Archive for September, 2012

World Rabies Day: Read Books and Raise Awareness

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

World Rabies Day is a United Nations Observance aiming to raise awareness about the impact of rabies on humans and animals as well as to provide information and advice on how to prevent the disease. The day is proclaimed to take place each year on September 28, the death anniversary of Louis Pasteur who, with the collaboration of his colleagues, first developed an efficacious rabies vaccine in 1885.

Endorsed by international human and veterinary health organizations such as the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Veterinary Association, the World Rabies Day is an international campaign coordinated by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, a non-profit organization with headquarters in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Rabies is a viral disease that causes acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in warm-blooded animals. The most common domestic animals that become infected, or “rabid,” are cats, dogs, and cattle In the United States, the virus lives primarily in wild bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes.

The rabies virus travels to the brain by following the peripheral nerves. The incubation period of the disease is usually a few months in humans, depending on the distance the virus must travel to reach the central nervous system. Once the rabies virus reaches the central nervous system and symptoms begin to show, the infection is effectively untreatable and usually fatal within days.

Commonly, people are rendered with the myth that rabies is an animal disease, not a human disease. But, the fact is that throughout the world one person dies of rabies every 10 minutes. Annually, this fatal disease causes about 55,000 human deaths worldwide, with majority of cases in Africa and Asia. Roughly 97% cases of human exposure to rabies are the result of rabid dog bites.

Diseases have a history, and understanding that history helps us understand how best to treat and control a disease today. The Biography of Diseases series of books provides students with all the information regarding the origin of various maladies, how they impact contemporary society, and how doctors and diseases researchers from around the world are fighting to devise treatments for their alleviation or cure. One of the volumes of this series, Rabies, examines a disease that has been causing fear and panic for centuries because of its fatal nature and the near certainty of death once one has contracted the disease. And, the book sheds light on why thousands still die of rabies every year in developing countries, despite an efficacious vaccine has been discovered by Louis Pasteur in the 19th centuries.

There is also available in the market another book of the same title, Rabies (Diseases and People) that reviews the history of the disease, and then describe its treatment and prevention. The authors of this book pay particular attention to its recent spread in the U.S. while discussing the current related issues worldwide. With black-and-white photographs of some animals (mostly raccoons) and magnified cells, this book draws heavily on recent periodical articles, and a list of organizations for further information is appended with it.

If someone is curious about what’s new factor in the current scenario of this deadly disease, the book Mad Dogs: The New Rabies Plague would be the best pick among all. This account of the latest rabies epidemic in the United States and the battle to halt its spread reads like a fast-paced thriller. Donald Finley, a newspaper medical reporter, describes the canine rabies outbreak that began in Texas in 1988 and the epidemic of raccoon rabies that swept the East Coast from Florida to New York. He also tells the story of the struggle to develop an effective rabies vaccination program in the United States. He further states that such a program has been developed successfully in European nations, but in our country the process has been hampered by politics and side issues.

Fiction lovers need not to be upset here. Acclaimed writer Robert Laxalt’s brilliant new novella, Time of the Rabies is there for them. With an interesting and thrilling story, this novella will let  readers to gauge how terrible the epidemic of rabies could be. During the 1920s, a rabies epidemic swept across northern Nevada, decimating wildlife and livestock herds.  This historic event is the background of this novel. Set on a sheep ranch in the desert foothills near Carson City, the story  follows owner Pete Lorda and his family and ranch hands as the epidemic swirls around them, pulling humans and animals into an epic battle against an invisible but deadly foe.

In an attempt to lend our hand to the UN’s awareness campaign for Rabies, we’ve mentioned above some books that are full of necessary information. Hope, these titles will meet their purpose of informing and bewaring people, and so we reach our goal of dwelling in a rabies-free society.


Books to Master The Most Spoken Languages of The World Other Than English

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

If you are looking to learn/study a second or third language but don’t know which one to do, and how to do, you may choose from the top 4 languages (excluding English) spoken around the world.

As per the statistics available on, the top 4 most spoken languages of the world in order, other than English, are: Mandarin (Chinese), Spanish, Arabic, and Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu). However, if we were to count English also in this line, it would be placed at the third position.

Now, here is the solution for how to learn these top languages. We have enlisted below some popular books on these languages that cater to the needs of beginners.

Mandarin (Chinese)

Being the main language of the world’s most populous country, China having a population of over 1.3 billion people, Mandarin by no surprise is the most commonly spoken language around the world.

Get Talking Chinese – Ready…set…talk! This compact guide provides a fun and easy way to get a handle on all aspects of Mandarin Chinese — reading, writing, speaking, and listening, as well as a look at the fantastic culture of China. This book comes with an audio CD for easy pronunciation practice.

The other book that will help you the best to become fluent in Mandarin is Chinese 24/7: Everyday Strategies for Speaking and Understanding Mandarin. With this book and its free audio tracks, you’ll have everything you need to start from scratch and reach any level you want in spoken Mandarin Chinese –the official and most widely used kind of Chinese in mainland China and Taiwan.


