Staff Picks/DVD Selections | Mechanics' Institute

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Staff Picks/DVD Selections

Human vs. Nature

Brave the elements from the comfort of the couch with selections from our latest DVD and Blu-ray display “Human vs. Nature.” Below are staff recommendations from the 2nd Floor display.

Myles recommends:


Based on a memoir by Cheryl Strayed Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Wild chronicles Strayed’s ambitious hike after a bout with substance abuse and divorce. Nick Hornby's screen adaptation directed by Jean-Marc Vallee was produced by Reese Witherspoon who also stars in the film. Witherspoon's acting earned a nomination for Best Actress Academy Award alongside Laura Dern, also was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in her portrayal of Strayed’s mother, Bobbi Grey.

Burden of Dreams

This documentary by Les Blank about the making of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo details the struggle to clear the Amazon and move a large steamship over a mountain. The project, under Herzog’s direction, included manual labor from native people, who simultaneously served as actors. If you’re a fan of Fitzcarraldo or Werner Herzog, this is a must-watch as the nearly impossible task may be better expressed in this documentary than through Herzog’s work of fiction.


This 90s box office smash follows storm chasers as they gather data on tornados. When the deployment of new sensor technology coincides with an F5 tornado, the team ends up in harm’s way all in the name of science. Both Ann-Marie Martin and her husband, Michael Crichton, authored the nail-biting screenplay.

Steven recommends:

Jeremiah Johnson

An early Robert Redford movie about a man who, in the 1850s, decides to leave civilization and live as a "mountain man" in the Rockies. Will Geer (of "The Waltons" fame) plays the mentor who teaches the new guy how to survive. (The scene in which Geer teaches Redford how to hunt makes the movie worth watching in itself). Reflecting the social changes of the 60s, as did many other Westerns of the 1970s, this film revised the genre by means of striving for historical realism and showing a sympathetic portrayal of native Americans.


Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw, two of the giants of action movies of the 50s and 60s, star in this Steven Spielberg classic. A great white shark strays far from its usual habitat to menace an East-coast island community heavily dependent on tourism. A sheriff has to recruit a grouchy old coot and a young scientist to take on the beast. Jaws contains one of the most classic movie lines of all time "you're gonna need a bigger boat." You also get to see an early performance by Richard Dreyfuss as the scientist.

Jurassic Park

"Jaws" meets "Boys from Brazil" in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of a Michael Crichton novel that features human-made "sharks" in the form of cloned dinosaurs. Although laden with his trademark action movie clichés and an ethnic stereotype about Australians (hint: they're all named "Muldoon") the movie nonetheless entertains with fast-paced, suspenseful scenes and comic relief provided by Jeff Goldblum's priceless performance.

The Gold Rush

Classic Charlie Chaplin comedy about the little tramp going to the Klondike to prospect for Gold. Features the classic scene in which he eats his boot.

King Kong

Both 2005 and original 1933 versions use a giant ape as an allegory for humans vs. nature. Does Kong's death symbolize a victory of humans over nature or does the film's message tell us that nature, ultimately, can never be tamed?


Posted on Nov. 6, 2018 by Myles Cooper

New Titles List for the Week of October 1


Walter Mosley John Woman

Mystery, Suspense, Espionage & Intrigue
David Gordon The bouncer
Martín Solares Don't send flowers

Comic Books, Graphic Novels & Comic Strips
G.B. Trudeau #SAD!: Doonesbury in the time of Trump 741.5 T866x comics
Brian Wood DMZ Vol. 1, On the ground 741.5 W850 comics
Brian Wood DMZ Vol. 2, Body of a journalist 741.5 W850 comics
Brian Wood DMZ Vol. 3, Public works 741.5 W850 comics
Brian Wood DMZ Vol. 4, Friendly fire 741.5 W850 comics
Brian Wood DMZ Vol. 5, The hidden war 741.5 W850 comics

