Tag Archives: Books

Good gift ideas: books (courtesy of Five Books)


Books usually make good gift ideas. While there are lots of ways to come up with book ideas, one way I think is good is to go to FiveBooks.com and check out their most recommended books. They have them all listed, here.

You can’t go wrong with any of books on the list. In the worst case, you can refresh a copy of a book the person may already have.

On the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter films

Harry Potter books

So it’s been 20 years since the release of ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’. It’s weird to think it’s been a big part of my life. Not because I was a huge fan but because of my daughter.

My daughter was into her film going age when it came out. It’s hard to believe now, but in the 90s it was hard to find good kids films to watch. Whenever one came out, we went. Naturally we went to this one, and like many excited families afterwards, we went to them all.

I was grateful for a decade of Harry Potter films. Unlike so many kids films, they were well made and well acted. While the three main stars developed their acting skills over time, from the beginning they were surrounded with the cream of British theatre. Not to mention fine direction, great set design…you name it. The stories may have been aimed at kids, but the films welcomed parents.

I was grateful for the books as well. The Harry Potter books contributed to my daughter’s love of reading. She and I would go to special events at the neighborhood Indigo bookstore late at night, waiting for the volumes to go on sale at midnight. Everyone was dressed up, and the store was full of Potter displays, not to mention live  magicians, and all forms of theatricality. Even the media attended and interviewed my daughter once. As parenting gigs go, it was a good one. Finally we’d get the book and she would read it well into the night. It was delightful.

Besides the films, I was happy that as my daughter grew up, the books and the characters in them grew up as well. Starting off as small books for children, the Harry Potter series evolved into novels for young adults. The books and the films dealt with events and emotions that their readers were also dealing with. To steal from Bruno Bettelheim, it was a good use of enchantment.

I was sad to see J.K. Rowling go from being a beloved author to someone who caused a great deal of pain for many people. Daniel Radcliffe responded to that, and I think what he wrote was good and echoes my thinking.

I am still glad of all the times I had with my daughter going to the films and the book launches. I enjoyed the films, and I even read and enjoyed the books. Mainly I am fond of that time in my life with her. It was a good decade that was full of good memories.

P.S. The image above is from this collectable set of the books, found here: Harry Potter Hogwarts Set from the folks at  Uncrate.

P.S. S. If you asked me which book/film I liked the most, it’s no contest: Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban. It was a bold move to choose Alfonso Cuarón to direct it, and he turned in a strong film I thought. Like the book, the film deals metaphorically with chronic illness, mental illness, stigmatism, loneliness, fear, and many more dark ideas. It’s the turning point in the film series, where they go from the light and brightness of Chris Columbus to darker themes and ideas. While I liked to other films and other directors, I liked the films that Cuarón turned in best of all.

Cecil Court: a book lover’s delight

What is Cecil Court, you might ask? According to the website, Secret London it is…

packed with twenty-odd secondhand bookshops and antiquarian booksellers, it truly is a paradise for literature lovers. Just moments away from the hustle and bustle of Leicester Square, you’ll be surprised to stumble across such a peaceful gem. The shop fronts haven’t changed for over a century, so a walk through Cecil Court is like a trip back in time

When I can travel again and go to London, I think I will make a beeline to here.

For more information on it, click on the Secret London link, or visit their web site here.

If your book shelves need arranging or inspiration

Here are two links you need if your book shelves need arranging or inspiration:

  1. 450 Square Foot Studio Apartment Layout Inspiration | Apartment Therapy
  2. How to Add Built-In Bookshelves Around Doors in Your Home | Apartment Therapy

(I love the above photo by L’odyssée Belle on Unsplash. I wish our city had something like that.)

Ai Weiwei turns the tables on the New York Times By the Book and you just might feel better about your own reading afterwards

Whenever I read By The Book interviews in the New York Times, I am always a bit embarrassed. Everyone it seems has a stellar collection of books that they are about to read, they have read all the classics including some obscure ones, they read voraciously, and they arrange their books wonderfully. Meh. Reading about them makes me feel bad.

That’s why I felt better after reading this interview with Ai Weiwei: In the Cultural Revolution, Ai Weiwei’s Father Burned the Family’s Books – The New York Times.

He is well read and thoughtful but he seems much more ordinary about his book reading. And for good reasons. I recommend the interview in itself. And if you feel bad about your own reading, I highly recommend it.

(Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash)

Do you love books? And design? And bookshelves?

bookshelf

Then you want to go to this page and check out the magical bookshelves there (like the one above). This lover of books and design absolutely drooled over them (metaphorically speaking).

