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Monday, November 07, 2005

A Desirable Residence by Madeleine Wickham, reviewed by KJR for Bookzen

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The London Sunday Telegraph is reputed to have called A Desirable Residence by Madeleine Wickham "witty and wise," and it is almost difficult to add a lot more about this fairly well-written, plot-driven novel about average, middle-class Brits in mid-life crises. As circumstances of their various crises draw them together, they seem to prey on each other, exascerbating their own and each other's crises further.

Real-estate problems, buying, selling, and renting, form the initial linkages, though other crises soon intervene, including adultery, school exams, fraud, indebtedness, money-laundering, thwarted ambitions, envy, loneliness and just plain boredom. The four young people, children of the adult figures, are sketched very well and their stories are perhaps the most compelling, told as they are with a view to the intensity of adolescent angst, ennui, searching and vulnerability. This novel is in no way profound or moving, nor a page-turner, though it is an interesting, enjoyable read, an accurate and insightful portrayal of the very real if ordinary, uncomfortable, awkward, and embarrassing messes most of us find ourselves in from time to time thoughout our lives.

As in real life, there are a lot of loose ends that go unexplained, and much of life's less flattering detritus is swept aside, where hopefully, as the characters plod on, it will lie out of sight, gradually to be passed over, if not forgotten. The ending is a bit like a fairy tale, though perfectly plausible and real enough, as if charity, forgiveness, atonement and repentence, practised in sincere measure, can turn back at least some of the tide.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Kepler's reopening! 11am Sat Oct 8 2005



Yes isn't that wonderful! I have fond memories of that place and had been really sad to hear that the famous Kepler's had had to close recently. Some people have come forward and invested in this special bookshop in Menlo Park.

So this will be quite a party on Saturday, not to be missed!

A9 map

keplers.com
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Read the article - Community Investment Rescues a Bookstore via...NYT

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Google Hacks Review

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Google Hacks,
Tips & Tools for Smarter Searching

By Tara Calishain, Rael Dornfest
2nd Edition December 2004 O'Reilly

Reviewed for Bookzen by KJR

Mastering the information in "Google Hacks" is necessary for being a competent, educated person today, which means understanding how to take full advantage of information interconnectivity . Whether you are in business, academia, entertainment, or industry, whether you are in junior high school or a post-graduate program, whether you are an admin or a president, those of us who are connected expect our peers to be equally savvy. Not having a full grasp of "Google Hacks" is almost tantamount to applying for a job without knowing how to read.

Having said that, there are probably some seven-eighths of the world's population today that are either unaware of what I am talking about or unable to take advantage of the information riches available online due to economics (poverty), education (ignorance) or politics (repression). Included here also are those who might have the means, but don't know they have the need (oblivious). Google Hacks is a seminal, watershed book. Those who can master this information will be on one trajectory, while the others will be effectively excluded from living as full participants in the contemporary world.

Google Hacks symbolizes the alarming divide of rich vs. poor, smart vs. ignorant, connected vs. unconnected, the paradigm of a good future based on access to and understanding of information resources, vs .a bad future based on lack.

Innovative anthropologists, Gregogry Bateson, Caleb Gategno, Alvin Toffler, and Susan Sonntag, in the 1960's said that what you know would not be as important in the future as knowing how to learn what you need to know. Today's smartest anthropologists and economists, Carol Greenhouse, Arjun Appadurai say that the global flow of images, finances, technologies, and ideologies move us to "think beyond the nation," because national borders are less important to groups of people who share information across borders. Google embodies and facilitates these trends, and "Google Hacks" how to take advantage. So, read this book from cover to cover, and do it today, or at least leaf through "Google Hacks", to be sure you understand what's on every page.

"Google Hacks" is very accessible, covering basics of how to search the world's most powerful general purpose Internet search engine. The hundreds of "hacks" include topics such as how to compose a search, why to use different search engines, different types of searches, how to understand search results, and how to understand the trends underlying searches. It reviews using gmail as a networked filesystem, and how to index information with Google, including how not to. Search engine advertising is discussed in detail, even including how to write better ads. Curious about Usenet groups, how you can and cannot program Google, or using Google to mine more out of Ebay and Amazon? My personal favorite hacks are understanding the importance of and using misspelled searches, and calculating mindshare. What? Read the book!

