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03/23/2023 - 4:30pm

Virginia Woolf Kew gardens
William Gibson Cyberpunk
Franz Werfel The forty days of Musa Dagh
Anne Brontë The tenant of Wildfell Hall
Benjamin Disraeli...

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03/20/2023 - 4:47pm

Improve your chess calculations : the Ramesh Chess course 794.1 Im78

In practice you can "run through" problems on a chess board to see how a given move will work out. During games, however, it is against the rules to do this. The process of figuring out the results of a given move or series of moves chess players call "calculation." This book pro...

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03/16/2023 - 5:30pm

In the bookstacks of the Mechanics Institute Library, hidden in an almost literal sense, we have many books that, once you find them, can hold you in fascination, to the point of losing track of time. Among these hidden gems we have an annual publication, World Press Photo, that compiles the most compelling and relevant photographs from photojournalists for the yea...

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03/09/2023 - 4:18pm

On February 17, the Institute hosted a Writers’ Lunch discussion about Writing for Contests. One of the main topics was how to find legitimate contests worth one’s time. This brought to our attention the wonderful database of writing contests, grants, and awards maintained by Poets and Writers Magazine. The database includes details about the creative wri...

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03/08/2023 - 5:26pm

The Mechanics Institute Library acquires new books each week. Some you will see on the new books tables, but members often check out some of the most popular books right away. If you do not know how to place a hold on a book, please call us at 415-393-0102 (or send a message to [email protected]). 



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03/03/2023 - 2:28pm

The question came up during Paul Whitehead's lecture preceding Felix German Memorial Tuesday Night Marathon on December 13: could Elon Musk buy the International Chess Federation (FIDE) and then do whatever he wants with it? The short answer is no. Verifying this answer leads us to some interesting (to chess players anyway) trivia.

The International Chess Federation, known the world over as FIDE (pronounc...

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03/03/2023 - 2:26pm

The "big name" in action adventure writing in the mid-20th century, Alistair MacLean, enjoyed considerable success writing best-sellers that Hollywood often turned into movies, such as The Guns of Navarone and Ice Station Zebra. His very first book, however, has an immediacy and authenticity that his later works do not quite match. He wrote  H.M.S. Ulysses in three months while teaching school, based on his own experi...

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02/23/2023 - 5:58pm

The San Francisco Athenaeum and Literary Association – the first Black circulating library in the West!

As we often say on our regular Wednesday noon tours, the Mechanics’ Institute is one of the oldest libraries in the West designed to serve the general public. That is not quite true though. It is the oldest known library that still exists. In the Gold Rush Era, San Francisco actually had nearly a score...

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02/21/2023 - 3:39pm

Former Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon teamed up with former Baltimore Police Department Homicide Detective Ed Burns to create a police procedural series that looks at both police and criminals and everyone caught in between. Simon and Burns also chose to employ former criminals and police detectives who grew up in Baltimore as actors in this series. Of special note: the 4th season breaks with the preceding three to foc...

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02/21/2023 - 2:53pm

Purely by coincidence, I read Mel Brooks' autobiography, All about Me, right after I read Gerald Durrell's semi-autobiographical My Family and other animals. In many respects the two men could not be more different, although I cannot escape noticing some striking similarities. Born within a year of each oth...

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