Silicon Valley Reads explores what keeps us connected

If we’ve learned anything about ourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s what brings us comfort and joy, whether it’s a FaceTime call with grandma, a dance party on the porch or binge-watching a favorite TV show.

With all that in mind, it wasn’t a big step for Silicon Valley Reads to decide on this year’s theme, “Connection.” But how do you capture that entire experience in a book or two? It might be impossible, which is why six books — a mix of fiction and non-fiction — have been chosen for the 2021 program, touching on the myriad ways people connect with their world, including food, music, pets and nature.

“We’ve seen so many examples of this during the past months. Singing from balconies. Baking bread. Adopting a pet. Enjoying the outdoors. Re-reading favorite books. Contacting old friends. We have identified a set of recommended books that describe ways people can feel connected and experience moments of happiness in the most challenging circumstances,” said Santa Clara County Librarian Jennifer Weeks, who serves as the program’s co-chair along with Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan and San Jose Library Director Jill Bourne.

The books are “Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World” by former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy; “Always Home” by Fanny Singer, the daughter of famed Chez Panisse restauranteur Alice Waters; “Mutual Rescue,” by Carol Novello; “The Home Place,” a memoir by J. Drew Lanham; “The Giver of Stars,” a historical novel by Jojo Moyes; and “The Music Shop” by Rachel Joyce.

By the way, nobody expects you to read all six books, though you’re certainly welcome to do so. In its 17-year history, Silicon Valley Reads has evolved from a “one book, one community” reading program to a community engagement program that uses one or more books as a launching pad for discussions, exhibits and other programming around a specific topic. For this year, it’s a topic with six channels, and you can surf all you want.

Four companion books for younger readers also have been selected, and a full slate of programs for February and March — including virtual author events — will be available at on Jan. 1.

?Esther Hook Rechenmacher and her husband, Rick Rechenmacher, at thier home in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of Brook Hitchcock) 

HAPPY BILL HOOK DAY: Monday is a special day, but maybe not for the reason you’re thinking. Esther Hook Rechenmacher, a nonagenarian who has lived in Willow Glen for 70 years, has declared it the first national Bill Hook Day. Who’s Bill Hook? I’m glad you asked. He was Esther’s dad, whom she describes as a “regular bloke,” and Oct. 12 would have been his 122nd birthday.

Now, let me tell you a few things about this “regular bloke.” Wilbur Hook was born in 1898, and he spent 30 years working as a painter and glazier for Agnews State Hospital in Santa Clara. He and his wife, Noreen — known …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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