Enduring Austen

Book crossing has gone brilliantly mad and official in Hampshire (a county in the south of the UK). Copies of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, donated by Penguin books, have been left on park benches, in trains, everywhere — with a note asking the finder to read the novel and to leave it where they finish it (or anywhere) for someone else to read. As bookcrossing etiquette dictates, each book has a unique number; the finder/adopter is encouraged to register where they found the book so that its journey can be tracked.

What heartens me is the choice of book — there is hope for us yet. However, I have to laugh at this: "Despite it technically being classed as littering, Peter Gibson, of Keep Britain Tidy spokesman, backed the idea. He said: ‘The only worry would be if a book was in a bad state and the pages were strewn across the street, so people would have to be careful about where they left it and what condition it was in.’ " Good to know we can all sleep easily at night with such vigilance watching over us.

(link via Bookglutton).

He who dares, wins

Pipe Oldman Trophy Beer Arab Here is a set of politically incorrect alphabet flashcards, in the style of Miffy. Some are more subtle than others: I post a few here so you get the picture. The site has a droll explanation of what motivated the artist, as well as the preliminary sketches and, of course, the complete alphabet, with multi-entries for some letters. (He has steered clear of "fat", though, currently very much in the news in the UK).

Link via Bibliophile Bullpen.

That Jane Eyre again

Those of us, like Amy of Books, Words, and Writing, and myself, who turned out to be Jane Eyre-alikes in the recent poll to determine which female literary character we most resemble, might be interested to read a post : Jane Eyre, not the typical governess, a "character analysis of the nineteenth century novel".

The plight of the governess could be summed up as: "If they have no husbands to toil for them, then they must win food for themselves."  Such is the embryo of modern equality and feminism, though of course governesses were not well paid, and expected to be subservient. Jane was a governess but managed to be strong-willed, independent and assertive, and indeed be granted true love on her own terms (unlike other literary heroines of her era). Somewhere there is a lesson for modern women in all of this, if my befuddled brain could but see it.

Nobels on the beach

This is the time of year when one reads in many newspapers and magazines suggestions of books to read on holiday. Cue standard article on the highbrow vs lowbrow: do you read Dan Brown or Dante on your vacation? (Or, at least, which do you admit to reading?)

Here is a very useful blog posting for those among us who want to impress colleagues after returning from that exclusive resort in Bali after recharging the batteries: Ten Nobel Prizewinners to Read this Summer. See the link for useful summaries of Gao Xingjian, Gunter Grass, Toni Morrison, et al. If you don’t fancy any of the ten Nobellists featured, there are plenty of text ads and related links to explore for alternatives.

Books of the week

Bibliophile, at her blog Another 52 books, has been reading a book (or more) a week. She has recently announced her archive, an index of all 52 weeks and the books reviewed during this time. The archive and the reading are a doubly impressive achievement. You can search the archive by fiction/nonfiction, author, editor, week, category. Very well worth a look, not least for ideas of what to read if you are short of those. Well done, Bibliophile.

When Bibliophile started her reading challenge "52 books", she knew only of one or two other bloggers doing the same. Now there are a lot more. She has collected links to other bloggers who have undertaken the book-(or more)-a-week challenge in this posting. Please visit and leave a comment if you are aware of bloggers who are undertaking similar challenges.

Daily sudoku 28 May

As a result of day 1 user testing (me), I am changing the format of the daily (?) sudoku link.

The question mark is because I will not always remember and/or may not always have time to blog each day.

I will continue to link to the daily killer sudoku (on the days I remember), but it turns out that to do the puzzle you have to download it from the link onto paper, it is not interactive. Old-fashioned pen on paper is a nice way to do sudokus, of course, but does not provide the instant gratification of link and click.

So I will post two links a day, one to the daily killer, and one to an interactive plain sudoku on the same site (as you can’t get an interactive killer free on that site). Here are today’s puzzles:

Killer sudoku 28 May. Level: easy. Link goes to downloadable puzzle.

Online sudoku 28 May.  Level: easy. Link goes to interactive, online puzzle.

The page at the second link also contains playing instructions, links and information about further sudoku-style opportunities (or horrors, if that’s your view of sudoku).

Nostalgia, not

Stressed-out supermom does not like The Sea by John Banville but she does like her Yahoo reading group.

I link here to her post, and her blog "and you expected what?" partly because the reading group sounds fun, and partly because the blog as a whole is so strongly evocative of what it is like to have very young children and a job, simultaneously. (Just look at her picture.)

