San Rafael Public Library

Library Updates

Ghost Stories at the Haunted Falkirk Masion: Online Series

Posted by jillt on

We were terribly disappointed to cancel our Ghost Stories at the Haunted Falkirk Mansion events due to the PSPS power outage. Please enjoy this online series of Library & Recreation staff performing the spooky ghost stories we had planned to share with you in person. Turn off the lights (if you have power) and get ready for some chills!

Paulo Fuentes reads Lacrimosa by Silvia Morena-Garcia, from the November 2015 issue of Nightmare Magazine

This story contains adult themes and some profanity; it is intended for teens and adults.


Jill Tokutomi reads The Green Ribbon, from In a Dark, Dark, Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz


Peter Warden does an abridged reading of October in the Chair, from M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman


Margaret Stawowy reads The Doll by Jesse Reffsin, from the anthology Ghost by Blaise Hemingway


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Zip Books

Posted by henry on

zip books logo

Your Library. Delivered!

What is it? Zip Books is a way for customers to request books that the Library doesn’t own. The item is shipped directly to you using Amazon.

Zip Book Request Form


  • Customer must have a MARINet library card.
  • Item must not be available in the MARINet catalog.
  • Customer can request 1 item at a time and keep it as long as you want.  If you want a new title, you must return your current title.
  • Customers may receive a total of 5 items in a month.
  • The cost of the item must be under $75 for foreign items and $50 for all other items (initially $35 for any item).
  • Item may be a Book, a Large Print Book, or a Book on CD
  • The Item must be available through Amazon (it does not have to be Prime).
  • Library customer must be in good standing with the Library (not owe more than $10.00 on your library card).

How to use it:

Step 1: Fill out the Zip Book Request Form.

Step 2: Library staff will email or call to let you know what day to expect the book to arrive from Amazon or let you know if it is not available. Please contact us at if you don’t receive your book on the day estimated.

Step 3: Keep the item as long as you want. When you are finished, please try to return the item to a staff member at the San Rafael Public Library during library open hours. Please inform staff that you are returning a Zip Book. The item must be returned in order to request an additional item.  Please be sure to tell staff that it is a Zip Book so that we can mark it as returned. If you really need to, you can put the item in the book drop in its original Amazon packaging – please mark it “Zip Book”.

Step 4: You will be asked to complete a short survey which allows us to track patron satisfactory level with the program.

Step 5: Repeat for a total of 5 times per month.

Zip Books is a statewide project of the California State Library and NorthNet.  The Project is funded in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the California Library Services Act. Zip Books is administered in California by the State Librarian. 

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Marin’s One Book One Marin selection for 2017 – The Tsar of Love and Techno

Posted by bonnie on

All of Marin is reading this book, and we have lots of events happing around the book throughout Marin, so join the experience and learn some history along the way.

Here’s what’s happening at the San Rafael Downtown Library.

February 27, 6:30-7:30 Book Talk with Librarian, Pam Klein
March 6, 6:30 – 7:30 Russian Culture Talk with professors Svetlana Kristal and Krista Hanson entitled: Loyalty Through Betrayal: Us Versus Them in a Russian Context
March 30, 6:30 – 7:30 Russian Travel talk with Rea Franjetic of Cosmopolitan Tours, entitled: Armchair Travel to Russia.
April 2, 1:00 – 4:00 – Faux Ukrainian Egg Decorating

Request a copy of The Tsar of Love and Techno in print, large type, or as a downloadable e-book or e-audiobook.

Read more about the book, the author, and all events in Marin on the One Book One Marin site here.

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Travel Vicariously for Bookshelf Bingo

Posted by diane on


With the Rio Olympics starting on Friday, we thought we’d bring a taste of Brazil to those not planning to go. We also updated our Olympic-themed list from four years ago.

If you’re playing along with our Adult Summer Reading Program, Bookshelf Bingo, then you can use one of these books to complete the square, “Book set somewhere you’ve never been (but want to go).” But hurry, there’s just one month left in the summer program. Don’t miss out on our great prizes and a chance for even better prizes with the bingo raffle!

And if Brazil has never tickled your fancy, then try these lists based on other locales:

Destination: Berlin


Havana Heat: Cuba


London Calling


We’ll Always have Paris


Bon voyage by book! As always, if you want more help finding your next great read, contact us or drop by the library.


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She Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts

Posted by diane on


Regardless of what you think of the newest Ghostbusters movie, the library can help you find some ghost stories with female leads. Try these books to start:

Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgol

Aunt Dimity’s Death, by Nancy Atherton

Fellside, by M.R. Carey

The Ghost of Hannah Mendes, by Naomi Ragen

The Hundred Secret Senses, by Amy Tan

Tamsin, by Peter S. Beagle

Twenties Girl, by Sophie Kinsella

And as an added bonus, even though this does not have ghosts, it does have zombies and a kick-ass female lead…

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance — Now With Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!, by Seth Grahame-Smith

And for even more spooky stories, including those with male leads and non-fiction treatments, see our Ghostly Tales list.

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Birthday Books for Bookshelf Bingo

Posted by diane on

1960s-readerWhat were people reading in the year you were born? Read a blast from the past with these lists of popular and notable books throughout the decades. If you’re playing along with our Adult Summer Reading Bookshelf Bingo, you can complete a square by reading a book published in the decade you were born!

