Posts tagged books

(via thesmithian)

The authors, Arthur Beifuss (a journalist and former UN counter-terrorism analyst) and Francesco Trivini Bellini, a creative director with a portfolio of big accounts including Gucci and Prada) certainly have the credentials to pose a little-asked question: how great a part does graphic image-making play in the effectiveness of the most active international terrorist groups? More.

Related: A slideshow of global terror groups and their logos (via the Huffington Post).

(via thesmithian)

The authors, Arthur Beifuss (a journalist and former UN counter-terrorism analyst) and Francesco Trivini Bellini, a creative director with a portfolio of big accounts including Gucci and Prada) certainly have the credentials to pose a little-asked question: how great a part does graphic image-making play in the effectiveness of the most active international terrorist groups? More.

Related: A slideshow of global terror groups and their logos (via the Huffington Post).

You can sense when somebody wants something. It’s all about energy exchange, it’s not about words. That’s what I learned from doing Humans of New York. Somebody’s willingness to let me photograph them, and willingness to tell me a story, has nothing to do with the words I say. It all has to do with the energy I’m giving off, which hopefully is very genuine, very interested energy. It’s It’s just two people having a conversation in the street. I think that’s where genuine content comes from.

Brandon Stanton, the human behind Humans of New York, as quoted in this Mashable profile about his work and his forthcoming book.

Brandon began the project in the summer of 2010 in an effort “to construct a photographic census of New York City”. Originally, the idea was to plot the photos on map, but after speaking with 10,000 strangers (New Yorkers and visitors to NYC), he decided to turn the project into a blog which features a portrait of each person, accompanied with a quote or short story from them. Humans of New york has nearly 1.5 million Facebook fans, over 33,000 Twitter followers and Tumblr posts with notes in the thousands. 

Quite the Voice Mail
Canadian author Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature today. When the Swedish Academy tried calling thirty minutes before the public announcement to tell her the news, they couldn’t reach her so left a voice mail.
Via the New York Times:

Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy said that Ms. Munro, 82, who has written 14 story collections, was a “master of the contemporary short story.” She is the 13th woman to win the prize…
…[Munro] revolutionized the architecture of short stories, often beginning a story in an unexpected place then moving backward or forward in time. She brought a modesty and subtle wit to her work that admirers often traced to her background growing up in rural Canada, which served as the location for many of her stories.
Her collection “Dear Life,” published last year, appears to be her last. She told The National Post in Canada this year that she was finished writing, a sentiment she echoed in other interviews.

FJP — Favorite part of the Times article: “‘For years and years, I thought that stories were just practice, till I got time to write a novel,’ she told The New Yorker in 2012. ‘Then I found that they were all I could do, and so I faced that. I suppose that my trying to get so much into stories has been a compensation.’”
Image: Twitter post from the Nobel Prize.

Quite the Voice Mail

Canadian author Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature today. When the Swedish Academy tried calling thirty minutes before the public announcement to tell her the news, they couldn’t reach her so left a voice mail.

Via the New York Times:

Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy said that Ms. Munro, 82, who has written 14 story collections, was a “master of the contemporary short story.” She is the 13th woman to win the prize…

…[Munro] revolutionized the architecture of short stories, often beginning a story in an unexpected place then moving backward or forward in time. She brought a modesty and subtle wit to her work that admirers often traced to her background growing up in rural Canada, which served as the location for many of her stories.

Her collection “Dear Life,” published last year, appears to be her last. She told The National Post in Canada this year that she was finished writing, a sentiment she echoed in other interviews.

FJP — Favorite part of the Times article: “‘For years and years, I thought that stories were just practice, till I got time to write a novel,’ she told The New Yorker in 2012. ‘Then I found that they were all I could do, and so I faced that. I suppose that my trying to get so much into stories has been a compensation.’”

Image: Twitter post from the Nobel Prize.

