Posts Tagged: Books

Favorite Kid’s Book: The Sheep of the Lal Bagh

sheep-lal-baghThe Sheep of the Lal Bagh is one of those books my mom read to me as a child that I loved. There’s a sheep that eats the grass in a park in beautiful patterns. However, he’s slow at his job of trimming the grass. Eventually, the sheep’s replaced by a lawnmower and no one is very happy. Can you guess what happens next?

Picked up a used copy from Abebooks for our daughter.


Silence Once Begun by Jesse Bell

This isn’t really a review, because I couldn’t get into the book. The format, initially, is interview transcripts. While the idea for the novel sounded interesting, the writing just didn’t pull me in. One contributing factor is my new role. I don’t have the time to invest in books that take work. Silence Once Begun took work and I borrowed it through interlibrary loan. Off it goes back to Tulane University.

Books As Technology: IKEA vs Monks

IKEA created a clever ad comparing their catalog, the bookbook, (book technology) to that of a tablet / e-book. While this advertisement is funny, it’s even funnier when juxtaposed with this video of a medieval “help desk” as users make the shift from scrolls to books. What is this technology you call the book?


A reply on Twitter brought this video to my attention this morning.

Summer Reading 2014

In no apparent order, here are some books I’m planning to read this summer. Please comment below if you have some suggestions.

The Flamethrowers
The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner (read)

Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball

Scorch Atlas by Blake Butler

The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (read)

Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers (read)

Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

A Mercy by Toni Morrison

Motherless Brooklyn

Motherless BrooklynJonathan Lethem‘s, Motherless Brooklyn, is a novel full of obsessions and constrictions. The narrator, Lionel Essrog, suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome, which goes undiagnosed until his teenage years in an orphanage. Language and movement are rituals for Lionel. He has tics that recur, names that haunt him of people he’s never met. There’s an urge, an almost impossible desire to touch shoulders, to straighten objects, to find order that exists momentarily for Lionel. Not only is Lionel hemmed in by Tourette’s, but also by his upbringing and the city.

The novel mainly takes place in Brooklyn with forays into other parts of New York City. For Lionel, his world exists within these confines. Caught between his place in the city, or his fear to venture outside of the city, and his paternal love for his employer, Frank Minna, place and relationships overlap with his Tourette’s. What can Lionel control? That question runs throughout the novel as he seeks a killer and tries to unravel the mystery of how Frank Minna died.

Frank Minna is the sun around which a cast of characters, including Lionel, revolve. A small-time crook in Brooklyn, he co-opts Lionel and three other orphans at the age of fourteen to provide manual labor for low-risk, illegal jobs. That word, co-opt, fits far better than adopt. Frank is not a parent. He fills a need for the boys, but also manipulates and uses them. Frank is a role model for them, but what are they learning? How to be a crook? How to feign love? How to move through the world as if different rules apply to you? The boys become young men and work for Frank under the guise of detectives and chauffeurs. With the novel settled into Lionel’s point-of-view, we see the world as Lionel would like it to be.

But what happens to that world when Frank Minna is no longer part of it? Early on, Frank is killed. With the absence of Frank in Lionel’s life, Lionel is also pursuing the question of who he is without Frank, as well as Frank’s killer.

Playful and moody, Motherless Brooklyn is a fast-paced read that will have you murmuring eatmeBailey, while words rhyme in your head.

Are MOOCs The New Books? The Answer May Surprise You.

Sorry, you’ve been upworthied! 1I really dislike upworthy headlines and this is a poor attempt at humor. But, check out this quote regarding education and books.

Learning to read is different, moreover, from learning by reading. Reliance on apprenticeship training, oral communication, and special mnemonic devices had gone together with mastering letters in the age of scribes. After the advent of printing, however, the transmission of written information became much more efficient. It was not only the craftsman outside universities who profited from the new opportunities to teach himself. Of equal importance was the chance extended to bright undergraduates to reach beyond their teachers’ grasp. Gifted students no longer needed to sit at the feet of a given master in order to learn a language or academic skill. Instead, they could swiftly achieve mastery on their own, even by sneaking books past their tutors – as did the young would-be astronomer, Tycho Brahe. (Eisenstein 38) 2Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print.

Have books replaced teachers since the creation of the printing press? Do you still think videos and MOOCs will replace teachers?

Notes   [ + ]

1. I really dislike upworthy headlines and this is a poor attempt at humor.
2. Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print.