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Upcoming Bay Area Literary Events

Upcoming Bay Area Literary Events

It’s our last listing of events of the year! Don’t forget to check some of these events out. And remember, the author visits don’t stop happening over the summer. Be sure to check your favorite bookstores and local library for other great events.

crusadesApril 25, 7:30pm, at Stanford
Novelist-poet Sherman Alexie (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Blasphemy) will make an appearance and speak and tell stories about his work and life.

April 25, 7:30pm, at Kepler’s
If you’re passionate about social science and social justice, you’ll want to see famed author Barbara Ehrenreich, known for her seminal book Nickel and Dimed. She will present her new book, Living With a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth About Everything, a memoir that tells of her experience reading the journals she wrote as a teen. (This will be a ticketed event. $10 in advance, $15 at door.)

April 26, 4:30pm, at SFPL – Main
Have you seen the new biopic “Cesar Chavez?” Are you dying to know more about the legendary man and co-founder of the United Farm Workers? The author of the new biography The Crusades of Cesar Chavez, Miriam Pawel, will appear to discuss her book.

May 1, 12pm, at Books Inc – Opera Plaza
Have you read The Circle yet? Popular local author Dave Eggers, founder of 826 Valencia and McSweeney’s, will appear to sign copies of his latest book, just coming out in paperback this month.

defenseMay 1, 7:30pm, at Nourse Theater
Foodies, rejoice! The acclaimed food writer Michael Pollan will give a lecture about his books and work. It will be filmed as part of a PBS documentary about his book In Defense of Food. (This will be a ticketed event.)

May 3, everywhere
It’s California Bookstore Day! Celebrate by visiting your favorite independent bookstore in your area. Many of them will have special events, sales, and author visits.

May 3, all day, at Lee’s Comics
It’s Free Comic Books Day! Stop in anytime to get a free comic book, and of course, stay to pick out even more you’ll want to read!

May 6, 6pm, at Book Passage
Two of our library’s hottest authors, Jenny Han (Summer novels, Shug) and Morgan Matson (Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour) will be visiting the bookstore to promote their new books. Jenny Han’s latest is titled To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, about a girl who writes love letters but doesn’t send them. Matson’s new book, Since You’ve Been Gone is a book about summer, so it’s the perfect thing to grab at the end of the school year.

DEEP_BLUE_jacket_frontMay 8, 7pm, at Kepler’s
If you liked author Jennifer Donnelly’s historical fiction novels Revolution or A Northern Light, you’ll want to check out her next offering. Even if you’re not a historical fiction fan, you’ll be interested – her next book starts a series about mermaids! The author will appear to promote this new title, Deep Blue.

May 8, 7pm, at Lucie Stern Community Center
Stanford Stegner Fellow NoViolet Bulawayo, who just won the prestigious PEN/Hemingway Award for debut novels, will appear to speak about her novel, We Need New Names. It is about growing up in Zimbabwe and coming to the United States. (This is a free event that requires registration. Click here to learn more.)

May 10, 4pm, at Dominican University
Are you a fan of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren? She has written a new book, A Fighting Chance, and will appear to talk about the book and her work in the Senate.

chameleonMay 13, 7:30pm, at Kepler’s
Acclaimed author Francine Prose has written another novel! This one takes place in the happening Paris of the 1930s and stars all manner of authors, expats, dancers and artists. The author will appear at the bookstore to talk about the new novel, titled Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932.

May 17, 4pm, at Books Inc – Berkeley
Did you read Marissa Moss’ books when you were younger? The author-illustrator (Amelia’s Notebook, Mira’s Diary) has a new series starting, starring a vampire who just wants to be a regular sixth grader. Blood Diaries is sure to be funny!

May 21, 7pm, at Books Inc – Opera Plaza
This event should catch a variety of types of readers. Three authors will be appearing: Kiera Cass, whose final novel in the Selection trilogy comes out soon; Kevin Emerson, a musician whose novel features music and romance; and Amanda Maciel, whose first novel Tease should appeal to fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder.

goldens3May 27, 7pm, at Books Inc – Opera Plaza
Realistic fiction readers should go to this event to see author Dana Reinhardt. Her new book, We Are the Goldens, is about a girl who feels inseparable from her older sister, until her sister begins keeping secrets.

