Have you read so many novels by Mitch Albom and Stephenie Meyer that you’re losing the will to live? Go right now to the site for the Nobel Prize in literature, where you’ll find excerpts from the work of 23 writers of prose and 10 poets who have become laureates since 1926 (excluding Herta Müller, who won the 2009 prize today). The “Text Excerpts” section of the site is superbly organized, with all the selections listed and linked to on the same page, so you can start with any of them and, if doesn’t appeal to you, hit your back browser try another. If you like what you read, the Nobel site has more information about its author.
October 8, 2009
June 12, 2009
On this site I’ve often faulted publishers’ reading group guides for their poor quality –- poor in part because they tend to pander to book-club members with loopy questions like: “The heroine of this novel is a one-eyed snake charmer whose parents were abducted by aliens. Have you ever known a one-eyed snake charmer whose parents were abducted by aliens?” Gee, I’ll have to think about that one! I might have known one-eyed snake charmer, but her parents got in the space ship voluntarily and technically weren’t abducted! How about you?
So I was heartened to find that the U.S. Government has posted more than two dozen free reading group guides that are more objective and helpful. The guides come from The Big Read, a National Endowment for the Arts program intended to encourage reading, and most cover major American works of fiction for adults or children, such as My Antonia, The Great Gatsby, The Age of Innocence, The Call of the Wild, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. But a couple deal with books by authors from other countries — Naguib Mahfouz’s The Thief and the Dogs and Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich – and the NEA plans soon to post companions to the poetry of Emily Dickinson and others.
You can download the guides for free at the site for The Big Read. And some libraries can get printed versions and CDs with more information at no cost. (I learned about all of this when I found a stack of free reader’s guides and companion disks for To Kill a Mockingbird at a small-town library giving them away to patrons.) Along with warhorses such as The Grapes of Wrath, The Big Read guides deal with a couple gems that are less well known, including Cynthia Ozick’s The Shawl.
May 22, 2009
[Update, June 4: This contest has closed.]
Late last year, I promised to bring back my former contests that let you win books reviewed on this site. It’s taken me a bit longer than I’d hoped, but here’s the first in the new series of occasional giveaways. Happy Memorial Day! Jan
You can win any book on the list below if you’re the first to link to One-Minute Book Reviews after you read this post. To enter, link to this site, then send the link and your mailing address to the e-mail address on the contact page, and tell me which book you’d like. (Please do not leave a comment with the link — e-mail entries only.) You don’t have to link to the review of the book you want or to say anything special; you can link to any post or page, and winners are determined solely by the time of arrival the e-mail.
You need to be over 18 and a resident of the U.S. to enter. If you win, I’ll put the book in the mail to you within a week. You can win only one book, but if more than one interests you, you’re welcome to mention an alternate choice in case someone has won the book you want. Winners’ names are not announced on the site.
All books are the copies I used to review them, so they’ve been read gently but are in very good condition unless specified. As noted below, some are advance reader’s copies or ARCs (uncorrected proofs with the art for the cover of the hardcover edition on the front).
Here are the books you can win.
The Poky Little Puppy: A Little Golden Book Classic. By Janette Sebring Lowrey, illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren. This book is reported to be the bestselling American hardcover children’s picture book of all time. Hardcover edition. (Won)
Baby Farm Animals: A Little Golden Book Classic. Illustrated by Garth Williams (who illustrated the best-known editions of Charlotte’s Web and Little House on the Prairie). Hardcover edition. (Won)
Walt Disney’s Cinderella: A Little Golden Books Classic. Story adapted by Jane Wenner. Illustrated by Retta Scott Worcester. Art from the 1950 movie (with Cinderella in her pre-princess garb on the cover). Hardcover edition.
What a Great Kid! Coupon Book: 52 Ways to Tell Kids “You’re Loved.” A tear-out coupon for every week.
Advance Reader’s Copies/Children
PerpetualCheck. By Rich Wallace. A short novel about two brothers who face off at a chess tournament. This ARC shows a bit of wear, but a young chess player might enjoy it. See note about ages in review.
Books for Adults
No! I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club: Diary of a 60th Year. By Virginia Ironside. The hardcover edition of a comic novel recently out in paperback.
The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America. By John Demos. The hardcover edition of a National Book Award nonfiction finalist now in paperback. (Won)
Advance Reader’s Copies/Adults
Take Your Shirt Off and Cry: A Memoir of Near Fame Experiences. By Nancy Balbirer. An actor’s story of the big breaks that got away. This ARC shows wear.
My Little Red Book. Edited by Rachel Kauder-Nalebuff. Girls and women remember their first menstrual periods.
Not Becoming My Mother: And Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way. By Ruth Reichl. Memories of a difficult other by the editor-in-chief of Gourmet.
Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa. By R. A. Scotti. True crime about a famous art heist.