(I don’t know how comfortable or useful that chair is above, but I love the idea of it.)

If you are thinking of doing lots of reading over the holidays…


You might find this interesting: What Happened When I (Tried to) Read 30 Books in 30 Days

Personally I think that is not the ideal way to read. But you should check it out if that sort of thing appeals to you.

Also, it’s the pandemic: don’t read that close to anyone but your immediate circle. 🙂

(Photo by Ben White on Unsplash)

How to get into reading philosophy? Start with these five books

What Does It All Mean? Book
If you haven’t read philosophy before, it can be daunting. Doing it with an instructor helps. A good instructor or lecturer can give you context, guide you to what is important, help you ask the right questions, even acknowledge the difficulty of what you are reading.

If you don’t have that but still want to give it a try, I recommend this list by Nigel Warburton. Some of them are general, and some focus on specific fields of philosophy. They all sound good. Read the list: Warburton tells you what each book is about and why you want to read it.

I suspect by the time you finish the article, you’ll want to go out and get one of those books.

(Photo by Grant Jacobson on Unsplash)

It’s the weekend: here’s something good to read and something good to do


Congrats! It’s the weekend! You made it. Perhaps you want to relax. If so, here’s a list of books you might be interested in reading: 2020 books: Feel-good reads with guaranteed happy endings – The Washington Post

Hey, it’s the pandemic: you could use some more upbeat reading material.

If you are not the relaxing type, why not check in on that friend you haven’t heard from lately and drop off some soup. Need convincing that it’s a good idea? Read this: Soup for a Friend | A Cup of Jo

Obviously homemade soup is great. But if you live in Calgary, consider getting some soup from my friend, Carmie. She’s a great cook, and you can order soup from her company, SpoonFed. Get some bread or crackers, too.

The weather is getting cooler and the days shorter. Good soup can help you and your friends.

(Top image from the Cup of Jo blog post. Bottom image from the SpoonFed site.)

What to get the book lover in your life? The Little Black Classics Box Set from Penguin

As a book lover myself, I have coveted the collection of books above from Penguin. As they say:

This spectacular box set of the 80 books in the Little Black Classics series showcases the many wonderful and varied writers in Penguin Black Classics. From India to Greece, Denmark to Iran, the United States to Britain, this assortment of books will transport readers back in time to the furthest corners of the globe. With a choice of fiction, poetry, essays and maxims, by the likes of Chekhov, Balzac, Ovid, Austen, Sappho and Dante, it won’t be difficult to find a book to suit your mood.

Sounds great! For more information, including how to order it, go here.

.

If you are feeling bad about reading fewer books, then read this

I’ve been reading less since the pandemic hit. For many reasons. It started to bother me, since the last few years I have been reading dozens of books each year. I felt I was failing. Then I read this: How to Read Fewer Books, from The School of Life.

I whole piece is good, but this part nailed it for me:

In order to ease and simplify our lives, we might dare to ask a very old-fashioned question: what am I reading for? And this time, rather than answering ‘in order to know everything,’ we might parcel off a much more limited, focused and useful goal. We might – for example – decide that while society as a whole may be on a search for total knowledge, all that we really need and want to do is gather knowledge that is going to be useful to us as we lead our own lives. We might decide on a new mantra to guide our reading henceforth: we want to read in order to learn to be content. Nothing less – and nothing more. With this new, far more targeted ambition in mind, much of the pressure to read constantly, copiously and randomly starts to fade. We suddenly have the same option that was once open to St Jerome; we might have only a dozen books on our shelves – and yet feel in no way intellectually undernourished or deprived.

What am I reading for: it’s a great question. I think there are many answers to that. To be content, as that suggests. Or to become an expert in an area. Or to pass the time. All are good answers, depending on your need for reading. If you are feeling bad about reading fewer books, step back and decide what you are reading for. It may help you read in a new and improved way.

(Photo by matthew Feeney on Unsplash)

Quote

The story of how John Lewis ended up making a graphic memoir

Is told here: How John Lewis’s masterful illustrated memoir is a shining torch for the next generation – The Washington Post

It’s a great story about the life of a great man captured in illustrated form.

Once you read about it, you can buy it here and other places that sell graphic novels and other illustrated books.

Quote

17 books to get you through the pandemic, or the summer, or even the weekend


I saved this at the start of the pandemic for a time when I could freely buy books again. Now is that time, in Canada. I think this is a fine list, full of old and new books: 17 books to get you through the pandemic – Free Candie

Summer is a great time to read. Try and do that. If you get stuck, I find sticking to short/funny/light books can help.