As the official language of the majority of the countries across Central America and South America, Spanish has the second largest number (329 million) of speakers around the world.  Many English words are borrowed from the language like tornado, bonanza, patio, quesadilla, enchilada, and taco grande supreme. So, Spanish is the language of high interest the U. S.

Breaking Out of Beginner’s Spanish – Written by a native English speaker who learned Spanish the hard way by trying to talk to Spanish-speaking people, this book offers English speakers with a basic knowledge of Spanish along with hundreds of tips for using the language more fluently and colloquially, and with fewer obvious “gringo” errors. This book is written with humor, common sense, and a minimum of jargon, so can be the best pick for beginners.

Besides, there is also available a book titled as Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish: A Creative and Proven Approach, with which anyone can read, write, and speak Spanish in only a few short weeks with this unique and proven method, which completely eliminates rote memorization and boring drills.


With 221 million of speakers, Arabic is the fourth most spoken language of the world. It is the official language in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt. It is also said to be one of the world’s oldest languages.

Your desire to learn Arabic may be thwarted by its script; how will you pick up the language if you can’t understand its characters? Read and Speak Arabic for Beginners is a book that overcomes this obstacle by providing an accessible, entertaining program that will reinforce vocabulary as well as help you create basic structures. The accompanying 55-minute audio CD contains all the key words and phrases for you to listen to and repeat.

To know more clearly about the puzzling letters of Arabic, you may go through the book, The Arabic Alphabet: How to Read & Write It. This book proceeds, step by step, through all the letters of the Arabic alphabet, showing the sounds they stand for and how they are combined into words.


Also known as Hindu-Urdu, this is an Indo-Aryan language, and is the lingua franca of North India and Pakistan. It counts a total of 242 million of speakers. It has two official forms, Standard Hindi and Standard Urdu, which are the official languages of India and Pakistan, respectively, and are nearly indistinguishable from each other.

Hindi: A Complete Course for Beginners is the simple and effective introduction to Hindi that will teach you everything you need to speak, understand, read, and write in this language. This program assumes no background in the language, and it explains each new concept clearly with plenty of examples, making it ideal for beginners or anyone who wants a thorough review. Further, this complete package comes with a six audio CDs to launch practical sessions for beginners.

The book Let’s Study Urdu: An Introduction to the Script is a comprehensive introduction to the Urdu language that draws on a range of real-life contexts, popular film songs, and prized works of Urdu literature. A variety of effective aural, oral, and written drills will help students master the language while keeping them entertained.

However, if you wish to or need to learn other world languages, you may check out the following links:

Horticulture Special: Books for Gardeners and Farmers

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

Horticulture is the science, art, technology and business involved in intensive plant cultivation for human food and non-food uses and for personal or social needs.

Being practiced from the individual level in a garden up to the activities of a multinational corporation, this discipline of agriculture is very diverse in its activities, incorporating plant farming for food (fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, culinary herbs) and non-food crops (flowers, trees and shrubs, turf-grass, hops, grapes, medicinal herbs). It further includes many other cultivation related services like plant conservation, landscape restoration, landscape and garden design/construction/maintenance, horticultural therapy, and much more.

Farming expert George Acquaah in his book Horticulture: Principles and Practices explores horticulture as a science, an art, and a business, meeting the practical information needs of everyone involved in the discipline – from the small urban gardener/hobbyist to the large-scale producers. One who wants to reach at the heart of this stream of plant production, must go through this book from cover to cover.

Directed towards developing and maintaining human health and well-being, all the food, medicinal, environmental, and social products and services falls within the boundary of horticulture jointly make such a broad horizon that it is difficult to cover them all in detail in a single volume. Therefore, our editorial team has shortlisted for your comfort some popular books that deals with the separate aspects of horticulture, detailing each and every specified farming conditions and techniques involved. These book are written by experienced horticulturalists.

Books on the cultivation of Food Crops:

The Backyard Orchardist: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruit Trees in the Home Garden – For every gardener desiring to add apples, pears, cherries, and other tree fruit to their landscape, here are hints and solid information from a professional horticulturist and experienced fruit grower, Stella Otto. This book offers help on selecting the best fruit trees and information about each stage of growth and development, along with tips on harvest and storage of the fruit. Those with limited space will learn about growing dwarf fruit trees in containers.

Grow Fruit by Alan Buckingham – Covering tree fruit, from apples to figs and nuts; soft fruit, from strawberries to goose berries; grape vines; and tender fruit, from citrus to avocados, this practical and inspirational guide shows everyone how to grow their own fruit, no matter how much time or space they have. With a fruit grower’s year planner; a foolproof, easy-to-follow advice, ideas and techniques for more experienced gardeners; and a troubleshooting section for common problems of fruit pests and diseases, this ultimate book is the one-stop reference for growing your own delicious fruits.

