2014 Events


Holiday Card Exhibition & Tea
December 31, 2015, 2-4 pm

View our temporary exhibition of holiday cards from the collection of the Book Club of California and its members and friends. Featuring early Victorian Christmas cards, Chinese New Year’s greetings, contemporary letterpress calendars, poems, carols, and more–designed and printed by some of California’s finest printers, past and present. December 15-January 12.


One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature: An Illustrated Talk by Chris Loker
Monday, December 15, 2014, 5-7 pm

Press play below to hear a recording of Chris’s December 15th talk:

Book Club member Chris Loker will talk about the landmark exhibition One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature, on view at the Grolier Club in New York City from December 10, 2014 – February 7, 2015. She will compliment her talk with numerous photographs of the “famous” books in the exhibition, and will share the 300-page exhibition catalogue, expected to be a watershed publication in the world of children’s literature, in its West Coast debut.

Chris Loker is a San Francisco bookseller specializing in antiquarian children’s books from 1750 – 1950. Her focus is on antique books with charm, character and color for young children and early adolescents, including alphabets, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, primers, pop-up and movable books, books of education and virtue, as well as traditional picture books and story books. Besides a member (and past board member) of the Book Club, Chris is a member of the Grolier Club and the curator of its One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature. She is a member (and past board member) of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, and serves on the board of the children’s literacy organization Bring Me A Book. Chris is married to bookseller (and Book Club board member) John Windle.


Poetry at the Edge: Five Contemporary California Poets. Featuring Kay Ryan, Michael Hannon, Martha Ronk, Joseph Stroud, and Gary Young.
Monday, November 17, 2014, 5-7 pm

Celebrate the publication of BCC publication number 232. With remarks by editor and designer Carolee Campbell, and readings by the five poets featured in the book.

Free and open to the public but space is limited. RSVP to georgie@bccbooks.org


Doctors and Lawyers, Artists and Knights, Princes and Priests: Collecting Early Books and Manuscripts on Professions & Metiers in the 21st Century. An Illustrated Talk by Andrew T. Nadell, M.D. Monday, November 10, 2014, 5-7 pm

This is a story about building a collection on a subject seemingly too broad: professions, occupations, high offices of state and church, the nobility, the arts, trades, and crafts–the ways educated and skilled people have spent their lives.

As a young man full of completist drive, Dr. Nadell collected works related to the single profession of medicine: thousands of books, pamphlets, and documents on doctors, medical schools, ethics, and quackery. The enlarged subject of all professions offers far more objects to hunt. But age, perhaps wisdom, and especially traditional bibliophilic values–beauty, importance, bindings, provenance–make the captured prey far more select and fine, and the scope is narrowed to the medieval and early modern periods.

For centuries, collectors have lamented the paucity of good old books on the market. Dr. Nadell posits that we are living in a new golden age of collecting. The internet and other technological advances have provided book collectors with unprecedented access to all the sources in the world, every day. Ours is the first generation that has more books to choose from than the generations before.

Andrew T. Nadell left Duke University after four years with three degrees: Doctor of Medicine from Duke, Master of Science in Sociology from the University of London, and Budding Book Collector advised by Professor of Medical Bibliography G. S. T. Cavanagh. This collection on Professions is the result.

Dr Nadell is in private practice, taught on the Stanford clinical faculty, and served as chairman of psychiatry at Mills Peninsula Medical Center. He is the United States national delegate to the International Society for the History of Medicine, and a member of the Grolier Club, the Association Internationale de Bibliophile, and the Société Royale de Bibliophiles et Iconophiles of Belgium. He is married to Eleanore Edwards Ramsey, the design bookbinder, BCC member, and past recipient of the Book Club’s Oscar Lewis Award, and many other awards.

