Archive for December, 2012

Trees Made Out of Books: For Book-themed Christmas

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

During our online expedition to find something to relate “Book and Christmas”, we came across some sites carrying wonderful projects on book-themed Christmas Trees. A book tree in the corner of a house during Christmas, we think, is the mighty fine idea for book-lovers. So, we’ve compiled here the images of those wonderful Christmas trees made out of books along with the links that will direct you to the complete detail or project. Take a quick glance:

This book we’ve found on mediatinker, which looks stunning not only in daylight but also reflect awe-inspiring view amid no light.

This beautiful Christmas Tree is available at the library blog of the James Crook University, Australia, holding a competition to guess the number of books used.

This stunningly simple book Christmas Tree is a kind of Do-it-Yourself project. You can learn making it on instructables.

We have discovered this simple yet unique Christmas book tree image on boingboing that describe the tree as “a great, bookish alternative to a Christmas tree/Hannukwanzah bush for this year”.

This strikingly tall gorgeous book tree is the 2010 edition of the National Union Catalog Christmas tree. To check out the detail, click here.

Found at the site of Black Gate, this cute book tree would be a perfect show piece to decorate your bookshelf  during Christmas. Anyone can make it just by seeing the image.

This robust and eye-catching Christmas book tree is the creation of realsimple.com that is as easy-to-make as attractive it is.   

A creation presented by a volunteer on FamilySponge, this Christmas tree of literacy required more than 80 books to make. 

Human Rights Day: Understand Your Civil Liberties With Our Selection of Books

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

The world is celebrating today, on December 10, the Human Rights Day. The date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations.

Every year, the Human Rights Day gives common people all around the world a break to celebrate human rights, highlight a specific issue, and advocate for the full enjoyment of all human rights by everyone everywhere.

This year, the day set spotlight on the rights of all people — women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and marginalized — to make their voices heard in public life as well as to let that be included in political decision-making.

By proclaiming this very dedicated day, the UN plays its part very well in strengthening your rights on being a human. But, what you’re doing in making your voice count? Do you even completely recognize what are your civil liberties on being a human –whatever is your gender? What is Human Rights? What’s its origin and its philosophy? How politically and culturally it is driven?…..Every these things you should know, if you find yourself connected with the intent of Human Rights. Let’s start with the very basics:

From the controversial incarceration of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, to the brutal ethnic cleansing being practiced in Darfur, to the widespread denial of equal rights to women in many areas of the world, human rights violations are a constant presence in the news and in our lives. The book Human Rights: A Very Short Introduction takes up an international perspective on the subject while focusing on highly topical issues such as torture, arbitrary detention, privacy, health, and discrimination, letting you understand the controversies and complexities behind this vitally relevant issue. Looking at the philosophical justification for rights, the historical origins of human rights and how they are formed in law, Andrew Clapham, the author of the book, explains what our human rights actually are, what they might be, and where the human rights movement is heading. So, this book can be an appropriate pick for those who seek an introduction to Human Rights.

How were human rights invented, and how does their tumultuous history influence their perception and our ability to protect them today? From Professor Lynn Hunt comes an extraordinary cultural and intellectually historical book Inventing Human Rights: A History, which traces the roots of human rights to the rejection of torture as a means for finding the truth. She demonstrates how ideas of human relationships portrayed in novels and art has helped spread these new ideals far and wide. Hunt also shows the continued relevance of human rights in today’s world. Overall, this comprehensive work covers the development of human rights from its conceptual roots in the Enlightenment to its full expression in the United Nation’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To gauge how far we have come and how far we still have to go to put strength to our Human Rights, you can go through the Paul Gordon Lauren‘s book The Evolution of International Human Rights: Visions Seen. Focusing on the theme of visions seen by those who dreamed of what might be, Lauren explores in this book the dramatic transformation of a world patterned by centuries of human rights abuses into a global community that now boldly proclaims that the way governments treat their own people is a matter of international concern, and sets the goal of human rights “for all peoples and all nations.” He reveals the truly universal nature of this movement, places contemporary events within their broader historical contexts, and explains the relationship between individual cases and larger issues of human rights with insight.

Understand the political and social values as well as the law of Human Rights with Philip Alston‘s book International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics, Morals, which thoroughly covers the basic characteristics of international law; evolution of the human rights movement; civil, political, economic, and social rights; the humanitarian laws of war; globalization; self-determination; women’s rights; universalism and cultural relativism; intergovernmental and nongovernmental institutions; implementation and enforcement; internal application of human rights norms; and the spread of constitutionalism.

Also, there’s a book that everyone of us, being a human, must read in our lifetime, and that is, The Philosophy of Human Rights: Readings in Context. This groundbreaking book brings together an extensive collection of classical and contemporary writings on the topic of human rights, including genocide, ethnic cleansing, minority cultures, gay and lesbian rights, and the environment, providing an exceptionally comprehensive introduction. Its sources include authors such as Aristotle, Cicero, Thomas Aquinas, Confucius, Hobbes, Locke, rant. Marx, Gandhi. Hart, Feinberg, Nussbaum, the Dalai Lama, Derrida, Lyocard and Rorty. Ideal for courses in human rights, social theory, ethical theory, and political science, each chapters in this book begins with a brief introduction, and is followed with study questions and suggested further readings.