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Arts, Architecture & Crafts
Erin C. Garcia Photography & play 779 G165
Anne Leong Gargoyles, ghosts & grotesques of the Golden Gate 729.5 L553g

Biography & Genealogy
Deborah Blum The poison squad: one chemist's single-minded crusade for food safety at the turn of the twentieth century 92 W648b
Imani Perry Looking for Lorraine: the radiant & radical life of Lorraine Hansberry 92 H198
Lynn Dow Nightingale tales: stories from a life in nursing 92 D744

Books, Reading, Publishing, Journalism, Library & Information Science
Fauzia Burke Online marketing for busy authors: a step-by-step guide 070.5 B917

Business & Economics
Peter Phillips Giants: the global power elite 330.9 P541
Tom Ahern Seeing through a donor's eyes: how to make a persuasive case for everything from your annual drive to your planned giving program to your capital campaign 658.152 A34s
Andrea Kihlstedt How to raise $1 million dollars (or more!) in 10 bite-sized steps: a failproof guide for board members, volunteers & staff 658.152 K478h
David La Piana Play to win: the nonprofit guide to competitive strategy 658.048 L11p
Michael J. Rosen Donor-centered planned gift marketing 658.152 R722
Adrian Sargeant Building donor loyalty: the fundraiser's guide to increasing lifetime value 658.152 S731
Ronald J. Schiller The chief development officer: beyond fundraising 658.152 S332c

C.H. O'D. Alexander Alexander on chess 794.1 A37o
Lajos Portisch Six hundred endings 794.124 P852s
Robert Robinson The art & science of chess; a step-by-step approach 794.1 R560
Philip W. Sergeant An introduction to the endgame at chess 794.124 S48i

Health & Medicine
John D. Day The longevity plan: seven life-transforming lessons from ancient China 612.68 D330
Catherine Guthrie Flat: reclaiming my body from breast cancer 616.994 G984
Daniel Z. Lieberman The molecule of more: how a single chemical in your brain drives love, sex & creativity-and will determine the fate of the human race 612.8 L716m
Richard A. McKay Patient zero & the making of the AIDS epidemic 616.979 M459
Katherine Murray Integrating a palliative approach: essentials for personal support workers 616 M961
Palliative care nursing: quality care to the end of life 616 M439p

Christian Goeschel Mussolini & Hitler: the forging of the fascist alliance 940.531 G554
Emily D. Johnson How St. Petersburg learned to study itself: the Russian idea of kraevedenie 947.21 J630
Brandon Stanton Humans of New York: Stories 974.7 S792h
Writers under surveillance: the FBI files 351.74 W939
Antonia Fraser The King & the Catholics: England, Ireland & the fight for religious freedom, 1780-1829 942.07 F841k
Lynne B. Sagalyn Power at ground zero: politics, money & the remaking of lower Manhattan 974.71 S181
Amos N. Wilder Armageddon revisited: a World War I journal 940.48 W645

Home & Family Management
Cabins & cottages 690.8 S33c

Literature & Writing
Martha Alderson The plot whisperer: secrets of story structure any writer can master 808.3 A235
The Associated Press stylebook 2018 & briefing on media law 808 A849
The cherry orchard: a comedy in four acts by Anton Chekhov 812.6 C51c

Natural Sciences & Mathematics
Imre Lakatos For & against method: including Lakatos's lectures on scientific method & the Lakatos-Feyerabend correspondence 501 L148

Performing Arts & Music
Erik Davis Led Zeppelin IV 780.2 D290
Reese Witherspoon Whiskey in a teacup: what growing up in the South taught me about life, love & baking biscuits 792.092 W776

Philosophy, Psychology & Religion
Gregory Boyle Barking to the choir: the power of radical kinship 259 B697
John Kaag Hiking with Nietzsche: on becoming who you are 193 K11
Amir Hussain Muslims & the making of America 305.6 H963

