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1. On Getting My Blogging Groove Back

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that my once-steady stream of book reviews has dried up of late. In fact, it dried up much earlier than was visible on the blog, because I was fortunate enough to have a backlog of 20 or so reviews. This enabled me to keep posting reviews for more than a month after ceasing to write them. But eventually, the reviews ran out, and my blog posting has been rather sparse ever since.

Most people who have been blogging for a long time (I'm coming up on 8 years in December) go through periods of blog doldrums. Blogging is something that we spend a lot of time and energy on, for which most of us don't make any appreciable amount of money. And there's the pressure implied by the steady stream of books that appear on one's doorstep, or in one's GoodReads and NetGalley queues. It sometimes requires periods of rest, or refocusing one's efforts, to recapture the energy to keep going. 

For me, my period of blog doldrums started because I was ill, and I for quite a while didn't have the energy to even think about blogging. I've been having recurring pneumonias for nearly 2 years now. This summer things got worse, and I ended up hospitalized a couple of times. But the good outcome of that was that we finally learned that I had an obscure bacterial infection that was causing the pneumonias. A month or so of very strong antibiotics (via home IV line) seem to have beaten back the infection (though they had their own less than fun side effects). And finally, I'm doing better. I still tire easily. I'm still trying not to do too much, or travel. But I'm ready to think about what I want to do with my blog going forward. 

During the time that I've been sick, I've been reading primarily adult titles, catching up on the genre that I've always most enjoyed, mysteries. This started out because I didn't want to feel guilty about reading children's or young adult books and not having the energy to review them. But as my energy levels have come back up a bit, I've found that I still don't really feel like reading things that I think that I should review. That is to say, reviewing has started to feel like a bit of a chore. Homework. Unpaid work. However you'd like to put it. It's not that I don't appreciate the books that publishers send to me, because I do. I have books that I've been really looking forward to reading. But ... the piles feel overwhelming. 

As I was coming to this realization about my reluctance to dive back into reviewing, I came across a two-post discussion launched by Sarah Stevenson at Finding Wonderland. And it turned out that Sarah and I were in the same boat. Sarah started with Rekindling My Love for Blogging, Or Is the Thrill Gone?, saying:

"Sometime over the past year or two, the whole blog thing became a chore. Posting, commenting, writing book reviews, "maintaining an online presence"--it wasn't so much fun anymore."

Sarah was mostly just telling people, explaining that she didn't expect to be blogging quite so much. But she got a lot of good suggestions in the comments, and she later posted More Monday Thoughts on Blogging and Kidlit, in which she captured some of the comments from the earlier post. I was particularly taken by these three points:

"Gail Gauthier said that starting some new features has really helped her regain momentum for blogging."

"Melissa Wiley talked about going back to the original roots of why she started blogging in the first place--something that really resonated."

 "Adrienne's feelings about the situation really paralleled my own, too: "It got so I couldn't do book reviews anymore, for a lot of the reasons you all have mentioned--feeling overwhelmed and feeling obligated." 

I took a few days to think about Sarah's post, and particularly Adrienne and Melissa's feedback. Thinking about why I started blogging, and what it is about blogging that excites me. Here's part of what I commented on the second post on Thursday:

"what motivated me at the beginning, as this person with no kids who wasn't a children's book writer or anything, was this passion that I have for encouraging kids to love books. Not sure WHY I feel so strongly about that (besides the obvious wanting other people to share in the joy that I got from books, and the opportunities that came from being a strong reader). But the blog was an effort to "do something" instead of just thinking that it was important. 

And I guess these days, I find I'm more motivated to skim other blog posts and newsletters to find the good stuff that helps with that (growing bookworms) than I am to write reviews of individual books. But a bunch of Twitter and Facebook links doesn't really make for an exciting blog..."

So I've been thinking about that, particular the bit about going back to why I started the blog in the first place. And suddenly, yesterday, I found myself coming up with ideas for blog posts. Posts that I wanted to write, rather than posts that I felt like I should write. I wrote about Roald Dahl day, and my two favorite Dahl books. I drafted a post about the five series that I'm most looking forward to reading with my daughter, and started sketching out thoughts for a post on bedtime reading vs. other types of reading. And I can feel other ideas percolating behind the scenes.

In terms of the books, I'm thinking of doing some mini-reviews or themed lists of picture books, rather than putting pressure on myself to review all 30+ titles that are in "worth talking about" stack. And I think ... that I'm going to just start reading children's and young adult books again, and trust that my desire to talk about them will come. 

