Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Recycle Recycle Recycle

Our New Year resolution for the year 2009 is "increased efforts to be more environment friendly and 'green'". So to kick start the new year with this theme, here is a blog post on the innovative things people are doing by recycling newspaper.

Newspaper Bench
334 bench is a seat that has noble thought of furthering recycling and reuse behind its conception. 334 bench consists of three parallel bars of metal, over which are stacked 334 old newspapers. The papers are stacked close together. Along with the bars, these newspapers are sturdy enough to support weight of more than five persons at a time. And the craziest thing to note is the fact that there is no gluing involved.
Newspaper Brick Maker

A great way to recycle newspapers and an invaluable tool used in parts of the world where firewood is not readily available. Compressed wet newspaper dries into 81/2"x31/4" bricks that burn at the rate of about 4 per hour. Just soak newspaper (mix with sawdust and chopped grass if desired) and fill brick maker, then press down on handles. Remove brick and allow to dry, then use like wood in your stove.

Handspun Recycled Newspaper Yarn
With enough time, patience, and newspapers you can create newspaper yarn. From the design studios of Greetje van Tiem and her “Indruk” project she can purportedly spins 20yds of “yarn” from a sheet of old newspaper... newspaper yarn can be woven into varying degrees of complexity to construct anything from curtains, to rugs, netting throws, or even upholstery. Its strength may be slightly less that of yarn but when spun tightly and woven into something like a mat the newspaper yarn is a durable and functional structure. Click here to learn how to spin newspaper yarn.
Baskets Made from Recycled Newspapers

For those who have been faithfully recycling their newspapers since long before it was the law — or those who just want to look like committed recyclers — the Container Store has introduced a new collection of storage baskets made entirely out of old newspapers. The bins, which come in three sizes, are tightly woven, with two cutout handles. There is no metal involved in the construction, just paper and a coat of light matte lacquer to keep the newsprint from smearing or tearing.

What is your new year resolution for 2009?

The Box Doodle Project

A wonderful wonderful project. One that makes me smile. Presenting... *drum roll* .. The Box Doodle Project by David Hoffman.

Who doesn't love doodling? Do you doodle while you talk on the phone, while you think about ideas, when you sit in class and are bored by the lecture being delivered or even while you wait for a web page to load (psst: warning this post may take some time to load, but only because it has some really nice illustrations! So please be patient. Doodle away till it loads.)
The rules are quite simple: rearrange a box to make a kind of figure or object. Make the most of least.
The Box Doodle Project also has a box doodle tool which allows you to doodle on a box online. Take a screenshot of your artwork and mail it across to David Hoffman. (Psst: the format of their browser is horizontal, so make sure you do not miss on some fabulous artwork by mistake).

And now we present some of the results of this project. All images courtesy this website


Let Alice (from Wonderland) Help You Navigate

Who ever would have thought that "Alice in Wonderland" would become an inspiration for a book that taught cadets how to navigate.

Via boingboing

In 1961, a Cambridge don who'd taught navigation to cadets in WWII published an homage to Alice in Wonderland that used the book to illustrate concepts in navigation and geometry. The book, called "Navigation with Alice," was illustrated with fantastic replicas of the original Tenniel illos, recast to accompany the lessons.

Frank Debenham was a Cambridge don who, during World War II found himself teaching navigation to young cadets, eager to learn but frustrated that the lack of materials meant that they could only learn principles in abstract terms without being able to properly put them into practice. To this end Debenham began to relate many of his teaching practises back to the varied characters in Alice in Wonderland, something he could be reasonably sure that cadets would have heard of, and if not, that they would be more likely to engage with, hence the book where we find Alice dancing Latitude Quadrilles with the Mock-Turtle, debating the markings on globes with the Dodo and learning about the use of altitude and horizons in a protracted smoking session with the Caterpillar.

"Contagious" Teaser Campaign for a Book

All books need some hype and hoopla surrounding them in order to grasp the attention of your audience. Marketing strategies through the internet are becoming commonplace. Scott Sigler makes his readers embark on an online poster scavenger hunt to learn more about his book 'Contagious".

Via Tor.com
Pioneer podcasting author Scott Sigler has a new book coming out from Crown December 30 and is celebrating with a free serialized PDF of the book, a free audio podcast, and an awesome online poster scavenger hunt.