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible – This is the 10th anniversary edition of the Edward C. Smith’s popular “The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible” that has helped a number of gardeners grow an abundance of vegetables and herbs in their limited premise. New to this edition is coverage of 15 additional vegetables, including an expanded section on salad greens and more European and Asian vegetables.

The New Organic Grower: A Master’s Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener – This book was first published in 1988, and gained vast popularity as an ultimate guide for vegetable farmers. In this newly revised and expanded edition, master grower Eliot Coleman continues to present the simplest and most sustainable ways of growing top-quality organic vegetables. Here, Coleman updates practical information on marketing the harvest, on small-scale equipment, and on farming and gardening for the long-term health of the soil.

Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms - After years of living in awe of the mysterious fungi known as mushrooms, chefs, health enthusiasts, and home cooks alike can’t get enough of these rich, delicate morsels. With updated production techniques for home and commercial cultivation, detailed growth parameters for 31 mushroom species, a trouble-shooting guide, and plenty of handy gardening tips, this revised and updated handbook will make your mycological landscapes the envy of the neighborhood.

Your Backyard Herb Garden: A Gardener’s Guide to Growing Over 50 Herbs Plus How to Use Them in Cooking, Crafts, Companion Planting and More – Everything you need to know about growing your favorite herbs using safe, natural, all-organic methods! Practical tips and advice on all aspects of successful herb growing. A wealth of great ideas and helpful how-to on using herbs in cooking, crafts, cosmetics, health care, insect repellents, and more. Illustrated herb directory featuring all the most popular herbs– from aloe to yarrow– each with complete information on growing, care, harvesting, and uses.

Books for those who are involved in growing Non-food Crops

The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers, Revised and Expanded – Acre-for-acre, flowers are the most profitable–as well as the most beautiful–crop on the farm. In The Flower Farmer expert flower grower Lynn Byczynski provides a complete introduction to raising a cornucopia of cut flowers for home use and for sale to retail customers, florists, and other markets. The book offers detailed, manageable plans for flower growing on a scale ranging from a backyard border to a half-acre commercial garden, appealing to a broad spectrum of readers. This book also provides a clear, realistic look at both the benefits and the challenges of growing flowers organically for local markets.

The Cutting Garden: Growing and Arranging Garden Flowers – This practical guide shows how to grow decorative flowers and foliage and use them to create floral arrangements plans, plant and maintain a well-stocked cutting garden, and demonstrates how to create arrangements ranging from simple bunches to romantic hanging globes, swags and medallions.

The Homeowner’s Complete Tree & Shrub Handbook: The Essential Guide to Choosing, Planting, and Maintaining Perfect Landscape Plants – Trees and shrubs bring permanence and structure to home landscapes, adding character and beauty to the entire property. They are essential to every beautiful yard, however, many homeowners do not give them the attention that flowers and lawns traditionally receive. Penny O’Sullivan gives trees and shrubs the respect they deserve in this lively, comprehensive book. The heart of the book is the extensive encyclopedia of hundreds of tree and shrub portraits. The final section covers care and maintenance, with thorough advice on buying and planting; siting; pruning; fertilizing; and coping with diseases, pests, and environmental problems.

Jerry Baker’s Green Grass Magic: Tips, Tricks, and Tonics for Growing the Toe-Ticklinest Turf in Town! – Anyone can have a lawn even greener than their neighbors’ with this definitive guide to improving the attractiveness of grass from seed to sod, in all seasons. Jerry Baker’s proven tips, tricks, and tonics cover problems from mowing and mole damage to drought or downpour. Regular cabinet items are advised to use –Epsom salts to cure yellow grass and mouthwash to banish bugs. In this book, homeowners learn what they can do to conserve water, avoid sun damage, and boost the green of their turf using sensible techniques and natural products. Further, this green book includes a calendar with a season-by-season to-do list, taking the guesswork out of lawn maintenance for gardeners.

Books for Garden Design/Construction/Maintenance

The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques – With more than 130,000 copies sold since its original publication, this advanced gardening book by Tracy DiSabato-Aust has proven itself to be one of the most useful tools a gardener can have. Now, this expanded edition offers detail of essential practices of perennial care such as deadheading, pinching, cutting back, thinning, disbudding, and dead leafing, all of which are thoroughly explained and illustrated.

Click here and access an endless inventory of Horticulture Books.

Books on Different Dance Forms: Theory Before Practical

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

As dancing always takes place within specific historical and cultural milieu, different countries have their own dancing styles. Within a country exist multiple community having their own culture and form of dancing.  So, there are wide variety of dance forms being performed in different parts of the world.

Since it is wise practice to go for a practical session with a theory book in order to ensure accuracy, a dancer should go through some well-written dance book(s)before gliding through the dance floor. Hence, today’s post is dedicated to the theorization of the different dance forms.

If we go on touching all the dance styles existing across the world, this post will take days and innumerous pages to be completed. And, subsequently, will become a boring read.  Therefore, we’ve assembled below a small list of Dance Books, covering dance forms popular in the U.S. only.