My thanks to Sarah, Gail, Melissa, and Adrienne, all of whom have helped me, I think, to get my blogging groove back. Only time will tell! Thanks for listening. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

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2. Living The Old Ways: A Q&A with Sarah Thomas, our Penguin Wayfarer

Earlier this summer we ran a competition around Robert Macfarlane’s THE OLD WAYS for one lucky wayfarer to follow in his footsteps and win a summer trekking around the UK and blogging about their adventures. After a hard-fought battle, Sarah Thomas was crowned as our winner. Now that her journey is at the halfway mark, we thought we’d check in with her to see how she’s finding the experience so far (and to find out more about her adventures, visit ajourneyonfoot.com, where she’s chronicling the whole thing).

A journey on foot begins

Penguin: You’re no stranger to wayfaring – what’s made this trip different from your past experiences?

Sarah: Indeed I'm not. In fact, of all the jobs I've done in my life, this has been the one that has fit me the most perfectly, as all I had to do was be myself. I suppose the key difference was having to come up with something to say almost daily on the blog. That entailed thinking about situations as potential blog posts, rather than just living them then some weeks down the line perhaps blogging about them, as I had previously done. I was much more aware of the need to document in photos, note taking etc. Sometimes it focuses your vision on a situation, and sometimes it detracts from the experience, but with practice you strike a balance. I have been open about these dilemmas on the blog, as I feel it is very much part of my experience.

I have been travelling since I was seventeen. I went on a Duke of Edinburgh trip to the Nepalese Himalaya, and broke off from the group to go to India because I was rather lovestruck by a friend who was living there. I was a naive traveller then, but it was a quick and steep learning curve, and I was so in love with the spontaneity and freedom that that kind of travel offered. Anything seemed possible, and that has been an influential turning point in my life.

Of course I didn't exactly have a standard upbringing. Born in a commuter village in Buckinghamshire, when I'd just turned 11, my dad moved us to Kenya as he'd been asked to start an office there. You'd think, knowing me now, that that would have been exciting to me, but I hated it at first. It all happened rather suddenly, and at that age you are just beginning to form a sense of self, so the upheaval was unwelcome.

Kenya was politically unstable at the time, and I watched riots from our hotel window where we lived for 2 months while finding a house. I remember one occasion when, after eating the school dinners at my new school, I got very ill. I was getting medicine at a pharmacy in downtown Nairobi when our taxi driver ran in and said, "We have to go! They're throwing tear gas outside".

Of course, that wasn't pleasant, but as time passed in Africa I began to enjoy the excitement and slight frisson of risk that was everywhere (and IS everywhere really), and the incredible kindness that is also there if you are open to it. We had the most fantastic geography field trips in primary school - caving inside volcanoes, cycling across the Rift Valley. We learned to cook on the campfire for the whole class, and were told to watch out for buffaloes when we went to pee in the night. Sadly this is such a far cry from the way the majority of children are raised nowadays.

Those experiences have made me who I am. I cannot put it better than Edward Acland, one of the characters I have featured on the Wayfarer blog, who said to me one day as I was leaving his mill, "Take risks....I could say 'Take care' but you won't learn anything by taking care". 

Since then I have travelled all over the place - Africa, India, SE Asia, Europe, America - always on a shoestring, and always without much of a plan. I don't see the point in them. If you have lived in Africa for a while you come to learn they do not work out anyway. What this role has offered me is the opportunity to travel my own country in that same risk taking, spontaneous way, which I have only ever done in a van, and not for such a prolonged period. I only wish it was longer! It has been an absolute delight to get to know an old friend again, having spent a lot of my life abroad, in Kenya, travelling, and more recently living in Iceland.

What do you think you’ve gained from exploring primarily on foot? What did you come across that you wouldn’t have done if you’d been doing it the tourist-style way - driving to a specific location and walking from there?


I think the overwhelming sentiment is how connected I have felt with what is around me. When you are travelling on foot, you are not covering that much distance, relatively speaking, so the trace of your trail has the chance to be taken into somebody else's path. Somewhere down the road you meet and they say, "Oh yes, I've heard about you". Or, more abstractly, different threads of stories I have come across have the chance to come around again and cross over.

If I were travelling in any fast moving piece of metal, I would have to rely more on media rather than my physical presence, to let my tale be known. I have found it a very effective form of 'social networking' (once upon a time known as talking to people) to talk to people. I have walked around with a sign with the website and twitter handle swinging from my backpack, and been giving out business cards on mountain tops, in pubs, by streams, to whoever I meet really. Of course it is great to extend the reach of my immediate orbit through Twitter and such, but it is immensely satisfying when you actually meet those you have met on Twitter. They become part of my story and I part of theirs.

