Archive for March, 2012

Families are complicated

Friday, March 30th, 2012


Here’s a link to the latest “One for the Books” column on Complicated Families.

‘Cooking with Poo’

Friday, March 30th, 2012

From The Guardian: “Cooking with Poo” has won the prize for oddest book title of the year.

Business books win awards

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

The fifth annual Axiom Business Book Awards have been announced. Here are a few winners. Check the link for full results:

1. General Business

Gold (tie): Spend Shift: How the Post-Crisis Values Revolution is Changing the Way We Buy, Sell, and Live, by John Gerzema & Michael D’Antonio (Jossey-Bass) and Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, by Peter Sims (Free Press)

2. Economics

Gold (tie): The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy, by Steve Stoute (Gotham Books) and Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us, by John Quiggin (Princeton University Press)

3. Career (job search, career advancement)

Gold: Active Interviewing: Branding, Selling, and Presenting Yourself to Win Your Next Job, by Eric P. Kramer (Course Technology/Cengage Learning)

4. Sales (sales skills, negotiating, closing)

Gold: Selling: The Profession (6th Edition), by David J. Lill and Jennifer K. Lill (DM Bass Publications)

5. Leadership

Gold (tie): TouchPoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments, by Douglas Conant and Mette Norgaard (Jossey-Bass) and Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure, by Tim Harford (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

6. Networking (social networking, communication skills, etc.)

Gold: Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, by Guy Kawasaki (Portfolio/Penguin)

7. Business Ethics

Gold: The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Leading with Trust, by Charles H. Green & Andrea P. Howe (John Wiley & Sons)

8. Operations Management/Lean/Continuous Improvement

Gold: The Power of Co-Creation: Build it with Them to Boost Growth, Productivity, and Profits, by Venkat Ramaswamy and Francis Gouillart (Free Press)

9. Human Resources/Employee Training

Gold (tie): The Rare Find: Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else, by George Anders (Portfolio/Penguin) andThe Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It, and Why it Matters, by Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin (Jossey-Bass)

10. Entrepreneurship

Gold: Effectual Entrepreneurship, by Stuart Read, Saras Sarasvathy, Nick Drew, Robert Wiltbank & Anne-Valérie Ohlsson (Routledge)

11. Philanthropy/Charity/Nonprofit

Gold: Giving 2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World, by Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen (Jossey-Bass)

12. International Business/Globalization

Gold: World 3.0: Global Prosperity and How to Achieve It, by Pankaj Ghemawat (Harvard Business Review Press)

13. Personal Finance/Retirement Planning/Investing (estate planning, stocks, bonds)

Gold (tie): The Truth About Money (4th Edition), by Ric Edelman (Harper Business) andWinning Investors Over: Surprising Truths about Honesty, Earnings Guidance, and Other Ways to Boost Your Stock Price, by Baruch Lev (Harvard Business Review Press)

14. Business Technology

Gold: Making the World Work Better: The Ideas that Shaped a Century and a Company, by Kevin Maney, Steve Hamm, & Jeffrey M. O’Brien (IBM Press)

15. Women/Minorities in Business

Gold: The Diversity Index: The Alarming Truth About Diversity in Corporate America…and What Can Be Done About It , by Susan E. Reed (AMACOM)

16. Success/Motivation/Coaching

Gold: 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, by Peter Bregman (Business Plus)

17. Advertising/Marketing/PR/Event Planning

Gold (tie): Smarter Branding Without Breaking the Bank, by Brenda Bence (Global Insight Communications LLC) and Everything I Know about Business I Learned from the Grateful Dead, by Barry Barnes, PhD (Business Plus)

18. Corporate History/Milestone

Gold: 100 Years of Chevrolet, by Jerry Burton and Ralph Kramer (Automobile Heritage Publishing & Communications LLC)

19. Business Reference (legal, how-to)

Gold: Ernst & Young Tax Guide 2012 (27th Edition), Edited by Peter W. Bernstein (Ernst & Young)

20. Memoir/Biography

Gold: My Life in Leadership: The Journey and Lessons Learned Along the Way, by Frances Hesselbein (Jossey-Bass)

21. Business Fable

Gold: The Shibumi Strategy: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change, by Matthew E. May (Jossey-Bass)

Beanie Babies Hunger Games

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012


From Flavorwire: Just for fun, Beanie Babies acting out The Hunger Games. Watch and see! But SPOILER ALERT: This is short, but it’s true to the book’s story and reveals the ending.

