Archive for August, 2012

Top 10 Most Influential Young Adult Books of the 20th Century

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Author: Sara Zaske

Young adult books have come of age. They’re everywhere. Young adult, or “YA”, is now one of the fastest growing genres in publishing, and both kids and adults are reading—and writing—YA by the thousands.

This is absolutely fabulous! And I’m not just saying that because I write young adult fiction. The YA explosion means more kids are reading, and more adults are reminded of that all-important time in their lives, when their eyes were first opened to the “real” world—and not necessarily liking what they saw.

Teenagers are some of the best critics of society for the simple fact that they are new to it. There’s a reason why so many young adult books are dystopian. And it’s hard to find one YA fantasy that doesn’t have some heinous evil character to battle. Fight the power, indeed.

Magic themes aside, YA didn’t just pop into existence. Serious books with a young protagonist have a long history. Yes, there were YA books before Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Harry Potter.

Here are few of the most influential from the last century:

1. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (1951) gave us one of the first modern, disaffected teens, Holden Caulfield.  Holden takes a few confused days to run around in a seedy adult world only to realize his real dream is to catch the other kids before they fall into the trap of adulthood.

2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954) Frodo and his quest to destroy the ring of power resonates with people of all ages, but it has entranced generations of young adults—many have read the entire trilogy multiple times. LOTR’s influence is so pervasive in YA that you’d be hard pressed to find a fantasy that doesn’t reference its mythology in some way.

3. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (1956) sent four children tumbling through the back of a wardrobe into the another world, where they helped a lion battle for power against the evil White Witch. The Chronicles have inspired many YA writers. Philip Pullman’s heroic cold world in His Dark Materials is almost the opposite of Narnia.

4. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (1960) showed that no topic is off limits for a young audience. Young Scout narrates the story about the trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman, giving a child’s wide-eyed view of racism and justice in America.

5. The Earthsea Cycle, by Ursula LeGuin (1968) begins with a mistake. A wizard-in-training releases an evil shadow into the world, setting him on a lifelong quest to make it right. Earthsea is a classic and his premise influenced many later books, including Harry Potter.

6. The Princess Bride by William Goldman (1973) has made it almost impossible to tell a fairy tale with a straight face. It makes fun of all the fairy tale clichés—sword fights, monsters, daring rescues, and the triumph of true love—even as it uses these same elements to weave an enchanting story.

7. Carrie by Steven King (1974) will scare the bully out of any teenager. Sure, Carrie is strange and has a crazy mom, but she also has telekinetic powers which she uses to take revenge on her tormentors. Maybe, King isn’t known as a YA writer, but many of his stories feature young characters, and you can’t ignore his influence on today’s teen horror books.

8. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1985) shows a dark futuristic world where politicians use kids for warfare. The book follows the battle education of Andrew “Ender” Wiggins who is particularly gifted at war games. Sound familiar Hunger Games fans?

9. The Giver, by Lois Lowry (1993), one of the earlier YA dystopian novels, tells the story of young Jonas as he discovers that the peace of his very ordered world is based on a secret evil. Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Lauren Oliver’s Delerium owe a huge debt to this novel.

10. Harry Potter , by J.K. Rowling (1997) just comes under the 20th century mark, but from the first book, this fanciful story of a young wizard battling a fearsome sorcerer so evil he cannot be named, has had an astounding impact, riveting readers of all ages and starting a revolution in YA lit.

Sara Zaske is a young adult author and blog host of the YA Fantastic Book Review. Her debut novel, The First, a YA eco-thriller fantasy, was released in April.


5 Books to Arrange a Splendid Wedding

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

Everyone wants their big day to be organized with such as grandeur that it will be remembered by every guests throughout their life. A successful wedding requires proper organization for everything –from dress to decor– that involves record-keeping, legwork, logistics. And, this can be done easily, if a well-structured plan chart is in your hand.

