July 28, 2014

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe ...

Sometimes it's beyond hard to decide which book to read next. Not as though I wouldn't have any good choices available for the next weekend read-a-thon. The whole process of picking up a book to read reminds me of going grocery shopping where you have miles of shelves with stuff and you keep on running back and forth, because you just can't make up your mind. Not saying that I have miles of shelves filled with unread tomes, but close enough. Needless to say, I've been known to spend the better half of an afternoon going through my book piles with no decision-making whatsoever. It's frustrating, that's what it is. If this were a relationship I'd have to wonder: Is it them? Is it me? In all honesty, it's probably them. I have this theory that the one book that 's meant to be read right there and then, is lurking in some dusty corner and running for cover (pun fully intended) when I start digging through my book piles. Anyway. Randomness to the rescue. I devised a plan on how to pick the next book to read and depending on what day of the week it is I will settle for ...

Monday aka Bump-day
Seeing how I've got book stacks strewn all over the place, I'm going to pick the first book that goes on a collision course with my foot after getting up in the morning. 

Tuesday aka Science-day
Time to implement some math into the process and utilize random.org to pick a book from my alphabetically sorted TBR list on LibraryThing.

Wednesday aka Match-day
Playing match-maker I will search for the one book with a cover design that best matches the color of the shirt I'm wearing.

Thursday aka Burrow-day
This day shall be dedicated to archaeological excavations which basically means, I will choose the book that has been in its holding pattern the longest.

Friday aka Friend-day
Today someone else will do the deciding for me, so I'll ask a friend to browse through my list of unread books and pick one out for me.

Saturday aka Scale-day
I will take a random stack of books with me to the bathroom and weigh myself with each of them. The result I like best will translate into some "light" reading choices.

Sunday aka Guilt-day
Feeling a wee bit guilty in light of the fact that I've got enough unread books to last me a year or two, I will "destroy the evidence" and stick my nose into the book which I bought on a whim the previous day.

What are your preferred methods to choose which book to read next? Ever tried doing it as randomly as I suggest in this post? Please share.

July 25, 2014

Non-Fiction Journey Of The Canine Persuasion

Travels With Casey: My Journey Through Our Dog Crazy Country (Benoit Denizet-Lewis)
July 22nd 2014, Simon & Schuster

A moody Labrador and his insecure human take a funny, touching cross-country RV trip into the heart of America’s relationship with dogs.
“I don’t think my dog likes me very much,” New York Times Magazine writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis confesses at the beginning of his journey with his nine-year-old Labrador-mix, Casey. Over the next four months, thirty-two states, and 13,000 miles in a rented motor home, Denizet-Lewis and his canine companion attempt to pay tribute to the most powerful interspecies bond there is, in the country with the highest rate of dog ownership in the world.
On the way, Denizet-Lewis—known for his deeply reported dispatches from far corners of American life—meets an irresistible cast of dogs and dog-obsessed humans. Denizet-Lewis and Casey hang out with wolf-dogs in Appalachia, search with a dedicated rescuer of stray dogs in Missouri, spend a full day at a kooky dog park in Manhattan, get pulled over by a K9 cop in Missouri, and visit “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan in California. And then there are the pet psychics, dog-wielding hitchhikers, and two nosy women who took their neighbor to court for allegedly failing to pick up her dog’s poop.
Travels With Casey is a delightfully idiosyncratic blend of memoir and travelogue coupled with an exploration of a dog-loving America. What does our relationship to our dogs tell us about ourselves and our values? Denizet-Lewis explores those questions—and his own canine-related curiosities and insecurities—during his unforgettable road trip through our dog-loving nation.

July 23, 2014

A list for the writing mind!

I like lists. What am I saying? I love 'em. And if I'm not the one who actually has to write it, all the better. After all that leaves me more time to read. Or in this case, browse.

The Write Life compiled a list with a recommendation of websites that are mostly aimed at writers, but honestly, I believe that everyone who likes books will discover some interesting sites here. Categories are blogging, business and career, copywriting, creativity and craft, freelancing, literary agents, marketing, publishing, travel writing, writing advice, and writing communities. Something for everyone, so to say write.

Lacking time to browse through them all? You might want to skip your afternoon nap then. I promise it's worth it.

Did you discover any interesting/useful/fun websites you weren't already familiar with? If so, which ones?

