Monday, December 29, 2008

Bargain Hunting for Books

This NYT article about book bargain hunters points out that no industry undermined by its greatest partisans will thrive long. It's true - gone are the days when I happily spent $1,000/year on books (and I don't think that included my law books, which were certainly expensive) and who could love books more than I do?

I alternate between thinking I left publishing at the right time and wishing I were still at Wiley where I could do my job in my sleep - and some of my colleagues surely did. It was a great place in many ways but definitely one of those companies where 10% of the people (mostly sales and editorial) did 90% of the work. And don't even try to get something done on Fridays when quite a few individuals said they were working from home. This would have been more convincing if they ever responded to email. It always annoyed me that my ability to get my job done was negatively impacted by their laziness or desire to spend time with their kids.

My friend Charlotte was interviewed on NPR on the state of the industry.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Political Appointments

It is so exciting to see former Harvard basketball player Arne Duncan be named Secretary of Education and Tony Blinken from Kirkland House, previously Biden's staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will follow his boss to the White House, where he will serve as Biden's national security adviser.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Trying Times for Bedtime Stories

The Boston Globe offers some helpful suggestions for possible book topics if authors want to provide realistic and topical bedtime stories or if parents really wanted to subject their offspring to such depressing topics . . . Personally, the children in my family prefer fantasy for a reason!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In Hoc Signo Vinces

The Boston Globe had a nice story the other day about one of my favorite judges, Judge Richard Stearns of the District Court of Massachusetts. In addition to describing the selfless way he uses all his vacation time to promote judicial reform in Eastern Europe, it mentioned that he was inspired by A Child's History of the World by V. M. Hillyer, the very book my mother cherished so much growing up that she brought it to school proudly as her favorite book for show and tell, and was teased by her classmates. I am not sure if the copy we own is my mother's childhood copy or if I found another in the intervening years but it is an outstanding book.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Betsy-Tacy annual ornament exchange


Every year the Betsy-Tacy listserv has an elaborate (and anonymous, due to the hard work of Betsy Sundquist and her elves) ornament exchange which pays tribute to the Christmas shopping expedition that Betsy, Tacy, and Tib make in Betsy-Tacy Go Downtown. Here is my tree with many Betsy-Tacy ornaments prominently displayed! You can't see all of them clearly but quite visible are the canoe and lantern from the Indian guide on Carney and Sam's honeymoon, a Big Ben ornament representing Betsy's sojourn in London, a dressmaker's dummy from Miss Mix, a purple ornament from the Deep Valley Class of 1910, and various dog ornaments received this year from Tony Markham . . .
For those who like to examine bookscases, as you can tell from the Dummies books in the background (some from before we were careful to design all the spines to match), these are primarily nonfiction shelves.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's not fair!

I am devoted to my nieces and nephews but they all know that one thing I can't stand is complaints of "It's not fair!" With my eldest nephew, I simply leave the room (like my grandmother who never really believes I will hang up on her, he always seems surprised when I actually depart). So it is somewhat disturbing to learn that dogs have an intuitive understanding of fair play and become resentful if they feel that another dog is getting a better deal . . . Is there nowhere to hide? Let us hope they are more accurate/sparing in their assessments of such situations!

Caroline

Should Caroline "inherit" Hillary's seat? I do not doubt her intelligence (hey, she went to college with yours truly, more or less) or aptitude and I see no reason why she wouldn't be a good senator. However, she hasn't earned it, and there are better qualified New Yorkers who should rank ahead of her. I am not a huge fan of Andrew Cuomo but what about Carolyn Maloney, who I think was my old congresswoman? And not that great oratorical skill is essential but I was suprised by Caroline's weak delivery at the convention. Perhaps she was nervous but I expected a little more presence (she did look fabulous, however).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Buy books for Christmas

It appears I left the publishing industry at the right time (although I can't say that law firms are doing well - half the associates in my office don't have enough work to meet their billable goal this month) but it is very disturbing to read about all the layoffs at publishers that have always been very stable. I hope all my colleagues at Wiley are safe (well, except for anyone who ever dissed me, which - luckily - was few).

Please buy someone a book for Christmas! Make that several someones...

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


Everyone had been recommending this book to me, so I bought it for my sister's birthday and thoughtfully read it first to make sure she would like it. I actually found it very charming and with a real flavor of a bygone era - not only is it set just after WWII, it reads very much like a D.E. Stevenson written in that era.

The premise is that writer Juliet Ashton is tired and depressed after the war, to the point that she can't even enjoy the success of her bestseller because she feels it is trite and the people who admire it are shallow. She is already worried about finding her next topic, when she unexpectedly receives a letter from Guernsey where a local farmer has unexpectedly come into possession of one of her books (with her address inscribed on the flyleaf). Through their correspondence. she is drawn into the lives of the islanders and eventually travels to Guernsey to write about their struggles and triumphs during the war. Of course, the project distracts Juliet from her war-induced weariness and helps her regroup and start anew but it doesn't feel like a cliche.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Duke-Purdue

After all my years of working with people from Indiana (seven, and no jokes about counting in dog years as I am very fond of many of them), it seemed odd for Duke to be playing the Boilermakers in West Lafayette, yet not have anyone I knew talking trash to me all day (she observed disappointedly). It's not as if I am hard to find, but maybe they didn't realize Duke has never lost a game in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and did not intend to do so tonight. Kyle Singler played extremely well, and looked very happy (albeit a bit goofy) on the court. Jon Scheyer just looks intense but was also in good form.

I did email Joe Wikert but cravenly he has not yet replied (I doubt his new job has reduced his time for sports because he was badmouthing my Patriots a day or so ago). I did not bother to email Dave Linn because I would have been so disappointed if he and his wife, both Purdue alums, were not watching.