Also, of course, the silence of walking allows you to get very close to animals. On a dawn walk recently I saw hares, red deer, and a golden eagle (this is still in question but I was very close and the video zoom that I captured it with is not), not to mention the ubiquitous sheep. If you are lucky and quiet, you can dwell with them awhile, listening to the sound of their breathing, their grazing. Feeling you are sharing in part of the same matter.

Being the summer it has been, it has been an abundantly sensory experience to be on foot. The scents of the blossoms, the possibility when on welcoming terrain to take off my boots and feel the wet moss underfoot. Hearing the bees, the dragonflies, the damselflies and the clegs, go about their summer busy-ness. And this warm summer wind of my face - what pleasure!

And of course not having much of a plan and being totally open has enabled me to meet people from all manner of paths exactly because I wasn't looking for them. One thing really does lead to another, and I am at the point now where some story threads are coming full circle, with almost uncanny regularity. Knowing you are going to base yourself in a place for a while, also means you will want to get to know who and what is around there - the people as much as the trees and the mountains - so I think I am more open to striking up conversations than I might be in a regular 'tourist' situation, but I don't know, because this sort of IS the way I usually travel.

Something important that struck me when I came back to stay in a house and the radio was on, was that I hadn't listened to the news in about two weeks. I had no idea what was going on in the world apart from what I had passed through, and I was blissfully happy. The news seemed intensely negative. I'm not saying it's good to be ignorant, but I do think there's something to be said for protecting yourself from the media for a while and seeing your world for what it IS also; right there in front of you." 

Any “what the hell am I doing?!” moments when everything’s seemingly gone wrong?

Not yet actually, though I am ready for it! I haven't particularly liked getting drenched through, but I ended up in a barn and getting a ride out of the situation the next day, so I can't claim to have suffered! Oh well actually, thinking about it, I suppose when I was perched at the edge of that REALLY steep slope of badly eroded scree looking for the Langdale Axe factory and someone shouted, "What are you doing? Be careful!" I thought maybe it was time to accept that the objective of that walk was something different to what I imagined. But nothing really went wrong and I know other people have managed to find it so I didn't see it as such a big deal. I just didn't like the idea of slipping at such an angle, and alone. 

Anything distinctly unwayfarer-ish that you’ve found yourself missing? 

Sorry if this is boring, but not at all. I find in Britain you never seem to be that far away from anything. But regardless, for me when it's out of sight, it's out of mind. If anything, I've wished to get away from things a bit more than I have. I have been very happy on this journey, and I find when you are deeply content, you don't need much else at all. You even eat much less. That said, I did tuck in to a massive steak at the Old Dungeon Ghyll, when I came down - heat exhausted - from my failed search for the Langdale Axe factory!

Walking alone vs. walking with people can be very different experiences – how have you mostly split your time and which do you mostly prefer?

Walking with others

I'm not sure really. I suppose I have been mostly alone and yet it doesn't feel like I have. On my initial walks around Lancaster I was joined by friends. I was joined by a friend again recently for my visit to The Quiet Site on Ullswater (one of the competition sponsors). She is equally open and spontaneous and decided to stay on to join me for what was possibly the highlight of my adventure so far - a remote valley on the East side of Ullswater where we got caught in a thunderstorm and taken in by a barrister from Newcastle who happened to have a holiday home there and let us sleep in his barn! We didn't know we were going there until we were. The Quiet Site manager had said "You can't not have ANY plan!!!". Then he told me about this valley with the oldest red deer herd in Britain. I said, "Thank you. Now I have a plan".

When walking with someone it is important that they allow me the space still to go into myself, and I am lucky to have some people in my life that do this. My husband is one of these rare friends and that is one of the many reasons I married him. But I suppose on this journey I have preferred to walk alone, then re-converge with company at camp to share tales. That is my ideal scenario. Having said that, I really enjoy travelling with my husband but he is far away!

I remember when I won the competition, my mum said "I don't want you to get lonely", to which I responded, "I'm sure I won't, but even if I did, wouldn't that just be part of it? I don't want to protect myself from it." Loneliness, or solitude, isn't necessarily a negative experience. It allows you to tune in to yourself, and your place in the world. It is alright to feel small. We are small after all. And believe me, after 2 years living pretty much on the Arctic Circle, I know all about feeling small and isolated. Though I am drawn to wild places like Iceland and the Outer Hebrides, on this journey I have noticed I have gone for places where people are working and walking the land. I am in a phase where I do want connection with people, signs of human habitation, and the occasional fair or festival. But I want connection with people who are connected to their landscapes. Humans are part of the landscape after all.

How do you think a wayfaring lifestyle or approach to the world can be adopted by people who are (for the most part) stuck living in cities?

