2013 Events


Catamaran Literary Reader Issue #4 Launch Party
Monday, December 9, 2013 5-7 pm

5 pm: Hospitality
6 pm: Presentation

Featuring contributors Hilton Obenzinger and Susan Vreeland.

Hilton Obenzinger is a lecturer and associate director of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University. His most recent book is Busy Dying, and his other works include a*hole: a novel, Running through Fire: How I Survived the Holocaust, American Palestine: Melville, Twain and the Holy Land Mania, Cannibal Eliot, Lost Histories of San Francisco, New York on Fire, and This Passover or the Next I will Never Be in Jerusalem.

Susan Vreeland has published six art-related novels, four of which have been New York Times Bestsellers. Her two most recent novels are Clara and Mr. Tiffany and Luncheon of the Boating Party. Girl in Hyacinth Blue was a Book Sense Book of the Year finalist and Forward Magazine’s Best Novel of the Year, and Clara and Mr. Tiffany was shortlisted for the Lannon Literary Award for fiction. She lives in San Diego where she taught high school English for thirty years. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary magazines including The Missouri Review, Ploughshares, New England Review, Confrontation and others. Her work has been translated into twenty-five languages.

Catamaran Literary Reader is a quarterly literary and visual arts magazine featuring fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and fine art. It seeks to capture the vibrant creative spirit of the West Coast in writing and art from around the world. More about the Reader is available on its website, www.catamaranliteraryreader.com

This event is free & open to the public.


OFF-SITE EVENT: Publication & Printing Party Celebrating The Sierra Nevada Suite in Pasadena
Monday, December 2, 2013, 5-7 pm

At Archetype Press
Art Center College of Design
South Campus
950 South Raymond Avenue
Pasadena, CA, 91105
Directions may be found here.

With an illustrated talk by Richard Wagener and the opportunity to print your own keepsake from one of his woodblocks!

For inquiries, email Gloria Kondrup, Director, Archetype Press, at gkondrup@artcenter.edu

The Book Club of California’s 2013 publication The Sierra Nevada Suite consists of thirty-one prints hand-engraved on boxwood by Richard Wagener. It is the companion volume to Wagener’s California in Relief, published by the Club in 2009 and sold out that year. The Sierra Nevada Suite was designed and produced in an edition of 308 numbered copies by Peter Rutledge Koch with the assistance of Jonathan Gerken.

This just in! The Sierra Nevada Suite received a Judges’ Choice Award at the Oxford Book Fair, November 3, 2013.

A limited number of copies are still available. To order or find out more, please call (415) 781-7532 or click here.

This event is co-sponsored by the Archetype Press and the southern chapter of the ABAA.

Frenzeny illustration

OFF-SITE EVENT: Publication Party for Paul Frenzeny’s Chinatown Sketches
Thursday, November 21, 2013, 5:30-7 pm

At the Chinese Historical Society
965 Clay Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

Join us for an off-site celebration of the Book Club’s 230th book, Paul Frenzeny’s Chinatown Sketches: An Artist’s Fascination with San Francisco’s Chinese Quarter, 1875-1882.

With remarks by the book’s author, Claudine Chalmers, and preface author, historian Philip P. Choy.

For more about Paul Frenzeny’s Chinatown Sketches, and to order it, please click here.

This event is free & open to the public.


In The Library: A Stroll Through the Ephemera of the Grabhorn Press
Monday, November 18, 2013, 5-7 pm

View treasures from the Club’s newly acquired Florence Walter Grabhorn Collection with Club library volunteers Henry Snyder and John McBride.

Seating limited. RSVP.


Civil War in San Francisco: A Talk by Glenna Matthews
Monday, November 11, 2013, 5-7 pm

5 pm: Hospitality
6 pm: Talk

In this talk, Glenna Matthews will discuss the events of the U.S. Civil War as related to San Francisco, where the Unitarian minister Starr King was a passionate advocate for the Union cause and where San Franciscans gave with extraordinary generosity for the relief of Union soldiers. But there’s more to the story than that, as Copperheads were also active in the City by the Bay, and San Franciscans of color struck out in new directions under the impetus of war.

