Sunday, January 31, 2010

Daly Thoughts 1/30/2010

Papermaking by Hand

Daily Thoughts 1/30/2010

We've been asked to think about ways to reduce costs. One of the things which comes up in libraries is the amount of paper that resides in them. We have books, labels, bookmarks, fliers. posters, and a million different paper items in most libraries.

A reduction in the amount of paper we use could affect our spending. We get all kinds of things in the mail, everything from paper catalogs, to boxes, and other things. We make it a point to cut our excess paper into scrap as well as reuse single sided sheets of paper for printouts. I sometimes think we should buy our paper in bulk.

In my experience, librarians love paper. It is an extension of their love of books. Recently, we donated some of our deaccessioned books for a library in Kenya. I think we could do this more often. It would cut our garbage costs. It costs money to recycle material. Also, many community organizations take older computer equipment and refurbish it.

It is considered more politically correct to do this. There has been a big push by many politicians to be more energy efficient and green. Recycling, cutting back paper use, cutting down energy use, and similar things are very popular. In Westchester county, the Ossining branch was recently reopened as a major showcase for green technology.

Also, there has been a major monetary incentive to make buildings more green in the area, Westchester County has upgraded their efficiency recently in government buildings. Also, there has been a major grant for energy efficiency in the county.

Even simple actions like putting in compact fluorescent bulbs, replacing old appliances like microwaves and refrigerators with energy star appliances could make a small difference. I even think there are incentives by the state to do this.

This is a nice summary of the process of greening libraries.

There are some books which Publishers Weekly only reviews online. This is also true of Library Journal.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/30/2010

Caricature of Ben Hecht by fellow Chicago Daily News reporter Gene Markey, 1923

Daily Thoughts 1/30/2010

Calamity Jack By Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathaniel Hale.

Calamity Jack is a sequel to the graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge. In this story, Rapunzel returns to Jack's hometown from out west. Jack is a fairtyale trickster character, a combination of Jack from Jack in the Beanstalk and the classic western tall tale character, Calamity Jane.

The story is full of constant action. There is lots of fighting, trickery, and sneakiness in this story. There are giant ants, giants, giant pigeons, and many other critters. The setting is a kind of fairytale dreamland in the Victorian era. There is the giants castle, but it really is not quite a floating castle, but a sumptiously outfitted airship.

I liked the variety of creatures in the tale. There is the guard jabberwocky, and the guard bandersnatch. Also there are pixies, brownies, pig people, dwarves, the goose that laid the golden egg, and other creatures in an ornate victorian setting.

The story is drawn in full color with lots of ornate detail. It is a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk where the giants are extorting protection money and goods from Jack's mother and the local city. There is a wonderfully done picture of the beanstalk with Jack chopping it down.

I think the story can be read by pretty much anybody. We have copies of Rapunzel's Revenge in both the childrens and the young adult section. I read it three times. It is quite captivating. Shannon Hale won the Newberry Honor award for her book Princess Academy.

Star Trek Mirror Universe, The Sorrows of Empire by David Mack

This is a novel of the Mirror Universe where there is no federation, but instead a dark empire run by humanity. Spock is Faustian, touched by a brief encounter with Captain Kirk from the other universe and seeing hope for a federation in his own universe, he sets out to change things.

This is Spock as a calculating villain. He murders the crew of the enterprise, assumes command of the enterprise, and systematically rises through the ranks to seize the empire. It is a very much the ends justifies the means type story. Brutal, cold, calculating, and intriguing.

Spock must not only face the Romulans and the Klingons, but also the empress of earth and the machinations of an evil empire. I like Spock as a villain. This book has a machiavellian quality to it. The way he attempts to reach good ends, a free society, are utterly wicked.

A different take on Star Trek. Quite refreshing.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/29/2010

There is nothing like a Good B... Digital ID: 70344. New York Public Library

There is nothing like a good book. Life Cartoons 1905.

Daily thoughts 1/29/2010

A very nice review of the Apple Ipad. It looks promising. I am not an early adopter. Maybe in a while the price will go down.

I walked up to my local library and picked up two paperbacks. I am attempting to read Ender In Exile by Orson Scott Card, but for some reason, I just cannot get into it. I know it will be a book that many other people will love to read. I have read the first thirty pages, but find myself wanting to read something else. It is on the Locus Paperback Bestseller list. It is well written, but I think I will probably read the other book instead. I will probably purchase the book for our library. The other book which I picked up is Star Trek Mirror Mirror Universe The Sorrows of Empire by David Mack. Hopefully, it will be entertaining.

The book is rather enjoyable. Over a period of many years, Spock seizes control of the evil empire. It is a story of intrigue, murder, and power in alternate Star Trek universe. Right now, in my reading Spock has become emperor. He is affected by his vision of an alternate Kirk. David Mack is the author. The book is different from most of the other Star Trek novels in that it is on a grand scale over a long period of time. Also, the members of the Starship Enterprise are all villains which is rather refreshing.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Finch by Jeff Vandermeer

Finch by Jeff Vandermeer

Finch is the third book in a trilogy. The reader does not have to read the trilogy to understand the story. Each book stands alone. The books in the series are all avant garde in their writing style. Each book does make references to the other books in the series.

In this book Ambergris, also called the City of Saints and Madmen from an earlier title in the series has been taken over by the gray caps, a strange mushroom people. The city is rotting, covered with fungus, spores, and mushrooms. Even some of the people in the story have become infested with mushrooms and spores.

Detective Finch must find out why a gray cap and a human have been murdered in the same room together. This is during an ongoing civil war. The story tries to be a mystery, a spy story, and a dark urban fantasy all at the same time. It can be confusing at times, but the author manages to pull it all together successfully.

As you read, the novel becomes stranger, slightly more mind bending, and sinister with each page. It is a descent into an otherworldly place where loyalty and trust are not always clear. Characters are not who they seem to be, even the detective is someone else in the end.

Daily Thoughts 1/28/2010

Jove decadent - Ramon Casas, 1899

Daily Thoughts 1/28/2010

I had a chance to read Calamity Jack
by Shannon Hall and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale. It is a fractured fairytale set in a steam age west. There is a lot of action. The main character, Calamity Jack, is a kind of a cross between Calamity Jane and Jack from Jack in the Beanstalk. This is the next book which follows the earlier graphic novel, Rapunzel's Revenge. I found the book quite amusing. I think most people who older than ten will like it. I am still pondering the book and will write a deeper review later. I have read it twice already.

Today, I did not do much other than relax.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/27/2010

Edward Blair Leighton, Old Times, 1877. From Wikimedia.