Nobody is 'stuck' living in cities, and I think that is part of the problem with the mentality that cities impose upon you. They are closed systems that, for a large part, think of the rest of Britain as 'the countryside' to which you escape some weekends, and from where some of the produce you eat originates. I hate to make generalisations but I experienced this first hand when I lived in London for two years. There is so much going on that you can end up suddenly realising you haven't left the city for months. I think it is very important to get into natural spaces regularly to allow your mind to breathe, but you really need to build it into your life. It won't happen by itself. Even if it is just going to a park regularly and really BEING in it - not just jogging through it. That is a start.

That said, city wandering is a wonderful thing to do of an evening, or at the weekend. Living in Iceland I came across the term 'ovissaferd' which literally translates as 'an unknown journey'. This is where you just head out without any particular destination in mind, and see what happens. I think it's a particularly exciting thing to do in cities, but the openness that comes with that approach must also be nurtured, otherwise it could just feel a lot like a Red Herring! Get talking to people, unpeel the veil, notice the small things. Start by forming an apprenticeship with your neighbourhood, then take it from there.

I lived in Walworth, notorious for its estates and not particularly attractive high street. But I loved it. By approaching it as I would any other journey, I got to know the Turkish people running the local 24hr grocers, who walked me home if I felt over-laden, or unsafe, at any time of day or night. I ended up filming a lantern procession on my way home from work one winter's night for a charitable organisation, as they saw I had a video camera on me. I found a hammam in Europe's only Kazakhstani hotel along the Walworth Road. I found Roger Hiorn's stunning 'Seizure' installation, having walked past an otherwise unpromising council flat block, noticing lots of people walking around wearing wellies. And every Sunday I went to the most amazing flea market which used to be on Westmoreland Road. (In a twist of fate, Westmoreland is where I am now writing this, and wish to make my home). It had all sorts of characters, and all manner of objects from all over the world. Flea markets are the stories of the neighbourhood laid out on the street.

Really the journey is not the physical one. It is a transformation that occurs in you, and that can happen within a hundred metre radius.

What do you plan to do when you’re done? Have your travels this summer given you any inspiration for future projects or journeys?


It has been very good for me to practice writing on a regular basis and build up networks of people I am interested in, and they in me. I have really appreciated the feedback I've been getting and to be able to talk to Robert Macfarlane has been a particular privilege. It feels like taking to an old friend.

Having lived in Iceland for 2 years up until a year ago, I have a mountain of experience and story I would like to put into word, image and film, and have been slowly and steadily working on that. This project has given me the focus and clarity to really get my teeth into it though (ironically as I have not been working on it at all this summer). As they say, "The hardest part is starting". Having this time to immerse myself in Britain has given me the necessary distance I needed from my experience in Iceland to be able to make something out of it.

I have started editing a documentary I shot about a sheep farmer-poet who lives in a remote corner of Northwest Iceland, and has no family to help with the yearly sheep gathering (they roam free all summer). My Icelandic in-laws and their family used to help but they are getting old and no longer have their own sheep to gather, so it is uncertain how he will manage from now on. Every year since 1985 he has written a poem about the year's gathering and my film is structured around one he wrote which is an overview of the mishaps across the years. It is a meditation on the hardships, and the poetry, in the everyday.

As we all know, funding for the slow quiet things in life is scarce, but I hope through this project to have built up more of a network who might support and spread word of this kind of venture, and I might give crowd funding a go, as I think the small quiet voices need to be heard.

Sarah Thomas is the Penguin Wayfarer. Follow her travels on http://www.ajourneyonfoot.com and Twitter (@journeysinbtwn).

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3. Taking risks, trying new materials, reinvention. It's what artists need to do.


Recently I had the pleasure, albeit a somewhat nervous pleasure, of being interviewed by my good friend Monica Lee of Smart Creative Women via Skype (nothing makes you more aware of age and weight than knowing you will be on camera). That interview will go live very soon, but I thought I would share some thoughts that Monica and I never really got to cover fully during the time we spoke, because time did, as time does in real life, fly by.


I have had the good fortune of being able to spend nearly one hundred percent of my time these last forty years, making art in one form or another. I did take a few years off when my two oldest sons were little, but when I think back on that time, I was always dong something creative (and most of it was donated for fundraising events of one kind or another), just not all of it professionally. Aside from that short break, it has pretty much been non-stop all the time.


But, nonstop at what?  Well, nonstop at art. Art in many forms and in many materials for many venues. In short: I've been a painter, puppeteer, doll maker, soft sculpture artist/craftsperson, editorial illustrator, children's book author and illustrator, fabric designer, licensed artist, and now I am also painting again. I’ve also spent a lot of time decorating houses, but, to be very honest, that makes me zero money. It only costs me money. But that's OK. It satisfies my soul. It's a medium I have to work in almost as much as my paints. “House--just another art material and artistic discipline."