Enlisted here five well-received Books on Wedding Planning that are presented by topnotch wedding planners and organizers. So, plan your big day with the following resources that will help you organize a successful yet splendid wedding.

The Wedding Book: The Big Book for Your Big Day – This book gives you ideas on everything — announcing the engagement, and what to do when someone isn’t happy about the news; creating a budget; the pros and cons of destination weddings; drawing up the guest list; planning the ceremony (and how to personalize your vows); menus to inspire; contracts and wedding insurance; shopping for the dress, six great hairstyles, tuxedo vs. dinner jacket, the etiquette of invitations. Style tips for flowers, what would be best for the tabletop, linens; etc.

A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration – This book helps you create the wedding you want – without going broke or crazy in the process. After all, what really matters on your wedding day, what you’ll remember ‘til you’re old and gray, is not so much how it looked as how it felt. In this refreshing guide, expert Meg Keene shares her secrets to planning a beautiful celebration that reflects your taste and your relationship.

The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner: Worksheets, Checklists, Etiquette, Calendars, and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions – With so many nerve-wracking details, planning the perfect wedding can seem an impossible task. Now, this bestselling comprehensive guide directs you step-by-step through the countless stages of planning your big day. Packed with easy-to-follow checklists and worksheets, this book has been worked as an indispensable resource for millions of couples worldwide.

Simple Stunning Weddings: Designing and Creating Your Perfect Celebration – The three biggest trends in weddings are simplicity, personalization, and color! Wedding designer and expert Karen Bussen focuses on these elements as she shows couples how to design their own weddings without going crazy or broke. This is the first wedding design book to focus on the WHERE (location) of the event. Bussen then shows how to create unifying themes with colour, flowers, and personal touches; how to talk to vendors; how to decide where to spend the wedding budget and how to adapt the design for every budget.

Green Wedding: Planning Your Eco-Friendly Celebration – Green is the new white for today’s wedding couples. Environmentally conscious couples are often appalled by the carbon footprint of traditional weddings and are seeking ways to express their earth-friendly values as they express their love. This environment conscious book shows that there are alternatives –products and services– that can reduce environmental harm while ensuring a joyous and stylish celebration. Featuring stories of couples who have “gone green” on their wedding day, this authoritative guide by New York Times Style correspondent Mireya Navarro explains how couples can make green their dream wedding.

To find books on other topics related to Wedding, click here.

Books Against Internet Addiction

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

Like alcohol and drug addiction, Internet obsession is also real. It does affect poorly the lives of internet addicts and their families by becoming the reason for divorce, job loss, declining productivity at work, failure in school, and, in extreme cases, criminal behavior. Reached at the level of epidemic in the United States, this problem continues to grow as more households and business firms go on-line.

Today, we have brought forth a list of Books that will help netizens to act against Internet Addiction. Inspiring and informative, these books are a useful resource for those who are at initial stage of the addiction as well as a helpful ‘web rehab’ for those who are already entangled in the same.

Cyber Junkie: Escape the Gaming and Internet Trap – Video gaming and Internet surfing are the top sources of entertainment for tens of millions of North Americans today. With the growing trend of these high-tech activities, more and more people are becoming obsessed with video games and the internet, isolating themselves, turning their backs on reality, ignoring family and friends, and losing sleep and even their jobs. In this groundbreaking book, recovering video game addict Kevin Roberts uses extensive scientific and social research, complemented by his and others’ personal stories, to give compulsive gamers and surfers, and their family and friends – a step-by-step guidelines for recovery.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains – In this book, Nicholas Carr has discussed in detail on the topic “As we enjoy the Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?” He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought, but, in stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection.

Caught in the Net: How to Recognize the Signs of Internet Addiction–and a Winning Strategy for Recovery – Seeing the speedily growing mouth of the Internet addiction, author Kimberly Young chronicles in this book the results of her three-year study of Internet abuse. Often using the words of the Internet addicts, she presents the stories of dozens of lives that were shattered by an overwhelming compulsion to surf the Net, play MUD games, or chat with distant and invisible neighbors in the timeless limbo of cyberspace. She has also offered in the book a questionnaire to help Net users determine whether they are addicts, and discusses concrete steps to help problem users regulate Internet usage and devise a more balanced place for it in their daily lives.