Daily Thoughts 1/27/2010

Just so you know, that I do take recommendations for purchasing from blogs. I took a lot at The View From Here Magazine and saw two titles that I think are worth getting, Sebastian Falks, A Week In December, and Alexander McCall Smith, Corduroy Mansions. I also liked the review for 400 Sensational Cookies by Linda J. Amendt on Library Drone.

This morning, I read more of Finch by Jeff Vandermeer on the train. It gets much better as you read deeper into the novel.

I rather like this article from Library Journal online. It is about the best practices for improving circulation. I agree with all of them.

I have to do a presentation tonight for a Business Planning workshop on some of the resources we have. We have been ordering a lot of small business resource books lately. Books on incorporation, music law, startups, hiring your first employee, and other material. We also recently subscribed to two business databases; Hoovers which is excellent for company information and Reference USA which allows people to build lists of companies by SIC Code, zipcode, executives, and similar material. It is often used for marketing research. I think I am ready.

I think I did alright. I got a few questions at the end about the different resources which is a good sign. People were especially interested in the Westchester County Databook, and The Largest Employees in Westchester County as well as the Hoovers database.

Web Bits

The largest book in the world, The Kleincke Atlas is being displayed for the first time. I rather like the picture that goes with the article.

While reading through the internet, I found out that an early edition of Lao Tzu was unearthed in 1993 written on bamboo sticks. The idea fascinates me. It apparently is the earliest known edition. It was translated in 2000 at Columbia University. It looks like something that I want to read.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/26/2010

"Our Three-Volume Novel at a Glance", a cartoon by Priestman Atkinson, from the Punch Almanack for 1885 (which would have been published in late 1884). This is a jocular look at some clichéd expressions which were overused in the popular literature of the time. It contains absurd literalistic interpretations of a number of conventional metaphors, accompanied by some outrageous visual puns. In the nineteenth century, popular novels often appeared in three-volume editions when first published, in order to allow three customers of commercial "circulating libraries" to be reading parts of the book simultaneously. I've abridged the second and third "volumes" of the cartoon in this scan. From Wikimedia.

Daily Thoughts 1/26/2010

This morning, I took some time to look at Microsoft Word 2007 Quicksteps on the train so I could familiarize myself with the new version of Word which we have on the public computers. Another day, I'll probably sit down and check the program some more.

I also read some more of The Medieval Craft of Memory. It makes me think how much we take certain things for granted. For example we have a specific numerical order to the alphabet which we are taught as children, we are also taught to associate each letter of the alphabet with a specific picture like a for apple.

We also use sequential numbers for street addresses. This makes it easier for people to find and remember where an address is. We create to do lists in sequential order to get things done. Many of these are techniques to make us remember. Right now, I am reading the section called The Art of Memory by Jacobus Publicius. This section unlike the others is not focused on religion. It has a more general approach.

I think this is a book which is very interesting, but is not likely to be reviewed in the popular journals. One of my colleagues has asked to read it after I am done. It is the kind of book which is very hard to review. The content is quite philosophical in nature. I am not sure I could give full justice to some of the content. Much of the content is on how to memorize large portions of the bible. There are some very striking images on how to memorize the parts of the gospels. There are supposed to be three steps in memory, first the memorization of poetry, then memorization for oratory, then memorization for the law and religion.

Most of the content was translated from latin. It is very hard to find similar material. It also opens people to a very different view of the world. This material was written for practical use by teachers, priests, academics, and intellectuals during the middle ages. This makes the book a very specialized subject. Some of it still has relevance for our time.

I picked out some graphic novels for the graphic novels club this afternoon. I also chose some books on Thailand to go out to the book mobile. This morning, I had a chance to read through the latest New York Times Book Reviews as well as Publishers Weekly.

I planned on doing the graphic novels club for teenagers and adults. I had one of those unexpected things happen. A lot of the ten to fourteen year olds ran in to look at the graphic novels. I made some adjustments in my selections of graphic novels. The tweens. They mainly came in for soda. They took out a number of them, including a few dvds. X-men was the favorite comic. One of the dvds was Max Fleischer's Popeye. Also, Baby Mouse was popular as well as some of the shojo-- ladies manga. There were a number of girls who wanted more girl superheros. I'll have to look for more comics with lady superheros.

I started reading Jeff Vandermeer, Finch. This feels like a very experimental novel. Jeff Vandermeer has been building a fairly strong author website. His blog announces the promotion of his wife, Ann Vandermeer to Editor in Chief of Weird Tales. . I find this rather interesting. It reminds me a bit of the marriage of C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner who both wrote fantasy novels.

The novel Finch is published by Underland Press, . This is a relatively new press. It has a brand new set of authors, many of which I am first seeing. I found the opening dialog to be quite different in style than many books I have read. I think the book has quite a bit of experimental content in it. I think some people may like it. It is a mix of urban fantasy, weird tale, and detective story with a bit of psychedelia thrown in to make it stranger.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/25/2010

Stadtbibliothek Essen, German Public Library Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Germany Photo Taken March 2004 by Baikonur. It has a nice modern feel to it.

Daily Thoughts 1/25/2010

Today has been a nice quiet day. I put in an order for supplies. I also made sure the displays were in order. We are showing a movie this afternoon for the graphic novels club. We have a blanket license to show films from a number of studios which we pay for each year for our library.

I also requested days for different conferences I plant to attend. Hopefully, it will turn out right.

We are having our second graphic novel club meeting. I am going to try and pick out different graphic novels from each age level. We keep Baby Mouse and some of the more innocuous Superman and Batman comics in the childrens room. There are also some fairytale graphic novels like a version of Sundiata Lion King of Mali by Will Eisner.

We also separate the young adult graphic novels and manga from the graphic novels and manga in the adult section. For example we have Inu-Yasha, Spiderman, X-men, Naruto, Maus which is a high shool assignment, Barefoot Gen and a number of teen titles in the young adult section.

There are some more adult titles like Alan Moore's Watchmen, Black Jack by Osamu Tezuka, American Splendor by Harvey Pekar, or Fun Home by Alison Bechdel which we keep in the adult section. We try and separate graphic novels by age categories. This makes it both easier to manage and more appropriate. Throwing all graphic novels in the young adult section is not a good idea.

Not all of the graphic novels end up in the graphic novels section. Robert Crumb did a book called R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz, and Country which is in the music section, he also illustrated a biography of Kafka. Larry Gonick's The Cartoon Guide to Physics is in the physics section.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/24/2010

Ashurbanipal was the last great king of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. He built the first sytematically collected library called The Royal Library of Ashurbanipal. The contents were over 20,000 cuneiform tablets in the 7th century bc. From Wikipedia.

