Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Mark: Nothing to do with books but dibs on Animal!

Book Mark: 2010 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Shortlist

The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker (Dutch) in translation

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (French) in translation.

In Zodiac Light by Robert Edric (British)

Settlement by Christoph Hein (German) in translation

The Believers by Zoƫ Heller (British)

Netherland by Joseph O’Neill (Irish)

God’s Own Country by Ross Raisin (British)

Home by Marilynne Robinson (American)

The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is the largest and most international prize of its kind. It involves libraries from all corners of the globe, and is open to books written in any language.

The Award, an initiative of Dublin City Council, is a partnership between Dublin City Council, the Municipal Government of Dublin City, and IMPAC, a productivity improvement company which operates in over 50 countries. The Award is administered by Dublin City Public Libraries.

The winner will be announced June 17.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Table of Contents: Why I Hate Canadians

Author: Will Ferguson & Ian Ferguson
Publisher/Year: Douglas & McIntyre, 2001
Synopsis: A hilarious inside look at that unique species, the Canadian, and their thoughts on such diverse subjects as beer, sex, dating rituals, sports, politics, religion-and, of course, their trademark death-defying search for the middle of any road.

Why I Hate Canadians
What Others Have To Say
Quill & Quire
"At times, Ferguson’s attempt at satire breaks down, in his stereotypical views on cities like Sudbury, and descriptions of people (usually right-wing politicians), which are often just juvenile."

The Globe and Mail
"This book is, in fact, a reminder of what Canadians do best: make ourselves (and others) laugh."

The Coast: Halifax's Weekly
"Ferguson sees a Canada that is profoundly different from the established stereotype of the Great White North, populated by Mounties, moose and very nice people . . . and the response has been overwhelming."

Author interview in January magazine

Monday, April 26, 2010

Line By Line: Curtis Sittenfeld, Prep

Prep: A Novel"I always worried someone would notice me, and then when no one did, I felt lonely."

"'The big occurrences in life, the serious ones, have for me always been nearly impossible to recognize because they never feel big or serious. In the moment, you have to pee, your arm itches, or what people are saying strikes you as melodramatic or sentimental, and it's hard not to smirk. You have a sense of what this type of situation should be like - for one thing, all-consuming - and this isn't it. But then you look back, and it was that; it did happen."

Our relationship, for as long as things were good, and in that moment when they could have been good again, was about the irrelevance of words. You feel what you feel, you act as you act, who in the history of the world has ever been convinced by a well-reasoned argument?"

"There are people we treat wrong and later we're prepared to treat other people right. Perhaps this sounds mercenary, but I feel grateful for these trial relationships, and I would like to think it all evens out - surely, unknowingly, I have served as practice for other people."

I always thought I wanted to know a secret, or I wanted an event to unfold – I wanted my life to start – but in those rare moments when it seemed like something might actually change, panic shot through me."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Table of Contents: This Is Your Brain On Music

Publisher/Year: Plume, 2007
Synopsis: In this groundbreaking union of art and science, rocker-turned-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin explores the connection between music--its performance, its composition, how we listen to it, why we enjoy it--and the human brain. Drawing on the latest research and on musical examples ranging from Mozart to Duke Ellington to Van Halen, Levitin reveals:

-How composers produce some of the most pleasurable effects of listening to music by exploiting the way our brains make sense of the world.
-Why we are so emotionally attached to the music we listened to as teenagers, whether it was Fleetwood Mac, U2, or Dr. Dre.
-That practice, rather than talent, is the driving force behind musical expertise.
-How those insidious little jingles (called earworms) get stuck in our heads.

And, taking on prominent thinkers who argue that music is nothing more than an evolutionary accident, Levitin argues that music is fundamental to our species, perhaps even more so than language.

What Others Have To Say
"Levitin's point is that when we're listening to music, our brains are engaged in an enormously complex computational task -- so complex that no man-made computers have yet been able to do anything nearly as sophisticated with sound."

The Guardian
"One recognises without difficulty the problem Levitin believes he is addressing. People who profess to know nothing about music as such will none the less talk with ease, with discernment and with real authority about the kind of music that actually appeals to them."