Internet Addiction: A Handbook and Guide to Evaluation and Treatment – In this book, Kimberly Young discusses on the problems such as online gaming compulsion, cybersex addiction, and gambling addiction. Providing an integrated and current overview of the different types of Internet addiction, this book asserts that an extensive attention to deal with adolescents is essential, given the rapid rise in media and technology use by both Net Generation young adults and iGeneration teenagers. This book not only help us in evaluating Internet Addiction but also offers guidelines for proper treatment.

In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior – As Internet usage has exploded in recent years, so has the prevalence of compulsive online sexual behavior, a problem first addressed five years ago by Patrick Carnes and coauthors in the first edition of this book. Updated with the latest information, trends, and developments, the second edition equips readers with specific strategies for recognizing and changing compulsive sexual behaviors. Personal stories reveal how distressed life can become for online sex addicts with the issues like divorce, career loss, and financial ruin. Invariably, the authors set forth in this book a path for breaking free from compulsive online sexual behavior and sustaining lifelong recovery.

For browsing useful books on any kind of addiction, click here.

Books on Healthy Lifestyle: Letting You Live a Quality Life

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

Practicing a healthy lifestyle not only can improve your overall well-being but also change your attitude towards life, making you to expect quality in every walk of life. There is available a number of tips and guidelines on what to do to make your life healthier and full of energy. And, books by health specialist can come out to be the most effective resources for the same. Filled with useful ideas and instructions from health experts, books can be the best fitness guru who will be available 24×7 hours with you, to instruct you, to guide you.

Enlisted below some selected titles on healthy lifestyle that will let you to live a quality life:

Healthy for Life – In this book Dr. Ray D. Strand offers guidelines that help us in developing a healthy lifestyle that have a side effect of permanent fat loss. A real eye opener on insulin resistance and why diets don’t work. With a Phase I & Phase II meal plan including low-glycemic foods, Dr. Stand has included a dedicated page of Healthy for Life resource. This useful guide is filled with so many helpful ideas on the little things one can change in his/her eating habit and how can we choose the nutritional stuff that is healthy for life.

Wellness: Guidelines for a Healthy Lifestyle –  This very book on healthy lifestyle is geared toward courses that emphasize the dimensions of wellness including the impact of psychological, emotional, and physical health, as well as environmental influences that affect our behavior. Providing unparalleled coverage of the mind-body connection, and the relationship between fitness and wellness, the authors shed light on the importance of taking personal responsibility for one’s health.

Bragg Healthy Lifestyle: Vital Living to 120! – Learn the Bragg Healthy Lifestyle that can keep you ageless. Authors, Patricia Bragg and Paul C. Bragg has elicited for you a proven system of body purification, toxicless diet and healthy habits that will help cleanse your body of toxins to strengthen nerves, increase energy, enhance mental clarity and promote longevity. This book inspires quality health and youthfulness that will let you to keep up with a healthy lifestyle.

The Feel Good Factory on Healthy Living – This book help readers in making small but important improvements that will bring about real and positive changes in their health and mental outlook. Packed with health-boosting advice and tips, all of which are practical and easy-to-action, this book includes motivational quotes like, “Self-care is about eating nourishing foods, taking care of your spiritual and emotional well-being, spending quality time with friends and family, or taking yourself away on retreat”.

Chicken Soup to Inspire the Body & Soul: Motivation and Inspiration for Living and Loving a Healthy Lifestyle – Need a physical and spiritual boost to kick the year off right? Need some extra power to reach goals and commitments? With hundreds of exercise plans, diet gurus, and spiritual advisors out there clamoring for airwaves, there’s a noticeable void of inspiring stories in this book to give you that extra push for getting started and keep going. This book is not a replacement for yoga, but is a companion — a reminder that hard work and determination really do pay off, and that our bodies are gifts to be cared for and treasured through exercise and healthy living.

