archives: 2006: jan
feb mar apr
may jun jul
aug sep oct
2005: jan feb
mar apr may
jun jul aug
sep oct nov
dec : 2004:
jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec : 2003:
jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec : 2002: jan
feb mar apr may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec : 2001:
may jun jul aug sep oct nov dec
what i read in: 2006 : 2005 : 2004 : 2003 : 2002 : 2001 : 2000 : 1999 : 1998 : 1997 : 1996
diglot (DY-glot) adjective: Bilingual.
noun : A bilingual book, person, etc.
1.30 FDR, Shirley Hazzard, & Barbara Tuchman
1.29 Thomas Paine, Edward Abbey, & Anton Chekhov
holus-bolus (HO-luhs BO-luhs) adverb
All at once.
[Apparently a reduplication of bolus (lump), or a rhyming compound based on the phrase whole bolus.]
niminy-piminy (NIM-uh-nee PIM-uh-nee) adjective
Affectedly delicate or refined.
[Origin uncertain; probably alteration of namby-pamby.]
1.26 Mary Mapes Dodge
riprap (RIP-rap) noun
1. A protective foundation, embankment, etc. made of loose chunks of stones placed together.
2. Material used for such a construction.
verb tr. To construct, or strengthen with, a riprap.
1.25 Virginia Woolf
hubble-bubble (HUB-buhl-BUB-buhl) noun
1. A form of hookah: a smoking device
in which the smoke is passed
2. Commotion, uproar, turmoil.
[Reduplication of the word bubble.]
1.24 Edith Wharton
airy-fairy (AIR-ee FAIR-ee) adjective: 1. Light, delicate, fragile.
2. Fanciful, impractical, unrealistic.
Lord Tennyson's 1830 poem Lilian whose opening lines are:
habiliment \huh-BILL-uh-munt\ noun
: characteristic apparatus : trappings
saturine \SAT-er-nyne\adjective 1 : born under or influenced astrologically by the planet Saturn
2 a : cold and steady in mood : slow to act or change *b : of a gloomy or surly disposition c : having a sardonic aspect
1.20 Julia Morgan, Robert Olen Butler, & Joy Adamson
diriment (DIR-uh-ment) adjective: Nullifying.
1.19 Patricia Highsmith, Edgar Allen Poe, & Janis Joplin
1.18 Peter Mark Roget & A.A. Milne
1.17 Anne Bronte
1.16 Robert W. Service & Susan Sontag
emprise \em-PRYZE\ noun: an adventurous, daring, or chivalric enterprise
1.15 Victor Hugo & Moliere
efficacious \ef-uh-KAY-shus\ adjective: having the power to produce a desired effect
1.14 Mary Robinson, Anchee Min, Maureen Dowd, & John Dos Passos
1.13 Lorrie Moore
1.12 Jack London
serendipity \seh-run-DIP-uh-tee\ noun : the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also : an instance of this
1.11 William James
earwig \EER-wig\ verb : to annoy or attempt to influence by private talk
doughty \DOW-tee ("OW" as in "cow")\ adjective
: marked by fearless resolution : valiant
1.9 Simone de Beauvoir
1.8 David Bowie
claque \KLAK\ noun
1 : a
group hired to applaud at a performance
1.7.1896 Fannie Farmer cookbook debuted
couloir \kool-WAHR\ noun : a steep mountainside gorge
1.6 St. Joan of Arc
chaparral (shap-uh-RAL, chap-) noun
A dense, often impenetrable, growth of shrubs and thorny bushes.
[From Spanish chaparral, from chaparro (dwarf evergreen oak), from Basque txapar (thicket).]
skookum (SKOO-kuhm) adjective
Powerful; first-rate; impressive.
[From Chinook Jargon, from a Chehalis word meaning spirit or ghost.]
1.2 Mo Hayder
soigne \swahn-YAY\ adjective
*1 : dressed with great care and elegance : well-groomed, sleek
2 : elegantly maintained or designed
January 31, 2005
I can get behind personal fabrication. MIT gives ordinary people the opportunity to fabricate anything they dream of. I want a fab lab. "The idea is that they can be empowering, especially in rural, developing communities, by giving people the ability to design and create the tools they want or need to solve local problems." This doesn't sound so different from what my grandfather did all the time. He deigned and built his own ladders and outbuildings, among other things, and modified his tools. All without a fancy fab lab.
Finished Betrayal of work. It was filled with statistics, but still readable. And the author's suggestions for making policy changes that would help the working poor were moderate and well-thought, but were shy of where I think things need to go. She wants part-time employees covered under a company's health care benefits. I want socialized medicine or universal coverage, whatever it's called.