Image: Erasmus, Desiderius (1466-1536), Enchiridion militis Christiani, (Antwerp: Michael Hillenium, October 1523), bound with his Institutio principis Christiani, Cologne, August 1523. These famous works are humanistic manuals on how to be a Christian knight, and a Christian prince. Addressed to two young men destined for major Renaissance occupations–an anonymous soldier and the future Emperor Charles V–they offer broad instruction for an honorable and faithful life. Both title pages are signed by the Parisian surgeon and bibliophile, François Rasse des Neux, 1548; the binding is contemporary decorated calf.  


Take Things Always by Their Smooth Handle and Give Them a Good Turn. Reflections on Life and Libraries with Christian Dupont Monday, November 3, 2014, 5-7 pm

Presented by the California Rare Book School

In 2006, Rare Book School director Terry Belanger invited Christian Dupont to give a talk about his experiences and “advices” as the newly appointed director of special collections at the University of Virginia. He naturally turned to Thomas Jefferson, and drew upon his “Decalogue of Canons,” a series of ten aphoristic expressions of practical wisdom—some more common, some more obscure—like “take things always by their smooth handle.” Applying this maxim to his own career soon led Christian to join a library software development company to create the first automated system for managing special collections library services. And now it has led him back. In his talk, Christian will reflect on what he has learned about life and libraries and whether Mr. Jefferson would approve.

Following a six-year stint with Atlas Systems, the leading provider of time-saving solutions for libraries, Christian Dupont was recently appointed as Burns Librarian at Boston College. Formerly director of special collections at the University of Virginia and Syracuse University, he embarked on his service to libraries while completing his doctorate in theology at the University of Notre Dame. His research and publication interests range widely from Dante to continental philosophy and the history and management of libraries.



In the Library: Gastronomy in Print
Monday, October 20, 2014 5-7 pm

A closer look at the Club’s collection. More information coming soon. Space is limited. RSVP to georgie@bccbooks.org
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Litquake Presents: The Heydey of Malcolm: A Tribute to Malcolm Margolin
Monday, October 13, 2014, 5:30 pm

5:30 pm: Reception
6:30 pm: Talks begin

No one has impacted the storied history of Bay Area publishing more than Malcolm Margolin, publisher of Heyday Books, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Margolin is an icon of alternative publishing, with hundreds of titles to his credit focusing on Native Americans, nature, politics and more. Tonight we pay tribute to a man the National Endowment for the Humanities called a “national treasure.” With surprise guests to be announced. Featuring Kim Bancroft, L. Frank, Andrew Lam, Rebecca Solnit, Oscar Villalon, Charlie Winton, and Paul Yamazaki. More information available here.


Per Mano, Con Amore: Henry & Patricia Evans, the Porpoise Bookshop, and the Peregrine Press. An Illustrated Talk by John Crichton
Monday, September 22, 2014, 5-7 pm

Co-sponsored by the ABAA An illustrated history about the quirky, charming and innovative bookshop and private press that flourished in San Francisco sixty years ago. With a special keepsake printed by Havilah Press for all attendees. John Crichton is the proprietor of the Brick Row Book Shop in San Francisco. Free and open to the public but seating is limited. RSVP to georgie@bccbooks.org


Exhibition Opening: Food & Wine & Good Design: The California Fine Printers’ Legacy
Monday, September 15, 2014, 5-7 pm

Celebrate the opening of our fall exhibition! With a talk by exhibition curator Randall Tarpey-Schwed.

More information about the exhibition is here.


In the Library: William Saroyan at the Grabhorn Press.
Monday, August 25, 2014 5-7 pm

A closer look at the BCC collection, on the last night of the Grabhorn exhibition.

BCC Member Jay S. Zil, MD, JD (who knew and worked with Saroyan and has acquired a complete collection of Saroyan work as well as a few hundred Saroyan manuscripts) will present an overview of books authored by William Saroyan and published by the Grabhorn Press. The presentation will detail some of the technical aspects of the variant Grabhorn editions of Saroyan’s work and include brief remarks on the literary and historical context of these particular Saroyan writings.