Google Definitions: Now Visualizing Basic Etymology
If you use Google as your dictionary (type define:<some word> in the search box) you’ll start seeing some etymological visualizations in your results. Nothing too deep but something very nice to see. And while it’s not there for all words, we imagine time will come when it will be.
To learn that “news” would give you a Scrabble score of seven in both International and North American English, or that its first recorded usage was in 1382? Hit up Wolfram|Alpha.
Looking for some etymological learnings for tomorrow, Friday the 13th? We got you covered.

Google Definitions: Now Visualizing Basic Etymology

If you use Google as your dictionary (type define:<some word> in the search box) you’ll start seeing some etymological visualizations in your results. Nothing too deep but something very nice to see. And while it’s not there for all words, we imagine time will come when it will be.

To learn that “news” would give you a Scrabble score of seven in both International and North American English, or that its first recorded usage was in 1382? Hit up Wolfram|Alpha.

Looking for some etymological learnings for tomorrow, Friday the 13th? We got you covered.

"Dear Sir,
You have made me unhappy. I bought your Metamorphosis as a present for my cousin, but she doesn’t know what to make of the story. My cousin gave it to her mother, who doesn’t know what to make of it either. Her mother gave the book to my other cousin, and she doesn’t know what to make of it either. Now they’ve written to me.” — &#8220;Fan Letter&#8221; to Franz Kafka.
From a review of a Kafka biography in which we learn that he proposed to his wife via an 18-page letter that included this enticement: &#8220;You would lose Berlin, the office you enjoy, your girlfriends, the small pleasures of life, the prospect of marrying a decent, cheerful, healthy man, of having beautiful healthy children.&#8221;
And that he once wept after hearing that a woman murdered her child but concluded, after reading about it, that it was &#8220;a well-plotted story.&#8221;
Related: Google celebrates Kafka&#8217;s 130th birthday.
Image: The Metamorphosis, K? Via the Telegraph.

"Dear Sir,

You have made me unhappy. I bought your Metamorphosis as a present for my cousin, but she doesn’t know what to make of the story. My cousin gave it to her mother, who doesn’t know what to make of it either. Her mother gave the book to my other cousin, and she doesn’t know what to make of it either. Now they’ve written to me.” — “Fan Letter” to Franz Kafka.

From a review of a Kafka biography in which we learn that he proposed to his wife via an 18-page letter that included this enticement: “You would lose Berlin, the office you enjoy, your girlfriends, the small pleasures of life, the prospect of marrying a decent, cheerful, healthy man, of having beautiful healthy children.”

And that he once wept after hearing that a woman murdered her child but concluded, after reading about it, that it was “a well-plotted story.”

Related: Google celebrates Kafka’s 130th birthday.

Image: The Metamorphosis, K? Via the Telegraph.

Made-to-order poetry in Los Angeles

latimes:

Jacqueline Suskin, a writer and former vegetable gardener, has taken to the Hollywood Farmers Market for her latest venture: The Poem Store.

Sitting with her typewriter, Suskin takes requests from curious passersby and regulars, taking requests for poems on back pain to making verse fit the title “Since Wednesday.”

As for the most popular request?

"Everyone is always asking for love poems," she says. "We are all obsessed with love."

But love, as a topic, is deeply unspecific. When someone asks her to write a poem about love, she responds by asking what kind of love. That usually leads to a story about a girlfriend living far

away, or a person new to Los Angeles desperately missing her family, or the love a mother has for her new baby.

She thinks people ask for poems that help them understand their path or direction in life.

"They want hope, or confidence, or they just need someone to see who they are," she says. "Half the time I feel like I am a therapist or a psychic."

Read more of reporter Deborah Netburn’s story in our latest Column One feature.

Photos: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times

3,000 Classic Books
From Jane Austen to HG Wells. All fit for a thumb drive.
Via Cool Mom Tech.

3,000 Classic Books

From Jane Austen to HG Wells. All fit for a thumb drive.

Via Cool Mom Tech.

As a leader, I have always followed the principles I first saw demonstrated by the regent at the Great Place. I have always endeavored to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion. Oftentimes, my own opinion will simply represent a consensus of what I heard in the discussion. I always remember the regent’s axiom: a leader, he said, is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.

