Silicon Valley Reads theme turns out to be perfect for 2022

As a member of the Silicon Valley Reads advisory board, I’ll admit to some skepticism when we were discussing the 2022 theme last fall. “The Power of Kindness, Resilience and Hope” seemed so, well, 2021. Kindness is always a good thing, but surely we would have moved past the need for resilience and hope by now, right?

Sadly, the theme still makes perfect sense as we’re staring at the start of the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. And for anyone laying low these days, Silicon Valley Reads has some books to recommend — as well as more than 130 mostly virtual programs over the next two months to engage you with the topics, the authors and each other.

Silicon Valley Reads has selected memoirs by Valarie Kaur, top left, Richard Lui and Reyna Grande for this year’s featured books epitomizing the theme of “The Power of Kindness, Resilience and Hope.” Silicon Valley Reads kicks off Jan. 27 and features a combination of in-person and virtual events. (Courtesy photo) 

This year’s main selections are three memoirs: “See No Stranger,” by Valarie Kaur, a Sikh activist, filmmaker and civil rights lawyer; “Enough About Me,” by Richard Lui, a news anchor who left his job to help care for his ailing dad in San Francisco; and “A Dream Called Home,” by Reyna Grande, who immigrated to the United States when she was 9 and found her way to UC Santa Cruz.

I’ll moderate a virtual discussion with the three authors during Silicon Valley Reads’ kickoff event at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 27. Like the other events on the schedule this year, it’s free to register at

On the website, you also can find four more books aimed at younger readers, and a trio of recommended fiction books along the same themes. This year’s calendar of events is as diverse as the topics, with “Common Ground,” an exhibit at the Euphrat Museum of Art at De Anza College; “kindness bingo” at various Santa Clara County libraries; talks about mental health and caregiving; book discussions and visits and programs featuring the authors of the companion books.

REAL DEDICATION: Chris Wilder, who recently stepped down as executive director of the Valley Medical Center Foundation as he recovers from a stroke, was honored Thursday afternoon by First 5 Santa Clara County for his commitment to healthcare and early learning. Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg led the presentation, which included Dr. Antonio Zazueta Charles sharing how she brought to Wilder an idea for giving books to kids during VMC pediatric appointments.

As is Chris Wilder’s way, he took the idea and ran with it. Now, the county has the biggest Reach and Read program of its kind in the nation, says Patricia Gardner, who is First 5’s interim executive director.

So it’s fitting that Wilder was honored not with just a plaque or certificate, but with a book. “We Are Music” by Brandon Stosuy is being distributed to all First 5 Family Resource Center and Bridge libraries, and it is dedicated to Wilder, “in celebration of Chris’s passion and talent as a musician and in recognition and gratitude for his work transforming the healthcare systems that support children and families in our community.”

DECAFFEINATED: San Jose attorney Richard Alexander is planning to get his coffee fix somewhere else after Starbucks’ announcement that it wouldn’t be requiring its employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19. He said he cancelled his rewards card and asked for a refund of the $94 on it, and he hopes others do the same.

Alexander is serious about expressing his opinion through his purchases, as the coffee chain is just the latest of the nationwide companies he’s decided not to patronize because of COVID-19 policies including Home Depot, Miller/Coors, AT&T, Shell and In-N-Out Burger. (Alexander says he was a fan of the lettuce-wrapped “protein style” burger on the secret menu, but hasn’t had one since the fall.)

INTERIM MOVES: Daniel Peck — whose eight years made him Mission College’s longest-serving president — decided to step down after the fall semester and move to Connecticut to be closer to family on the East Coast. But the Santa Clara college has brought back a familiar face by appointing Norma Ambriz-Galaviz as its interim president for this semester while the search for a permanent replacement continues. Ambriz-Galaviz, who starts in February, served as Mission’s vice president of instruction from 2008-13 and had more recent stops at Contra Costa College and San Jose City College.

San Jose-Evergreen Community College also has a new interim chancellor, Raul Rodriguez, who started this week and was most recently interim superintendent/president of Hartnell College in Salinas. Again, he’s no stranger to the system, having served as San Jose City College’s vice president of instruction and interim president in the mid-1990s. “I know a lot has changed at SJCC since my time there, including the construction of new buildings and other development of the campus,” he said in a release, “but in some ways this is like a homecoming.”

CALENDAR CAROUSEL: Mission Chamber Orchestra Conductor Emily Ray says the Jan. 29 concert featuring violinist Rachel Barton Pine is being postponed to March 4 at the Hammer Theatre Center. But as Ray points out, this is actually good news: “We are so relieved to be able to re-schedule this concert to a date that should be safe for people to attend,” she said. “Ms. Pine is one of the top violinists in the United States, and it would be a shame if the concert would have to be canceled completely.”

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