Click here to find a multitude of titles on health and lifestyle.

5 Architecture Books to Make Your Place Beautiful

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

For all those who appreciate beautifully designed and constructed buildings and love flipping through the pages of books watching amazingly designed buildings or those who need some fresh ideas to apply in the erection of their workplaces or homes, we have compiled a list of some randomly selected Books on Architecture. Besides, there are large number of architects, researchers and students of architecture who learn and take inspirations from the beautifully illustrated books on art and architecture; so the following list of Architecture Books would also come out to be a great source for them. Take a look:

The Art of Construction: Projects and Principles for Beginning Engineers & Architects - Students discover the basic principles necessary to build all types of structures used in everyday life including bridges, skyscrapers, and other architectural gems. In this book given line art illustrations to better explain projects that demonstrate how these principles keep structures solid. Perfect for beginners, this volume details projects that are easily done with materials found around-the-house.

Architecture: Form, Space, & Order – For more than thirty years, the beautifully illustrated Architecture: Form, Space, and Order has been the classic introduction to the basic vocabulary of architectural design. Now, this classic third edition of visual reference helps both students and practicing architects understand the basic vocabulary of architectural design by examining how form and space are ordered in the built environment. Using his trademark meticulous drawing, Professor Francis D. K. Ching shows the relationship between fundamental elements of architecture through the ages and across cultural boundaries.

Modern ArchitectureAlan Colquhoun, an eminent scholar in the field of architecture, offers here a new account of international modernism that explores the complex motivations behind this revolutionary movement (modern architecture) and assesses its triumphs and failures. The book focuses on the work of the main architects of the movement such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Adolf Loos, Le Corbusier, and Mies van der Rohe, re-examining their work and shedding new light on their roles as acknowledged masters.

World Architecture: The MasterworksWill Pryce unveils a world of beauty and genius in this unparalleled, specially photographed survey of the world’s architectural master- pieces. More than 350 color photographs celebrate the finest buildings from over two thousand years of civilization: Hagia Sophia, the Gothic cathedrals of Europe, Islamic masterworks at Isfahan, the Taj Mahal, the Palace of Westminster, Gehry’s iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, and much more.

A World History of Architecture – A magnificently illustrated guide to the global history of architecture updated to include the non-western world and works from women. This second edition gives you a deeper knowledge and wider perspective of traditions in architecture throughout the world — from prehistoric through modern structures. Extensively and beautifully illustrated, the book includes photos, plans, scales for world-famous structures such as the Parthenon, Versailles, the Brooklyn Bridge, and many others.

Click here to browse through a huge collection of Architecture Books.

Top Dessert Cookbooks: Enjoy the Sweetness of World

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

What better way is there to end a meal with a delicious dessert. And, a regular meal would transform into a terrific treat, if it is served with sweet dishes like cakes, candies, cookies, brownies, pies, pastries, tarts, puddings, etc.

Today, we have brought a list of  Books on Dessert recipes that bring you the sweetness from different corners of the world. Targeting housewives and amateur, these books cover desserts from different cuisines viz. French, Italian, Mexican and Asian, for everyone — vegetarians, non-vegetarians and vegans. This list also include a cookbook for sugar-free and Gluten-free healthy & delicious cookies, cakes, muffins, scones, pies, and puddings that will let persons suffering from diabetes or obesity can enjoy the final course of their meal.