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Guillermo Cabrera Infante

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NYT - G. Cabrera Infante, 75, a Cuban Novelist in Exile, Dies By WOLFGANG SAXON
"Guillermo Cabrera Infante, a Cuban novelist in exile whose lavishly textured prose conjured the country he knew before the revolution he once supported, died on Monday at a hospital in London, where he had lived for 39 years. He was 75".

His most famous book is Three Trapped Tigers 1967, about Havana nightlife before Castro.

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Hunter S. Thompson

The creator of Gonzo journalism wrote his own ending.

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NYT - With an Icon's Death, Aspen Checks Its Inner Gonzo By KIRK JOHNSON
"Over the decades that Hunter S. Thompson lived and wrote here in the high Rocky Mountains of central Colorado, Aspen became an aerie for the rich and the beautiful - the very sort of place, right under his nose, that he was famous for fulminating against in his books. "Freak power in the Rockies," as Mr. Thompson once dubbed the spirit of his adopted home, gave way to Louis Vuitton".

NYT - Hunter S. Thompson, 65, Author, Commits Suicide By MICHELLE O'DONNELL
"Hunter S. Thompson, the maverick journalist and author whose savage chronicling of the underbelly of American life and politics embodied a new kind of nonfiction writing he called "gonzo journalism," died yesterday in Colorado".

The Guardian - Tributes for 'gonzo' writer Hunter S Thompson by Duncan Campbell
"He created a new style of journalism, bequeathed us the phrase "fear and loathing", was played on screen by Johnny Depp and Bill Murray, kept a peacock as a watchdog and claimed to have first seen President Bush passed out in a bathtub in a Texas hotel".

BBC - Hunter S Thompson commits suicide
"Hunter S Thompson, the American counterculture writer, has been found dead at his home in Colorado".
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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Arthur Miller

is gone but his important legacy will continue to enlighten the world.

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BBC - Broadway lights go out for Miller

One of the greatest dramatists married one of the greatest stars
Theatres on Broadway have darkened in tribute to Arthur Miller, the American regarded as one of the greatest dramatists of the last century.

The author of Death of a Salesman died at 89 of heart failure on Thursday evening, surrounded by family and friends at his home in Connecticut".


The Arthur Miller Society


Arthur Miller's major works

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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Code Louvre


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The makers of the film of the Da Vinci Code with Tom Hanks, have permission to shoot inside the Louvre Museum. They will probably start shooting in May. The louvre is only funded by it's visitors which is the agrument for charging such exhorbitant fees for filming there. This has caused many filmamkers to use alternative chateaux...

Le Figaro - "Le Louvre exige plus de 50 000 euros par jour pour un tournage dans la cour Carree."

BBC - Louvre allows Da Vinci Code shoot

"The Dan Brown Code" by Dennis Neuenkirchen is a very interesting and amusing article, that questions the accuracy of Dan Brown's research about . It is on one of the essential Parisian websites Bonjour Paris . Run by Sarah Gilbert herself a highly acclaimed novelist and writer.

The Da Vinci Code

Explore Da Vinci Code Secrets with Canals of France
Canals of France is offering 8-day itineraries that explore the controversial sites, history and brotherhood made famous by Dan Brown's The .

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Mind Hacks

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"Mind Hacks" Tips & Tools for Using your Brain in the World By Tom Stafford, Matt Webb - Reviewed for Bookzen by KJR

"Mind Hacks" is an excellent starting place for the exploration of the human mind, apparently a very popular interest right now. Curiosity regarding how we think seems in vogue, since so many are reading one of a group of recently published books on the subject. Including "Mind Hacks" there is "The Mind Map" by Tony Buzan and Barry Buzan, "Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell" The Undiscovered Mind" by John Horgan, "On Intelligence" by Jeff Hawkins (PalmPilot creator) and Sandra Blakeslee, and from Steven Johnson, who wrote the Foreword to "Mind Hacks, " there is "Mind Wide Open. "

All of these delve into that uncharted land called how our grey matter works and how we can live better lives by knowing more about it. Each of these books has a delightfully different take on the subject, and "Mind Hacks" itself is full of references for further reading. Is it more than just a co-incidence that these books are all out right now, being talked about, blogged about, and voraciously read? Why this insatiable synchronicity of people wanting to know more about how we are made and how we think?