Make your life as well as bookshelf livelier with the following Books on different Dance Forms well-practised and popular across the world.

Ballroom Dance

Ballroom dance is a set of partner dances, which originated in the western world, and are enjoyed both socially and competitively throughout the world. One of the most entertaining and elite styles of dancing, ballroom dance is widely enjoyed on stage, film, and television. This dance form is classified into variety of dancing styles based on different techniques that have been developed especially in America.

The two main classification of ballroom dancing are international standard and international Latin. The former category includes popular styles like Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Swing and Quickstep. Further, Samba, Cha-cha-cha, Rumba, Paso Doble and Jive are the dances that falls in the former category.

Books that can help you learn your favorite style of Ballroom Dance are:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Ballroom Dancing – Whatever be your ballroom dancing style, this book must come out to be of great help for you. Covering all the common ballroom dance forms, this comprehensive volume contains step-by-step photos, footwork illustrations, and fully written instructions to guide you. It comes with a 90-minute instructional DVD featuring award-winning dancer and dance instructor Jeff Allen. It corresponds with the text seamlessly, giving readers the next best thing to one-on-one instruction, at a fraction of the cost.

Gotta Ballroom – This is your guide to dancing the waltz, tango, foxtrot, and Viennese waltz. Master instructors and professional dancers Christine Zona and Chris George describe and demonstrate every movement, providing you with the skills you need to glide across the dance floor like a pro. Comes with a 64-minute DVD, this book provides specific instruction for social success with the four most popular American style ballroom dance styles. It gives details of the basic footwork, body positioning, timing, styling, transitions.

Latin Dance (The American Dance Floor) – Latin dance styles are among the most popular dance forms in America as they have had a widespread influence upon the development of other social dance styles in the United States.

This is the book that addresses every major style of Latin dance such as Salsa, Samba, Cha-cha-cha, Rumba, Paso Doble and Jive. Describing the basic steps that characterize these dance forms, the author explains the range of styles and expression to be found in Latin dances primarily within the context of couples social dancing, the popularity of salsa today, and the broader social meanings and implications of their multicultural origins from the 1600s to the present.

Ballet Dance

Ballet was first originated as a performance dance in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th century, and which was further developed in France and Russia as a concert dance form. It is a highly technical form of dance with its own vocabulary. The most formal style of ballet is classical Ballet. This one of the most beautiful dance form can be best conceived through the following book:

The Ballet Companion: A Dancer’s Guide to the Technique, Traditions, and Joys of Ballet –  A fresh, comprehensive, and thoroughly up-to-date reference book for the Ballet dancers, this book offers practical advice for getting started, such as selecting a school, making the most of class, and studio etiquette. With 150 stunning photographs of ballet stars Maria Riccetto and Benjamin Millepied demonstrating perfect execution of positions and steps, this elegant volume brims with everything today’s dance student needs: explanations of ballet fundamentals and major training systems; an illustrated guidance for warm-up, barre, and center floor; guidelines for safe, healthy dancing through a sensible diet, injury prevention, and cross-training with yoga and Pilates.

Hip Hop Dancing

Rapping. Breakdancing. MCing. DJing. Beatboxing. Graffiti art. These are some of the most well-known artistic expressions spawned from hip hop culture, which has grown from an isolated inner-city subculture in the 1970s that later become a truly international and mainstream culture. This funky dance form has expanded its root in countries like Japan, France, Israel, Poland, Brazil, South Korea, and England. The most popular Hip Hop Dancing styles are: The Chicken Head, Flapping Your Wings, The Get Me Bodied Break Down, The Booty Bounce, Getting Light, etc. The following book would help you reaching at the core of this bouncing dance form.  

Hip Hop Dance (The American Dance Floor) – This insightful book provides not only an overview of hip hop’s distinctive dance style and steps, but also a historic overview of hip hop’s roots as an urban expression of being left out of the mainstream pop culture, clarifying the social context of hip hop culture before it became a widespread suburban phenomenon. This book documents all the forms of street music that led to one of the most groundbreaking, expressive, and influential dance styles ever created.

Tap Dancing

Sprouted from African-American dancing, Tap dance is a form of dance characterized by using the sound of one’s tap shoes hitting the floor as a percussive instrument. As such, it is also commonly considered to be a form of music. Two major variations on tap dance exist: rhythm (Jazz) tap and Broadway tap. The former focuses more on the dance and is widely performed as a part of musical theater. Whereas the latter concentrates more on musicality and considered to be a part of the Jazz tradition. The book that gives you better expressions of this highly entertaining dancing is:

The Souls of Your Feet: A Tap Dance Guidebook for Rhythm Explorers – A comprehensive guide to the art and language of tap dance, this volume shows the beginning dancer how to build a strong foundation in this wonderful American dance form. Complete with basic technique and creative variations, it reveals the choreographic and improvisational creativity of the experienced tap dancers such as Charles “Honi” Coles, Brenda Bufalino, Jimmy Slyde, Sarah Petonio, Savion Glover and many others. Further, it covers some traditional tap dance figures and choruses like The B.S. Chorus and The Shim Sham Shimmy for professional dancers.