Gourmands must go through the following list to fetch some well-received Dessert Cookbooks for themselves –if they think they are good cooks– or to gift their mother and wives, though for their own appetite

Bon Appetit Desserts: The Cookbook for All Things Sweet and Wonderful – For more than 50 years, Bon Appetit magazine has been seducing readers with to-die-for desserts. Now, culled from Bon Appetit’s extensive archives and including never-before-published recipes, this cookbook promises to be the comprehensive guide to all things sweet and wonderful. Authored by Bon Appetit editor-in-chief Barbara Fairchild, Bon Appetit Desserts features more than 600 recipes–from layer cakes to coffee cakes, tortes and cupcakes to pies, tarts, candies, puddings, soufflés, ice cream, cookies, holiday desserts, and much, much more.

Sugar-free Gluten-free Baking and Desserts – Standard baked goods come with a hefty price on your health — weight gain, cholesterol and diabetes, as well as allergies for many people. In this special cookbook, Kelly E. Keough shows how to bring taboo treats back to the baking sheet with mouth-watering recipes that transform diet-busting favorites into guilt-free wonders. Following a wholesome approach that avoids quick-metabolizing ingredients, this book presents recipes for delicious desserts and breads that are as satisfying as they are good for the body.

Sinfully Vegan: More than 160 Decadent Desserts to Satisfy Every Sweet Tooth – A boring daily meal can be converted into a delicious treat, if it is served with a luscious piece of cheesecake, a rich slice of chocolate cream pie, or some chewy peanut butter cookies –all made with easy-to-find vegan ingredients. In this marvelous cookbook for Vegans, Lois Dieterly shows you how to do just that, with more than 160 dairy, egg, and cholesterol-free recipes. Offering desserts from every shelf of the pastry case: cakes, candies, cookies, brownies, pies, tarts, puddings, and quick breads, this volume is completed with essential baking and preparation tips, creative recipe variations, nutritional breakdowns, and wheat-free alternatives.

Paris Sweets: Great Desserts From the City’s Best Pastry Shops – The prize-winning author of Baking with Julia, among other cookbook classics, celebrates the sweet life with recipes and lore from Paris’s finest patisseries. Like most lovers of pastry and Paris, Dorie Greenspan has always marveled at the jewel-like creations displayed in bakery windows throughout the City of Light. Now, in a charmingly illustrated tribute to the capital of sweets, Greenspan presents a splendid assortment of recipes from Paris’s foremost pastry chefs in a book that is as transporting to read as it is easy to use.

My Sweet Mexico: Recipes for Authentic Pastries, Breads, Candies, Beverages, and Frozen Treats – After years spent traveling and sampling sweets throughout her native Mexico, celebrated pastry chef Fany Gerson shares the secrets behind her beloved homeland’s signature desserts in this highly personal and authoritative cookbook. Skillfully weaving together the rich histories that inform the country’s diverse culinary traditions, this book is a delicious journey into the soul of the cuisine.

The Sweet Spot: Asian-Inspired Desserts – When it comes to Asian desserts, most Americans think of fortune cookies. But, in fact, the Far East is home to a dazzling array of sweets rich with tropical fruits, crunchy nuts, aromatic spices, and, yes, even chocolate. In this Asian-inspired dessert cookbook, renowned pastry chef Pichet Ong presents a collection of one hundred recipes for cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, puddings, ice creams, candies, and more. There are traditional Asian desserts with innovative twists, such as Sesame Balls, Mango Sticky Rice, and Almond Tofu, and classic American favorites, like Spiced Coconut Brownies, Banana Cream Pie, and Cream Puffs, livened up with Asian ingredients and cooking techniques.

Click here to browse through a wide collection of Cooking Books.

Guest Author: Sandra Byrd: Why I Love Writing About Ladies In Waiting

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

A rich alchemy of fact and fiction, the Ladies In Waiting series by Sandra Byrd  chronicles the glittering court lives of three Tudor Queens and the women chosen to be their closest friends and companions. The first book of the series, “To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn”  was listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2011. “The Secret Keeper”, the second installment of the series and a novel of  Kateryn Parr, also received favorable reviews by the readers. Drawing on the  successes of first books of the Ladies In Waiting series, Sandra is now gearing up for her next installment, “Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I”, which is due to release in 2013.

