This month, the City of Palo Alto Library launches California Reads book discussions, La Entrada Middle School hosts a used book fair and a Stanford English professor publishes a book on failure.
ANOTHER LOST ARK? ... Palo Alto author Keith Raffel's fifth novel, "Temple Mount," tells the tale of a Silicon Valley CEO with not much to do after selling his company, who gets a call from his dying grandfather that sends him on a quest to find the Ark of the Covenant under Jerusalem's Temple Mount. The book will launch on Sunday, Nov. 2, at 5 p.m. at Kepler's when Raffel will be in conversation with Ellen Sussman. Info: keplers.com.
PALO ALTO READS TOO... The City of Palo Alto Library received a $5,000 grant from Cal Humanities to participate in the California Reads initiative, which will be focusing on thought-provoking books. This year's theme is "War comes home," about veterans returning from military service. A family book discussion of "The Mailbox" by Audrey Shafer will take place on Friday, Nov. 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Children's Library, 1276 Harriet St., Palo Alto. The program is free, but registration is requested. To register go to cityofpaloalto.org or call 650-329-2436.
BOOK FAIR ... More than 6,000 "like new" books will be for sale at the La Entrada Used Book Fair, which runs from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 10 through Nov. 14 (closed Nov. 11) at La Entrada Middle School Multi-Use Room, 2200 Sharon Road, Menlo Park. Books are priced at $1 to $8, with cash and checks accepted. Proceeds support La Entrada School and PTA-funded programs. Info: Monica Albers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOCUS ON FAILURE ... In his book, "Failure and the American Writer: A Literary History," Stanford English professor Gavin Jones looks at theories of failure as portrayed in works of classic American literature -- through the writings of Poe, Twain, Melville and more. Jones explores their search for new styles, characters and endings, "against a backdrop of a turbulent nineteenth century," according to the website. Info: cambridge.org.
EMERGING WRITERS ... Stanford University's 2014 Saroyan Prize for International Writing was awarded to Margalit Fox for her nonfiction "The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code" (HarperCollins Publishers, 2013) and Kiese Laymon for his novel, "Long Division" (Agate Bolden, 2013). Selected from a field of 230, each winner received $5,000.
AUTHOR TALKS ... Upcoming authors speaking at Books Inc., 74 Town & Country Village, Palo Alto, include Christine Z. Mason, "Boundaries," and G. Elizabeth Kretchmer, "The Damnable Legacy of a Minister's Wife" (Oct. 24, 7 p.m.); Christine Nichol, "Waiting for Electricity" (Oct. 29, 7 p.m.); Will Pye, "Blessed With a Brain Tumor" (Nov. 3, 7 p.m.); Ann Hagedorn, "The Invisible Soldiers" (Nov. 10, 7 p.m.); and Peter Turchi, "A Muse and A Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic" (Nov. 14, 7 p.m.). In Mountain View, at 300 Castro St., authors include Jim Dwyer, "More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save your Privacy from Facebook" (Oct. 28, 7 p.m.). Info: booksinc.net.
MORE TALKS ... Upcoming authors at Kepler's Books, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, include John Branch, "Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard" (Oct. 28, 6:30 p.m., SRI Menlo Park, Middlefield Road, Menlo Park; a co-production of the Bay Area Science Festival and Café Scientifique Silicon Valley @SRI); Herant Katchadourian in conversation with Richard Evans, "The Way It Turned Out: A Memoir" (Oct. 29, 7:30 p.m.); Terry Shames in conversation with Keith Raffel, "Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek: A Samuel Craddock Mystery" (Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m.); and Carole Bumpus, "a Cup of Redemption" (Nov. 1, reception 6 p.m., event 7 p.m.). Info: keplers.com.
Items for Book Talk may be sent to Associate Editor Carol Blitzer, Palo Alto Weekly, P.O Box 1610, Palo Alto, CA 93202 or emailed to email@example.com by the last Friday of the month.