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Lauren John's Blog

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Cressida, the children's book buyer at Kepler's independent bookstore in Menlo Park, California once worked as a Holland America cruise ship librarian. She tended a collection of three thousand books and led book talks for well heeled passengers headed to Hawaii and South America. And yes, she...
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Philip Roth has never been to a book group and shows great disdain for them, so give up your fantasy of making a cinnamon kugel and having him over to share ideas with the other mavens in your living room. I know this because he said as much to Cynthia Haven, a Stanford scholar-in-residence, who...
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Two weeks into her widowhood, as snow fell gently on the village of Great Neck, my Mom unsuccessfully sought solace from the Great Neck Public Library. As snow began, Mom knew she would be housebound for a few days. She called the Great Neck Public Library to see if they still had a book that she...
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Training Lunch
Train Your Weaknesses. Race Your Strengths If I wasn't going to be cremated, I'd have this mantra engraved upon my tombstone, because it is the best way that I know to live my life. Anyone who knows me for more than a few days knows that I have been blessed with quick verbal, reading and writing...
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This Halloween will mark the 75th anniversary of a classic War of the Worlds radio broadcast presented by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre. This science fiction radio drama was aired in the form of a real time news report which interrupted a big band dance concert in a Manhattan ballroom. It...
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Attention California teens taking the SAT exam on Saturday October 5th.  What are you having for breakfast? You have less than 48 hours to prep for this crucial meal on this crucial day--so check your fridge and head out to a 24-hour Safeway-- NOW. I tell you this, because the morning of my...
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On Monday I had one of those rare and wonderful teacher/librarian moments, when I told ten year old Frank that our time was up and we had to stop reading a chapter together. Without pausing, he took the book out of my hands and kept on reading until his mother arrived to drive him home. The book is...
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SAT REDUX—TEACHING VOCABULARY (Note: all SAT words used in this essay are presented in bold text) I start by writing the word EMOTICON on the whiteboard—followed by the symbol  @ and the characters  :-)). “Can you figure out how this word got into the dictionary and where it came from?” I...
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Philz Palo Alto
After a decade of full-time employment, most recently as Library Director of St Patrick's Seminary and University, I have returned to the freelance world. The next few paragraphs should support this topic sentence with the angst filled examples of how and why I made this decision--or, more...
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Dampier, Australia--at the ends of the earth
  "A guy walks into a room, puts on a cape, and stuff happens." This is what sells American movies, said screenwriter Daniel Taplitz--playing the detached Hollywood cool guy in front of a suburban audience at Menlo Atherton High School last night. But few were buying the detachment, as many...
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   In the days before e-books, you could find out a lot about a person you were about to hook up with by taking a look at  their bookshelves. Of course,  there might not be any books around. But that, for me, was a dealbreaker. I could saunter over to the shelves,  look...
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Friday Dec 9th--End of Semester Banquet
When I began this All Seasons blog four years ago, I was leading local book discussion groups and working as a solo librarian at the Town and Country Club in San Francisco. T&C--as it is fondly called by members--is a women's club that was founded in 1893 by Bay area society women.  I read...
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If you want to come to my next book group in which we discuss both the  2011 novel The Paris Wife by Paula McClain and Ernest Hemingway's memoir A Moveable Feast, be prepared to know the difference between Gloria Steinem and Gertrude Stein. I mention this because book group leader...
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Men behaving bravely, men behaving badly, and sharks.  These are the themes explored in my gift book recommendations for Father's Day--guaranteed to provide an escape from whatever Dad needs to escape from.  Women will most likely enjoy these, too--I know I did--so pack them into summer travel bags...
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 I lead book groups and I lead "literary discussions" and I think the key difference, other than the fancy wording, is that literary discussions often feature a series of books centered around a theme or an author or a geography. If the members of the group show up regularly, they have...
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