Glenna Matthews holds a Ph.D. in American history from Stanford University. She has been an associate professor of history at Oklahoma State University and a visiting associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, UCLA, UC Davis, and UC Irvine. Her recent book, The Golden State in the Civil War: Thomas Starr King, the Republican Party, and the Birth of Modern California, provides a pioneering overview of what happened in the 31st state during the terrible conflict.

This event is free & open to the public.

On The Rim of a Volcano: A Talk by Bruce McKinney
Monday, November 4, 2013, 5-7 pm

Presented by the California Rare Book School at The Book Club of California

5 pm: Hospitality
6 pm: Talk

Bruce McKinney is a book collector who has looked at how the dealer-centric fixed-price market, in place for five hundred years, is being supplanted by a rapidly growing auction market where prices are determined by competitive bidding. The two markets coexisted for centuries, but there was a shift beginning in 1980 when Sotheby’s decided to pursue the retail trade. Thirty-three years later, the number of auctions is increasing while the traditional dealer market declines. In Mr. McKinney’s view, we are at a turning point.

In addition to being a collector, Mr. McKinney is the founder of the Americana Exchange, a database of more than five million auction records of works on paper.

More about the California Rare Book School is available at www.calrbs.org

This event is free & open to the public.


A Fresh Look at the Library: Young Writers Read Works Inspired by the BCC Collection
Monday, October 28, 2013, 5-7 pm

5 pm: Hospitality
6 pm: Reading

The Ruth Asawa School of the Arts is an acclaimed public arts high school in San Francisco. The Book Club has invited five seniors from SOTA’s Creative Writing Department to write poems and stories inspired by books from the Club’s Library. The students have chosen works from the Clifford Burke and Tangram Press collections and poems by Robinson Jeffers all related to the theme of landscape and place. After reading their selections, they will share their creative responses. Expect them to be wide-ranging and imaginative.

Midori Chen
Mykel Mogg
Giorgia Peckman
Abigail Schott-Rosenfield
Frances Saux

This event is free & open to the public.


California Society of Printmakers: One Hundred Years, 1913-2013
Monday, October 21, 2013, 5-7 pm

5 pm: Hospitality
6 pm: Panel

Both The Book Club of California and the California Society of Printmakers were founded on December 12, 1912, in anticipation of the upcoming Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Join us for the Society’s Centennial party and celebration of the publication, California Society of Printmakers: 100 Years, 1913-2013. With a panel discussion by three of the books seven contributors, Maryly Snow, Art Hazelwood, and Daniel Lienau.

This event is free & open to the public.


Litquake Presents: Doctors and Patients; Medicine and Literature
Monday, October 14, 2013, 6:30 PM

At The Book Club of California.

Three doctor/authors share their recent literary works, which provide an insider’s view into the experiences of both patients and doctors struggling with trying to do the right thing in situations where there is no right answer.

Co-presented by the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Humanities Group

CHRIS ADRIAN is the author of The Great Night, Gob’s Grief, The Children’s Hospital, and A Better Angel. Selected by the The New Yorker in 2010 as one of the “20 Under 40,” he lives in New York where he is a pediatric oncologist and faculty at the Columbia Program in Narrative Medicine.

LOUISE ARONSON’s first book, A History of the Present Illness, is a collection of linked stories about patients and doctors in San Francisco. She is an Associate Professor of Medicine & Geriatrics at UCSF and leads UCSF’s Medical Humanities. www.louisearonson.com

JASON KARLAWISH is the author of the novel Open Wound: The Tragic Obsession of Dr. William Beaumont. He is a Professor of Medicine, Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. www.jasonkarlawish.com

JULIE LINDOW, host, UCSF Medical Humanities Literary Lunch Series Coordinator and editor of the anthology Left in the Dark: Portraits of San Francisco Movie Theatres.