In my case, it has been a 15-year-tunnel but I think I must be a rather extreme, intense person based on the fact that other colleagues at work seem to have lives after having children, unlike me (they seem to return from maternity leave with a social life, babysitters, family living nearby or who visit to help, etc). I have never got my act together much on all of that. Making orthodontist appointments remains about the peak of my extracurricular logistical ability — a major challenge. (By extracurricular I mean outside the job and the basic domestic stuff of making the lunchboxes and collecting from childcare, doing the ironing, cooking and changing beds basics.)

I digress. Or ramble. Or both. What I am trying to get at is that if you are in the situation of having to be a parent to very young children, complete with all the hormonal and adjustment issues associated with that, and have a job, "and you expected what?" is just the blog to read for a bit of fellow travelling. I wish we’d had blogging in 1991, that’s all I can say. At that time, we had no Internet connection at home and I had not even heard of the Web, let alone blogs. Result, madness.

Self-portrait challenge

I love this piece of writing, Warrior, on  "be present, be here".  The post is part of a self-potrait challenge.

There is a beautiful array of photographs here, on the self-portrait challenge website, which describes itself as "a continuous artistic self-expressive art project community".

(link to Warrior via Ink on my Fingers)

Books on the web, in brief

I am challenging myself to write one or two sentences ONLY about why I find the postings at each of the the following links interesting. From the bottom:

The Ubiquitous Librarian  asks the excellent question of why academic libraries don’t provide a free document delivery system to all students, as well as to faculty and distance-learning students. Some public libraries in the USA have started to provide this service to patrons, apparently — don’t suppose there is much hope of this blindingly obvious and wonderful idea staggering to the UK, but let’s hope.

Thing-ology, the Library Thing’s other blog, gives details about this tagging and taxonomy process for bookmarking and indexing — lots and lots of them: instructions with examples. You love this topic or you hate it.

Successful Blog points to a website called Swarm, a graphical map of how hundreds of websites connect together in real time. Minx and her hyperactive site meter will love it. 

Again from Successful Blog: anyone on WordPress? Blog design 101: create your own theme, from professional web designer Rachel Cunliffe.

Final link for today from Successful Blog, a piece of wisdom well known to us bloggers: more internet users would prefer to give up TV or cell (mobile) phones than access to the net. Read the 22 (at time of writing) comments.

Problogger‘s bright idea for the week is a round-up of "habits of highly effective bloggers" — Darren has invited submissions from his readers and posted them throughout the week, ending up with links to about 25 articles, all by different authors (no doubt with different answers), collected together in one post.

Probably everyone knows by now that Martha Stewart is launching a MySpace clone for older women ("older" being defined as 25-45, which lets out us 150-year-olds) called Marthaspace. Here is a good post from Micropersuasion , in which Steve Rubel opines that by the time the site launches, everyone will have got bored with the MySpace concept and be into something else.

Google, Frank Wilson, Dave Lull, Ichabod and others have noted that it was recently Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday. The Librarian’s Internet Index service links to the Stanford University’s collection of Sherlockania, including some stories reproduced exactly as originally printed in the Strand Magazine. (Warning: Stanford is making these free access, but the LII posting is belated, so the "open" period may be over by now.)

InfoNeoGnostic does it better. I posted a couple of days ago about e-books, the future of publishing and a few other related topics, but you’ll get a more informed, rounded view by reading InfoNeognostic. If you read a slighly later InfoNeoGnostic post , you’ll be even better informed, and will see that L. Lee Lowe’s stories get a recommendation. Good one, Lee.

Geeking with Greg deconstructs the recent news about Yahoo-Amazon-EBay-Google partnerships and deals. Good summary of what it all means — and might mean, from the reader and writer perspective.

As "user" or "reader" ranking systems are in some people’s minds very much the future so far as reading, publishing and so on are concerned, it is interesting to read, now and again, about what can go wrong with digital "solutions". Content Matters relates such a case, that of the Dixie Chicks, but extrapolates it to abuse of book rankings on Amazon.

That’t it for my web/tech (as Typepad calls it) bookmarked posts for this week. All linked in this post or on Petrona 2 (via left-hand sidebar).

Daily (?) Killer Sudoku

Following the trend of Deblog and Ichabod is Itchy, here is a link to a puzzle:

Daily Killer Sudoku for 27 May. 

Today’s rating: easy.

I’ll do it and post my time in the comments: please do the same!

I know I shall probably forget to post a link every day, but I’ll try to remember.

Killers are the best variant of sudoku I have yet found. If you haven’t done one before and the instructions at the link aren’t clear, let me know via email or in the comments, and I’ll try to disentangle.