Archive for holidays

The Book Booth: Another Odds and Ends Edition



The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

It is that time of year when it is quiet in the world of books. Publishers are gearing up for their Spring releases, and booksellers catch their collective breaths after what one hopes was a busy holiday season. But there is always some news and interesting tidbits to share.

For those of us recovering from perhaps too much holiday cheer comes the good news that reading helps your brain functions in all sorts of good ways.

If you haven't finished welcoming in the New Year, or want some of the hair of the dog, Flavorwire has these suggestions from literature that you may want to try.

I'd recommend drinking at home. The humiliation of drinking at a bar when you're involved in books could end up looking like this.

We have some good news for writers who would like to use Sherlock Holmes in your narratives. Sherlock, Doctor Watson and all those characters from Arthur Conan Doyle are now in the public domain.

Then there are writers who suffer from writers block or need to think some aspects of their works-in-progress through and end up doodling. Among these writers are those given to self-portraiture. Brainpickings offers some examples here.

Oh, the trials and tribulations of working in a bookstore. Author and bookseller Susan Coll had this funny piece in the Washington Post and it reminded me of the days when I'd be asked for a book by a customer who neither knew the title or the author, but could tell me it was yellow; or the elderly lady who wanted me to shape the gift wrap ribbon into a cute dog.

Places and homes often function as characters in fiction. Manderlay. Wuthering Heights. Shortlist came up with this very useful floor plan guide for some of the more classic homes in literature.

Before we bid 2013 a fond adieu, ABEBooks handy review of the past year, complete with dust jacket art.

Often lost in the shuffle of the books published during the course of the year are those works translated into English. Juan Vidal shared three such works at NPR that look terrific and worth your time pursuing.

And finally at NPR station KUOW in Seattle comes these recommendations from librarian extraordinaire Nancy Pearl. From her short list here, I sought out Kevin Jackson's Constellation of Genius: 1922 Modernism Year One and so far, it is a great read and literary history.

Have a most pleasant weekend. Enjoy some fine books and let us know what books you are enjoying!


The Book Booth: New Years Edition



The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

A premature Happy New Years to everyone! I'm hoping the next year is one we will all remember fondly at its end and that among your resolutions is to read More Books!

While I don't expect perfection for the coming year, and think perfection might kill us all, Gabe Habash of Publishers Weekly continues his search for the perfect literary sentence. If not perfect, these examples he found are pretty darn good.

Over at Flavorwire Alison Natasi chose her favorite literary catch phrases. And not all of them come from the Bard!

Book covers are where the fine arts meet the written word. They are designed to make you buy a book for its cover and Lincoln Michel at Buzzfeed found some outstanding ones for the past year.

Seattle Tammy found this site with vintage posters promoting our libraries. Just some really fine art.

Where and when we should talk to strangers is always an awkward situation. I find I will talk more readily to someone I don't know if the comment I want to make is about books. Again from Buzzfeed, here are some acceptable places to strike up a conversation. Especially the airport security line, where silence is the norm for fear of saying the wrong thing.

Serendipitous finds like the one recently made at the Cleveland Library are very cool indeed. Only 6000 copies of Dickens' A Christmas Carol were originally printed. And the Cleveland collection has one!

I suppose we all know the Tolstoy quote that opens Anna Karenina.
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Over at HuffPo they found some truly spooky families from literature that may make you feel grateful that you have the family you do have.

On the brighter side, novelist Anakana Schofield described some more upbeat characters from contemporary novelists. I'd include the irrepressible Mr. Micawber from David Copperfield.

Here's the kind of year-end book list I like. Just books that these New York Times book reviewers liked and recommend.

Finally, among your other resolutions for 2014, I hope that not only do you read more books, you will shop for them at your local independent bookseller. Emma Cueto at Bustle gives you plenty of good reasons why you should. H/T to my old friend Ted Lucia for finding this.

Happy New Year everyone. Be safe, read more and tell us what books you've got going right now.