Author: Sandra Byrd

Having close friends is an important part of the female  experience from girlhood through womanhood. These friends might be especially valuable when the woman’s position is exalted, public, and potentially treacherous — such friendships take on an even more important role. When Oprah Winfrey started her empire she brought along Gayle King. When Kate Middleton was preparing to become Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge  her sister Pippa was her constant companion. And when Queens went to court, and stayed, they took their friends, too.

In Tudor England, Anne Boleyn asked her longtime friend Margaret Wyatt to stay with her throughout her ascent and then her queenship; Wyatt ultimately became her chief lady and Mistress of Robes and likely served Anne all the way to the scaffold.  Henry VIII told Queen Kateryn Parr that she should “choose whichever women she liked to pass the time with her in amusing manners or otherwise accompany her for her leisure,” and she did – mostly reformers like herself.  Queen Elizabeth I had ladies from all families and factions serve her, but she seemed to be closest to her Boleyn relatives, such as her cousin Katherine Carey Knollys, whom she could trust without question.  Queens often surrounded themselves with family members, hoping that they could trust in their loyalty because as the queen gained influence, so advanced her family.

Ladies-in-waiting were companions at church, at cards, at dance, and at hunt.  They tended to their mistress when she was  ill or anxious and also shared in her joy and pleasures.  They did not do menial tasks  — there were servants for that — but they did remain in charge of important elements of the Queen’s household, for example, her jewelry and her clothing.  As such, they were  intimate gatekeepers, there day and night.  They were privy to the queen when she had her makeup off and was in her dressing clothes and were high enough born to share some secrets with. Because of this, they knew the real woman.

In her excellent book, Ladies in Waiting, Anne Somerset quotes a lady-in-waiting to Queen Caroline as saying, “Courts are mysterious places … Intrigues, jealousies, heart-burnings, lies, dissimulation thrive in (courts)as mushrooms in a hot-bed.”  This is exactly the kind of place where one wants to know whom one can trust.  Somerset goes on to tell us that, “At a time when virtually every profession was an exclusively masculine preserve, the position of lady-in-waiting to the Queen was almost the only occupation that an upper class Englishwoman could with propriety pursue.”  Although direct control was out of their hands, the power of influence, of knowledge, of gossip, and of relationship networks  was within the firm grasp of these ladies. I like to write about women wielding whatever power they had, ascribed or taken, using their influence both overtly and subtly.  Ladies-in-waiting did just that.

Appointment was not only by the personal choice of the queen or the king, but a political decision as well.  Queen Victoria’s first stand took place when her new Prime Minister, Robert Peel, meant to replace some of the ladies in her household to reflect the bipartisan English government and keep an even political balance.  According to Maureen Waller in Sovereign Ladies,  Victoria was adamant. “‘I cannot give up any of my ladies,’ she told him at their second meeting.  ‘What, Ma’am!’ Peel queried, ‘Does your Majesty mean to retain them all?’ ‘All’, she replied.” When ladies-in-waiting turned and became disloyal, as did Sarah Churchill to Queen Anne, they were  very often severed from court.

Even today, the British Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II,  relies on ladies-in-waiting; two of them, Susan Hussey and Mary Morrison, have served her for more than fifty years apiece. Sally Bedell, in her book, Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch tells us that “… the queen from the outset has surrounded herself with an equally capable group of ladies-in-waiting, organized into a strict hierarchy, with medieval titles and clearly delineated tasks.” Further, “all the ladies in waiting are adept at circulating through receptions, running interference for their boss by engaging overeager guests in conversation, or arranging for introductions.”

When we twenty-first century women wonder who’s got our backs, the answer is very likely our friends, whom we trust implicitly and walk through life with.   Our friends wholly know us, strengths and blemishes alike.   When I write about a queen, I want to know the woman behind the gown and crown.  This is why I’ve loved writing about Ladies-in-Waiting.