The Independent
"The listening to and appreciation of music, with its complex interplay between raw sensory data, cognition, memory and emotion, causes every part of the brain to get fired up. Here is a book to do the same."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Adaptation: Charlotte's Web

Book Mark: Blog Hopping

It is Friday, and once again book blogging hopping day! The book blog hop comes courtesy of Crazy For Books, and it is a brilliant idea. We intend to hope throughout the day, and are going to get right to it now!

If you are visiting via the blog hop, great to have you hop along here!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Book Review: Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft with Cheryl Dahle, No Horizon Is So Far

Publisher/Year: Penguin, 2004

You have to be some kind of crazy to want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to trek across Antarctica. So meet Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, two women who demonstrated just how crazy they were when they did exactly this in 2001. No Horizon Is So Far is the inspiring true story of these two former school teachers who, despite living in different parts of the world (Arnesen is from Norway, Bancroft from the United States), shared the same wondrous dream to do what only one other team had ever done before—successfully cross a 1700 mile expanse of Antarctica ice. Some kind of crazy indeed.
No Horizon Is So Far: Two Women and Their Historic Journey Across Antarctica
Both women grew up with a fascination for following in the footsteps of famed explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. Although they were met by all kinds of resistance along the way, neither woman was deterred from reaching out and grabbing onto their dreams with both hands. For Arnesen, it meant leading the first unsupported women’s team across the Greenland icecap. For Bancroft, it resulted in becoming the first woman known to have reached the North Pole by ice. Given their successful backgrounds with sub-zero environments, their next desire to walk, ski and ice sail across Antarctica does not seem all that crazy after all.

No Horizon Is So Far takes the reader not only through the three months Bancroft and Arnesen spent on the ice but also through the months leading up to their expedition. Such an expedition costs a lot of money, and the women surrounded themselves with a team of spirited and supportive marketing and management experts who spent innumerable hours getting everything into place.

These individuals went after corporate sponsorships that literally turned the women into human billboards. They developed a school curriculum that allowed over three million school children from around the world to follow their journey, filing daily reports by satellite phone and website updates. They did everything required short of actually walking across Antarctica themselves to ensure Arnesen and Bancroft fulfilled their goal.

Interspliced with logistic details from the office back in Minnesota are personal narratives from both Bancroft and Arnesen before, during and after the journey. They write about Arnesen’s frostbitten fingertips that she would soak in her morning oatmeal in order to stimulate circulation, and Bancroft’s stubborn refusal to be waylaid by torn shoulder muscles. They discuss the faulty emergency beacon that almost stopped the journey before it began. They recall the troubles with their ice sails, and the incident that left Arnesen dangling over a crevasse when she fell through the ice. Each anecdote reinforces just how absolutely inspirational and admirable these two women truly are in a world that needs all the inspiration it can get.

If you do not know anything about Antarctica prior to picking up this book, you need not worry. Bancroft and Arnesen transport you there through their richly detailed accounts. Through their eyes the blinding white of endless ice seems beautiful and mysterious, a heaven on earth containing a bounty of gifts and challenges.

The personal thoughts and emotions they share are what makes No Horizon Is So Far a book to be returned to time and time again as an inspirational tale of how one can turn adversity into opportunity no matter the circumstances. Their strength and courage puts them on par with Beryl Markham, the first to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean east to west, who provides the title for the book: ‘I learned to wonder. I learned what every dreaming child needs to know—that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or below.” Arnesen and Bancroft certainly have proven this in spades.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Book Mark: 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize

Winner of the overall Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book was Solo by Rana Dasgupta (Fourth Estate).

Winner of the 2010 Best First Book Award in the 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize was Siddon Rock by Glenda Guest.

2010 Regional Winners

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubeni from Nigeria won Best First Book for I Do Not Come to You by Chance and Marie Heese from South Africa won Best Book for The Double Crown.

Caribbean and Canada
Shandi Mitchell from Canada won Best First Book for Under This Unbroken Sky and Michael Crummey from Canada won Best Book for Galore.

South Asia and Europe
Daniyal Mueenuddin from Pakistan won Best First Book for In Other Rooms, Other Wonders and Rana Dasgupta from the UK won Best Book for Solo.