In more classical studies, "Mind Hacks" would be filed under physical and cultural anthropology. And though you will be introduced to words like limbic, cortex and cerebellum, keeping track of technical medical terms is not essential for understanding and learning much from this book. While it seems written for popular audiences, and uses everyday examples to illustrate how we as human beings tend to think, and why, "Mind Hacks" is helpfully structured to take you just as deep as you want to go.

As to whether the mind can be hacked, just ask a songwriter, movie producer or ad exec; though by "hacks," the authors really mean examples, and there are hundreds. For instance, why do we tend to see faces when we look at clouds? Why do we scrutinize other peoples' faces so intently? Why, if we see six of the same thing, do we tend to see the seventh object as the same, too, even if it isn't? Why do we smell chalk when we think of Dick, Jane, and that "silly, silly Spot?" What do we really find irresistibly interesting and what bores us to death? Did left-handed people evolve differently and why do they have more traffic accidents? Why are some people better at math? Why do sunglasses make the world more interesting visually? (It's all in the mind.) Why do people respond differently to the same instructions? And by implication, what is the best way to design a web page? All of this is covered in "Mind Hacks" including which sectors of the brain are responsible, and how the research was done.

is a good starting place for exploring your mind, partly because it would fit nicely with some of the other books mentioned here and in the book itself, but also because Mind Hacks is at the center of an expanding culture of exploration and investigation of mental phenomena,including blogs about "Mind Hacks" and related phenomena (just technorati "Mind Hacks" for instance.) There are the sites of the book's publisher O'Reilly for starters and a page relating to topics covered in "Mind Hacks" about why posting flickr zeitgeist might be a distraction for people who actually want to read your blog, and there is the excellent "Mind Hacks" blog itself mindhacks.com, which does not seem to be accessible from the O'Reilly site. Both authors have their own blogs - Idiolect by Tom Stafford and Interconnected by Matt Webb.

"Mind Hacks" suggests that you can read it sequentially or dive in randomly.
Either way it is an accessible book about some of the curiously strange ways in which we think, remember, and respond, based on how we evolved and what was then and is now most important to us as biological organisms. Even better, it is totally overflowing with examples and simple exercises -- the "hacks" -- that you can do by yourself or with friends. Better yet, buy the book and give a "Mind Hacks" party! Ask your guests to open the book randomly, exclaim on the particular mental characteristic explained on that page, and then put everyone through the exercise or group discussion implied. Like, "How do you prefer your first cup of morning coffee, and how do you feel if you don't get it that way?" Pavlov got it right more than a hundred years ago.

And speaking of Pavlov's dogs, there is much in "Mind Hacks" to suggest that we humans share many of our emotions, thoughts and feelings with other animals, whose brain structures evolved similarly and whose reactions in research are so similar.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Untamed by Steve Bloom

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This is the most wonderfull resource, absolutely essential, a unique record of life on earth.

Untamed
<br />by Steve Bloom
Untamed by Steve Bloom
For more than ten years, wildlife photographer Steve Bloom traveled all over the world, roaming through the jungles of Borneo, the African savannahs, and the frozen banks of Antarctica to assemble this dazzling collection of of animals in their natural environments. With an international range that is rare in books of animal photography, the 200 photographs in Untamed bring to life a vast panorama of animal diversity, and of the landscapes, climates, and habitats in which they live.

'Touching' wildlife captured on film
Ten years ago photographer Steve Bloom set out to visit all the world's continents and capture nature on film.via...BBC

See a video on Steve, shown on CNN, Discovery and National Geographic.