Contagious is a hard-science horror novel concerning a mysterious pathogen that transforms ordinary people into raging killers, psychopaths driven by a terrifying, alien agenda. The human race fights back, yet after every battle the disease responds, adapts, using sophisticated strategies and brilliant ruses to fool its pursuers. The only possible explanation: the epidemic is driven not by evolution but by some malevolent intelligence.

The scavenger hunt consists of twelve posters spread across popular blogs—find them all and assemble them the right way and the background image will reveal a major plot point in the book.

From one of our previous posts : click here to read about what Neil Gaiman did with one of his books.

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Let Your Hamster Shred Your Papers

Hmmm, would you get one of these?

Via Telegraph.co.uk

The hamster has to run flat out for 45 minutes to shred one sheet of A4 paper.

The paper then falls on to the base of the hamster cage, providing fresh bedding for the furry pet.

The London-based design consultant said: "I wanted to come up with a product that would capture people's imagination while addressing issues of topical concern such as climate change, recycling and identity fraud.

"The hamster shredder provides a solution to all of these things because it relies on the hamster to generate power, destroys confidential documents and turns paper into bedding.

Several companies have expressed an interest in turning the working prototype into a fullscale production.

Ecofont

When people talk about saving the environment or reducing your impact on it, it is not just the big things that count. Small things like recycling paper, insisting upon being given a paper carry bag instead of a plastic one, closing the taps while you brush your teeth, etc are just few of the ways in which you can contribute. Oh yeah, we forgot, you could also use Ecofont! Did a bewildered expression just creep across your face as you read that? Well, fret not! Read on...

Via msnbc
A Dutch company looking for ways to reduce the environmental costs of printing has developed a new font that it says cuts ink usage by about 15 percent.

In essence, the "Ecofont" has little holes in the letters.

Spranq, the Utrecht-based marketing and communications company that designed the font, struck on a Swiss-cheese design after failures with earlier experiments using thin letters and partial letters — like the stripes of a zebra.

He concedes the font isn't beautiful, but says it could be adequate for personal use or for internal use at a company.Spranq offers the font free on its Web site. Zomer says his site saw a spike in traffic last week as word of the Ecofont began to spread.

Mahatma Gandhi's Work Now Available For All

Via livemint.com

As 2008 ends, it will take away an era with it.

All copyright on the works of Mahatma Gandhi will end on 1 January. That effectively means any publisher can publish Gandhi’s works—running into some 200,000 pages—without seeking permission of or paying royalty to the Navajivan Trust, the sole custodian of Gandhi’s writings and speeches.

According to section 22 of the Copyright Act, 1957, works of a person go into the public domain 60 calendar years after his or her death.

“Gandhiji himself never wanted copyright law, but later accepted it following some misrepresentations of his writings,” recalled Amrut Modi, managing trustee of the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust.

Unfazed by the expiration of copyright, managing trustee Jitendra Desai reasons: “Even in profiteering, they would propagate Gandhian thought.”
The following article may also interest you too:
Mahatma Gandhi - His Relevance in the world of Web 2.0 applications

And while we are on the subject of Gandhi and Gandhian thought, you may want to buy "A Man Called Bapu" to introduce your little one to Bapu. Visit www.prathambooks.org or email us at info@prathambooks.org .

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Word Portraits

A blogpost for your visual pleasure. We found some beautiful drawings by an artist called John Sokol. He draws portraits of writers using lines from their work. We shall let his work do the talking...

Portraits below:
Row One : Barack Obama as "A More Perfect Union" and Samuel Beckett as "Waiting for Godot"
Row Two : James Joyce as "Ulysses" and T.S. Eliot as "The Waste Land"

For more word portraits, go to John Sokol's website.















Kido'Z - An Internet Browser for Kids

Via digital inspiration

If you are a parent of a young kid and have trouble finding good (and safe) websites that will keep your child engaged while you finish the daily chores, get Kidoz.

Kidoz is an internet browser with a very beautiful interface where kids can not only browse websites but they can also watch educational videos, nursery rhymes or cartoons available on YouTube.

You don’t have to search for stuff on the web as all the hard work has already been done by the Kidoz team. They have taken the best websites and YouTube videos appropriate for kids and arranged them inside Kidoz - the interface is as intuitive as a public kiosk so children as young as 3-4 years should be able to use the software without the assistance of parents.