June 22, 4pm, at JCCSF
Author Jennifer Weiner (In Her Shoes) will appear to present her new book, All Fall Down. In addition, she is sure to talk about the other thing that makes her famous – her outspoken decry of the literary world’s bias against women writers.

Ongoing Saturdays, 4pm, at SFPL – West Portal
Want to get a free book? Just visit the library, where the teen librarian will trade you a book (might be old, might be new, might not even be published yet) and in exchange, you give her a book review by the end of the month!

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2014 Edible Book Festival was a Resounding Success!

Creations by: Samantha Noeth Lewis ’19, Hannah Knowles ’15, and Katherine Sam ’16

Yesterday, Casti celebrated our inaugural Edible Book Festival. We played literary games, created blackout poetry, and had a cakewalk for fantastical book-themed cupcakes crafted by Jessa M. (‘18).

Without a doubt, however, the highlight of the afternoon was viewing the Edible Book Contest entries and voting for favorites. The more than eighty creations submitted made it difficult to chose, but in the end over 100 people cast ballots.

Congratulations to the five winning entries, selected by popular vote:

Most original

little mermaid

“Little Mermaid”
by Zoe B., Elana R., Grace E., Kaitlin R., Sarah B. ‘18














Most appetizing

looking for baked alaska

“Looking for Baked Alaska”
by Anna ‘15 & Kathryn V.










Best visual presentation

it's catching on fire

“It’s Catching on Fire!!!”
by Alexana D. and Roxana S. ‘20













lays miserables

“Lays Miserables”

by Athena N. ‘19


People’s choice 

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”
by Jas G., Emi S., Lauren A., Riona Y., Naira M. ‘19













Each winning entry received an engraved Casti Red Spatula Statuette.


Here are more of the wonderful entries that we got to enjoy:


A huge thanks as well to the student committee who helped plan and advertise the event: Lauren B. ‘20, Sarah L. ‘20, Sophie N.L. ‘19, Jessa M. ‘18, Anna Y. ‘15, Megan C. ‘15.

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Why Creativity Got Cut – An Essay by Maddie D ’15

Why Creativity Got Cut – An Essay by Maddie D ’15

With all the hype over Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and the release of the new movie based on her book, I was considering what virtues she left out. Roth chose to create Abnegation to represent selflessness and simplicity, Amity to represent peace-keeping and kindness, Candor to represent honesty and justice, Dauntless to represent bravery and protectiveness, and Erudite to represent intelligence and curiosity.

All of these factions were created with the needs of a government in mind. But five virtues seems pretty minimal, whatever you might say about each faction representing a little bit more than just one virtue by extension. Some virtues just aren’t included; most glaringly, creativity.

What would a creativity faction look like? And, perhaps the more interesting question, why would a government not wish to add an “Ingenuity” faction?

In today’s society, Abnegation is the faction of charity workers (and, we would hope, government officials). Amity is the nurses and good-neighbors and maybe even our religious leaders, Dauntless the fireman, police, and military, Candor our justices, lawyers and activists, and Erudite our scholars.

Where are the artists?

Dauntless has tattoo artists, Amity has a few banjo-playing musicians – but what about our inventors? Our politically-charged muralists? Our concert cellists and Alternative song writers? Our great poets and fantasy authors?

The fact is, creativity isn’t in the city-state Roth creates. It’s not too difficult to see why. In a community that values conformity, whose motto is “faction before blood”, and frankly, who wears uniforms – where are the artists, who value individuality and creative expression, to fit in? Artists aren’t, in general, the sort of people who liked to be placed in boxes (the irony of this sentence is not lost on me). In fact, creative people tend to be very disruptive to normative behavior and rigidly organized society.