To browse through a pile of Dance Books,  click here.

World Peace Day: Peace For All and War For None

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”

                                                                                                          — Jimi Hendrix

By proclaiming September 21 to be celebrated annually as the International Day of Peace a.k.a. World Peace Day, the United Nations Organization has summoned all the individuals, groups, organizations and nations to work in cooperation for bringing peace worldwide. Dedicated to peace, this day is specifically directed towards ensuring the absence of war and violence.

To inaugurate the day, the “Peace Bell” is rung at UN Headquarter (in New York City). The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents except Africa, and was a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan, as “a reminder of the human cost of war”. The inscription on its side reads, “Long live absolute world peace”.

Today, on the International Day of Peace, let’s remember those who have contributed in some ways to bring peace either region wide or nationwide or worldwide. We’ve compiled here a list of 5 selected yet popular Books by and on some of the Nobel Peace Prize winners, revealing their peace-oriented intelligence and works. This is our way to support, as an organization, this peaceful celebration of humanity and non-violence across the world.

Now, what you need to make your contribution in the same is to read out the following books and borrow some noble ideas from great Nobel Peace laureates -like Mother Teresa and Dalai Lama– and then, use them to initiate your own endeavor towards peacemaking.

Mother Teresa’s Lessons of Love and Secrets of Sanctity by Susan Conroy – A moving first-hand account of Mother Teresa –the Saint of the Gutters, and her work, written by someone who worked by her side. Through this book, author Susan Conroy, an idealistic young volunteer, takes us closer to the holy spirit of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who spent her entire life in serving the poorest of the poor. She came to write this epic after having spent a summer serving in one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages and in the Home for the Dying. She mentioned, “In a city where I found hell on earth, I also found each day a deep sense of peace and incredible happiness.” Also, included in this book some striking photographs that have never been seen before now – photographs that show Mother Teresa at her everyday best.

Ethics for the New Millennium by Dalai Lama – In a difficult, uncertain time, it takes a person of great courage, such as the Dalai Lama, to give us hope. This peace-oriented book by Dalai Lama presents a moral system based on universal rather than religious principles. Its ultimate goal is happiness for every individual, irrespective of religious beliefs. Though the Dalai Lama is himself a practicing Buddhist, his approach to life, and the moral compass guiding him can lead each and every one of us –Muslim, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, or atheist– to a happier, more fulfilling life.

Mandela’s Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage by Richard Stengel – The editor of Time maga­zine, Richard Stengel has brought us the peacemaking approach of Nelson Mandela, a Nobel Peace Laureate who liberated his country from a system of violent prejudice and helped unite oppressor and oppressed in a way that had never been done before. In this book, Stengel recounts the moments in which “the grandfather of South Africa” was tested and shares the wisdom he learned: why courage is more than the absence of fear; why we should keep our rivals close; why the answer is not always either/or but often “both”; how important it is for each of us to find something away from the world that gives us pleasure and satisfaction –our own garden.

Kofi Annan: A Man of Peace in a World of War by Stanley Meisler – In this thoughtful, balanced biography, former Los Angeles Times foreign and diplomatic correspondent Stanley Meisler traces Kofi Annan’s unconventional rise from optimistic student to striving personnel and budget specialist in the United Nations bureaucracy to full-time manager of the world’s crises. The book presents a unique portrait of this widely admired Nobel Peace Laureate, along with Annan’s own view of events tempered and augmented by those of his allies and opponents, defenders and detractors. One, who is working towards bringing peace can trace out some points from Annan’s peacemaking strategies to apply in his/her efforts.

Beyond the White House: Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope by Jimmy Carter –  This is the story of President Jimmy Carter’s post-presidency in his own words — perhaps, the most admired and productive in the nation’s history. Through The Carter Center, which he and Rosalynn Carter founded in 1982, he has fought neglected diseases, waged peace in war zones, and built hope among some of the most forgotten and needy people in the world. Serving in more than seventy nations, Carter has led peacekeeping efforts for Ethiopia, North Korea, Haiti, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Uganda, and Sudan. Highly inspirational, this book carries a hidden message that one’s peacemaking efforts should not be restricted to his/her region only but must be directed to places and people who suffer violence and prejudice.

Find more Books on Peace. Click here

Upton Sinclair: A Socialist Literary Spirit

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

“Human beings suffer agonies, and their sad fates become legends; poets write verses about them and playwrights compose dramas, and the remembrance of past grief becomes a source of present pleasure – such is the strange alchemy of the spirit.”

                                                                                                                                   ― Upton Sinclair in his Dragon’s Teeth

On 20th September, 1878, born a literary prodigy who later came to be called as “a man with every gift except humor and silence”. He was Upton Sinclair, a famous writer of American Realism era and a social crusader from California. We wish him a very Happy Birthday.

