Book Reviews

Best List? No Way.

When Sam Tanenhaus came on board as editor the New York Times Book Review, word was that nonfiction would take the lion's share of the coverage. Two years later, if anyone doubts that Tanenhaus is giving short shrift to fiction, the recently published list of the best works of American fiction in the last 25 years should change their mind. Scott Esposito Says This is a list that--with the resources and influence of The New York Times--could have been awesome. Instead what we have is a list that shows signs of poor planning, and that ultimately is uninteresting.


Your librarian is a what?

The Republican - Springfield,MA Has This on "My Librarian Is a Camel: How books Are Brought to Children Around the World", which includes information on how fourteen different countries around the world get books to the youth. As Author Margriet Ruurs found out, there are many ways to transport books across the country, many of which require vehicles. But some countries, like Kenya, use a more natural approach: animals


In Honor of Presidents Day...

Which President served for the shortest time? Which President had the most children? Blogcritics reviews Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges Into The Presidency.


A handbook for Alaska's settlers (1960)

Daniel writes "Inspired by Blake, I went through my own write file and brought out this item from April 2005. NOTE: Neither Alaska nor the US currently offer a homesteading program. If you are interested in obtaining government land in Alaska, try the Alaska Dept of Natural Resources Land Sales Program . The February 2005 flooding which closed my half of the Alaska State Library for a month did have an upside for me. Once we got the books back onto shelves, all staff had to participate in shelfreading the collection. This helped me get reacquainted with our print collection, and led me to several interesting Alaska-related books. From time to time, I will make note of books I have read. Most should still be available for purchase or interlibrary loan. My first book, appropriately enough for me is the government document: Title: A handbook for Alaska's settlers, with special reference to agricultural homesteads. Author(s): Saunders, Dale. Corp Author(s): University of Alaska Fairbanks.; Agricultural Experiment Station at Palmer. ; Alaska Agricultural Experiment Stations (U.S.) Publication: [Palmer, Alaska] : University of Alaska, Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station, Year: 1960 Description: 31 leaves ; 28 cm.Language: English Series: Circular ;; 24; Variation: Circular (Alaska Agricultural Experiment Stations (U.S.)) ;; 24.OCLC Number: 41767969 I actually decided to read this book because of the cover. There is a black and white illustration of a worried looking farmer with seven arms holding various implements, including a bag of cash, that are helpful to have on a homestead. The implied attitude is typical of many Alaskan publications discussing settlement and relocation over the years. In some ways we actively discourage people from moving here because we can't abide disgruntled people who lack the resources to return home. People who come understanding the challenges are more likely to be successful here. But I digress, which is a blogger's privilege. The book itself offers very practical advice on homesteading, from deciding whether homesteading is really for you, through land selection, through researching markets to building your home on your land. Mr. Saunders begins by saying that homesteading is neither for everyone or even "free land." He estimates that it may take $40-60K to clear land and build a successful farm – remember these were 1960 dollars! He mentions several then existing sales programs that might better suit people who simply want to live in the country. For those determined to homestead, Mr. Saunders offers selection tips like:Don't select land in winter, "In the winter all land will seem solid when frozen. Some homesteaders later find they can't drive a jeep over their swamp once it thaws out." Since this book was written in a different era, there is a section called "The wife's point of view", written by Mrs. Kay Hitchcock, who offers advice like: "Women must be prepared for hard physical work both in the house and out of doors, due to lack of modern conveniences. They must adjust themselves to isolation from neighbors, especially the companionship of other women, and they must be prepared for concern over the welfare of their children if they settle where medical care, schools and other similar services are not available." Although this book was written nearly fifty years ago, I think it still contains a lot of sound advice for people who want to live the rural lifestyle, especially in Alaska."


Authors, publishers to get $500,000 payback under copyright licensing

Authors and publishers who have signed up with a licensing scheme to protect copyright interests are in for a bonus.

The Copyright Licensing and Administration Society (CLASS) is distributing nearly half a million dollars from its licensing income back to these authors and publishers.

And royalties paid out range from $180 to a whopping $64,000 to one publisher.
More @

Book Review - "The Romance of Libraries"

Madeleine Lefebvre is Librarian of Saint Mary's University in Halifax Nova Scotia and a former President of the Canadian Library Association. She's also been a professional actress (a court stenographer in a John Cusack movie and Queen Elizabeth in radio commercials) and now...she's an author.

Her new book is "The Romance of Libraries"; an entertaining and often inspiring look at couples who've met in libraries, stolen a kiss in libraries, married in libraries, broken up in libraries, and those who've passed along the love of libraries to their friends and their children. It's proof that in this day and age of virtual libraries and e-braries, there's still nothing like the wonderful look, smell, feel, and touch of the library and its papery contents.

You'll enjoy "The Romance of Libraries"...not to mention it's a great gift for that special someone on Valentine's Day. Scarecrow Press, Inc.
$25.00 Paper 0-8108-5352-3 Nov 2005 224pp.
Worldcat listing

For the full review, click "Read More"...


Wish List: No More Books!

Several years ago Joe Queenan calculated how many books he could read if he lived to his actuarially expected age. The answer was 2,138. He says In many instances, people pass along books as a probing technique to see, "Is he really one of us?" That is, you're not serious about your ethnic heritage unless you've read "Angela's Ashes." You don't care about the poor Mayans unless you've read "1491" and its inevitable sequel, "1243." You don't really give a damn about the pernicious influence of the Knights Templar unless you've read "The Da Vinci Code." And you're not really interested in the future of our imperiled republic unless you've read "The No Spin Zone," "The No Spin Zone for Children," "101 Things Stupid Liberals Hate About the No Spin Zone," and "Ann Coulter on Spinoza."

Russell Baker on Nicholson Baker, libraries, and newspapers

Russell Baker reviews Nicholson Baker and Margaret Brentano's The World on Sunday: Graphic Art in Joseph Pulitzer's Newspaper (1898-1911), touching on Baker's beef with librarians along the way:

Baker himself is a warrior in the struggle against America's throwaway culture, specializing in bookish matters. He has strongly criticized libraries for replacing their card-file indexes with electronic blips and for miniaturizing original documents and papers on inch-and-a-half-wide strips of microfilm. Microfilm enables them to clear shelves of a lot of cumbersome stuff after shrinking it to fit on plastic strips. Since librarians are among the world's most civilized people (who else does such priceless work so cheerfully for such rotten pay?), most of them probably dislike the carnage as much as Baker does, but they are prisoners of a society that is running out of storage space. As every suburban homeowner knows, America's astonishing plenty threatens to overflow every last crevice and cranny, every hallway and closet, attic and cellar, garage and crawl space, and finally overwhelm everyone too sentimental to pack grandmother's wedding pictures off to the dump. America's astonishing credit cards make us all victims of the sorcerer's apprentice. No wonder libraries settle for lifeless little plastic photos.

Complete article from the New York Review of Books.


Crime writers are denied prizes by literary snobs

Scottish writer Ian Rankin believes that "literary snobs" turn up their noses when it comes to crime fiction.

The Edinburgh-based author and creator of the hugely successful John Rebus books has lambasted critics who ignore the crime genre.

He said: "Most of us [crime writers] are selling much more than any more 'literary' author could hope for so they can be as snooty as they like. His Interview Continues at The Independent.

Stereotypes confirmed in top 100 Canadian books

The Globe And Mail Columnist Kate Taylor says A literary magazine released a list of the 100 most important Canadian books Thursday - and confirmed stereotypes of Canada as a land of wonks obsessed with politics and national identity, yet gave only the briefest nod to hockey.


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