Kido’Z is available for all platforms and requires Adobe AIR. The only limitation is that you cannot add your own favorite websites to Kidoz.

A Book Sprinkled With Vowels

Eunoia is the shortest word in English containing all five vowels - and it means "beautiful thinking". It is also the title of Canadian poet Christian Bok's book of fiction in which each chapter uses only one vowel.

Via suite101.com
The book took seven years to write and proved a real labour of love for the author, because each chapter is univocalic – every one of the five sections uses just one vowel. As if that weren’t enough of a challenge, Bok set himself further stipulations in the production of his work: each chapter had to contain a voyage, a banquet and an orgy, and must allude to the art of writing. In addition, Bok has tried to avoid repetition, and by doing so has used around 98% of the words available to him.

Bok has given each vowel its own personality: “A” is courtly, “I” is egotistical and romantic; “O” is rude and jokey; “E” is elegaic and epic, and “U” is obscene, and he is remarkably successful at conveying this idea in each chapter. Thus we hear the story of “Helen, the new-wed empress… restless, she deserts her fleece bed where, detested, her wedded regent sleeps” (Chapter E), of Ubu, who “struts … snuffs up drugs… hugs Ruth” and does plenty more things unmentionable here (Chapter U), and of the first person narrator who finds “thinking within strict limits is stifling” (Chapter I).
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Words, Words and More Words!

Are you one of the following? One who:


loves words / devours words / breathes words / examine words / obsess over words / reach for a dictionary as soon as you see a new word / tries to impress people by using words they most probably wont know / tries to trace the history of a word?

If you are any one of the above, this blogpost is for YOU. Some online resources for all you logophiles (lover of words).

Words of a Feather is an online etymology game which is an incredibly fun game to play. Even when you get the answer wrong, you manage to learn something. Also enjoyable is the mildly sarcastic, yet humorous reply the game generates when your answer is wrong.
'Words of a Feather' is a book of doublets: word pairs that trace to a common source. An example is card and chart. Both come from the Latin charta, "leaf of paper".

You can read the stories- etymologies- of 150 doublets in Words of a Feather. But here's a chance to test your own doublet-detecting skills.
Start playing

The next online resource is podictionary - the podcast for word lovers!

Every day podictionary delivers a new short story about the history of a common word to thousands of subscribed listeners.

Not only is podictionary an audio word-a-day, but as the number of words grows in the podictionary archive the website is becoming an on-line audio etymology reference of sorts.

And tick-tock-tick-tock, the New Year is just a day away. Check out this screensaver- Word Clock.

Word Clock is a typographic screensaver for Mac OS X and Windows. It displays a fixed list of all numbers and words sufficient to express any possible date and time as a sentence. Word Clock displays time by highlighting appropriate words as each second passes.

Image Sources: 1, 2

A Personal Library Like No Other


This is one article you wouldn't want to miss. Warning : It is also one article that could make you extremely jealous and green with envy!

Via Wired
Nothing quite prepares you for the culture shock of Jay Walker's library. You exit the austere parlor of his New England home and pass through a hallway into the bibliographic equivalent of a Disney ride. Stuffed with landmark tomes and eye-grabbing historical objects—on the walls, on tables, standing on the floor—the room occupies about 3,600 square feet on three mazelike levels. Is that a Sputnik? (Yes.) Hey, those books appear to be bound in rubies. (They are.) That edition of Chaucer ... is it a Kelmscott? (Natch.) Gee, that chandelier looks like the one in the James Bond flick Die Another Day. (Because it is.) No matter where you turn in this ziggurat, another treasure beckons you—a 1665 Bills of Mortality chronicle of London (you can track plague fatalities by week), the instruction manual for the Saturn V rocket (which launched the Apollo 11 capsule to the moon), a framed napkin from 1943 on which Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined his plan to win World War II. In no time, your mind is stretched like hot taffy.

Wearing a huge can-you-believe-it grin is the collection's impresario, the 52-year-old Internet entrepreneur and founder of Walker Digital — a think tank churning out ideas and patents, it's best-known for its lucrative Priceline.com. "I started an R&D lab and have been an entrepreneur. So I have a big affinity for the human imagination," he says. "About a dozen years ago, my collection got so big that I said, 'It's time to build a room, a library, that would be about human imagination.'"