Daily Thoughts 1/24/2010

Barron's books has created a new test preparation division. If you are a public library, this is very good news. We order a lot of test preparation books for jobs and schools. This will make our ordering process a little easier.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/23/2010

Portrait of a man with a Book. // York Art Gallery Parmigianino, 16th Century, from Wikimedia

Daily Thoughts 1/23/2010

So far my favorite section in The Medieval Craft of Memory is by Thomas Bradwardine, On Acquiring A Trained Memory. He describes some very interesting ideas. Place is viewed as a kind of wax tablet where people can store memories. Bradwardine suggests that it is easy to use small quiet rectangular spaces to store memories; a small garden and a study are two examples. He also suggests that memories be stored in sequence, using three, five, or seven objects at a time. There is a differentiation between images and words.

The text of The Medieval Craft of Memory consists of a variety of different articles by various medieval scholars. Many of them are just becoming available in english. Most were originally in latin.

New York Comic Con offers free professional passes for librarians and educators on Friday October 8, 2010.

Today has been a nice quiet day to relax.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/22/2010

Library of Wat Tung Sri Muang, Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand library; picture taken by User:Markalexander100, Gnu Free Documentation License (GFDL) I found the image interesting. It was on Wikipedia. I think the license is correct.

Daily Thoughts 1/22/2010

I have been planning what conferences I intend to go to during the next six months or so. I have a list of things which I hope to attend.

FASTforward Enterprise Search Strategy Summit: Reflecting User Thinking - Controlling Business Outcomes, March 11, 2010, New York (By Invitation) -- This is by Microsoft

Web 2.0, Social Networking and Libraries Conference 2010, March 16, 2010. This conference is presented by ILIAC which is an international association of librarians. There usually are a number of Russian librarians attending.

Westchester Library Association Conference, May 7, 2010, The conference for Westchester County, New York Libraries,

New York Is Book Country, Sunday, May 16, 2010 This is a book festival done in New York. They are restarting this year.

Book Expo America May 25-27, 2010 Jacob Javits Center, This is the largest publishing and bookseller trade fair in the United States.

Book Blogger Convention, May 28, 2010 This should be an interesting convention of book blogs. Many are going to be at Book Expo America as well.

Web Bits

I was looking around the web and found the site for the Westchester Journal News books section. It lists a lot of events with local authors.

I read James Mankelow's book, Manage Stress. I am not sure that I want to recommend it. It is the kind of book that is a long series of self revelatory exercises. You will get exactly what you put into it out of it. There are dozens of self reflective checklists, questionnaires, charts, and other tools.

If you like to question yourself and what you think, you might like the book. It is perfectly in line with his website, Mindtools. This site is basically a skill building site focused on mental tools; speed reading, filing, goal setting, memorization, time management, mind mapping, brainstorming, leadership skills and other career oriented mental tasks.

Terminator Salvation, Cold War by Greg Cox

Right now, I am reading Terminator Salvation, Cold War by Greg Cox. He writes series books having written for Alien, C.S.I., DC Comics, Ironman, Star Trek, Superman, Underworld, and now Terminator. I remember the first book which I remember him editing was Tomorrow Sucks, an anthology of vampire science fiction. It was pretty silly. The book is no longer in print. It was printed in 1994.

He certainly seems to have gotten formula writing down pat. I didn't even know there was an International Association of Media Tie In Writers until I looked at his website. The author list is kind of interesting, This makes him a working writer. This is his list of publications. Basically entertaining, a bit silly, and fun.

This book occurs just before the movie, Terminator Salvation. This is the third movie in Terminator series. It is part that setting. There are a whole new series of books in that setting done by Titan Books. They appear decent starting line up of writers; Alan Dean Foster, Timothy Zahn, and Greg Cox all have a solid track record writing science fiction.

There is a certain appeal to series books. They are predictable and the good guys always win. The bad guys never disappear of course. That is the strength of these kinds of books.

Terminator Salvation, Cold War, is the story of the beginning of Skynet. The artificial intelligence, Skynet launches nuclear missiles in the beginning of the story. Then the machines start attempting to kill all of humanity. I rather like that in the beginning people are not sure who started nuclear war.

The nuclear launch is during 2003, so it is definitely an alternate history setting. The story jumps between 2003 and 2018. This adds to the setting of not being quite the same as our time.

John Connor is not that prominent in this story. The heros of the story are Molly Kookesh an Alaskan survivor, and a Russian submariner named Lusenko. The machines are the ultimate enemy so we can look at most people as heros.

What surprised me is that at the end of the book, there is a brief bibliography of nonfiction works that the author used to write the book. It includes Tom Clancy with John Gresham Submarine: A Guided Tour Inside A Nuclear Submarine. Tom Clancy wrote a whole series of nonfiction books on the military.

The writing is solid, smoothly written and easy to read. It shows a practical workman like craft which makes for a good story. I like to occassionally read series.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/21/2010

Portrait of Charlotte Brontë, 1873, Painted by Evert A. Duyckinck, based on a drawing by George Richmond

Daily Thoughts 1/21/2010

I am rather partial to this site because it includes a number of sites which I like including The View From Here. It has aggregated a number of interesting resources.

I read Post Secret Confessions of Life, Death and God. This book is a collection of postcards sent in to Rick Warren anonymously with short confessions on them. He has collected millions of these confessions.

This particular book focuses on anonymous thoughts about god, life, atheism, death, and similar topics. The thoughts can be quite poignant, disturbing, or interesting. It is an entertaining thing to look at some of them. They can be on fairly mature content.

Rick Warren runs a website . Some of the proceeds go to suicide prevention.

On a more practical level, I have a copy of Microsoft Office Word 2007 Quicksteps which I plan on reading. We have 2003 at work, but I think I might need to update my skills with Word 2007 because we may be getting updated eventually. The Quicksteps series is heavily illustrated. It uses lots of screen captures so the instructions match closely to what happens in the actual program. Another series of computer books that I like is Teach Yourself Visually which also uses lots of visuals to teach basic computer skills.

I also had a chance to read some more of The Medieval Art of Memory. The main focus I am interested in is the ideas. I especially like the descriptions of how Hugh St. Victor used complex imagery to create a complete model of Noah's Ark in his mind so he could remember every aspect of the Catholic church. He describes how in order to remember things better, it is important to use strong emotions and images with a memory. For example, if you were to remember a death, you might try to add a bitter taste and sadness as part of the memory. There is also an admonition to repeat what you are supposed to remember. Part of this focus on memory is that in the medieval church, it was a sin to forget.

