My Bookshelf 20/3/2015

The World that Made New Orleans by Ned Sublette

My family is from the city and I studied Louisiana history at school, but boy did I learn a lot reading this engaging and well-written book. Music is woven throughout, as it should be, but that is not the main aim, which is namely, a social and political history of the Crescent City from about 1700 to post-Katrina. One thing I learned was the close links musical and otherwise between New Orleans and Caribbean island nations such as Cuba and Haiti. Well worth a read but please, no long ‘e’ sounds!

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New Orleans at Night (NASA, International Space Station, 01/26/11). Image credit: NASA.

The Remembering by Steve Cash

This is the final novel in the Meq series that I’ve been reading. The previous book ended with the bomb being dropped on Nagasaki and The Remembering picks up in the aftermath. I enjoyed it, especially the surprises in the plot, though the pacing was sometimes slow. If you’re a fan of sci-fi, this series is definitely worth a read.

Lamentation by C.J. Sansom

Another masterpiece in the Shardlake series (part of me hopes he carries on but poor Shardlake could really use a break after six novels). This one takes him deep inside the glamorous and cutthroat court of an aging Henry VIII. Queen Catherine Parr is a principle character as the plot centres on the theft of a religious book she’s penned. Sansom does a brilliant job of conveying the uncertainty and terror under which people lived during this time of great change in what constituted orthodox religion.

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

An interesting novel that is a sort of loose, surreal autobiography. I struggled through especially when his 11th year went on for what felt like 25 chapters. Rushdie also covers the political history of India and the region in the mid-twentieth century, a subject I knew little about. Otherwise I felt as if I was caught up in a psychedelic, stream of consciousness flow where the social commentary got lost in the jungle.

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
Similar type of novel to her Sepulchre (historical fiction with two heroines connected across time) and just as gripping. I also learned a lot about medieval southern France and the persecution of the Cathars.

Reflective Writing by Kate Williams, Mary Woolliams and Jane Spiro (Pocket Study Skills series)
Handy little book I’m reading as I thought it would help with my academic writing and my blog. It is very useful, written in plain English and utilises a lot examples. Mostly geared toward an academic context but there is a section on ‘reflection for career planning’ as well.

Articles:

One of the best articles I’ve read on copyright and what it means in everyday life: Jonathan Band on Jon Stewart and Fair Use 

This NY Times article describes the educational opportunities of the Internet, “information overload” and how we’re coping, but takes a glaringly narrow view. It omits any mention of information professionals in the discussion of who can handle the vast amounts of information available today, limiting the candidates to visionaries such as Steve Jobs and Bob Dylan who apparently have some magic ability to function in the information age. But read it for yourself and let me know what you think.

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