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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 14,023
26. Moral responsibility and the ‘honor box’ system

If you’ve worked in an office, you’re probably familiar with “honor box” coffee service. Everyone helps themselves to stewed coffee, adds to the lounge’s growing filth, and deposits a nominal sum in the honor box, with the accumulated proceeds being used to replenish supplies. Notoriously, this system often devolves into a tragedy of the commons, where too many people drink without paying.

The post Moral responsibility and the ‘honor box’ system appeared first on OUPblog.

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27. Review: The Dust That Falls From Dreams by Louis de Bernieres

Louis de Bernieres adds to the pantheon of First World War novels with his latest book. Inspired by his own family history de Bernieres explores the devastation and changes the war wrought upon British lives and society following four daughters of the McCosh family. At it’s it is a centre a love story; about love […]

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28. Military radiology and the Boer War

The centenary of the Great War has led to a renewed interest in military matters, and throughout history, war has often been the setting for medical innovation with major advances in the treatment of burns, trauma, and sepsis emanating from medical experience in the battlefield. X-rays, which were discovered in 1895 by Roentgen, soon found a role in military conflict. The first use of X-rays in a military setting was during the Italo-Abyssinian war in 1896.

The post Military radiology and the Boer War appeared first on OUPblog.

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29. Learning from Chris Norton over three decades—Part III

Flash forward to 2010. I was now a tenured full professor. I was working with two young male Ph.D. students who in some ways reminded me of myself thirty years earlier—inspired by feminism, wanting to have an impact on the world. Both Tal Peretz and Max Greenberg had, as undergrads, gotten involved in campus-based violence prevention work with men.

The post Learning from Chris Norton over three decades—Part III appeared first on OUPblog.

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30. A Poor Excuse If You Ask Me

One of the many books I am currently reading is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. I have not read it since my freshman year of high school and so was really surprised by the “sketch” that precedes it, “The Custom House.” I had no recollection of this whatsoever. It’s no wonder really since it has not much of anything to do with the novel itself. Yes, there is some set up, but it is mostly Hawthorne writing about his time working at the Custom House as a Customs officer. It is mind numbingly dull for the most part so I skimmed.

I normally don’t skim, but good gravy, Hawthorne really drones on! There are, however, some rather amusing bits. Like when he complains about how soul-sucking his work is:

I had ceased to be a writer of tolerably poor tales and essays, and had become a tolerably good Surveyor of the Customs. That was all. But, nevertheless, it is anything but agreeable to be haunted by suspicion that one’s intellect is dwindling away, or exhaling, without your consciousness, like the ether out of a phial; so that, at every glance, you find a smaller and less volatile residuum.

Now you’d think he spent long days toiling away by the sound of that, yes? Unfortunately I can’t find the highlight in my ebook at the moment, but I burst out laughing as he goes on and on and then comes out that he works about three hours a day and is so exhausted by it that when he gets home he has no energy left to write.

Was time different back then? Was an hour longer than sixty minutes? Three hours of work a day and he can’t muster up the energy to work on his book? I think there aren’t many writers who wouldn’t love the chance to work three hours a day and then have all the rest of the day to themselves! Clearly Hawthorne was a sensitive soul and it is best he lived when he did because he would be completely crushed in today’s world.

Or perhaps he was just making excuses for a bad case of writer’s block. I think that likely to be the case because he touches that note of despair a few times throughout his sketch until he finally decides that he will never get The Scarlet Letter written unless he quits his job. Which he did. And obviously he managed to get the book written too.

But wow, I’d really like one of those three-hour work days to despair over!


Filed under: Books, In Progress, Writing Tagged: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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31. Learning from Chris Norton over three decades—Part II

In my 1980 interview with Chris Norton, he spoke of the tensions of being a pro-feminist man, of struggling with how to integrate his commitments to feminism with his daily life as a carpenter, where he worked with men who didn’t always share those commitments. He spoke of Men Against Sexist Violence’s (MASV) internal discussions of sexism and pornography, and of his own complicated relationship to feminism and other progressive politics.

The post Learning from Chris Norton over three decades—Part II appeared first on OUPblog.

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32. A magical elixir for the mind

The brain is a product of its complex and multi-million year history of solving the problems of survival for its host, you, in an ever-changing environment. Overall, your brain is fairly fast but not too efficient, which is probably why so many of us utilize stimulants such as coffee and nicotine to perform tasks more efficiently. Thus far, no one has been able to design a therapy that can make a person truly smarter.

The post A magical elixir for the mind appeared first on OUPblog.