I got an invite to FASTforward Enterprise Search Strategy Summit: Reflecting User Thinking - Controlling Business Outcomes in Manhattan on March 9. I hope it is interesting. As long as the coffee is warm and the people are interesting, why not.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/20/2010

Guidonian hand from a manuscript from Mantua, last quarter of 15th century (Oxford University MS Canon. Liturg. 216. f.168 brecto) (Bodleian Library). This is a method using the hand to remember musical notation. There is a chapter in The Medieval Craft of Memory An Anthology of Texts and Pictures on this.

Daily Thoughts 1/20/2010

Sometimes, I think that book pagination is a memory device. There are three main methods of memory number, place, and time. This is why the bible is divided first by number, then heading, and then sequential location inside the bible. Biblical citations are a form of memory device so the bible can be memorized. I am reading about this in The Medieval Craft of Memory. It may also be why books are numbered, chaptered, and dated.

Robert B. Parker died on January 19, 2010 at age 77. He was very important in reviving the mystery genre. He wrote many novels. I am doing a display of some of his books.

While reading through Publishers Weekly, I found a rather interesting looking title; Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran. There are supposed to be two new Hercule Poirot short stories. It is coming out on March 1, 2010.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/19/2010

Nurse Reading to a Little Girl, 1895, Mary Cassatt

Daily Thoughts 1/19/2010

Today has been very steady. I checked the displays to make sure they were up to date. I also did some weeding in the literary criticism section. A whole set of books from the bindery have come in. It is nice to see the rebound books.

I have read Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood. This book is hard to write about. It is an excellent book. The setting is the same as Oryx and Crake an earlier novel. The setting is very ironic and different.

I can see many things which are currently happening that could lead to the dystopian setting. The increasing reliance on private security guards, the melding of government with private business, and the increasing separation of the rich from the poor make this book prophetic in an ironic way.

The predictions for the future can be very darkly funny. There is the CorpSeCorps which is the replacement for the police which is completely corrupt. Corporations are warring with each other and trying to poison consumers. I especially like the names for the corporations like Anooyoo.

The main characters are part of an ecological religious cult, Gods Gardeners which combines green thinking with christianity. The saints are kind of ironic; Saint Peter Matthiesen and Saint Rachel Carson are two of them. There are a number of hymns and poems written throughout the book. Margaret Atwood even sells some of them at her site for the book . She even went vegetarian for her book tour. The songs are ironic, funny, and touching.

Many of the characters are hiding out waiting for the end which is "The Waterless Flood", a plague which may wipe out most humanity. While this is happening we read about social and moral breakdown of society. With this breakdown is an increasing proliferation of escaped hybrid genetic animals; mohair sheep, intelligent pigs with human brains, glow in the dark rabbits, bobkittens, and other strangeness. This is one of my favorite things about the book.

Parts of the book are hard to understand because she is often writing about human irrationality and religious feeling. It shows peoples quirks, fears, and unpredictableness. We wonder why some of the characters do what they do.

The villains are villains not because of who they are but because of how society has treated them. They have been twisted or manipulated into being terrible. This is especially true of the savage painballers.

This is a unique, interesting and different book. I enjoyed reading it even though I didn't quite get it at points.

I spent some time this afternoon reading Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Then I did some book orders.

I put two books on hold, The God Engines by John Scalzi which is fantasy and The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith by John Schenker. Patricia Highsmith wrote a number of mystery novels and did a brief stint as a comic book writer.

I read some of The Medieval Art of Memory An Anthology of Texts and Pictures Edited by Mary Carruthers and Jan M. Ziolkowski. This is a book on medieval memory techniques. Most are monastic in nature. There are different methods to memorize by rote, concept, and place. Many of these techniques draw from Aristotle and his treatise on memory and Simonides who created the method of Eidos. I find reading about these techniques very meditative. The text contains works by Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus, and Hugo St. Victor.

I find reading about ways to improve memory helps me do three things; improve my ability to handle information overload, concentrate better, and have more focused attention. Information overload is often considered to be a failure of short term memory. The ability to remember better helps put some limits on the process. Much like speed reading teaches you to scan selectively on what you are going to use and remember, the art of memory helps you organize how you will remember things.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Alison Hoover Bartlett.

This is the story of John Charles Gilkey a man who repeatedly goes to jail for stealing antiquarian books. It is a story of obsession and moral flexibility. Mr. Gilkey loves books to the point where he wants to build a giant collection of them. He believes this will give him prestige and make him into a gentleman of leisure. It is very much in line with him talking about how collected the comic book Richie Rich when he was a child. Gilkey's self delusion is easy to spot.

The story is one which weaves through the antiquarian book world. It follows John Gilkey as he goes in and out of prisons for stealing classics. The methods of the book thief are described in detail, everything from stolen credit card numbers, ebay transactions, wet yarn, and conning people out of their beloved property.

We travel through the world of the antiquarian book fairs and stores mostly in California and New York. John Gilkey's nemesis is Ken Sanders who maintains a database of stolen books from various antiquarian dealers. He has the nickname "bibliodick" for his attempts to hunt down book thieves. The world of antiquarian book dealers is one of extreme love for old books. For some, it is more important to have books in their stores than sell them. There is a word for the most extreme kind of book love, bibliomania.

This book is entertaining. It is a story of out of control compulsions. Gilkey is so obsessed with books that he is often more knowledgable than many of the dealers he steals from.

Threaded throughout the book are anecdotes about the history of book thievery and the antiquarian book trade. There is of course some material on stealing library books and the problems encountered with special collections of books in museums and libraries. A quote aptly describes how many bookstore owners and librarians feel about book thieves.

For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner... let him be struck with palsy, & all his members blasted... Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, & when at last he goeth to his final punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him forever. -- Anathema in a medieval manuscript from the Monastery of San Pedro in Barcelona. This is one of the opening quotes in the book.

Much of this book comes from face to face interviews. Alison Hoover Bartlett visits John Gilkey while he is in and out of jail. She goes to Ken Sanders shop. Some of the antiquarian booksellers are upset with her about talking to John Gilkey. There is a set of notes for each chapter. These include numerous references to authors and librarians she has interviewed. There is also an index.

A lot of the antiquarian book world is built on trust. The idea that you can look at, inspect, and have full access to the provenance of a particularly valuable books history. But, like so many objects, it is often hard to authenticate where a book has come from and whether things are authentic. It is also built on love of books. There are very few fortunes made this way.

