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August 2010

» This week's summer reading installment features the 10 best dragons in literature, classics for kids, fresh voices in Science Fiction, and the Booker Longlist.

NPR: One Nightstand, Six Affairs: Novels Of Illicit Love
North Country Public Radio: Readers & Writers 2010 Summer Reading List
Seattle Times: Fresh voices in science fiction: Karen Lord, Eleanor Arnason and Amelia Beamer In the field of science fiction, small independent presses are willing to take chances
Guardian: Bike blog summer reading list
Guardian: John Mullan on 10 of the best fire-breathing, treasure-guarding - or tattoed - dragons in literature
Guardian: Steven Poole on science, pseudo-science and perception
Guardian: Catherine Taylor's choice of first novels
The Nation: Nation Readers' Summer Books
Pop Matters: When Trends Survive: 5 Trends That Have Made the Leap to Subgenre Status
Paste: Eight Literary Works That Deserve a Graphic-Novel Treatment
Shelftalk: About Time: The Big Picture
Shelftalk: Monday, August 6, 1945: Part 1
Reader's Advisor: Under the Radar: National Golf Month (F and NF)
Reader's Advisor: Under the Radar: New Environmental NF You May Have Missed
Suite 101: Top 10 Summer Romances of 2010
Man Booker 2010 Longlist
Carnegie Library: Summer Reading Suggestions
Daily Beast: 6 Great Summer Beach Reads

Children and Young Adults:
National Endowment for the Humanities: Summertime Favorites: classic literature for young people from kindergarten through high school
Carnegie Library: Summer Reading for Kids Infants through 5th Grade
Carnegie Library: Teen Summer Reading
PBS: Booklights: Thursday THIRTY: Summer Books, Tot to Tween
Guardian: Summer reading for children
Shelftalk: Children's Classics from the 1970s Summer Reading List for Grades K-12, and Historical Fiction for all ages
 [ 08.02.10 ]

» A study based on 20 years of research [pdf] suggests that children who have 500 or more books in the home average 3.2 years more schooling than children in homes without books. The effect was strongest in families with the lowest levels of parental education. / (1) Comments / [ 08.03.10 ]

» Harold McGee on enhancing the flavors of wine and coffee by diluting with water.  [ 08.04.10 ]

» A bus that spans 2 lanes, enabling cars to drive underneath? As this video depicts it, it's actually a pretty awesome idea - notwithstanding the real-life velocity and trajectory of most Chinese drivers.  [ 08.05.10 ]

» I know the rest of the country has been subjected to heat wave after heat wave, but I'm jealous. And I wonder why anyone with air conditioning complains about the heat anymore. Author and agricultural scientist Stan Cox has lived without air conditioning for several years and he doesn't complain - he says he enjoys the thermal variety. "In response to record-breaking summers, we're relying more on air-conditioning, which produces greenhouse emissions that make the summers hotter. It's a cycle that makes you wonder: How long can it go on?" - Stan Cox / (1) Comments / [ 08.06.10 ]

» Lots of lists this week, from Nancy Pearl's Under the Radar picks, to the best graphic design books, to the best summer food books, to Neil Gaiman's recommendations for children.

NPR: Librarian Nancy Pearl Picks 'Under The Radar' Reads
NPR: Audience Picks: Top 100 'Killer Thrillers'
Guardian UK: Patrick Cramsie's top 10 graphic design books
Guardian UK: My favourite books on sport
Guardian UK: Ten of the best motorbikes in literature
Guardian UK: Science fiction roundup
Smithsonian: A Summer Reading List for Food Lovers
Nature: Vacation reading
Health Beat: Page-Turners: Summer Reading
Shelftalk: Monday, August 9, 1945: Part 2
Shelftalk: About Time: Hidden History
The Kitchn: Best Summer Food Books
Halifax Public Libraries The Reader: CBC Information Morning - Summer Books (part two)
Halifax Public Libraries The Reader: Fiction to try if you like....
Halifax Public Libraries The Reader: Books Into Film - Summer/Fall 2010
The Librarian Next Door: August's To-Read List
Hacker News: Summer Reading Recommendations
CyberMage: Formidable Female Protagonists in Science Fiction (help bring the list to 100)
RA for All: More Offbeat Summer Reading Ideas
How Stuff Works: 21 Best-Selling Books of All Time
2010 Dylan Thomas Longlist for any published writer in the English language under the age of thirty
The Crime Writers' Association's International Dagger Awards winner and shortlists (poke around)
Amazon: Editor's Top Ten
Amazon: Best Fiction of 2010... So Far
Amazon: Best Nonfiction of 2010... So Far