But back to business. If I look back over all my years as an artist, I see one thing: my aesthetic sensibility has not changed much in forty years. I am still drawn to the same things I was drawn to in college--characters, details, expressive gestures, and emotions. I love color and texture and patterns. I especially like narratives. Everything I do tends to tell a story, and the story is in the details, textures and characters.


I have written about this before and in much more detail. You can read the first accout I wrote years ago for my very first web site. It really rambles and tells the story of the earliest years. Here is the place to read that. I created an abbreviated version for my current web site. You can ready that one here


I’m sharing some recent art here at Cats and Jammers Studio to coordinate with the interview. I am also sharing some of the house and other new art on my other blog, Design Rocket.

What message would I love to give other artists? This: don’t be afraid to re-invent yourself and try new things. Life as an artist is a wild journey on a winding road. A few years back, I posted a long post about moving in random directions in life, seemingly as if by pure serendipity. Well, life is that but it is also by luck and pluck, and maybe much less by design than we think. Please read that post, Serendipity + Pluck = Life.

Much of the art here is from my 2011 Sketchbook Project, “Coffee and Cigarettes.” I loved doing that book. I have done two others since. You can see the digital scans of my book here. And you can see the show opening containg paintngs based on the book here.


Participating in the Sketchbook Projects for the Art House Coop really feeds my artistic soul. My most recent book was titled “Strangers.” In doing that book I dedicated it to my painting and drawing professor of my sophomore year of college, John Patrick Murphy II. John was the head of the art department at Rockland Community College for more than 30 years. On the very first day I met him, I shared some paintings and he gave me advice that has stayed with me all these years: “Barbara, draw out of your head.” Meaning, draw from the well within you that has your memories and your impressions. And that is the way I have worked ever since.

John very recently passed away. This post is dedicated to him, because, really, meeting him and getting to know him was pure serendipity and it pointed me along the way on my own artistic journey.



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4. Cybils Panelist Update: YA SFF Blog

We love it when our Cybils panelists post about what it's like to volunteer as a judge. A couple of weeks ago, we linked to a post by Round 1 YA Fiction panelist William Polking about what it's really like behind the scenes. This week, we've got a post from YA Fantasy and Sci-Fi blog's Aurora Celeste about how being a Round 1 judge is different from Round 2--having been in both of those roles, all I can say is boy, howdy. As Aurora puts it in her post, free books are only fun for a while...

Go check it out!

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5. Different Time, Same Place, Older Face


All Photographs © Irina Werning

Here we go again. I discovered this on Jeannie Jeannie. Wonderful pictures that chronicle the passing of time. This time we have shots by photogrpaher Irina Werning as she gets her subjects to strike a pose and don clothing that match, as much as possible, a shot from when they were very young. 

You know I love this stuff. I love seeing the evidence of a life that has been lived or is in the process.This tempts me to try and do the same thing with pictures I have. I have one picture from 8th grade of Phil and I and Bobby Stewart, another classmate, that we need to recreate if we can manage to get together sometime in our life.


Go check out the rest of these pictures. They will make you smile but you might also find yourself waxing a little melancholy. Time stops for no man... nor baby.

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6. Yeah, I know Valentine's Day is over, but ....


This is so in tune with my pulp fiction covers and Fancy Nancy YA book jacket, that I HAVE to share a  link sent to me by my friend Liz for "Vinatge Valentines WTF." And if you these are strange, wait until you see the rest of the fantastic collection.


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7. Photo essay from The Kingston Lounge


I live for this kind of photography: haunting shots of once lively and active places, now in ruins. There is something that hits a nerve somewhere within me that makes me look at the disintegration of old structures, and see it not just as it is, but as it must have been. 

There's a lot to read and a lot to see in this wonderful photo essay about  New York's North Brother Island and abandoned Riverside Hospital from The Kingston Lounge, which may soon become another favorite photo blog for me, right up there with Shorpy. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves and the history tell it's own story.

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8. KidLit Con 2011


IMG_2303 Yes, that is your Cybils Overlord with superstar author Scott Westerfeld. Note that he is not only totally hot but that he is touching me. I was touched by Scott Westerfeld. Me. I did indeed wash that shoulder, but only because I had visual proof right here that he touched me.

Did I mention that Scott Westerfeld actually touched me?

Okay, I'm over it (seriously, honey, if you're reading this, I'm totally over it).

I attended the Kidlitosphere Conference in Seattle over last weekend. It was organized by our very own Jackie Parker and blogger/Bookslut columnist Colleen Mondor.