This book also reveals the place of nostalgia for books in our lives. It does a good job of explaining why we may want to have a book which we owned as a child, or build our own collection of material on a specific interest like poetry, science fiction, or art.

I found this book to be very insightful. It will be of special interest to those who work with books or are bibliophiles. That John Gilkey is caught and many of the books he has stolen are returned to their owners is satisfying.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/17/2010

Biblioteca Nacional Madrid, Spain. Photograph by Hugo Contreras, 13 July 2003, Gnu Free Documentation License Version 1.2

Daily Thoughts 1/17/2010

I watched a bit of Watchmen The Complete Motion Comic this morning. It modifies the original panel art in the graphic novel Watchmen and does a bit of narration, and simple animation. This makes it very true to the original graphic novel Watchmen. Dave Gibbons who did the original graphic novel also does many of the changes in art to the new version.

I have also started reading The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett. This is a story of literary obsession and book thievery. It is quite interesting. Quite a bit of it is about the obsession to collect things and what books represent to different people.

I had lunch with a colleague today. It was pleasant. We talked about working in different places. He suggested a site called Educational Movie Reviews Online. It is an open source database of educational videos.

I have been reading more of The Man Who Loved Books Too Much. The book makes me think of the collecting habit. For the most part I find little urge to collect books or comics that are easily available. If I can get it in a library easily to read or use, I don't really have an urge to buy a book. I like to read new things as they come out. To look at them and see the content. I consider the dust jacket and the design to be part of a book. For me an ebook seems like a rough draft, incomplete. I don't get to see how the paper is cut, the pictures are laid out on the page, the dust jacket is coated, how heavy the book is. It feels unfinished.

I am not enamored by age, or fine binding except as a form of art which is well beyond my current means. I am interested in content. The reason I buy a book or a comic is often that I know that I won't likely get it at a library, find it easily in a bookstore, or have ready access to materials. I collect ground level comics-- these are not that expensive yet, they are the grey area between underground and popular comics. I also buy reprints of science fiction and fantasy comics sometimes, not very often. Even the reprints are starting to cost money.

I also occassionally buy science fiction and fantasy art books. I don't have a huge amount of these books. I want material I can look at, reading copies, but even these are not readily available in quantity. I believe in reading the books I own. I put eye tracks on the books which I own. I am not into the idea of having things with beautiful dust covers. My fingers have touched the pages and my eyes have seen the letters of the books I read.

I am not the person who attempts to collect books worth thousands of dollars. The antiquarian book world is interesting more for the characters of the people in the trade than the books which they are selling. There is tremendous character in many of the old booksellers and people who hunt for books. I am familiar with, but not part of that world.

I like going to book fairs to see the ideas that have faded, the unique pieces of past, the things that have fallen out of fashion. The dying ideas in the war for ideas, or the ideas that are held and treasured by a few people as a memento of the past. There is a sense of nostalgia.

For a while, I thought that I might be interested in having a bookstore, but I now realize it is not quite what I am looking for. I am just as interested in content if it is online as in a book. The stuff that explodes outside the book is where books are heading. Books are a beautiful device. They are cultural objects that have greater validity than pure online content in many ways. However, it is at the edges where books become more than books, they have sound, video, pictures, embossing that fascinates me. The vook, the iphone, the oversize art book with glossy high definition art work, the bamboo book, the childrens picture book with songs interest me.

I am not the person who is deeply fascinated by the value or prestige of the older items, but the cultural and literary value of the content. So many people have lost sight of the classic and better writers; Lord Byron, Rainier Maria Rilke, Anthony Trollope, George Bernard Shaw and others.

Even when I hunted for old books, I was interested more in finding things which could expand my reading that were not in print anymore, or would make me more read. I sought out Barrington J. Bayley, Philp Wiley, Olaf Stapledon, Lord Dunsany, William Morris, H. Rider Haggard and other science fiction and fantasy writers to expand my reading not my collection. I also looked for books on Frank Kelly Freas, Aubrey Beardsley, Edmund Dulac, Howard Pyle, and Arthur Rackham to understand fantasy art and illustration more than own them.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is an excellent introduction to the obsessive side of collecting books. The place where the object and owning it is more important than the content or ideas that the book represents.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/16/2010

English: Trinity College Library: The “Long Room” in the 18th century, watercolour of James Malton.

Daily Thoughts 1/16/2010

I am reading In The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. The book incorporates many elements of her novel, Oryx and Crake in it. The book combines social satire with dystopian moodiness. Giant corporations run the world. Those who are not part of the corporations live in giant plebian ghettos. The story focuses around a radical environmental religious sect, God's Gardeners. I like the animals in the book, the rakunk, the glow in the dark rabbits, the bobkittens, and the intelligent pigs.

I finished reading this on the way home. It is an excellent novel. I'll probably write about it on Monday.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Cartoon History of the Modern World Part 2 From The Bastille to Baghdad by Larry Gonick

The Cartoon History of the Modern World Part 2 From The Bastille to Baghdad by Larry Gonick

This book is the final book in a long running series of cartoon histories by Larry Gonick. I remember reading the first one when I was in high school. They made history very entertaining. The cartoons drawn by Larry Gonick did not leave out the juicy parts of history; intrigue, thievery, murder, affairs, and human foibles that were not often in the high school textbooks. The way he describes history leaves no group spared. He is out to expose humanity in all its glory from every corner of the globe.

I found the first half of the History of the Modern World to be better than the latter half of the book. Larry Gonick seems to do a better job with the older history. I think this is because he uses a lot of primary source material. History before World War I is less open to interpretation, partially because most of the people from that time period are dead. The second half of the book includes many people who are still alive.

There is a definite slant to the left in this book, especially in his coverage of the Vietnam war and the war in Iraq. However, he does not spare any group when he writes about them. He writes about China, Indonesia, France, Austria, the United States, Nigeria, the Congo, Colombia, and places all over the globe. He attempts to skewer every group when he does his cartoons.

His description of the cold war is different than most. He describes it in a much larger historical perspective which springs from colonialism and earlier history. His take on Russia, China, and the United States is quite interesting. There is quite a bit on the rivalry between Mao and Stalin. Neither communism nor capitalism are spared for their philosophical background.

The subjects in this book are quite diverse, they cover the globe, the Ottoman Empire, Imperial Japan, the end of the slave trade, Napoleon Bonaparte, Stalin, Nixon, World War II, the war in Afghanistan, and many other subjects are covered. He tends to focus on specific incidents where great personages are involved in conflict. This makes the story interesting. The book is meant to be an overview not in depth coverage.