Time permitting, Dr. Zil will discuss his current cataloging of unpublished manuscripts of Saroyan, including such items as a unique holographic unpublished “2nd Ed.” of Saroyan’s Human Comedy.

Dr. Zil is a former member of the BCC Board of Directors and President Emeritus of the Sacramento Book Collectors Club.

Limited seating. RSVP to georgie@bccbooks.org


Celebrating 100 Years of BCC Publications. Broadside Printing Party on the Book Club’s Columbian Hand Press
Monday, August 18, 2014 5-7 pm

The Book Club of California published its first book, A Bibliography of the History of California and the Pacific West, 1510-1906, by Robert Ernest Cowan in 1914. Two hundred and thirty-two books later, we invite you to celebrate by printing your own commemorative broadside, designed by Mark Knudsen of the Elmwood Press, on the Club’s Columbian Hand Press.

With remarks by Gary Kurutz, curator of special collections at the California State Library, past president of the Book Club of California, and former chair of the publications committee.

Please join us for printing, wine, cupcakes, and hors d’oeuvres as we honor the first century of BCC publications and look forward to our next 100 years!

Printing is first come, first served. Free and open to the public. No need to RSVP.


Design Matters: The Creation of Contemporary Fine Bindings. An Illustrated Talk by Dominic Riley.
Monday, July 28, 2014 5-7 pm

With the advent of the Arts and Crafts movement bookbindings became works of art in themselves. Dominic is one of a small number of bookbinders working today who create unique Design Bindings for collectors. This lecture shows a range of these contemporary bindings, explaining how each design grew from a response to the text and illustrations of the printed book.

Dominic Riley is an internationally renowned bookbinder and teacher, having won over twenty prizes for his unique fine bindings, made either for exhibitions, competitions, or for commission. His work is in many public and private collections worldwide including the British Library, the Grolier Club and the Bodleian in Oxford. In June 2013 he won the Sir Paul Getty award for the best binding in the International Bookbinding Competition. He is currently on a whistle-stop tour of ten European and Asian countries as the exhibition travels the world.


In the Library: Bloomsday. A Closer Look at the BCC Collection.
Monday, June 16, 2014 5-7 pm

James Joyce’s Ulysses takes place on June 16, 1904. In celebration of the famous literary day, Book Club member John McBride hosted the club’s first Bloomsday on June 16, 2007. While most Bloomsday celebrations involve readings of the novel (some lasting 24 hours), the Club’s event focused on the novel in its printed form. Members and guests were invited to bring their favorite copies for a show & tell.
Now, seven years later, we repeat that invitation: please bring copies in every format, from the little magazines of the 1920s through the iPad, as well as all manner of printed versions from the last one hundred years. Can one of our bookseller members bring a copy from Shakespeare & Co, perhaps a first edition?

Henry Snyder, chair of the library committee, will open the evening with a display of a particularly exciting copy of Ulysses: the Limited Editions Club version of 1935 with illustrations by Matisse, bound by Florence Walter and part of her Grabhorn Collection (donated to the Book Club by Margot & Perry Biestman).

Then all are welcome to display and discuss their treasures. Club member Kathleen Burch promises to bring her iPad and explain the virtues of Ulysses-on-a-screen.

View of rooms from the front door

Bookmakers’ Congress: A Trade Discussion for Printer and Bookbinder Members of the Book Club
Monday, June 30, 2014 5-8 pm

Limited space. RSVP to georgie@bccbooks.org, or call (415) 781-7532 for more information.


Publication Party for The Woods Were Never Quiet by Monique Wentzel
Monday, June 9, 2014 5-7 pm

Please join us for a party celebrating the Book Club’s 232nd publication, The Woods Were Never Quiet, a debut collection of short stories by Monique Wentzel. With Monique Wentzel, letterpress printer Jonathan Clark, and illustrator Jessica Dunne.

Monique Wentzel is a fifth generation Californian. She earned her MFA at Portland State University and is the recipient of a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. Her work has appeared in ZYZZYVA and the Cimarron Review.