More photos below the break (sadly, not of Scott Westerfeld, who is totally hot. And who touched me).

IMG_2301 This is Sarah Stevenson (standing), formerly our blog editor and author extraordinaire, and Sheila Ruth, our Science Fiction/Fantasy organizer and publishing liaison. Sheila and I have worked side-by-side since Cybils started, but this is the first time we've met in person. It took no time at all to feel like we've known each other forever.

IMG_2304That's Carol Rasco, head of Reading is Fundamental. Carol and I had a long-overdue chat about how Cybils can help RIF in its hour of need. Instead, Carol wanted to talk about ways RIF could also help Cybils. She is such an amazing person, and we do indeed have some exciting ideas percolating between us.



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9. Twas the Night Before Xmas (in July) and the Yale Press Log is stirring...

about our new location!

We've got a completely new look and format that we can't wait to show you!

YPL Logo 2 In July, the theme is Global and International Studies, and after the first half of 2011, there is plenty to recount. New books on Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, and southern Africa are at the center of our political discussions, and a new take on the history of the veil surrounds current controversies on Islamic women's dress in America, Europe, and the Middle East. We'll have early looks at our Fall showcase of religion, religious art, and literature in translation titles, featuring upcoming highlights from our Margellos World Republic of Letters series. More on the legacies of American Modernism, with new Icons of America titles and updates on books about Georgia O'Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz, and Gertrude Stein. And there's a host of museum exhibitions traveling the globe, with our catalogues waiting right here at home.

YaleLogosmallblue Plus, we've got more author posts and features like the [email protected] interviews, promotional offers, new columns, and a special announcement about the upcoming year!

Be sure to bookmark the new location http://yalepress.wordpress.com for more news and updates on authors, books, publishing, museums, awards, contests, events, media and reading!

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10. Cartooning Interviews and Events

Cartooning This May, Bob Andelman, also known as Mr. Media, has interviewed two of YUP’s experts on graphic fiction and cartoons: Brian Walker on two of his recent books, including Doonesbury and the Art of G.B. Trudeau and Ivan Brunetti for Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice.

And Chicago-based fans of comics and graphic novels are in for a treat: Ivan Brunetti will appear at the 27th annual Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest, which takes place on Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5, 2011. The Lit Fest is a free, two-day literary extravaganza featuring more than 200 authors, 100 literary programs and 160 booksellers.   Doonesbury and the Art of G.B. Trudeau

On Sunday, June 5, from 2 pm - 2:45 pm, Brunetti will discuss his new book (and the art of cartooning in general) with two rising young cartoonists who are also based in Chicago: Chris "Elio" Eliopoulos and Onsmith. All three will be available to sign their books afterwards.

And for those outside of Chicago in need of Brunetti’s teaching, once again here is the trailer for Cartooning. Why? Because it is simply one of the coolest things ever.


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11. Another Guest Post/Blog

yakkity-yak. i didn't realize this 'ken min' guy was so talkative. if you ask his friends, when in company, he's rather quiet and docile. now, here he is with another post/blog talking about that 1 book that inspired him to reach for a career in illustrating. 

if you want to know what that 1 book is, head on over to the site 'teach mama' via this link.

also, you can win a copy of my book, Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji signed by me and the author. (shoot, even i don't have a signed copy from the author. so you'll be one up on me!)

and thanks to amy, of the teach mama website for letting me ramble on about one of my favorite books. :)

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12. Administrative Tyranny: Marx’s Misguided View of the State

Eagleton 3D The discussion heats up for Why Marx Was Right at Bensonian.org: Andrew Walker, contributor to Mere Orthodoxy, gets into the claim that "Marxism believes in an all-powerful state."

Andrew Walker

Terry Eagleton insists that Marx’s understanding of the state has been misunderstood. Objecting to the claim that the state leads to irrepressible tyranny and the loss of liberty, Eagleton claims that Marx was in fact an opponent of the state and that his philosophy had no intent to wrest power into the hands of the State. Objecting to Eagleton’s claim, Walker discusses the anthropological deficiencies surrounding Marx’s view of man and how this inadequacy detrimentally impacts political authority. He contends that Marx failed to properly delineate the function of the state from being minimally administrative to maximally coercive. While the historical record reveals no long-term success for Marxism, Walker shows that failing to limit the reach of the state has led to disastrous and deadly consequences in the history of statecraft and secondly, that Marxist models have debunked Marx’s own claims. Read more on Bensonian...

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13. When Does Truth Not Matter? A Study of Marx and Materialism

Eagleton 3D Over on the "Why Marx Was Right" blog discussion at Bensonian.org, Albert Lee responds to Chapter 6 of Why Marx Was Right, which is Terry Eagleton's response to: "Marx was a materialist."




