Fun at Foster's blog

Library LAB: Makeshop @ Foster

The Ventura County Library LAB will hold its third Makeshop event on Tuesday, February 3, at E.P. Foster Library!

All ages are welcome to join us for this activity, where we will build dancing art robots out of motors, battery packs, washable markers, and other simple materials.

This free event will take place at 5 p.m. on the second floor of the library. Come by to learn about how science and art can complement each other!

SBFOL Book Sale @ Foster

On Saturday, January 31, the San Buenaventura Friends of the Library will host a special book sale at E.P. Foster Library.

The sale will feature books, audiobooks, and DVDs on the subjects of art, history, psychology, cooking, and more. Stop by the Topping Room from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to check out their selection.

Additional volunteers are always welcome—especially those who can help move boxes of books! If you’d like to volunteer, please email

David's Dish: Foraging and Edible Plants

The "Dish" delves into a new area of study in the food world: foraging (new to me, at least). No, I don't mean dumpster diving. I mean foraging for wild food edibles. I'll admit as a child I was known to chomp on a bit of sour grass, but didn't venture much further into the wild edible kingdom.

To instruct me in this new interest of mine I looked at a terrific new book from our collection, Foraging California: Finding, Identifying, and Preparing Edible Wild Foods in California, by Christopher Nyerges. The book is an informative guide to accessing our wonderful wild food bounty here in California. The photographs are very clear and the descriptions for the identification of the edible plants are concise. Also, there are some very interesting recipes for your foraged morsels. The Stinging Nettles Hot Sauce recipe caught my attention; it seemed edgy. Careful, though: latex gloves are recommended for this recipe.

Page 178 became of special interest to me, for upon this page was one of my favorite plants, Nasturtium, and it happens to be edible. The book suggested it could be used in a "survival garden" and that the plant can be left to reseed year after year, providing an endless supply of edible plants. This sounded like a wonderful idea. I did feel slightly guilty taking the wild out of the Nasturtium, but I suppose the wildness is taken out of most everything—the "Dish" being an exception to that rule of course! I found some Nasturtium seeds at the local market, planted them, and will prepare a delicious meal with them this spring.

In addition to Foraging California I'd also recommend Hen of the Woods & Other Wild Foods and Medicines, by "Wildman" Steve Brill. It is an outstanding audiobook available through Hoopla Digital, which you can access from our eLibrary.


*****David's Dish


Check out the book at Foster Library, or put it on hold—we will send it to you. If there are any cookbooks in Foster Library’s collection that you would like me to try out, please leave the title on our Facebook page and I’ll get cooking!

Tarantulas, Fudge, and Altered Reality @ Foster

On Wednesday, January 28, author Karen Banfield will be at E.P. Foster Library for a special reading!

This event will feature selections from Banfield's book Tarantulas, Fudge, and Altered Reality, a collection of stories inspired by the author's unique perspective on the events of her life.

The reading begins at 6 p.m. in the Topping Room, and is completely free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!

War Comes Home: The Legacy @ Foster

Between January 20 and March 1, 2015, E.P. Foster Library will host War Comes Home: The Legacy, a traveling exhibition highlighting the experiences of veterans returning from war and their families.

Using both historical and contemporary correspondence, the exhibition explores the joys and hardships surrounding separation and reunion, and looks at the ways in which war shapes individuals and society.

The exhibit is located on the first floor of the library. MP3 players pre-loaded with a self-guided audio tour are available to borrow at the reference desk; for more information, call or drop by the library.

Read Me a Story & More @ Foster

E.P. Foster Library will be hosting an early literacy workshop on Tuesday, January 27.

Read Me a Story & More is an event for parents and caregivers of children ages 0-5 years old, and will provide information on the literacy skills children need to be reading-ready.

Registration is required for this event, so contact the library for more information. The workshop is for adults only, and starts at 6 p.m. in the Topping Room.

Novelties: “The Paying Guests,” by Sarah Waters

For writers of fiction inspiration can come from anywhere, but we’ve seen in past editions of Novelties that history itself is ripe with settings to be revisited, events to be reinterpreted, and characters to be reimagined. What one often finds is that our predecessors dealt with many of the same issues that confront us today, sometimes in a strikingly similar context. A talented author of historical fiction allows us to see how society handled questions that we still struggle with, giving us insight not only into how we have changed but how we have stayed the same.