Outbreak of Virgin Births -- God Loves North Carolina


birth of Christ

Christmas time is a peaceful time, when we're not fighting the war on Christmas. It's a time to reflect back on the true meaning of the holiday. We talk of the miracle of Christmas. "Wake up Jesus. It's your birthday. Come and celebrate. It's your birthday."

Yes, it's the miracle of the Lord's entry into our world in that small manger in Bethlehem. December 25, not sure of the biblical year because in school we had B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini which is Medieval Latin, translated as In the year of the Lord). Truthfully, I thought AD stood for After Death, so we'll leave the definition to the Latins linguists, the calendar to the Romans, and Christ to the rest of us.

What is really important is the meaning of the holiday, celebrating the Jesus birth as a miracle. Yet perhaps a bit more attention should be placed on another date: The Annunciation of the Lord, which celebrates Jesus’s entry into Mary’s womb. The celebration of that consummation is on March 25—nine months before Xmas. That, my friends is the beginning of the true miracle -- especially if we're going to buy into the immaculate conception theory.

C'mon, you don't think that's the miracle here? Most women are capable of having a child. Not all can do it the Holy Ghost way.

There may be more than one, though. In actuality, there's a few more virgin births than you might think.

DAILY BEAST reports:

The first woman who immaculately conceived in biblical times was not Mary, the mother of Jesus; rather it was her mother, Anne, wife of Joachim, who produced Mary immaculately so that Mary would in turn herself be a sin-free mother when the time came for her virgin pregnancy and the subsequent delivery of Jesus.

Pope Pius IX, in 1854, had declared that the Immaculate Conception of Mary within Anne’s womb was dogma—i.e., a non-negotiable price of admission to the Roman Catholic faith. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which occurs in early December, celebrates this miraculous non-coital event.

So, if Pope Pius IX is to be believed (and I don't want to go on record as rebuking the word of a pope), Mary's mother Anne gave birth to the first immaculate child. Oh, and in the interest of fair and balanced reporting, this was after Anne had one child the old fashioned way. So not being a virgin, Anne would certainly know if she had been "shtupped" or not for Mother Mary's conception. She says she wasn't and if Joachim believed her, why shouldn't I?

Putting aside Anne's celibacy practices, and the same with her daughter Mary's, it's interesting that in contemporary times, just like with Jesus himself, there's been a resurrection. Lately there's been a rash of virgin births. Oh, you hadn't heard?

Yes, there has been an outbreak of these miraculous events. Does that make all of these children, sons and daughters of God? Boy, that Lord, he sure does get around lately. Ladies, you better sleep with your legs crossed, according to Todd Akin.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina have found that immaculate conceptions, of a type, appear to be much more commonplace than biology would have predicted. Using a very large data set of 7,870 once-teenage young women who were followed prospectively for 14 years, they found that 45 women, or .5 percent of the 5,340 women who became pregnant during the study period, reported that they were still virgins at the time of their pregnancy. Call it the Mary Syndrome.

Whoa-sy doasy. That sure takes the miracle out of Christmas, don't you think? And it also calls into question how many more of these virgin births have been going unreported over the past 2000+ years.

I don't want to throw cold water on a wonderful holiday, but maybe this is something Fox News can wrap itself around after the holiday, when the Phil Roberston, Duck Dynasty brouhaha dies down. I'd sure love to hear their take on the red state of North Carolina's research on virgin births. I wonder how the Tar Heel Tea Party will spin this one? Will their new state slogan be "Visit North Carolina a virgin, go home a mother."

In the meantime, don't give up on enjoying Christmas. It is a special holiday -- just maybe not a special as you might have been led to believe. Okay, yes it is. A birthday's always special. Stay safe and be healthy.

Follow me on Twitter: @linzack


Bonus Cartoons of the Day- Happy Holidays from the 113th Congress



Mike Luckovich

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

John Cole


Jimmy Margulies