Midweek @ Musings: March Miscellany

I hope you like the alliteration in the title as much as I do!  It’s also an allusion to the annual US sports tradition known as “March Madness,” in which 68 university men’s basketball teams compete for a championship over a period of weeks.  I don’t follow the sport closely during the regular season, but this tournament always captures my attention in some way, even though I am unable to speak intelligently about potential winners and losers.  Given my lack of real basketball knowledge, this year I was especially thrilled to see alternative tour brackets based on team colors & mascots, the “bare minimum of information you need to make hasty, uninformed predictions.”  Just what I need!

Now, on to bookish topics.  I’m currently reading Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady, as part of a group read on LibraryThing.  I can already tell the group is going to enrich my reading experience.  Our plan is to read the book over the next 2 weeks.  We will create new discussion threads every 4 days, with each thread covering 11 chapters (there are 55 chapters in all).   If you’re not familiar with the book, this Sparknotes analysis will give you a taste:

Portrait of a Lady is set almost entirely among a group of Americans who live in Europe, and the novel’s most significant secondary theme is the contrast between the idea of Europe and the idea of America, and how those ideas are negotiated in the minds of the expatriated Americans. In a very general sense, James uses the idea of America to represent innocence, individualism, optimism, and action, while Europe tends to represent sophistication, social convention, decadence, and tradition.

The early discussion is already really stimulating.  So far we all like the character development, and the contrast between English and American characters.  Some of this mirrors James’ experience as an expat.  So stay tuned, I’ll bring you more as the group read continues.

And now for the miscellany …

  • Did you know I’m having a giveaway?  Yep, that’s right … you could win an e-Book.  The contest is open until March 20; enter here.
  • Thomas is sponsoring an International Anita Brookner Day on July 16th (Brookner’s 83rd birthday).  And there’s a button!  So start reading Brookner now, OK?
  • Did you see Confessions of a Book Slob?  OK, so I had to read the entire article twice before realizing it was “slob,” not “snob,” but after that I could totally relate to the author’s humorous take on caring for our books.  My favorite one was:

4. “When you dust your books…”

Umm… dusting?

  • The Orange Prize Longlist has been announced!  I’m not at all surprised to see Room nominated (it’s an excellent book), and am delighted to see The Invisible Bridge and Great House, because they are both on my wish list.  Now … which ones will make the short list?  All will be revealed on April 12.  Hop on over to the Orange January/July Group on Facebook to chat about it !
  • And finally, my favorite Infographic of the Week is from Information is Beautiful, on the books everyone must read.  Click on the link or the graphic for more, including all the raw data in a handy spreadsheet (yeah, I love that stuff!)

Happy reading …


8 thoughts on “Midweek @ Musings: March Miscellany

  1. Oh yay: I’m a Henry James fan and Portrait of Lady is one of my favourites that I’ve read so far! 😀

    What a pretty graphic; I wish I could make one of my books read!

    • Eva, there’s a website called Wordie that allows you to make your own word clouds. So all you need is to put your books read into a list, paste list into Wordie … et voila!

      But for the true cloud effect with varying font sizes, you would have to have re-read certain books because the font is larger when there are more occurrences.

      Another idea is enter your blog URL on the site and get a cloud of your blog posts … which is very cool.

      Eagerly awaiting your artwork on a future post! 🙂

  2. You are supposed to dust books?! Does moving them around count?!

    I’m most looking forward to reading The Invisible Bridge too. It is a long one, but I love becoming absorbed in a chunkster. Let’s hope it is really good 🙂

    • Jackie, moving them around is a brilliant idea. This will dislodge at least a bit of the dust. And perhaps a bit more if you also blow a bit on the empty spot!

  3. Being a fan of the classics (esp. Jane Austen), I read Portrait of a Lady a couple years ago. I enjoyed it, but I will be interested in your reaction to the ending. That’s all I’ll say for now.

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