I am a big reader and am usually reading a book on the IPad with the Kindle app or read a physical book instead. I like audiobooks in the car though I tend to get restless and fade out of listening with audiobooks. I do like Jeff Jacoby's article about how much he has come to enjoy audiobooks and why he does enjoy them so much…

"All my life I have been an avid book reader, but for the last 25 years I have been an increasingly enthusiastic audiobook listener, too. I don't recall either of my parents reading aloud to me when I was a child, probably because I began reading insatiably on my own early on, so it was only as an adult that I discovered what John Colapinto, in a 2012 New Yorker essay, called "the pleasures of being read to."
Chief among those pleasures is how rich the experience of taking in words can be when they engage the brain through the ear and not the eye.
When you read a book for yourself, in silence, there are no cues outside the text as to how the words ought to be taken. But listen to a well-read recording of a book and you are enveloped in aural cues — inflection, emphasis, animation, accent, tone — that deepen and illuminate the experience of encountering the author's words."


Various Shakespeare

I mentioned Blackadder insults a few days ago. Now it is to get more highbrow with Shakespearean insults.
"When Hamlet refers to mankind as the “quintessence of dust” he acknowledges that while we are human, we are also just dust."
If you want to be insulted more, just check out this story of the best Shakespearean insults here.

At the same time, one can get some good online source information on Shakespeare. This is a piece of analysis on lectures given by Paul Cantor at the University of Virginia. This sounds interesting and well worth checking out! Go

A Unique Library

I came across this column about the library of Guillermo del Toro's home. He has wax figures of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. It is a very unique and cozy library that looks like a Sherlock Holmes type library. An overview about this can be found on Ace of Spades here.

Book Tidying Up?

I like to have my house and "stuff" organized as the next person. Have I achieved that? In a small way yet I am a collector/accumulator. It is just a fact. Some of the largest and heaviest parts of this are our books. I probably bought and brought home more of them than Bob.
Now I read this article about the magic of tidying up with a section on books. Really? The title of this article is the heartbreaking difficulty of getting rid of books. Now that is really close to home and true.


Since I like to read I came across this page listing a number of different interesting reads and authors currently. Some included some podcasts.

Reading List Comparison

So what did school books look like and cover as subject matter 100 years ago versus a selection today? I probably have seen a few of these old school books and have had a few in my possession. I'm not sure I could locate them in our many materials now though. We know students are not being educated overall as well as years ago and this demonstrates it. The classics are frowned upon. Too old and too much leaning toward being racist, etc. I guess we sacrifice our knowledge or love of it for the PC state that is being forced upon us.
Here is the list comparison.

Burying Caesar

Was Julius Caesar the greatest person (besides Jesus) who lived? Or at least one of the greatest? He certainly had an impact over a lot of history and a wide range of the known world in his day. From Britain to Egypt, he made his mark.
Now someone has written a book about his death. Was this the most famous assassination in history? Possibly, maybe up there is Lincoln's too.
To read more about this book of his time and final days, please go here.

100 Bestselling Used Books

I came across an article about another article covering what are considered 100 of the bestselling used books. I have read over time 31 of them and have around 10 more in my library that I have not read. So I am close to reading or buying about half of the list. I suppose that makes me a bookaholic or at least somewhat well-read. The list is found from AveBooks here. This is a good used book site.

Books About Madness

Well, with my busy schedule lately, I have not been able to do much in the reading line. Certainly I can't keep up with the books I'd like to get through. I do like to read about what ones are out there. Here is a list of great novels about madness. Interesting and quite mad I would guess. Check it out here.

William Blake

Bob and I have visited the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England. It was a fascinating trip through the museum and they had really good food there as I remember. I came across this article about William Blake, a well-known writer/artist. His exhibit is considered different. So if you wish to enter that world and find out why, look here.

