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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Tale of Beatrix Potter

This year, the works of one of the most successful and universal writers of all time came into the public domain in many countries around the world. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck – in all, thirty-three books bearing the name “Beatrix Potter” have sold close to 200 million copies. Frank Delaney enquires into the more complex woman behind the safe and warm-hearted stories.
More:The Public Domain Review

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Things Found in Books

"Be careful what you use as a bookmark. Thousands of dollars, a Christmas card signed by Frank Baum, a Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card, a marriage certificate from 1879, a baby’s tooth, a diamond ring and a handwritten poem by Irish writer Katharine Tynan Hickson are just some of the stranger objects discovered inside books by AbeBooks.com booksellers."
If I start leafing through my 5000 books do you think I might find that gift certificate I lost last year?

More: AbeBooks

Thanks Bruce!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Leo Tolstoy's Family Recipe for Macaroni and Cheese

This recipe for Leo Tolstoy’s Mac ‘N’ Cheese dish was not included in Leo Tolstoy’s family recipe book :
 Bring water to a boil, add salt, then add macaroni and leave boiling on light fire until half tender; drain water through a colander, add butter and start putting macaroni back into the pot in layers – layer of macaroni, some grated Parmesan and some vegetable sauce, macaroni again and so on until you run out of macaroni. Put the pot on the edge of the stove, cover with a lid and let it rest in light fire until the macaroni are soft and tender. Shake the pot occasionally to prevent them from burning.
Via  Open Culture

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Where there are no people

 Animal Land where there are no people was a children's book released in 1897, written by Sybil Corbet, who was four years old, and illustrated by her mother, Katharine Corbet.

See it here

Via MetaFilter

Friday, July 18, 2014

First printed book in English sold for over £1m

A 540-year-old book, known as the first to be printed in the English language, has sold at auction for more than  £1m. The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye is a version of a French book written around 1463.

It was translated over a three-year period by William Caxton, who pioneered the printing press in England.

He published his version around 1474, at a time when when most books were printed in Latin, in either Ghent or Bruges, Belgium.

More: BBC News 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Printable Gemstone Bookplates

These bookplates feature images of gemstones and minerals culled from the British Library’s collection. Just print out the template, cut out, and affix to the endpages of your books!

More: Design*Sponge

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Margaret Atwood's Moving Tribute to Nadine Gordimer

Nadine Gordimer has died. It seems impossible – surely she was ageless, like one of those very old, tiny, trees in the Arctic, gnarled and tough as a nut, but nonetheless evergreen. Despite her minute size, she was a huge presence – a voice of rectitude that spoke above the political din, addressing itself to our common humanity.

More: The Guardian

Monday, July 14, 2014

Choose the literary character to feature on the 51st London book bench

This project by the National Literacy Trust aims to raise funds for projects to raise literacy, and is displaying 50 book-shaped benches across the capital, each dedicated to an iconic and London-related character or book. After their summer in the sun, the benches will be auctioned in the autumn.

Now is your chance to decide which missing character will join the existing 50.

Cast your choice at theguardian

R.I.P. Nadine Gordimer

Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

The South African Nobel-prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer, one of the literary world's most powerful voices against apartheid, has died at the age of 90, her family say. 

More: theguardian

Eloise: An Update

I am Eloise 
I am forty-six 
I am a city girl
I live at the Crowne Plaza

More:The New Yorker

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Children On The Outside Looking In

The picture above of black children looking in on a whites-only playground in Mobile, Alabama, 1956 reminds me of this touching poem by Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn:

 The golf links lie so near the mill 
 That almost every day 
 The laboring children can look out 
 And see the men at play. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

James Joyce papers go up online

The National Library of Ireland has partnered with the Zurich James Joyce Foundation to put a previously inaccessible collection of papers, manuscripts, and personal documents by and about James Joyce online, now publicly available here.

Read more

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Five Days At Memorial

American journalist Sheri Fink's book describes the true and shocking events that took place at Memorial Medical Center over five days in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in August 2005. It was written in 2013 further to a Pulitzer Prize-winning article written by Fink and published in The New York Times Magazine in 2009. Fink details the events following the disaster and discusses the legal, political and ethical dilemmas surrounding the euthanization of patients. Staff, patients (many of them gravely ill), relatives and pets were trapped by rising floodwaters. The loss of power left the building stifling hot, without functioning toilets, elevators and essential medical equipment like ventilators. The environment inside was horrific and the area outside the hospital had erupted into violence and looting.
Disaster preparedness prior to the storm had been haphazard and was designed to cope with acts of terrorism rather than a hurricane which was more likely to occur in New Orleans. No one seemed in charge, communication with the outside world was non-existent. Patients who were picked up early on were dropped at a highway intersection to await ambulances that never arrived.
When a team arrived at Memorial on Sept. 11, 2005 they recovered 45 bodies most of whom had died on September 2 and post mortem examination showed large amounts of morphine and midazolam, a strong sedative in the tissues of some of the dead. Dr Anna Pou and two nurses, Cheri Landry and Lori Budo, were accused of killing a number of very ill patients on the fifth day just as helicopters finally arrived to evacuate those remaining. The nurses were compelled to testify after the DA decided not to prosecute them. In 2007, a grand jury refused to indict Pou on any of the charges brought against her.
The first half of the book gives an account of the events as they were happening and overall it seemed unbiased and was very readable. My heart went out to the staff who struggled on heroically. The second half of the book focuses on the investigation into the deaths at Memorial and Fink makes it plain that she feels crimes have been committed and Dr. Pou should have been indicted by the grand jury. It is harder for the layperson to wade through. 
I have read that Dr. Pou is of the opinion that Sheri Fink used uncorroborated statements and facts presented out of context to convince readers that medical staff euthanized patients at Memorial. Public opinion supported Dr. Pou and in the end I also sympathized with her actions. I blame the corporations and the various levels of government that hung these patients out to dry.
I heard Fink interviewed and had wanted to read the book for some time. I was prepared for a long and difficult read and that's exactly what I got. It's clear that the author put years into researching this book and all the detail was overwhelming at times. It was an absolutely engrossing read and as soon as I finished reading it I found myself wanting to learn more and to put faces to the key characters so I watched some TV interviews and googled other sources before I was finally ready to let the story go. One point Fink made is that lessons were not learned from the Katrina disaster and that many similar scenarios were played out years later in New York during Hurricane Sandy. That is tragic.