One-Minute Book Reviews

December 13, 2007

Gifts for Readers — Sterling Silver ‘Cat in the Hat’ and Beatrix Potter Ornaments From Hand & Hammer

[This week I'm running extra posts, in addition to reviews, on suggested gifts for readers. No kickbacks from the sellers. These are just gifts I like. Museums sell these ornaments, but I couldn't find any in the U.S. that had them in stock, so I'm listing other suppliers.]

My favorite Christmas decorations include these sterling silver Cat in the Hat and Peter Rabbit ornaments. Each is part of a series with scenes or characters from books by Dr. Seuss or Beatrix Potter (also available as charms and, in some cases, brooches). I first saw the Peter Rabbit ornaments in the gift shop at Hilltop, Potter’s home in the English Lake District, part of the Britain’s National Trust. In the U.S., you can order them for about $45 each from the venerable Hand & Hammer Silversmiths www.handandhammer.com, which also has the Seuss ornaments. This venerable Virginia company has made presentation silver for every president since John F.Kennedy, who received copies of Paul Revere’s lanterns for the Oval Office. I’ve ordered from its vast selection of sterling silver ornaments without problems. If you’re interested in a Seuss ornament, you might also try Seussland www.seussland.com, which has a good selection.

The ornaments shown are “The Cat in the Hat,” left, and “Mrs.Rabbit and Her children,” right, both from the Hand & Hammer Silversmiths online catalog.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

Coming Tomorrow — The 10 Best Books of the Year (and Funny Gifts for Readers)

Coming tomorrow …

The 10 best books of 2007, hand-picked by Jan Harayda, editor-in-chief of One-Minute Book Reviews. This list will include fiction, nonfiction and poetry and books from small presses and soul-destroying multinational conglomerates.

Funny gifts for readers. One-Minute Book Reviews has been running extra posts every day this week (in addition to the usual reviews) with gift ideas for readers. Another suggestion will appear later today. Tomorrow this site will entertain you with funny gifts for readers that didn’t made the list

The One-Minute Book Reviews list of the 10 Best Books of 2007 will be posted by 8 a.m. Eastern Time. The funny gifts will be posted by 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

Force majeure clause: It’s snowing here, and a nor’easter is on the way.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

December 12, 2007

Gifts for Readers – Pillow With Thomas Jefferson Quote ‘I Cannot Live Without Books’ From the Library of Congress Shop

[This week I’m tossing in extra posts, in addition to the usual reviews, on suggested gifts for readers. No kickbacks from sellers. These are just gifts I like and will help to support libraries or other friends of books.]

Know someone who defines the necessities of life as “food, clothing, shelter and books”? Here’s a possible gift: a small pillow that shows a comment Thomas Jefferson made to his friend John Adams in 1815: “I cannot live without books.” (A few books stand to the right of the legend.) The pillow is a 12” x 14” cotton-and-polyester blend that sells for $34 the Library of Congress Shop www.loc.gov/shop/. I can’t link directly to the picture in its online catalog, but you can find it by clicking on the “Home Accessories” page or searching for “pillow” on the site. The catalog says the pillow is navy blue, though it looks burgundy, and usually ships in 3–4 business days. The shop also sells mugs, T-shirts and tote bags with the quote. The Library of Congress has more than 3,000 books from the collection of the third president.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

December 11, 2007

Gifts for Readers — Hobbit Poster From the Bodleian Library at Oxford

[I’m tossing in a few extra posts this week with suggested gifts for readers. Again, no kickbacks from their sellers. These are just gifts that I like and help to support libraries or other friends of books. Today’s review appears in the post below this one.]