Three Short Horror Stories

I came across online one time some links to online stories and books. One portion covered some favorites of shorter horror stories. Here is a set of three labeled, "Pigeons From Hell" by Robert E. Howard.


I love to read when I have the time. I do most of it on a tablet because I can read across different e-book sellers platforms where I have purchased books. We do have 2 ereaders in the house.
I came across this link to info about BookBub as a source for discount electronic books.

"Josh Schanker, a Boston-based digital entrepreneur, thinks that he might have the solution. Like the DailyDeal, his company, BookBub, sends out a free daily e-mail that highlights deeply discounted books. However, unlike Amazon's service, BookBub offers bargains for users across all major reader platforms, including the iPad, the Kindle, the Sony reader and the Nook. More importantly, though, it allows users to select books across 17 different genres -- far more than the four offerings that come in each Daily Deal e-mail."

Paperback Books and World War ll

Did paperback books help win World War ll for the Citizen Soldier? Did it help with their war experience and to pass the time? Maybe this was their type of dime store novel. Find out the background here.

“A decade after the Nazis’ 1933 book burnings, the U.S. War Department and the publishing industry did the opposite, printing 120 million miniature, lightweight paperbacks for U.S. troops to carry in their pockets across Europe, North Africa and the Pacific.

The books were Armed Services Editions, printed by a coalition of publishers with funding from the government and shipped by the Army and Navy. The largest of them were only three-quarters of an inch thick—thin enough to fit in the pocket of a soldier’s pants. Soldiers read them on transport ships, in camps and in foxholes. Wounded and waiting for medics, men turned to them on Omaha Beach, propped against the base of the cliffs. Others were buried with a book tucked in a pocket.”

A Page for Free Books

Here is a webpage for accessing a number of free books. One such section is the 51 volumes of Harvard Classics. A lot of other items are able to be found here too. At least a lot of free reading.

Why Do We Read?

To gain ‘wisdom and insight’ to get a bit of that in your life, check here.

Kids, Books and Cats

I wish they had this type of reading program when I was a kid and went to the Lebanon Library. I love to read and certainly enjoy being around animals, especially cats. It would have been close to heaven to be able to go and spend time with cats at a shelter and read to them while there. This is a fun article and I can just feel the tension leave just reading and looking at the pictures. Please check it out here.

A World Digital Library?

Will a world digital library come true? What would accelerate that possibility? Some of it is the cost to provide subscriptions to scientific periodicals for libraries. They are being priced out of the market. Groups are digitizing books to include in libraries. People are concerned that information is becoming less free and shared with those of fewer resources. Read about it here.

“All over the country research libraries are canceling subscriptions to academic journals, because they are caught between decreasing budgets and increasing costs. The logic of the bottom line is inescapable, but there is a higher logic that deserves consideration—namely, that the public should have access to knowledge produced with public funds.”

Poll of Top 10 Favorite Books

A Harris-Nielsen poll this past March listed the top 10 favorite books of people. They also polled as per ethnicity and also political persuasion. The Bible is the top favorite. Coming in second for men is The Lord of the Rings series and for women it is Gone With the Wind. Read about the breakdown of popularity here.

50 Books That Make You Enjoy Reading

Real Simple send out daily recipes and tips. They included one today about “books that will make you want to read”. The fifty books are primarily children’s to young adult’s books though there are some adult type reading in the mix. I have read a good portion of them and would agree with the ones presented overall. To go through the list, you can check it out here.

Literature About Nothingness

One of television’s great comedic shows is Seinfeld. The concept behind it was writing about the “nothing” in our lives. Even a number of shows focused on Jerry and George developing a TV show for a network about “nothing”. As I read this particular article about Paul de Man and his rise (and fall) in the field of literary theory, at the end I felt his work was about the nothingness of his work and theory. I have to admit that I do not have an in depth background in the liberal arts. This story was fascinating because of all the background of Paul de Man himself and how he fooled so many people about who he was and his work. In some ways, another fine example of how we elevate the cool without knowing the substance.