July 22, 2014

Christmas in July Giveaway Hop (Open WW)

Welcome to the Christmas in July Giveaway Hop (July 22nd - July 31st)

What's the best way to cool down during the hot summer months? Thinking about snow, hot cocoa and Christmas, of course. To help you out with the right reading material for this occasion I'm giving away one of the following books to a lucky winner.

Christmas: The Original Story (Margaret Barker)
Letters From Father Christmas (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Christmas Customs and Traditions (Clement A. Miles)

Please note: This giveaway is open worldwide, but only for countries TBD offers free shipping to - please check here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

July 21, 2014

You really shouldn't buy that book!

Now who doesn't like to indulge in some book buying splurges? Show of hands ... none. Thought so. Still, sometimes you might want to consider peeling your greedy fingers from that brand-new collector's edition with the awesomely beautiful new cover design and not make a purchase. *gasp*

Let me present you my TOP FIVE reasons why you should refrain from buying a book. Not to be taken all that seriously, and totally random ...

You: My dog ate my copy of [insert title of one of your favorite books]!
Me: You should be rushing the poor pup to the vet, not hit a bookstore. Especially if the pooch chewed up the eBook version and now needs to digest your Kindle.

You: My cherished copy of [insert title of your all-time favorite book ever] fell apart after the 137th read.
Me: That only lends charm to the old tome, so don't fret. Besides, a roll of Scotch tape might just do the trick and is so much cheaper than actually buying a new book.

You: I just can't decide which books to take with me on vacation, so I need to purchase eBook versions of the whole lot of them to take with me.
Me: I hate to break it to you, but doing that is totally redundant as this mass book buying means you won't be able to afford a vacation for the next decade.

You: My sanity depends on reading [insert title of random book that came to mind while you were absentmindedly chewing your breakfast cereal] but I just can't find it among the mountain ranges of unread books.
Me: A new copy of a book you already own? I think not. Now that you've had a hearty breakfast, why don't you start digging through your unread book piles to find that book.

You: I inherited this huge mansion with its very own library and need to fill those empty shelves.
Me: All right, the last thing you should do now is rush to a bookstore. Instead, hire me as your personal librarian. I'll do the book shopping for you then. *wink*

Tell me, have you ever resorted to one of these "excuses" for book buying? Maybe you'd like to add another scenario to this list? Please share.

July 18, 2014

Non-Fiction For Friends Of Bewitched Technology

Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire, and the Internet of Things (David Rose)
July 15th 2014, Scribner

In the tradition of Who Owns the Future? and The Second Machine Age, an MIT Media Lab scientist imagines how everyday objects can intuit our needs and improve our lives.
We are now standing at the precipice of the next transformative development: the Internet of Things. Soon, connected technology will be embedded in hundreds of everyday objects we already use: our cars, wallets, watches, umbrellas, even our trash cans. These objects will respond to our needs, come to know us, and learn to think on our behalf. David Rose calls these devices—which are just beginning to creep into the marketplace—Enchanted Objects.
Some believe the future will look like more of the same—more smartphones, tablets, screens embedded in every conceivable surface. Rose has a different vision: technology that atomizes, combining itself with the objects that make up the very fabric of daily living. Such technology will be woven into the background of our environment, enhancing human relationships and channeling desires for omniscience, long life, and creative expression. The enchanted objects of fairy tales and science fiction will enter real life.
Groundbreaking, timely, and provocative, Enchanted Objects is a blueprint for a better future, where efficient solutions come hand in hand with technology that delights our senses. It is essential reading for designers, technologists, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and anyone who wishes to understand the future and stay relevant in the Internet of Things.

July 16, 2014

Quote Garden - Self-expression must pass into communication for its fulfillment ...

To take each day as a separate page, to be read carefully, savoring all of the details, this is best for me, I think.

I am always glad when any of my books can be put into an inexpensive edition, because I like to think that any people who might wish to read them can do so. Surely books ought to be within reach of everybody.

If you start to revise before you've reached the end, you're likely to begin dawdling with the revisions and putting off the difficult task of writing.

It is the highest reward when a writer hears when a book written in doubt and solitude, has reached a human heart with a deeper meaning than even the writer had been aware of, as she wrote. It is something extra, the unexpected return.

