Noe Valley Voice May 2010

Books and Pictures: Polish Up on Politics

By Susan Higgins
Noe Valley Adult Services Librarian

Turn on the TV and you'll see plenty of campaign ads. Open your mailbox and it's bulging with political flyers. Election time is here again. The San Francisco Public Library offers many books and films that explore the social conditions, events, and politics that influence today's important local, state, and national issues. Read commentary and analysis from historians and journalists. Find biographies that provide insight into what makes a successful politician. View a thought-provoking political film or teach your child about the election process. Here's a small selection of titles from the collection at the Noe Valley/Sally Brunn Library on Jersey Street.

Books for Adults

- Kevin Starr's Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance, 1950-1963 explores the geographical, economic, and social factors that contributed to our state's growth and includes biographical sketches of many key cultural, business, and political figures.

- Peter Schrag studies immigration, globalization, and the impact of politics on people's quality of life, in California: America's High-Stakes Experiment.

- California Politics and Government: A Practical Approach, by Larry Gerston and Terry Christensen, is a concise book providing charts, tables, and maps for those who would like a better understanding of how state and local governments work.

- Pulitzer Prize­winner William Goetzmann tells the story of America's greatest thinkers and creators in Beyond the Revolution: A History of American Thought from Paine to Pragmatism.

- Two reporters give us a behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 presidential election in Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain, and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.

- Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi's Life, Times, and Rise to Power, by journalist Marc Sandalow, provides the first biography of Pelosi. It's based on hundreds of interviews with colleagues, family, and friends, and Pelosi herself.

- Visions of Peace and Justice: Over 30 Years of Political Posters from the Archives of Inkworks Press, by Lincoln Cushing et al, contains more than 400 color reproductions of posters the Berkeley press printed for causes ranging from Native American and women's liberation to ending the war in Iraq.


- Tim Robbins stars as a folksinger demagogue campaigning for a U.S. Senate seat in his film Bob Roberts.

- See Sean Penn's Academy Award­winning performance as San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk in Gus Van Sant's film Milk.

- In Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections, a documentary by David Earnhardt, computer programmers, statisticians, journalists, and election officials discuss how manipulating vote counts can easily change election outcomes.

For Older Children

- Philip Steele's Eyewitness Vote looks at the history of elections and voting, politics, and revolutions throughout the world. This book is loaded with facts and figures, timelines, photos, and snapshots of famous people.

- Geared for kids 4 to 8, Vote by Eileen Christelow uses a town's mayoral election to illustrate the election process from the start of the campaign through election day. It includes a list of websites for children who want to learn more about voting.

- What's Your Source?--Questioning the News by Stergios Botzakis helps young readers evaluate media messages.

- Linus runs for class president in the DVD You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown.

Picture Stories for Younger Children

- Max for President by Jarrett Krosoczka uses the story of a school election to teach children about campaigns, voting, and collaboration.

- In Duck for President by Doreen Cronin, Duck gets tired of his chores and holds an election to replace Farmer Brown.


A Toe-Tapping Roots Review

- On Saturday, May 8, from 11 a.m. to noon, the Noe Valley Library's meeting room will host a "Roots Review," a tour of American music and dance. Children of all ages are invited to come see clog dancing, jazz, and tap--and learn a few steps, too.

Comedy Night at the Library

- You won't hear any "shushing" of belly laughs at the library on Tuesday, May 11, 7 to 8:30 p.m. That's because San Francisco comedians Sammy Wegent and Allison Page will be causing all the commotion in a comedy show featuring sketches, improv, monologues, and their trademark "professional" banter.

Greenbacks for Greening

- Using state and federal stimulus funds, the city has set up a new program called GreenFinanceSF, which helps property owners finance "green" improvements to their homes and businesses. On Tuesday, May 18, 7 to 8:30 p.m., GreenFinanceSF staff will be at the library to talk about how the program works and how you might benefit. Typical energy-saving projects include solar hot-water systems, duct sealing and repair, and air-conditioning and heater upgrades.

Noe Valley's Book Group

- The Noe Valley Book Discussion Group gathers on Wednesday, May 19, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., in the meeting room of the Noe Valley Library.

Preschool Films

- On Tuesday, April 18, from 10:15 to 11:45 a.m., the library shows films for children to age 5.

Family Story Time

- Kids of all ages will enjoy a reading aloud program, Family Story Time, held Tuesdays, May 4 and 11, from 11 to 11:30 a.m.

All events take place at the Noe Valley/Sally Brunn Library, 451 Jersey Street near Castro Street; 355-5707.

Spotlight on "Book Club in a Box"

If you're starting a book club or if your group is looking for ideas for what to read next, the library has a convenient new resource for you: Book Club in a Box. You can reserve and check out a package of 10 books plus a binder full of information about the author, discussion questions, reviews, interviews, and more. Nineteen different titles are currently available.

Search "Book Club in a Box" in the library catalog to see a list of titles and request your package. Find out more at