30 April 2006

A Site Highlighting Unusual Books

Here's a fun site to browse: Alfred Armstrong's Odd Books: A Safe House For Literary Misfits. The site is dedicated to "that constant source of delight and wonder, the second-hand bookshop." It features such titles as How To Defend Yourself Against Alien Abduction, Brainwashing Is a Cinch!, and Recollections of a Society Clairvoyant. Via Plep.

29 April 2006

A Literary Time-Passer

I was browsing through blogs the other day and discovered the following . . . game, for lack of a better word: 1. Take first five novels from your bookshelf. 2. Book 1 -- first sentence 3. Book 2 -- last sentence on page 50 4. Book 3 -- second sentence on page 100 5. Book 4 -- next to the last sentence on page 150 6. Book 5 -- final sentence of the book 7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph. 8. Feel free to "cheat" to make it a better paragraph. 9. Name your sources. 10.Post to your blog. This sounded like a good way to ease into my day, so I went to my bookshelves. Because I divide my books by genre (speculative, literary, mystery, children's, and so forth) I took the first novel from four categories (plus one other). Here's the result: Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. It was not a wise thing to do, but I kept on worrying, till an old man came in, with an order for some clothes. She was beautiful, alive and blatantly triumphant. She examined the blade of her knife. Then, shouldering their burdens, they set off, seeking a path that would bring them over the grey hills of the Emyn Muil, down into the Land of the Shadow. The sources? Adams, Douglas. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe. Alcott, Louisa. Little Women. Allingham, Margery. The Fashion in Shrouds. Atwood, Margaret. The Edible Woman. Tolkien, J. R. R. The Fellowship of the Ring. O.K., so I cheated—the last book is not near the beginning of my bookshelves, but it is one I'm currently re-reading. Via Coyote Wild.

28 April 2006

A Pain-Free Method of Learning Latin

I've just discovered a great character that I didn't know existed: Minimus: The Mouse That Made Latin Cool. I love learning languages, and I think Latin should be required for every child. Minimus is a great way for students to ease into learning a language, a culture, and a history. As the website says, "The course centres on a real family who lived at Vindolanda in 100AD: Flavius, the fort commander, his wife Lepidina, their three children, assorted household slaves, their cat Vibrissa - and Minimus the mouse! It features many of the artefacts and writing tablets from the Vindolanda excavations." So far there are two books out: Minimus and Minimus Secundus. You can start learning Latin online by visiting the comic strip. Alternately, you can learn how to make your own Roman sandals. Via In The Middle.

27 April 2006

A Site to Browse on a Rainy Day

Litrix describes itself as "a quiet place for lovers of good writing." It's a website with links to the full texts of many works that are in the public domain or whose authors have given permission for them to be online. It has various categories to search, including the following: · Ms. Austen and Co. · antiquities · mysteries · horror · Mr. Holmes · Americans · the Bard · the Bower (this ranges from Moll Flanders to the Starr Report) As an added bonus, each book comes with a one-sentence description, often tongue-in-cheek. For The Ambassadors: "You can take the boy out of the country, but . . ." For Emma: "Clueless miss minds everybody's business but her own."

26 April 2006

Dictionary of Newfoundland English

Here's a site for those interested in dialects and words in general: the Dictionary of Newfoundland English. The Introduction says that the compilers looked "for words which appear to have entered the language in Newfoundland or to have been recorded first, or solely, in books about Newfoundland; words which are characteristically Newfoundland by having continued in use here after they died out or declined elsewhere, or by having acquired a different form or developed a different meaning, or by having a distinctly higher or more general degree of use." The dictionary includes words such as "cardeen" (accordion), "ballicatter" (a specific kind of ice), or "kenat" (a "sly, niggardly person"). It's a fun browse—but then I think that of any kind of dictionary.

25 April 2006

A Blog Featuring Cautionary Tales for Writers

All too many writers have been duped by agents, writing competitions, or publishing ventures that are anything but legitimate. There are several web sites that should be required reading for all writers (Writer Beware being one of them), and now there's a blog that's well worth a look too. The blog has the overexcited name At Last! Writer Beware Blogs! A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss Reveal All!, but I'm assuming the name is a parody of the overheated prose found in promotional material by scammers. The blog's taglines read as follows: "Come and read about hunting down scam agents, and get information on writing and publishing from authors/scam hunters Victoria Strauss and A.C. Crispin. Got questions on how to avoid scams in the writing world? Ask the experts! Got questions on writing and publishing? Get the straight dope here." There are stories listed here regarding scammers, and they're the kind that you just couldn't make up. There's also a recent post analysing a new literary agent's promotional material (and the resulting cautions). The site is well worth a look. Via Stones In the Field through Digital Medievalist.