Most book posters are artless enough to appeal only to fans of the titles they promote. Not this handsome poster published by the Bodleian Library at Oxford University for an exhibit marking the 50th anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit in 1987. The poster shows one of Tolkien’s drawings for the first edition of the novel, depicting the scene “Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves.” It has the dates of the exhibit and sells for 5.95 pounds (about $12) at Bodleian Library Shop Online shop.bodley.ox.ac.uk/acatalog/index.html. The shop has other Hobbit posters and literary gifts, including cards imprinted with quotations from Shakespeare or reproductions of the covers of Victorian gardening books owned by the library. A related gift: The Hobbit: 70th Anniversary Edition (Houghton Mifflin, $25) www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com, just published in the U.S., which has Tolkien’s original drawings and an introduction by Christopher Tolkien.

Drawing: (c) The Trustees of the Tolkien Estate 2005.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

December 10, 2007

Gifts for Readers — Men’s Tie With a Book Design From the Los Angeles Public Library

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[I’m tossing in a few extra posts this week with suggested gifts for readers. Again, no kickbacks from their sellers. These are just gifts that I like and help to support libraries or other friends of books. Today’s review appears in the post below this one.]

Men’s club ties can get kitschy, but the book design on this one is as discreet as you would expect from a library. It’s 100 percent silk, designed by the architect-turned-art-director Josh Bach and sells for $38 at the online Library Store at the Los Angeles Public Library www.lfla.org/cgi-bin/store/0943.htm. And it might delight that teacher, tutor, librarian or parent who’s always encouraging children to read. The Josh Bach Book Tie will allow a man to keep books – literally as well as figuratively – close to his heart.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

December 9, 2007

Gifts for Readers – ‘The Reading Woman Boxed Notecards’ Set From the New York Public Library Gift Shop

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[I’m going to toss in a few extra posts this week, in addition the usual reviews, with suggested gifts for readers. No kickbacks from the sellers. These are just gifts that I like and will help to support libraries or other friends of books. Jan]

Want to say thank-you to that hostess who always bakes her famous Irish Coffee Cheesecake for book-club meetings instead of picking up few packages of Milanos like everybody else? Consider giving her “The Reading Woman Boxed Notecards” set, which costs $14.95 at the online Library Shop at the New York Public Library www.libraryshop.org/notstat.html. It has twenty 5” x 7” blank notecards with five copies of each of four paintings of a woman reading, one of which you see here. The deadline for UPS ground shipments is Thursday, Dec. 13, but you might find the cards at another library or museum shop with a looser time frame.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

December 3, 2007

What Is One-Minute Book Reviews?

One-Minute Book Reviews is a site for people who like to read but dislike hype and review inflation. It is also for people who dislike long-winded weasel reviews that are full of facts or plot summaries but don’t tell you what the critic thought of the book. You may not agree with the opinions you read here, but you will always know what they are.

This blog focuses on book reviews and does not cover literary news or gossip. Occasional exceptions may occur when other media cover literary news slowly or not at all or when news relates to a book this site has reviewed or will review. I recently wrote about the Bad Sex in Fiction Award because it related directly to my review of On Chesil Beach and because the nominated passages clearly weren’t going to make it into most American newspapers.

Some of the unique features of One-Minute Book Reviews include the Totally Unauthorized Reading Group Guides, free reading group guides without the hype of publishers’ guides, and the Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books, announced annually on the Ides of March. The site does not accept free books or other promotional materials from editors, publishers, agents or authors.

If you know someone who might enjoy this site, I’d be grateful if you would forward a link to this post. In addition to hundreds of links from personal blogs, this site has many links from schools, colleges and libraries. That’s why the “Top Posts” on this site regularly include both reviews of new books and a quote about literary symbolism from a nearly 50-year-old textbook: Colleges are apparently linking to this site from class wikis, syllabi or reading lists.