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33. Playing God, Chapter 3

The question then is: “What does the root gu- signify?” The procedure consists in finding some word in Germanic and ideally outside Germanic in which gu- or g-, followed by another vowel and alternating with u means something compatible with the idea of “god.” Here, however, is the rub. Old Germanic guð- certainly existed, but we don’t know what it meant when it was coined centuries before it surfaced in texts.

The post Playing God, Chapter 3 appeared first on OUPblog.

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34. Non-Fiction TBR List

As most of you know, I love me some books and I’ve been reading a lot of them lately. Mostly fiction but I also read a lot of non-fiction as well.

I have a number of non-fiction books on my To-Be-Read (TBR) list and I thought I would share some of them with you:

nonfic1_small

Rising Strong by Brene Brown
Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed

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The Dancing Mind by Toni Morrison
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson
The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

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35. Discussion questions for Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

We're just over a fortnight away from the end of our third season of the Oxford World's Classics Reading Group. It's still not too late to join us as we follow the story of young Pip and his great expectations. If you're already stuck in with #OWCReads, these discussion questions will help you get the most out of the text.

The post Discussion questions for Great Expectations by Charles Dickens appeared first on OUPblog.

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36. First Look: ‘The Art of Sanjay’s Super Team’

Pixar's latest short is getting its very own art-of book.

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37. The Multiple Book Problem

Do you ever get frustrated that you can’t read faster? I don’t usually. Most of the time I putter along happy as can be and only get frustrated that I don’t have more time to read. I don’t often wish I could read faster, there is a real pleasure in reading at the speed a book asks me to and for many of the books I like best, that is generally slow.

Lately I am in the midst of so many good books and I want to be reading all of them at the same time and it is hard to decide what one to pick up. So I end up doing the sampler thing. If you are of the one-book-at-a-time ilk, you do not have this problem. I, however, have wandering eyes and book monogamy is next to impossible. Then I get myself in a situation like I am now where I have about six books in progress, all of them really good, all of them I want to be reading. But while my eyes wander, I still only have two of them and can read just one book at a time. Thus, the sampler happens and I pick up book A, read a few pages and put it down for book B. I read a few pages and book B is replaced by book C. You get the idea. I get to read them all but it is completely unsatisfactory.

I can hear you one book people say, Stef you know there is a simple solution to your problem, right? Yes, yes, I know, just choose a book and stick with it. But when I am reading book D, book A begins calling to me, singing a Siren song, don’t you want to know what happens next? Forget book D, you want me. I do! I want you so bad! Except book now book E is singing to me and I can’t concentrate. Sorry book A, gotta go.

A couple days ago it struck me that if I could read faster then at least it would be a partial solution. Except you can’t read poetry fast. Or thoughtful essays. Or weird short stories. Or Nathaniel Hawthorne. I get nowhere. Oh how I suffer! But what’s a girl to do? Why start another book of course!


Filed under: Books, In Progress, Reading

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38. Max Planck’s debt

The great German physicist Max Planck once said, “However many specialties science may split into, it remains fundamentally an indivisible whole.” He declared that the divisions and subdivisions of scientific disciplines were “not based on the nature of things.”

The post Max Planck’s debt appeared first on OUPblog.

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39. Will we ever need maths after school?

What is the purpose of mathematics? Or, as many a pupil would ask the teacher on a daily basis: “When are we going to need this?” There is a considerably ruder version of a question posed by Billy Connolly on the internet, but let’s not go there.

The post Will we ever need maths after school? appeared first on OUPblog.

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40. Technology and the evolving portrait of the composer

It’s a cartoon image from my childhood: a man with wild hair, wearing a topcoat, and frantically waving a baton with a deranged look on his face. In fact, this caricature of what a composer should look like was probably inspired by the popular image of Beethoven: moody, distant, a loner… a genius lost in his own world.

The post Technology and the evolving portrait of the composer appeared first on OUPblog.

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41. The new social contracts

Fire and collapse in Bangladeshi factories are no longer unexpected news, and sweatshop scandals are too familiar. Conflicting moral, legal, and political claims abound. But there have been positives, and promises of more. The best hope for progress may be in the power of individual contracts.

The post The new social contracts appeared first on OUPblog.

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42. The Tenderness of Thieves by Donna Freitas

The Tenderness of Thieves by Donna Freitas is the tale of Jane and her seventeenth summer - and of the tragic crime which happened just months before, in February, when Jane was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Though pelted with summer sun and surrounded by a supportive mother, three close friends, and one very interesting boy, Jane cannot escape the shadow of that night, with details revealed in short bursts throughout the novel, shared between chapters.

