This humorous collection of trivia about animals—including the two-legged, (largely) hairless kind—is perfect for the friend laid up in the hospital with a broken leg from a ski accident; the child too old for the traditional bedtime story but still young enough to love the gross-out stuff; the grandparent who enjoys a chuckle along with an education that sets their assumptions about the animal kingdrom right. It’s perfect for me, too, who falls somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, and who enjoyed the short installments and sketches as the last read of the day before lights out. This book will amuse, inform, and add just a bit of healthy wonder about how other critters on this planet go about their business in ways sometimes so bizaare to ours that surely, we think, they must be from another planet. [$19.95]
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With Resident Evil 5 not making its appearance till next year, the door was wide open for new survival horror in 2008, and the biggest splash was easily made by Dead Space. A new property from Electronic Arts, Dead Space tasks the player with exploring the fate of a “planet-cracking” vessel, the USG Ishimura. You soon realize that you and your team are not alone on the Ishimura, and the incredibly gory action begins. If all this sounds familiar, it’s because Dead Space clearly owes much to not only previous survival horror games, but also to sci-fi horror films like Alien and Event Horizon. Extraordinarily grim and bloody, Dead Space is a great gift choice for any fan of the survival horror genre, and arguably of action games in general. [$59.99]
A recession may be a funny time to be concerned with high fashion, but hey, the times of austerity can’t last forever. And even if you can’t afford to get duded up like the insanely hip Iké Udé, then at least you can enjoy gazing at the sartorial wares of 55 of the world’s most “fashionable” people. Refreshingly, this book doesn’t treat youth as the definition of beauty. Beauty and style cross ages and places in Udé‘s refined eyes. The photography is superb and the Q and As with these well-dressed denizens are great fun indeed. [$65.00]
It has been called “the single most important day in the career” of Johnny Cash. The date was January 13, 1968, a year that will forever go down in infamy in American history on account of the shocking assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, not to mention the infamous Tet Offensive, which plunged the United States neck-deep into one of the most unpopular wars the world had ever seen. The Tet Offensive went down mere days after this benchmark date in the life of the Man in Black. January 13, 1968 was the day Cash stepped through the gates of the notorious Northern California maximum security prison at Folsom—flanked by his ever-present entourage of June Carter, Carl Perkins, the Statler Brothers, and his longtime backing band the Tennessee Three—to perform before a mess hall of inmates. There were two performances that day, one at 9:40 am and the other around lunchtime. Both shows were recorded by producer Bob Johnston, although the first show was exclusively used for the official record, after Johnston felt that Cash didn’t quite deliver with the same fire the second time around. But now, for the first time, both sets have been made available as part of this beautiful Legacy Edition, along with an informative DVD with a documentary on Cash’s trip to Folsom, featuring interviews with Roseanne Cash, Merle Haggard, Marty Stuart, and several former inmates who attended the iconic concert. [$39.98]
Marcel Proust wrote a rather well-known work called In Search of Lost Time, published in France in seven parts between 1913 and 1927. Before he embarked on this masterwork, he wrote a magazine article called “On Reading” that was published in 1905 in Renaissance latine as part of his exploration of the personal importance of the experience of reading:
There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we believe we left without having lived them, those we spent with a favorite book.
Proust ruminates about the importance of time spent reading as a child, and the associations that come to exist between the stories that were read and the age when we read them. Whether the time was spent outside with family members at a picnic, or in one’s own bedroom or perhaps some secret spot, the setting where we first encountered some of our favorite childhood characters and tales continues to be important.
Coming across those same stories in our adult life, story details might be forgotten but there is still a good chance that some association remains between the content and the time when we first encountered it. Proust comments:
If we still happen today to leaf through those books of another time, it is for no other reason than that they are the only calendars we have kept of days that have vanished, and we hope to see reflected on their pages the dwellings and the ponds which no longer exist.
As an elementary school kid my nose was often stuck in a book. I remember creating a cushy nest in my oddly shaped closet, using all the extra pillows and blankets I could find to create a hiding place for myself and my pile of Trixie Belden books. Did you have a secret reading nook as a child? Does encountering one of the books or authors that helped shape your sense of the reading experience as a child bring you back to the time and place when you began to love stories?