Nelson Mandela, in his autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, page 22.

FJP: Today is Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Growing up, I heard his name and stories a lot, as an example of an extremely humanistic, strong, warm-hearted leader. He’s a dear friend of my Buddhist mentor. Only recently did I sit down with his autobiography. You should do it too.—Jihii

I have no problem with failure - it is success that makes me sad. Failure is easy. I do it every day, I have been doing it for years. I have thrown out more sentences than I ever kept, I have dumped months of work, I have wasted whole years writing the wrong things for the wrong people. Even when I am pointed the right way and productive and finally published, I am not satisfied by the results. This is not an affectation, failure is what writers do. It is built in. Your immeasurable ambition is eked out through the many thousand individual words of your novel, each one of them written and rewritten several times, and this requires you to hold your nerve for a very long period of time – or forget about holding your nerve, forget about the wide world and all that anxiety and just do it, one word after the other. And then redo it, so it reads better. The writer’s great and sustaining love is for the language they work with every day. It may not be what gets us to the desk but it is what keeps us there and, after 20 or 30 years, this love yields habit and pleasure and necessity.

What Our Words Tell Us

This is interesting. 

David Brooks sifts through findings based on Google’s database of books published between 1500 and 2008 to see how frequently particular words were used at different epochs and then tells a story about how this reflects society’s cultural changes over time.

For example:

The first element in this story is rising individualism. A study by Jean M. Twenge, W. Keith Campbell and Brittany Gentile found that between 1960 and 2008 individualistic words and phrases increasingly overshadowed communal words and phrases.

That is to say, over those 48 years, words and phrases like “personalized,” “self,” “standout,” “unique,” “I come first” and “I can do it myself” were used more frequently. Communal words and phrases like “community,” “collective,” “tribe,” “share,” “united,” “band together” and “common good” receded.

And:

A study by Pelin Kesebir and Selin Kesebir found that general moral terms like “virtue,” “decency” and “conscience” were used less frequently over the course of the 20th century. Words associated with moral excellence, like “honesty,” “patience” and “compassion” were used much less frequently.

The Kesebirs identified 50 words associated with moral virtue and found that 74 percent were used less frequently as the century progressed. Certain types of virtues were especially hard hit. Usage of courage words like “bravery” and “fortitude” fell by 66 percent. Usage of gratitude words like “thankfulness” and “appreciation” dropped by 49 percent.

FJP: Granted the narrative he constructs based on these findings—that society has becoming more individualistic and less morally aware, for example—is prone to confirmation bias (which he admits), but it’s interesting to think about nonetheless.

Bonus: Explore the Google Books Ngram View here.

The Big Map of North American English Dialects
The map and page might look like a mess, but the North American English Dialects Map is fascinating mess to go through.
With English dialects throughout North America, audio samples, linguistic explanations and more, it&#8217;s a great place for language fans to spend their time.

The Big Map of North American English Dialects

The map and page might look like a mess, but the North American English Dialects Map is fascinating mess to go through.

With English dialects throughout North America, audio samples, linguistic explanations and more, it’s a great place for language fans to spend their time.

Have You Seen this Book?
Lexicographers, philologists and bibliophiles unite: there&#8217;s a book that needs to be found.
As the Oxford English Dictionary overhauls its dictionaries it&#8217;s reexamining the more than 300,000 entries in the OED. Sometimes though, the original sources are hard to find. Case in point, Meanderings of Memory by Nightlark, which is referenced 49 times from 1852. The OED can&#8217;t find the book in its catalog or databases. All it has to work with is the fragment seen above from a bookseller.
Via Sasha Weiss in the New Yorker:

I asked Katherine Connor Martin, head of U.S. dictionaries for Oxford University Press, about how the search had come about. Her answer amounted to a mini-history of the O.E.D.’s longtime practice of calling on the general public to aid its lexicographers. “We like to say the O.E.D. has been crowdsourcing since before there was a word for crowdsourcing,” she said.
In 1879, James Murray, a leading member of the British Philological Society who edited the first edition of the O.E.D., put out “An Appeal to English Speaking Readers,” asking for volunteers to comb through periodicals, pamphlets, works of literature, and scientific and philosophical treatises, and note down unusual words and to quote the sentences in which they appeared. “Anyone can help,” Murray wrote, “especially with modern books.” Readers took down their findings on six-by-four index cards—called “slips”—and submitted them to the dictionary’s editors. Over a million quotations were collected before the publication of the dictionary’s first installment. (The practice has continued, with a few lapses, since then—now it exists in digital form.) According to the O.E.D.’s Web site, “The quotations are one of the most important aspects of the entries contained in the OED. They document the history of a term from its earliest to its most recent recorded usage.”

So, word nerds, the hunt is on. A global search for a single book.
Image: Catalog entry for Meanderings of Memory, via the OED.

Have You Seen this Book?

Lexicographers, philologists and bibliophiles unite: there’s a book that needs to be found.

As the Oxford English Dictionary overhauls its dictionaries it’s reexamining the more than 300,000 entries in the OED. Sometimes though, the original sources are hard to find. Case in point, Meanderings of Memory by Nightlark, which is referenced 49 times from 1852. The OED can’t find the book in its catalog or databases. All it has to work with is the fragment seen above from a bookseller.

Via Sasha Weiss in the New Yorker:

I asked Katherine Connor Martin, head of U.S. dictionaries for Oxford University Press, about how the search had come about. Her answer amounted to a mini-history of the O.E.D.’s longtime practice of calling on the general public to aid its lexicographers. “We like to say the O.E.D. has been crowdsourcing since before there was a word for crowdsourcing,” she said.

In 1879, James Murray, a leading member of the British Philological Society who edited the first edition of the O.E.D., put out “An Appeal to English Speaking Readers,” asking for volunteers to comb through periodicals, pamphlets, works of literature, and scientific and philosophical treatises, and note down unusual words and to quote the sentences in which they appeared. “Anyone can help,” Murray wrote, “especially with modern books.” Readers took down their findings on six-by-four index cards—called “slips”—and submitted them to the dictionary’s editors. Over a million quotations were collected before the publication of the dictionary’s first installment. (The practice has continued, with a few lapses, since then—now it exists in digital form.) According to the O.E.D.’s Web site, “The quotations are one of the most important aspects of the entries contained in the OED. They document the history of a term from its earliest to its most recent recorded usage.”

So, word nerds, the hunt is on. A global search for a single book.

Image: Catalog entry for Meanderings of Memory, via the OED.

Waiting on Perfection
See the Slate series, Daily Rituals: Life Hacking Tips from Novelists, Painters and Filmmakers.
For example:

[P]erhaps the single best piece of advice I can offer to anyone trying to do creative work is to ignore inspiration.
This idea comes up over and over again in the book. William Faulkner: &#8220;I write when the spirit moves me, and the spirit moves me every day.&#8221; George Balanchine: &#8220;My muse must come to me on union time.&#8221; Chuck Close: &#8220;Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.&#8221; John Updike: &#8220;I’ve never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think that the pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again.&#8221; George Gershwin said that if he waited for inspiration, he would compose at most three songs a year.

All very true. All very hard to learn.

Waiting on Perfection

See the Slate series, Daily Rituals: Life Hacking Tips from Novelists, Painters and Filmmakers.

For example:

[P]erhaps the single best piece of advice I can offer to anyone trying to do creative work is to ignore inspiration.

This idea comes up over and over again in the book. William Faulkner: “I write when the spirit moves me, and the spirit moves me every day.” George Balanchine: “My muse must come to me on union time.” Chuck Close: “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” John Updike: “I’ve never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think that the pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again.” George Gershwin said that if he waited for inspiration, he would compose at most three songs a year.

All very true. All very hard to learn.

I also would like to say: You really should have kids review the children’s books (especially reviewers who are the same age as the kids whom the book is intended for).

Second grader Rosa Cohn in a letter to the New York Times (via schoollibraryjournal)

FJP: Brilliant advice.