The drawings are in black and white with a traditional panel layout. Many of the panels are annotated and there is a lot of dialogue between historical figures. This often includes historical quotes portrayed in a humorous manner. In addition to larger page layouts, he sometimes include smaller stretches of the panels covering a short incident during a historical time period at the bottom of the pages. Absolutely everything is backed up with an extensive bibliography which includes primary source material and classic historical texts.

There is also an extensive index. The cartooning is excellent. Between chapters he uses the device of a time machine and a professor to explain some of his decisions in cartooning each chapter. The Cartoon History of the Universe Part III won the Harvey Award for comics which is very prestigious in the comics industry. Larry Gonick has also written a wide variety of nonfiction cartoon books, The Cartoon Guide to Statistics, The Cartoon Guide to Sex, The Cartoon History of the United States, and many others. His website is at

Daily Thoughts 1/15/2010

Library of William Jennings Bryan, 1896

Daily Thoughts 1/15/2010

Right now, I am thinking about donations. We get a lot of them regularly. They are handled by our friends group. We occassionally add some of them to our collection, but we are selective. We also sometimes pick up donations from other places as well. This is always something worth thinking about.

Yesterday, I worked a bit on flyers for the graphic novels club. Hopefully, it will go well this time. I am looking forward to doing it again. We are focusing on Watchmen this time. In February we are going to focus on shojo-- girls manga for the graphic novels club which would be a good choice for valentines day. Manga like Fruits Basket, Maison Ikokku, Blackbird, Nana, and others.

I also did a little more weeding. I am trying to do it a little bit every single day.

This is a new button for my sidebar. It is also a pledge to continue reading the printed word, not just ebooks.

Read the Printed Word!

Sometimes, you find things that are interesting. There is a Book Blogger Convention on May 28, 2010. I am not sure about this one, but it looks quite interesting.

I learned that Shannon Hale has a new graphic novel, Calamity Jack out. It is drawn by Nathaniel Hale. She drew Rapunzel's Revenge which I enjoyed a whole lot. I think it might be worth getting.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Choosing Civility The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni

Choosing Civility The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni

P.M. Forni is writing about modern manners. He has come up with a list of ideas on how to be proper. Paying attention, listening, and being agreeable are all things which make most people much easier to get along with. Manners make society easier to negotiate.

The tips about manners include personal hygiene, physical appearance, and personal space all of which affect how we interact with others. We are reminded that when we are at our best is when people are most civil to us.

There are some polite reminders that society has changed considerably. It is no longer proper to be sexist, racist, or culturally insensitive. Making comments on peoples accents is not polite. We live in a much more interconnected world.

Manners have changed considerably. How we treat animals and our environment is a matter of civility. It is not proper to litter, over consume, or be cruel to animals.

There are also some reminders that we should learn to say no in the right way. Saying no is not impolite, it is in our best interests.

This book is an updated guide to civility for the 21st century. It is lighthearted and well put together.

Daily Thoughts 1/14/2010

Domenico Fetti, Archimedes Thoughtful 1620

Daily Thoughts 1/14/2010

I'm off today, I watched Terminator 3 Salvation on dvd which was relaxing. I also finished reading Choosing Civility.

I also registered for Book Expo America today.

Right now, I am reading The Cartoon History of the Modern World Part II: From the Bastille to Baghdad by Larry Gonick. Larry Gonick writes nonfiction cartoon books including The Cartoon History of the United States, The Cartoon Guide to Physics, The Cartoon Guide to Statistics, The Cartoon Guide to Genetics, The Cartoon Guide to Chemistry, and The Cartoon Guide to Sex. All of his books include indexes and complete bibliographies. I have read The Cartoon History of the Universe Part I, II, and III and enjoyed all of them.

Thes Cartoon History books include are very wide ranging and cover all the different parts of the world; Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and North and South America. They are not politically correct and do not gloss over the darker aspects of history like the opium wars, the slave trade, the partitioning of Africa, and the various dalliances and quirks of world leaders. There are a lot of jokes and light humor throughout.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/13/2010

Poster promoting reading by Charles Dickens in Nottingham1869

Daily Thoughts 1/13/2010

Based on my wanderings through the interweb, I found out that China Mieville has a new book coming out in June 2010 called Kraken. An urban fantasy about a giant squid. I wonder what he is going to do next.

Every single day I read about how ebooks are going to change the publishing world. There is an obsession with ebooks. The real game changer has not been ebooks. It is print on demand combined with self publishing. The only sector of the publishing world which has grown continuously has been the print on demand sector. It is easier and easier to get print on demand books from distributors like Baker and Taylor or Ingram. Ingram owns Lightning Source which is the largest print on demand service for books.

There are also many self publishing options that allow people to easily cut out the middle man. Companies like and are growing in popularity. On our end we are getting many more local authors coming into our library wanting to have their books added or do readings. Big publishers are less and less willing to support author tours. It has become easier for us to look for authors websites on the internet and ask them to come to our library than for us to go to publishers.

Many of these authors are self published. It is kind of exciting to have a local poet come in and read from their book. Some of the work is better than expected because a lot of people who might have been previously published by the big houses are finding it hard to get there.

In addition, there are experiments with print on demand at the bookstore level. Some bookstores have even used The Espresso Book Machine as a tool for print on demand for local authors. I see print on demand continuing to expand and create new opportunities for authors much quicker than ebooks.

This morning we had our reference sharing meeting where we discussed different reference books. I discussed Writers Market 2010 which is a good basic tool on where to submit material to get published. Another person discussed the Library of Congress Subject Headings for religion.

We also looked at several internet sites. The head of reference discussed the Internet Archive first going to the wayback machine, then looking at several different things in the archive including a recording of PT Barnum's voice, a Libri Vox recording of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, a song from a Grateful Dead Concert, and the short cartoon Sergeant Snafu.

Another site discussed was which monitors traffic and public transportation around New York. If you know how to look, it can help spot speed traps and traffic cameras. There was also a mention of which is the Thomas Directory of manufacturers online. Thomas now has cad drawings online. Finally, if you are looking for a genealogy expert, you can go to and get experts for a fee through their website. .

I spent a little time this afternoon weeding the literary criticism section. I also worked on designing a flyer for a movie which we are showing for the graphic novel club on January 25, 2009 as well as an update of the flyer for the 2nd meeting of the graphic novel club. Hopefully this will go well.

On the way to work I read some of Choosing Civility by P.M. Forni. The first maxim of the book is to pay attention, and the third maxim is to listen. These always seemed to be two of the most important things to do in life. Without attention you can't learn anything and not listening leads to lots of mistakes.