Children and Young Adults:
Guardian UK: Picture books for young children: there's a buzz about the place
Guardian UK: Summer books for older children: runners and riders
Guardian UK: Summer reading for teenagers: darkness, danger and charity shops
Barnes and Noble: Neil Gaiman recommends 3 children's books
Shelftalk: New twists on old tales
Halifax Public Libraries The Reader: Orphans : Family Reading - Family Reading: Ages 8+ (Children's books that adults will love too!) Your Daily Thread: Green Reads For Kids of All Ages's Top Ten Summer Books
Amazon: Best Books of 2010... So Far for Kids and Teens
 [ 08.09.10 ]

» You've already read about the benefits of going barefoot for adults. Now some experts say that those benefits are even more important for children - who should go barefoot as much as possible while they are growing up.

Tracy Byrne, a podiatrist specialising in podopaediatrics, believes that wearing shoes at too young an age can hamper a child's walking and cerebral development. "Toddlers keep their heads up more when they are walking barefoot," she says. "The feedback they get from the ground means there is less need to look down, which is what puts them off balance and causes them to fall down." Walking barefoot, she continues, develops the muscles and ligaments of the foot, increases the strength of the foot's arch, improves proprioception (our awareness of where we are in relation to the space around us) and contributes to good posture.

 [ 08.10.10 ]

» What Harry hath wrought: Adults who read Young Adult literature.

According to surveys by the Codex Group, a consultant to the publishing industry, 47 percent of 18- to 24-year-old women and 24 percent of same-aged men say most of the books they buy are classified as young adult. The percentage of female Y.A. fans between the ages of 25 and 44 has nearly doubled in the past four years. Today, nearly one in five 35- to 44-year-olds say they most frequently buy Y.A. books. For themselves.

I still do: sometimes favorites from my childhood, and sometimes new things. My reasons are the same as many of the enthusiasts quoted in the article: freshness, engaging characters, and really good plotting. "A lot of contemporary adult literature is characterized by a real distrust of plot. I think young adult fiction is one of the few areas of literature right now where storytelling really thrives." Lev Grossman, book critic for Time.

You can read about the hoopla surrounding the publication of Mockingjay if you're interested in the mainstreaming of YA.  [ 08.11.10 ]

» If you've ever wanted to live the life depicted on an album cover, and wish there was a convenient way to purchase the necessary accessories, look no further: My Album Cover Lifestyle has the gear you need at reasonable prices. If you've ever seen an Ikea catalog, you don't need to know the albums themselves - these are brilliant. (via br)  [ 08.12.10 ]

» This week: romance award winners, classic works of gay literature, 50 best cookbooks, historical true crime, and books that change childrens' lives.