Politics & Government
Ben Fountain Beautiful country burn again: democracy, rebellion & revolution 324.973 F825
Bruce E. Levine Resisting illegitimate authority: a thinking person's guide to being an anti-authoritarian -- strategies, tools & models 321.9 L578

Social Sciences & Current Events
Brittney Cooper Eloquent rage: a black feminist discovers her superpower 305.48 C784
Christopher Hilton How Hitler hijacked world sport: the World Cup, the Olympics, the Heavyweight Championship & the Grand Prix 306.48 H563
Mark Lynas Seeds of science: why we got it so wrong on GMOs 363.192 L98s
What future: the year's best ideas to reclaim, reanimate & reinvent our future 303.49 W556
Shaun Bythell The diary of a bookseller 381.45 B998
Philip J. Dreyfus Our better nature: environment & the making of San Francisco 304.2 D826

Travel & Geography
Rick Steves England 914.2 S848
Andréa Seiger 111 places in Washington that you must not miss 917.53 O584
The rough guide to England 914.2 R856

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Virginia Hamilton In the beginning: creation stories from around the world Child 291 H22i

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China revealed DVD 951 C441
Luis Bravo's Forever tango DVD 793.3 L968

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Richard Strauss Symphony no. 2 Dreaming by the fireside CD Classical Strauss

Jazz & Blues
Kenny Barron Quintet Concentric circles CD Jazz Kenny Barron Quintet

Four Tet New energy CD Pop Four Tet

Posted on Oct. 12, 2018 by Cherilyn Banson

Film Noir & Neo-Noir

Whether you’re a fan of Film Noir, one who would like to learn more about the genre, our “Film Noir & Neo-Noir” display on the 2nd Floor showcases our healthy collection of period films and films inspired by the style. Please read below to learn from our in-house enthusiasts who recommend and explain titles from the display.

Steven explains Film Noir as:

"Deprived of American movies during the Second World War, French audiences and critics discovered Hollywood's crime movies from the 40s in 1946. They found in them a reflection of their own experience of and disillusionment resulting from the war. Occupied France had suddenly turned into a world of secrecy, informers and treachery; where knowing who to trust, or trusting the wrong person, suddenly became a matter of life and death. American crime movies symbolized and visually translated this post-war world by themes of deception, betrayal along with distrust of authority and most notably by taking place mostly in darkness. According to film critic Roger Ebert, the term "Film Noir" comes from the books called "Series Noir" that translated American "Hard Boiled" Pulp fiction into French."

Steven recommends selections from the French “heyday” of Film Noir, 1945-1955: Rififi, and Pépé le Moko. American movies from the same period include: The Third Man, They Live by Night (1948), Night and the City (1950), and Night of the Hunter (1955), and Chinatown.

Steven also recommends: L.A. Confidential, “the 1997 homage to Film Noir, contains numerous twists that depart from the plot lines of the classics, including a betrayal scene both shocking and unexpected. In the 1980s  we saw two noir movies, Body Heat and Blood Simple, that followed noir conventions closely, but only at first. And Insomnia (Swedish original),  Insomnia (American remake, on order), Elevator to the Gallows (a.k.a.: Elevator to the Scaffold) (1957), Le cercle rouge, Purple Noon (the introduction of Patricia HIghsmith's "Mr. Ripley" character, we also have the American remake: The Talented Mr. Ripley).”

Taryn says:

"No film list is complete without ONE Gene Hackman movie. In Night Moves Hackman plays a private detective (of course) on the trail of a missing trust fund baby. In the process of finding her he stumbles upon something much more sinister, and stumbles through a few perplexing loose ends. Either way, its a nice example of post Watergate paranoia that will keep you guessing."

Taryn also recommends The Grifters "A stellar cast marks this adaption of Jim Thompson's pulp novel about a trio of con artists as a classic of the genre. Look forward to hard-boiled dialogue, hard as nails female leads and a world of cynicism and despair."