“Monique Wentzel is a writer of remarkable talent. Her stories incise the shell of daily life to reveal the strange, the heartbreaking, and the joyful.” Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, 2013 National Book Award nominee



Fridays at Enrico’s: A Tribute to Don Carpenter
Tuesday, May 6, 7 pm

An evening of readings and discussion about the life and work of Don Carpenter

With Peter Coyote, Curt Gentry, Louis B. Jones, Anne Lamott, and Jane Vandenburgh

Hosted by Peter Maravelis/City Lights Books at The Book Club of California.

Limited seating. RSVP to City Lights, (415) 362-8193.

Don Carpenter was a close friend of many San Francisco writers, but his closest friendship was with Richard Brautigan, and when Brautigan killed himself, Carpenter tried for some time to write a biography of his remarkable, deeply troubled friend. He finally abandoned that in favor of writing a novel. Fridays at Enrico’s is the story of four writers living in Northern California and Portland during the early, heady days of the Beat scene, a time of youth and opportunity. This story mixes the excitement of beginning with the melancholy of ambition, often thwarted and never satisfied. Loss of innocence is only the first price you pay. These are people, men and women, tender with expectation, at risk and in love. Carpenter also carefully draws a portrait of these two remarkable places, San Francisco and Portland, in the ’50s and early ‘60s, when writers and bohemians were busy creating the groundwork for what came to be the counterculture.

Don Carpenter was born in Berkeley in 1932. Raised in Portland, he enlisted in the air force and returned to the Bay Area at the end of his service. Carpenter was closely involved in the Bay area literary scene, and could often be found in the bars and coffee shops of North Beach with fellow writers like Evan S. Connell Jr., Curt Gentry and Richard Brautigan.He published 10 novels during his lifetime, including A Hard Rain Falling, which George Pelecanos called “a masterpiece,” and A Couple of Comedians, which is thought by some the best novel about Hollywood ever written. Don also had a successful career as a screenwriter, living for long periods in Hollywood where he wrote the movie “Pay Day” (1972).After years of deteriorating health, Don Carpenter committed suicide in Mill Valley in 1995. At the time of his death he was at work on the novel Fridays at Enrico’s. Nearly twenty years later Counterpoint Press is publishing this long awaited work.

About the panelists:

Peter Coyote is an ordained practitioner of Zen Buddhism, activist, and actor. He began his work in street theater and political organizing in San Francisco. In addition to acting in 120 films, Coyote has won an Emmy for narrating the award-winning documentary Pacific Century, and he has cowritten, directed, and performed in the play Olive Pits, which won The Mime Troupe an Obie Award. He is also the author of the memoir Sleeping Where I Fall. Coyote lives in Mill Valley, California.

Anne Lamott is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Grace (Eventually), Plan B, Traveling Mercies, and Operating Instructions, as well as seven novels, including Hard Laughter and Joe Jones. She is a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Jane Vandenburgh is the award-winning author of two novels, Failure to Zigzag and The Physics of Sunset, as well as Architecture of the Novel, A Writer’s Handbook, The Wrong Dog Dream, and The Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth Century, A Memoir. She has taught writing and literature at U. C. Davis, the George Washington University, and, most recently, at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California.

Louis B. Jones is the author of the novels Radiance and Innocence, both published by Counterpoint Press. His novels Ordinary Money, Particles and Luck, and California’s Over, are all New York Times Notable Books,

Curt Gentry is an American writer best known for his work co-writing Helter Skelter with Vincent Bugliosi, which detailed the Charles Manson murders and won the 1975 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Fact Crime book.


Reading: Ruth Asawa School of the Arts Senior Creative Writing Students
Monday, May 5, 2014 5-7 pm

Reading: 5-6 pm
Reception: 5-7 pm

At the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, every Creative Writing student in their 12th grade year proposes and completes a self-directed manuscript of publishable quality called the senior thesis.