Walker shuns the sort of bibliomania that covets first editions for their own sake—many of the volumes that decorate the library's walls are leather-bound Franklin Press reprints. What gets him excited are things that changed the way people think, like Robert Hooke's Micrographia. Published in 1665, it was the first book to contain illustrations made possible by the microscope. He's also drawn to objects that embody a revelatory (or just plain weird) train of thought. "I get offered things that collectors don't," he says. "Nobody else would want a book on dwarfs, with pages beautifully hand-painted in silver and gold, but for me that makes perfect sense."

He loves juxtapositions, like placing a 16th-century map that combines experience and guesswork—"the first one showing North and South America," he says—next to a modern map carried by astronauts to the moon. "If this is what can happen in 500 years, nothing is impossible."

Click here to read this article. It really is a library like no other!

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Baseball Match + Maths and Science + Mobile Phones = Learning

Technology is now reaching you almost anywhere and everywhere. Imagine sitting in a stadium, watching a cricket/football match and then getting a chance to learn maths and science through the sport you are passionate about. Wouldn't that be an easier way to understand these concepts which otherwise boggled our minds during school and college? Thanks to a new idea, learning maths and science at a baseball match has become a reality. And how? Through your mobile phone, of course

Via Zimbio
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Hot Lava Software, Inc. are changing the way Minor league and Independent league baseball relates to its fans. Dubbed, The Sports Bytes Competition, baseball fans are able to learn the science behind the sport through the use of mobile learning. Fans attending the game will have the opportunity to not only see a homerun hit, but learn how friction and drag affect the path of a baseball traveled. Although many learning institutions have attempted to teach science through the use of sports, Kauffman and Hot Lava are taking mobile learning inside the stadiums for fans to use their mobile devices to deliver on-demand Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education that is accessible and captivating.

Throughout July and August 2008, select stadiums around the country will run in-game promotions. A quirky looking professor—the announcer—motivates fans wearing his white lab coat, chemistry goggles, and mad scientist hair when he leaps upon the dugout. His Sports Bytes announcement encourages fans to take out their cell phones and participate by interacting with a Sports Bytes module and quiz items about the science behind baseball. Getting started is as easy as sending a text message to “83960” with the word “onpoint” in the text message body. Hot Lava responds with an auto response text message to the fan’s mobile phone that enables the fan to access the Sports Bytes module
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Monday, December 29, 2008

Dictionary With No Definitions

Via boston.com

IT HAS THE name Webster's on the cover, and the impressive binding of a traditional dictionary, but there aren't any definitions inside - only pages and pages of illustrations, detailed black-and-white engravings of birds, plants, architectural elements, parts of the body, geometric figures, heraldic devices.

The book costs $2,600, and that's the least-expensive edition. It took the artist nearly a dozen years to create. And - perhaps most strangely for a dictionary whose entries are images - it has become an overwhelming object of desire for lexicographers.

The Pictorial Webster's may be the most curious of the many volumes that have borne the name Webster's over the years. It's the creation of Johnny Carrera, an artist, letterpress printer, and bookbinder who lives in Waltham. Inspired by the beauty of the illustrations in early dictionaries, he painstakingly reprinted more than 400 pages of engravings from the 1859 edition of Merriam-Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, the first illustrated dictionary published in America.

Carrera found the original engravings - more than 12,000 - at the Sterling Library at Yale, and then spent 12-hour days organizing and cleaning them. He set and printed them by hand, 16 pages at a time, on a letterpress. The book's pages are hand-sewn; the indented thumb tabs on the page edges are cut by hand as well. The label on the spine is printed with gold leaf. Carrera's process, laborious and painstaking, gives you the feeling it could have been just as well accomplished by candlelight.

Carrera calls his book a "visual Finnegans Wake of 19th-century America." By arranging the illustrations in alphabetical order, without their distracting definitions, he said he wanted to force readers to make involuntary connections between the images, to create a kind of sense out of nonsense.
Read this interesting article here

The Best of 2008

With the year end fast approaching, the "Best of..2008" and the "Worst of..2008" lists are pouring in. We bring you a few of those lists in today's blog.

