Archive for the ‘Friday Potpourri’ Category

Friday Potpourri

The Church at Montevrain by Henri Lebasque

Sick literature: what to read when you’re ill – Picking the right books to read when you’re feeling awful is a serious business.  I completely agree with the article’s author when she says: Firstly, and most importantly, do NOT attempt to read anything new. Just as the point at which you’re lying feverish and fretful in your bed is not the moment to send out to the brand-new super-spicy curry house round the corner, so it is not the moment to essay an untested novel, either.  Georgette Heyer got me through appendicitis, Eva Ibbotson helped me through pneumonia, and the sagas of Diana Gabaldon and R.F. Delderfield have seen me through many cold and flu seasons over the years.  What do you read when you’re ill? 

Can a computer ever give good book recommendations? – The latest and most ambitious attempt to turn literary taste into an algorithm

Jason Goodwin’s Top 10 Books about Turkey Encompassing poetry, history, fiction and even cookery, the author picks his favourite reading about this ‘elusive and contradictory’ country

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Friday Potpourri

credit: House & Home

Important planning update: after reading Sakura’s thoughts on afternoon tea at Bea’s of Bloomsbury, I am now desperately trying to figure out how I can fit in a visit while I’m in London.  It would seem to make for a perfect afternoon if paired with a trip to Persephone Books.

Boys and Reading – Is There Any Hope?…boys need to be approached individually with books about their fears, choices, possibilities and relationships — the kind of reading that will prick their dormant empathy, involve them with fictional characters and lead them into deeper engagement with their own lives. This is what turns boys into readers.

20 Celebrities with Stunning Home Libraries – when is a photo gallery of libraries ever unwelcome?  Nigella Lawson’s is my particular favourite.

Three Books, Two Centuries, and One English Regency – Stephanie Barron picks three books that, for her, best represent the nine years of the English Regency (1811-1820).

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Friday Potpourri

Ask an Academic: Talking About a Revolution – The New Yorker chats with Maya Jasanoff about her new book, Liberty’s Exiles, “a fascinating study of the Americans who sided with the British during the Revolutionary War.”  I can’t wait to read it, having always loved learning about United Empire Loyalists in school but my knowledge is mostly limited to the role Loyalists played in Canada (and in my own family history). 

Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books – earlier this summer, NPR asked its readers to nominate and vote for the best science fiction and fantasy books.  Here is the results.  I love NPR lists so much because they always include brief summaries of the books, a basic consideration but one that so many other list-makers often ignore. 

Top 10 Football Fictions – I have really awful memories of playing the beautiful game during long, rainy winters at school.  While I feel no need to kick the ball around these days, I do still love good sports books. 

Heady, Not Heavy: 5 Smart, Playful Summer Books For readers who like to fire up not just the barbecue but also their brains — and have fun in the bargain — there are some good options this summer.

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Friday Potpourri

The Secret Garden’s Hidden Depths There’s something strange about The Secret Garden. The classic novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, published 100 years ago this summer, takes the traditional children’s literature trope of the orphan protagonist and twists it.

The Lost Art of Postcard WritingThe terrific thing about postcards was their immense variety. It wasn’t just the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal, or some other famous tourist attraction you were likely to receive in the mail, but also a card with a picture of a roadside diner in Iowa, the biggest hog at some state fair in the South, and even a funeral parlor touting the professional excellence that their customers have come to expect over a hundred years.

They Came, They Saw, They Cooked – Five food memoirs from NPR.

Wanted: Respect for Orcs, Wizards – Why Fantasy is a Real Part of Literature.

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Friday Potpourri

I’ve been having a delightful time reading through Lauren Willig’s old posts from the now defunct AccessRomance’s All A-Blog.  Written between 2006 and 2010, they were recently added to Willig’s own website and I’m loving them.  If you only read one of them, let it be Where, oh where did my Gothics go!  The post are all bookish in one way or another, with some focusing on Willig’s writing, some on her reading.  Willig is the only author whose (frequently updated, always entertaining) blog/news feed I follow and, I have to say, I think I find her even more interesting than I do her characters.  And it certainly doesn’t hurt that she’s always talking about and recommending other books! 

Be sure to check out Christopher Morely’s essay ‘On Visiting Bookshops’, which Simon T posted on Thursday.  It’s absolutely wonderful.  Here’s my favourite passage from it:

There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love, and like that colossal adventure it is an experience of great social import. Even as the tranced swain, the booklover yearns to tell others of his bliss. He writes letters about it, adds it to the postscript of all manner of communications, intrudes it into telephone messages, and insists on his friends writing down the title of the find. Like the simple-hearted betrothed, once certain of his conquest, ‘I want you to love her, too!’ It is a jealous passion also. He feels a little indignant if he finds that anyone else has discovered the book also. He sees an enthusiastic review – very likely in The New Republic – and says, with great scorn, ‘I read the book three months ago.’ There are even some perversions of passion by which a booklover loses much of his affection for his pet if he sees it too highly commended by some rival critic.

