Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Long Tail

This is a book I had to read for my social software class, but I actually quite enjoyed. Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine, shares the defining economic theory of our day--that of the "long tail". Basically, the internet has made virtually every book, movie, and song available to us through Amazon, NetFlicks, and iTunes. Of course there are still those items that are "hits" but so many of us now take advantage of things further down the "tail" based on our individual niche interests. The creation of the niche marketplace has had a significant impact on where we shop, how we shop, and what we shop for.

I found the basic premise of the book to be a little beaten over my head numerous times. However, I did enjoy the many stories, case studies, and anecdotes of how these new economics impact our lives and the companies we patronize.

If you liked Freakonomics, this may be a book you well enjoy. Anyone who is interested in the future of business and culture and how it is impacted by our technological advances should definitely read this book.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Funny

A classmate of mine posted this today. I think any book lover can appreciate the humor.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Winifred Watson, was first published in 1938. The recently released film starring Frances McDormand and Amy Adams has again brought the novel back into the public eye. Listed as one of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, the review states:

Over the course of the day, in a series of deft interventions, witty misunderstandings and brilliant repartee, Miss Pettigrew is revealed as a lifesaver. A delightful, intelligent and naughty novel which reminds us that it is never too late to live.

The novel was a bestseller when it was released in 1938, but I can imagine how some would have considered it quite scandalous. Miss Pettigrew is a middle-aged governess and the daughter of a curate who comes in contact with Miss LaFosse, whom I'll describe as a woman of "riotous living". Each woman has an impact on the other that will change them forever.

The book is a bit naughty, but is also a pure delight. The recent edition released by Persephone Classics includes the original typeset and illustrations which I found perfectly charming. The book is fast-paced and reads like a play, with a lot of dialog. I was hoping that the movie would stay true to the book, but it appears from the trailer that it does take quite a few liberties. Nevertheless, I'm excited to see it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Once Upon a Time Challenge

After reading the rave reviews of others, I've decided to join Carl's Once Upon a Time book challenge. There are four different levels in which to participate in this challenge, but because I know myself, I'm going to opt for the easiest (ahem, wimpiest) one. Basically, I only have to read one qualifying book in the Fantasy, Folklore, Fairy Tale, and Mythology genres between now and June 20th. Just one. If I happen to read, say 5, then I get to the next level.

There are lots of books I want to read that qualify though! I'm surprised at the number of series that I'm part way through. Participating in the challenge will give me a good excuse to get back to them.

Book Possibilities:

Queen of Camelot
The Princess Bride
Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix (5th in the series)
To Say Nothing of the Dog
The Subtle Knife (2nd in the series)
Lirael (2nd in the series)
Something Rotten (4th in the series)
The Big Over Easy
Enna Burning (2nd in the series)
The Magic Circle

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

An Incomplete Revenge

This is the 5th installment in the Maisie Dobbs mystery series. Set in England, during the post-WW1 era, Maisie is a private investigator and psychologist that uses keen insight and the study of human behavior to solve cases. This novel focuses on an area of Kent during the hop picking season where strange events have occurred in a small village since the war. The blame is usually given to the gypsies or Londoners who come to pick the hops. But Maisie thinks there is much more to it.

I wish Maisie were a real person because I would love to be her friend! I find her a fascinating character (the feminist in me is always a sucker for the independent woman) but I don't think there is a lot of me that resembles her. I definitely wish I understood people the way she does. I probably resemble Priscilla much more (without the drinking problem)!

Ah well, I highly recommend this series if you haven't picked it up before. The psychology side makes them a little different from your standard mystery fare. I actually think I'm liking each book Winspear produces better than the last.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jane Austen in Scarsdale

At first I was totally embarrassed to admit I was even reading this. I rarely pick something up at the library on a whim (usually I just trust my handy list). But, it looked cute and I saw it on a display of all things Jane Austen. Turns out, the book is a total rip-off of Persuasion. So, it was a little disappointing to know from the get-go exactly how it was going to turn out. Then again, last week my brain was in no mood for thinking, so it turned out rather nicely. It's funny, cute, fluffy, and brainless...and if you haven't read Persuasion, you might even be surprised.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Novella Challenge

I'm moving into uncharted territory for me here. I'm joining my first book challenge! Trish from Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? is hosting her first challenge, so I think it is a good one to start with.