I am looking at a rather silly book, Boilerplate, History's Mechanical Marvel by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett. They built a man sized robot model of a clockwork robot and took pictures of it. It is a rather silly looking thing. It is very much like Frank Reade's Steam Man of the prairies in a more modern version. There is a website with images.

The clockwork robot has been photoshopped into a variety of historical images from all over the world. These are mostly from the late 19th century to the beginnings of World War I. There are pictures of the robot with Pancho Villa, Theodore Roosevelt, Buffalo Bill and other famous persons. Also, there are images from historical events; The Boxer Rebellion and the Russo Japanese war.

It is a mashup with pictures taking old images and adding new technology to create a different kind of book.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Daily Thoughs 1/12/2010

Panoramic view of the library of Guimet museum, ParisFeatured Picture of the Day, Wikimedia, January11, 2010 Taken 17 June, 2008 by Athoune Gnu Free Documentation License 1.2

Daily Thoughts 1/12/2010

Right Listening by Mark Brady, Ph.D. is turning out to be a practical little book. It is a set of suggestions on how to listen better to other people. It reminds us to be quiet sometimes, stop automatically criticizing, and stop talking at the right moments. There are one paragraph practice suggestions at the end of many of the pages to help you listen better.

Today we had the city in for Sexual Harassment and Violence In The Workplace training. It was a refresher. We watched two videos and filled in a worksheet and had the question and answer session. We do this every year. It is a necessary thing.

The staff also toasted the new year for success with sparkling cider, fruitcake and cookies. It was a brief reminder that the last year had been very successful.

Today I had a chance to finish looking up author websites for Westchester. We have a little over eleven pages of people to check on for events and other things. It is a first step. I also did a bit more weeding in the literary criticism section. Things are moving along.

I joined Librarything today. I was invited to try it out by the New York Lirbarians Meetup group. It is worth a try. I like looking at social networking sites.

On the way home from work, I finished reading Right Listening by Mark Brady Ph.D.. It is a short focused book on how to listen better. This is more than listening, it is listening with compassion, trying to listen without creating conflict, as well as attempting to understand the person being listened to.

Although it is not specifically a religious text, it does use some buddhist philosophical metaphors like mindfulness, an example of nonviolence from aikido, as well as quotations from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Greek philosophy. There are exercises at the end of each section which ask you to practice a specific listening exercise so you will understand other people better. With 52 suggestions on how to listen better it means there are a lot of exercises.

The book has a few breaks between sections where you are asked to reflect on what you have read. Many of the exercises are meant to be done over several weeks. The book opens with a poem by John Fox, When Someone Deeply Listens to You that is touching. There is a lot of material in the 100 pages of the book including a bibliography. It is worth reading.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Brain Rules 12 Principles for Surving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

Brain Rules 12 Principles for Surving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina

This book is a series of twelve chapters on different principles on how to make your brain function better. Many of the ideas are practical common sense; get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, avoid stress, and repeat things to remember things better. This is not a book of magic formulas. The ideas are sound and all have been documented multiple times to be true.

Not every principle is completely obvious. For example, if you teach using more than one sense, you get better results, and every person learns differently because their brain is wired differently. He also refutes the idea that people lose their ability to learn as they age.

Many of the examples from his personal life about his toddler were entertaining. Some of the practical ideas like making sure a coffee aroma was the first thing you smelled when you went into Starbucks coffee shop were interesting.

Where this book was not so great was in the style. I found his writing to be very prescriptive. It reminded me very much of The Elements of Style; short terse sentences, easily understandable words, uniform paragraph structure, and precise grammar. I thought the writing could have been more descriptive with higher level vocabulary and a more varied sentence and paragraph structure.

There was also no bibliography at the end of the book. John Medina asks you to go to to get the bibliography. I found this to be not that encouraging. There is an index. Another problem is that he gives the names of people in his field, but does not list the books they have written in the body of the text. This is disappointing.

Read this book for the content and ideas, but not the citations, style, or writing.

Daily Thoughts 1/11/2010

Belle da Costa Greene (December 13, 1883 in Washington, D.C. - May 10, 1950 in New York City, New York) was the librarian to J. P. Morgan and after his death she became the first director of the Pierpont Morgan Library.

Daily Thoughts 1/11/2010

Today is turning out to be another quiet, steady day. I checked the displays, searched for more authors to add to my list of websites for Westchester authors, and did some weeding of the literary criticism section.

I also added In The First Circle to my list of books which I have read as part of the 52 Books, 52 Weeks program.

On the way home, I read some of Right Listening by Mark Brady, Ph.D. It is a book that focuses how to listen more attentively and greater appreciation.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/10/2010 (Visit to the Morgan Library)

J. P. Morgan's Library and Art Museum, adjoining his residence His collection of paintings and tapestries is one of the finest in the United States. c1906

Visit to the Morgan Library in Manhattan

The visit to the Morgan Library was a very pleasant experience.  I went as part of the new York Librarians Meetup.  I got there at noon and we spent some time in the cafe sitting and chatting. The coffee and cookies were very fresh and tasty. They also had a coat and bag check at the entrance which was quite convenient. The fee is $12 to go to the library. I saw a colleague from Brooklyn Public Library who I had not seen in a very long time. He is now working in Jersey City. He brought another librarian with him.

I learned something new about business cards. It is perfectly alright to give out a personal card with your name, degree, and contact information. It was made on Vistaprint which charges only for shipping to make small batches of business cards. I think I will make some personal cards without my libraries name for events which I go to on my own time. I am planning on adding two people from the event to my Facebook account.

I very much enjoyed the exhibition of Jane Austen's work. There are some 51 letters of Jane Austen kept at the Morgan Library. Many of these were on display. In addition there were numerous copies of different examples of her books. Many were illustrated. Charles E. Brock was one of the illustrators.

There were a number of Victorian prints talking about what Jane Austen was writing about. Pictures and books on manners, gentility, and the different english classes were prominently displayed. There were also several portraits of Jane Austen as well.

I learned some entertaining trivia during the exhibit; Rudyard Kipling came up with the term Austenites as the title of one of his short stories, James Edwards Austen Leigh wrote a memoir about growing up with Jane Austen, and Jane Austen had an unfinished novel called The Watsons which she started in 1804.

There was also a short movie with authors talking about their experience of reading Jane Austen. I especially liked Cornel West's statement that he would have liked to give her a hug, and Colm Toibins talking about reading Jane Austen in high school. It was fun watching the film.

