Awards season continues with Nat’l Book Award shortlists

October 16th, 2014

See the National Book Award shortlists here released yesterday and listed in The Millions!

Booker Prize goes to Richard Flanagan

October 16th, 2014

 

 

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Australian Richard Flanagan has been awarded the Man Booker Prize for his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.  The book centers on a surgeon and his experiences in World War II.  Flanagan is the third Australian to win the Booker – along with Peter Carey and Thomas Keneally.  (Available as a hardcover book, an audiobook, and an e-book)

Nobel Prize in Literature goes to Patrick Modiano

October 9th, 2014

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to Patrick Modiano, a French author.  Few of his works have been translated into English, but that should change very soon.  Read more about Patrick Modiano in this Times Literary Supplement article.

Here are books (and some films based on books) by Modiano in the SF Public Library.

What is art for?

October 8th, 2014

See the video-guide by Alain de Botton from The Guardian website:

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/video/2014/sep/10/what-is-art-for-alain-de-botton-guide-video

靜坐的科學、醫學與心靈之旅:21世紀最實用的身心轉化指南

October 7th, 2014

untitled 2靜坐的科學、醫學與心靈之旅:21世紀最實用的身心轉化指南 Jing zuo de ke xue, yi xue yu xin ling zhi lü: 21 shi ji zui shi yong de shen xin zhuan hua zhi nan  / 楊定一,楊元寧著, 2014

在繼完成《真原醫-21世紀最完整的預防醫學》一書之後,作者楊定一及楊元寧父女合作出版了這部關於靜坐的新作。全書以問答形式闡述了關於靜坐的各類問題,相對於一般大段陳述的學術著作,這種問答形式顯得更具針對性,更容易讓讀者理解。

全書分四大部分:第一章“基礎靜坐與技巧”解釋了爲什麽要靜坐、靜坐概念、呼吸技巧,包括白骨觀、持咒等;第二章“靜坐的共同要領”講解了靜坐所要達到的目的、要領、什麽是止觀等等;第三章“靜坐對身心的影響”列舉了靜坐對健康的益處,包括減輕壓力,平衡情緒,改善消化功能等等;第四章“理解實相-一段靈性之旅”闡述了靜坐與宗教、身心變化、心靈層次方面的關係,其中包括通靈悟道,走火入魔等等很多與靜坐相關的有趣話題。

本書特別之處在於作者楊定一是生物科技方面的專家,他的專業背景毫無疑問增加了内容的權威性。書中運用了大量生理數據及圖表來顯示靜坐前後的各種生理變化,讓讀者更直觀地了解靜坐給身心帶來的客觀變化。儘管作者用了大量篇幅談到了科學對靜坐效果的驗證,但是作者也提醒讀者,靜坐後的身心變化,特別是心靈悟道這類特殊經驗並非一定會顯示在神經生理的變化上;作者也不贊同以單純科學或醫學的詮釋去描述和解釋靜坐的所有層面。書中,尤其是最後一章,作者談論了很多關於實相空性,靈性覺醒等概念,很明顯看出佛教的影響。作者也不諱言靜坐與宗教密不可分的事實。但是作者強調靜坐的科學性在於它的效果可以得到客觀的驗證。當然,作者的個別概念可能不一定能為所有讀者,尤其是“唯科學論”,“唯物論”的人士所認同,然而,單就闡述靜坐對身心的正面影響,作者是相當成功的。對於有興趣了解靜坐對身心功能影響的人士來説,這本書有極好的參考價值。

John-Chinatown

National Book Awards – Fiction Long List

October 6th, 2014

Here are the 10 books selected for the fiction long list of the National Book Awards (5 finalists in four categories – young people’s literature, poetry, nonfiction and fiction – will be selected on October 15, and winners will be announced on November 19):

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An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

 

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The UnAmericans by Molly Antopol

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Redeployment by Phil Klay

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Thunderstruck & Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken

Orfeo by Richard Powers

Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Some Luck by Jane Smiley

 

I’ve read two of these – An Unnecessary Woman and All the Light We Cannot See - as well as earlier titles by Jane Smiley and Marilynne Robinson.

 

Gutenberg’s Apprentice, plus more historical fiction

September 30th, 2014

 

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I attended a reading last Wednesday at Arion Press (in the Presidio) by Alix Christie, author of the new historical novel, Gutenberg’s Apprentice The book focuses on apprentice printer, Peter Schoeffer, and his role in the development of the printing press – I can’t wait to read it.

For author Christie’s suggestions for additional historical fiction reads, here’s a list published in Publisher’s Weekly of her 10 favorite historical novels.

Great Hera! The Secret History of Wonder Woman

September 25th, 2014

untitledYes, Wonder Woman was a childhood heroine of mine, I guess my only childhood heroine, unless you count Little Lulu and Nancy Drew.  I was delighted when I learned historian Jill Lepore was working on this book.  See an excerpt in last week’s New Yorker.

 

The actual Booker short list!

September 9th, 2014

 

Here, from The Millions, the Man Booker short list:

 

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

J: A Novel by Howard Jacobson (on order)

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukerjee (on order)

How to Be Both by Ali Smith

 

 

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Fall Books – New York Magazine

September 4th, 2014

 

Here’s a lengthy listing of new fall books recommended by New York magazine:

http://www.vulture.com/2014/08/57-books-to-read-this-fall.html

 

Adding several to my list!

 

J in the Branches