Michael Fox of CinemaLit recommends these “essential noirs, including a few shot in SF:”

Out of the Past, Dark Passage, D.O.A. And “some great (color) neo-noirs:” Chinatown, Point Blank, Blood Simple, L.A. Confidential.

Merry says:

“I recently checked out Gaslight and Mildred Pierce and really enjoyed them. I first saw these films over 10 years ago on Turner Classic Movies and have been haunted ever since. Can't say enough about how great Ingrid Bergman portrays a wife tortured by her husband and Joan Crawford portrays a mother tortured by her daughter. They definitely deserved their Best Actress Oscars (winners for 1944 and 1945).”

Heather Miles recommends Double Indemnity calling it “a good one.”

Posted on Sep. 22, 2018 by Myles Cooper

New Titles List for the Week of August 6


Jonas Jonasson Hitman Anders & the meaning of it all
Chico Buarque My German brother
Wolfgang Hilbig The tidings of the trees

Mystery, Suspense, Espionage & Intrigue
Nicholas Irving Reaper: ghost target

Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror
Muriel Barbery The life of elves
Kristen Simmons Pacifica

Short Stories
Jamel Brinkley A lucky man
Akil Kumarasamy Half gods

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Applied Sciences
Amy Shira Teitel Breaking the chains of gravity: the story of spaceflight before NASA 629.409 T235

Arts, Architecture & Crafts
Gustav Klimt: the complete paintings 709.2 K648na
Robert J. Lang Origami design secrets: mathematical methods for an ancient art 736.982 L271or
Charles O'Brien Houses: an architectural guide 720 O62
Alex Potts Experiments in modern realism: world-making, politics & the everyday in postwar European & American art 759.06 P857
Arlene Sanderson (editor) Wright sites: a guide to Frank Lloyd Wright public places 720.92 W94sa

Business & Economics
Dawn Fotopulos Accounting for the numberphobic: a survival guide for small business owners 657.9042 F82
Richard Striner Hard times: economic depressions in America 338.54 S862
Henry A. Rosso Hank Rosso's Achieving excellence in fund raising 658.152 R737

Don Schultz Chessdon: forty years of my most interesting chess experiences 794.1092 S3871
Adorjan Andras Black is back! 794.1 A24b
Leonid Verkhovsky Draw!: the art of the half-point in chess 794.15 V589

Computer Science
Rob Miller Text processing with Ruby: extract value from the data that surrounds you 005.1 R89m

Food & Drink
Deirdre Greene The half-pint guide to craft breweries: Northern California 663.42 G799

Health & Medicine
Mark Green The Tai chi healing Bible: a step-by-step guide to achieving physical & mental balance 613.71 G820
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre Yoga 613.7 Y546

Herrick Chapman France's long reconstruction: in search of the modern republic 944.082 C366
A.H.M. Jones Constantine & the conversion of Europe 937.08 J710
Pieter M. Judson The Habsburg empire: a new history 943.6 J921

Home & Family Management
Jane Jacobs The death & life of great American cities 711.4 J175 2011
Vital little plans: the short works of Jane Jacobs 711.4 J175v

Natural Sciences & Mathematics
Matthew J. James Collecting evolution: the Galapagos expedition that vindicated Darwin 508.866 J231
Omar W. Nasim Observing by hand: sketching the nebulae in the nineteenth century 523.1135 N178

Philosophy, Psychology & Religion
Chang Po-tuan Understanding reality: a Taoist alchemical classic 299.51 Z632
Andrew Newberg Words can change your brain: 12 conversation strategies to build trust, resolve conflict & increase intimacy 153.6 N534

Politics & Government
Stephanie Feldman (editor) Who will speak for America? 320.973 F312
Dmitri Trenin Should we fear Russia? 327.47 T723