The Rules:
Read six novellas (defined as books between 100 and 250 pages for the purposes of the challenge) between April 2008 and September 2008.

Check out more about The Novella Challenge here.

My book choices:

1. The Scarlet Letter
2. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
3. The Old Man and the Sea
4. The Uncommon Reader
5. A Walk to Remember
6. Cannery Row

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Book of a Thousand Days

This is the latest Shannon Hale's young adult novel. The story is a retelling based on Brothers Grimm Maid Maleen. The novel is written in diary form by Dashti, the maid of Princess Saren. Set in Mongolia, the two are locked together in a tower for seven years by Saren's father for her refusal to marry the horrible man he desires. However, Saren is secretly engaged to another, Khan Tegus, despite her father's wishes.

And with that, I will leave you to go and get it for yourself, so I don't totally ruin it. Just know that the book is wonderfully-written, the setting is fascinating, and it has a nice dose of romance.

I highly recommend it.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Great and Terrible Beauty

I tried to like this book. Honest, I did. I'm still new to fantasy, and I just couldn't get into this book. I never cared about a single one of the characters. I thought all the fantasy bits were confusing. It just seemed like Harry Potter meets Dead Poets Society for stuck-up girls in the late 19th century.

This is the first of a trilogy of books about Gemma Doyle, a sixteen year old. Her mother is murdered in India, and she has been sent to finishing school in England. The circumstances surrounding her mother's death leads her to a series of discoveries, most important of which is her supernatural powers to move into other realms. There are friends, teachers, and love interests involved--and it's pretty racy for YA.

Usually if I read one book of a series I have to finish. But, I won't this time. The first book has to wow me, and this one just didn't.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


This is a fun and potentially very useful website I found through a library-related blog I read. You can view entire children's books online (the quality is gorgeous) to read with your kids or help you make decisions about what books to purchase/get from the library. There is also a bookshelf element similar to Goodreads or Shelfari to collect your favorites and share your collection with others. If you like children's books, check it out!

Lady Laura the Librarian

"A nation that does not read for itself cannot think for itself. And a nation that cannot think for itself risks losing both its identity and its freedom. Ray Bradbury was right when he said, 'You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.'

"Both reading and a love of reading are learned behaviors that should be taught at home and in schools. Like many of you in this room, I've spent my life in the company of good books, because my mother taught me to love them, and my teachers taught me to read them, and my library let me take them home free. Those early experiences had a profound impact on my life, and on my career as a public school teacher and librarian, and on my present work in the U.S. and around the world."--First Lady Laura Bush, speaking yesterday at the AAP annual meeting in New York City.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Bound on Earth

I should say up front that I don't generally read LDS fiction. My friend, Andi, got me to read Dean Hughes' Children of the Promise and Hearts of the Children series a few years ago, which I did enjoy and would recommend. Other than that, I don't think I've read any other LDS fiction after purposely boycotting The Work and the Glory because I got sick of people bearing their testimonies about them.

However, Julie over at BestBooks got me interested in this one, enough to buy it with my B&N birthday money. It was a short novel, made up of various essays about different members of the Palmer family through different generations. I liked how the novel dealt with real issues like bipolar disorder, divorce, and children who stray from their faith. I also enjoyed Hallstrom's sparse prose that often cut quickly to the heart of the matter and left room open for reflection.

The last chapter wasn't my favorite. It seemed like the author was trying to tie the messiness up as best she could. I wish she wouldn't have because that wasn't really the point of the rest of the novel. Life is messy and how we work through it together as families is the true test of our eternal relationships.