Book Reviews

To live with books, perchance to read them

An apology may be in order. How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, the slim French bestseller which has become a sleeper hit in English translation this fall, may have a fantastic but faulty title. That's because unlike, say, the news summary magazine The Week, or the chic advice guide In the Know: The Classic Guide to Being Cultured and Cool, How to Talk... is not intended to help you cheat at life by appearing more sophisticated or educated than you really are. Indeed, the author Pierre Bayard has a sheepish admission to make. Has The Review/Interview.

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea

I finished the book Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin in two late nights reading. This story about how a failed mountain climb in 1993 turned into a lifetime of school building is as gripping as any novel I've read. It weaves a personal narrative with a story of how grassroots development can improve lives in what we consider impossible places while warding off extremism.

The title Three Cups of Tea refers to a lesson that was taught to former mountaineer and current school builder Greg Mortenson that advised him to be sensitive to the local culture:

When the porcelain bowls of scalding butter tea steamed in their hands, Haji Ali spoke, "If you want to thrive in Baltistan, you must respect our ways," Haji Ali said, blowing on his bowl. "The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die," he said, laying his hand on Mortenson's own. "Dr. Greg, you must make time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated. But we are not stupid. We have lived and survived here for a long time."

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Results Released on Book Reviewing Survey

Critical Mass, a blog for the National Book Critics Circle, reports on the results of a recent NBCC survey on the ethics of book reviewing. A similar survey was done in 1987, and both are linked to in the article. A few highlights:

"68.5 percent of book reviewers think anyone mentioned in a book's acknowledgements should be barred from reviewing it.

64.9 percent think anyone who has written an unpaid blurb for a book should also be banned from writing a fuller review.

60.5 percent think it's okay for a newspaper book section or magazine to ignore self-published books that authors submit to them, e.g., iUniverse type books."

Salon Book Awards 2007

From an imaginary history of Alaskan Jews to a compelling glimpse of the CIA, we pick the 10 most pleasurable reading experiences of the year. They say It's been a tranquil year in the book industry: no big fabrication or plagiarism scandals, à la James Frey or Kaavya Viswanathan, and consequently no dramatic denunciations on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." O.J. Simpson's bizarre "hypothetical" confession, "If I Did It," was finally published after the copyright had been transferred to the family of Ronald Goldman; in the end, it achieved little more than the destruction of the career of one of publishing's premier carnival barkers, editor Judith Regan. (She's now suing her former employer, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.)

Book A Month (BAM) Challenge

Starting in January 2008, around the first of every month, I'll be posting a theme for the month and participants are asked to read one book of their choice relating to the theme, and then post a review of the book to their blog/website or in the comments section. If they post to their blog/website, I just ask they post a link to it in the comments. It's kind of a riff on Joyce Saricks' Five Book Challenge and I'm hoping to get lots of participants so a great resource can be built. I look forward to seeing you over on the BAM blog.

Sexy Librarian: Critical Edition of the Original Novel,

Sexy Librarian: Critical Edition of the Original Novel, Julia Weist's first book, will be published in full this fall by design powerhouse Ellen Lupton. It was originally written as a 60-page prospectus that Weist sent to major publishers: the rejection letters she received in return were re-presented as sculptures incorporated into a larger project about failed literature. The book, a quasi-autobiographical meta-narrative that centers around a hip New York arts librarian, explores the relationship between sexuality and information science. Here's More, you know you want more....

Are you lazy at reading?

Don't have enough time to read a book? Take a look at this site The Lazy Library brought to you by Lifehacker. The Lazy Library helps you find books that fit into your time schedule based upon page count information from Make sure to check out Lifehacker for great productivity posts.

A Review Of "Law Of The Blog"

Here's my very brief review of "Law Of The Blog" A Blogger's Guide to Copyright, Defamation, Trademark and other Legal Issues", a 72 page eBook written by Nicholas Carroll. He begins with a great Intro. that covers what he says may be "the most important part of this book." Though I'm not sure I'd call it the most important part, it's certainly some of the most interesting, and one of the two sections I'd love to see expanded in Version 2, should he ever release a second version. The meat of the book answers questions like "Can I Be Sued?", "What is Plagiarism?" and covers issues like Fair Use, The DMCA and Defamation. A good deal of space is devoted to defense, and different laws that cover you if you manage to get yourself into trouble. He includes some interesting "Special Situations" like "food slander" that I found very interesting. He also covers the people we need to worry about coming after us for what we write. He covers threats from governments, corporations, cults and individuals. He finishes things up with a nice appendix, and a resources section that points the way to plenty of good places to find more information on topics he covered. I especially liked the "Where it's All Going" and would love to see that section expanded in the future, it's a great finish to a really interesting and informative quick read. I'd highly recommend this as a required read for all bloggers.
You can Order A PDF Copy at the website,


Bush Profiled: Big Ideas, Tiny Details

Want to know what goes on inside the mind of our President?

Through a series of interviews with President Bush, author Robert Draper tries to paint "a portrait of the commander in chief as a willful optimist, proud of his self-confidence and convinced that any expressions of doubt would make him less of a leader: a man addicted to "Big Ideas and small comforts" (like riding his bike), a stubborn, even obstinate politician loath to change course or second-guess himself, and given to valuing loyalty above almost everything else." Michiko Kakutani review in the NYT.

Librarian in charge

In turn-of-the-century New York, no one was more powerful than the wealthy financier J. Pierpont Morgan. A major fixture in the cultural world, late in life he began developing a library to house his growing collection of books. Few had ever been inside the marble building with its lapis lazuli columns, located around the corner from Madison Avenue on East 36th Street. By 1905, Morgan was looking for a librarian to manage his priceless collection. Enter Belle da Costa Greene



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