There were a few moments to go visit the Morgan Study which is where J.P. Morgan and Pierpont Morgan kept their library collections. They were very wealthy financiers. The studies were very ornate with plush velveteen furniture, victorian wallpaper, busts, statuary, paintings, closed glass bookcases with brass overlay, and ornate Renaissance mosaics on the ceilings.

There was a room dedicated to the Morgan librarian which was put in the museum in 1991. The picture of the first Morgan librarian, Belle De Costa Greene caught my attention as well as the ornate renaissance style card catalogs in the room.

I could have probably spent a full two days in the study and not gotten a picture of everything that was in the studies. There were of course oil portraits of J.P. Morgan and Pierpont Morgan. There were also medieval illuminated bibles, and an incredible collection of books under glass; beautiful finely bound editions of the complete works of Goethe, De La Fontaine, Balzac, Kipling, and many other prominent 19th century writers.

Something that caught my eye was Etienne Louis Bulle's black and white drawing entitled Interior of A Library. It is very different looking at a picture close up as compared to a picture on Wikipedia. It was slightly larger than I imagined it.

This was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

I had a chance to compose most of this at the laundromat and enter it tonight.  The website for The Morgan Library and Museum is . 

Saturday, January 9, 2010

In The First Circle, The Uncensored Edition by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

In The First Circle, The Uncensored Edition by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

This is the first novel released after Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's death in 2008. It includes a lot of strong political and philosophical statements about the Soviet Union, especially an indictment of the atomic bomb and the prison system in the old Soviet Union. This is a much stronger political statement than his earlier works, One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago.

In The First Circle refers to the first circle of hell where the virtuous pagans go in Dante's inferno. The setting is in a sharaska, a minimum security prison for engineers, intellectuals, and other political undesirables. Here the prisoners work 12 hours a day making things for the state like listening devices, torpedoes, and other things. It is a place on the edge where forbidden ideas can be explored.

The book mostly plods along telling the life of the prisoners, the guards, and the bureaucrats who created the prison. The story stretches outside of the prison to include the prisoners wives and lovers as well as the creators of the whole Soviet system.

Stalin is one of the main characters. Every few chapters the lead characters change. The author is trying to create a sweeping drama over the 740 pages of the novel. Stalin as a character is superbly frightening. He demonstrates fear, paranoia, and ambition at its fullest capacity. Solzhenitsyn is at his best in this novel when he is describing bureaucratic terror or black comedic irony.

There is a short story, The Buddha's Smile about Eleanor Roosevelt visiting a high security prison. It describes how the guards prepare the prisoners. The story is a reflection on how the Soviet system attempted to create a false picture of well being to the world. Every bit of the novel drips contradiction.

This contradiction is best reflected in the prisoners arguments with each other about ideas; communism, capitalism, imperialism, the church and other ideas are discussed freely inside where they cannot be discussed outside because of fear of going to prison. The prisoners also read novels that are a reflection on the novel. The Man In The Iron Mask, Pushkin, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy are mentioned.

There is a definite sense of right and wrong throughout the novel. This is an example of Russian realism. There is clear good and evil. Added to this sense of evil is a spattering of mysticism. A prisoner is trying to the paint the castle of the holy grail, the mathematicians attempting to make a listening device are referred to as rosicrucians, and there is a sad visit to the remnants of a Russian orthodox church.

Most of In The First Circle is steady excellent craftsmanship. I wondered at points about the translation; whether the translator needed to pick better wording. However, at moments the writing becomes sublime espcially when the author is describing irony or bureaucratic terror. This novel reflects on the darkness in the human heart and the ability to live with the impossible. It is filled with deep intellectual thought and is slow going. If you want to read a complex novel in the traditional Russian style you will like this.

Daily Thoughts 1/9/2010

Chitaite kooperativnuiu litera... Digital ID: 416645. New York Public Library

Read the Cooperatives Literature 1918

Daily Thoughts 1/9/2010

I watched the half hour dvd which came with the book Brain Rules by John Medina. It was a summary of 12 rules to make your brain work better. Most of it made sense; repeat to remember, combine senses to make a more powerful presentation, exercise to think better, sleep to think better, take a nap in the afternoon, and other maxims. It challenged the idea that cubicles and classrooms were the best place to learn. The humor was a little silly. There were little factual bits like Starbucks makes sure that the coffee aroma is the first thing which you smell when you come into their stores. This is the first popular science hardcover I have seen with a dvd that came with the book. I have seen other books with audio samples.

I think this will be more common as it becomes cheaper to produce discs and put them in books. The other book which I read with a disc was I Can Make You Thin which has a hypnosis cd that comes with it. Paul McKenna has another book with a hypnosis cd included, I Can Make You Sleep. Both of these have sold a lot of copies of books.

I ended my account today for Myspace. It has become a space that seems to be focused on music and pop culture two things which are not my strong points.

Right now, I am at my local library. I took a walk to stretch my legs and now am sitting at the computers. I'm not taking anything out today.

Tomorrow, I am going to the Morgan Library as part of the New York Librarians meetup group. There is a Jane Austen exhibit.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Daily Thoughts 1/8/2010

Lucida handwriting. It has been proposed that schools in the United States eliminate handwriting. Handwriting was one of my strong points in school. I always had excellent penmanship. It encouraged me to read. There is something disquieting about eliminating cursive handwriting from the elementary schools.

Daily Thoughts 1/8/2010

I have been working on finding more local authors. It seems that there are two organizations that feed into where many of our local authors come from, The Cross Bronx, a Showcase for Bronx writers and The Hudson Valley Writers Center . I am almost half way through the Westchester Authors list.

I finished reading In The First Circle the First Uncensored Edition on the way home from work. I found it to be at points superb and fascinating. At other points it was just solid writing. It wavered between absolutely incredible and mediocre. Maybe it was the translator. I am not really sure.

I also finished watching I Claudius. I enjoyed the series tremendously. Rome has always fascinated me. When I was a teenager, I read a mix of Roman history and science fiction. I especially liked Of the Nature of Things by Lucretius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, The Golden Ass by Apuleius, and the Enchiridion by Epictetus. I remember my father reading me The Odyssey by Homer when I was young.

Maybe there is something compelling about finishing things. I like to finish what I start whether it is a book, a television series or a project like looking up local authors. This is true even if it is something which I am not particularly great at. There is a certain satisfaction in finishing things. I tend to finish what I start.

I have started reading Brain Rules 12 Principles of Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina.

Looked at The Penguin Classics Graphic Covers. My favorite is the whale by Tony Millionaire.