Book Reviews

Book: A Librarian Who Made A Difference

Helen Wheeler writes in the Berkeley Daily Planet a review of the book "Dear Miss Breed".

Miss Breed was the San Diego Public Library's first Children's Librarian. She worked in the branch used by the city's Japanese American children. Within four months of Dec. 7, 1941, San Diego Nikkei were forced to leave their homes, schools, jobs, and public libraries.

At the train station Miss Breed distributed self-addressed post cards to her children and sent them packages of books and other necessities that she purchased as she came to know their locations. She wrote about their condition and struggled to get published in library literature. And more.

I learned of Miss Breed because recently I happened to tune into Book-TV when Joanne Oppenheim related her experiences writing the book-- Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference to an audience that included many of Miss Breed's children and their children at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. All of the above describes this wonderfully illustrated and written book in the barest terms.

Writers Recommend Some Good Reads

The New York Times asked several writers, Nora Ephron, Dave Eggers, Ursula K. Le Guin, Jonathan Safran Foer, Edwidge Danticat, Gary Shteyngart, Kathryn Harrison and Jeffrey Eugenides among them, if they've read any good books are their responses.

Stop the Cliches!

Tom Payne from the UK's Telegraph writes about cliches in book reviewing. His article is an "searingly honest" "tour de force" with "penetrating insights"....

Do you accept the redundancy of today's book reviews "warts and all" or do you find them "woefully inadequate"?

(Thanks to Read Roger for pointing out this article.)


(Not) Everything is Miscellaneous

Peter Morville has a Review Of the new book, Everything is Miscellaneous, David Weinberger's "mesmerizing" new book about organization, authority, and knowledge. "David has done a masterful job of weaving the histories of library science and information architecture into a hot and sexy page-turner of a story."
The book's dedication, "To The Librarians" leads Peter to wonder what could've come next... Thanks for nothing? May they rest in peace? After reading the book, he's still not sure.


Trend: Newspapers Eliminating Book Review Sections

As evidenced in our most recent poll, lots of newspapers (for example The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) have begun to drop or diminish their book review sections. Here's what the book review industry has to say about it, and offers suggestions for what you can do to reverse or slow the trend. Wednesday's New York Times also examines the issue of declining book reviews .


Readers of books dying off?

Kathleen Parker Says People who read books are different from other people. They’re smarter for one thing. They’re more sensual for another. They like to hold, touch and smell what they read. They like to carry the words with them – tote them on vacation, on train rides and, most heavenly of all, to bed.

They’re also a dying breed. And newspapers, apparent signatories to a suicide pact, are playing “Taps.â€

The news that The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has eliminated its book editor position – causing much Sturm und Drang throughout the Southern literary community – highlights the continuing demotion of books and literature in American culture. While an Internet petition circulates to reinstate Teresa Weaver as book editor, writers are expressing concern they’re losing their best vehicle for recognition.

New Children's Book by a Librarian About, Well, a Kid at the Library

Inspired by a poem from a young patron written in honor of her birthday, Carla Morris, a librarian at the Provo (UT) Library has written a children's picture book "The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians." The book, published by Peachtree Press took six years to put together; mostly waiting for illustrator Brad Sneed to supply the pictures. Deseret News reports, and here's the publishers catalog copy.

Fuel Lines

There's a lot of stuff we consume while barely pausing to consider where it comes from; it is easy, these days, to be insulated from production. Inquisitive writers profitably explore the knowledge gap: recent work about the life stories of handguns, French fries and Panama hats comes to mind. Tracy Kidder chronicled the creation of a computer in "The Soul of a New Machine," and last year Michael Pollan traced the sources of our dinners in "The Omnivore's Dilemma." This year comes something new about those obscure practicalities of how does it get here: "Oil on the Brain," by Lisa Margonelli. Article continued here.


Hell Is Other People on Amazon

Kelly writes "This article is an enjoyable little rant about observing the "mental worlds", which is Hell, of other people via Amazon book reviews. The author believes this effort will be good for us, and we better do it soon, because, as he says,`Amazon's remarkable venture in practical free speech is ending. In the nineties, before America's dullard consensus had really gotten the hang of this internet thing, there really was a time when you could post honest reviews on Amazon. That's over. First they did away with swearing and libel — the very mainstays of critical prose. Then they started insisting that reviewers use their real names, taking all the fun out of impersonating your enemies and plugging your own books.' Learn how to go to Hell here: ople_on_amazon.html"


Southern Discomfiters

Lee Hadden wrote "Southern Discomfiters," By STUART FERGUSON. Wall Street Journal, February 17, 2007; Page P13

This is a book review of a biography of "showing the unlikely firebrand Juliette Hampton Morgan as the very stereotype of a lady librarian. (Her warm smile and sparkling eyes more than make up for her rather severe hair and dull dress.)"

A devout Episcopalian, Morgan insisted that the New Testament required the equal treatment of everyone, no matter their skin color. She urged her library, unsuccessfully, to allow black patrons to use its collections. Her Dec. 12, 1955, letter to the Montgomery Advertiser in support of the just-begun bus boycott is especially moving...


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