Starting off, a list of the "Best Illustrated Children's Books 2008" from the New York Times website. A slideshow gives us a peek into the books that made the list and a review of the book is also available for those who might want to grab a copy of it.In another article, "Highlights of 2008", we find out what took place in the world of digital publishing this year.

Something changed in 2008. For the better. Obviously not the global economy, no, rather I am talking about the publics attitude and awareness of ebooks. Anecdotally I have been amazed at the transformation of ebooks in people’s perceptions from soulless book killers to the saviour of holiday reading; from impossible, unworkable uber-geek niche, to mass-market Oprah promoted consumer phenomenon.

Amazon also gives out its list of the Top 10 books for teens this year.

And the Brittanica brings you "The Ten Must-Have Reference Books of 2008". Oxford Atlas of the World, The Making of Mr. Gray's Anatomy, Hanging with Bats and The Elvis Encyclopedia are some of the books that made this list.

What book did you fall in love with this year?

Dreaming Fingers

A Chennai based company, "Dreaming Fingers", is making an attempt to create books for the visually impaired. Tactile books with different textures and accompanying braille script allows visually impaired children to explore worlds and concepts unknown to them.

Via The Hindu

Can a visually-impaired child enjoy a picture book? That question has been answered – with an unequivocal ‘yes’ – by the folks behind Dreaming Fingers, who’ve brought out the first ever mass-produced tactile picture books for children with visual impairment.

“Although there have been a lot of books in Braille, the world of pictures has simply not been available to the child who can’t see,” says Shobha Viswanath, director of Karadi Tales (Dreaming Fingers is an imprint of the popular children’s publishing company).

But that has changed, thanks to one very hungry caterpillar, and one very dedicated lady.

That means that every picture in the storybook – whether it’s the fuzzy caterpillar or the leaves, strawberries and cupcakes it eats – is raised, textured and contoured so that it can be experienced through touch by a child with any degree of visual impairment. Plus, all the text is underscored with Braille.

Interestingly, it isn’t only visually impaired children who’re drawn to the book, says C.P. Viswanath, director, Karadi Tales: “In every country, about 50 to 60 per cent of the sales have been to perfectly normal children or even adults. I think they can help us all rediscover that rather neglected sense – our sense of touch.”

Read the entire article here and visit the Dreaming Fingers website to learn more.

All I Wanted for Christmas Was a Newspaper

This debate has been around for quite some time now-- Will blogging and the Internet result in the death of journalism as we know it? "No", says Paul Mulshine and he tells us why he thinks so in his article "All I Wanted for Christmas Was a Newspaper".
When my colleague at the Newark Star-Ledger John Farmer started off in journalism more than five decades ago, things were very different. After covering a political event, he'd hop on the campaign bus, pull out a typewriter, and start banging out copy. As the bus would pull into a town, he'd ball up a finished page and toss it out the window. There a runner would scoop it up and rush it off to a telegraph station where it would be blasted back to the home office.

At the time, reporters thought this method was high-tech. Now, thanks to the Internet, a writer can file a story instantly from anywhere. It's incredibly convenient, but that same technology is killing old-fashioned newspapers. Some tell us that that's a good thing. I disagree and believe that the public will miss us once we're gone.

In his book, "An Army of Davids," Mr. Reynolds heralds an era in which "[m]illions of Americans who were in awe of the punditocracy now realize that anyone can do this stuff."

No, they can't. Millions of American can't even pronounce "pundit," or spell it for that matter. On the Internet and on the other form of "alternative media," talk radio, a disliked pundit has roughly a 50-50 chance of being derided as a "pundint," if my eyes and ears are any indication.

The type of person who can't even keep track of the number of times the letter "N" appears in a two-syllable word is not the type of person who is going to offer great insight into complex issues.

Now we're hearing the same thing about the blogosphere. "When enough bloggers take the leap, and start reporting on the statehouse, city council, courts, etc. firsthand, full-time, then the Big Media will take notice and the avalanche will begin," Mr. Reynolds quotes another blogger as saying. If this avalanche ever occurs, a lot of bloggers will be found gasping for breath under piles of pure ennui. There is nothing more tedious than a public meeting.

The common thread here, whether the subject is foreign, national or local, is that the writer in question is performing a valuable task for the reader -- one that no sane man would perform for free. He is assembling what in the business world is termed the "executive summary." Anyone can duplicate a long and tedious report. And anyone can highlight one passage from that report and either praise or denounce it. But it takes both talent and willpower to analyze the report in its entirety and put it in a context comprehensible to the casual reader.
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What you may not have known about George W. Bush...

