Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Why Is It So Hard To Leave A Book Unfinished?

Why Is It So Hard To Leave A Book Unfinished?

Blog post by Huffington Post's Fleur Morrison

And that is the problem for an obsessive reader -- in one short lifetime there is a finite number of books that can possibly be read and to have wasted time on a lousy one is galling. Yet, for the very same reason, that book needs to be put back on the bookshelf half-finished -- why waste more precious reading time on a book that is failing to entertain or inspire you?

And that is one of the problems with leaving a book unfinished -- when you put it down, you realise you are never going to know what happened. Will there be a twist at the end? Will everything be miraculously and beautifully tied up? Or it reach the dead end where you had an inkling it was headed, confirming all your doubts? Some of this information can be gleaned by skipping straight to the last page, although it is highly unlikely that you will be able to do justice to the story by doing that. And in a way, doesn't this feel like cheating? Like you've started the race, skipped the middle, and sprinted over the finishing line. It is unsatisfying and almost meaningless.

We (finally) know why old books smell so amazing

The closest thing we have to magic on this earth is the smell of books. The moment we open a novel and catch a whiff of its well-loved pages, we’re instantly transported to a universe filled with delicious words, sweet memories, and the thrill of bookish adventures. But why? Why do books do this to our senses?

Sci Show reveals that books are composed of paper, bindings, and ink. In turn, these three things contain chemical compounds. Over time, chemical compounds can be broken down thanks to the moisture, heat, and light in their surroundings. When this happens, volatile organic compounds (also known as VOCs) are unleashed into the air.

Anxiety of Erasure: Trauma, Authorship and the Diaspora in Arab Women’s Writings

Anxiety of Erasure is a book written by an Arab woman, to describe the grief of Arab women seen through the eyes of Arab women. It is a refreshing, unique and gripping read; as a woman from an Arab background, it is one of the first such books with which I feel that I can identify fully.

Overall, Anxiety of Erasure is an eye-opening read that addresses the depths of the angst of the Arab woman. Al-Samman has used a wide range of literature from a number of authors and pieced them together to bring to light the misjudged chronicle of the Arab woman’s existence. The book is crafted in such a way that it is accessible to anyone who wants to understand the plight of Arab women in literature. More importantly, perhaps, when read by an Arab woman, it is likely to awaken her soul.

Review by Diana Alghoul (Middle East Monitor)

‘The Romanovs: 1613-1918,’ by Simon Sebag Montefiore

The Romanovs: 1613-1918The story of the Romanov dynasty began in 1613 with Michael Romanov, chosen as Russia’s czar in the Time of Troubles, and ended in 1918 with Alexei Romanov, shot alongside his parents and sisters in the basement of a house in the Urals. 

In his mammoth 744-page opus, “The Romanovs,” Simon Sebag Montefiore, the eminent biographer of Joseph Stalin and Grigory Potemkin, covers the entire dynasty, from its rise to its apogee to its fall — an enterprise that has been accomplished only twice before, for reasons that become apparent just pages into the volume: It takes true historical daring to tackle such an immense subject.

See Simon's website for more details on his books

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Book Bargains - April 2016

Some interesting finds from April 2016:
  • John Marsden: Volumes 2 & 3 in his series beginning with "Tomorrow When the War Began"
  • Jeremy Potter's "A Trail of Blood" - a "princes in the tower" mystery
  • Peter Hyams' "Capricorn One" - love a great conspiracy theory
  • Laurie Devine's "Crescent" - tale of four girls living in Palestine between 1958 - 1982
  • Diane Haeger's "The Ruby Ring" - story of the artist Raphael and his muse
  • Catherine Junks' "Inquisitor" - tale of murder, lust & betrayal in 1300s

The Most Successful Literary Hoaxes in History

Whether or not you enjoy a good hoax depends on your perspective; put simply, if you’re the victim, you probably won’t be amused. But, as they say, time heals all wounds, and a truly worthy hoax can be appreciated for its genius once enough time has passed. Here are eight literary hoaxes that were so successful, you simply have to admire them.
Blog post by Jeffrey Somers

Mysterious 'Man in the Iron Mask' Revealed, 350 Years Later

A 350-year-old French mystery has been unmasked: In his new book, Paul Sonnino, a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, claims he has uncovered the real identity of the mysterious Man in the Iron Mask.

In "The Search for the Man in the Iron Mask: A Historical Detective Story" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), Sonnino leads the reader through historical records, correspondence regarding the prisoner and other aspects of his investigation.

The last Hindu ruler of Kashmir inspires new novel

The brave Kota Rani played a critical role at a historic inflection point in Kashmir's turbulent history and the tale of this last Hindu ruler of medieval Kashmir inspires a new novel.

"The Last Queen of Kashmir", set in 14th-century Kashmir, by Rakesh K Kaul is a sweeping saga of a civilisation in peril and also the story of one of the greatest queens of the land.

The beautiful and regal Kota had once known love and dreamt of happiness but that was before the murder of her father and before she became Rani.

As invaders and immigrants disturb the tranquility of her land, Kota looks for a way to protect her people but at some personal cost. She weathers the political intrigues and power-play of the court and succeeds in preserving the splendour and diversity of her society.

In Search of the Irish Dreamtime: Archaeology and Early Irish Literature

JP Mallory describes this book as a companion to his The Origins of the Irish, from 2013, in which he sketched the emergence in the early medieval period of a people who were recognisably Irish. In that book he briefly examined the legendary history of Ireland as written down in early-medieval times by clerical scholars who prized the vernacular traditions of poetry, myth and legend and gave them an honoured place side by side with the Latin learning of the church.

Review by Michael Ryan in The Irish Times

7 Books That Will (Probably) Never Be Printed Again

In an age where readers can get their book fix via downloads or overnight shipping, it can be easy to overlook the fact that not everything is available on demand. Thousands of titles remain off-limits in both digital and analog form for a variety of reasons—some controversial, others due to the author's wishes. Take a look at seven titles you’re unlikely to find on shelves anytime soon.