This event is free & open to the public.

For more information about this event and Litquake, please click here.

Guglielmo Libri

Scientist, Scholar, and Scoundrel: The Life and Exploits of Count Guglielmo Libri. An Illustrated Talk by Jeremy Norman.
Monday, October 7, 2013, 5-7 pm

5 pm: Hospitality
6 pm: Talk

Co-sponsored by the Northern California chapter of the ABAA

An illustrated account of the life and exploits of the notorious Count Guglielmo Libri (1802-69), mathematician, journalist, patriot, historian of science, paleographer, book collector, bibliographer, antiquarian bookseller, forger, and book thief.

Jeremy Norman is one of the world’s leading specialists in rare books and manuscripts on the history of medicine, science, and technology. More about him may be found here.

This event is free & open to the public.


From Heather’s Mommies to Tango’s Daddies: The Evolution of Family Affirming Children’s Literature. A Talk by Randy Tarpey-Schwed.
Monday, September 30, 2013, 5-7 pm

5 pm: Hospitality
6 pm: Talk

Children’s picture books do not typically generate controversy, but when they portray families with gay or lesbian parents, or other “non-traditional” family structures, the reactions from adults can be quite striking. Club member Randy Tarpey-Schwed has researched the evolution of this category of children’s literature and has in the process acquired a virtually complete collection of every example of the genre from the first twenty-five years of its existence. In a well-illustrated talk, Randy will describe the genesis of these books, starting with the very first example issued by a small feminist publishing cooperative in 1979. As Randy places these books into their important historical context you will hear tales of book theft and censorship, political intrigue, and the courage of a few groundbreaking publishers, and you will have the opportunity to see many examples of these books and to learn what they are really about.

In addition to his interest in children’s books, Randy is an expert on the life and works of M.F.K. Fisher. He curated the Club’s 2008 Fisher exhibition, A Delicious Obsession, and is the editor of M.F.K. Fisher: An Annotated Bibliography.

This program is presented in conjunction with the Club’s fall exhibition, Draw Me A Story: A Century of Children’s Book Illustrations.

Randy’s exhibition, From Heather’s Mommies to Tango’s Daddies: The Evolution of Family Affirming Children’s Literature, was on view at the Gay and Lesbian Center Exhibit Space at the San Francisco Public Library through August 1st.

This event is free & open to the public.


In The Library: A Viewing of The Maps of San Francisco
Monday, September 16, 2013, 5-7 pm

The Maps of San Francisco by Neal Harlow, published by the Club in 1950, is a salute to the America’s Cup Race.

Printed by the Grabhorn Press, the book is a splendid survey of the early maps of the Bay back to 1850. Join us for an informal gathering around the table in the Library, where John McBride will page through the book for those interested.

Seating limited. RSVP.

ABC2 copy

Exhibition Opening: Draw me a Story: A Century of Children’s Book Illustration
Monday, September 9, 2013, 5-7 pm

5 pm: Hospitality
6 pm: Illustrated talk by exhibition curator and BCC member Malcolm Whyte

This event is free & open to the public.

Click here for more information about the exhibition.


Broadside Printing Party: Celebrating 200 Years of the Columbian Hand Press
Monday, August 26, 2013, 5-7 pm

2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the appearance of the Columbian iron hand press. Invented by George Clymer of Philadelphia, it was the first all-iron hand press created in America.

To celebrate, the Club invites you to print your own commemorative broadside, designed by Fred & Barbara Voltmer of Havilah Press and Alan Dye of Noble Impressions, on the Club’s Columbian. Printing is first come first served!

With a talk by Jeffrey D. Groves, Professor of Literature and Dean of Faculty at Harvey Mudd College, and founder of the First-Floor Press, Claremont Colleges Library, which uses a Columbian and three other cast-iron presses to teach students the basics of hand press printing.

This event is free & open to the public. 