Finally, I found the most marvellous summer reading list from the Financial Times.  As far as I’m concerned, this is the best list produced by anyone this summer, with dozens of titles, all organized by category (including, excitingly, a fiction in translation section).  The only thing it’s missing is gardening books, which, if you have sections devoted to pop music and film, seems a sad omission.

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Friday Potpourri

It’s all about book lists this week!

Summer’s Biggest, Juiciest Nonfiction Adventures Nothing Daunted was already on my TBR list but I’m also really intrigued by Turn Right at Machu Piccu.

Back to School Reads: 13 Big Books to Read While the Leaves Fall – Autumn is coming whether we like it or not.  NPR has pulled together a list of the Fall’s new releases to get us (a bit) excited about the end of summer.

Kamin Mohammadi’s Top 10 Iranian Books From 10th-century epics to 21st-century graphic novels, the author picks the books that best illuminate a country too little known in the west

The 100 Greatest Non-fiction Books – I don’t particularly agree with this list, but it is an excellent example of a well-made book list and that at least is admirable.  And it certainly offers variety! 

Amanda Craig’s Top 10 Romantic Comedies and Jilly Cooper’s Top 10 Romantic Novels – because all the non-fiction lists needed to be balanced out with something romantic and fun.  Very happy to see that Austen and Trollope show up on both lists.

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Friday Potpourri

The Seine at Paris (1904) by Henri Lebasque

Reading Retreats: Paradise for Book Lovers – I’ve always dreamed of taking a vacation centred around reading (my travel companions are less enthused about the idea) and Laura Miller’s article describes retreats that offer exactly that.  Though I can’t say Bulgaria has much appeal.  I’m thinking more along the lines of Moravia or the Lake District. 

Heads Will Roll: Three Bastille Day Reads – a delightful list of books focused on the Revolution, all new to me.  Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution by Simon Schama sounds particularly alluring. 

The Charm of Battered Books Broken-backed and dog-eared, the more decrepit these volumes are the more I love them.

Is it curtains for Jilly and Joanna and the middle-class novel? – “Middle class’’ has become a sneering term.  And yet what is fiction built on if not the middle classes?

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Friday Potpourri

credit: unknown

Top 10 Historical Novels – A rather wonderful list from Andrew Miller that covers a number of eras and locations. 

The Paperback Game – I really wish someone would invite me to their cabin, just so we could play this.  It sounds much more fun than our usual games of euchre or rummy (though those are essential to the cabin/cottage experience).

Who Are We?  The Dangers of Pigeonholing – I am hugely intrigued by this new book about “the ways people identify one another and how those identities affect our lives.”

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Young Boy Reading by Henri Lebasque

It’s all about the young folk this week, all those energetic youths roaming about with the full intention of enjoying their summer vacation by doing absolutely nothing if they can somehow manage it.  And how better to avoid chores doled out by mom and dad than by escaping into a book?  The enthusiasm for the summer reading club at my local library branch has been incredible and every time I’m there I hear the young ones asking for recommendations of what to try next, something that their older siblings seem loathe to do.  In honour of those proud teens, here’s a few articles with some great suggestions that appeal as much to adults as to teens:

Dear Book Lover: Recommendations for Teenage Boys – a bit stereotypical perhaps (boys = sports and westerns) but still some interesting ideas.  Paper Lion is always a great suggestion, regardless of who your audience is.   

Top 10 Funny Teen Boy Books – I’ve only heard of three of these but, really, aren’t obscure choices the best sign of a good, original list? 

Hooray for YA Teen Novels for Readers of All Ages – Oh NPR.  Every week I grow to love you more and more as you put out these amazing summer reading lists.  I want to read all five books suggested here, all of which sound very different but amazing, despite my usual snobbish aversion to YA novels.  Karma and Trapped sound particularly appealing.

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Friday Potpourri

UBC Rose Garden (photograph credit unknown)

Margaret Atwood: What I ReadThe question that is facing everybody is: how can we find out what we want to read? Sometimes it’s via friends–they say “you really have to read this.” Sometimes you pick up a book online and sometimes you read a review that makes the thing sound irresistible. Sometimes you read a review that’s so bad that you feel you just have to read the book, because you really can’t believe anything can be that bad. 

How to Give Away Your Books Giving books away: for the hoarders among us, it’s impossible, but for a lot of us, myself included, it’s rarely some kind of artistic or existential statement. If I think too deeply about the books I’m giving away, I have a sort of crisis. It’s got to be like ripping off a band-aid: I give them away quickly, and then I try to forget that I ever owned them.

Dear Book Lover: Literature that Grabs HoldHow I miss being grabbed by a line of a story and transported to another place and time. Do you think it’s only a function of age and maturity? Are the days of being bewitched by a story gone forever? If they’re not, who’s writing those stories?

Nancy Pearl Presents 10 Terrific Summer Reads –  Reading lists are wonderful.  Summer reading lists are magical.  And a summer reading list from Nancy Pearl?  Now that’s just completely irresistible.

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