Seniors work with a writer in the community who serves as a mentor and advisor, and over the course of a year the students develop and refine their manuscript (typically a collection of poems or short fiction, novella, or play). This year, most of the students are also designing and producing chapbooks of their thesis work.

Please join us to celebrate the completion of these ambitious and impressive theses at a reading on Monday, May 5,. Each of the seniors will read excerpts from their work and have their chapbooks on display. To get a taste of student writing in the CW program at SOTA, and for more information, please visit http://sotacw.org/

Free & open to the public.


Something Wild! Randolph Caldecott to Maurice Sendak and Beyond. An Illustrated Talk by Leonard Marcus.
Friday, April 25, 2014 5-7 pm

In this illustrated talk, historian Leonard Marcus will illuminate the trail-blazing contribution of Victorian illustrator Randolph Caldecott to the art of the picture book, and trace Caldecott’s influence on subsequent masters of the genre, including Beatrix Potter, Robert McCloskey, and Maurice Sendak. A question-and-answer period and book signing to follow.

Leonard Marcus is one of the children’s book world’s leading historians and critics. He is the author of over twenty critically acclaimed books including Dear Genius; Minders of Make-Believe; Show Me a Story!; and Randolph Caldecott: The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing; and is the editor of Maurice Sendak: A Celebration of the Artist and His Work. Leonard reviews children’s books for The New York Times Book Review, writes a column for The Horn Book, and lectures around the world. He is a founding trustee of the Eric Carle Museum and is the curator of The New York Public Library’s landmark exhibition, “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter.”

Photograph of Leonard Marcus by Elena Seibert.

Free & open to the public.


In the Library: California as an Island
Monday, April 21, 2014 5-7 pm

During this informal gathering in the library, view the Club’s 1972 publication, California as an Island with John McBride and Leonard Rothman. RSVP to georgie@bccbooks.org


Pop-up Exhibition: Bay Area Book Arts Programs, Student Showcase
Monday, April 7, 2014 5-7 pm

5 pm: Exhibition & Hospitality
6 pm: Presentations

A one-night-only exhibition of work by students enrolled in the book art programs at Academy of Art University, Mills College, and San Francisco Art Institute, with presentations by the students.

Kathleen Hamilton
Erin McAdams
Chrystal McConnell
Perla Melendez
Veronica Sutter
Ryan Vicente

Photo: Artist Books by Erin McAdams


2014 Oscar Lewis Awards
Monday, March 31, 2014 5-7 pm

View photos from the 2014 Oscar Lewis Awards HERE.

Listen to a recording of Johanna Drucker’s acceptance speech below:

The Book Club congratulates the recipients of
the 2014 Oscar Lewis Awards:

Johanna Drucker
Oscar Lewis Award for Book Arts

Johanna Drucker, Breslauer Professor of Bibliographical Studies in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA, is internationally known for her work in the history of graphic design, typography, experimental poetry, fine art, and the digital humanities. In addition, she has a reputation as a book artist, and her limited edition works are in special collections and libraries worldwide. More about Johanna Drucker may be found here.

Rebecca Solnit
Oscar Lewis Award for Western History

A gifted essayist and inspired historian, Rebecca Solnit has authored numerous award-winning books and articles about art, landscape, public and collective life, ecology, politics, hope, meandering, reverie, and memory. Her wide-ranging publications include Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, and River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West. More about Rebecca Solnit may be found here.

A Note from the 2014 Awards Committee:

The nominees for this year’s awards were numerous–all deserving and accomplished individuals–making the decision by the awards committee a difficult one. In the end, however, the committee focused on the nominees’ print and publishing records. Both Rebecca Solnit and Johanna Drucker’s accomplishments are most impressive–the scope and volume of their contributions are broad and inspiring, the critical reception of their work is well-evidenced, and the years of dedication they have given to their fields are more than noteworthy. Both honorees have remarkable depth, range, and scope, both are widely read and collected, and both are avid users of libraries and archives.