Born to a reputed but financially straitened family, Sinclair began earning money by writing at 15. With his socialist approach, he broke new ground in the kind of journalism known as “muckraking” that refers to reform-minded journalists. The amalgamation of his socialist mind and high literary spirit produced nearly one hundred reality-oriented books.

His muckraking novel “The Jungle (1906) is the sublime example of American Literary Realism. An assignment from a socialist weekly led him to write this novel that earned him the first popular success in literature. The Jungle was an expose of the appalling and unsanitary conditions in the U. S. meat-packing industry that caused a public upheaval and invariably, contributed in part to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act.  Because of its anti-capitalist content, this novel received initial rejections from publishers, but once it got published, it caught immediate success and appreciation from personalities like Winston Churchill and the then President Theodore Roosevelt.

The long series of other muckraking novels by Upton Sinclair includes King Coal (1917), Oil! (1927), based on the Teapot Dome Scandal, and Boston (1928), based on the Sacco-Vanzetti trial.

Between 1940 and 1953, Sinclair wrote a series of 11 novels featuring a central character named Lanny Budd, a socialist, art expert, and grandson of an American arms manufacturer. His Pulitzer Prize winning novel Dragon’s Teeth is one of them, covering Nazi takeover of Germany during the 1930s. In this book, Sinclair portrays the men and women caught in the onslaught of Nazi’s terror, a holocaust from which few managed to escape.

The contemporary writer Edmund Wilson, said about him: “Practically alone among the American writers of his generation, Sinclair put to the American public the fundamental questions raised by capitalism in such a way that they could not escape them”.

Besides his literary power, Upton Sinclair had been one-time candidate for Governor of California in 1934, which he was only narrowly defeated. During the economic crisis of the 1930s, he organized the EPIC (End Poverty in California) socialist reform movement. He ran repeatedly but unsuccessfully for public office as a Socialist.

One can see this prodigious personality very closely in his autobiographical book American Outpost (1932), which was reworked and extended in The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair (1962).

Top Satirical Books For a Reading with Fun

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

What literary form has remained contemporary for over hundreds of years is Satire. Every age has its mockers, whether they be political cartoonists, angry poets, or mystified novelists lamenting the literary trends of the day.

So, compiled here a list of some popular Satirical Books that not only introduce you with the bitter truth of our social, political and cultural platform but also make you laugh out loud, for sure.

Animal Farm by George Orwell – No writer has ever been more naked in his contempt for power, or more ruthless in his critique of those who abuse it, than the Englishman born Eric Blair, better known to the world as George Orwell. In Animal Farm he restages the hypocrisies of the Russian Revolution with the principal figures played by farm animals. Paradoxically, by turning Trotsky and Lenin and their followers into pigs and horses and chickens, he reveals them as all too human.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller – A classic satire on the murderous insanity of war, it is a one of the funniest books ever written, a keystone work in American literature. At the heart of Catch-22 resides the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero endlessly inventive in his schemes to save his skin from the horrible chances of war. Yossarian says, “You’re talking about winning the war, and I am talking about winning the war and keeping alive”.

I Am America by Stephen Colbert – From Stephen Colbert, the host of television’s highest-rated punditry show The Colbert Report, comes a book to fill the other 23 hours of your day. This book contains all of the opinions that Stephen doesn’t have time to shoehorn into his nightly broadcast. In this sublime satire, Stephen reveals his most deeply held knee-jerk beliefs on The American Family, Race, Religion, Sex, Sports, and many more topics, which are conveniently arranged in chapter form.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut – Told with deadpan humor and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut‘s cult tale of global destruction catches on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it.

Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding ‘fathers’ of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world by inventing ‘ice-nine’, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker’s three ecentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, and to a madness.

American Satire: An Anthology of Writings from Colonial Times to the Present by Nicholas Bakalar and Stephen Kock – If you’re interested in satire in American literature, this is a book that you’ll love to check out time and again. This entertaining, informative collection covers the best of American satire –from Ben Franklin’s cutting satiric attacks to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Celestial Railroad, Calvin Trillin’s Old Marrieds, Mark Twain’s American Abroad to P.J. O’Rourke’s The Innocents Abroad.

Scoop by Evelyn Waugh - Comes from one of literature’s great curmudgeons and a scathingly funny satirist, this book offers a comedy of England’s newspaper business of the 1930s and the story of William Boot, a innocent hick from the country who writes careful essays about the habits of the badger. Hired accidently as a war correspondent for a Fleet Street newspaper, the uncomprehending Boot is sent to the fictional African country of Ishmaelia to cover an expected revolution. Although he has no idea what he is doing Boot eventually gets the big story. This book is a great satire on newspaper industry.

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift – Castaway Lemuel Gulliver’s encounters with the petty, diminutive Lilliputians, the crude giants of Brobdingnag, the abstracted scientists of Laputa, the philosophical Houyhnhnms, and the brutish Yahoos bring into his knowledge some new yet bitter insights into human behavior. While travelling, he learns that human nature is innately despoiled and that no society is just right, and that everybody furnishes their own weird beliefs and cultural disputes.

