Book Reviews

Some More Titles to Read While We're Closed, or after We Re-open

Seattle PI lists a couple of book recommendations from the librarians of the Seattle Public Library, who comment that during their enforced closure (from Aug. 31 through September 7), they will miss their patrons. Sweet.

Here are the recommended titles:

The Book of Fred by Abby Bardi . ~ Lois F.
PictureNever Tell a Lie by Hallie Ephron.~ Beth dlF
Apprentice to the Flower Poet Z by Debra Weinstein~Ann G.

Old Tales that Still Seduce

Wall Street Journal. AUGUST 28, 2009, "Old Tales That Still Seduce Western culture owes a debt to 'The Arabian Nights'" By JAMIE JAMES

It surprises us to learn that Charles Dickens made more allusions to "The Arabian Nights" than any other work of literature—but it shouldn't. Shahrazad, the narrator of "The Arabian Nights' Entertainment," or "Tales of 1001 Nights," has ­inspired great storytellers for centuries. As a treasure-house of characters and stories, the "Nights" is an essential point of reference for popular entertainments ranging from British pantomime to Romantic ballet and opera to Hollywood spectacle.

The key to its lasting popularity and influence is that it's all about the story. The anonymous bards whose tales are collected in the book's thousands of pages espoused no ideology and preached no religious message. Princes play the villain as often as they are praised. The book's pedigree is cosmopolitan, with tales drawn from India and Persia as well as Arabic sources; scholars believe the Aladdin story is actually ­European in ­origin.

Read more about it at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204886304574308744212027048.html

Amazon Reviews the Classics

If Amazon had been around in ancient times, what might citizen reviewers have said about some of the classic works of western literature? This author offers some examples, such as:
Deuteronomy — Average Reader’s Rating: Three stars. I don’t get it. I’ve read most of the books in this series, and they totally kick butt, but this one leaves me scratching my head. Is there a story here? Am I missing something? Why so much talk about clean and unclean beasts? The author really got on a roll with Genesis and Exodus, and I was on the edge of my seat when I read The Book of Numbers. But this one runs out of gas early. Now I’m glad I skipped Leviticus!

Columbus's Decidedly Male Book Club

The chianti begins flowing promptly at 7:30 p.m., accompanied by a spread of submarine sandwiches and chocolate-chip cookies.

So, too, does a lively dissection of David Grann's The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. The nonfiction narrative details the New Yorker scribe's quest to trace the path of British explorer Percy Fawcett, who in 1925 disappeared while surveying the Brazilian jungle.

A 90-minute conversation, peppered with laughs and jabs at the self-admitted urbanite author ("too much of a professional" and "utterly contrived"), stretches well past sunset in the Dublin backyard of Rich King, chief operating officer of a Downtown law firm.

Just as prevalent as the banter -- and a few drink refills -- are plenty of deep thoughts: Why do we explore? What makes us obsess? Does a real pioneer use a GPS?

The group -- which includes professors, doctors, lawyers and businessmen -- is hardly a casual klatch (although some participants arrive sporting dress shirts with cuff links, others opt for T-shirts and flip-flops). They've read 121 more titles, each graded collectively on an academic scale -- from the excellent (Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible earned an "A") to the so-so (Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, a "B"). It's an all-male book club -- the only one in Columbus, OH, members think -- into its 11th year.

When Gay People Get Married

In order to find out the impact of same-sex marriage, M. V. Lee Badgett traveled to a land where it has been legal for same-sex couples to marry since 2001: the Netherlands. Badgett interviews gay couples to find out how this step has affected their lives. We learn about the often surprising changes to their relationships, the reactions of their families, and work colleagues. Moreover, Badgett is interested in the ways that the institution itself has been altered for the larger society. How has the concept of marriage changed? When Gay People Get Married gives readers a primer on the current state of the same-sex marriage debate, and a new way of framing the issue that provides valuable new insights into the political, social, and personal stakes involved.

Review here.

Remember Shorthand?

NY Times: Shorthand wasn’t always just for secretaries and court reporters, Leah Price writes in her essay on the history of shorthand in the London Review of Books.

Before the 1870s, it was used more for writing down one’s own thoughts or discretely noting the conversation of others. Samuel Pepys, Isaac Newton and Charles Dickens used it, as did legions of “spirit-rappers, teetotalers, vegetarians, pacifists, anti-vivisectionists, anti-tobacconists,” and other members of a “counter-culture of early adapters” who generated something of a shorthand craze in mid-19th-century Britain. Isaac Pitman, creator of the wildly successful “Stenographic Soundhand” method still used today, made arguments that don’t sound so different from the tweeting techno-evangelists of our age. When people correspond by shorthand, he declared “friendships grow six times as fast as under the withering blighting influence of the moon of longhand.”

I remember my mother with her spiral top notebook and two columns of lines writing down what seemed to me to be completely indistinguishable marks. Anyone out there know shorthand? Is it of any value today?

Book Club on Twitter...Tweet It, Just Tweet It

From Shelf Awareness and The Book Studio: NOTE - NEW DATE & NEW INFO. FOR BOOKCLUB(see below)...

For readers intrigued by the challenge of a book discussion in 140 characters or less, the Twitter Book Club has chosen Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge for its next meeting, August 10, 2009 at 9:00 pm Eastern Time. Grab your copy of Olive Kitteridge: Fiction, a glass or mug of your favorite beverage, and join us. Olive Kitteridge was the 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction.

We're thrilled to announce that Elizabeth Strout, the author of Olive Kitteridge, will be participating in the discussion as well!

Questions? Post a comment below, ask on Twitter (@thebookmaven or @booksquare), or even use good old email: bethanne at thebookstudio dotcom.

The online book club meets live on Twitter on the second and third Monday of every month and is co-hosted by the Book Studio's Bethanne Patrick and and Kassia Krozser of Booksquare.

Theater review: Book mystery sends librarian on quest

Barrington Stage Company’s Stage 2 is doing what it does best: It is presenting “Underneath the Lintel,” a creative, quirky, clever play written by Glen Berger.

Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians

Lunch Lady and the League of LibrariransLunch Lady arrived this week and our young Jarrett fans were on these books "like cheese on macaroni". Today Lucy (10) and Bayla (8) share their thoughts on the first two books in this zany graphic novel series.

You can listen in on our chat about this book on our Just One More Book! Children's Book Podcast.

For a behind the scenes glimpse at the making of Lunch Lady , check out our video interview with author and illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka:
Rock Stars of Reading part 9: Digital Jarrett Krosoczka

New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Sory

New Year at the Pier (A Rosh Hashanah Story)
Crisp salt air and sunshine breeze from airy, upbeat illustrations in this chattily shared and poignant reminder of the power of forgiveness.

You can listen in on our chat about this book on our Just One More Book! Children's Book Podcast.

Rosh Hashanah is September 19-20, 2009. Will you be tossing an "I'm Sorry" list?

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