Social Sciences & Current Events
Alice Bolin Dead girls: essays on surviving American obsession 305.4097 B638
Nikki Jones The chosen ones: Black men & the politics of redemption 305.388 J710
Tania Romanov Mother tongue: a saga of three generations of Balkan women 306.8743 R662
Arlene Stein Unbound: transgender men & the remaking of identity 306.76 S8191

Travel & Geography
Hermann Hesse Singapore dream & other adventures: travel writings from an Asian journey 915.904 H463

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Ellen Oh (editor) Flying lessons & other stories Child Oh

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Emily Giffin All we ever wanted CD Fic Giffin

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Isle of dogs

Love, Simon

God's own country
I, Daniel Blake
Night & the city

Foreign Language
Thérèse DVD French

Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror
A quiet place
A wrinkle in time

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It Comes at Night

Posted on Aug. 9, 2018 by Cherilyn Banson

Funny Films: DVD/Blu-ray Display

Need a laugh? At Mechanics’ we have an extensive collection of funny films ranging from silent comedies of the early 20th century to recent releases of today. Visit the Funny Films display on the 2nd Floor and take home a DVD or Blu-ray that will make you laugh out loud! Below are staff favorites from the display.

Steven recommends:
The Twelve Chairs- Less well known Mel Brooks film about a couple of con men racing against a corrupt priest to find a cache of jewels hidden in a chair in 1920s Russia. Brooks made a career out of making tribute films to parody the tropes and conventions of a given genre. This one takes on screwball comedies of the kind Frank Capra and Blake Edwards made.  Stars a very young Frank Langella.

Spaceballs- This time Brooks parodies the "space opera" genre including the Star  Wars movies and many more. Some of the best "4th wall" scenes ever  ("breaking the 4th wall" includes such devices as having a character address the audience directly or the action spilling over to the other side of the camera).

High Fidelity- An adaptation of a Nick Hornby book changes the venue to Chicago and the characters to Americans including John and Joan Cusak, Jack Black and Tim Robbins.  A record store owner recounts his top five breakups. The funniest parts happen every time Cusak addresses the audience directly.

Taryn recommends:
Dress to Kill- My favorite Izzard stand-up just because it is set in San Francisco and I love all things cable car.

Marx Brothers TV Collection-Tons of rare, hilarious stuff in this collection and a MUST WATCH if you're
a Marx Brothers fan.

The Bank Dick- Master of the one liner, W.C. Fields is the father of modern comedy - watch
his body language!

Monsieur's Hulot's holiday- A comedy with almost no words? Yes Tati shows its possible in this endearing
slapstick with effortlessly choreographed gags. The first entry in the Hulot series and the film that launched its Tati to international stardom.

Merry says, “I like a lot of old stuff: Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Marx Brothers, and Laurel & Hardy. The film “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” is chock full of the best comedians and comedic actors of the 20th Century. And Monty Python is always good for a laugh!”

Myles says, “Christopher Guest is filmmaker who is best known for his mockumentary style of storytelling pioneered by his work with Rob Reneir on This Is Spinal Tap. He co-wrote the film and played guitarist Nigel Tufnel. Guest’s unrehearsed style of filmmaking involves using many of the same actors in each film. He encourages actors to use improvisational comedy techniques allowing them to add off-script dialog and storylines as their scenes unfold. Although Guest writes, directs, and plays the central character in many of his films, he enjoys the editing process the most, taking pleasure in cutting down hundreds of hours of film in post-production to 90 minutes. Actors that commonly appear in his films include Parker Posie, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Jane Lynch, Eugene Levy, Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, and Jennifer Coolidge. Here at Mechanics’, we have This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration in our collection. I recommend them all! “

Posted on Jul. 30, 2018 by Myles Cooper

Dog Days

Are you a pet parent? Do you have a grumpy cat or playful pup in your life? Or, like me, do you somehow find yourself watch cat and dog videos on Youtube for hours on end? It's no secret that animals can provide stress relief and companionship in your life and coinciding with the dog days of summer, although here by the bay we don't get much of the lethargy inducing heat, this month's audiobook selections features an animal theme, from dogs and cats, to a famous whale and even a tiger.