The name 'George W. Bush' may bring a number of incidents to your mind.. from Iraq to the recent shoe-throwing incident. By now, you certainly do know enough about him to love him, hate him, curse him, ignore him and judge him. But there may be one little thing you didn't know about him. "Bush is a Book Lover", says Karl Rove, former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.
It all started on New Year's Eve in 2005. President Bush asked what my New Year's resolutions were. I told him that as a regular reader who'd gotten out of the habit, my goal was to read a book a week in 2006. Three days later, we were in the Oval Office when he fixed me in his sights and said, "I'm on my second. Where are you?" Mr. Bush had turned my resolution into a contest.

At year's end, I defeated the president, 110 books to 95. My trophy looks suspiciously like those given out at junior bowling finals. The president lamely insisted he'd lost because he'd been busy as Leader of the Free World.

Mr. Bush's 2006 reading list shows his literary tastes. The nonfiction ran from biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, Babe Ruth, King Leopold, William Jennings Bryan, Huey Long, LBJ and Genghis Khan to Andrew Roberts's "A History of the English Speaking Peoples Since 1900," James L. Swanson's "Manhunt," and Nathaniel Philbrick's "Mayflower." Besides eight Travis McGee novels by John D. MacDonald, Mr. Bush tackled Michael Crichton's "Next," Vince Flynn's "Executive Power," Stephen Hunter's "Point of Impact," and Albert Camus's "The Stranger," among others.

To my surprise, the president demanded a rematch in 2007. Though the overall pace slowed, he once more came in second in our two-man race, reading 51 books to my 76.

A glutton for punishment, Mr. Bush insisted on another rematch in 2008. But it will be a three-peat for me: as of today, his total is 40 volumes to my 64. His reading this year included a heavy dose of history -- including David Halberstam's "The Coldest Winter," Rick Atkinson's "Day of Battle," Hugh Thomas's "Spanish Civil War," Stephen W. Sears's "Gettysburg" and David King's "Vienna 1814."

The reading competition reveals Mr. Bush's focus on goals. It's not about winning. A good-natured competition helps keep him centered and makes possible a clear mind and a high level of energy. He reads instead of watching TV. He reads on Air Force One and to relax and because he's curious. He reads about the tasks at hand, often picking volumes because of the relevance to his challenges. And he's right: I've won because he has a real job with enormous responsibilities.

For two terms in the White House, Mr. Bush has been in the arena, keeping America safe and facing down enormous challenges, all the while acting with dignity. And when on Jan. 20 he flies from Washington to Texas one last time, he will do so as he arrived -- with friends and a book nearby.
Read the entire article here

Friday, December 26, 2008

What's Love Got to Do with It?

When you are looking for a partner there is a huge list that you draw up. He should be kind, she should be adventurous, he should have a great smile, she should be a smart dresser, and so on.... But do his/her literary tastes matter too? It most definitely could, says Rachel Donadio in her article titled "It's Not You, It's Your Books"

Some years ago, I was awakened early one morning by a phone call from a friend. She had just broken up with a boyfriend she still loved and was desperate to justify her decision. “Can you believe it!” she shouted into the phone. “He hadn’t even heard of Pushkin!”

We’ve all been there. Or some of us have. Anyone who cares about books has at some point confronted the Pushkin problem: when a missed — or misguided — literary reference makes it chillingly clear that a romance is going nowhere fast. At least since Dante’s Paolo and Francesca fell in love over tales of Lancelot, literary taste has been a good shorthand for gauging compatibility. These days, thanks to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, listing your favorite books and authors is a crucial, if risky, part of self-branding. When it comes to online dating, even casual references can turn into deal breakers.

Let’s face it — this may be a gender issue. Brainy women are probably more sensitive to literary deal breakers than are brainy men. (Rare is the guy who’d throw a pretty girl out of bed for revealing her imperfect taste in books.) After all, women read more, especially when it comes to fiction.

Naming a favorite book or author can be fraught. Go too low, and you risk looking dumb. Go too high, and you risk looking like a bore — or a phony.