24 April 2006

To Scrine or Not to Scrine?

Here's an interesting site for scribblers: Scrine. The website describes scrine as "the home of lost and lonely sentences." It's a place where, after you register, you can post entries that are no longer than one sentence. You can read some of the results here. Via the bears at onepotmeal.

23 April 2006

A Site Devoted To Book Design

Here's an interesting site: Book Covers. This site is dedicated to displaying the covers of books and offering a place for visitors to comment on the design of them. It's a good opportunity to read about something that receives very little attention but which certainly can have an impact on our initial emotional response to a book. Via Yahoo! Picks.

22 April 2006

Learning About Jafaican

There's a good posting at Language Log about Jafaican English (which comic Ali G sort of uses). The post is titled What Multi-Cultural London English Sounds Like, and it has some nifty links, including one to an audio file of some girls speaking Jafaican. It's an interesting listen. Via Apothecary's Drawer.

21 April 2006

Winner of 2006 Best Romantic Novel Announced

Erica James is the winner of the 2006 FosterGrant Reading Glasses Best Romantic Novel. James won for her book Gardens of Delight. She received a cheque for 10,000 British pounds and a glass trophy. Judges for the competition were Dr Susan Horsewood-Lee (a London physician), Sue Baker (Books Editor of Publishing News), and Matt Bates (Fiction Buyer at WH Smith Travel). You can read the complete news release here. The award is administered by the British-based Romantic Novelists' Association.

20 April 2006

Wilbur Wins Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize

Congratulations to Richard Wilbur, who has won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, an award that "honors a living U.S. poet whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition." The prize is worth US $100,000. You can read the full story here.

19 April 2006

The Poetry Archive

If you'd like to listen to recordings of poets (mostly from the U.K.) reading their work, all in the comfort of your own home, Poetry Archive is the site for you. You can take a guided tour of the site, either with Andrew Motion, the British Poet Laureate, or with Jean Sprackland. You can browse the site on your own by last name of poet, by title, by theme (e.g. abroad, age, animals), or by form (e.g. anapestic, ballad, dialogue). You can also look at a list of all poems by title and all poets (by last name). There's even a section for those new to poetry.

This is a great site; I'm definitely going to go back to listen some more. Via Neat New Stuff On The Web.

18 April 2006

Holy Tango Anthology of Literature

Here's an interesting idea for a spoof: the Holy Tango Anthology of Literature. Here's how it works: first, you take a well-known author's name and make an anagram out of it to produce a title. Then, you write a parody of a well-known work of the author's. Thus, Samuel Taylor Coleridge becomes "Multicolored Argyle Sea" and a poem results that is a spoof on "The Ancient Mariner." e.e. cummings becomes "nice smug me"; Allen Ginsberg becomes "Bangles Linger." You can read the resulting works at HOLY TANGO ANTHOLOGY of LITERATURE. There are spoofs on Emily Dickinson, Euripides, Joyce Kilmer, Tennessee Williams, Oscar Wilde, and many more. Via Apothecary's Drawer.

17 April 2006

Gardens and Writers

Here's a spot about writers and gardens (real and imagined): The Writer In The Garden. The website shows "how gardens have inspired authors and how authors in their turn have shaped notions of the garden." It "looks briefly at some of the ideas associated with the garden, from the middle ages to the present day." The site explores six themes: · Where is Paradise? · Paradise remade · 'All Nature is a Garden' · Private places, public spaces · Gardens lost and found · Enchanted gardens You can also explore a list of links or send an E-card. Via Plep.

16 April 2006

New Edition of The Lady and the Monk

IB Taurus has published an updated (2006) paperback version of Pico Iyer's 1992 book The Lady and the Monk. Here's some of what Pico Iyer encountered when he spent a year in a Kyoto monastery studying Zen: "Monks who cherish Mickey Mouse and collect motorbikes, hardened businessmen who read love poetry and geishas who visit temples." He also met Sachiko (the lady of the title) . . . and thereby hangs the tale. Pico Iyer is a wonderful writer with a knack for making the most unlikely subjects interesting. With material such as this, he can't fail to be fascinating.