Click here to browse through our broad inventory of Satire Books.

Guest Author: Stephen Leather: My Haunted Website

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Author: Stephen Leather

I’ve always believed that the key to selling more books is to have a strong website presence.  And for my occult detective Jack Nightingale series, I decided that the internet presence should be a haunted house complete with spooky basement, a body in a bathtub and a zombie in the attic.

I’m best known for my thrillers, especially the Dan ‘Spider’ Shepherd series. Spider is a former Special Forces soldier who joins the police and then MI5, the British equivalent of the CIA.  It’s been great fun watching Spider develop as a character from his beginnings in “Hard Landing and Soft Target through to the latest books, Fair Game and “False Friends”.

Spider solves his problems with a gun and his fists, but with Jack Nightingale I wanted to explore the darker side of crime and cross over into the world of the supernatural, something that has fascinated me since I was a teenager reading the books of occult writer Dennis Wheatley.

In Nightfall, the first of the series,  Nightingale inherits a mansion that used to belong to his father.  But with the windfall comes bad news – Nightingale’s father was a Satanist who had made a deal with a devil. On Nightingale’s thirty-third birthday, just weeks away, that devil is coming to claim his soul.

The more Nightingale looks into his past the more secrets he discovers. And when everyone he talks to about his father dies horribly, he realizes that perhaps devils do exist and that he faces an eternity in the fires of Hell.  If Jack is to survive, he has to come to terms with the fact that devils exist and that they can be defeated, if you know what you’re doing.

Even as I was writing Nightfall I was fascinated by the house and shortly after I delivered the manuscript to my publishers I began work designing a virtual Gosling Manor which readers can walk through to learn about Nightingale’s predicament.

There’s a study with information about Nightingale, a basement library with books on witchcraft and devil-worship, a bathroom with a dead body and a message on a mirror, a bedroom with a suicide and even a ghost up in the attic.  There’s a secret safe where if you enter the correct combination you get some free stories.

I’m a writer, not a computer programmer, so while the ideas are all mine the practical side was handled by a talented English website designer, Andy Foulds.  We spent hours bouncing ideas back and forth and the end result is an amazing house that is full of surprises.

Nightfall was the first book in a trilogy – the further adventures of Jack Nightingale  followed in Midnight and “Nightmare”.  I’m now hard at work on the fourth, “Nightshade”. And as the series continues, I’ll be adding more room to Gosling Manor. You can find Gosling Manor at – visitors are always welcome!

Top 10 Groundbreaking Debut Novel of All Time

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Author: Stacey O’Neale

This is my attempt to create an all time top ten list of ground-breaking debut novels. A few of my choices pioneered their genres and continue to marvel readers and writers alike. Some are considered groundbreaking because they managed to define an event or generation in our world history while others taught us life lessons that still resonate in modern times.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 1818

Mary Shelley has been referred to as the mother of science fiction and horror. You cannot write in either of these genres without feeling her influence. And, the fact that you already know this book without any explanation is why it’s on this list.

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells 1895

If Mary Shelley is the mother of science fiction, then many could argue H.G. Wells is the father. His tale of a young scientist traveling through time has been adapted into two feature films, two television shows, and several comic book versions.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien 1937

J.R.R. Tolkien is the most important writer in the fantasy genre – period. He showed us what a children’s story could be with classic themes of heroism and friendship. This was the first fantasy book I ever read and made me want to be a writer.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen 1811

Jane Austen’s classic tale is a lesson in gender and class through the romantic lives of two sisters. It’s one of the best romance novels ever written.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison 1952

An intimate look at segregation, exploitation and marginalization from the African-American perspective prior to the Civil Rights movement. It’s powerful, emotional, and unsettling all at the same time.

Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut 1952

Kurt Vonnegut warned us of the dangers of technology is this dystopian tale where the lower class is essentially made obsolete by machines. What is so frightening is how much of what he predicted actually came to fruition.

Night by Elie Wiesel 1955

Night recounts Elie Wiesel and his father’s horrifying experiences in a Nazi German concentration camp. His account of those times will simultaneously make you angry and bring you to tears. His internal battles with faith and humanity are heart wrenching. Everyone is the world should be required to read this book.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 1960

This Pulitzer Prize winning novel deals with issues of rape, racial inequality, and the role of African-Americans in society prior to the Civil Rights movement. This book touched my heart. It was the first time I ever cried while reading. Harper Lee taught me how powerful written words could be.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell 1877

Black Beauty teaches us the importance of kindness to all living things. It’s a great example of the bonds that can be made between a person and an animal. I wish every parent read this book to their children.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling 1997

We all know about the movies and the millions of books sold, but that’s not why I added this book to my list. I am adding it because in my lifetime I have never seen clusters of children standing on the street reading the same book. Simply put, she brought generations of children back to the bookstore.

