Dan Brown’s Inferno

October 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I readily admit that I have enjoyed Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series. I don’t care how unrealistic the books are–if they have literary or art , mystery (or conspiracy), or religious references thrown in then I’m often happy. And Robert Langdon is a well-written character. I know things are unbelievable, but I enjoy Dan Brown’s writing and am able to suspend my disbelief.

However, Inferno just wasn’t as good as Angels and Demons or even the Da Vinci Code. This book centers around clues that are found in Dante’s Inferno. I have only read the Inferno and not the entire Divine Comedy, so I was familiar with the information being divulged, and even if you’re not an Italian literature scholar, enough information is provided for you that you will be able to understand what’s being said.

Overall, I would say–give it a read if you’ve liked his past books, it’s not bad, but it’s not his best.

We don’t have a copy at the library, but you can request items through Interlibrary Loan: http://library.shsu.edu/services/ill.html

For those of you who would like to read up on Dante, we have multiple options at the library for you: a copy of Dante’s Inferno at PQ4315.2 .B36 2012 (3rd floor); Dante’s Divine Comedy adapted by Seymour Chwast in a graphic novel at PN6727 .C499 D36 2010 (3rd floor); and you can try a film on the topic through our Films on Demand Database, including this film Dante: Visions of the Inferno in which you will be guided through Hell.

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Catching fire: How Cooking Made Us Human

August 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

“Ever since Darwin and The Descent of Man, the existence of humans has been attributed to our intelligence and adaptability. But in Catching Fire, renowned primatologist Richard Wrangham presents a startling alternative: our evolutionary success is the result of cooking. In a groundbreaking theory of our origins, Wrangham shows that the shift from raw to cooked foods was the key factor in human evolution. when our ancestors adapted to using fire, humanity began.” (from the book)

This book is fascinating. I’ve not read much in the way of cooking history before, so I thought I’d start with our first ancestors at the beginning of it all. Catching Fire is easy to read, clear in its complex ideas, and fascinating.

We have 2 copies of this book. One in print on the 4th floor at GN799 .F6 W73 2009 and the other copy online.

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New York Changing

June 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

From Flickr, some rights reserved by Rares M. Dutu.

From Flickr, some rights reserved by Rares M. Dutu.

New York Changing: Revisiting Berenice Abbott’s New York is a collection of black and white photographs from Douglas Levere who, a fan of photographer Berenice Abbott, goes through New York and, in homage, re-photographs many of the same places. Abbott’s photography is  from the 1930s: she first started documenting the changes she saw in New York after living abroad for some time. Levere’s photography captures that New York, in many ways, has continued to change. He found many of the exact spots where Abbott stood, on the same day and time, and took the photos once more, with the same photographic equipment. In fact, Levere used a camera that had been originally created for Abbott, but she had never picked up from the store where she bought it. How serendipitous!

The black and white photographs from the 1930s New York, and even present-day (really, 90s and early 2000s), are fantastic to look at in their own right, but seeing them side by side in this book is a much more interesting artistic story to watch unfold about New York, that never-sleeping city. The photographs are all located within the five boroughs.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes city or historical photography, or for the person who just loves New York. While most people don’t like reading forewards or introductions, I must insist you read Levere’s introduction to his project if nothing else written in the book.

The Black Count

June 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Alexandre Dumas is one of my favourite authors (Count of Monte Cristo, Three Musketeers, among others). In The Black Count by Tom Reiss, we are introduced to the inspiration behind The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s no spoiler to tell you that the man who was the real count was Dumas’s father, General Alexandre Dumas (a name he took when he gave up the wealth and lineage of his own family to join the French army).

Reiss writes a swashbuckling nonfiction tale of the truth behind the General–a man who had grand adventures, became Napoleon’s enemy, was the talk of the town wherever he went, and was, also, black at a time when black men were generally slaves or, when freedmen, never rose above certain ranks. Truly, this is a grand tale and worth reading if you enjoyed Dumas’s work or if you simply enjoy nonfiction adventure tales.

