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…”
- 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 …