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One of the features of the San Mateo County Library catalog I really like is the Content Café. (With the accent on the "con" in Content, not the "tent". You might be quite content to sit down at a table with a cup of java and a good book, but this is about what you’ll find in the table of contents, and beyond.)
Sometimes I’ve heard of a book, or I find it in the catalog when I want to explore something, but I’m not sure if I want to read it. That’s when I go to the Content Café.
Just Click on the Title of the Book
A page with details comes up, you look to the upper right, next to the picture of the cover. Click on “Reviews and More.” You’ll get one or two summaries and up to four brief reviews, plus a larger cover image and table of contents.
For example, I just read a book I loved, The Island of the Colorblind: and, Cycad Island by Oliver W. Sacks. I realized I hadn’t read all his books, so I turned to the catalog to see which ones I’d been neglecting all these years.
The one that jumped out at me was his Oaxaca Journal. One of the best things about Island of the Colorblind and the accompanying Cycad Island, which I originally checked out for the neurology and medical anthropology, was Sacks’ enthusiasm for the natural world, and ferns and cycads in particular.
Finding Out More
Oaxaca Journal has a picture of a fern on the front. But when I went to the Content Café, I saw there would be much more, for apparently Sacks was as fascinated by the birds, the people, the foods and the archaeology of Oaxaca as he was by the 700 fern varieties there:
” He lovingly relays what the group's excellent guide imparted of Oaxaca's history, its indigenous, the Zapotecs, and their ancient culture; he rhapsodizes over ruins and the technological and intellectual powers they bespeak; and he admires the people, the many exotic foods, the vistas, and the age-old industries of the towns he visits--all of this while his fellow travelers mostly keep on ferning. He says he wants to go back. Take us along, Dr. Sacks--please!"
Reviewed February 15, 2002 Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews
See what I mean? Now I can’t wait! Spend some time in the Content Café today.
Vaughn Harrison works at the Half Moon Bay Library and on the Bookmobile. She has a degree in Religion from Swarthmore College. Her reading interests include anthropology, archaeology, ethnic relations, mysteries, religion, travel writing, and a lot of other stuff.