In sum, Rebecca Solnit and Johanna Drucker represent the highest interests and values of The Book Club of California, which is celebrating its 102nd anniversary in support of fine printing related to the history and literature of California and the western states of America through research, publishing, public programs, and exhibitions.


Authorship and Anonymity in Renaissance Handwriting Manuals: An Illustrated Talk by Simran Thadani
Monday, March 17, 2014 5-7 pm

View a video of the talk here.

Handwriting manuals, also known as copy-books, emerged out of Italy and the Low Countries in the first third of the sixteenth century and spread to Germany, France, Spain, and England within decades. These printed pamphlets, usually oblong, contained illustrated specimens of elaborate and ordinary scripts, and later also included letterpress-printed instructions for “faire writing,” thus enabling “common people” to learn to write without the need for in-person instruction.

In this two-part illustrated talk, Thadani will first introduce the genre of writing-books, pointing to the roles that illustration technologies, the potential of distance learning, and smart promotion and marketing played in teaching handwriting and making it increasingly popular even in the age of print.

Second, she will look at specific writing-masters for whom establishing authorship and authority was crucial, and outline how they touted their skills and superiority. The question of “authority” is a vexed one in this field. Did it matter by whose method one learned to write if, ultimately, the most important criterion for viable writing was legibility? How much could one master’s instructions differ from another’s? To answer this question, Thadani takes as examples a few anonymous writing-books, all of which seem to have borrowed content from the works of named authors, to ask whether anonymous instruction was any better or worse than instruction from a named source.

Simran Thadani received her Ph.D. in English, with a focus on book history and special collections, from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. Her dissertation, based in extensive archival research, is the first book-length study of English writing-books, 1570-1763. She is particularly interested in the bibliographical and technological history of the genre, and in questions of authorship/anonymity, aesthetics, and distance learning as debated by writing-masters of the period. She has over twenty years’ experience as a calligrapher.


In the Library: The Treasures of Barbara Land
Monday, February 24, 2014 5-7 pm

During this informal gathering in the library, view works donated by the Club’s esteemed former librarian, Barbara Land. RSVP to georgie@bccbooks.org


The Book Club of California at the California International Antiquarian Book Fair, Pasadena
Friday-Sunday, February 7-9, 2014

Please visit our table!

The fair is located at
Pasadena Convention Center
300 Green Street
Pasadena, CA 91101

More about the fair may be found here.


The Book Club of California at the San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print, and Paper Fair
Saturday, February 1 & Sunday, February 2, 2014

Please visit our table! More about the fair may be found here.


5 pm: Hospitality
6 pm: Illustrated talk by exhibition curator and BCC member Bruce Shyer

More about the exhibition and Bruce Shyer may be found here.


The Visual Art of William Saroyan: A Pop-Up Exhibition & Panel
Monday, January 13, 2014, 5-7 pm

5 pm: Hospitality & Pop-Up Exhibition (one night only!)
6 pm: Panel

William Saroyan (1908-1981) was an Armenian-American writer from Fresno, California, who spent a great deal of his life in San Francisco. He is famous for his short-stories and plays, and received the Pullitzer Prize for The Time of Your Life in 1940 and an Academy Award for the film adaptation of his novel, The Human Comedy, in 1943. Though best known as a writer, Saroyan was also a visual artist who produced over 7,000 paintings and drawings in lifetime. His art has been compared to that of Joan Miró and Jackson Pollack, and he was personally associated with and wrote about other artists with California connections, including Dong Kingman, Hilaire Hiler, and Suzanne Verrier, among others.

Please join us to view a selection of Saroyan’s abstract and surrealist works, figurative drawings, and portraiture. Drawn from the collections of Club member J.S. Zil and collector and past-BCC-presenter Al Nalbandian, who both knew and worked with Saroyan, as well as Charles Janigian, a member of Saroyan’s extended family, this very special pop-up exhibition will be on display for one night only.

With presentations by Charles Janigian and Club members J.S. Zil and Bo Wreden.

This event is free & open to the public.


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