Marco Roth, an editor at the magazine n+1, said: “I think sometimes it’s better if books are just books. It’s part of the romantic tragedy of our age that our partners must be seen as compatible on every level.”

For most people, love conquers literary taste.
Read on to learn more about the author's views.

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Read for Free, Gift to Three


Download City of Stories for free and gift books to a little child who could use a nice story book.

Happy Holidays!

Travel Destinations for Bookworms

Five more days and 2009 will be here. What is your wish list for the new year? Is taking a vacation on that list? In that case, the bibliophile in you may want to know about the 3 best cities for bookworms.

Berlin
Why: Artists aren't the only creative types flocking to Berlin, Europe's new cultural capital. The city has been attracting both fledgling and established writers from around the globe, including Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Eugenides. And don't forget the stars of Berlin's lettered past: critic and writer E.T.A. Hoffmann; playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht; Alfred Döblin, author of the classic "Berlin Alexanderplatz"; and Herwarth Walden, editor of the avant-garde magazine Der Sturm.

Boston, Mass.
Why: Many of the country's most enduring writers lived and worked in Beacon Hill during the nineteenth century. Downtown's Old Corner Bookstore, once the offices of the publisher Tick-nor and Fields, was the unofficial meeting place of writers such as Emerson and Hawthorne. The Boston Public Library, overlooking Copley Square, is the nation's first (and still largest) municipal public library. Boston by Foot's informative Literary Landmarks tour hits all the highlights (bostonbyfoot.com; $12).

Dublin, Ireland
Why: Dublin abounds with literary landmarks, from George Bernard Shaw’s birthplace, now a museum (33 Synge St.; 353-1-475-0854), to bronze statues of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Brendan Behan on North Earl Street, Merrion Square and the Royal Canal, respectively. McDaids was the drinking haunt of Behan, Joyce, and Sean O’Casey (3 Harry St.).
Also visit Librophiliac Love Letter : A compendium of Beautiful Libraries to see a stunning array of photographs of libraries from all over the world. The article also links you to other links and books which may interest you. Go on and enjoy this visual delight.

We also came across an article about a public library coming up in Kotturpuram. With a 120 crore budget, we wonder if this library with eight floors will become a landmark amongst the libraries that exist in India.

Tell us about the libraries you love and the libraries you wish you could visit.

Image Sources: 1 and 2




Weekend Reading

The weekend is almost here and we bring you a few articles to browse through this weekend.

E-Books are the new trend and they are here to stay. We have often talked about this trend on this blog and if you missed those posts, just key in "e-books" in our search bar and take a look at all the articles that have been tracking this trend.

Our first article is about the increasing use of e-books and what the future has in store for them. Read "Turning Page, E-Books Start to Take Hold"
“E-books will become the go-to-first format for an ever-expanding group of readers who are newly discovering how much they enjoy reading books on a screen,” said Markus Dohle, chief executive of Random House, the world’s largest publisher of consumer books.
So, maybe you still aren't too excited about using the latest Kindle, the Sony Reader or any other e-book reader available. But would you be interested in receiving short bits of a novel in your email on a daily basis? Probably something just enough to keep you engaged while you take a five minute break at work. Or something to read on your way back home while you are stuck in traffic. How so? Read this article to learn more.
To use the site, you choose a novel from DailyLit’s catalog of over 1300 novels, many of which are free. Each book is broken up into dozens (or hundreds, depending on the length) of installments, each of which is supposed to take around 5 minutes to read. You can tell the site exactly what time you’d like to receive each update, which can be sent either via Email or in an RSS feed, and how many chunks you’d like to receive at a time.
Talking about these emerging trends, it certainly is interesting to note that certain vendors offering these services are now taking on the role of sifting through reading material and deciding what we can or cannot read. Read this to understand how and why certain novels may not be available to you.

Moving on....

Rare books and manuscripts from Yale on Flickr

And the Christmas spirit lingers on! We found a post on the papertigers blog about a Book Tree.

Have a great weekend and Happy Holidays!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Some Unusual Bibles

Via Kottke :
The best selling Bible study text on Amazon right now is Bible Illuminated, a "286-page glossy oversized magazine style" version of the New Testament.

The Green Bible is also very popular on Amazon.

The Green Bible will equip and encourage people to see God's vision for creation and help them engage in the work of healing and sustaining it. With over 1,000 references to the earth in the Bible, compared to 490 references to heaven and 530 references to love, the Bible carries a powerful message for the earth.