“Twenty-five years ago, literary theory went through a crisis, and it has never really recovered its reputation. The crisis would have happened even if Paul de Man had never existed, or had never left Belgium, from which he emigrated to the United States, in 1948. But de Man became its symbol. His story, the story of a concealed past, was almost too perfect a synecdoche for everything that made people feel puzzled, threatened, or angry about literary theory.”

Dante's 'Divine Comedy'

I have read some of the classical literature but not as much as I probably should. I had no idea of the value of Dante’s classic book, ‘Divine Comedy’, as a possible self-help book. It was written about 700 years ago yet people find value in the trials and tribulations Dante found in his own life. One columnist for the Wall Street Journal found just such a benefit in reading the book when his life seemed to take on depressing challenges of its own. You can read about his experience here.

“Everybody knows that "The Divine Comedy" is one of the greatest literary works of all time. What everybody does not know is that it is also the most astonishing self-help book ever written.

It sounds trite, almost to the point of blasphemy, to call "The Divine Comedy" a self-help book, but that's how Dante himself saw it. In a letter to his patron, Can Grande della Scala, the poet said that the goal of his trilogy—"Inferno," "Purgatory" and "Paradise"—is "to remove those living in this life from the state of misery and lead them to the state of bliss."

The Comedy does this by inviting the reader to reflect on his own failings, showing him how to fix things and regain a sense of direction, and ultimately how to live in love and harmony with God and others.”

Does It Really Mean This?

Many of us have run across the Latin appearing wording that is used as a wording placeholder on the web. The three main words that start the phrase are “Lorum ipsum dolor.” I am running across these words right now as we develop the new Winn Feline Foundation website. Someone has now translated the text. To see what it means, read about it here. Of course, there are places on the web that have their own translation version (highly made up) to this notorious placeholder phrase.

Best Bookstores in the World

Read about 18 of the best bookstores in the world people should visit just once. A concept that would be great if one had time and then money to do so. Powell’s Bookstore in Portland did make the list. Many in the rest of the world did also. Some pretty cool photos to be found in this article and list.

Top 10 Books People Lie About Reading

Here is a list of the top 10 books people lie about reading. They say they have read the book so they appear knowledgable and important. Of the list, I have read four. Most of these many years ago. One is a a favorite of mine,
A Tale of Two Cities. Check out the list here. See how you stand up against the group. I would say, I would like to read the whole list since they are a good group to do so with.

Little Free Libraries in Communities

Awhile ago, the local paper had a story about individuals who built small sharing libraries in their communities. It described how they built the sharing center outside. I just recently saw another article on the internet about how many of these little free libraries are popping up around. More beyond the excerpt below can be read here.

“Some of the best things in life are free.

A subscriber to that notion, and an avid reader, Judy Selle is apparently the first Decatur resident to offer a Little Free Library at her home. “I live in such a nice neighborhood, I wanted to give something back,” she said.

Selle, a member of the Decatur Public Library's Book Club, got the idea from her cousin, Jean Lawyer of Heyworth, who encountered one of these small outdoor libraries-on-a-stick at a New England bed and breakfast in summer 2012. Lawyer's husband, Dennis, then had one built for her as a Christmas gift later that year.

She followed suit to honor Jean Lawyer's mother – the late Mary Lou Bollero – a beloved aunt and a former librarian at Holy Trinity High School in Bloomington.

Measuring about 26-by-20-by-12 inches, Selle's library opened for business in October in the front yard of her South Shores home and contains approximately 40 books divided into four sections – one for hardcovers, another for paperbacks, a third for children's books and a fourth for copies of the Herald & Review when she's finished reading it.”


