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Books Meet Art: Quick Hits

Need some book-related artistic entertainment/inspiration? Here are three blogs that are definitely worth a glance, and maybe even a follow.

a sample from Corpus Libris

Even if you don’t know Chip Kidd‘s name, you definitely know his work. Kidd is a prolific and prominent book cover designer. Among his many well-known designs are Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, Naked by David Sedaris, and 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. His blog is varied and interesting, with highlights of his work mixed in with observations (often humorous) about publishing and design in general.

A fun blog that I found linked from Kidd’s is Corpus Libris, where readers submit photos of themselves replacing parts of their bodies with the images from book covers. Equal parts creative and hilarious, perhaps you’ll be inspired to contribute with a book you find in our collection?

Another Kidd link referral, artist Thomas Allen does amazing photographs using books in creative ways, particularly with his cutouts from pulp novel covers, where the characters come bursting (literally) to life out of the pages of their books.

a Thomas Allen design

On another note, several months ago on this blog, I mentioned filmmaker and Sunnyvale native Bernie Su’s web video project The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Since that post, Bernie gave a talk here at Sunnyvale Library, wrapped up the series, and announced a follow-up project in one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever. The series has become wildly popular, as this article from WIRED describes. If you haven’t taken a look, I highly recommend it (be warned, the 100+ episodes are highly addicting).

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Eerie yet Beautiful

It’s Halloween and I want to curl up and watch some horror, actually some alluring thrillers. Don’t get me wrong, I love the 80′s slashers like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street.  But, I am looking for something eerie yet beautiful.  Something classy. So, I turn to:

The Bkirds


The Birds  by Alfred Hitchcock



Let the Right one in film


 Let the Right One In by Tomas Alfredson



Lady Vengeance



Lady Vengeance by Chan-wook Park


rosemary's baby


and Rosemary’s Baby by Roman Polanski




Find these at the library!


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Transmedia Storytelling

Transmedia storytelling, like the name suggests, describes a method of using multiple media (books, videos, web, etc.) to tell a story.  Unlike the traditional method of simply adapting, say, a book into a movie, this type of writing weaves the story among the various media so that each complements, or even relies upon, the others.  Transmedia is not new, but it is growing in popularity, and here are a couple of transmedia stories that I’ve enjoyed and am currently tracking.

Skeleton Creek

Skeleton CreekPatrick Carman is a bestselling young adult and children’s author (The Land of Elyon series, The 39 Clues: The Black Circle) and has done groundbreaking work in transmedia storytelling through a number of books, including the four-title Skeleton Creek series.  In the first Skeleton Creek book, the story begins with journal entries by Ryan, a teenager who is homebound after a mysterious accident left him with a broken leg.  He receives an email from his friend Sarah, who tells him that she has video footage from the night he was hurt, but something strange was captured on the tape.  Readers, along with Ryan, are directed to go to Sarah’s website to watch the video.  After watching, the story continues back in the book with Ryan’s reactions and further interactions with Sarah.  As the two delve deep into the mystery of an unexplained death that no one seems willing to talk about, the story passes back and forth between Ryan’s text and Sarah’s videos, truly bringing the small town of Skeleton Creek and its mystery alive before your eyes.

To me, there is much to love about transmedia storytelling as it relates to children’s and teen literature.  Young people that may otherwise be “reluctant readers” can get swept up in the mysterious, engaging, and downright creepy videos, but are quickly drawn back to the written word.  Before long, they’ve devoured an entire novel and are hungry for more.  Parents who struggle with the overwhelming access to electronic screens in their kids’ lives can embrace this kind of technology that encourages and enhances quality writing.  Patrick Carman has utilized the book/video model in other stories, including the Dark Eden series (also for teens and super-creepy), and Trackers,  about a group of tech-savvy “spy kids” (for middle graders, and includes interactive puzzles along with the videos on the companion website).

