>Cartographia: mapping civilizations by Vincent Virga and the Library of Congress is my new favorite book. Why? Because I am a map nut. Atlases, road maps, globes, you name a type of map and you can be pretty sure I have spent considerable time gazing upon it with informational wonderment.
This large collection of historical maps features the premiere maps in the Library of Congress and the story behind their creation. We learn of the map makers themselves and the incredible journeys of how these particular maps have come into existence.
This book is not only a masterpiece to the mind,
but to the heart as well.
Here are some of the neat maps included:
- The Waldeseemuller Map of the World from 1507, the first to include the designation “America”
- Pages from Ortelius’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum of 1570, considered the first modern atlas
- William Faulkner’s hand-drawn 1936 map of the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi
- A 2001 map of the human genome
Don’t take a wrong turn in Albuquerque! Check it out!
>The autobiographies of Eric Clapton, “Clapton: The Autobiography,” and his former wife Pattie Boyd, “Wonderful Tonight,” were published last fall. They give similar accounts of shared times and events but have different styles and viewpoints. Boyd’s book is more descriptive and conveys the excitement of an era and her optimism. She also has better pictures. Boyd was the inspiration for several popular songs written by her former husbands, including George Harrison and Clapton. Being a muse may look good from the outside but isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Boyd’s marriages were troubled.
Clapton’s autobiography, “Clapton,” is a step-by-step narrative of his career and personal life with an emphasis on his music and his recovery from addiction. While he pursued Boyd with such intensity while she was married to Harrison, the relationship was doomed from the get-go due to alcoholism and infidelity. All the details are here in these honest accounts.
Edmund Hillary, along with Sherpa Tenzig Norgay, were the first to summit of Mt. Everest on May 29, 1953. Hillary describes the climb in his book “High Adventure
“. An unpretentious adventurer, Hillary was the first man to stand at both north and south poles as well as at the summit of Everest. He wrote 13 books in his lifetime and was a champion for conservation efforts.
Besides writing and lecturing, he formed the Sir Edmund Hillary Himalayan Trust, a foundation that has raised millions of dollars to build schools, hospitals, clinics and other facilities for the Sherpa villages in Nepal. Hillary lamented the commercialism of recent expeditions, expressing his criticism at the 50th anniversary of his climb in 2003.
Manhattan Public Library owns several books and videos about ascents of Everest and mountaineering–if you are interested in reading about Hillary, Everest or climbing, check our catalog for titles or ask at Reference.
And don’t forget–tomorrow (Tues. Jan. 22 at 7pm) is a discussion of Jon Krakauer’s gripping account of the disastrous Everest climbing season in 1996, “Into Thin Air
“. Join That Book Club for Men for the discussion!
>Wonder what us librarians are thinking about all day? Ever thought about what goes on behind the scenes at your local library?
Well, then I have the book for you: Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert.
This book is a delightful read for those who frequent libraries and for those who work in them. Granted our library is not quite as exciting as the branch library in California that is the setting for this book, but the passion we have for our patrons, the library, and the community is the same.
The best part is that Borchert doesn’t engage in any sugar-coating of what he experiences from day to day. This lends considerable credibility to this his first book effort, and I for one can’t wait for the sequel; the puns are endless.
“Overdue” “3:10 to the Book Drop” “The Good, the Bad, the Graphic Novel.” “The Cat who went to the library.” “L is for Library.”
You get the idea.
This isn’t so much a funny book, as a book about the art and science of being funny. Steve Martin developed a style of stand-up that was radical at the time. Blending magic, banjo, visual gags, and philosophical comments, it was sometimes closer to performance art than stand-up. Martin writes about his early influences, catching the political winds of the seventies, and honing his act through thousands of performances. He revolutionized stand-up comedy, went on to write for the Smothers Brothers then SNL, then quit at the height of his stand-up career.
Martin is acutely intelligent, self-aware, and objective about his fame. He once ended as gig with : “Well, we’ve had a good time tonight, considering we’re all going to die someday.” Maybe that’s as good as it gets for a performer.
>Today marks the anniversary of the death of one of my favorite poets T.S. Eliot. Below is a one of my favorites
They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens,
And along the trampled edges of the street
I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids
Sprouting despondently at area gates.
The brown waves of fog toss up to me
Twisted faces from the bottom of the street,
And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts
An aimless smile that hovers in the air
And vanishes along the level of the roofs.
I’ve been reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I have a difficult time recommending it, since it is among the least liked of Austen’s novels. I’m reading it for the 3rd or 4th time and really enjoying it. It is the story of Fanny Price, a poor niece growing up with a wealthy family. She is quiet, moral, and sensitive. Many people hate her.
At the same time, I’m watching the Masterpiece Theater version of Jane Eyre, which I got for Christmas. I couldn’t help but compare Fanny and Jane, both in degraded positions in a wealthy household, both strong in their morals, and careful to make their way as best they can. But everyone loves Jane Eyre and belittles poor Fanny.
I am seeing with this reading that Fanny has a quiet strength that pulls her through all the difficulties of her life. She has a meekness that serves her well in everyday situations, but doesn’t succumb to the will of those who are stronger when she knows her position is correct. Besides, Aunt Norris is a deliciously horrid character, providing many laughs along the way.
Give Mansfield Park a try and see if you agree.