15 April 2006

Nominees for the James Beard Foundation/KitchenAid Cookbook Awards

I'm a little late reporting this, but it's still interesting: the nominees for the James Beard Foundation/KitchenAid Book Awards have been announced. There are several categories: · Baking And Desserts · Cooking From A Professional Point Of View · Entertaining And Special Occasions · Food Of The Americas · General · Healthy Focus · International · Reference · Single Subject · Wine And Spirits · Writing On Food · Photography There are some interesting titles here, some of which I want to run out and buy (like Mangoes and Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Sub-Continent or Vegetarian Suppers From Deborah Madison's Kitchen). Then there are the ones that I won't be buying, but certainly have eye-catching titles, such as Bones: Recipes, History, and Lore. This site also contains a list of past winners. Via Rebecca's Pocket.

14 April 2006

A Reading List to Help You Save the World

For anyone who wants to do something about the state of the world today, but who doesn't know where to begin, Dave Pollard has compiled the How to Save the World Reading List. This list grew out of his writing and thinking in his How To Save the World blog. It features books under the following headings: · What Life Was Really Like Before Civilization: Revisionist History · What's Going On Under Our Noses: The Real News · About Gaia: What Nature Is Really About · Radical Analysis, Radical Solutions · Toolkit For Change: Knowledge We Can Use To Save The World Update: one day (!) after I posted this entry, Dave Pollard updated his list. It now contains 80 books/articles. As an added bonus, "The fifteen most critical readings have a numbered triangle in front of them, with the numbers reflecting the order that, I would suggest, it makes most sense to read them." To see the updated list, click here. Via Rebecca's Pocket.

13 April 2006

A Macabre Discovery

According to a BBC news item, police in Leeds have found a book from the 18th or 19th century lying on a road (likely discarded after a robbery). It was written mostly in French—and bound with human skin. Apparently it was fairly common practice to write accounts of murder trials and then bind the book with the killer's skin. Such a form of book-binding (whatever the reason) even has a name: anthropodermic bibliopegy, and there's a Wikipedia article about it here. Via In The Middle.

12 April 2006

Vote For The Greatest Living British Writer

The Book Magazine is running a competition in which it asks readers to vote for the greatest living British writer. Writers listed include Harold Pinter, J. K. Rowling, Martin Amis, Ian Rankin, and Hanif Kuresihi, among many others. Readers can also add choices. The vote closes 30 April; if you'd like to vote, go to this web page. Via The Literary Saloon.

11 April 2006

The Phrase Finder

The Phrase Finder is a site that has the meanings and the origins of over 2,000 phrases. There is a list of phrases from Shakespeare, a list of proverbs, a list of euphemisms, a separate list for euphemisms around religious matters (such as gorblimey), and phrases relating to the human body (e.g. ankle biter). You can receive "A Phrase a Week" via E-mail, and if you're feeling the need to test your knowledge, you can take a phrase quiz or a "phrase from Shakespeare" quiz. You can also participate in the discussion forum. The origins of some of these phrases are already fairly well-known (e.g. baker's dozen). Some of the other phrases are relatively new. Recent additions to the list include the following: · be afraid, be very afraid · go pound sand · the floozie in the jacuzzi I've never heard of the last two phrases, but that may simply mean that I need to get out more. Via Neat New Stuff On The Web.

10 April 2006

Help Make The Best-Known John Donne Portrait Part Of A Public Collection

The National Portrait Gallery of England has launched an appeal for donations. The Gallery is hoping to be able to buy the best-known portrait of John Donne, one that has remained in a private collection since Donne's death in 1631. It is now available to the Gallery if 1,652,000 pounds can be raised by the end of May. If you would like to help the National Portrait Gallery acquire this portrait so that it can be on view for the public, you can make an online donation or learn the mailing address by visiting the appeal site. Via Digital Medievalist.

09 April 2006

More From Young Buddhists

I've just discovered a new-ish (2005) book by Sumi Loundon. It's called The Buddha's Apprentices: More Voices of Young Buddhists. This book is being touted as a follow-up to her popular Blue Jean Buddha. Part of one of the essays in the book is available for viewing on Beliefnet.com; it's called "Black Is Buddhafull". Via Wisdom Publications.