In today’s society creativity is essential. Our rapidly developing digital age would be entirely impossible without the imaginative foresight that drives this era. But the society Roth describes is largely stagnant. It is too traditional for an Ingenuity faction, too rigid for the out-of-the-box thinkers our age values so highly. In her books, Roth points out that honesty will break the peace, that self-denial will prevent the indulgence of curiosity, that bravery can be both cruel and stupid. Creativity will always clash with tradition. Nobody can value all virtues equally, not even the Divergent. And just as the Divergent are such a threat to the system, so the Ingenuity would be a threat to the conformity and traditionalism of Roth’s society. It’s very difficult to manipulate somebody who values creativity and individuality above all else.

by Maddie D. ’15

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Congratulations to Our Scholastic Art and Writing Award Winners!

Congratulations to Our Scholastic Art and Writing Award Winners!


This year, four Castilleja high school students – Victoria Pu, Caroline Harris, Hannah Knowles and Margaret Zhang – were recognized for writing in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. They have shared some of their stories about what inspired them to write and their personal experiences. Get to know your classmates a little better, and be inspired to write something yourself!

Victoria Pu is a junior this year, and though she says she doesn’t “really consider [herself] a serious ‘outside of school writer,’” she recognizes the 3 weeks she spent at the Young Writers Program at Kenyon College over the summer as a great growth in her appreciation of the craft. She also embodies the night-owl side of a great writer, saying the hardest thing about writing is doing it before 8pm, and references the saying her friends at Kenyon College had of “Espresso, more espresso” of both the most difficult and most enjoyable aspect of writing. Her favorite writers are Dave Eggers, J.D. Salinger, and John Updike (come check them out in the library!), as well as her best friend Hayun Cho. Her words of advice? “It sounds tacky, but: there’s always a story to be found somewhere.”

Caroline Harris is also a junior this year, and her interest in writing sprung up the summer after her freshman year. She attended a creative writing program at Interlochen, where she was able to explore here interests in a supportive community of other writers and work on her personal challenge of writer’s block. Caroline finds changing routine and leaving her comfort zone is a major source of her creative inspiration. She loves to hike, travel, and in general, go on adventures, and of course, read. In terms of writing’s impact on her, she has “often heard that reading builds empathy” and thinks “writing has a similar effect.” Indeed, writing well requires recognizing each side to a story, empathizing with different points of view, and readers feel the emotional impact of the writer’s journey. Caroline recalls a time a stranger approached her after a reading and commented on how touched she was by her poetry; in her words, it was “an incredible feeling, particularly since writing is personal and typically a solitary act.”

Hannah Knowles is also in her junior year, and while she’s always liked English class, she started writing outside of school. She began with poetry, then discovered she enjoyed writing short fiction and essays more, often on ideas she drew from a “sort of journal” filled with things and ideas she “found odd or evocative.” The hardest part about writing for her is sharing it. Critiques are one of the most valuable exercises (second only to actually siting down and writing something) for improving, but it’s always hard because “you’re never sure if it’s “good” or not.” She highly recommends Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, a “gorgeous” novel written in 13 interconnected short stories about a town on the coast of Maine, and wisely reminds us, “The first things you write probably won’t be very good…the only way to get better is to stop procrastinating, sit down, and write whatever you can think of.”

Finally, Margaret Zhang is a freshman this year, and she’s been writing stories since 3rd grade. She first started writing down playdates she had with classmates, everything from “super-scout” training with superpowers and nonhuman friends to dashing around the house on secret missions. She writes for moments and ideas from daily life, epiphanies, “moments [that] just cause [her] to freeze in place for a second,” while everyone else continues on, oblivious. Margaret also credits writing with increasing her capacity for empathy. She says, “Ever since I began writing seriously, I haven’t been able to say I completely dislike anyone,” and reflects this in her writing with her enjoyment of “crafting three-dimensional characters for both sides of a conflict,” leaving the reader with questions about “good” and “bad.”

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to congratulate your classmates when you see them! They’re happy to talk to you!

by Clare T. ’15

Posted in Events & Celebrations, Featured, Student Work0 Comments

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