PEN/Faulkner Prize winner

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

BuddhaAtticOne of my two favorite books last year has been awarded the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The prize went to Julie Otsuka’s “The Buddha in the Attic,” a small novel (which seems like a beautiful, long poem) about young Japanese women traveling to America to meet the men they will marry. The book then follows them in their new lives.

Otsuka will receive $15,000 for the prize.

Here’s my discussion of the book.

Spring quiz

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012


From The Guardian: A quiz on spring references in literature.

No more THIS

Monday, March 26th, 2012

CryingBaby_funnyphotosto.comSince I don’t have cable TV, I rely on the local channels and their subchannels for entertainment. One of my favorites has been WUAB’s subchannel, 43.3, nicknamed “THIS.” I loved the movies and the old TV shows — especially “The Outer Limits” — and newer stuff, like “Stargate.”

Well, as of today, WUAB has ended its affiliation with THIS, and so no more 43.3. I am VERY unhappy. If you’re on Twitter, please send a tweet to them @My43TheBlock and ask them to bring it back.

Tweet to the fictional West Wing

Monday, March 26th, 2012


Combine your Twitter obsession with your love for the TV show THE WEST WING by following the characters from the fictional White House.

Story Prize goes to Millhauser

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — Steven Millhauser, a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, has received a $20,000 award for short stories.

Millhauser was the recipient Wednesday night of the Story Prize for his collection “We Others.”

In 1997, he won the Pulitzer for his novel “Martin Dressler.”

Two other award-winning authors were finalists Wednesday: Don DeLillo for “The Angel Esmeralda” and Edith Pearlman for “Binocular Vision,” which recently won the fiction prize from the National Book Critics Circle. DeLillo and Pearlman each received $5,000.

Past winners of the Story Prize, founded in 2004, include Mary Gordon and Tobias Wolff.

Hunger Games names

Friday, March 23rd, 2012


This is very fun for Hunger Games fans of all ages. On Slate, Miriam Krule came up with theories about the origin of the characters’ names in THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. SPOILER ALERT.. Oh, and be sure to click the link (no spoilers here) to find your own Hunger Games name. Mine is Iseless M. Singdill.

Things You Learn from Your Children

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

From my e-mail:

Things You Learn from Your Children

1. A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2000 sq. foot house in 4 inches deep.

2. If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.

3. A 3-year-olds voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.

purple-and-orange-paint-splatter4. If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound boy wearing batman underwear and a superman cape. It is strong enough however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20 by 20 foot room.

5. You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on. When using the ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.

6. The glass in windows (even double pane) doesn’t stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.

7. When you hear the toilet flush and the words “Uh-oh,” it’s already too late.

8. Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it.

9. A six-year-old can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36-year-old man says they can only do it in the movies.

10. Certain Legos will pass through the digestive tract of a four-year-old.

11. Play Dough and Microwave should never be used in the same sentence.

12. Super glue is forever.

13. No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can’t walk on water.

14. Pool filters do not like Jell-O.

15. VCR’s do not eject PB&J sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.

16. Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.

17. Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.

18. You probably do not want to know what that odor is.

19. Always look in the oven before you turn it on. Plastic toys do not like ovens.

20. The fire department in Austin, Texas has a 5-minute response time.

21. The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy.

22. It will however make cats dizzy.

23. Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.

24. The mind of a six-year-old is wonderful.

Invasion of privacy

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

In my opinion, this was one of the most important stories yesterday, and it got very little press. It indicates a dangerous allowance of invasion of privacy and the intimidation of desperate, vulnerable people:

Job seekers getting asked for Facebook passwords


SEATTLE (AP) — When Justin Bassett interviewed for a new job, he expected the usual questions about experience and references. So he was astonished when the interviewer asked for something else: his Facebook username and password.

Bassett, a New York City statistician, had just finished answering a few character questions when the interviewer turned to her computer to search for his Facebook page. But she couldn’t see his private profile. She turned back and asked him to hand over his login information.