Call of the mall was much lighter reading than I imagined it would be. I hoped the book explored the psychology of shopping, but that's probably what Underhill's previous book covered. In this one, Underhill, a retail anthropologist (a provocative job title) takes the reader on a trip to the mall and describes the hows and whys of architecture, traffic patterns inside the mall, product placement, retail aesthetics, etc. While I learned new bits of knowledge, it wasn't quite what I wanted. I hoped for something more subversive and it could be that Underhill couldn't give away all of his secrets, and that's why the book felt lukewarm to me. However, it was illuminating. Underhill and his worker bees study footage of shoppers as they maneuver about stores. They're able to discern patterns of behavior and predict the shopper's next move. So yes, it it subversive in the wrong way: Corporations use this information to manipulate its customers.
I've not started anything new, but bought three new books this weekend. One is mostly for browsing, though it does have text: Handbags: The power of the purse by Anna Johnson. I was drawn to it. I love bags and purses, and this undersized, yet thick book boasts hundreds of photos of vintage and contemporary handbags. Inventing beauty: A history of innovations that have made us beautiful intrigued me; I couldn't put it down. The section on bras fascinated me. After looking through the first third of I had to have it. I appreciate the designer/author's aesthetic and knew that the projects inside Childhood treasures: handmade gifts for babies and children. My god-son arrives in April and I'm running out of time to make things for him. This book promises lovely projects.
Last night I treated myself by starting The betrayal of work: How low-wage jobs fail 30 million Americans. I stayed up two hours past my bedtime to almost complete it. It's chock-full of statistics and in some chapters almost every sentence is footnoted.For most of the book, Shulman provides statistics and information taken from interviews with the working poor to back up her argument that the working poor are most Americans and not those who come to mind when we speak of workers whose wages are below poverty level. From her introduction I understand that she offers a solution to this problem in her conclusion. That's what I look forward to. There were several statistics and passages that struck me, but alas, I can't refer to the book at this moment for those phrases.
At lunch I turned my attention to something more "frivolous," The classic ten: The true story of the little black dress and nine other fashion favorites. The first chapter is about the LBD. Smith's writing is energetic and the information she conveys is interesting and pertinent. However, I noticed that she focuses on western fashion history. In her discussion of the LBD, she charts the history of black clothing in general, noting its relationship with mourning, but doesn't mention the Asian tradition of using black as a wedding color and white as a mourning color. Perhaps that information was too much outside the scope of her topic. The second chapter discusses the origins of the suit which I find a bit boring as a topic since I own one suit and have worn it thrice in ten years.
January 26, 2005
Rising star of young adult fiction discovered in Random House mailroom. What does it take to be a hot novelist in the YA genre and earn a five-figure deal? "the first few chapters of Hand of the Devil. It was bold and bloody, and Ms Sheppard knew immediately the company had a genius in its midst."
Andrea Levy's Small island won the Whitbread. And, who knew that the best selling book in London is the London A-Z? Still more in Brit Lit; I've saved the best for last. Hugh Grant's interview in which he describes the trials of being a literary judge.
It didn't surprise me that the MacArthur Award fails in its mission. A story at Chicago Business tells how the John T. MacArthur and Catherine T. MacArthur--you know their philanthropic deeds; they're all over public radio--Award of $500,000 to a writer is supposed to allow them to produce their best work. It turns out that by the time a write gets a Mac Award, they've already written their best work. The study shows that "88% of the MacArthur recipients wrote their greatest works before being recognized by the Chicago-based foundation" and "The sheer number of books produced by the writers declined, too, after their MacArthur awards." Actually, it comes down to this: "Writers are mostly chosen too late in their careers, average age 48, and well after the literary establishment has recognized them for excellence."
The list of books I bought in Boston last week:
Midnight disease: The drive to write, writer's block, and the creative brain ; Singular women: Writing the artist ; Women artists in the 20th and 21st century ; Tips for vintage style ; A guide to elegance ; The classic ten: The true story of the little black dress and nine other fashion favorites ; All Maine cooking ; and Man who ate everything: And other gastronomic feats, disputes, and pleasurable pursuits.
Other books that arrived in the mail while I was out of town:
Lots of books to read. Soon I shall have slightly interesting things to write about each of them.
And the Telegraph's ode to the London Library warms the hearts of all library fans. Book review sell books. Isn't that a given? A NYT article tells how Professor Gronas analyzed the reviews at Amazon to "study how tastes inform what people read." Obscure German book lands St. Louis, Mo. bookseller in trouble. It seems the book was stolen and now Rod Shene may not collect the $596,100 profit due him because the German government wants the book back.The Rocky Mountain News give the inside scoop on what living with a writer is like.