Special ticketed event: The Miraculous Return of Ambrose Bierce
Monday, June 10, 2013, 5-7 pm

Note: This event is free for Club members and $10 for guests. Tickets will be available at the door. No need to RSVP.

5 pm: Hospitality; 6 pm: Performance

One hundred years after his disappearance, the legendary writer Ambrose Bierce returns as a black man. Early in the performance the character of Bierce asks: “Why return as a black man in the age of Obama when I fought as a white man in the age of Lincoln? Need I ask?”

Felix Justice (Ambrose Bierce) has appeared as an actor in Bay Area theaters including The Eureka, SF Rep, SF Actors Ensemble, and Mill Valley Center for the Performing for many years, appearing in such plays as Blues for Mr. Charlie, The River Niger, Henry the Fifth, Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act, The Public Ear, and most recently, Under the Lintel. In 1989, with Peter Fitzsimmons, he co-founded The Fellowship Theater in San Francisco. Mr. Justice has performed Prophecy for America, his Martin Luther King, Jr. show, widely, and has toured for more than 20 years, with Danny Glover, in An Evening with Martin and Langston.

Bart Schneider (writer) was born and raised in San Francisco. He began writing plays in the late 1970’s and had a number produced in Bay Area theaters before moving to Minnesota, in 1983, to work at the Playwright Center in Minneapolis. In 1986, he became the founding editor of Hungry Mind Review, a national book and culture magazine, which he edited for fifteen years. Between 1998 and 2008 Schneider published four novels, including Blue Bossa, a finalist for an L.A. Times Book Prize, and Secret Love, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. In 2001, he became the literary director of the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. The following year he founded Speakeasy Magazine. Schneider returned to the Bay Area in 2008. In 2011, he founded the small literary press Kelly’s Cove Press. His fifth novel, Nameless Dame: Murder on the Russian River was published in 2012.



Publication Party for Richard Wagener’s Sierra Nevada Suite
Monday, June 3, 2013, 5-7 pm

5 pm: Hospitality; 6 pm: Talk

The Book Club of California invites you to celebrate the publication of our 231st book, Richard Wagener’s Sierra Nevada Suite.

With an illustrated talk by Richard Wagener and remarks by Peter Koch.

The thirty-one prints in this signed and numbered edition were hand-engraved on end-grain boxwood and relief-printed by the artist. A companion volume to the sold-out California in Relief, published by The Book Club in 2009. Designed and printed at Peter Koch Studios.

Click here for more about the book and to order it online.


A Niece of Miss Austen: Catherine Hubback’s Journey from Hampshire to California. A talk by Zoë Klippert.
Monday, May 13, 2013, 5-7 pm

Catherine Hubback (1818-1877) was a niece of Jane Austen and a novelist herself. She is best known for her continuation of her aunt’s unfinished work The Watsons. At the age of 52, she left England for America and settled in Oakland, where she lived from 1871 to 1876. Her letters to her son and daughter-in-law in Liverpool are a lively account of life in California by a gentlewoman managing a household and traveling to tourist destinations from Santa Cruz to Sonoma County.

Forty-four of the letters were acquired by the Bodleian Library at Oxford in 1977. In 1998 they came to the attention of Zoë Klippert, who in her talk will tell the story of a woman whose life evolved in ways unprecedented in the Austen family.

Zoë Klippert is a freelance editor. She grew up in Pennsylvania and lived in France, Ohio, and Massachusetts before moving to California. Her home in Moraga is less than a mile from the route taken by Catherine Hubback in 1874, when she traveled by stagecoach to Mount Diablo.


Exhibition Opening: The Legacy of Florence Walter. Celebrating a Century at the Book Club of California.
Monday, April 29, 2013, 5-7 pm

Bibliophile and bookbinder extraordinaire Florence Walter (1884-1972) joined the Book Club in 1913. She was the first woman elected to the Board and the first woman President (1952-55). The Club is honored to display forty of her fine design bindings, as well as sketches and other ephemera.

