Lori's Book Nook

Archive for October 2006

Humans! We all seem to want something for nothing. Maybe because we’re programmed to expect our water and air to be free, and we’re still hardwired for the whole hunting and gathering days (not that that was really free…it was a lot of risky work for both tasks).

Anyway, very often, a person finding this blog is searching for a free online version of a book. Sometimes it’s a book that is out of copyright, and truly free. And sometime, it’s a book that people should know better about — some relatively new publication.

Hell, I’m guilty of it as well. I once had a copy of the 1996 essay by David R. Counts & Dorothy Ayers Counts on RVing — which they’ve since expanded into a book, Over the Next Hill: An Ethnography of RVing Seniors in North America. I went searching for the article online, hoping to find that someone had posted it for free…

No luck. Oh, it was out there, but at a cost.

I do some marketing on the side — and this is one thing that I recommend for anyone with a business website: Have something of real value on your website for free. People will come for the free stuff, and keep coming back for more. Good examples: Baen’ free books, and the Altoids mint flash game, which is pretty cool.

My hubby sent me a link today that he thought might interest me. It’s a post on James Sherrett’s blog, on his website for his book “Up in Ontario”.¬† The blog post in question is about Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, and other writing he’s done.

Now, as my loyal reader(s) will know, I’m reading Pollan’s book right now, with the crew at BookTalk.org — and it’s a very readable book.

What you may also know is that I’m currently producing a forum on food security — this book is so damned relevant that I’m going to get a bookstore in town to cross-promote his store with our event, and come to the event with a number of the books to sell.

But what you may not know is that James Sherrett was one of the first presenters at the Shebeen Club in its inaugural first few months (before it had its own name!) — a club that I helped found, and unfortunately, I am no longer close enough to go to every month.

Everything is connected.

Every once in awhile, there’s a truly new, beautiful thing on the Internet. Years ago, I was introduced to the Visual Thesaurus. I would go there periodically to just play, and watch the gorgeous flow of words. Now, you can type one word in, then ya gotta pay! Ah well, everyone needs to make a living. (Would I actually want my own copy on the desktop? Not sure. I have a thesaurus already. I think the visual beauty of the thing would distract me from its intended use…)

Now, the creator of Gnod, an experiment in AI, has a Literature-Map…type in an author, and see a map of his/her connections. Seems to be along the lines of ‘if you like X, you’ll like Y’. Seems to work. I checked out Orson Scott Card, and I like the authors closest to him.

B.O.O.K.

Posted on: October 20, 2006

We are amused.

From Laugh Break:

Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device, trade-named BOOK.

BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on.

It’s so easy to use, even a child can operate it. Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere, even sitting in an armchair by the fire, yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc.

Very cute. Follow the link for the whole piece. It’s worth it.

I want to stay at the Library Hotel.

Organized according to the Dewey Decimal System so each floor of the hotel has a different category, and each room a theme on that category. Stay in the Poetry room on the Literature floor (Room number 800.003, with one full-sized bed). Or try Room 1100.002, the Ethics room on the Philosophy floor, which has a queen-sized bed.

Cool.

In the 1800s, people used to sit and listen to much longer lectures than we have the patience for today…the one I’m reading now (in my trusty Harvard Classics), is one by John Ruskin, with the intriguing title above. It’s 42 pages long. (good number, really)

How long is that?

[pause]

I just timed myself reading, nay, emoting, a page, and it took me 2 minutes. Okay, so I lied. It’s an 80+ minute lecture. But it is definitely thicker than what we’re accustomed to today.

Here are some of the more delightful samples (courtesy of this site, which saved me from typing it all in myself!):

Practically, then, at present, “advancement in life” means, becoming conspicuous in life; – obtaining a position which shall be acknowledged by others to be respectable or honorable. We do not understand by this advancement in general, the mere making of money, but the being known to have made it; not the accomplishment of any great aim, but the being seen to have accomplished it. In a word, we mean the gratification of our thirst for applause. That thirst, if the last infirmity of noble minds, is also the first infirmity of weak ones; and, on the whole, the strongest impulsive influence of average humanity: the greatest efforts of the race have always been traceable to the love of praise, as its greatest catastrophes to the love of pleasure.

This brings to mind Alain de Botton’s book, Status Anxiety, which is on my ‘everyone must read’ list.

Another bit from Ruskin’s essay that I liked, more specifically about reading (the main theme of the lecture):

Very ready we are to say of a book, “How good this is – that`s exactly what I think!” But the right feeling is, “How strange that is! I never thought of that before, and yet I see it is true; or if I do not now, I hope I shall, some day.” But whether thus submissively or not, at least be sure that you go to the author to get at his meaning, not to find yours. Judge it afterwards, if you think yourself qualified to do so; but ascertain it first. And be sure also, if the author is worth anything, that you will not get at his meaning all at once; – nay, that at his whole meaning you will not for a long time arrive in any wise. Not that he does not say what he means, and in strong words too; but he cannot say it all; and what is more strange, will not, but in a hidden way and in parables, in order that he may be sure you want it. I cannot quite see the reason of this, nor analyze that cruel reticence in the breasts of wise men which makes them always hide their deeper thought. They do not give it to you by way of help, but of reward; and will make themselves sure that you deserve it before they allow you to reach it.

Seems a wise approach to any new book.

My other exposure to Ruskin is through one of his books on architecture, The Stones of Venice. That link is its Library Thing page, and the copy of the book I have is pictured on the sidebar, right at the bottom…the Folio Society version. So beautiful.

 

From Wikipedia:

The Harvard Classics, originally known as Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf, was a fifty one volume anthology of works selected by Charles W. Eliot. It was originally published in 1909. Dr. Eliot, then President of Harvard University, had stated in speeches that the elements of a liberal education could be obtained by spending fifteen minutes a day reading from a collection of books that could fit on a five-foot shelf.

Today, my local library was having another ‘Dirty Book Sale’, and on a table was a box of 17 Harvard Classics for $20. How could I resist? Even my husband was positive about it — for the Darwin. And the Cervantes. All of Dante (will I ever read it?). Plato, Homer…

17 of 51…a full third of the titles.

Do I have  20 inches to spare on a shelf?


Book Discussion Pages

Here on the Book Nook you can discuss: The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, as well as the next two books in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore and World of Wonders, and if that's not enough for you, see what's up on the forums at BookTalk.org!