It is difficult for me to review this book without spoiling it, because what I most want to discuss is the big reveal, something I predicted immediately upon reading the summary on the book jacket. What complicates this story for me and what accounts for my reaction to the ending isn't only because I could see the ending coming, but also because I have a strong reaction to those who actively withhold the truth from others. Please note that I am not referring to the narrator here; Jane is not an unreliable narrator in any way. She tells her story in first person past tense throughout the book, and she's very honest.

What I will tell you openly is this: I liked the book overall because of how it was written. The narration relates the protagonist's emotions and thoughts very well, ensuring that important moments and decisions are deeply felt. The title is perfect, the pacing is good, and the characters are clear. I will not be surprised if and when this book is made into a movie, because the story will translate easily to film. (If you're looking for a screenwriter, I'm available!)

I also want to give kudos to cover designer Danielle Calotta for giving the title text angles and energy that I think Saul Bass would appreciate, layered over an image which well-captures both the beach setting and the lonely, haunted girl. (Image attributed to Shutterstock; name of artist or piece unknown.) Those who like the sand between their toes will enjoy the many scenes that take place at the beach, and how Jane and her mother welcome the sand into their home.

Put The Tenderness of Thieves in the hands of those who like books by Sarah Dessen and Deb Caletti, and especially those who like Tara Altebrando (The Pursuit of Happiness, What Happens Here).

My favorite passages in this book include:

I was holding things together the best I could, leaning into my new visibility like it might prop me up. But it's dangerous when we let boys fix the broken parts within us. It makes us vulnerable. It scars us for life. - Page 5

A camera catching the split second when a girl suddenly becomes someone worth seeing. - Page 67

The beach, swimming, everything around me was magic. It could heal all things. Protect me from danger. - Page 100

"It's not your job to save anyone," she said. "Not even if you fall in love with them." - Page 185

"...because little girls should start out life with auspicious names so they could one day grow up to be young women who would make their own marks on the world." - Page 253

"...I imagined the possibility...a chameleon of a girl who morphed and shifted with each new significant experience, one of them tragic, certainly, but others surprising, even thrilling. I liked this thought, that I didn't have to be defined by tragedy, that though sadness and loss might be written onto my skin, there were other things that could be written over it..." - Page 280

Related posts at Bildungsroman:
Review: This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas
Review: Gold Medal Summer by Donna Freitas
Interview: Donna Freitas (2012)
Interview: Donna Freitas (2010)

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43. Miss Emily

When the publisher offered me a review copy of Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor I hesitated. It featured Emily Dickinson. I generally don’t accept books like this but Emily Dickinson is a favorite of mine and O’Connor is not a newbie author nor is she a nobody, so I thought I’d take a chance especially since the publisher offered a second book to give away.

I’ve been finished with the book for over a week and debating about what to say. You see, I didn’t care for it all that much. I wanted to be excited about the book, I really did. I spent time trying to convince myself to be excited about it, thinking about what I did like instead of what I didn’t. But I just couldn’t do it. So please forgive me if this review lacks enthusiasm. Miss Emily is not a bad book at all. It is well written and has some good things in it. I am just not the ideal reader for it. Maybe you are though so allow me to tell you a bit about it.

Miss Emily is one of those two narrator books with the story told in alternating chapters from the limited perspective of the two characters. The characters here are Emily Dickinson herself and the Dickinson family’s new maid-of-all-work. Fresh off the boat from Ireland, seventeen-year-old Ada Concannon is smart, skilled and spirited. It is her spiritedness that has gotten her sent to America to begin with. She lost a couple jobs in Dublin and word was getting out which would make it harder for her to get a good placement in another house. Her mother’s sister and brother-in-law are already in America, Amherst to be exact, and well established with good reputations. So off Ada goes on the boat. Just as she gets settled in at her aunt and uncle’s, word arrives that the Dickinson’s are looking for a new maid for cooking, cleaning and all the other household work that maids do.

Ada fits in well with the Dickinson household. She takes her work seriously, likes the family, and Emily takes a shine to her. The two become friends of a sort since Emily spends so much time in the kitchen baking bread and cakes. Ada starts seeing Daniel Byrne, local horse whisperer and it seems like life can’t get any better. Into paradise comes Patrick Crohan, lazy, mean and a drinker. He takes a shine to Ada who continually refuses his advances. So Crohan sneaks into the Dickinson’s house one night and rapes her. On this point turns the entire second part of the book.