Bassett refused and withdrew his application, saying he didn’t want to work for a company that would seek such personal information. But as the job market steadily improves, other job candidates are confronting the same question from prospective employers, and some of them cannot afford to say no.

In their efforts to vet applicants, some companies and government agencies are going beyond merely glancing at a person’s social networking profiles and instead asking to log in as the user to have a look around.

“It’s akin to requiring someone’s house keys,” said Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor who calls it “an egregious privacy violation.”

Questions have been raised about the legality of the practice, which is also the focus of proposed legislation in Illinois and Maryland that would forbid public agencies from asking for access to social networks.

Since the rise of social networking, it has become common for managers to review publically available Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts and other sites to learn more about job candidates. But many users, especially on Facebook, have their profiles set to private, making them available only to selected people or certain networks.

Companies that don’t ask for passwords have taken other steps — such as asking applicants to friend human resource managers or to log in to a company computer during an interview. Once employed, some workers have been required to sign nondisparagement agreements that ban them from talking negatively about an employer on social media.

Asking for a candidate’s password is more prevalent among public agencies, especially those seeking to fill law enforcement positions such as police officers or 911 dispatchers.

Back in 2010, Robert Collins was returning to his job as a security guard at the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services after taking a leave following his mother’s death. During a reinstatement interview, he was asked for his login and password, purportedly so the agency could check for any gang affiliations. He was stunned by the request but complied.

“I needed my job to feed my family. I had to,” he recalled,

After the ACLU complained about the practice, the agency amended its policy, asking instead for job applicants to log in during interviews.

“To me, that’s still invasive. I can appreciate the desire to learn more about the applicant, but it’s still a violation of people’s personal privacy,” said Collins, whose case inspired Maryland’s legislation.

Until last year, the city of Bozeman, Mont., had a long-standing policy of asking job applicants for passwords to their email addresses, social-networking websites and other online accounts.

And since 2006, the McLean County, Ill., sheriff’s office has been one of several Illinois sheriff’s departments that ask applicants to sign into social media sites to be screened.

Chief Deputy Rusty Thomas defended the practice, saying applicants have a right to refuse. But no one has ever done so. Thomas said that “speaks well of the people we have apply.”

When asked what sort of material would jeopardize job prospects, Thomas said “it depends on the situation” but could include “inappropriate pictures or relationships with people who are underage, illegal behavior.”

In Spotsylvania County, Va., the sheriff’s department asks applicants to friend background investigators for jobs at the 911 dispatch center and for law enforcement positions.

“In the past, we’ve talked to friends and neighbors, but a lot of times we found that applicants interact more through social media sites than they do with real friends,” said Capt. Mike Harvey. “Their virtual friends will know more about them than a person living 30 yards away from them.”

Harvey said investigators look for any “derogatory” behavior that could damage the agency’s reputation.

E. Chandlee Bryan, a career coach and co-author of the book “The Twitter Job Search Guide,” said job seekers should always be aware of what’s on their social media sites and assume someone is going to look at it.

Bryan said she is troubled by companies asking for logins, but she feels it’s not violation if an employer asks to see a Facebook profile through a friend request. And she’s not troubled by non-disparagement agreements.

“I think that when you work for a company, they are essentially supporting you in exchange for your work. I think if you’re dissatisfied, you should go to them and not on a social media site,” she said.

More companies are also using third-party applications to scour Facebook profiles, Bryan said. One app called BeKnown can sometimes access personal profiles, short of wall messages, if a job seeker allows it.

Sears is one of the companies using apps. An applicant has the option of logging into the Sears job site through Facebook by allowing a third-party application to draw information from the profile, such as friend lists.

Sears Holdings Inc. spokeswoman Kim Freely said using a Facebook profile to apply allows Sears to be updated on the applicant’s work history.

The company assumes “that people keep their social profiles updated to the minute, which allows us to consider them for other jobs in the future or for ones that they may not realize are available currently,” she said.

Giving out Facebook login information violates the social network’s terms of service. But those terms have no real legal weight, and experts say the legality of asking for such information remains murky.

The Department of Justice regards it as a federal crime to enter a social networking site in violation of the terms of service, but during recent congressional testimony, the agency said such violations would not be prosecuted.