Bensonian 2





Albert Lee

In the wake of the latest financial crisis of 2008 that brought the largest economies on earth to the brink of disaster and destroyed trillions of dollars in wealth worldwide, the public has been searching for answers in an environment of openness unprecedented in generations. Numerous public intellectuals have been re-thinking the dominance of the economic ideology and system of global capitalism. Literary critic Terry Eagleton has sought to revive the thought of Karl Marx as a counterweight to the prevailing economic order. What should we make of this man’s ideas, which have alternatively been lionized and demonized in myriad cultures for the past century? What are the consequences of bringing Marx’s work to bear on our current situation? This essay examines the popularly misunderstood materialism of Marx. Lee engages this specific idea of Marx and its implications through an examination of the relationship between ideology and practice, noting the ways in which his materialism — properly understood — is a brilliant and essential corrective to prevailing rationalist views of the human person, and yet expressing reservations about the violent assumptions underlying his views and consequences thereof.  Finally, Lee suggests a fundamentally more materialist alternative to Marx’s violent ontology.

Read more on Bensonian...

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14. Why Do We Work? Answers from Karl Marx, Wendell Berry, and Dorothy Sayers

Eagleton 3D Today's "Why Marx Was Right" blog discussion features an essay by Jake Meador on Chapter 5 of Terry Eagleton's Why Marx Was Right, addressing the claim: "Marxism reduces everything to economics."

Jake Meador

One of the most common dismissals of Marx accuses him of historical reductionism. “Marx creates a caricature of history in which every event is determined purely by class struggle or economic factors,” goes the critique. Eagleton addresses the refutation by clarifying what Marx actually said about historical causality and then explaining how his claims are not as simplistic or materialistic as some critics have suggested. Going beyond mere refutation, Eagleton then develops a Marxist theory of work that is far more holistic in nature than many of Marx’s critics might expect. In his response, Meador compares Marx’s theory of work and history to two other less conventional economic thinkers, British dramatist Dorothy Sayers and Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry. Through comparing these three authors we can avoid the more typical Marxist vs. Capitalist debate while also seeing both the overlap and the conflict between Marxist thought and the small-scale localism of Berry and Sayers. Read and discuss more on Bensonian...

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15. Jerome Charyn on NPR's Weekend Edition; Upcoming Blog Tour for Joe DiMaggio

Baseball season begins this week, and if you missed it last weekend, be sure to listen to Jerome Charyn, author of Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil, on NPR’s Weekend Edition to hear about what lay beneath the stoicism of Joe DiMaggio’s classy surface.

Joe DiMaggio Blog TourStarting this Friday, April 1, a blog tour with over 20 sites for the book, sponsored by Tribute Books, begins for the month of April. View the full tour schedule.

And finally, lest you forget, Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil is also on Facebook.

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16. Coming March 28, Why Marx Was Right Blog Discussion

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17. Hollywood!

Hollywood Sign Another book in our Icons of America series has just been published: The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon, by Leo Braudy. Braudy, University Professor and Leo S. Bing Chair in English and American Literature at the University of Southern California, has written the first comprehensive history of the Hollywood Sign, which was erected in 1923 as a temporary real estate advertisement only to become a permanent part of our cultural heritage.

Last week, Braudy interviewed with CBS/KCAL 9 in Los Angeles to talk about the book and the evolution of the sign from its “Hollywoodland” days to its present landmark status, and the many LA visitors who come every year to snap a photo. Check out the video here, and read more on the sign’s history with a slideshow at Slate.


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18. Help Joe Bat 1000!

The Facebook page for Jerome Charyn’s Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil has nearly reached Joe DiMaggio 1,000 fans (more than the official Joe DiMaggio page!), and the book’s official publication date isn’t even until tomorrow! The page is loaded with stories about Joe and from fans, fun facts, videos, and photos from yesteryear, when Joe’s image took center stage on magazine covers and front-page recaps.

If you need a little incentive, check out Charyn’s interview on NBC’s All Night with Joey Reynolds. Timed for our celebration of Women’s History Month, we’ll have a guest post from Charyn on the romance between Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe going up shortly on the blog. Help Joe’s fandom reach 1,000 today and stay tuned for more updates!

P.S. For e-reader fans, the long vigil ends tomorrow when the book is released from your favorite eBook provider.

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19. Follow Friday, February 18, 2011

Joe DiMaggio Rogers 1688 Hollywood Sign


@Joe DiMaggio2011 Check out today’s fun crossword on Joe’s Facebook Page.

