I am a terrible blogger. I’ve been working a lot this semester and the blog has suffered as a result. Sorry! Still, some exciting news. My next Where is My Guru book review, Claire Dederer’s 2011 memoir, Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, will air Friday. Dederer is really funny, smart, and touching and her work fits perfectly with WIMG’s current “GuruMamas” parenting theme. You can read more about the book here. Listen live at 11 am.
It’s been a busy month of teaching and writing for me. Still, this great quote from the poet Matthew Arnold in Gretchen Rubin’s daily letter caught my eye. Beautiful, right?
“All knowledge is interesting to a wise man, and the knowledge of nature is interesting to all men.”
– Matthew Arnold
On Friday’s Where is My Guru show at 11am , I’ll be talking about Dave Bruno’s fantastic book, The 100 Thing Challenge. It’s all about a regular dad who realizes his life is being suffocated by his lifestyle of shopping and spending. Deciding to ditch the mall in favor of family time, Dave tries to limit his personal possessions to 100 items. I really loved this book and thought Bruno had so many interesting insights during his project.
Read more about it on the WIMG blog.
Here’s David giving in a TED talk about the book:
- I love this post from Flora Bowley on the power of choosing your own name.
- New Daily Muse column. I can’t wait to read J.K. Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling.
- Lots of cool things happening over at Where Is My Guru. Are you listening?
Happy 4th of July everyone! My Daily Muse column, “What to Read on the Subway,” is all about American history this week.
Some cool things to talk about for booklovers:
- I have a new Daily Muse column up on Hollywood themed books and other media.
- I’ve got my next Where Is My Guru book, a yoga themed novel that I will unveil soon.
- Renaissance Learning–the people behind the Accelerated Reader program that I loved as a kid–have an interesting new survey out on what high school students are reading now. They compare their 2012 results to previous decades, all the way back to 1907. What do you think of these results?
- I’m still reading my way through classic mysteries this summer. Lots of Rex Stout, some Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Cater Dickson. I’m in the middle of The Bishop Murders. Not sure how I feel about Philo Vance, though. Any SS Van Dine fans out there?
In what has to be the oddest example of bibliophile kismet, I received my vial of Demeter’s Paperback yesterday and a copy of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mystery Too Many Cooks today…and it turns out Too Many Cooks is a Bantam book. At least one online reviewer has said a Bantam book must have been Demeter’s inspiration for the perfume, which smells of old paper, ink, smoke, and vanilla. To my nose, there is a distinct resemblance between the two. I’ve been comically smelling the pages of Too Many Cooks today to compare it to the perfume. Paperback is more vanilla-rich than a new Bantam book. However, I’m still curious to smell an older Bantam title….I might need to plan a trip to one of the local used bookstores. Not that my shelves need anymore books, technically-speaking!
On course planning and other things but I keep getting distracted. Archie Goodwin has that effect on a reader:
“I used as few French and miscellaneous fancy words as possible in writing up this stunt of Nero Wolfe’s but I couldn’t keep them out altogether, on account of the kind of people involved. I am not responsible for the spelling, so don’t write me about mistakes. Wolfe refused to help me out on it, and I had to go to the Heinemann School of Languages and pay a professor 30 bucks to go over it and fix it up. In most cases, during these events, when anyone said anything which for me was only a noise, I have either let it lay–when it wasn’t vital–or managed somehow to get the rough idea in the American language.”
-Archie Goodwin in the forward of Too Many Cooks by Rex Stout
If you haven’t heard of Archie Goodwin, he is the narrator and Dr. Watson figure for a series of mystery novels by Rex Stout, which began in the 1930s and ended with Stout’s death in the mid-1970s. While the sarcastic Goodwin narrates, he is the “legman” for Nero Wolfe, an eccentric orchid collector, gourmet, and detective who seldom leaves his NYC brownstone. Someone on Goodreads called it the Mycroft Holmes-meets-Sam Spade series in an attempt at derisiveness. However, if you like both of those, the comparison is fairly apt and not at all negative. I just read 1965’s The Doorbell Rang, where Wolfe is offered $100,000 to stymie FBI harassment of a wealthy widow who criticized J. Edgar Hoover. I had no idea this was a fairly controversial plot for the 1960s (according to Internet rumor, Wolfe fan John Wayne had a falling out with Rex Stout over this one and the FBI compiled a file on Stout, who they assumed was a Communist). Anyhow, my favorite part of these novels is Archie Goodwin’s voice, with its sly sense of humor.
The main characters don’t age, although there are a few contemporary references in the series, which is nice. I’m always slightly depressed by the aging of classic characters in series mystery novels, personally. The end of Tommy and Tuppence was a painful thing for me in high school, y’all. There was a Nero Wolfe television adaptation a few years ago, starring the late Maury Chaykin as Wolfe and Timothy Hutton as Archie Goodwin. It’s brilliant, perfectly cast and faithful to the books.
Oddly enough, I can’t find any of the books at my local B&N, so I’ve had to order them or dig up copies at my library. I think the library’s copy of The Doorbell Rang might actually be from 1965, but I’m not sure. It certainly looks like old paper.
Speaking of old paper, I just ordered a perfume that is supposed to smell like old books, Demeter’s Paperback. I’m wondering how this one will turn out. I love how books smell–you know that inky paper scent in bookstores? I’m hoping it smells something like that, although other online reviewers have guessed that vintage Bantam books were the inspiration. Anyone know what those smell like?
I’ve been on a mystery reading kick lately, so I decided to incorporate one of my favorite mystery novelists, Carolyn Hart, into this week’s Daily Muse column. Hart writes the “Death on Demand” series, named for her protagonist’s mystery bookstore in South Carolina, and works references to other mystery novels into her books. Every book features a contest, set within the fictional bookstore, to identify a series of paintings based on mysteries. It would be a brilliant idea for a real-life bookstore promotion, too.