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To them ... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.

Pearl S. Buck

July 14, 2014

So I say thank you for the books, the stories I'm reading ...

... thanks for all the joy they're bringing. Who can live without them, I ask in all honesty - what would life be? [insert Abba song tune]

Looking back on my reading life there have been treasured moments when that special book and/or author entered my book-shaped universe and changed it for good. I bet every reader has his or her story to tell and today's my turn to share some of those special incidents that ended up filling my mind with joy and my book-shelves with, well, books.

As much as I do not recall who gave it to me (probably my parents) or even when exactly I received it (could have been a birthday or maybe Christmas) my fondest memory that involves a book is of me taking my copy of My Bedtime Book of Magic Carpet Stories by Patricia Taylor along when I built a cozy fort underneath the large living-room table. I'd curl up on the carpet and read the book over and over again, along for the ride with the brother and sister who were traveling around the world on a flying carpet, visiting every country on their journey. Today I'd like to think that this was the moment that not only sparked my inner reading-flame, but also made me love traveling as much as I do. 

Thankfully my memory is a little less blurry about other bookishly life-changing moments. Let's jump forward a few years straight into hell aka high school. Sitting in class I listened intently ... no, not to what the teacher was saying *scoffs* but to what my back then best friend told me about a book she was currently reading by an author named Dean Koontz. In fact, every day she recounted bit by bit how the story of Lightning progressed. Seeing how my teenage years had already been shaped by many a paranormal book, the plot sounded right up my alley. Next thing you know, I had to buy my own copy of the novel and after I read it, many more were to come. To this day Dean Koontz is among my favorite authors and I will religiously read each of his novels no matter how bad they are ... and which, in recent years, they sadly have been too.

Fast forward into the early 20s, and by that I don't mean the 1920s, so stop snickering, and you'll find me faced with a gift I was non too happy about. One of my study buddies had been telling me about Terry Pratchett's books before, yet fantasy wasn't exactly my go-to-genre. Still, she promised it'd be "different" which I duly ignored. Until, of course, she gave me an Omnibus edition with two of his novels, The Light Fantastic and Equal Rites, as rather unwelcome birthday prezzie. Dutifully I promised to read, and read I did. I warmed up to the Discworld in no time and while I ended up being most fond of the stories involving the city guards, I've certainly read them all. That includes my current read The Long Earth which I am in stubborn desperation trying to finish as it literally bores my socks off.

Those have been some of the bookishly magic chapters in my life that introduced me to amazing storytelling. Time for you to go back in time now.

What was one of your book-tastic moments when you were introduced to an amazing author or a particular captivating novel which you treasure til this day? Please share.

July 11, 2014

Non-Fiction That Revolves Around The Moon

Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight (Jay Barbree; Introduction: John Glenn)
July 8th 2014, Thomas Dunne Books

Much has been written about Neil Armstrong, America’s modern hero and history’s most famous space traveler. Yet shy of fame and never one to steal the spotlight Armstrong was always reluctant to discuss his personal side of events. Here for the first time is the definitive story of Neil’s life of flight he shared for five decades with a trusted friend – Jay Barbree.
Working from 50 years of conversations he had with Neil, from notes, interviews, NASA spaceflight transcripts, and remembrances of those Armstrong trusted, Barbree writes about Neil’s three passions – flight, family, and friends. This is the inside story of Neil Armstrong from the time he flew combat missions in the Korean War and then flew a rocket plane called the X-15 to the edge of space, to when he saved his Gemini 8 by flying the first emergency return from Earth orbit and then flew Apollo-Eleven to the moon’s Sea of Tranquility.
Together Neil and Jay discussed everything, from his love of flying, to the war years, and of course his time in space. The book is full of never-before-seen photos and personal details written down for the first time, including what Armstrong really felt when he took that first step on the moon, what life in NASA was like, his relationships with the other astronauts, and what he felt the future of space exploration should be.
As the only reporter to have covered all 166 American astronaut flights and moon landings Jay knows these events intimately. Neil Armstrong himself said, “Barbree is history’s most experienced space journalist. He is exceptionally well qualified to recall and write the events and emotions of our time.” Through his friendship with Neil and his dedicated research, Barbree brings us the most accurate account of his friend’s life of flight, the book he planned for twenty years.