South East Asia and Pacific
Glenda Guest from Australia won Best First Book for Siddon Rock and Albert Wendt from Samoa won Best Book for The Adventures of Vela.

Book Mark: 2010 Truman Capote Award goes to....

Children's Literature: A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry PotterCongratulations to Seth Lerer who has been named the winner of the 2010 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism!

A University of California at San Diego faculty member and the dean of arts and humanities, Lerer won for Children's Literature: A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter. The book, which previously won the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award, is a scholarly volume also aimed at an audience beyond academe. The book is also a kind of "intellectual autobiography," touching on Lerer's own youthful passion for reading and his experience as a parent. "I thought about it from a personal view, watching how my son grew into a reader," he said.

Lerer will receive his award May 6 at the University of Iowa.

This award carries the largest cash prize annually for literary criticism - US$30,000. Books of general literary criticism in English, published during the last four years, are eligible for nomination.

Book Mark: What David Foster Wallace Circled in His Dictionary

The Random Centre Archive released a list of words that David Foster Wallace circled in his American Heritage Dictionary. This article over at Slate does not go into why DFW circled these particular words. We can wonder if they were his favorite, if he though them worthy of exploration in his next opus, perhaps considered them peculiar...unfortunately we will never know.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments     Consider the Lobster and Other Essays       Infinite Jest

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Table of Contents: Microserfs

Author: Douglas Coupland
Publisher/Year: HarperCollins, 1995
Synopsis: Narrated in the form of a Powerbook entry by Dan Underwood, a computer programmer for Microsoft, this state-of-the-art novel about life in the '90s follows the adventures of six code-crunching computer whizzes. Known as "microserfs," they spend upward of 16 hours a day "coding" (writing software) as they eat "flat" foods (such as Kraft singles, which can be passed underneath closed doors) and fearfully scan the company email to see what the great Bill might be thinking and whether he is going to "flame" one of them.

Seizing the chance to be innovators instead of cogs in the Microsoft machine, this intrepid bunch strike out on their own to form a high-tech start-up company named Oop! in Silicon Valley. Living together in a sort of digital flophouse --"Our House of Wayward Mobility" -- they desperately try to cultivate well-rounded lives and find love amid the dislocated, subhuman whir and buzz of their computer-driven world.

What Others Have To Say
Entertainment Weekly
"As the group relocates to California to start their own cutting-edge-of-technology company, the plot turns slightly soggy, but the writing maintains its satisfying level of mind candy. "

Baltimore Evening Sun
" can’t help but wonder after a while if Coupland had a master plan or scheme for his book, or if he just wrote the thing in one protracted burst of energy. Or if he’s in cahoots with the art department to come up with marketing profiles for Generation X to be sold to MTV, Zima, and the Rollerblade Company."

The New York Times
"On the one hand, there is the black spy Douglas Coupland -- slacker sociologist, nonlinear storyteller and pop culture taxonomist. On the other hand, there is the squishier author of "Life After God," the white spy who wants to get beyond the generational "irony that scorches everything it touches," who still yearns for happy families and happy endings."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Line By Line: Mary Roach, Stiff

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
"The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back. The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens, and nothing is expected of you."

"The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken. I have never before had occasion to make the comparison, for never before today have I seen a head in a roasting pan."

"Death. It doesn't have to be boring."

"Here is the secret to surviving one of these [airplane] crashes: Be male. In a 1970 Civil Aeromedical institute study of three crashes involving emergency evacuations, the most prominent factor influencing survival was gender (followed closely by proximity to exit). Adult males were by far the most likely to get out alive. Why? Presumably because they pushed everyone else out of the way."

"You do not question an author who appears on the title page as "T.V.N. Persaud, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., F.R.C.Path. (Lond.), F.F.Path. (R.C.P.I.), F.A.C.O.G."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Book Mark: 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winners

Biography or Autobiography:
The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Vintage)

General Nonfiction:
The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and its Dangerous Legacy


Next to Normal Next to Normal (Original Broadway Cast) Next to Normal (Vocal Selections): Piano/Vocal/Chords

Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World

Versed (Wesleyan Poetry)

Music: Violin Concerto by Jennifer Higdon (Lawdon Press)