With remarks by four of Walter’s grandchildren, Paul A. Bissinger, Jr., Margot Sinton Biestman, Patricia Sinton Adler, and Peter Henry Stinton.

More about this exhibition may be found here.

Granta image

GRANTA Presents: The Best of Young British Novelists 4
Monday, April 22, 2013,
6 pm Hospitality, 7 pm Readings

Presented by The California Book Club in conjunction with City Lights Booksellers and GRANTA

Hosted by John Freeman

Opening statement by Peter Maravelis, City Lights Booksellers

Three GRANTA published writers shall be appearing to read their works. Their identities shall be published after the list is revealed.

In 1983, Granta devoted an entire issue to new fiction by twenty of the ‘Best of Young British Novelists’ and created a revealing snapshots of a generation of writers about to come into their own. Ten years later, in 1993, it did the same again. And again in 2003. This decade’s list will be revealed on 15 April 2013. California marks the first stop of an international tour of these writers, hosted in partnership with the British Council. Join Granta editor John Freeman for reading and conversation with some of the new Best Young Novelists.

GRANTA magazine was founded in 1889 by students at Cambridge University as The Granta, a periodical of student politics, student badinage and student literary enterprise, named after the river that runs through the town. In this original incarnation it had a long and distinguished history, publishing the early work of many writers who later became well known, including A. A. Milne, Michael Frayn, Stevie Smith, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. During the 1970s, it ran into trouble – dwindling money, mounting apathy – from which it was rescued by a small group of postgraduates who successfully and surprisingly relaunched it as a magazine of new writing, with both writers and their audience drawn from the world beyond Cambridge.

Since 1979, the year of its rebirth, Granta has published many of the world’s finest writers tackling some of the world’s most important subjects, from intimate human experiences to the large public and political events that have shaped our lives. Its contributors have included Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Saul Bellow, Peter Carey, Raymond Carver, Angela Carter, Bruce Chatwin, James Fenton, Richard Ford, Martha Gellhorn, Nadine Gordimer, Milan Kundera, Doris Lessing, Ian McEwan, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jayne Anne Phillips, Salman Rushdie, George Steiner, Graham Swift, Paul Theroux, Edmund White, Jeanette Winterson and Tobias Wolff. Every issue since 1979 is still in print. In the pages of Granta, readers met for the first time the narrative prose of writers such as Bill Bryson, Romesh Gunesekera, Blake Morrison, Arundhati Roy and Zadie Smith; and have encountered events and topics as diverse as the fall of Saigon, the mythology of the Titanic, adultery, psychotherapy and Chinese cricket fighting.

Granta does not have a political or literary manifesto, but it does have a belief in the power and urgency of the story, both in fiction and non-fiction, and the story’s supreme ability to describe, illuminate and make real. As the Observer wrote of Granta: ‘In its blend of memoirs and photojournalism, and in its championing of contemporary realist fiction, Granta has its face pressed firmly against the window, determined to witness the world.’

The 2013 Oscar Lewis Awards
Monday, March 25, 2013, 5-7 pm

Please join us in congratulating the recipient of the 2013 Oscar Lewis Award for Book Arts, Carolee Campbell. More about Carolee and The Oscar Lewis Awards may be found here.

Publication Party for Paul Frenzeny’s Chinatown Sketches
Monday, March 11, 2013, 5-7 pm

Celebrate the publication of the Book Club’s 230th book, Paul Frenzeny’s Chinatown Sketches: An Artist’s Fascination with San Francisco’s Chinese Quarter, 1875-1882.

With remarks by the book’s author, Claudine Chalmers, and preface author, historian Philip P. Choy.

For more about Paul Frenzeny’s Chinatown Sketches, and to order it, please click here.

Bodoni: Faces and Places,
Monday, February 25, 2013, 5-7 pm

In this slide show, Valerie Lester will talk about the life of Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813). She will show images of the places he inhabited in Italy: Saluzzo, Rome, and Parma. You will meet the people for whom he worked, and will enter into the age in which he lived. As she goes along, Valerie will discuss the stages of Bodoni’s development as a typographer.