One-Minute Book Reviews ranks seventh in the world on the Google Directory of “Top Arts and Literature” blogs:
www.google.com/Top/Arts/Literature/Reviews_and_Criticism/. Thanks for visiting One-Minute Book Reviews.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

December 2, 2007

You Thought the Writing of the ‘Bad Sex Award’ Finalists Was Bad? Coming Monday, a Review of Alice Sebold’s ‘The Almost Moon’

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Did the writing of the Bad Sex Award finalists make you cringe (“Read All the Passages Shortlisted for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award Here” www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/11/28/)? The nominees get competition after the fact from Alice Sebold’s novel The Almost Moon, which will be reviewed tomorrow on One-Minute Book Reviews.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

November 28, 2007

2007 A-to-Z Holiday Gift List Coming Soon – Here Are Three of My Favorite Books From the 2006 List That You Can Still Find Easily

COMING SOON …

… the second annual One-Minute Book Reviews A-to-Z Holiday Gift List with books for everyone from an attorney to a Zen Buddhist. A few of my favorites from last year’s list:

What to give to …

A FOOTBALL FAN After a decade out of print, Jerry Kramer’s Instant Replay: The Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer (Doubleday, $21.95) returned last year in an edition with a foreword by Jonathan Yardley, the Pulitzer Prize–winning book critic. Give this one to football fans young enough to have missed it when it first came out in 1968 (and maybe also to baby boomers who’ve always regretted giving that first edition to Goodwill). Kramer, a former All-Pro Green Bay guard, wrote this modern classic with the late Dick Schaap, one of the best sportswriters of the 20th century. www.jerrykramer.com

A JANEITE Devout Jane Austen fans call themselves “Janeites.” But you don’t have to fall into that group to enjoy Josephine Ross’s Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades & Horrible Blunders (Bloomsbury, $14.95), with charming watercolor illustrations by Henrietta Webb. Ross doesn’t try to extrapolate a set of 21st-century rules from the behavior of Elizabeth Bennet and others. Instead she offers a literary companion, masquerading as a Regency-era etiquette book, that explains the complex codes of behavior followed by Austen’s characters. www.bloomsburyusa.com

A KINDERGARTENER Mother Goose characters write letters to each other in Allan and Janet Ahlberg’s The Jolly Postman: Or Other People’s Letters (Little, Brown, $19.99, ages 4-8), which has a real letter tucked into in an envelope on every other page. This British import has been delighting children for two decades and has come out in a 20th anniversary edition. The books in “Jolly Postman” series are great gifts partly because children often can’t get them at libraries, which have trouble keeping them on shelves — the letters keep disappearing from their pockets. www.allanahlberg.com. A sequel, The Jolly Christmas Postman (Little,Brown, $17.99, ages 4-8), is shown at right.

Many other books on last year’s list still make good gifts. Click here to read the full list www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2006/12/01/.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

www.janiceharayda.com

October 30, 2007

Novelists Talk About Their Books on Free DVDs for Reading Groups

Ouch! Since I wrote this, the hard drive on my Mac laptop has apparently crashed. I hope to get it fixed in the next day or two. In the meantime, I’ll try to post on computers at a library, where I am now, but may be slow to respond to comments. Thanks for your patience. Jan

Tonight I was going to write a post about Kilt Dead (Kensington, $22), the first mystery in Kaitlyn Dunnett‘s new Scottish-themed series set in Maine www.kaitlyndunnett.com. But you’ll have to wait a day or two for that one, because I decided instead to go into Manhattan for a launch party for National Reading Group Month, sponsored by the Women’s National Book Association www.wnba-books.org and www.wnba-nyc.org.

At the celebration I learned about something reading groups may want to check out: Random House is giving away to book clubs on a while-supplies-last basis three DVDs, each of which has a different female author talking about her books: Lorna Landvik (Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons), Adriana Trigiani (Home to Big Stone Gap) and Fannie Flagg (Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven). I haven’t read any of these books, but if you have and love them, you can request a DVD for your club at www.thereaderscircle.com.

Would that Random House would do a DVD for Katha Pollitt! Her new essay collection Learning to Drive: And Other Life Stories is ideal for book group members who liked the bestseller from the company’s Knopf imprint, Nora Ephron‘s I Feel About My Neck. A review of and reading group guide to Pollitt’s book appeared on this site on Oct. 16 www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/10/16/.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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