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Depending on your Jane Austen persuasions, the world has either too many or too few adaptations of Pride and Prejudice.  But for those who ever wondered what Elizabeth Bennet would look and sound like as a 24-year-old graduate student with a video blog, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is just right.  The Diaries is a series of web videos, released twice weekly, that gives all of the elements of the classic story a modern twist: Lizzie’s unending dramas with her marriage-obsessed mother, boy-crazy little sister Lydia, and best friend (and video producer) Charlotte, all while supporting her shy but sweet sister Jane in a budding relationship with new-to-town medical student Bing Lee.  Oh, and of course his standoffish friend Darcy came along too.  Where transmedia comes into play is that every character in the show has a social media presence.  They converse with each other on Twitter and other sites and viewers are free to follow along and even jump into the conversations.  Austen-ites that ever wished they had a friend like Elizabeth Bennet, here’s your chance.

Another great reason to highlight this show is that co-creator Bernie Su is a Sunnyvale native.  We’re planning to have Bernie visit the library this winter to talk about videomaking and all things LBD, so stay tuned for that.  In the meantime, if all this Lizzie talk has given you the urge to read (or re-read) the novel, remember that Pride and Prejudice is available in the public domain, so you can download a complete and completely free and legal digital copy anytime through either the Project Gutenberg ebook collection, or our OverDrive collection (public domain books on OverDrive do not count toward your checkout limit).

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D-Day Stories and Beyond

Although they occurred 70 years ago, the events and stories surrounding World War II maintain wide popular interest. Today, on the 68th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, we highlight one war story that has inspired many others.

Stephen E. Ambrose’s 1992 book Band of Brothers, E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne: From Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, tells the story of the men of “Easy Company” as they fought through Europe. The book was adapted into a highly popular television miniseries that aired on HBO in 2001 and was executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who had recently collaborated on Saving Private Ryan, another outstanding film that features D-Day prominently.

Episodes of Band of Brothers frequently appear on television these days, but if you’re interested in watching the entire series, the Library owns both DVD and Blu-Ray editions. Both sets include several outstanding special features and historical background information. Another interesting way to watch the series is to see how many of the fine ensemble cast you can recognize from other movies and television programs. You can’t miss those in prominent roles like Ron Livingston (“Office Space“) or Donnie Wahlberg (TV’s “Blue Bloods“), but you’ll also catch  glimpses of David Schwimmer (“Friends“) and the truly eagle-eyed will spot Jimmy Fallon (“Saturday Night Live”, “Late Night”) in a brief cameo.

The success of Band of Brothers inspired many of the surviving members of Easy Company to tell their individual stories. Here is a list of related titles you can find in our collection (descriptions taken from the TV series’ Wikipedia article):

Finally, if you enjoy Band of Brothers or any of the related stories, you won’t want to miss the critically acclaimed companion miniseries The Pacific, which also aired on HBO in 2010 (while related production-wise, the two series are separate and can be seen independent of each other). This series focuses on the actions of three U.S. Marines, Eugene Sledge, Robert Leckie, and Medal of Honor recipient John Basilone. In addition to owning the series both on DVD and Blu-Ray, the Library collection also includes a number of related books, including:

Check out some of these stories and take time to remember those who carried forward on D-Day and beyond, and the ones that never returned.

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The Bard

April 23 is William Shakespeare’s birthday (and also his death day, coincidentally).  A one-name celebrity on par with Madonna and Oprah, no other English-language writer has so thoroughly engaged our imaginations or provided us with such enduring stories.  (Actually, this might be a fun point to debate, but out of respect for the bard’s birthday will save the arguments for another time.)

Whether you mean to be or not, you’re surely familiar with Shakespeare. Perhaps you read his plays in school or saw a live Shakespeare production.  Or maybe you’re a Shakespeare fan and don’t even know it. The musical Kiss Me Kate, and the movie/TV show 10 Things I Hate About You? Those are both adaptations of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Or how about the musical West Side Story, which is a take on the tragedy Romeo and Juliet? Shakespeare shows up just as frequently in modern fiction; Jane Smiley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres, for instance, puts Shakespeare’s King Lear on an American farm.

But whether you’re an avowed or accidental fan of Shakespeare, there’s no better way to experience his magic than to speak his words yourself. That’s why we host Read Along Shakespeare each month at the Library. At 7 pm, on the first Monday, you can come play a part (or three) in one of Shakespeare’s plays. From the tragedies to the comedies, come unleash your inner dramatist and see why Shakespeare’s words have endured for so long. No costumes required.

Upcoming dates for Read Along Shakespeare

Monday, May 7, 7 p.m. King Lear (the second half).

Monday, June 4, 7 p.m. The Tempest

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