Sandra Byrd is the author of more than three dozen books, including her series set in the Tudor Court, Ladies in Waiting.  You can walk through a Tudor Hall and then read more about these books at

5 Popular Philosophy Books: Solace for Everyone

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

Take a look at this list of popular Philosophy Books from our collection, which carries titles that, in our view, can bring solace to each of us in some ways. It includes books that touch everyone’s life through different ideas and philosophies — whether personal or popular — of persons from high profile list to common lives.

The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World’s Greatest Philosophers - Written by Will Durant, one of the most engaging writer of Western intellectual history in English language, this book chronicles the ideas of the great thinkers, the economic and intellectual environments which influenced them, and the personal traits and adventures out of which each philosophy grew.

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . .: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes – Outrageously funny, this book on philosophy has been a breakout bestseller ever since authors Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein did their shtick on NPR’s Weekend Edition. Lively, original, and powerfully informative, is a not-so-reverent crash course through the great philosophical thinkers and traditions, from Existentialism to Logic. Offering Philosophy for those who like to take the heavy stuff lightly, this is a joyful read for everyone.

On Bullshit – One of the salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. In this book, Harry Frankfurt, one of the world’s most influential moral philosophers, attempts to elicit the philosophy behind this so called word “bullshit”. With his characteristic combination of philosophical acuity, psychological insight, and wry humor, Frankfurt proceeds by exploring how bullshit and the related concept of humbug are distinct from lying.

This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women – Based on the NPR series of the same name, this book features eighty Americans from celebrity to common people with their personal philosophies. Featuring many renowned contributors including Isabel Allende, Colin Powell, Gloria Steinem, William F. Buckley Jr., Penn Jillette, Bill Gates, and John Updike, this collection also contains essays by a Brooklyn lawyer; a part-time hospital clerk in Rehoboth, Massachusetts; a woman who sells yellow pages advertising in Fort Worth, Texas; and a man who serves on Rhode Island’s parole board.

Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs but also the extent to which they share them with others.

The Consolations of Philosophy – From the internationally heralded author (Alain de Botton) of How Proust Can Change Your Life comes this remarkable new book that presents the wisdom of some of the greatest thinkers of the ages as advice for our day to day struggles.

Solace for the broken heart can be found in the words of Schopenhauer. The ancient Greek Epicurus has the wisest, and most affordable, solution to cash flow problems. A remedy for impotence lies in Montaigne. Seneca offers advice upon losing a job. And Nietzsche has shrewd counsel for everything from loneliness to illness. The Consolations of Philosophy is a book as accessibly erudite as it is useful and entertaining.

If you think that there are some books that should be added to the list, let us know by commenting below.

Click here to browse through more Philosophy Books.

Guest Author: Rick Chesler: How whales influenced my fiction

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Author: Rick Chesler

Since my debut novel (thriller Wired Kingdom) prominently features a whale, I decided to focus this post on whales. I’ll share a few of my personal experiences with them as well as what made me want to write about them in my book.

Allow me to begin by providing a brief description of the story:

When a blue whale tagged with a web-cam designed with stolen defense technology broadcasts a brutal murder at sea as part of a television nature program, Special Agent Tara Shores finds herself navigating an ocean of manipulation and deceit in a deadly race to reach the 100-ton creature roaming the Pacific before an unknown killer can destroy the digital evidence it carries.

You can view a book trailer for the novel here:

So, at its heart, Wired Kingdom is a whodunit murder mystery where a whale harbors a key piece of evidence in the case. In some early drafts of the story I even had the web-cam on different kinds of animals, such as a shark, but there was something about whales that just made the most sense.  They’re big, formidable animals if one needs to confront one, but they are also beautiful, majestic creatures that have come back from the brink of extinction after nearly being hunted from the Earth. Many people feel a certain empathy for them, a sentiment that figures prominently in the novel.