But Lori Andrews, law professor at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law specializing in Internet privacy, is concerned about the pressure placed on applicants, even if they voluntarily provide access to social sites.

“Volunteering is coercion if you need a job,” Andrews said.

Neither Facebook nor Twitter responded to repeated requests for comment.

In New York, Bassett considered himself lucky that he was able to turn down the consulting gig at a lobbying firm.

“I think asking for account login credentials is regressive,” he said. “If you need to put food on the table for your three kids, you can’t afford to stand up for your belief.”

‘Unseen Titanic’

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012
We’re approaching the 100th anniversary of the April 15, 1912, sinking of the Titanic. Visit National Geographic for a fascinating update on images (with interactive zoom) and mapping of the sunken ship:
“This is a game-changer,” says National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) archaeologist James Delgado, the expedition’s chief scientist. “In the past, trying to understand Titanic was like trying to understand Manhattan at midnight in a rainstorm—with a flashlight. Now we have a site that can be understood and measured, with definite things to tell us. In years to come this historic map may give voice to those people who were silenced, seemingly forever, when the cold water closed over them.”

Cool bookstores

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012


From the Vancouver Sun: The 20 coolest bookstores in the world.

For Jane Austen fans

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012


Jane Austen fans — check out the Jane Austen pinboard at Pinterest.

Happy spring!

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012


Happy first day of spring!

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz. I wonder where the birdies is.

Children’s Choice

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Children’s Book Week 2012 is May 7 to 13. Voting is now open (until May 3) for the Children’s Choice Book Awards. Click on the link to vote.

Young Lions

Monday, March 19th, 2012

The New York Public Library has announced the finalists for the Young Lions Fiction Award:

  • Open City by Teju Cole (Random House)
  • The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale (Twelve/Hachette Book Group)
  • Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner (Coffee House Press)
  • Swamplandia! By Karen Russell (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury)

“The award honors the works of young authors carving deep impressions in the literary world. The winning writer will be awarded a $10,000 prize on Monday, May 14, 2012 at a ceremony in the Celeste Bartos Forum of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street. … The Young Lions Fiction Award is given annually to an American writer age 35 or younger for either a novel or collection of short stories. Each year five young fiction writers are selected as finalists by a reading committee of Young Lions members, writers, editors, and librarians. …”

Travel fiction that inspires

Monday, March 19th, 2012

travelswcharleyFrom Huffington Post: Eight books that make us want to travel

Life in the medieval world

Friday, March 16th, 2012


Here’s a link to the latest “One for the Books” column on A Virtual Tour of the Medieval World.

PEN New England Awards

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

From a press release:

PEN New England and the JFK Presidential Library have announced the winners of The Laurence L. & Thomas Winship /PEN New England Awards, celebrating best works of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction by New England authors.

Yannick Murphy is being honored in the fiction category for The Call (Harper Perennial); Elizabeth Willis in the poetry category for Address (Wesleyan University Press); and Mitchell Zuckoff in the nonfiction category for Lost in Shangri-La (Harper). Judges for the Winship Awards this year were authors Jeanne Marie Beaumont (poetry), Mimi Schwartz (nonfiction), and Crystal Wilkinson (fiction).

Rue Britannica

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

britFrom a New York Times blog:

“After 244 years, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print. Those coolly authoritative, gold-lettered reference books that were once sold door-to-door by a fleet of traveling salesmen and displayed as proud fixtures in American homes will be discontinued, company executives said. In an acknowledgment of the realities of the digital age — and of competition from the Web site Wikipedia — Encyclopaedia Britannica will focus primarily on its online encyclopedias and educational curriculum for schools. The last print version is the 32-volume 2010 edition, which weighs 129 pounds and includes new entries on global warming and the Human Genome Project. …”

Any day now …

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012


Life is short

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012


The Holstee Manifesto. Found on Please visit and support this fascinating website.

Books for a Better Life Awards

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

From Shelf Awareness:

Winners of the Books for a Better Life Awards, sponsored by the Southern New York Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and recognizing “self-improvement authors whose messages are aligned with the chapter’s mission of inspiring people to live their best lives,” were celebrated last night in New York City. In addition, David “Skip” Prichard, president and CEO, Ingram Content Group, was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and Shelley Peterman Schwarz, author and president of Meeting Life’s Challenges, won the MS Awareness award.