July 9, 2014

How to be a writer!

Most importantly? Write. But there's more to it than that. Ask a dozen authors and you'll get a dozen answers. The Los Angeles Times went one step further and asked more than 200 writers all kinds of writerly questions in a survey and made their responses into an online board game.

It's only a stone throw from getting your first library card to Scorsese making a movie based on your book. Or not. Instead you might find yourself in an endless loop of writer's block until you finally end up writing an essay about the death of the book. But let's not get ahead of ourselves and take a look at my result now. Shakespeare ... my oh my, I think I'm feeling seriously flattered.

Now go ahead and roll the die! And don't forget to share your result with me!

July 7, 2014

The trolls are back in town!

In times when sharing next to everything about ourselves on the web seems almost natural, it rarely happens that you come across a website or blog shrouded in the mysterious absence of personal information about its author(s). After all, these are the platforms for putting yourself into the spotlight, so it's easy to expect that you may find details on ones personal life peppered with more than a handful of private photos. I say, let's put the non back in front of the public!

Let's take a look at me for starters. Book blogger by trade. Photos mostly showing off anything even remotely bookish. Content itself of the book-shaped kind. Personal? Yes. Emphasis on my personal take on bookish things. Private? Not so much. I might mention the odd trivia about myself here and there, but photos are far and between*. Of course, when you blog about books, this is to be expected. Things look quite differently for, say, lifestyle blogs. After all, how could you show off your latest fashionable ensemble without actually wearing it? Yeah right, there's this thing called hangers, but it just isn't the same I suppose.

All bloggers are putting themselves out there one way or another, some resorting to (mostly) the written word while others put an emphasis on the power of pictures. Both can cause the kind of comments that only the abysmally small-minded and uneducated feel the urge to utter in the shroud of anonymity provided by sitting in their computer hidy-hole and apparently having nothing better to do than being a pest aka troll. Of course it's a lot easier to comment on a photo as it doesn't involve actually reading a text. Wouldn't want to rattle those sleeping brain cells by actually filtering words through your mind.

Trolls. The favorite pastime for those bored borderline sociopaths is to provoke through abusive or plain annoying comments. They are thriving on inciting arguments and playing out the ridiculing card. As much as photos of yourself can cause hateful remarks, the harassment can also be aimed at your life in general. While such troll-scapades can inspire anyone to retaliate through equally aggressive replies, this is actually the worst one can do as it only fuels the attention seekers needs.

So what can you do if it happens on your blog? I suggest you ignore it and activate comment moderation if necessary. Don't ever get in an argument, because you would only fan the flames doing that. How can you keep trolls from having a field day on your blog? There is no sure-fire troll-repellent that I know of, unless you want to simply delete your blog, but that wouldn't exactly achieve anything either. What it all boils down to is that as much as you cannot avoid it from happening, you can take precautions. Finding the right balance between what to make public and what to keep private is key and most of all, be careful about the kind of photos you are publishing.

Afterthought. I'd like to think that book blogs are a bit of a safe haven with readers being an amiable group, though the odd outburst of cruelty can happen everywhere, no matter if you discuss your babies bowel movements of the last book you read. This is something that's never happened to me before and hopefully never will.

Did you ever witness a troll wreaking havoc on a blog or were you ever confronted with such a situation on your own blog? Would you agree that the world of book blogging is more peaceful compared to other blogs? Please share.

*Want to see yours truly at the Sherlock Holmes museum? Go here.

July 4, 2014

Non-Fiction Diet For Junk Food Lovers

The Shape We're In: How Junk Food and Diets are Shortening Our Lives (Sarah Boseley)
July 3rd 2014, Guardian Faber Publishing

This demonization of the overweight by the media and politicians is unrelenting.
Sarah Boseley, the Guardian's award-winning health editor, argues it's time we understood the complex reality of what makes us fat.
Speaking to behavioral scientists and industry experts, yo-yo dieters and people who have gone under the knife, Boseley builds a picture of an obesogenic society - one where we're constantly bombarded by the twin evils of big budget food marketing and the diet industry.
Filled with in-depth, original reporting, Boseley reveals just how widespread the problem is - 1 in 4 of us are obese - and makes the case that it is time to fundamentally change the way we live.
The Shape We're In is essential reading for anyone interested in their health and the health of their children.