The Black Count : glory, revolution, betrayal, and the real Count of Monte Cristo at DC146 .D83 R46 2012 (4th floor).

From Flickr, some rights reserved by lincolnblues.

From Flickr, some rights reserved by lincolnblues.

My Beloved World

May 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

I read Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s autobiography the other day and have to tell you that it’s really quite a good read. If you don’t know who she is, she is the first Hispanic and the third woman appointed to the Supreme Court.

Her autobiography really delves into her early years and she gets quite personal with her experiences, particularly regarding her relationship with her parents. She paints quite a vivid picture of her family and the areas she grew up in. You feel like you’re there with her. She also discusses her juvenile diabetes, which was pretty much a death warrant for many, even with medical advances in the early 20th century.

It was a bit disappointing, though she made it clear in the beginning, that this book doesn’t cover her experiences in judgeship, but it makes sense due to politics and whatever other reasons she may have. But, once you’ve read the whole book, you, or at least I was, left wanting to read more.

You can check this book out at KF8745 .S67 A3 2013.

Loading Your Kindle or its app

April 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

I attended a conference last week, so in preparation I downloaded some free fiction for airplane reading to my iPad. I scrolled through the free books, not just the classics like Jane Austen or Wilkie Collins, and selected some very strange and random titles. I was pleasantly surprised and my roulette luck with these Kindle books. Some of these titles are no longer free–you just have to do a search on Amazon.com for the free flavour of the week/day/hour.

The first I read was classified as a short story called “Into the Vortex: a short story” by Bryan Pedas. There was already a four-star review left on the title when I came to it. I’m leery of these stars because for all I know it’s someone’s mother or girlfriend posting positive reviews. The publication date is just a few weeks ago in March, and the whole synopsis is: “A spineless everyman reflects on life, love, and the big swirling rip in space and time located behind his bookshelf.” “Into the Vortex” is definitely not a deep read and probably would only be a few pages, if pages were numbered in the Kindle downloads, but it is quirky. And you’re left wondering–what about the vortex. You want to know more about it–how did it get there, where does it lead to, does the protagonist finally throw himself into it–and you get nada but the tantalizing wondering like in a G

Photo by Jules Holleboom

Photo by Jules Holleboom

uy Ritchie film: what really happens in “the end” that we don’t see?

The next download I finished, on the same flight, was Spirm Jock. Ok, the title alone may be enough to make people cringe, but, honestly, read the book. It’s hilarious. I really did laugh aloud while at the airport, and read passages aloud to my travelling colleague. So, Spirm Jock is an Australian Champion Waterfall Jumper who wants to take the world by storm. He has a nemesis, Hugh Jorgan (and I didn’t get the pun until later), who is trying to steal Spirm’s title. Meanwhile, Spirm falls in love with a Wisconsin beauty and goes to America to become a U.S. champion and meet his future in-laws. The story focuses very much around Spirm and his future-mum-in-law, who absolutely loathes this half-naked, sports sex symbol, and their relationship. The book is absolutely quirky, at times hilarious, and endearing. Not only is Spirm not the vapid person he seems, but neither is this book. Give it a read!

Puppies!

February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

Image

From Flickr. Some rights reserved by jinwesst.

Puppies Behind Bars by Christopher Makos gets a 4 out of 5 bookworm smiles from me. This is short of 5 because of the layout: the anecdotes from inmates, officers, and volunteers I think would’ve been better done had they been included with the photos instead of hidden in the very back. Some of the photos didn’t make sense–the close-up of an inmate’s stubble…really?–and some of the photos next to each other in this book made for some confusion because of the cropping. Also, some of the cropping was odd.

The book is worth reading. The anecdotes made me tear up, and I was sitting at the reference desk during my desk hours wiping away tears. But the format just didn’t do this book justice.

You can check this out from the 2nd floor @ SF431 .M35 2007