@David_Rogers has a free webinar next Thursday, February 24 to discuss the lessons from his book The Network Is Your Customer: Five Strategies to Thrive in a Digital Age.

Hollywood Sign: The famous icon is ever a tweetable mention. @amanduhh417 @Miss_Savory @DJSamSneaker are among the many to pass it today. With the Oscars coming up next weekend, we’re getting ready with Leo Braudy’s The Hollywood Sign: Fantasy and Reality of an American Icon.

@AlisaCosta @kaydora1 @RichardAlbert: February 18, 1688 marked the first formal protest against slavery. Meanwhile, revolution was brewing in England. What a year! (February 18, 1861 was the inauguration of Jefferson Davis as provisional President of the Confederate States of America.)

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20. Follow Friday, January 28, 2011

Rogers Egypt on the Brink Anthology of Rap








@David_Rogers: Everyone is abuzz with the Network Is Your Customer book launch, free chapters, reviews, and most importantly, grabbing a copy! Learn more on Twitter with #TNIYC and #sobelbrite hashtags, and be sure to check out the author’s site to catch up!

@Drudge_Report: Headlines like Matt Drudge’s “EGYPT ON THE BRINK” abound after protests erupted, calling for the end of President Mubarak’s term. Tarek Osman, author of our newly published Egypt on the Brink: From Nasser to Mubarak, has now written an op-ed for CNN.com on the current political climate.

@rearraigh75 is being tempted to renew his New York Review of Books subscription by the recent review of The Anthology of Rap.

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21. Follow Friday: January 21, 2011

Kelly jacket_Layout 1 Representing Justice Cartooning Bok, Exploring Happiness







@princetonupress is thinking about happiness this week on their blog, too. What can we say: our authors go together.

Representing Justice from coast to coast: @atrzop at Harvard chatted up Dennis Curtis and @SLSlib_newbooks at Stanford celebrates the new addition to their collection.

@Jason_M_Kelly is talking about his book The Society of Dilettanti: Archaeology and Identity in the British Enlightenment at IUPUI on April 7. Sign up now to reserve space and lunch.

@lynchcartoons ponders why a 3 year old post about Ivan Brunetti’s 1999 article “I Almost Drew Nancy” in Roctober magazine is getting more attention. Could be that people are getting anxious about to bookend Brunetti’s perspective and experience with the soon-to-be published, Cartooning: Practice and Philosophy?

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22. Carla L. Peterson on Black Gotham for NY Times Disunion series

An op-ed piece was posted to the New York Times's "Opinionator" by Carla L. Peterson, whose Black Gotham book, Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City, will be published next month. As part of the Times’s Disunion series, following the Civil War as it unfolded as we approach the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s inauguration, rising hostilities, and the first shots at Fort Sumter this spring, Peterson has contributed a story about blacks in New York and their back room political activism in the lead-up to conflict.

Keep up with the Times series on Facebook, and stay tuned for more updates on Black Gotham when we celebrate Black History Month in February.  

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23. Follow Friday, January 7, 2011: It's Back

Takiff jacketAtlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Brunner, Moon

Carp, Defiance of the Patriots






It’s the return of YUP’s Follow Friday!

@bencarp is hanging out with YUP staff at our AHA booth, with tea, coffee, and cookies.

@3PennyMovies gets into the quirky lunar folklore of Bernd Bruner’s Moon.

@ChrisMacDen is anxiously awaiting his copy of The Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade after reading Michelle Alexander’s new book The New Jim Crow.

@mcnallyjackson hosted David Swanson with Mark Crispin Miller, editor of our Icons of America series, for a conversation on Swanson’s War Is a Lie; Michael Takiff to talk about A Complicated Man; and the editors of the Paris Review.

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24. #mrvlcats

So wandering around twitter the other day I happily feel onto this post and decided the internet needed more cute kittens in Marvel super hero costumes.  I mean seriously who doesn't want to see that?  Be ready to giggle and be sure you're empty yourself of all liquids cuz you're gonna want to tinkle! hehe

Here is my interpretation of the Fantastic Four in feline form or as I like to call it "The Fantasti-Cat Four" and of course everyones favorite green guy "Hulk Kitty"

Enjoy! I know you will...

Mrvlcats2 Hulkkitty3

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25. Time for an update!

Wow it's been a few weeks since my last post and so much has happened it'll take me a few posts to catch you all up!  First let me share an interview I did for an awesome fan and collector or sketch cards.  Andrew has an great blog where he shares his love of everything...including sketch cards and awesomeness! 

He asked me to answer 5 questions and to have some fun with it...well if you know me you know fun is my middle name!  So here is my interview and some of my cute artwork.  I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed answering!  

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Why Marx Was Right
Why Marx Was Right