Stacey O’Neale is a writer, book blogger, and a senior publicist with Entangled Publishing. She has participated in panels for Book Expo America and teaches social media courses through Savvy Authors. Beyond her websites and speaking engagements, you can find her on Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.

Leonardo da Vinci: A Polymath Born Never Again

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

Leonardo da Vinci was one of history’s true geniuses, an Italian Renaissance polymath who has often been known as a man of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination”. The name of Leonardo da Vinci accrues iconic images of a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. Perhaps more than that of any other figure between 1452 to present.

Most of what we know about Leonardo da Vinci, we know because of his notebooks. Some 6,000 sheets of notes and drawings survive, perhaps one-fifth of what he actually produced. With an artist’s eye and a scientist’s curiosity, he recorded in these pages his observations on the movement of water and the formation of rocks, the nature of flight and optics, anatomy, architecture, sculpture, and painting. He jotted down fables, epigrams, and letters in these manuscript.

One can reach to the brain of this mastermind through the book Leonardo’s Notebooks edited by H. Anna Suh. This book is an exhaustive collection of the insights and brilliance of Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps, the finest mind the world has ever produced. Suh has selected the most fascinating of the Leonardo’s original notebook, penned in the mid-15th century, and compiled them into one monumental volume, showcasing his archetypal observations illustrated clearly with more than 1,000 of his original sketches and exquisite line drawings.

However, if you seek details of Leonardo’s diversified works,  there are available a pile of books going in-depth to the different facets of this versatile Renaissance Man. You can go through them.

Book that best gives an overall insight to his life isLeonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind, a biography written by Charles Nicholl. In this widely acclaimed life history, Nicholl uncovers the man behind the myth of the “Renaissance master”.

Leonardo da Vinci is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time. Among his painting works, the Mona Lisa is the most famous, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, and the most parodied work in the Art history. Luke Syson‘s book, “Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, would be the best pick to be familiar with the painting skills of this great artist of Renaissance era. This book focuses on a crucial period in the 1480s and 1490s when, as a salaried court artist to Duke Ludovico Sforza in the city-state of Milan, Leonardo produced some of the most celebrated and influential work of his career including The Last Supper, his two versions of The Virgin of the Rocks, and the beautiful portrait of Ludovico’s mistress, Cecilia Gallerani –The Lady with an Ermine.

As a sculptor, Leonardo consistently drew inspiration from ancient sculpture, admired the work of contemporary sculptural innovators such as Donatello, and even trained under Andrea del Verrocchio, the preeminent bronze sculptor of late 15th-century Florence. However, his work as a sculptor is not commonly accredited, and many have argued that Leonardo believed sculpture was an inferior art form. Challenging and overturning these assumptions, Gary M. Radke‘s book “Leonardo da Vinci and the Art of Sculpture looks at the sculptural projects that the artist undertook, as well as the late Renaissance sculptures that were indebted to him.

How adept Leonardo da Vinci was as Scientist and Mathematician can be gauged through books “Leonardo’s Lost Robots, and “Math and the Mona Lisa: The Art and Science of Leonardo da Vinci“, written by Mark Elling Rosheim and Bulent Atalay, respectively.  The former reinterprets Leonardo da Vinci’s mechanical design work, revealing a new level of sophistication not recognized by art historians or engineers. In this book, the author has reconstructed Leonardo’s programmable cart, which was the platform for other automata, by using the rough sketches scattered throughout almost all of Leonardo’s notebooks. The latter book picks up where The Da Vinci Code, a book that offers a glimpse of the mysterious connections between math, science, and Leonardo’s art, left off, illuminating Leonardo’s life and work to uncover connections that, until now, have been known only to scholars.

“I have always felt it is my destiny to build a machine that would allow man to fly”, wrote Leonardo da Vinci in his journal alongside a sketch for an impossibly ingenious invention he called his Flying Machine. Jaspre Bark‘s book Journal of Inventions: Leonardo da Vinci is a rich resource to access Leonardo’s Inventions. This fascinating book is an exquisite collection of elaborate 3-D pop-ups and detailed illustrations based on the personal notebooks and sketches of the Renaissance’s most influential mind, discovering da Vinci’s Mechanical Man, coil-spring clock mechanisms, hydraulic contraptions, and designs for armored vehicles –the precursor to modern tanks.

Leonardo’s Machines: Da Vinci’s Inventions Revealed is another great source to read about the groundbreaking inventions of da Vinci. Combining the original coded notebooks and modern computer imaging, over 30 of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions are pieced together in this work, in never-before-seen, mechanically accurate, computer generated artworks.

Musician personality of Leonardo da Vinci was also quite celebrated in the Renaissance era. Books like “Leonardo da Vinci’s Musical Gifts and Jewish Connections” and “Leonardo Da Vinci As a Musician” offer the best description of Leonardo’s musical talent.

If we go on touching every aspect of this multitalented, rather say, most talented Renaissance Man, this post will never end. So, click here to browse through more and more books on Leonardo da Vinci and get familiar to his other facets.

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