And ready the Free Candie blog. It’s great.

(Image from a link to the blog post)

Quote

How to get started reading the classics


Well this advice is fraught with assumptions, but if you are hankering to read the classics and have an open idea of what “the classics” are, I recommend this:  So you want to read classic books during the coronavirus pandemic – Vox

Basically, there are quite a number of books that are considered classic, but not all classics are approachable. You might pick up one in anticipation, get stuck, and abandon the idea of ever reading such books. To prevent that from happening, read the advice given in Vox. Start slow, and go from there.

Finally, there has always been a debate over what consists of the classics. Many of them will not appeal to you. And other books not considered “Classic” by many might just be old enough for you to fill your appetite for something you consider classic. (e.g. A fan of science fiction might consider Jules Verne classic. ) I consider it good to read from different times: it gives you a better appreciation of your own time, among other reasons. So put down those contemporary writings and go find your own classics to read and love.

Quote

Having problems reading? Then avoid these books

It’s always tricky posting a list like this, for the minute you do, many people will go over it and disagree with it. They will say, “but The Ambassadors is my favorite book”. Fine. Read this list and decide for yourself: 21 Books You Don’t Have to Read | GQ

Many of these books you will be familiar with. (Ahem, The Bible.) You may have them somewhere in your house. Perhaps on your nightside table. Hopefully this will save some of you from spend time struggling to read a book you shouldn’t even be reading.

Life is short. There is an endless list of books you can read. Read the ones you want to.

Quote

Pandemic Challenge: read an entire book in a single day

I realize not everyone can do this, but if you are bored out of your gourd right now and are looking for a challenge, why not try to read an entire book in a single day.

If you think: there’s no way I can do that, then read this:  How to Read an Entire Book in a Single Day.

As you can see, it’s quite possible to do it, and with that article, you have all kinds of advice on how to succeed.

The weekend is coming up. This could be just the thing you need to feel some sense of accomplishment.

Let me know what you read!

In Defense of Self-Help Books

A strong defense of self help books can be found here: On Self-Help Books | The Book of Life.

Essentially the argument is that the genre has been overtaken and is associated with people like this:

And not associated with this:

We need a list of good self help books, classic and current. Unfortunately, even lists with the so called best self-help books of all time  are lacking in literary qualities. That’s a shame.

I think we need a new list of self-help books then, a list stretching  from the classics such as the Dhammapada and the Bible and the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, all the way to present day books like In Search of Meaning. A new list of books that help us live better lives but that are good as books themselves. It’s time for such a list, and time for the current list of self-help books to take a backseat to this new list.

 

Quote

“Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” – a review in the NewYorker


For fans (or critics) of productivity books, here’s a review of  “Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” in The New Yorker.

It’s a good review of such a book. Better than the usual synopsis. Also good to think about on a Monday as you roll into work and figure out how you are going to tackle – or avoid – the week and what it entails.

Quote

You want short novels? The Paris Review got your back


As they say, here is: A Very Short List of Very Short Novels with Very Short Commentary.

Some of these you may have read, but chances are there are a few you haven’t. I recommend short novels to people who want to read more and are stuck with not having read anything recently. Better still, read good short novels. Every book on that short list is a good book.

Enjoy

Quote

How to Read More Books, According to an Editor Who Finishes 60+ a Year


It’s Saturday. You are thinking: I should start reading more books. But I suck at it. Well then, read this: How to Read More Books, According to an Editor Who Finishes 60+ a Year

I can’t promise it will get you to 60 books, but it will help.

Things I’d add:

  • Toss books you don’t like.
  • If you get stuck on a book, move on.
  • Put down your phone.
  • Don’t just sit there: pick up a book!
  • Have more than one book on the go, but mix up the genres.
  • If you get put off by big books, get smaller books. Finishing any sized book is satisfying.
Quote

Bookworm: a bookshelf that is a cut above the rest

Part bookshelf, part seat, this bookshelf is not like any other.

For more information on how you can get your own, see Bookworm – The only cocoon shaped bookshelf in the world | Atelier 010 Rotterdam

Quote

What are the top business books?


Arguably they are the ones in this article: I read the 8 best business books of all time—here’s what I learned. If you want to know what they are and get a synopsis, read that piece.

Quote

44 short books to help you overcome your reading difficulties

This is brilliant: 44 Short Books to Help You Reach Your Reading Challenge Goal – Goodreads News & Interviews.

It’s a great list of books, for starters. Second, they tell you how long they long they are and a number of them are under 100 or 200 pages.