The winners:

Childcare/Parenting: Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother by Xinran (Scribner)
First Book: Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadlo (Free Press)
Green: The Neighborhood Project by David Sloan Wilson (Little, Brown)
Inspirational Memoir: Enjoy Every Sandwich by Lee Lipsenthal, M.D. (Crown)
Motivational: Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? by Touré (Free Press)
Personal Finance: Clark Howard’s Living Large in Lean Timesby Clark Howard with Mark Meltzer and Theo Thimou (Avery Books)
Psychology: The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins (Hyperion)
Relationships: Spousonomics by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson (Random House)
Spiritual: Holy Ghost Girl by Donna M. Johnson (Gotham)
Wellness: The Longevity Project by Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin (Hudson Street Press)

Hogarth returns

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Crown Publishing is relaunching Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press, according to Read It Forward:

“…Hogarth brought the world authors who shaped the culture of the past 100 years: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, Katherine Mansfield, E.M. Forster, Christopher Isherwood, Sigmund Freud, Gertrude Stein, Vita Sackville-West, to name a few. This year, what began in London in 1917 finds a new life in New York and Hogarth’s goals are no less lofty: bring readers the authors who will shape the culture of the next 100 years: Anouk Markovits, Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya, Stephanie Reents, Jay Caspian-Kang, Vincent Lam, Shani Boianjiu, Lawrence Osborne, Ben Masters….”

NBCC Awards

Friday, March 9th, 2012

From Shelf Awareness — Winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards:

Fiction: Edith Pearlman for Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories (Lookout Books)
Nonfiction: Maya Jasanoff for Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf)
Biography: John Lewis Gaddis for George F. Kennan: An American Life (Penguin)
Poetry: Laura Kasischke for Space, in Chains (Copper Canyon Press)
Autobiography: Mira Bartók for The Memory Palace: A Memoir(Free Press)
Criticism: Geoff Dyer for Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews(Graywolf Press)

A little romance …

Friday, March 9th, 2012

TheKashmirShawlFrom Shelf Awareness:

The U.K.’s Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Novel of the Year named winners in five categories. These titles will now compete for the overall award, which will be announced May 17. Category winners are:

Contemporary: Summer of Love by Katie Fforde
Epic: The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas
Historical: Highland Storms by Christina Courtenay
Romantic comedy: Please Don’t Stop the Music by Jane Lovering
Young adult: Dark Ride by Caroline Green

Longlist for Orange Prize

Friday, March 9th, 2012

orangeprizeannouncedThe Guardian looks at the 20 names on the longlist for the Orange Prize, which celebrates excellence, originality, and accessibility in women’s writing throughout the world. Here’s the list:

  • Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg (Quercus) – Swedish; 1st Novel
  • On the Floor by Aifric Campbell (Serpent’s Tail) – Irish; 3rd Novel
  • The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen (The Clerkenwell Press) – American; 4th Novel
  • The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue (Picador) – Irish; 7th Novel
  • Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan (Serpent’s Tail) – Canadian; 2nd Novel
  • The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape) – Irish; 5th Novel
  • The Flying Man by Roopa Farooki (Headline Review) – British; 5th Novel
  • Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon (Quercus) – American; 4th Novel
  • Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding (Bloomsbury) – British; 3rd Novel
  • Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (Faber & Faber) – British; 2nd Novel
  • The Translation of the Bones by Francesca Kay (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) – British; 2nd Novel
  • The Blue Book by A.L. Kennedy (Jonathan Cape) – British; 6th Novel
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Harvill Secker) – American; 1st Novel
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury) – American; 1st Novel
  • Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick (Atlantic Books) – American; 7th Novel
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (Bloomsbury) – American; 6th Novel
  • There but for the by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton) – British; 5th Novel
  • The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard (Alma Books) – British; 2nd Novel
  • Tides of War by Stella Tillyard (Chatto & Windus) – British; 1st Novel
  • The Submission by Amy Waldman (William Heinemann) – American; 1st Novel
  • Literary villainy

    Friday, March 9th, 2012

    miseryFrom Flavorwire: The best villains in literature