News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 09/09/2014
Subject :

Palo Alto City Library Launches CA Reads 2014
Contact : Laurie Hastings, Senior Librarian    (650) 838-2964
Palo Alto, CA — The Palo Alto City Library is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $5,000 grant from Cal Humanities for its 2014 California Reads initiative.  California Reads is a competitive grant program of Cal Humanities and provides a springboard to think about and discuss ideas using thought-provoking books about issues that are of importance to our state.  The 2014 statewide read theme is titled 'War Comes Home' and will focus on the experience of veterans returning from military service.  The aim of this community read is to increase public understanding and empathy for those who have served, as well as to spark a public conversation on how we can best support the process of reincorporating California veterans into the fabric of civilian life. 

The book that has been selected by Cal Humanities to anchor this project is What It Is Like To Go To War by Karl Marlantes.  Marlantes is a Vietnam veteran, Rhodes Scholar, and the author of the New York Times best-selling novel, MatterhornWhat It Is Like To Go To War has been cited by veterans as the work that best expresses their experience.   The title that the library has selected as an appropriate read for youth and families is The Mailbox by Audrey Shafer, M.D.  During the months of September, October and November 2014, the Palo Alto City Library will offer a variety of free events for adults, youth and families that will encourage community dialogue and understanding about the veteran experience.  The Library encourages the community to read these titles and has many copies that may be borrowed.

"The Library would like to invite everyone in the community to engage in discussions about the themes of What It Is Like To Go To War," said Senior Librarian Laurie Hastings, coordinator of the War Comes Home grant.  “Talking about war is difficult for everyone as the topic is fraught with emotion and misunderstanding, but it is a discussion that we need to have.” 

The Library will present the following free programs in support of the theme of War Comes Home.  Registration is requested for all programs.  To register, use the library’s online calendar at or call 650-329-2436.

Thursday, Sept. 18, 6:30-7:30 p.m., College Terrace Library
Thursday, Oct. 16, 12-1 p.m., Palo Alto City Hall
Book Discussions: What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes
This California Reads selection is an eloquent, honest and raw account of the author’s military service in Vietnam.  It’s a story that Marlantes needed to tell and that we all should hear.  These will be Librarian-moderated discussions

Saturday, Oct. 11, 2 p.m., VA Palo Alto Auditorium
Meet the Author: Karl Marlantes
Meet Karl Marlantes, author of What It Is Like To Go To War.  Marlantes served as a Marine in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy commendation medals for valor, two Purple Hearts, and 10 air medals.  He is a Yale graduate and a Rhodes Scholar.

Friday, Nov. 14, 6-7:30 p.m., Children’s Library
Family Book Discussion: The Mailbox by Audrey Shafer
The Mailbox is the heartfelt story of a young boy in the foster care system who has been placed to live with his uncle, a crusty old Vietnam veteran that the community has forgotten.  This Librarian-moderated discussion will also include a family craft.  We invite everyone in the family to read the book. 

Saturday, Sept. 27, 4-5:30 p.m., Downtown Library
Film Screening & Discussion with Filmmaker: Killing Memories
Join filmmaker Pete Pepper, who served as a 23-year-old commander in Vietnam, in this screening of his award-winning documentary about his return to Vietnam, Killing Memories.  A conversation with Pete will follow the screening.

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 6-7:30 p.m., Children’s Library
Meet the Author: Audrey Shafer, M.D.
Meet Audrey Shafer, a Professor of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine/Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System and the Director of the Medicine and the Muse Program, Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics.  She will be accompanied by her beloved dog Xerox – the model for the wonderful dog “Guppy” in The Mailbox.  She will talk to families about how her work with veterans brought her to write this book.

Fridays, Sept. 5, 12, 19, 26, Oct. 3, 10, 10:30 a.m.– 12 p.m., Menlo Park VA Medical Center
Creative Writing Series for Veterans
This six-part series with author Jill Wolfson will give veterans the tools that will empower them to examine and tell their stories through the written word.

Friday, Oct. 17, 6-7:30 p.m., Children’s Library
Family Night for Vets & Families
Vets/active military are invited to a private, after-hours evening at the Children’s Library for storytelling, music, snacks and a special family craft activity.

Saturday, Oct. 18 & 25, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Menlo Park VA Medical Center
Photography Workshop for Veterans
Photographer Conrad Johnson will work with veterans to help them explore their stories through the mediums of the photographic image.  These photos will be the subject of a special Veteran’s Day exhibition, Heart Of A Soldier, opening Nov. 9 at the Palo Alto Art Center.

Sunday, Nov. 9, 2-4 p.m., Palo Alto Art Center
Community Celebration & Photo Exhibit
Veterans and the general public are invited to participate in inquiry-based tours of the veterans’ photographs.  There will be hands-on art activities and refreshments for all at this special Veteran’s Day event. 

Thursday, Sept. 25, 12-1 p.m., Palo Alto City Hall
Civic Conversation
A librarian trained as a facilitator in Civic Conversations will moderate a discussion that will explore beliefs and foster greater understanding of the veteran experience.  We invite civilians and military to participate.  These small-group conversations use short writings or other compelling ‘objects’ (photos, film clips, art) as a means of exploration of our values and civic lives.

Veterans Day, Nov. 11
War Ink: Virtual Exhibit
War Ink, an online exhibit of Iraq and Afghanistan veteran memorial tattoo art will launch on the Library’s webpage on Veteran’s Day.  War Ink will consist of professionally photographed tattoos and veterans’ stories as recorded by StoryCorps.

All California Reads events are funded through a grant from Cal Humanities, an independent non-profit state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.  For more information on Cal Humanities, please visit  Library partners include the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto Art Center, and American Legion Post 558.