Saturday, January 30, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The first James Bond novel was Casino Royale, published in 1953, which was twice made into a film-- in 1967 with Peter Sellers and in 2006 with Daniel Craig. The second film can be found in the library catalog and can be placed on hold if you are not able to find an available copy. It is interesting to find that several of the Bond books were written in the 1950s and 1960s, but it was many years before some of the titles were made into big-screen films.
Several of the Bond novels can be found in the library system. Doctor No, Goldfinger, Thunderball are still available at some of the branches, and there are several reprints and e-book copies available through the digital download section of the webpage. In addition to the novels and films, there are also several other titles that explore the world of James Bond. There are The Moneypenny Diaries by Kate Westbrook, a fun, fictionalized account of the world of James Bond, Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks (billed as the new James Bond novel) published in 2008 and there is even a Young Adult novel called Silverfin: A James Bond Adventure by Charlie Higson. Some great non-fiction titles that delve deep into the Bond franchise are: The Science of James Bond: From Bullets to Bowler Hats to Boat Jumps, The Real Technology Behind 007; The Man Who Saved Britain: A Personal Journey into the Disturbing World of James Bond; and James Bond by John Cork and Bruce Scivally, which is a great book about the legacy of this enduring and well-loved British agent.
While Mr. Bond may not be a favorite of some, he will always be a part of me, brandishing his quick wit and intelligence, his love for the ladies, but yet enveloping himself with the grim determination to finish the mission and the martini, shaken, but not stirred.
Monday, January 25, 2010
One of the first gems I unearthed for my Victorian reading challenge was The Clumsiest People in Europe, or: Mrs. Mortimer's Bad-Tempered Guide to the Victorian World, edited and with an Introduction by Todd Pruzan. Apparently, Todd Pruzan found a volume of one of Mrs. Favell Lee Mortimer's travel guides gathering dust in a used book store, took it home to amuse his friends, & was hooked.
His introduction details his find & the research he did on Mrs. Mortimer, who, though quite famous in her time, is unknown to us today. Besides the multi-volumed travel guide (titles included The Countries of Europe Described, 1849), Mrs. Mortimer was well known in Victorian times as the author of The Peep of the Day; or, a Series of the Earliest Religious Instruction the Infant Mind is Capable of Receiving, which, as Pruzan explains, is “a Bible primer aimed at four-year-olds that now seems bizarrely and characteristically sadistic.” The Peep of the Day features helpful & caring instruction such as “If you were not to eat some food for a few days, your little body would be very sick, your breath would stop, and you would grow cold, and you would soon be dead.”
Pruzan's introduction sets the stage for Mrs. Mortimer's "bad temper", then offers up selections of her travel guides--the listing for each country starts with a brief historical background written by Pruzan, then features Mrs. Mortimer's thoughts on different topics, including customs and appearance, character, dress, schools, cottages, food, children, the poor people, religion, government, amusements, mountains, slaves, and the forests. Then she usually discusses a couple of the country’s major cities before moving on. Sometimes she compares the habits of one country to another-Hindoostan [India] to China, Brazil to Peru.
Mrs. Mortimer believes in calling a spade a spade (frequently & forthrightly). Here's a list of some of her pet peeves:
- drinking (On Russian food: "I wish they loved no other drink except kwas [a wholesome drink of barleymeal] and tea; but they love brandy too well, and drink it, not in little cups, but in large tumblers...")
- religions other than her own Evangelical Christianity (On Roman Catholicism: “The religion they teach is called the Roman Catholic religion, but it is a very bad kind.”)
- bad character traits—including idleness, cruelty, covetousness, treachery, deceitfulness, cowardliness, wickedness, not keeping the Sabbath holy
- untidiness (On Italy: “The houses are very dirty, especially the staircase and the doorway; but the Italians think more of painting their ceilings and placing statues in their halls than of keeping their houses clean. The English think a clean house is better than a pretty one.”)
- bad eating habits (On Swedish food: "In England meat is boiled or roasted, but in Sweden meat is often only smoked. You would not like smoked salmon or smoked reindeer flesh.”)
- children who are not trained up to behave well (On French children: "Children of five or six years old often dine with company, when they ought to be alone with their papa and mamma, or else in the nursery.")
It's interesting to realize that Mrs. Mortimer felt perfectly suited to write a travel guide, considering she had been out of England twice in her life--she visited Brussels & Paris as a child, and Edinburgh (‘the most beautiful city in the world’) as an adult. She also sees nothing amiss in devoting 60 pages to Madagascar, 14 pages to Greenland, and 6 sentences to New York City.