The Message Remix 2.0 is a version for young people written in "today's language". Here's the first few verses of Genesis:

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth -- all you see, all you don't see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God's Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.

The Manga Bible.

The Brick Testament is an online Lego version of the Bible. See The Last Supper. (via BBC)

See which other bibles made this list!

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Speak, Spell and Learn

This post is about two great online resources we found for your children:

The first one is the "Speak & Spell Texas Instruments Simulator". Click here to try out this application with your child.

How does it work? Click the button that says "On" on the right hand side corner and listen as the "Speak & Spell" dictates a word. Use the keypad on the application or your own keyboard to type what you heard. Enter your submission and see if you got it right. At times, some of the words are not too clear, but it sure is a fun way to let your child learn how to spell and it can also improve her/his typing skills!

And also learn how people say "hello" in twenty five different countries-- in Australia, Qatar, India, Hungary and many more places. Click here to learn more.

Mobile Labs Reach Rural Schools

Increasing attention is being given to rural schools from the government and other organisations. But outdated textbooks, lack of good reading material and good teaching techniques are still problems that these schools have to grapple with. In order to engage children in the learning process, one needs to ensure that they enjoy the process. In India, mobile labs are making their way to rural areas thanks to a group called Agastya International Foundation. And this group is redefining how children perceive science.

An article, "Spreading Science in India's villages" elaborates:
Twelve-year-old Sujatha sits riveted under a tree in a village in India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh as a teacher explains the complex concept of refraction to her and a gaggle of equally enthralled children with the help of a simple, everyday prop like a rolled up newspaper. Like her classmates she is disappointed when the 45-minute lesson on this somewhat esoteric concept in physics ends.

“It’s fun,” says Sujatha simply, already looking forward to the class next week in Kuppam, about 250 km from India’s IT hub of Bangalore.

The simple statement from the farmer’s daughter is just the certificate that the Agastya International Foundation is looking for as it goes about the task of popularising science in India’s vast hinterland.

Agastya’s mobile science laboratories crisscross the dirt roads and highways of the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, triggering curiosity and the itch to learn in over two million rural schoolchildren.

Some 30 minibuses equipped with folding tables, projection screens and experimental models christened the ‘Mobile Lab’ by the Agastya team travel hundreds of kilometres each week across the three states, teaching science to the children of farmers, contract labourers and quarry workers.

Erecting their many props under trees, in dilapidated school buildings or simply in the open during good weather, these classes have increasingly attracted not only children but also their illiterate parents, conscious of their ignorance and keen to learn more.

For the children, the shift in focus from rote-based learning to critical and independent thinking generates an attitudinal change that soon becomes apparent, she adds.
Read more of this interesting article here.

And here is a video on the work done by Agastya International Foundation:



Also read about "A tricycle with square wheels" made possible by the Agastya International Foundation.

To know more about them, visit them here

Our Motivations

During our ongoing Pustak Melas in Bihar we had one moment which we want to share with you...

Our mela was at a school that was functional during the mela hours and these kids would come every morning and look longingly at the books we'd displayed. So I asked them, in my terrible and halting Hindi, what they were looking at and they said they wanted to buy a book or two to read. Unfortunately, we didn't have loose books and were only distributing sets. So I snuck a few books to them which they read and returned everyday.
Later, I asked why our books over everyone elses and they said because they were colourful and easy and enjoyable to read.
It's stuff like this that gives us hope and keeps us going.


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Room To Read

Wood signing 1Image by americanlibraries via Flickr

The Knowledge@Wharton blog has an excellent interview with John Wood, who founded Room to Read. We also supply books for Room To Read's Indian operations:
After a trek in the Himalayas brought him face-to-face with extreme poverty and illiteracy, John Wood left his position as a director of business development at Microsoft to found Room to Read, an award-winning international education organization. Under his leadership, more than 1.7 million children in the developing world now have access to enhanced educational opportunities. Room to Read to date has opened 725 schools and 7,000 bilingual libraries, and funded more than 7,000 scholarships for girls. Wood talked with Knowledge@Wharton about the launch of Room to Read, the book he wrote called Leaving Microsoft to Change the World and his personal definition of success.
Click on through to read the full interview.


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