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A Great Loss: Bookman’s Alley to Close

Evanston and the North Shore in general is about to lose a treasure, Bookman’s Alley. Bookman’s Alley is a delightful used bookstore with lots of charm. It’s a place where you can wander and browse and find literary gems you never expected.

Tucked down an alley in downtown Evanston, Roger Carlson, Bookman’s Alley’s owner, who always looked like a character, left advertising to open the shop 30 years ago. As someone who also left advertising, I have to tip my hat to that sort of career change.

The store is a labyrinth stocked with books on every topic. An old model schooner, a leather saddle, Victorian chairs are just some of the antiques that add to the romance.

Chicago Tonight’s video gives you an idea of the value of Bookman’s Alley.

What a great business! What a great career!

Amazon and Barnes & Noble can’t replace this.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in book lovers, Uncategorized

 

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I love learning new words. This old one coudl catch on. It’s easy to say.

Ruined for Life: Phoenix Edition

mirl, v.
Pronunciation: Brit. /məːl/, U.S. /mərl/, Sc. /mərl/
Forms: 18– mirl, 19– mirrel, 19– mirrl.

1. intr. To move lightly and briskly; to twirl around; to shimmer, quiver, tremble
a1838 J. Jamieson MSS (National Libr. Scotl. MS 22–1/12) XII. 194 To Mirl, to move rapidly around
1886 J. J. H. Burgess Sketches 64 Da stars wis mirlin’ i’ da lift as if dey wir trimblin’ wi’ cowld.
1932 A. Horsbøl tr. J. Jakobsen Etymol. Dict. Norn Lang. in Shetland II. (at cited word), He is mirlin wi’ joy.
1958 Shetland News 30 Dec. 4 Mirlin laek a russi-foal.
1979 J. J. Graham Shetland Dict. (at cited word), Da peerie lass was mirlin wi excitement as shö opened da parcel.
2005 C. De Luca Smootie comes ta Lerrick 5 Da lichts o Bressa wis mirlin on da Soond.

 

Etymology: < the unattested Norn reflex of the early Scandinavian

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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

An encouraging story for aspiring writers.

Shards of China

I’m not a big believer in people changing, I haven’t seen much change in myself (I’m a little wiser – but only a little) over the last few years. That means I’m still a cynical, cantankerous, sarcastic soul who’s too clever for their own good.

However one thing that hasn’t changed is a good thing. That’s the ongoing respect I have for my mum (cue accusations of “mummy’s boy”). She’s been an enormous help to me throughout my life – even when I haven’t deserved it at all. I haven’t seen her in nearly 3 years either – all the time I’ve been in China and a bit more.

So that’s why I’m really pleased to tell the world that this week she kicked my writing backside. A little background on this, she left school when she was very young and without a single qualification to her name. She’s not…

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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Lapham’s Quarterly

Harper’s editor Lewis H. Lapham has created a new quarterly magazine, which focuses a theme like war or money and then gathers brief essays by writers from all periods of history.

This spring the quarterly features writings on money by the likes of Jane Austen, Juvenal, Satre, Karl Marx, Aristophanes, Lord Byron, Ralph Ellison, Ruskin, Ayn Rand, Chaucer, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Tom Wolfe, de Tocqueville, W. E. B. Du Bois, Thorstein Veblen, George Orwell and other great thinkers. It’s basically a collection of concise Great Books readings.

For a taste, check out On Chinese Beggars: 1930

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The Historian

The Historian is an excellent read, equal parts horror story, historical thriller and travelogue.

Built around the Dracula legend, the book follows a young girl as she struggles to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance and her mother’s absence. While the story can be hard to follow as it jumps back and forth between narrators, after a slow start, the suspense intensifies as the unanswered questions grow. Kostova doles out her mysteries as a bread crumb trail drawing her readers deeper into her story.

While multiple aspects of the story held my interest, I found myself most attracted to the story as a travelogue. The author describes the characters’ travels through Cold War Eastern Europe in a way that can only be described as enticing.

We read this book for book club and at least one member read Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a result of having read this book. I love it when that happens.

Written by Bridget

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Very Cool

I’m not a fan of bookless libraries. I like multimedia and no doubt will eventually accept e-books, but I do like libraries with books and I don’t see the need to rid ourselves of books. Call me old fashioned like Maggie Smith’s character on Downton Abbey, “first electricity, now telephones, what’s next?”

The University of Chicago has built a new library and has found an innovative way to store millions of books in a post-modern space. Take a look.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Norwegian Wood

Written by Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite writers, Norwegian Wood tells us the story of a Japanese college student, Watanabe, who’s drifting along amidst the rebellion of 1960’s Japan. He sees the flaws in their ideology and their activism and keeps his distance from this movement.

He gets involved with his now deceased best friend’s girlfriend Naoko and with Midori, a college student he meets at a restuarant. Like all Murakami’s novels, this reads smooth and jazzy. The characters all stand outside the mainstream and observe, comment and try to live in a different, better, rather lyrical or perhaps listless way. None of the relationships are clear cut or easily defined.

The New Yorker often prints his short stories and this link has a few which will give you a taste of his style: Murakami’s Short Stories

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

I Love WordPress

I had a layout problem with this blog design and tinkered with fixing it to no avail. Yesterday I posted my problem on the WordPress forum and voila! it’s fixed.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Shadows of Ghadams

Wandering around Kyobo bookstore I saw this children’s book (for older kids say 10-11) and thought it might me an easy way to acquaint myself with the Middle East. The Shadows of Ghadams is set in Libya and tells the story of a girl, whose female relatives hide and save an injured man whom more fundamentalist citizens were chasing. Since the father and older male relatives are all gone, they can nurse this man and help him escape.

It would be a quick read if it weren’t so boring. There’s little dramatic tension even when they must get this man out of their home (the plan just works out, no near failure). Throughout the story, Malika adds tidbits about the culture describing food preparation, festivals, clothing, this is where historical fiction can get really interesting, but only if it’s carefully woven into the story. Not here sadly. Her cultural sidebars seem just that–noticeable and set in a different tone than the narration. It’s all so artificial. I kept wondering “Who is this girl doing all this tour guide-like explanation for?” Clearly. she’s talking to her readers, but good writing makes that invisible. Some device where she did have an audience or a reason for the exposition would have helped.

The characters change very little, even Malika and this is a coming of age sort of story. The author seemed to have trouble with political correctness. The characters are Muslims and the most conservative seem to be willing to accept changes in their traditions and the progressive thinkers were willing to wait for “natural change.” No one was too far from the center. Is that real? Perhaps, but I doubt it. It wasn’t too interesting that’s for sure.

I started the book and put it down. I only finished it because I am moving and want to donate some books to our school library.

One reason for reading a children’s book was to familiarize myself with what’s happening now and possibly writing a YA novel. If this is any indication, the market isn’t that hard to crack.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Lights, Camera, Action


You Are a Movie


You like to see immediate results for your efforts. You are an impatient person.
You are a very visual person. You feel that there are many things that can’t be put into words.

You tend to think big. It’s hard to stay motivated if a project is too small.

You live in the moment because you know that it’s really all you have.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2011 in Uncategorized