EReaders and Libraries

Well, I have to call myself a reader. One of my mottos in life is “reading is breathing”. That means it is essential to life, my life. In the last 5 years, ereaders have become part of the reading landscape. I have one friend who buys all his books, especially textbooks related to his field of work in electronic format. Easier to read and to store. I have a number of books in electronic format and have taken to reading them more on my IPad since I can buy Kindle, Nook, and IBooks as such. It is handy and easier than holding or carrying large books especially while traveling. I still take a print book on a plane since they have not allowed electronics powered on the first and last 10 minutes of a flight. I still take pleasure in sitting in a chair reading a good book and the joy of seeing my library shelves at home stuffed with lots of good books. We should be the Berlin library. I did find an interesting discussion about how some view ereaders versus having space taken for a physical library. You can enjoy the article here and see a bit of our library with the library cat, Oscar, standing in the doorway. What a life.......a recliner chair, a window seat, a cat, and books.

More Books Game

I have finally encouraged Bob to add an item to his Bob’s Blog. He was interested in the top 10 books game that I posted on December 14, 2013. He had a struggle because like me there are far too many books that we like and have made a big impression. Bob let himself get bogged down in the worry of getting them all listed right. I advised just start writing and get it rolling. The inspiration will come and crowd out the angst. So far he has 15 books listed which I am breaking up into sections and placing on separate days.
It is difficult to remember them all. More come to light every day that are good reads to recommend or make an impact. I realize that I did not add in “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. The description of Madame Dufarge sitting and knitting the names of all the aristocrats who should be guillotined into her work is timeless and frightening. The French Revolution was not romantic, it was very mob-like and dangerously evil.
I was also watching a Masterpiece Mystery movie of Agatha Christie’s “A Pale Horse”. No question that she is the grande dame of murder mysteries and a fascinating read. So many British authors have followed in her footsteps to offer up wonderful books.

The 10 Books Game

I saw this idea on Ricochet today...............doing a 10 books game. As the blog author notes…

“List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way and why. Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard. They don't have to be "great" books, just ones that have touched you in some way. As always the 'why' is the most important part.”

To get a sense and see what others have listed for their 10, you will need to read through the comments. I will start with my list though I will probably need to come back to finish at a later time.
P.S. I thought I might have a problem gathering the 10, I actually should have more.

Anne of Green Gables/Lucy Maud Montgomery: I was an only child and had to often live with my own company and thoughts. Anne reminded me of myself in many ways and the need to find those kindred spirits in our lives. LMM brought to life a world of wonder on the farm on Prince Edward Island. I can only say how special it was to see LMM’s home.

The Secret Garden/Frances Hodgson Burnett: Another young person’s book, of loneliness and friendship, developing within a wonderful bit of nature, a secret garden.

The Third Reich/William Shirer: The book that totally grabbed my interest in history, especially military history of World War I and World War II. It is a large book yet it showed how small things can change the course of history or could have done so and possibly saved many lives or set a different course. I have learned the concept of counterfactuals.

Undaunted Courage/Stephen Ambrose: Another history that grabs you and is written in such easy understandable wording. The story of Lewis and Clark’s journey across the continent and what they faced in this journey. I have been to St. Louis, the beginning of the trek and we have been to Fort Astoria where they wintered at the end. Their story is really a lot of the story of the Pacific Northwest and Ambrose draws you into their story with a firm grip and does not let go.

Outlander/Diana Gabaldon: Time travel and romance. Two intertwining factors mixed with a Scottish Highlander warrior and a capable American woman.........what more can you want. Emotional chemical highs, bodice ripping, and other tasty reads. This book got me into romance novels as “tension relievers”.

Katherine/Anya Seton:
I read this book many years ago. The romance between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt (third son of King Edward III of England and father of King Henry IV). Their children and descendants had a huge impact on the future of English history especially in the 15th century of England. The book made me a Plantagenet history buff for a lifetime.

The Bronze Horseman/Paulina Simons:
A sad and beautiful story set in Leningrad between two souls falling in love and dealing with the horror of totalitarianism and war during World War II. Simons’ writing seems to burrow into your soul and consciousness and take root. Her writing and this story was even one Bob found enjoyable and he liked it.