Some of the most interesting passages give us a real sense of the how the world has changed in the past 150 years or so--Mrs. Mortimer is writing in a time when Australia was considered an island, not a continent and before explorers had found the pharaohs' treasures in the pyramids. She has a section on slavery in the 30 states 0f America--a practice which she abhors, but, as she she also points out "[t]here are no slaves in the Northern states, but there are many blacks there; and perhaps you think they are kindly treated as they are not slaves. Far from it."
Most of her observations are arbitrary and rude: “Nothing useful is well done in Sweden.” On Spanish: “It is true their language is the finest in Europe, but there are very few wise books written in it.” However, one of the points Todd Pruzan makes, as he describes beginning "to feel unsettled by [Mrs. Mortimer's] vicious, country-by-country savaging of the entire world", is that we can be reminded today how easy it is to fall into long-standing stereotypes: “Still, the apparent conventional wisdom of the 1850s—that the “merry” Irish are “fond of drinking”, that the Chinese “are quiet, and orderly, and industrious”… --are still ugly, horrifying, disturbingly familiar. How many centuries have these offensive clichés existed, anyway?”
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Established in 1969, the Friends for the Public Library is a nonprofit organization supporting the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System. The Board of Directors of the Friends annually allocates money to enhance library services to benefit the community, including providing funding for:
- Annual citywide Summer Reading Program for childen and young adults.
- Community Outreach and Family Literacy Program.
- Cultural and literary events at branch libraries.
- Specialized training and development for professional staff.
- Center for the Book- a self-guided educational exhibit on the history of books and printing.
The primary fundraising activity of the Friends is their booksales, including Monthly Used Booksales, the Main Library Bookshop, and ‘Fiction to Go’ kiosks at nine of the 17 branches. Most of the books for sale at all these locations are from kind donations from library customers!
How can you help? The Friends need the help of hundreds of volunteers every year. Volunteer opportunities include:
- Advocacy- help make local, county and state officials aware of the importance of our library system.
- Community Outreach- help develop and implement Family Literacy Programs.
- Development- help us raise more funds in support of the Library system.
- Main Library Bookshop- work several hours, one or more days a week.
- Membership- help us recruit more Friends like you.
- Pricing and Sorting- prepare books for sale, working one or more days a week.
- Serve on our Board of Directors and in committee positions.
- Used Book Sales- second Saturday of every month
To join the Friends, or for more information, check out their website.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Come join us in the fun and joy!! We are looking forward to you and your little ones being with us!
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
I've got Cranford on my list of reads now, but if anyone out there has already read the book, can you tell me if Return to Cranford is part of Gaskell's original stories? Also, if you watched the show last night, what did you think of it?
Saturday, January 9, 2010
-Level 1: 4 books, at least 2 written during 1837 - 1901. The other books may be Neo-Victorian or non-fiction.
-Level 2: 8 books, at least 4 written during 1837 - 1901. The other books may be Neo-Victorian or non-fiction.
-Level 3: 12 books, at least 6 written during 1837 - 1901. The other books may be Neo-Victorian or non-fiction.
However, at this point I think I've amassed enough potential titles to do level 3 twice. Here are some of the titles I'm considering (I'm hoping plays are acceptable):
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Wives & Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Warden by Anthony Trollope (first book of The Chronicles of Barsetshire)
Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde
Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy
The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler
Father Brown Mystery Stories by G.K. Chesterton
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
Pinkerton's Sister by Peter Rushforth
The Observations by Jane Harris
Affinity by Sarah Waters
Jack Maggs by Peter Carey
The Blood Doctor by Barbara Vine
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
The Second Mrs Tanqueray by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero
Lady Audley's Secret by C. H. Hazlewood (adapted from the book by Mary Elizabeth Braddon)
The Clumsiest People in Europe, or, Mrs. Mortimer's Bad-Tempered Guide to the Victorian World by Todd Pruzan and Favell Lee Mortimer
Death at the Priory: Love, Sex, and Murder in Victorian England by James Ruddick
The Disastrous Mrs. Weldon: The Life, Loves, and Lawsuits of a Legendary Victorian by Brian Thompson
Lectures on Art by John Ruskin
Victorian London: The Life of a City, 1840-1870 by Liza Picard
Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England by Judith Flanders
Victorian Fairy Tales: The Revolt of the Fairies and Elves edited by Jack Zipes
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale
London 1849: A Victorian Murder Story by Michael Alpert
I'm also interested in in the 2 mini-challenges:
-Period Film Mini-Challenge -- watch at least 6 films that take place between 1837 - 1901 (they don't necessarily have to be based on a book) and post a review. (With my love of Merchant-Ivory productions & the new movie Young Victoria out, this is a natural for me.)
-Short Story Mini-Challenge -- read 12 short stories written or taking place between 1837 - 1901 and post a review. (I find the library system has The Oxford Book of Victorian Detective Stories, The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories, & Victorian Love Stories: An Oxford Anthology.)