NPR: Three Books To Take You On That Long, Strange Trip
NPR: Literary Destinations: Five Books To Help You Escape
Christian Science Monitor: Top 5 historical true-crime books of the last decade
Christian Science Monitor: Five books that deliver life - with the boring parts edited out
Los Angeles Times: 20 classic works of gay literature
Guardian UK: Observer Food Monthly (very Anglo-centric) 50 best cookbooks: With Bold Knife and Fork (11-50) and the Top 10
USA Today: 'The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise' captivates booksellers "It's a front-runner for my most beloved book of the fall. The only difficulty I had was deciding which character I loved the best." Karen Corvello, a buyer at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn
Newsweek: What You Need to Read Now
Slate: An alternate pre-college reading list
Kansas Center for the Book: Kansas Notable Books: 15 outstanding titles by Kansas authors or about Kansas.
Shelftalk: About Time: History of the Mind
Shelftalk: About Time: Ages of Empire
Reader's Advisor: Under the Radar: New Science Fiction You May Have Missed
Flashlight Worthy: Beach Reads (15 themed lists, including steampunk, culinary memoirs, and alternate history)
Flavorwire: Literature's 10 Best-Dressed Characters
2010 RITA and Golden Heart Award Winners

Children and Young Adults:
Susan Orleans' Twitter Feed: Books that change kids worlds
 [ 08.16.10 ]

» Longtime readers know what a fan I am of Makiko Itoh and her sites Just Hungry and Just Bento. Those of you who share my enthusiasm for Japanese food will be excited to learn that Maki has written a cookbook called Just Bento, (due in the US by January, but hopefully sooner). I'm pre-ordering my copy today.

In the meantime, head over to the Just Bento website for Back to School week. Maki will have at least one giveaway every day this week of bento boxes and more.  [ 08.16.10 ]

» In Why there's more to cookbooks than recipes, Rachel Cooke touches on some of the things I love about food and cooking: social history, the promise of perfection, and even the writing. But for me, there's something more. When I cook from a vintage cookbook or try a recipe from a cuisine that is not my own, I feel I have a chance to enter into that other time or culture.

What people eat can't tell you everything about a time or a place - but it can tell you an awful lot. What foods were available in that place? Which foods were scare and which were abundant? How do those people think about food in general? What are the common flavor profiles? How does a (generic) dish go together? What constitutes a meal? Under what circumstances did people eat with others, and what kinds of meals are served then? What influenced changes in food over time (immigration, technology, work patterns)?

An exemplar of this is Olive Trees and Honey by Gil Marks, a collection of recipes from Jewish communities around the world. The Jews are particularly interesting in this regard since they were expelled from so many European countries over time. What this means is that they brought their food traditions to friendly countries, incorporated foods and cooking techniques from those new places into their traditional cuisine (simultaneously introducing foods and techniques to the natives of the area). When it became dangerous to stay, the Jews moved to another region - where they introduced their traditional cuisine, which now included influences and recipes from their last "host" country's cuisine, to the natives of the new region. And they did this over and over again.

So far I've cooked only a couple of recipes from this cookbook, but I've read every word. It is a beautiful and fascinating collection that's worth buying even if you choose to read it instead of cook from it.

For a snapshot of different cultures' food without the recipes, I recommend What the World Eats by Faith D'Aluisio and Peter Menzel. This beautiful book consists of photographs of 25 families in 21 countries around the world, each photographed surrounded by food they will eat in a typical week. The differences are startling and enlightening and absolutely fascinating.  [ 08.17.10 ]

» Chick Lit? Women's Literature? Why Not Just ... Literature? Why not indeed?

[I]f Tom Wolfe had written "The Recessionistas," he would have noted the brands of shoes, the Birkin bags and the personal trainers. And he would have been praised for his attention to detail. [...] But my concern is larger, for the issue is insidious: the way Chick Lit has been used to denigrate a wide swath of novels about contemporary life that happen to be written by women.
[...] No serious woman writer want[s] to be painted with the Women's Lit label, and issues contemporary and domestic, if not presented with violence, are apparently (to academics, to critics and to the general culture -- male and female, alike) seen to have less value.

Feminism failed, really. Originally the movement was about equality for men and women. This was often framed as the freedom for women to enter the workplace as equals and for men to commit themselves to the domestic sphere if that was their calling in life. Of course the subtext to that is the reinstatement of the domestic sphere to a place of respect (the rise of factories having transformed the home from an important and necessary production facility - food, cloth, medicine, and the like - to the Victorian ideal of a haven from the working world).