A History of the English Speaking Peoples/Winston Churchiil:
Churchill is an awesomely impressive writer of history. I have read through these 4 volumes several times and learned so much that makes me an English history fan forever. I have other sets of his..........World War I, World War II, and on his ancestor, John Churchill-the first Duke of Marlborough.

Dracula/Bram Stoker:
The ultimate initial horror story. Hide under the covers and read so Dracula won’t find you and suck your blood. Great read and shiver maker.

Salem’s Lot, The Night Shift, The Stand/Stephen King:
The contemporary horror story author. I read all of King’s earlier works. I do find later ones more of a slog for me. These three kept me up late at night unable to stop reading to see what fate awaited me when I did.

The Stranger Beside Me/Ann Rule; Helter Skelter/Vincent Bugliosi: Both are the ultimate in True Crime reads. Written by authors who know how to bring you into the mindset of the criminal(s), the victims, and all the other people who surround them and are impacted by the crime.

The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Simarillion/ JR Tolkien: An author and a set of books to take your imagination to another level. Not science fiction yet other world claiming. Other peoples even. The menace of evil in the world and how goodness and determination of will can fight against it. Who will win out.........Sauron and his hordes of Orcs or little Hobbitses bolstered by Elves, Dwarves,Wizards, and kingly Men.

The Bible:
Enough said. I have read the whole holy book and it is the ultimate read.

I know I could keep going though this should be enough to get a conversation going, don’t you think? I got to the unlucky, lucky number of 13 in a manner of speaking.


Finishing up all the details for uploading on the ABVP certification. It will be a long night adding items for CE for each lecture hour onto the website, one lecture at a time.
The second part of the Peter Jackson movie, The Hobbit, is opening Friday night. I wish we could see it. It will probably have to be at a later time. I did see this article by Bill Whittle that talks about Tolkien’s relevancy to the menace and evil of the current times. I would have to say I have seen that myself in his work (or at least the movie version). The following is an excerpt, a small piece of the article.

“Sauron is not evil because he wears black armor. Sauron is not evil because he is warlike. Sauron is the embodiment of evil because all of his strength and power is deployed to bend every living creature to his will.

To that end, he has put all of his strength and will into a single Ring of Power: the circle, the zero -- golden and beautiful and precious, it will draw every living soul into its bottomless depths.”

Books That Changed My Mind

An interesting column the other day by Scott Johnson of Powerline Blog. He contemplated about books that had changed his thinking, primarily with the focus on political leanings. I have not read any of the books he listed. I would have to spend some time considering what I would list in a similar situation. I have written in this blog about books that have changed my beliefs or interests in the past. Some books that would come to the foreground that have had an effect are Melanie Phillip’s Londonistan. It has had a huge impact on my understanding of how our Western culture and civilization is being challenged. Another book is William Shirer’s tome, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It taught me about how the little twists and turns of our history lead to such huge upheavals to civilization along the way. One small change could have headed off a historical travesty or sent events off into another direction. The old counterfactual aspect of history.
I am sure there are many other books that I can add here. I will return to this piece to add more in the future.

King Leopold's Ghost

Another of the myriad of books I own is one about King Leopold of Belgium, King Leopold’s Ghost. In the 1800’s, he decided he needed to have more territory as a colony and income for his kingdom of Belgium. He moved soldiers into the country of the Congo in Africa and over time, made the population slaves to his industry. Stanley of history fame was actually his agent in the initial colonization of the Congo His industry was the takeover of the rubber industry. Many of the population died during this occupancy and he was able to hide it from the rest of the world for awhile. Eventually, word leaked out. More details about the dark chapter in history are found here.

