through mnemonics by way of memory competitions, narrated by a journalist turned participant. Describing the techniques of the trade, we are guided through memory palaces, high school class rooms, and the USA Memory Championship, among others. A colorful, readable and insightful look into the human mind.

Heather selects Phi : a voyage from the brain to the soul (612.8 T666) by Giulio Tononi.

Structured similarly to Dante’s Inferno, neuroscientist Tononi fashions Galileo as this book’s narrator, guided by three influential souls – Francis Crick, Alan Turing, and Charles Darwin – to discover what consciousness is and how our idea of it has evolved throughout history. A fascinating read, with full-color images and high-quality paper, this book is as satisfying in the tactile sense as it is mentally stimulating.


Other staff selections include:

The science of drinking : how alcohol affects your body and mind (615.78 D229) by Amitava Dasgupta

The dragons of Eden : speculations on the evolution of human intelligence (612.82 S12) by Carl Sagan

How to make a zombie : the real life (and death) science of reanimation and mind control (502 S971) by Frank Swain

World wide mind : the coming integration of humanity, machines and the Internet (612.82 C55) by Michael Chorost

Where the heart beats : John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the inner life of artists (700 L334) by Kay Larson

The secret life of the grown-up brain : the surprising talents of the middle aged mind (616.89 S91s) by Barbara Strauch

Hallucinations (616.8 S12h) by Oliver Sacks

The doors of perception (616.86 H98) by Aldous Huxley

The autistic brain: thinking across spectrum (616.8588 G753) by Temple Grandin

Take a look at the 2nd floor Staff Picks display, and get thinky about thinking!

Posted on Mar. 2, 2015 by Heather Terrell