March 16, 2011
With St. Patrick’s Day upon us, it’s easy to forget there’s more to Irish folklore than rivers dyed green, leprechauns, pots of gold and green beer. To help remember the other, less publicized Irish folklore, this month’s eBook Exchange is a collection of folk stories from Ireland that are sure to get everyone feeling a little more Irish. So take a break from your studying or your grading and dive into a few, lesser-known fairy tales from the Emerald Isle.
February 14, 2011
The coincidence of Valentine’s Day and the eBook exchange leaves us feeling a little romantic around Brown Library. Giving into my romantic impulses I find myself recommending The Romance of Tristan and Iseult by Joseph Bedier. From Amazon:
This immortal tale concerns the doomed love between a knight and a princess. The heroic Tristan, nephew and champion of King Mark of Cornwall, journeys to Ireland to bring home his uncle’s betrothed, the fair Iseult. Their shipboard voyage takes a tumultuous turn with a misunderstanding and a magic potion, and the lovers quickly find that there’s no turning back.
September 13, 2010
Can it really be considered a "classic" if most people don't know the real story? The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the basis for the movie The Wizard of Oz, and while the characters are familiar, the story isn't quite the same. Take Dorothy's classic Ruby Red slippers... in Baum's version, the slippers are silver, and the movie changed them to the vibrant red everyone knows and loves to showcase the newly developed Technicolor film technology. The book is somewhat darker, much more detailed and offers the reader a different perspective than the happy-go-lucky perspective of the movie. So take a break from studying or grading and sit back with an old favorite, that might not be as familiar as one might expect. From Amazon:
One of the true classics of American literature, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has stirred the imagination of young and old alike for over four generations. Originally published in 1900, it was the first truly American fairy tale, as Baum crafted a wonderful out of such familiar items as a cornfield scarecrow, a mechanical woodman, and a humbug wizard who used old-fashioned hokum to express that universal theme, "There's no place like home." Follow the adventures of young Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, as their Kansas house is swept away by a cyclone and they find themselves in a strange land called Oz. Here she meets the Munchkins and joins the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion on an unforgettable journey to the Emerald City, where lives the all-powered Wizard of Oz.
August 9, 2010
It's back to school time, and to welcome you back, Brown Library goes meta and offers an ebook of ideas on ideas. Ths book, written by author, lawyer and copyright crusader Lawrence Lessig, asks the question: do big companies have too much power over what goes on online and how this stifles creativity. The review from Amazon:
If The Future of Ideas is bleak, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. Author Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford law professor and keen observer of emerging technologies, makes a strong case that large corporations are staging an innovation-stifling power grab while we watch idly. The changes in copyright and other forms of intellectual property protection demanded by the media and software industries have the potential to choke off publicly held material, which Lessig sees as a kind of intellectual commons. He eloquently and persuasively decries this lopsided control of ideas and suggests practical solutions that consider the rights of both creators and consumers, while acknowledging the serious impact of new technologies on old ways of doing business. His proposals would let existing companies make money without using the tremendous advantages of incumbency to eliminate new killer apps before they can threaten the status quo. Readers who want a fair intellectual marketplace would do well to absorb the lessons in The Future of Ideas.
June 11, 2010
Need one of Shakespeare's works for a class? Take a look at MIT's online collection of the Complete Works of Shakespeare. This month's ebook exchange pick, Much Ado About Nothing, comes from their extensive archive. For those unacquainted with the story, the synopsis from Wikipedia:
Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy by William Shakespeare about two pairs of lovers, Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero. Benedick and Beatrice are engaged in a "merry war"; they both talk a mile a minute and proclaim their scorn for love, marriage, and each other. In contrast, Claudio and Hero are sweet young people who are rendered practically speechless by their love for one another. By means of "noting" (which sounds the same as "nothing," and which is gossip, rumor, and overhearing), Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into confessing their love for each other, and Claudio is tricked into rejecting Hero at the altar. However, Dogberry, a Constable who is a master of malapropisms, discovers--unbeknownst to himself--the evil trickery of the villain, the bastard Don John. In the end, Don John is captured and everyone else joins in a dance celebrating the marriages of the two couples.
May 11, 2010
Take a look at a collection of short stories to get into the swing of summer. From Publishers Weekly:
"The 11 fantasies in this first collection from rising star Link are so quirky and exuberantly imagined that one is easily distracted from their surprisingly serious underpinnings of private pain and emotional estrangement. In "Water Off a Black Dog's Back," a naïve young man who has never known personal loss finds that the only way he can curry favor with his lover's physically afflicted family is to suffer a bizarre amputation. The protagonist in "Travels with the Snow Queen" reconsiders her fairy-tale romance when she deconstructs the clichés of traditional fairy tales and realizes that their heroines inevitably sacrifice and suffer much more than their heroes do. Link favors impersonal and potentially off-putting postmodern narrative approaches, but draws readers to the emotional core of her stories through vulnerable but brave characters who cope gamely with all the strangeness the world can throw their way. In the book's most effective tale, "Vanishing Act," a young girl's efforts to magically reunite herself with her distant family by withdrawing from the world around her poignantly calls attention to the spiritual vacancies and absence of affection in the family she stays with. "The Specialist's Hat" features twin sisters whose morbid obsessions seems due as much to their father's parental neglect as their mother's death. Although a few of the selections seem little more than awkward freshman exercises in the absurd, the best shed a warm, weird light on their worlds, illuminating fresh perspectives and fantastic possibilities."
March 5, 2010
Also available as a free audiobook download. From Publisher's Weekly:
"A lot of ideas are packed into this short novel, but Doctorow's own best idea was setting his story in Disney World, where it's hard to tell whether technology serves dreams or vice versa. Jules, a relative youngster at more than a century old, is a contented citizen of a society that has filled Earth and near-space since shortage and death were overcome. People are free to do whatever they wish, since the only wealth is respect and since constant internal interface lets all monitor exactly how successful they are at being liked. What Jules wants to do is move to Disney World, join the ad-hoc crew that runs the park and fine-tune the Haunted Mansion ride to make it even more wonderful. When his prudently stored consciousness abruptly awakens in a cloned body, he learns that he was murdered; evidently he's in the way of somebody else's dreams. Jules first suspects, then becomes viciously obsessed by, the innovative group that has turned the Hall of Presidents into a virtual experience. In the conflict that follows, he loses his lover, his job, his respect-even his interface connection-but gains perspective that the other Bitchun citizens lack. Jules's narrative unfolds so smoothly that readers may forget that all this raging passion is over amusement park rides. Then they can ask what that shows about the novel's supposedly mature, liberated characters. Doctorow has served up a nicely understated dish: meringue laced with caffeine."
Feburary 8, 2010
From the Publisher:
"Living in God's Providence was written to preserve for the Sisters of Divine Providence, as well as for the general public, significant events in a time of momentous changes, 1943-2000. All the Sisters alive in 2000 were interviewed for this book. Their personal reactions and reflections illuminate the inner life of the Congregation, especially during and after the second Vactican Council. Writtem for the general reader and carefully footnoted, this book is valuable for teachers and students as well as for anyone interesed in U.S. Church history or religious life."