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Monday, January 17, 2005

T S Eliot Prize for Poetry

George Szirtes

Hungarian-born George Szirtes' collection of poetry has picked up the £10,000 TS Eliot Prize.via...BBC

The Poetry Book Society awards the annual T S Eliot Prize for Poetry.

The - described by Laureate Andrew Motion as "the Prize most poets want to win" - was launched in 1993 to celebrate the Poetry Book Society's 40th birthday and to honour its founding poet.

The £10,000 prize money is kindly donated by Eliot's widow, Mrs Valerie Eliot.

- Blog post 16.01.05 "If people understood each other's suffering a little better and made less noise about their own, the climate might improve somewhat. The odd energy and melancholia of the human world."

George Szirtes books and publications

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

New York City: Photographs from The New York Times

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New York City: Photographs from The New York Times

Since it first published a photographic halftone in 1896, The New York Times has engaged some of the world's best photojournalists to record the life and times of a uniquely vigorous town. This book of postcards presents 30 photographs from The New York Times Photo Archives.

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NYT 10 Best Books 2004

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FICTION

Gilead By MARILYNNE ROBINSON

The Master By COLM TOIBIN

The Plot Against America By PHILIP ROTH

Runaway By ALICE MUNRO

Snow By ORHAN PAMUK

War Trash By HA JIN

NONFICTION

Alexander Hamilton By RON CHERNOW

Chronicles: Volume One By BOB DYLAN

Washington's Crossing By DAVID HACKETT FISCHER

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare By STEPHEN GREENBLATT

- Take part in a NYT discussion about the 10 Best Books of the Year

- NYT 100 Notable Books of the Year

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Google World Library

This is very exciting

bookzen - literary reviews

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Google Is Adding Major Libraries to Its Database By John Markoff and Edward Wyatt NYT

"Google, the operator of the world's most popular Internet search service, plans to announce an agreement today with some of the nation's leading research libraries and Oxford University to begin converting their holdings into digital files that would be freely searchable over the Web".

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sfgate's Best Books 2004

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sfgate.com has just published thier list of the best books of 2004

It is a very long list, with short a synopsis of each book, here are a few that caught my eye -

Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939 by Virginia Nicholson
Americans in Paris: A Literary Anthology by Adam Gopnik
A Chance Meeting: Intertwined Lives of American Writers and Artists, 1854- 1967 by Rachel Cohen

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Thursday, December 09, 2004

BookCrossing programmer Dan Clune still missing after one month, reward rises to $10,000

Bookcrossing has asked all thier members to spread the word but when I looked on Technorati this I only found 8 mentions in blogs, so please re-blog about this and pass the info on, thank you!

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Dan Clune disappeared from the Long Bridge Bar and Grill (Sandpoint, Idaho) on November 6, 2004 just before 2AM, he was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt and blue knit ski cap.

Danny's story will be on COURT TV Catherine Crier Live Friday December 10th at 5:00pm ET/PT

Please help find him http://www.finddanny.com/

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Reviews by KJR for Bookzen
A Desirable Residence by Madeleine Wickham A Desirable Residence by Madeleine Wickham
Google Hacks, Tips & Tools for Smarter Searching By Tara Calishain, Rael Dornfest Google Hacks, Tips & Tools for Smarter Searching By Tara Calishain, Rael Dornfest
 Mind Hacks Tips & Tools for Using your Brain in the World By Tom Stafford, Matt Webb Mind Hacks Tips & Tools for Using your Brain in the World By Tom Stafford, Matt Webb
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Places of Peace and Power by Martin Gray
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Sahel:The End of the Road by Sebastiao Salgado Sahel:The End of the Road by Sebastiao Salgado
Brightness Falls by Jay McInerney Brightness Falls by Jay McInerney
We the Media : Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People By Dan Gillmor We the Media : Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People By Dan Gillmor
The Ecology of Eden by Evan Eisenberg The Ecology of Eden by Evan Eisenberg
Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Lysergically Yours by Frank Duff Lysergically Yours by Frank Duff
Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Arnim
Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Arnim
Summer by Edith Wharton
Chekhov
Chekhov
Couples by Jophn Updike Couples by Jophn Updike
Crime and Punishment by Feodor Dostoevsky
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
 
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Foyle's
Foyles 113 - 119 Charing Cross Road, London
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Foyles Literary Luncheons Enquiries and ticket info tel: +44-(0)870 420 2600 luncheons@foyles.co.uk Online booking form.
700th Foyles Literary Luncheon 2004 photos
Hatchard's
Hatchards the oldest bookshop in London est. 1797. 187 Piccadilly, W1J 9LE, Tel: 020 7439 9921
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Waterstone's
Waterstones 203 Piccadilly, London
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-info- expo -
- National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.
 