Book Riot Listings

I like having my book library. I know that many have shifted to having their library easier and on their E-reader. I like the use of the E-reader too though it does not fulfill the deep sense of owning a treasure trove of the written word and knowledge. Here is a link to 10 of the top libraries of the rich and famous listed on Book Riot. Personally the Stone House library at the John Adams home in Quincy, MA is right up there to me. Otherwise on this list, I would pick the library at William Randolph Hearst’s castle near Cambria, CA.

Reading Room

The past few days have been very rainy and blustery. The type of days one just wants to go into hibernation and not venture out. When I hibernate I like to grab a good book, curl up and read it for several hours. I came across this picture earlier of a book room that was so appealing. We have our library here though I could certainly entertain spending time at Casa de Muse.

More Kipling

Approximately 50 unpublished poems of Rudyard Kipling have been found inside a house in Manhattan. The poems have now been published in three volumes. One such poem is --

Never Again In Any Port

Never again in any port
That sailor people use
Can we or our broken sons consort
With the joyous shipping there
After our shame we have lost our right
To the fellowship of the sea.
We dwell alone without the camp
Shall our habitation be.

To read about what was found, please go here…..

Rudyard Kipling, circa 1913


Shakespeare Uncovered

PBS has been showing different TV programs on some of Shakespeare’s plays using different actors to moderate the program. Tomorrow night should have Hamlet with David Tennant describing the play. The Tempest is the other one on the same evening. Information about PBS’ series is found here.

Occam's Razor

Tomorrow I head off on a flight to Houston. The annual Winn grant review will be Saturday followed by a board meeting. I upgraded to a first class ticket using miles to treat myself. It has been a busy and stressful time over the last few months.
I found an interesting article about Occam’s Razor and its use in science. The article is here. The thought of keeping to the simplest or null hypothesis is in its way, comforting.

Science deals with facts, experiments and numerical representations of the natural world around us. Science does not deal with emotions, beliefs or politics, but rather strives to analyse matters dispassionately and in an objective way, such that in consideration of a given set of facts two different practitioners might come to the same interpretation….

William of Occam

Which brings us to the matter of Occam’s Razor and the null hypothesis. William of Occam (1285-1347) was an English Franciscan monk and philosopher to whom is attributed the saying ‘Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate’, which translates as ‘Plurality should not be posited without necessity.’ This is a succinct statement of the principle of simplicity, or parsimony, that was first developed by Aristotle and which has today come to underlie all scientific endeavour.
The phrase ‘Occam’s Razor’ is now generally used as shorthand to represent the fundamental scientific assumption of simplicity. To explain any given set of observations of the natural world, scientific method proceeds by erecting, first, the simplest possible explanation (hypothesis) that can explain the known facts. This simple explanation, termed the null hypothesis, then becomes the assumed interpretation until additional facts emerge that require modification of the initial hypothesis, or perhaps even invalidate it altogether.

Hello, Bookstores Again

Are printed books dead? Is reading left to just e-readers? Have bookstores gone the way of the dodo bird?
While I think e-readers have their place and I like to use them, I do talk to people about books and many still love the feel of a printed book. When you drill down discussions about what is successful as a business, one thing that always seems to stand out---relationships. if you make it about relationships and what is unique, you have a chance to make your idea or project work. People want to connect and also feel they are doing so with what was special to them at some point in their lives. I enjoy the art of reading (though I seem to achieve less of it these days) and have linked to an article here about reading. I also noted this wonderful article about how an author opened with another book enthusiast a newly successful bookstore in Nashville when two prior bookstores had closed. She was told bookstores are dead and no longer will exist……..e-readers and Amazon is the future. She is showing the fallacy to that and how people are looking for the unique relationship books can have in our lives.



We rang in the New Year with those people in New York City. Probably with those in Chicago though not with those on the West Coast. Pretty quiet here out on the farm.
We are going to spend the day enjoying some personal interests and trying to relax. A foggy start to the day though it is to be sunny at some point. Happy New Year!

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