If you are trying to reach a reading challenge goal, or if you are stuck trying to get started reading, or if you find you never finish books due to their length, then you should check out that list.

Quote

Do you want to read more women writers but need suggestions? The Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts has your back

How so? Here is a list of one hundred books by great women authors on a wide range of topics, including graphic novels like Persepolis. Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts – #VOTE100BOOKS. 

Regardless of the voting and which book gets the most, it is safe to say that everything listed is worth seeking out.

It’s unlikely even well read people haven’t read all these. If you find you want to read more women, you’re bound to find things on that list.

Quote

Stunning Photographs of European Libraries

The photographs of European libraries at this link really are stunning! I’d love to take a tour of Europe that went to each one of them.

Lovers of libraries and books will want to check out Fubiz for more images. The above image is just one of many great photos.

Quote

A reluctant promotion of a Kickstarter project: Color Problems – A Book by Emily Noyes Vanderpoel by The Circadian Press with Sacred Bones


Despite being burned too many times by Kickstarter projects, this one seems so worthwhile I feel I must promote it: Color Problems – A Book by Emily Noyes Vanderpoel by The Circadian Press with Sacred Bones — Kickstarter. It’s a great project to recreate a classic book, and it will be a boon to many people if it gets off the ground. Anyone interested in the visual arts should check it out and contribute some way if you can.

I hope it’s successful, that the project initiators have 1) their act together 2) actually release something tangible and 3) in a timely manner that is high quality.  (Many of my recent Kickstarter projects have failed at 1, 2 and 3.)

Good luck to them.

For book lovers, here are some of London’s most attractive bookshops

Book store

John Sandoe Books Ltd is just one of the shops shown here:
London’s prettiest and most Instagrammable bookshops | London Evening Standard.

If you love books, this piece in the Standard will have you planning / dreaming of going to London and spending quality time (and money) there.

Enjoy.

Before the Kindle, there was Napoleon’s travelling library

And what a library! Napoleon had asked for it to be as follows:

The Emperor wishes you to form a traveling library of one thousand volumes in small 12mo and printed in handsome type. It is his Majesty’s intention to have these works printed for his special use, and in order to economize space there is to be no margin to them. They should contain from five hundred to six hundred pages, and be bound in covers as flexible as possible and with spring backs. There should be forty works on religion, forty dramatic works, forty volumes of epic and sixty of other poetry, one hundred novels and sixty volumes of history, the remainder being historical memoirs of every period.

Even with slimmed down books, that is a lot of paper to be carrying around as your conquer Europe and other parts of the world. I’m sure he would have loved the Kindle.

For more details on this library, see: Napoleon’s Kindle: See the Miniaturized Traveling Library He Took on Military Campaigns | Open Culture

A math lover’s post

I knew that Paris had streets named after politicians and historical figures, but I didn’t know how many Paris streets are named after mathmaticians. Apparently quite a few! Amazing. One more reason to love Paris.

Dover publishers have the best books when it comes to math. If you want to see some of their better ones, see this list.

Good stuff.

Published on 9/29 at 9:29 🙂

 

Bill Gates and his most recent recommended books

Bill Gates

Bill Gates picks great books to read, and Business Insider has his latest batch here: Bill Gates’ favorite books on science – Business Insider. Unlike other such lists from famous people, I can imagine Gates actually does read all the books he recommends. From other reviewers I’ve read, his book selection is solid.

Not just non-fiction, there is some fiction in there as well.

Book writing advice, cookbooks and otherwise

Cookbook
If you have the itch to be an author, then here are some links you may find helpful:

Image from here: http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Cookbook.

How to read more books

If you want to read more books but struggle, then I recommend this article: How I Tricked Myself Into Reading More Books. I have applied a number of the lessons in this article and I have gone to reading 2-3 books a year to reading over 20 a year.

Besides the lessons in this article, there are four other methods I use to read more books.