Then, there's an article at the Dallas News about the porn trend in publishing. Porn has long been a multibillion-dollar industry – in its Internet and direct-to-DVD ghetto. But rarely has "aboveground" publishing been so saturated with sex. If you want to read the article use this sign in: email@example.com and 123456. It works. At least for now.
On the plane to Cincinnati, which then took me to Boston last week, I started Can she bake a cherry pie?: American women and the kitchen in the twentieth century.[What I meant to put here was Eat my words: reading women's lives through the cookbooks they wrote by Janet Theophano. I read the former several weeks ago.] It was not light enough for air travel reading. I got through the first few pages, and picked it up again at the Cincinnati airport I tried to read more of it during my two-hour layover, but a friendly woman kept talking to me. She worked for Mary Kay, and gave me her card.
While in Boston I visited the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum. The space was divine and I ached to have it all to myself. Her courtyard is one of the most magical spaces I've sat on the edge of. To prolong my stay, I bought Mrs. Jack: A biography of Isabella Stewart Gardner and trotted back to the courtyard where I sat a read the first chapter or two of the book .I couldn't get comfortable because i was afraid I would inadvertently crush an orchid that was pressing against my leg. I've been reading this book on and off all week, and am probably a third of the way through it. While it's the best IBG biography out there, it is a bit dry in spots. I'm not up to the point where she builds the museum, for that is what most intrigues me.
As for other books I bought in Boston... I have yet to compile the list. However, I visited a lovely use book shop called Commonwealth Books, the one downtown. I happened upon it on my all-day walk of the city and could not NOT go inside. The bookseller was helpful. I found two books there that I bought. One was an old book of recipes from Maine, and the other was a fairly best-selling food essay book, but I can't recall the title now. The bookseller suggested that I visit the other store on Commonwealth, for their food section is larger than the downtown store's. Alas, when I walked there one evening after dinner, the store was closed. Then later in the week, I decided that I didn't need to buy more books, and that is a terrible thing. It was a good decision in the end, for while checking my bag at the airport, I was forced to lighten it by ten pounds. I pulled out all the books I'd stuffed in my luggage and transferred them to my carry on. My plan to pass along the heavy book toting to the airport's baggage handlers was foiled!
I started Cherokee women: Gender and culture change, 1700-1865 by Theda Perdue, something that I've previously read, but am rereading for a class.
Shakespeare in the news. Or rather, a new book about how Will became Will.
University of Chicago has a student-run sex magazine, Vita Excolatur, too.
The new Anna Wintour biography looks saucy.
Can she bake a cherry pie? American women in the kitchen in the twentieth century was excellent. Each chapter dealt with a different decade in American food and kitchen technology. The author, a librarian, covers the trends of each decade like the return to the kitchen during the cold war wherein women were charged with the responsibility of keeping their families well-nourished. She credits the 1963 loosening of immigration rules for bringing more variety, ahem, more spice, to American cuisine which up until then stressed assimilation. Ethnic cooks employed by middle and upper class households learned to cook "American," often learning the language as well by consulting bi-lingual cookbooks published expressly for that purpose. I learned a lot and was refreshed in several areas. It's historically rich and her sentences are peppered with dates, so that the reader learns when bouillon cubes, jello, cake mixes, etc. were introduced to the market. She covers a few appliances as well. Gas stoves and refrigerators are the first and towards the end she writes about the food processor. It's an excellent introduction to the history of women in the kitchen. A book I read a few months ago, Something from the oven: Reinventing dinner in 1950s America, went more into depth about particular cookbook authors and their effect upon women and cooking. Between the two, I have an informed picture of American food in the twentieth century. I can't wait for more, so I'll probably start Eat my words: Reading women's lives through the cookbooks they wrote next.
William James, whose birthday it is today, created the notion of "stream of consciousness." Additionally, he helped establish automatic writing as a form of elf-analysis [should be self-analysis, but the former sounds better]. Gertrude Stein used that as the basis for her writing style.
Bibliotherapy ascends new heights. GPs in Devon prescribe books for depressed patients. According to an article at the Guardian, they're "packing people off to the library with prescriptions for self-help books."
One of many Great Publishing Adventures chronicled in the Chronicle. Two professors write about their "sentimental education in the ways of publishing." Great tips for guerrilla marketing like having their friends mention the book in other reviews they wrote at amazon and moving their six books from the bottom of the shelf at B&N to the New & Noteworthy section, with a little help from their mothers.
Christopher Allen Waldrop contemplates the future of libraries at MobyLives. It's that google thing again. And while Waldrop doesn't say anything that I haven't already heard, it still makes for interesting reading for librarians.