Instead, women entered the workplace and the tasks necessary to survival - cooking, cleaning, and childcare - were purchased (and usually at low cost), or done as an afterthought to their "real work". Instead of shifting male attitudes about the importance of the work women have traditionally done, women's attitudes realigned to the prevailing male notion that the amount one is paid is the strongest indicator of one's worth.

Anyway, those attitudes extend to literature, apparently.  [ 08.19.10 ]

» NPR: Video Games: The 21st Century's Fine Art Frontier? Yes.  [ 08.19.10 ]

» The most interesting part of this review of The Shallows (a book in which the author posits that the Internet is rewiring people's brains to be less contemplative and more superficial) is this quote from Professor Andrew Burn of the University of London's Institute of Education:

Equating the internet with distraction and shallowness, he tells me, is a fundamental mistake, possibly bound up with Carr's age (he is 50). "He's restricting what he says to the type of activities that the middle-aged blogosphere-addict typically engages in," says Professor Burn. "Is there anything in his book about online role-playing games?"
Not much, I tell him, and he's off. "Carr's argument privileges activities of the skimming and browsing kind. But if you look at research on kids doing online gaming, or exploring virtual worlds such as Second Life, the argument there is about immersion and engagement - and it's even about excessive forms of immersion and engagement that get labelled as addiction. The point is, to play successfully in an online role-playing game, you have to pay an incredible amount of attention to what your team-mates are doing, to the mechanics of the game. You can set up a thesis for The Depths, just as much as The Shallows."

As you know, I'm of a mind that the Internet really is re-wiring our brains to make us more distracted - and I still think Carr has it wrong. Professor Burn is absolutely right that the Internet provides a variety of experiences, and that new and repeated experiences of every kind change the brain's configuration.  [ 08.20.10 ]

» This is what it was to be a web designer in 2001:

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<!--#if expr="${HTTP_USER_AGENT} = /MSIE/" -->
<link rel=stylesheet href="css/macie01.css" type="text/css>
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<link rel=stylesheet href="css/macnn01.css" type="text/css>
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<link rel=stylesheet href="css/macie01.css" type="text/css>
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<!--#if expr="${HTTP_USER_AGENT} = /MSIE 6/" -->
<link rel=stylesheet href="css/nn601.css" type="text/css>
<!--#elif expr="${HTTP_USER_AGENT} = /MSIE/" -->
<link rel=stylesheet href="css/ie01.css" type="text/css>
<!--#elif expr="${HTTP_USER_AGENT} = /Mozilla/5/" -->
<link rel=stylesheet href="css/nn601.css" type="text/css>
<!--#elif expr="${HTTP_USER_AGENT} = /Mozilla/" -->
<link rel=stylesheet href="css/nn01.css" type="text/css>
<!--#elif expr="${HTTP_USER_AGENT} = /Opera/" -->
<link rel=stylesheet href="css/nn601.css" type="text/css>
<!--#else -->
<link rel=stylesheet href="css/ie01.css" type="text/css>
<!--#endif -->
<!--#endif -->

/ (1) Comments / [ 08.20.10 ]

» I'm late to this, but of course you know about the disaster in Pakistan. Beyond the obvious humanitarian reasons, perhaps you're also hip to the security implications for the US. Here's how you can help. Remember, even small donations add up.  [ 08.20.10 ]

» This week: Nonfiction for the summer's end, astronomy-themed books, a thriller roundup, and the most wicked uncles in literature. Plus: Business book of the year longlist and the Thurber Awards.