How to Buy a Love of Reading. By Tanya Egan Gibson. A novel about a teenager whose parents hire a novelist to write a book for her.
Old World Daughter, New World Mother: An Education in Love and Freedom.By Maria Laurino. An argument for a new vision of feminism by the author of Were You Always an Italian?
December 23, 2008
A while back, I ran contests that gave you varied ways to win books reviewed on this site, which I stopped mainly because I don’t drive and had to make an extra trip to the post office for them. (I know, I know: Why is a trip to the post office to mail a book such a big deal? Tell them, my fellow New Jerseyans.) As another year ends, I’ve decided I’m old enough to figure out how to get to the post office even if NJ Transit doesn’t cooperate, so I’m bringing back the contests in 2009.
A thousand thanks to all of you for visiting One-Minute Book Reviews in 2008. It’s a joy to read your comments.
December 4, 2007
Later in the week I’ll have a Quote of the Day in which a well-known American writer talks about the poem he calls “the supreme Christmas poem in the English language.” Do you know what it is? You can win a copy of Baseball Haiku: American and Japanese Haiku and Senryu (Norton, $19.95), edited with translations by Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura, if you’re the first to answer correctly. Baseball Haiku is an excellent new collection of haiku about baseball that transcends the sport with a long introduction (and commentary on individual poems) that helps to demystify haiku in general www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/10/29/.
To enter the contest, send an e-mail message with the answer and your mailing address to the address on the “Contact” page of this site. I’ll send Baseball Haiku to the first U.S. resident who responds correctly by e-mail. If you don’t want to try to win but would like to show people what a genius you are — or nominate the poem that you see as “the supreme Christmas poem” in English — why not leave a comment? The Quote of the Day and answer will be posted by 5 p.m. Eastern Time Friday.
(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved. Janice Harayda.
November 21, 2007
Listen to Thanksgiving Hymns and Others for Free at Cyber Hymnal — Downloadable for Free, Too, If They’re Out of Copyright
Further update at 7:45 p.m. Dec. 1: The Cyber Hymnal site is back up. I just listened to the Doxology and “The Snow Lay on the Ground,” the carol often used as an anthem (the first I remember singing with youth choir at my childhood church). But I’m leaving up the Nov. 29 update because you may want to use Hymn Site as a back-up if Cyber Hymnal goes down again. Jan
Update at 5:25 p.m. Nov. 29: The Cyber Hymnal site seems to have crashed — let’s hope temporarily — since I posted this. The link worked without problems for days. But at this writing you can’t reach Cyber Hymnal either from here or the link on Google. Until the site is up again, you can hear the music and find the words to hymns at HymnSite www.hymnsite.com. HymnSite isn’t as easy to search as Cyber Hymnal and may have fewer hymns, but has many of the same elements. Jan
Update, Nov. 2010: Cyber Hymnal is now NetHymnal, and the links in this post have been changed to reflect it.
Today I was looking for facts to add to a quote of the day about a Thanksgiving hymn and found a site called NetHymnal that lets you listen for free to the music of more than hymns and Gospel songs. NetHymnal also has the words and background of tunes, pictures of authors or composers, a few musical scores and more. It offers 29 hymns by J. S. Bach alone, including such chart-busters as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and “Von Himmel Hoch.” The site is just what its name implies — the online equivalent of a hymnal you might find slotted into a pew except that it lets you listen to the music instead of reading the scores. And you can download for free anything that’s out of copyright.
So this is the place to go if you’d like to hear the Thanksgiving hymns “Now Thank We All Our God,” “For the Beauty of the Earth” and “We Gather Together” (the only one of the three that’s non-Trinitarian in all verses). Cyber Hymnal also lets you listen to Christmas carols and patriotic songs such as “O Canada,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” (the Navy Hymn). And if you’re getting married in a church soon, you can hear any hymn that could be played at your wedding. Be sure to listen to the traditional — and best — version of the classic wedding hymn “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” on Cyber Hymnal before somebody talks you into the alternate setting that has become popular without my consent. (Are you going to invite me to the wedding?)
If you don’t care for Thanksgiving hymns but want to hear to some of the most stirring music ever written, use the title search tool on Nethymnal to look for “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” (the Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony), “Thine Be the Glory” (“See, the Conqu’ring Hero Comes” from Handel’s Judas Maccabeus) and “Be Still, My Soul” (“The Song of Peace” from Sibelius’s Finlandia). Like the Colorado Rockies, that quote of the day that I planned to post will have to wait till next year, because I’m off to Cyber Hymnal to listen Beethoven’s “The Heavn’s Resoundeth” (“The Heavens Are Telling”), nearly as glorious as the “Ode to Joy.”
The picture above from the old Cyber Hymnal shows Catherine Winkworth (1827-78), who translated “Now Thank We All Our God” (“Nun Danket”) from the German.
(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.