As someone with a degree in marine science, I have spent time formally studying whales and the environment in which they live. But reading about them alone doesn’t begin to do justice to these mysterious creatures. To truly appreciate them, one needs to see them in their natural environment, which I have been fortunate enough to do on several occasions throughout my life. Below I will share a few videos I’ve taken of whales in different parts of the world. This is a video of a humpback whale in Hawaii. I took this while on a whale watching boat called the Navatek, on the island of Oahu. Can you see the calf by her mother’s side? You can hear the screams of the excited passengers when the whale breaches, or jumps out of the water. No one is exactly sure why whales breach. It may be just for the fun of it, or perhaps to shake loose parasites. This clip shows a gray whale off Los Angeles, which I took from another whale watch out of Marina del Rey (where, incidentally, part of the story for Wired Kingdom is set). Grays are famous for their annual migration from Alaska to Mexico, where they give birth. This is a special clip, not for what you can see, but for what you can hear. My wife shot this when we were scuba diving on a shipwreck in Hawaii (yes, that’s me diving in the video). The sounds you can hear are the songs of humpback whales! We could hear them all around us throughout the dive, although we never saw one.

Note that I don’t have any blue whale shots—I haven’t been lucky enough to see one of those in the wild—yet—but that’s part of what made them so alluring to me, and so worthy of being a main character in Wired Kingdom. That, and the fact that they are the largest animals ever to have lived on our planet.

These types of whale encounters have been a source of inspiration for me as I wrote Wired Kingdom, and which helped me to inject a dose of realism into the story’s pages. I hope that this post has stirred your imagination enough to make you want to learn more about whales for yourself!

Thanks for reading.

Top 5 Yoga Books for Beginners

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

Today, we have shortlisted some very popular Yoga Books that are appropriate for the beginners. Explaining either the philosophy & origin of yoga, or the exercises, or both, these books will not only motivate the beginners towards yoga and meditation but also help them to get rid of the awkwardness of odd yoga positions. Enjoy the unmatched benefits of the Yoga –  the ancient healing discipline for body and mind, with the following the titles:

Light on Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar – A definitive guide to the philosophy and practice of Yoga by its greatest living teacher, B.K.S. Iyengar, this book provides complete descriptions and illustrations of all the positions and breathing exercises. Full of illustrations, this Yoga guide would be the best pick for the beginners.

A Year of Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lasater – This is the collection of motivational thoughts of globally acclaimed yoga teacher, P.T. Judith Hanson Lasater. This book would be of great help to the ones who lacks encouragement for yoga practice. Featuring one thought for each day of the year, along with a suggested practice, these brief, powerful insights reflect the author’s knowledge of classic yoga philosophy and years of experience. Humorous, inspiring, and surprisingly down-to-earth, it guides beginners both on and off the yoga mat.

The Heart of Yoga by T. K. V. Desikachar - In this book, renowned yoga expert and author T. K. V. Desikachar discusses all the elements of yoga – poses and counterposes, conscious breathing, meditation, and philosophy. If you are the person who wants to practice yoga but cannot because of some kind of personal limitations, this book is perfect for you as in this book Desikachar shows how to develop yoga practices tailored to one’s current state of health, age, occupation, and lifestyle.

Iyengar Yoga for Beginners by B. K. S. Iyengar  – This book is perfect for those readers who are scared of pretzel like yoga positions. In this essential guide for beginners, renowned and established yoga guru, B. K. S. Iyengar offers easy to follow, step-by-step sequences of key yoga poses with clear detailed instructions, making it the perfect introduction. Innovative 360-degree views of yoga poses and over 250 photographs will help teach you the basics and ensure your technique is perfect.

Yoga For Wimps by Miriam Austin – Crave yoga’s benefits, but feel afraid to look weird? Think yoga requires you to look like a pretzel? Now here’s a friendly, full-color, hand-holding, one-step-at-a-time, few-minutes-a-day way to get started. It meets you right where you are, with three different approaches to fit your needs. The changes you experience here will amaze and delight you so much that you’ll never want to wimp out on your workout!

Click here to browse through more Yoga Books.

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