Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just a great book trailer

There's a fantastic book trailer here.

I particularly like the bit about the feeling-words.

Curiouser and Curiouser said Doctor Alice

One of my postgrad students pointed me in the direction of this excellent column by David Mitchell, responding to the announcement of a panel in the UK that will determine whether to fund research based on economic viability etc.

On the surface of it, it sounds like a reasonable proposition to financially support work that shows evidence of a future return of some kind.

However, if you understand the academic business, you know this isn't always how it works. The best research often develops from silly propositions, accidents, mistakes and so forth. The push to have research ends articulated before the research takes place is not necessarily wise. We research so we can find out where the ideas will take us - not so that we can meet a pre-determined objective.

Writes Mitchell: "What separates us from the beasts, apart from fire, laughter, depression and guilt about killing the odd beast, is our curiosity. We've advanced as a species because we've wanted to find things out, regardless of whether we thought it useful."

Alice would understand.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Privacy and Google Books

Just a little something to muse upon in respect to how private we want our reading and research habits to be. Click the link here.

Of course, it doesn't hurt to make our reading habits at least marginally public. Shelfari is quite fun - although I need to find more time to really do much with it. People often scan the bookshelves of those they visit or of authors photographed standing in front of said bookshelves (what is J.K. reading anyway?). When students come to my office, they always check out the bookshelves (of course, my 'real' collection is at home, since most of my research is done at night).

But at times, research can be misconstrued.

When teaching a unit that looked at terrorism, I was a little nervous getting on a plane with that week's readings (but I did need to read them before class and the plane trip was the only opportunity available). Happily, no one paid me any mind.

I can, however, see the potential problems of Google Books searches being used in ways that will make us think twice about what we research.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week in the States. Of course, we all know that the banned books are the coolest. Which is why I have this bracelet to prove it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A bit of spam from Thorin

"Dear MR BAGGINS, Fellow Conspirator,

I am Thorin Oakenshield, descendant of Thrain the Old and grandson of Thror who was King under the Mountain. I am writing you to discuss our plans, our ways, means, policy and devices for rescuing our treasure from the dragon Smaug..."

Who doesn't need a little spam from Middle Earth? See the whole here.

Finding the Wild Things

This blog has kept me entertained all morning so far (it's still only 9:07am). "We Love You So" features a range of posts in anticipation of the upcoming film, Where the Wild Things Are. There are some wonderful photoshopped images of wild things and Max himself in unexpected places. Have a look. It will make you smile.

There are also some fantastic reflections on the picture book and other topics of interest.

I'm off to get another cup of coffee before working on book proposal. Note: much easier to write book than write the proposal.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Darker Side of Disney

A while ago, I might have mentioned The Fallen Princess project by Dina Goldstein. An interesting concept, but, I felt, a little too negative. Goldstein explains: "I began to imagine Disney's perfect Princesses juxtaposed with real issues that were affecting women around me, such as illness, addiction and self-image issues." Yet, there are positive, real issues affecting women too. And, after all, Disney's princesses weren't always perfect.

I have to admit, I rather enjoyed this darker side of the Disney princess though! Jeffrey Thomas' images are incredible and being drawn, relate directly to the animated originals. I love the Beauty and the Beast panel in particular.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Austen and monsters

I can do nothing but report the continuing madness with Michael Thomas Ford's Jane Bites Back: "The novel presents an undead Jane Austen, frustrated by nearly 200 years of writer's block and 116 rejections of an unpublished novel she finished just before turning into a vampire."

It's enough for any writer accumulating rejections to sympathise with.

On a side note, read Basile's "Violet" if you have a moment:

"The King's son was burning with love of her, and every time he passed by the little cottage where these three sisters sat at work, he took off his cap and said, "Good-day, good-day, Violet," and she replied, "Good-day, King's son! I know more than you."

I just put that in bold - I love her spirit!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A little light reading

We're all wondering how the internet, digitalisation... google... will change the nature of books. Here's a little fiction that entertains on the theme: Mr Perumbra's Twenty-Four Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan.

Also contains a riff on immortality.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

If you like Pinocchio...

... try the forthcoming graphic novel from Van Jensen, Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer. The link provided here takes you to the author's blog post about the book.

In the meantime, I'm going to try to snatch a few straight hours to do some work on an article about Prince Charming.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Impact of Google Books

There has been much debate about the digitalisation of books by Google. Frankly, much of the debate has been alarmist and a little counter productive. Google Books is extremely useful and the quirks in the system largely manageable by simple double-checking. There are obvious flaws, but in the absence of anyone else stepping up to take on such an enormous task, excusable (although, we should keep an eye on them).

One of my colleagues, Patrick Spedding, blogged very eloquently about some of the issues here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I did not know about this site, but I do now and am currently awe-inspired by Neil Gaiman's basement library. Have a look. It's incredible. And it has comfy chairs, which are so important to any amazing library.

Judging Scholarly Books By Their Covers

Let's face it, scholarly books are rarely 'pretty.' All too often, librarians whip the dust jackets off, leaving them naked and nondescript in the stacks anyway. Only a title hints at delights to be discovered.

I admit, I bought this book because I love the dust jacket. It's not an expensive production, but the simplicity and tonal influences are beautiful... plus, it has Puss in Boots and a title like From Court to Forest. The book is part of my current nesting activity for a new manuscript I'm working on. Don't you love Puss's boots?