These lists were partially taken from an enormous list, Books of the Century , with best-sellers, historically significant books, and Book-of-the-Month Club selections, which was compiled by Daniel Immerwahr, an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Northwestern University.

We picked ten books from each decade from 1920 through the 1990s. We did not ensure that one book from each year was taken, but rather picked books for a breadth of representation of what a particular decade offered.  I’m sure we missed a few obvious or important choices; let us know what you think!

Books published in the 1920s-1950s:









Books published in the 1960s-1990s:








p.s. You can also find books published in a particular year by looking at the award winners for that year; though technically many awards are given the year after a book was published. See our Fiction Winners and Mystery Winners handouts.

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Guilty Pleasures for Bookshelf Bingo

Posted by diane on

woman-reading-outsideThere’s nothing wrong with going on a beach-read bender over the summer.  In fact, if you’re playing along with our Adult Summer Reading Bookshelf Bingo, you’ll earn a completed square when you finish that “Guilty Pleasure” book.

What, you only read Pulitzer-Prize winners?  That’s okay, too. There’s no rule that says a guilty pleasure has to be poorly written!  It can be a book you’re reading when you’re really supposed to be doing something else… like cooking dinner, or doing the laundry.

In any case, I’m sure you won’t have trouble finding a fun book for yourself, but just in case, here are some book lists we’ve made that can help.

Speaking of dinner, if you love food (and who doesn’t), try some of these culinary reads. Our list ranges from light-hearted fiction featuring a chef kidnapped by a pirate, or a caterer with a magic touch, to non-fiction by adventurous food critics and a baker in Paris.


Or try this list combining romance and comedy, that we’ve called My Funny Valentine.


Or if fiction isn’t your thing, we can hook you up with some humorous non-fiction!








Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone you didn’t do your laundry— so go ahead and grab a book! If you want more suggestions, just drop by the library or contact us.

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Patron Picks for Bookshelf Bingo

Posted by diane on

LogoIt’s summer time: which means it’s time to read books and win prizes with the library’s Adult Summer Reading Program- Bookshelf Bingo! We’ve got lots of fun rewards and raffle prizes for when you complete bingo square challenges such as Try a project from a home/garden/cookbook, or read a Book set in the past or the future. A new square this year, recommended by a previous Bingo participant, is Patron Pick. She even provided her own list of patron picks!


You can see a few of her picks, as well as some titles that were recommended by last year’s Bookshelf Bingo players, on our Patron Picks list!  Another good source for well-loved books is this list: Reader’s Choice 2015, the result of the reference librarians asking people who came to the help desk in January for the favorite book they read last year.

Both of these lists show the wide variety of really good books out there waiting for you. Come by the library and pick one up. And while you’re here, don’t forget to sign up for our Adult Summer Reading Program. It lasts from June 1 – September 6, 2016. (For the little ones, the Youth Summer Reading starts June 10.) Happy Reading Everyone!

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Women Writers Rule the Nebulas

Posted by diane on


At this weekend’s Nebula Awards, female authors dominated the ceremonies, winning prizes for the best novel, novella, novelette, and short story.  The Nebula Awards are presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

This year’s winner for Best Novel was Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. Other winners included Nnedi Okorafor for her novella, Binti; Sarah Pinsker for the novelette, Our Lady of the Open Road; and Alyssa Wong for her short story, Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers. Even the Young Adult fiction award, called the Andre Norton Award, went to a woman: Fran Wilde, for her novel Updraft.

The final Nebula Award, the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, went to Mad Max: Fury Road, written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nick Lathouris. (Not a female screenwriter among them, sure, but at least the movie had strong female characters!)

Evoking Eastern European folklore but with a strong, intelligent female narrator, Uprooted tells the story of Agnieszka as she discovers and develops her magical abilities to help protect her quiet village from the corrupted Wood that surrounds her home.

If you’re looking for more award-winning Science Fiction, see our list of Favorite Nebula winners.  Interested in trying Science Fiction, but not sure where to start? Try our list: Science Fiction for Beginners, with tons of titles sorted by their appeal factor.

Also, here are the other novels that were nominated for the Nebula’s Best Novel award this year:

Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon
The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin
Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie
The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu
Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen
Updraft, Fran Wilde

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It’s No Mystery… these books are great!

Posted by diane on

Looking for a good mystery? Try an award winner!  The Edgar Awards and the Agatha Awards were both recently announced. Have you read these titles yet? Also see this handout with past winners of the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel and the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel.

The Edgar Awards are named for the father of the modern detective novel, Edgar Allan Poe. They are awarded by the Mystery Writers of America.


The 2016 Edgar Award Winners are:

Best Novel: Let Me Die in His Footsteps, by Lori Roy

Best First Novel: The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Best Fact Crime: Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully, by Allen Kurzweil

Mary Higgins Clark: Little Pretty Things, by Lori Rader-Day


The Agatha Awards honor “traditional” or “cozy” mysteries, as typified by the works of Agatha Christie. They are chosen by the mystery fan organization Malice Domestic, Ltd.


The 2015 Agatha Award Winners (which were awarded in 2016) are:

Best Contemporary: Long Upon the Land, by Margaret Maron

Best Historical: Dreaming Spies, by Laurie R. King

Best First Novel: On the Road with Del and Louise, by Art Taylor

Best Nonfiction: The Golden Age of Murder, by Martin Edwards

If you need help finding these books, or want more suggestions of mysteries to try, drop by the library, call, or contact us online. We’re always happy to help connect you to a great read!

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