The Man Booker International Prize
- The Man Booker International Prize will recognize one writer for their achievement in fiction. The prize will be awarded once every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English, or generally available in translation in the English language.
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- World Book Day 2005 Thursday 3 March World Book Day was designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and was marked in over 30 countries around the globe last year.
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Glasses for humanity
- Glasses for humanity will remove a significant barrier to literacy, education, productivity and economic well-being for tens of millions of people each year.
- The Royal Literary Fund is a British benevolent fund for professional published authors in financial difficulties.
- Bookcrossing is Ron Hornbaker's super idea. If you have books that you no longer want you can liberate them. Leave them somewhere so that they can be read by others. Catch books from bookcrosssers. You can write reveiws on the site rather like at Amazon. There are also Bookcrossing MeetUp's on the second tuesday of each month.
Free book
for members - Wild Animus by Rich Shapero Wild Animus is a novel about obsession and surrender, set in the wilderness of Alaska’s Mt. Wrangell.

- Project Gutenberg is the most wonderful resource. thousands of books have been put online, you can download them for free, in many different languages. This is very important for the whole world. Advanced search >>
Gutenberg author Sam Vaknin has written a UPI News Wire Story addressing our 10,000th eBook, DVD and CD giveaways, and more!

- A9 the Amazon book search engine, includes the search inside the book feature.
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- RSL magazine 2004
- The Royal Society of Literature is the senior literary organisation in Britain, founded by George IV in 1820 to 'reward literary merit and excite literary talent'. Today, the leading living writers are elected to its Fellowship; lectures, readings and literary discussions are arranged, and we have a doughty record of campaigning on behalf of the writer and the written word.
- Join the Society.
- Contemporary Writers in the UK This unique, searchable database contains up-to-date profiles of some of the UK and Commonwealth's most important living writers - biographies, bibliographies, critical reviews, prizes and photographs. Searchable by author, genre, nationality, gender, publisher, book title, date of publication and prize name and date.
- Fundamental Digital Library of Russian Literature and Folklore (known by its Russian acronym, FEB).
- Open Access News - News from the open access movement
- Indiana University has launched an OA repository for / sheet music.
- Bartleby great free online books.
- USA Today bestseller search weekly bestsellers, going back 10 years.
- Google has just offered the facility to search over 60,000 books - print.google.com
- Allconsuming is a great site, you can reveiw books that you are reading etc. You can choose your book list to show up on your site, with just a bit of javascript, as I have done below. Thank you!
- Caderbooks publish an annual entertainment almanac in conjunction with People Magazine which presents a storehouse of useful and interesting facts and features about the entire world of entertainment. Included in the book is Publisher's Weekly's list of bestselling hardcover books for the entire century. This archive presents all of those bestsellers from this century.
- National Trust Bookshop – buy NT publications online
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- Edward R. Hamilton bargain books

- Books Online – buy any book in print from the National Trust, this helps them.
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- books -
We the Media : Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People
We the Media : Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People By Dan Gillmor
Grassroots journalists are dismantling Big Media's monopoly on the news, transforming it from a lecture to a conversation. Not content to accept the news as reported, these readers-turned-reporters are publishing in real time to a worldwide audience via the Internet. The impact of their work is just beginning to be felt by professional journalists and the newsmakers they cover.
In We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People, nationally known business and technology columnist Dan Gillmor tells the story of this emerging phenomenon, and sheds light on this deep shift in how we make and consume the news. [Full Description]
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Good luck Dan : From we the readers
 
 
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