  1. Buy (or borrow) more books than you can read. I used to buy a book and then try and read it. What I found was that if I didn’t like it much, I would put it down and not read anything. Now I tend to buy 3 or more books at a time, and have them close by. If I get stuck on one, I move on to another until I find myself reading often. Most times I will come back to the book I got stuck on. If I find I continue to get stuck on it, I just toss it.
  2. Follow the 50/100 page rule. This rule has two parts. Part 1: if there is nothing of merit in the book by 50 pages, get rid of it. Part 2: if there is something of merit in the first 50 pages but nothing more by page 100, get rid of it. Life is too short and there are too many good books out there to waste your time trying to finish a poor one.
  3. Skim the middle of non-fiction books. I find for many non-fiction books, the beginning is strong and the ending is either strong or short. However, in the middle you often find repetition. For example, for how-to books or books that have examples or cases to illustrate the main ideas of the book, you will find many of the same ideas played out 5 or 6 times. I find after 2 or 3 times, I either agree with the author’s ideas or I don’t. Either way, I can start to skim by the 2nd or 3rd time.
  4. Mix up light reading with heavy reading. If you find you are reading heavy material all the time, you might find you read less. I do. Likewise, if you read light material all the time, you may give up on reading because it isn’t satisfying. So switch it up. Diversifying your reading keeps it interesting and keeps you from getting stuck in a reading rut.

If you need book recommendations this summer…

…then what you need is a good list to go through. Here's one List I highly recommend: Every book Barack Obama recommended during his presidency. There's a wide range of books here, and quite a few to chose from. Regardless of what you pick from it, I think you'll be rewarded with a good read.

Karl Lagerfeld and his Atelier in Paris (a must for book lovers)

Karl Lagerfeld in his atelier

The Selby has a gorgeous photo shoot of the atelier of Karl Lagerfeld. Anyone who dreams of having a library in their home will love it. The photo above is just a taste: for a feast, see: Karl Lagerfeld at his Atelier in Paris in the selby

For the curious: top chefs and their fridges.

You might be surprised (or you might not) to see that much of what top chefs have in their fridges is not all that different than you. If you are skeptical, you should check out this book: Inside Chefs’ Fridges, Europe. Top chefs open their home refrigerators. from TASCHEN Books. If anything, your North American fridge may have alot more in it than the typical smaller European icebox.

The book is worth a look: besides the peek inside, their is also recipes and other things of interest.

On declining ebook sales (two thoughts and some good material to consider)

If you are interested in books and ebooks in particular, you should read this: On the declining ebook reading experience. Two beliefs I have on this topic:

  1. Book sellers have become more competitive. In Canada, Indigo’s prices seem to be much lower and they sell books using low prices stamped prominently on the cover.
  2. He doesn’t say it, but the author hints that Apple should step in and make their own Kindle. I certainly would like to see Apple step up and make their own Kindle. The device and the user experience would be great, I am certain. It would blow the Kindle out of the water and likely make me switch over to becoming a bigger ebook reader.

 

Library porn: Prague’s Klementinum library

My Modern Met has some fantastic images of the Klementinum library for anyone (like myself) that gets excited about such things. Here’s a sample:

If you haven’t heard of it, here’s what that site has to say about this fantastic place:

Prague’s Klementinum library was opened in 1722 and has easily become one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. Aside from housing over 20,000 novels for your reading pleasure, this location showcases absolutely stunning Baroque architecture. As you’re perusing various timeworn bookshelves, you can take a moment to look up and see Jan Hiebl’s heavenly, Renaissance-style ceiling paintings. Amongst his work, there are symbolic designs that represent the importance of education, along with fantastic portraits of Jesuit saints. Hiebl’s paintings actually pay homage to the fact that the library was originally a Jesuit university. Many of the school’s rare, 17th-century books are still amongst its collection today. That would explain why Emperor Joseph II’s portrait is displayed at the head of the hall, since he was the one who arranged for abolished monastic libraries to send their books to Klementinum.

How to find the best used bookstores in Toronto

Easy: check out BlogTO’s great list of The Best Used Bookstores in Toronto. Two of my favorites bookstores are BMV books and Ten Editions, both close to each other. I highly recommend them. Even if you know of some of them, chances are you haven’t been to them all.

Toronto has alot of great stores for new books, but if you are looking for vintage or obscure books, this list is what you need.

(Photo via a link to BlogTO)

Improve your reading with 33 short pieces of advice

If “read more” is one of your New Year Resolutions, then Austin Kleon has 33 short pieces of advice on how to read more and read better that you should review, here: 33 thoughts on reading.

I am trying to adopt most of these.  I have adopted many of them and the result has been much more reading by me for the last few years. I think the more of these you adopt, the more reading you will get done.

 

On living in Manhattan, by Zadie Smith (a most wonderful piece of writing)

There is so much good about this piece by Zadie Smith that if I started pulling in quotes from it, I would essentially replicate it.  It’s an effortless read, and yet even as I was reading it, I could feel how great it is. I had the feeling of racing down a high mountain on skis, exhilarated and impressed by the beauty and amazed how fast I am going and then it is done.

So, yes, I recommend you read: Find Your Beach by Zadie Smith | The New York Review of Books.