08 April 2006

Glitches During Poetry Readings

It's National Poetry Month in Canada and the U.S. (and possibly other countries too, for all I know). In honour of this month, I'm linking to a post by Roddy Lumsden in which he describes some of the things he's encountered at his poetry readings. Here's a sampling: · "Reads (through gritted teeth) while DJ adds beats to his poem (Los Angeles 01) · Is asked by school pupil if he gathers with other poets to drink sherry (London 02) · Attracts crowd of zero (New Orleans 02) · Is heckled throughout reading by mad bloke on drugs (Edinburgh 94) · Has loudness competition with cappuccino machine (Borders, Glasgow 97)" For the complete list of events that would turn my hair grey, see this link. Via Vitamin Q.

07 April 2006

Cliches From Science Fiction

There's a great list to check out if you're writing (or reading, or watching) Science Fiction: The Grand List of Overused Science Fiction Cliches. Here are some samples from the list: · "A great hunter decides that humans are the most entertaining prey of all, and visits Earth to bag a few" · "A human falls in love with a robot." · "A robot falls in love with a human." · "A person travels back in time to meet a major historical personage and winds up either becoming that person or taking that person's place at a critical juncture." · "Lots of apostrophes are packed into alien words and phrases for no apparent reason." Nifty little logos signal (among other things) whether the cliché was good on its first or second appearance and has now been waaay overused, whether it was boring the first time round, whether it was unsupportably sexist, and whether it makes its appearance on Star Trek. There are a lot of the latter—and yes, I'm a Star Trek fan. Via Word Pangs.

06 April 2006

Griffin Prize Nominees Announced

The nominees for the 2006 Griffin Poetry Prize have been announced. Nominees for the International Award are Kamau Brathwaite, Durs Grunbein, Michael Palmer, and Dunya Mikhail. Nominees for the Canadian Award are Phil Hall, Sylvia Legris, and Erin Moure. (For complete information about all the nominees, click here.) Judges are Eliot Weinberger, Lavinia Greenlaw, and Lisa Robertson; their bios can be found here. This is really Sylvia Legris' year; she has also been nominated for the Pat Lowther Award. Her book Nerve Squall is on my wish list. Via Alone On a Boreal Stage.

05 April 2006

"Drop Everything and Read" Day

In honour of Beverly Cleary's 90th birthday, 12 April is Drop Everything and Read Day (D.E.A.R.). As the website says, this "is a special reading celebration to remind and encourage families to make reading together on a daily basis a family priority." To make things easier for parents who are trying to decide what books to read with their children, the partners of the program have come up with a helpful suggested reading list broken down by age levels. Cleary's popular character Ramona Quimby is the spokesperson for D.E.A.R. Via Rebecca's Pocket.

04 April 2006

Crime In Libraries

Vandalism, theft, stolen cars crashing into the building—all taking place at libraries around the world. Check out Crime In the Library--a blog that chronicles "News about crime affecting libraries." Via librarian.net through Undine's Pool.

03 April 2006

Shortlists For Two Poetry Awards Announced

The League of Canadian Poets has announced the shortlists for two poetry awards. The first shortlist is for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, given to the best book of poetry published by a Canadian woman in the previous year. Past winners have included Dionne Brand and Gwendolyn MacEwen. Saskatchewan poet Sylvia Legris is one of the six nominees this year. The second shortlist is for the Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry published by a Canadian in the preceding year. Previous winners have included Paulette Jiles, Di Brandt, and Ray Hsu. The complete list of nominees can be found here. Via The League of Canadian Poets newsletter.

02 April 2006

Writers on Writing and Their Faith

Eerdmans will publish an interesting-sounding new book in June. Shouts and Whispers: Twenty-One Writers Speak about Their Writing and Their Faith is a collection of interviews; the featured authors include Jan Karon, Anne Lamott, Madeleine L'Engle, Thomas Lynch. The book is edited by Jennifer L. Holberg; it will be available in paperback. Via Religon BookLine.

01 April 2006

It's "Buy a Friend a Book" Week

Now that it's April, Debra Hamel reminds us that it's Buy a Friend a Book week. Any initiative that promotes either of those is a Good Thing, so now I just have to stop and think which book(s) I'll be buying. Via book-blog.com through Metaxu Café.