A Dog's Heart by Mikhail Bulgakov CD Fic Bulgakov.

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome CD Fic Jerome.

Selected Shorts : A Celebration of the Short Story : Pets! CD SS P498.

The Cat Who Went Bananas by Lilian Jackson Brown CD Fic Braun.

James Herriot's Favorite Dog Stories CD 636.7 H567c.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville. CD Fic Melville.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris CD Fic Sedaris.

Animal Farm by George Orwell CD Fic Orwell.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel CD Fic Martel.



Dancing Dogs: Stories by Jon Katz.

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn.

A Nose for Justice by Rita Mae Brown.

The Cat Who Went Bananas by Lilian Jackson Braun.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

Posted on Jul. 15, 2018 by Sou Phetsomphou

Pride on Display

Pride on Display: DVD/ Blu-ray Display

Summer is Pride season in the Bay Area. With our big celebration in San Francisco happening  June 23rd and 24th, Mechanics’ would like to highlight selections from our collection that feature stories about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. In the last few years, we’ve seen greater representation of queer cinema in the mainstream. Below are recent films to hit the big screen, as well as staff favorites.

Carol (2015) - Director Todd Haynes  (Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven, I’m Not There) directs a screen adaptation  by Phyllis Nagy of The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith. In Carol, an aspiring photographer working at a Manhattan department store, Therese Belivet, develops a fondness for Carol Aird, a wealthy shopper who leaves behind a pair of gloves. Both women are in relationships with men, and are forced to decide what to do with the new love between one another.

Imitation Game (2014) - Is the true story of Alan Turning, a brilliant cryptanalyst who decrypted German codes for the British during WWII. Although a hero of WWII, Turning was convicted on charges related to his sexuality and chemically castrated. Watch Benedict Cumberbatch brings to life a story that was once widely suppressed due to homophobia.

Call Me by Your Name (2017) - based on the novel by Andre Aciman, two Americans, a 17-year-old and a 24-year-old develop a friendship in Northern Italy. Oliver, the older graduate student, has a relationship with a woman, Mariza, but is attracted to Elio, the young American. Elio has a similar feeling towards Oliver, and the  two develop a relationship they must keep secret.

Danish Girl (2015) - based on the novel by David Ebershoff, The Danish Girl follows the life of one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery, painter Lili Elbe, played by Eddie Redmayne.

Moonlight (2016) - was the first LGBT film to win an Oscar for Best Picture. Moonlight follows the life of a boy growing up in housing projects of Miami Florida, as he moves through three stages of his life. A young boy Chiron becomes friends with a drug dealer Juan who senses the boy needs nurturing. Little discovers he is different after he meets love interest Terrel. The two form an uncommon relationship in their youth which ends in conflict. Years later the two meet again as men.

Craig recommends:  The Boys in the Band - Released in 1970, it was the first major-studio production to deal frankly with homosexuality and is a milestone in the history of American cinema. Every member of the show's original Broadway cast appears in the film, including Laurence Luckinbill as an out-of-the-closet husband and father.

Rhonda recommends: Another Country

Merry recommends: My Beautiful Launderette

Myles recommends: Paris Is Burning, La Cage aux Folles II, The Adventures of Pricilla Queen of the Desert, Moonlight, Carol, Torch Song Trilogy, and Behind the Candelabra.

Posted on Jun. 18, 2018 by Myles Cooper

And the Audie Award goes to...

Did you know that each year the Audio Publishers Association (APA) selects audiobooks for awards, just like the Oscars with films and the Grammy Awards with records? On May 31st, the APA announced the 2018 winners of the "Audie Awards." Our audiobook selections for June includes this year's winner, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, as well as the finalists from several categories.


Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (also available as an ebook)

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine : a novel by Gail Honeyman

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, written and narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson (ebook)

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (ebook)

This Fight is Our Fight : the battle to save America's middle class by Elizabeth Warren

A Legacy of Spies : a novel by John Le Carré (ebook)

Code girls : the untold story of the American women code breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy (ebook)

What Happened, written and narrated by Hillary Rodham Clinton (ebook)

Shattered : inside Hillary Clinton's doomed campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes


Please also take a look at our e-audiobooks collection on RBdigital!


Posted on May. 31, 2018 by Sou Phetsomphou

Bay Area Stories: DVD/Blu-ray Display

From the classic black and white suspense of Hitchcock to colorful, modern CGI films like Inside Out, writers love placing their stories in the Bay Area. Visit the 2nd Floor DVD/Blu-ray display to discover or revisit stories that take place in our beautiful Bay. Below are staff recommendations from the display:


Taryn recommends:


The Conversation - Gene Hackman is spectacular as surveillance "expert" in this mystery thriller. Watch it and see if you can find any parallels with today's political scene!


Bullitt - Steve McQueen is smoking hot (burning rubber!) as SFPD Lieutenant Frank Bullitt in this action filled, mob busting,  Mustang racing thriller. The car chase scene through the streets of San Francisco is regarded as one of the most influential in movie history.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers - Based on the book by local author Jack Finney, the 1978 film is a remake of one from 1956. Roger Ebert thought the plot had something to do with "something to do with Watergate and keeping tabs on those who are not like you" - what do you think?


Kristin recommends:


The Birdman of Alcatraz - A true story of a convicted killer who avoids the depths of despair by becoming an authority on birds during  his imprisonment.


Harold and Maude - A black comedy about a disturbed young man fascinated with death and funerals and his friendship with an eccentric and adventurous 80 year old lady. This film also has a great soundtrack by Cat Stevens!


Rhonda says “I have to say Bullitt and Vertigo are at the top of my list. But, the little campy film "So I married an Axe Murderer" has a scene filmed right outside my apartment in North Beach, circa 1993.”


Deb recommends Maltese Falcon and Dirty Harry.


Myles recommends:


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)-  Mechanics’ librarian Lia recommended this film for a previous display, and I just got around to watching it. In Star Trek IV, the crew travels back to the 20th-Century San Francisco (from the 22nd-Century) to rescue two newborn humpback whales from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The hero of the film is a marine biologist. How cool is that? In need of family-friendly feel-good sci-fi? Look no further!


The Room (2003): is thought to be one of the best-worst movies ever made. Its production inspired the Disaster Artist (2017) with James Franco and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. The Room is about Marina District banker who finds out his wife is cheating on him with his best friend. Part softcore porn, part unintentional comedy, part music video, the room was a passion project of writer, director, and San Francisco landlord Tommy Wiseau. The Room is famous for its ongoing media campaign, 15 years after its initial release, one can still find a giant “The Room” billboard on a building at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Posted on Apr. 29, 2018 by Myles Cooper

The Wrecking Crew: Music Display

The Wrecking Crew was an informal name given to a group of Los Angeles based studio musicians who played on countless popular music releases of the 1960s and early 1970s. Although these union musicians stationed at Gold Star Studios had jazz and classical backgrounds, in the hands of Phil Spector, they became the new sound of pop in his “Wall of Sound” playing on popular radio songs by the Crystals, the Ronettes, Ike & Tina Turner, and the Righteous Brothers. Before overdubbing allowed for layers of multiple takes, the Wrecking Crew provided the backing tracks for the Beach Boys, the Monkees, the Mama's and the Pappas, Sonny & Cher, Frank and Nancy Sinatra, and even television themes like that of M*A*S*H.

Did you know the late "Rhinestone Cowboy" Glen Campbell was a member of the Wrecking Crew? Stop by the display on Balcony 3A to discover recordings from this loose collective of Los Angeles' finest musicians.

Posted on Apr. 8, 2018 by Myles Cooper