Literature

Literature

Even Balzac Had To Intern

Feb 6, 2013

A young man graduates from college. At his father's insistence, he begins interning at a law firm. But when it comes time to pursue the profession, he refuses: He wants to do something more meaningful. He wants to write.

Sound like your son/cousin/roommate/best friend? It was Honoré de Balzac.

That's right – before he became a founder of realism and an unlikely literary sex icon ("Do not suppose," an Italian count wrote to his wife, "that the ugliness of his face will protect you from his irresistible power"), the young Balzac was proofreading legal filings.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin searches for a scoop with The Girl Next Door by Brad Parks.

Title: The Girl Next Door

Author: Brad Parks

Pages: 323

Publisher: Minotaur Books          

ISBN: 978-1250013408

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

Maurice Sendak, one of America's most beloved children's book authors, evocatively captured both the wonders and fears of childhood. His books, including Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen and Outside Over There, revolutionized picture books by adding danger and darkness to the genre.

Over the course of his life, Sendak wrote and illustrated more than a dozen widely acclaimed books and illustrated almost 80 more. And although he died last May at 83, Sendak still has one more volume on the way.

The Inconvenient Truth About Polar Bears

Feb 4, 2013

In 2008, reports of polar bears' inevitable march toward extinction gripped headlines. Stories of thinning Arctic ice and even polar bear cannibalism combined to make these predators into a powerful symbol in the debate about climate change.

The headlines caught Zac Unger's attention, and he decided to write a book about the bears.

Despite the cold and snow, some signs of spring are starting to break through in Colorado. The public library in the small town of Basalt is trying an experiment: In addition to borrowing books, residents can now check out seeds.

In a corner of the library, Stephanie Syson and her 4-year-old daughter, Gray, are just finishing a book with a white rabbit on the cover.

When Gray approaches the knee-high shelves filled with seed packets, she zeroes in on a pack labeled "rainbow carrots."

In Search Of A Father, Finding Herself

Feb 1, 2013

Nicole Georges grew up believing she became a half-orphan when her father died in his 30s, but when a palm reader suggested that her father — the one her mother had told her died of colon cancer — might still be alive, she began to look more closely at the whole of her unexamined life. This personal reconsideration is the heart of Calling Dr. Laura, an inventive graphic memoir that recounts this quest, as well as Nicole Georges' coming into her own as an artist and daughter.

Netflix customers will soon have a new option: Along with the company's usual offerings, viewers will be able to watch a new show called House of Cards, a political drama adapted from a British show, and starring Kevin Spacey. David Fincher (known for The Social Network and Seven) will direct the first two episodes. But what's new about House of Cards is that all 13 episodes will be available at once — and they were financed by Netflix itself.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin checks herself into the rehab romance Excuse Me for Living by Ric Klass.

Title: Excuse Me for Living

Author: Ric Klass

Pages: 300

Publisher: Arcade Publishing     

ISBN: 978-1616087807

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

This week marks an important milestone for anyone who swoons at the very mention of Mr. Darcy. Pride and Prejudice is turning 200, and to celebrate its bicentennial, cartoonist Jen Sorensen drew up an illustrated version of the classic.

Some children's book illustrators might not have gotten a lot of sleep over the weekend. That's because they might have been wondering if this could be the year they win one of the grand prizes of children's literature: the Randolph Caldecott Medal.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott, which is given to the most distinguished children's picture book of the year. The winner is being named Monday morning at a meeting of the American Library Association.

National security reporter Fred Kaplan was the first to publicly link Paula Broadwell to Gen. David Petraeus in last fall's affair scandal, but that's not the topic of his new book. In fact, it's barely an addendum. Instead, Kaplan focuses in depth on counterinsurgency — a cornerstone of Petraeus' legacy.

In the introduction to his new book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, Lawrence Wright writes, "Scientology plays an outsize role in the cast of new religions that have arisen in the 20th century and survived into the 21st."

The book is a look inside the world of Scientology and the life of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986. A recent ad for Scientology claims to welcome 4.4 million new converts each year.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin goes back to school for murder and family dysfunction in Maggie Barbieri’s Extra Credit.

Title: Extra Credit

Author: Maggie Barbieri

Pages: 373

Publisher: Minotaur Books          

ISBN: 978-1250001887

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

When the Internet offers a superabundance of material to read, watch, listen to and play, it's easy to skim over text and half-listen to broadcasts. But the British government is inviting schoolchildren to put down their cellphones, turn off their news feeds and spend a long time lingering over a poem — so long that they learn it by heart.

"Contact with nature is not some magical elixir but the natural world is the substrate on which we must build our existence," writes Stephen Kellert in his new book Birthright: People and Nature in the Modern World.

In it, he tells stories of the environment's effect on us, and ours on it. His writing builds on the traditions of Thoreau, John Muir and Rachel Carson. Modern society, he argues, has become adversarial in its relationship to nature, having greatly undervalued the natural world beyond its narrow utility.

Let's face it. When you're a kid, sometimes adults can be a real drag. The new Captain Underpants book puts it this way: "Did you ever notice how grown-ups hate it when kids are having fun?"

If your idea of a library is row upon row of nicely shelved hardcovers, then you'll be in for a surprise when a planned new library in San Antonio opens this fall.

"Think of an Apple store," Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff says while explaining the layout of the new library, BiblioTech.

In keeping with technological advances, the county will house a library of neatly arranged LCD screens and gadgets instead of the traditional banquet of dog-eared print and paper books. The public library will be one of the first digital-only libraries of its kind.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin joins a mourning mom for a mystery in the mountains in Blind Faith by C. J. Lyons.

Title: Blind Faith

Author: C. J. Lyons

Pages: 401

Publisher: Minotaur Books          

ISBN: 978-1250014603

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

In 1961, Robert Frost became the first poet to read at a U.S. inauguration when he recited "The Gift Outright" at President John F. Kennedy's swearing in. Since then, only three other poets have taken part in subsequent inaugural ceremonies: Maya Angelou, Miller Williams and Elizabeth Alexander. Now, there's a fifth.

This month marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which President Lincoln issued on Jan. 1, 1863, in the midst of the Civil War. The document declares that all those held as slaves within any state, or part of a state, in rebellion "shall be then, thenceforward and forever free."

Historian Bruce Levine explores the destruction of the old South and the reunified country that emerged from the Civil War in his new book, The Fall of the House of Dixie. He says one result of the document was a flood of black men from the South into the Union Army.

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