Up until Ada’s rape I was mostly enjoying the book even though there was really nothing going on in terms of plot or anything particularly interesting at all. So when Ada is raped it serves solely as a plot point and a tired one at that. This frustrated me to no end because, while Ada does not get pregnant she does get gonorrhea. She tries to keep everything a secret because she is ashamed. Of course it doesn’t stay secret and we get the usual spectrum of it was Ada’s fault to Ada was the victim. And when Daniel finally finds out he decides to take justice into his own hands.

Emily herself portrayed so that at times she seems like she is a child and other times a grown woman. There is tension between her and her sister-in-law, Sue. It is a curious relationship with Sue married with children and treating Emily like a dear, intimate friend and Emily treating Sue at times like a lover. At one point Sue and Emily are in a close embrace and Ada walks in on them. Ada doesn’t find it odd even though she realizes she interrupted a private moment. Sue isn’t disturbed by it either. But Emily is. Emily gets a little angry and behaves as though she had been caught doing something she should not have.

There are some nice moments in the book with Emily thinking about her writing and what it means to her. It is these moments that kept me from completely disliking the book. In her solitude Emily thinks things like this:

Oh, chimerical, perplexing, beautiful words! I love to use the pretty ones like blades and the ugly ones to console. I use dark ones to illuminate and bright ones to mourn. And when I feel as if a tomahwak has scalped me, I know it is poetry then and I leave it be.

This echoes a real letter Dickinson wrote, and probably never sent, “I’ve got a Tomahawk in my side but that dont [sic] hurt me much.” In fact much of Dickinson’s portion of the narrative echoes of her words and poetry. That is probably why I liked her part better than Ada’s.

Nonetheless, I am not quite certain what the aim of the novel is. The events in the book are not based on any real events. Ada is entirely made up. I don’t feel like I have any better insight into Emily Dickinson the person. And Ada’s story feels terribly cliche to me. While I didn’t care for the story, as I said before, the writing itself is good. In fact, I think the writing is the only thing that kept me reading the book to the end.

If you think you may like the book more than I did and want your name tossed into a hat for a chance to win a copy from the publisher, do say so in the comments. Unfortunately, only folks with U.S. addresses are eligible. Sorry about that. I will draw a name Friday afternoon (August 21st).


Filed under: Books, Reviews Tagged: Emily Dickinson

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44. Mullah Omar’s death and the Haqqani factor

The recently-acknowledged death of Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar has prompted a raft of commentary on what this means for the movement, particularly in relation to its ability and willingness to continue engaging in peace talks. But how much can we reasonably know about how the Taliban will move forward, particularly when so much hinges on how the leadership transition unfolds?

The post Mullah Omar’s death and the Haqqani factor appeared first on OUPblog.

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45. Who was Richard Abegg?

One of the most interesting developments in the history of chemistry has been the way in which theories of valency have evolved over the years. We are rapidly approaching the centenary of G.N. Lewis’ 1916 article in which he proposed the simple idea that a covalent bond consists of a shared pair of electrons.

The post Who was Richard Abegg? appeared first on OUPblog.

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46. Individuals as groups, groups as individuals

People exist at different times. My life, for instance, consists of me-at-age-five, me-as-a-teenager, me-as-a-university-student, and of course many other temporal stages (or time-slices) as well. In a sense, then, we can see a single person, whose life extends over time, as akin to a group of people, each of whom exists for just a short stretch of time.

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47. Incoherence of Court’s dissenters in same-sex marriage ruling

The Supreme Court’s much-anticipated decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage case, is pretty much what most people expected: a 5-4 decision, with Justice Kennedy -- the swing voter between the Court’s four liberals and four conservatives -- writing a majority opinion that strikes down state prohibitions.

The post Incoherence of Court’s dissenters in same-sex marriage ruling appeared first on OUPblog.

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48. The undiscovered elements

How can an element be lost? Scientists, and the general public, have always thought of them as being found, or discovered. However, more elements have been “undiscovered” than discovered, more “lost” than found.

The post The undiscovered elements appeared first on OUPblog.

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49. Freedom from Detention for Central American Refugee Families

August 19th is World Humanitarian Day, declared by the UN General Assembly in 2008, out of a growing concern for the safety and security of humanitarian workers who are increasingly killed and wounded direct military attacks or infected by disease when helping to combat global health pandemics.

The post Freedom from Detention for Central American Refugee Families appeared first on OUPblog.

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50. 5 YA Books You Can Read In A Day

Reading an entire book in a day is basically living the dream. And while I’m quite the reading hooligan and often read a book a day, I particularly like books that I can whip through in a few hours. (I don’t know about you, but gargantuan books terrify me. Holding a 600-page weapon in your hands? Um, pass.) […]

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