Valerie Lester is the author of Phiz, the Man Who Drew Dickens (Chatto & Windus, 2004) and Fasten Your Seat Belts! History and Heroism in the Pan Am Cabin (Paladwr, 1995). She has also written articles on a wide range of topics, including one on birdwatching for The Atlantic Monthly called “A Bird’s Eye View of Nepal,” and 20 articles for Airways Magazine. She lives in Massachusetts. Visit her website at www.valerielester.com  

Alexander Campos, Executive Director of The Center for Book Arts, New York
Tuesday, February 12, 2013, 5-7 pm (walk-through starts at 6 pm)

Join us for a walk-through of the exhibition, Multiple, Limited, Unique: Selections from the Permanent Collection of The Center for Book Artson view at The Book Club January 28-April 15, 2013.

More about the exhibition may be found here.

Contesting Erasure: William Reagh and Other Documentary Photographers of Urban Los Angeles, 1936-1990. A Reception and Talk by Michael Dawson.
Thursday, January 31, 2013, 4-7 pm

Founder’s Room
Honnold/Mudd Library
800 N. Dartmouth Avenue
Claremont, CA   91711

Entrance is on north side of building – Founder’s Room is located on the left immediately after entering the building.

In celebration of the publication of the Book Club’s 229th book, William Reagh: A Long Walk Downton, Michael Dawson will present all illustrated lecture based on his essay for the book, Contesting Erasure: William Reagh and Other Documentary Photographers of Urban Los Angeles, 1936-1990.

Dawson’s presentation traces the development of Southern California from the 1860s through the 1980s with a specific focus on the destruction of communities in Chavez Ravine and Bunker Hill. William Reagh and other photographers including Max Yavno, Don Normark, Arnold Hylen and Theodore Hall sensed what was going to happen and made a visual record of neighborhoods before they were demolished. Dawson argues that these photographers created “an unarguably identifiable tradition of urban documentary photography that worked to contest the erasure of portions of the urban core of Los Angeles, in that they substantially helped develop a collective memory of urban communities that had been made to disappear.” The photographs of William Reagh and the other photographers discussed in Dawson’s lecture are critically important to understanding what happened to Los Angeles and particular groups of people as the city was redeveloped.

Michael Dawson is a private dealer and appraiser specializing in rare books and fine art photography including historical photographs of California and the Southwest. Michael has written widely on photography and has owned and operated his own gallery as well as the celebrated Dawson’s Book Shop in Los Angeles – a business established by his grandfather in 1905. He is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA), the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, (ILAB) and the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD). Michael is known as an expert in the history of Southern California photography. His writing on the subject is included in LA’s Early Moderns: Art/Architecture/Photography published by Balcony Press in 2003 and Land of Sunshine: An Environmental History of Los Angeles published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2005.

Exhibition Opening: Multiple, Limited, Unique. Selections from the permanent collection of the Center for Book Arts, New York City.
Monday, January 28, 2013, 5-7 pm

Join us for hors d’oeuvres, jazz, live poetry, and a celebration of artist books, prints, and ephemera from the Center for Book Arts, New York City.

More about the exhibition may be found here.

Evening with Laura Wasowicz, Curator of Children’s Literature, American Antiquarian Society.
Monday, January 7, 2013, 5-7 pm

In conjunction with the exhibition Educate! Amuse! And in Colors! Selections from the George M. Fox Collection of Early Children’s Books at the San Francisco Public Library, Main Library, December 15, 2012-March 10, 2013. Laura will give a short presentation, along with a video on the American Antiquarian Society, its aims and activities at 6:00 p.m. at The Book Club. Regular Club Hospitality will prevail from  5-7.

The American Antiquarian Society houses the largest collection of books, broadsides, pamphlets and graphic arts materials printed from the Colonial Period through 1876. In 2012 it celebrated it’s bicentennial as the first national American historical association.

Napa Valley web design and development