CSM: Beyond flooding and fundamentalism: best books about Pakistan Which books best deliver Pakistan behind the headlines?
CSM: 5 great books about obscure presidents: The lives of our worst presidents make surprisingly good reading.
NPR: Back To Reality: Nonfiction For The Summer's End
Guardian UK: Star attractions: From Copernicus's struggles to tales of mad space exploration projects and the enduring mystery of black holes, the author of The Big Questions picks the best reads about 'this most noble of sciences'
Guardian UK: Crime fiction roundup
Guardian UK: Ten of the best wicked uncles in literature
Guardian UK: Summer Fiction Special: five established writers, plus the winner of our short-story competition and five runners up
Guardian UK: John O'Connell's thriller roundup
Guardian UK: Audiobook review roundup
Tufts University Faculty and Staff: Recommended Reading
Tufts University Faculty and Staff: Books for the Dog Days
Shelftalk: Nightstand Reads: Debut novelist Laurie Frankel shares her summer reading
Pittsylvania County Library Blog: Beach Reads
Reader's Advisor: Under the Radar: Music Makes the Difference
Urbanite: Summer Reading
jen michalski: A Shower of Summer Books
2010 Shamus Award nominations
2010 Business Book of the Year Longlist
2010 Thurber Prize Finalists

Children and Young Adults:
Shelftalk: Come on, try this at home! Fun science titles for kids
 [ 08.23.10 ]

» CSM: The 10 Best-paid authors in the world. JK Rowling is not even in the top 5.  [ 08.24.10 ]

» Have you ever dreamed of having a farm where you raise sheep and goats and sell roving and yarn? If so, Susie is looking for an apprentice. Experience is not necessary - a good pair of gloves, a solid work ethic and a 6-month commitment is all you need.  [ 08.24.10 ]

» Wouldn't you like to live here?

Jacob rolled on his scooter alongside Andrew. He climbed on to a chair to watch other kids play a board game. He grabbed a cup of water and drank it. He walked over to a woman and got a hug. He hopped on his scooter again. This went on for a couple of hours.
"Is anyone watching Jacob?" I asked Hetty Fox, matriarch of the Lyman Place play street.
"Uh," she scanned around for a moment. "No, not right now. But his cousin Andrew is right there, and everyone else here knows him, too. Besides, he has lots of aunts and uncles and cousins who live right here on the street, as well as his grandmother and grandfather. In fact, his great-grandmother lives here, too."
How old would you guess Jacob is from hearing about this situation? [...] Jacob is two - just barely two.

This isn't a scenario from a small town. This happened in the South Bronx, on a "Play Street" run by Hetty Fox. What a remarkable institution, and what a remarkable woman. I really wish we had these in San Francisco.  [ 08.25.10 ]

» Mike Shatzkin reflects, and very sensibly, I think, on the future of the printed book for immersive reading. I prefer paper for immersive reading - in fact, I've never read a book using an electronic device - but I can't argue with his central premise, which is this: "Print books aren't getting better. Ebooks are." Judge for yourself.  [ 08.26.10 ]

» This week: The top 100 thrillers, Fantasy and Science writing award winners, spy novels by real spies, and 6 books to read after you finish Mockingjay.

CSM: Five books to read after checking the egg recall list: Here are five books that help to place the egg recall in context
NPR: Top 100 Killer Thrillers: Your picks for the most pulse-quickening, suspenseful novels ever written
NPR: Tina Brown's Must-Reads: Stories Of Survival
NPR: Three Books For Surviving Graduate School
Guardian: The Books That Made Me: Penelope Lively
Guardian: Ten of the best railway journeys
Seattle Times: Spy novels by real spies
Shelftalk: Solidarity Forever! Celebrating Seattle's Workers and Labor History
Food & Think: A Summer Reading List for Food Lovers
Locus: 2009 World Fantasy Awards Nominees
The Royal Society: Prize for Science Books 2010 shortlist
Guardian: Guardian first book award longlist ranges around the world

Children and Young Adults:
6 Flashlight Worthy Children's Books to Read After You Finish Mockingjay
 [ 08.30.10 ]

» Thanks to a digital database and special printers, a few independent bookstores have begun printing out-of-print books on demand for their customers. I predicted this way back in the mid-90s, but in my vision the entire Library of Congress would be available, and buyers would be able to customize the size, typography, and illustrations of their book.  [ 08.31.10 ]



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