Sarah Waters’ 2014 novel The Paying Guests tells the story of Frances Wray, who shares a large London home with her mother. The two are isolated and under the heavy strain of debt, having lost Frances’ brothers to World War I and her father shortly after. As a result of these hardships the two find themselves in the awkward position of needing to seek lodgers to cover their expenses, a scenario which offers Waters the chance to deconstruct the evolving social climate of 1920s England. We are shown the ways in which the country changed during the war, causing a shift in gender dynamics that many of the men returning from combat resented. The titular guests are Lilian Barber and her husband Leonard, and their presence is both disruptive and liberating for Frances, who soon develops a relationship with Lilian that is intensely passionate and ultimately forces the two onto a dangerous path. A terrible event causes the novel to shift into a suspenseful psychological study, revealing more and more about Waters’ complex characters as circumstances arise that test their loyalties to their principles and each other. Even considering the high bar set by her early novels, The Paying Guests has been seen as an impressive addition to Waters’ body of work.
We leave London behind and head to Paris for our next title, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 (2014), by Francine Prose. Advancing through history to cover the period from the 1920s to World War II, this novel follows Louisianne (“Lou”) Villars through her journey from coat check girl at the Chameleon Club to famous racecar driver and eventual Nazi collaborator. Villars, a stylish, athletic, cross-dressing young woman (whose character is based on real-life figure Violette Morris) finds the club’s atmosphere comforting, as it is a haven for other members of Parisian society who, like her, don’t fit into the narrowly-defined scope of normalcy. The novel is told from several points of view, giving Prose a chance to explore the unreliability of various narrators who are all seeing Villars’ story gradually unfold. The result is a bleak but compelling character study in which multiple perspectives meld together to form a composite picture of a complex woman facing difficult questions about her own identity and the nature of good and evil. Inspired by an actual photograph of Morris (Brassaï’s Lesbian Couple at Le Monocle), Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 draws inspiration from her life story as well as those of her peers.
Finally, we return to England for Emma Donoghue’s Life Mask (2004), another title that delivers a fictionalized account of the lives of real historical figures. Set in London during the late 18th century, Life Mask likewise tackles the subject of class while also exploring themes of homosexuality. Donoghue’s main characters are Lord Derby, a fabulously wealthy but rather homely member of the House of Lords; Eliza Farren, a young actress pursued by Derby whom he introduces to high-society; and Anne Damer, a widow and sculptor whose budding friendship with Eliza is dogged by rumors that the two are lesbian lovers. Donoghue is credited with being a consummate world-builder whose attention to detail succeeds in capturing the essence of the period’s social and political struggles. It is this world, in which the effects of the French Revolution are felt rocking traditional power structures, where Eliza comes into her own amidst relationships that must be navigated delicately and rumors that could derail her career. The characters are expanded upon greatly from their historical personalities, as is the plot surrounding the scandal that enveloped them, and while some readers found Donoghue’s intricate use of detail and the novel’s slow start cumbersome, many more regard it as a slow burn that is worth the payoff.

You can borrow The Paying Guests and Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 from E.P. Foster Library. Life Mask is also available through the Ventura County Library system and can be requested through our online catalog. If you can’t find the title you’re looking for on the shelf at your branch, call or go online to place a hold and have it sent over. If you’re looking for more titles like these or if you’d like to explore something from another genre, NoveList Plus in the Reading Suggestions section of our eLibrary can set you up with even more read-alikes!


Strung together by Ronald Martin.

Fiction Writing Essentials @ Foster

On Saturday, January 24, local author Doug Taylor will present an interactive workshop on fiction writing at E.P. Foster Library.

This free event will cover plot development, dialogue, descriptive and action narrative, character development, subplots and counter points, and much more.

It all starts at 1 p.m. in the Topping Room. Bring your experiences and questions about writing novels with you to add to the discussion!

Congratulations, TAG, on the 2015 Gift Drive!

This year's TAG Gift Drive was a huge success! The Avenue, E.P. Foster, and Saticoy branches all served as drop-off spots for gifts through mid-December, and our dedicated teen groups were able to collect a large variety of gifts for those in need this season.

Once collected at our branches, the gifts were picked up by Spark of Love for distribution. The recipients were teens from low-income homes or who are homeless, orphaned, abused, or neglected. We all hope that our contributions made a positive difference in their lives.

Congratulations to TAG for putting on another great program!

Library LAB: Makeshop @ Foster

On Tuesday, January 20, the Ventura County Library LAB will host its second Makeshop event at E.P. Foster Library.

This activity will focus on building small vibrating robots out of motors, toothbrush heads, battery clips, and various other materials. Participants can get creative and make bots with unique movement patterns and behaviors.

This free event will take place on the second floor of the main library building at 5 p.m. All ages are welcome; we hope to see you there!

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