I'm a few chapters into Can she bake a cherry pie: American women in the kitchen in the twentieth century. Other than saying that it's quite good, I'm at a loss this moment. Basically, it discusses the history of women in the kitchen. Early chapters were about the difficulties of cooking over a fire, or with a wood stove that constantly needed stoking. Now we're moving into the Fannie Farmer era, of scientific management, or "home economics, wherein scientific principles were applied to women's work in the kitchen to make them more efficient. Exciting technology like refrigerators and gas stoves enter the picture as well.
Margaret Atwood has tired of signing her books while touring and promoting them. She invented a book-signing machine. It works because "an electronically steered pen reproduces the dedication precisely as originally inscribed."
Just as I'm about to go to Boston, a story breaks about porn magazines being published there. A BU senior's first issue of the sex magazine Boink comes out in February.
Otherwise I read nothing, really. Decided to skip the Julia Child bio for now, as it is a tome and a half. And, the other food history book, Perfection salad: Women and cooking at the turn of the century wasn't whetting my whistle. I'll return to both later, but I'm in one of those strange reading moods where I cannot find anything to spur my interest.
However, I purchased books and magazines this weekend. I found that my Frommer's Irreverent guide to Boston was incomplete. Normally, I consult these books first and supplement with the National Geographic guide to the city as well. The dearth of historic homes listed in Irreverent bothered me. I decided to be unpredictable and bought an Access Boston in hopes that it will not lead me astray. The O. Henry Prize Stories 2005 shall serve me well while in transit and be something that I can dip into at will should long commutes occur. Also bought Seek the living and Case Histories.
2004 Best Music Scribing Awards by Jason Gross gives a state of the industry report on music journalism and links to the awards.
Tick tock, time is running out for public libraries and possibly literature as well according to David Kipen's story in the San Francisco Chronicle. Budget cuts closed the Salinas Public Library rendering the community library-less and forcing librarians to find work elsewhere. More than $80 million has been cut from public library budgets in the past year alone. A story in the Boston Globe characterizes ALA's Midwinter meeting as "a storied team with more than 64,000 members and millions of loyal fans will gather in Boston to try to lift a 'curse' that has been haunting them for decades."
Andrea Levy won the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award. The best part was that Hugh Grant served on the judging panel for the award.
OUP offers Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists, which fills a void by being "the first comprehensive history of African-American women artists, from slavery to the present day."
Kay S. Hymowitz reviews American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare which follows three women in Milwaukee who found alternate means of support when welfare ended It seems that many women on welfare always worked, but their wages fell below the poverty level and welfare supplemented their incomes.
I have the Routledge Dictionary of Latin Quotations: The Illiterati's Guide to Latin Maxims, Mottoes, Proverbs, and Sayings to review for LJ. This is a great departure from subject areas I regularly review in. For a few days, I was flummoxed. But now that I've considered the subtitle again, illiterati... that's me when it comes to Latin; I took French and German after I decided that a career in medicine was not in my future.
First California, now Montana. Why
of poet laureates? It doesn't pay. The Californian must have the
traits listed in
this article from the LA Times.
Though I haven't decided yet, it's likely that I'll start the Julia Child biography tonight. That, or Perfection salad: Women and cooking at the turn of the century.
What else? A question I've wondered about is answered. On television, why is it okay for men on sitcoms to be fat and ugly when it's not okay for women? You never see a fat woman paired with a hot guy, but every other comedy has an unaesthetic male lead paired with a hot young leading woman. Matt Feeney asks the same thing in a story posted yesterday at Slate. Feeney writes: "Since these pairings could not conceivably reflect the sexual or romantic desires of the female protagonists, they look a bit like arranged marriages." Is it a feminist issue or is it unfair to men to represent them as "lousy parents, marginal breadwinners, and repellant sexual partners?"
A quasi-book review/interview of/with The Polysyllabic Spree/Nick Hornby in LA Weekly. Funny, Hornby hadn't "seen anyone write about exactly what they’ve read, as opposed to what they’ve been paid to read" and that's how his column for the Believer originated. People get paid to read books?
Since I read A house in
Corfu: A family’s sojourn in Greece right after Extra
virgin, it is impossible not to compare them, even though one is
Not until I was
two-thirds of the way into My kitchen wars:
A memoir did food make a prominent appearance. I picked this up
because it was shelved in the 641.3092 shelf at the library, close by a
biography of Julia Child. The beginning was rough, as Fussell shares her
family’s genealogy, but after that brief bit of information, the rest
was like butter. Fussell writes about her childhood in
Library Journal enters the fray of compiling lists of best books. Topping the list of Books most Borrowed in U.S. Libraries are Patricia Cornwell, Sue Grafton, and Dan Brown.
There was more, but a technical foul-up erased that section of the entry and I cannot recall its content.