Now, the last but not the least, everyone of us must know what are the Universal Human Rights. For this, we recommend the title, Freedom: Stories Celebrating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights“, presented by Amnesty International. Sixty years ago, the United Nations took a moral stand against human rights crimes and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a proclamation of thirty rights that belong to us all, starting memorably with Article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal”. Now, in the recently mentioned title, an array of internationally acclaimed writers have chosen one of the thirty rights as the inspiration for a short story, letting you understand the rights with thoughtful, serious, funny, and thrilling stories that harness the power of literature to celebrate and affirm our shared humanity.

Hope, the above mentioned titles will enable you to understand the worth of being human as well as make you respect every other human identities while providing strength to your voice for Human Rights.

15 of the World’s Most Awe-inspiring Libraries

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

We believe that those who enjoy reading, must think of some reading zone that make them feel transported to a magical realm with sublime serenity. And, none can bring them such essence than a huge beautiful old library, possibly a place of endless pleasure for readers.

While making online research on the biggest and beautiful libraries around the globe, our editorial team came across Curious Expeditions’ Compendium of Beautiful Libraries – a fantastic read with mind-blowing picturesque. We took a quick expedition through that incredible catalog, and come up with a list of our favorite 15. So, meet here 15 of the world’s most awe-inspiring old public libraries:

Empirical Social Choice: Questionnaire-Experimental Studies on Distributive Justice

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Guest Author: Wulf Gaertner

Imagine that a certain amount of money is available either to provide some help and assistance for a handicapped person or to further the education of an intelligent child. The latter would receive a good education in languages and the natural sciences, let’s say. If the money were given to the handicapped person, she would be able to learn some very basic things that would allow her to be less dependent on the assistance from other people in certain areas of daily life. To whom would you, as an outside observer, give the money? Let us assume that it is not possible to split up the money between the two.

Imagine in a next step that the sum of money is such that this amount would not only suffice for a good education of the child from above but would be large enough to educate a second child as well. To whom would you now give the money, to the group of children or the handicapped person? How would you decide if a third child could be educated as well out of the given money?

For this and many other situations where justice and fairness are the issue, economic theory, in particular welfare economics and social choice theory, as well as moral and political philosophy have proposed a multitude of “solutions”. These are normative in character. Examples are the Rawlsian difference principle with its focus on the worst-off in society, utilitarianism, various ranking methods, several bargaining approaches and proposals that consider the aspect of responsibility of the individual(s) being concerned. This normative approach constitutes one side of the coin.

The other side is a descriptive one. While social choice theory makes use of an axiomatic approach to suggest and define ethically attractive solutions to situations where a distributional conflict occurs (or a trade-off between equity and efficiency), the question remains what the feelings and attitudes of the members of a given society are with respect to distributive justice in general and to rather concrete situations in particular, and how these attitudes are linked to the individual and social characteristics of those directly involved and those who are asked to evaluate from outside, as an impartial observer à la Adam Smith or a public official à la Harsanyi.

One can view this other side of the coin as an area of research and application on its own, but one can also argue in favor of a close interrelationship between the two sides in the sense that there is no good normative theory of justice without strong empirical foundations. “Empirical social choice” goes some way in this direction, arguing that empirical insights are necessary if one wants to apply any theory of justice “with some success” in real-life situations.

The book tries to discuss the two sides of the coin described above and presents questionnaire-experimental results with respect to the three situations depicted at the outset, but not only those but also findings from various other scenarios where justice and fairness are at issue. The empirical results are not limited to investigations run by the two authors in their respective homeland (Germany, Belgium). Results from the Baltics, China, Indonesia, Israel, Spain, the US and several other countries are also discussed.

The book “ Empirical social choice ” is the result of the joint efforts by  Dr. Wulf Gaertner (German University) and Prof. Erik Schokkaert (Belgium University).

Our Guest author, Dr. Wulf Gaertner, a professor of economics at the University of Osnabrueck, Germany, is a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics and a guest lecturer at Humboldt University, Berlin. In the past, he was a Fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin, and a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. From 1984 – 2011, he served as one of the managing editors of the journal “Social Choice and Welfare“. For the period 2006 – 08, he was awarded a Lachmann Research Fellowship at the LSE. His research interests are in individual and collective decisions where he has written several monographs and a couple of textbook on social choice theory, namely “Domain Conditions” and “A Primer in Social Choice Theory“. His articles have been published in various international journals.

Winners of Nobel Prize in Literature: From 21st Century

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

The Nobel Prize in Literature is conferred annually by the Swedish Academy to authors who has made an outstanding contributions in the field of literature. One of the five Nobel Prizes established by the 1895 will of Alfred Nobel, this award is presented every year in Stockholm at a formal ceremony on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death. The very first Nobel Prize in Literature was bestowed to Sully Prudhomme of France in 1901.

As of 2012, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to 109 individuals with two eccentric situation in its history –in 1958, Russian-born Boris Pasternak was forced to decline his award under pressure from the government of the Soviet Union, and in 1964, Jean-Paul Sartre turned down to accept the prize, saying that he always declined official honors and that “a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution”. With twelve women winners, the history of the Nobel Prize in Literature has witnessed four instances in which the award was conferred to two individuals, that is, on 1904, 1917, 1966, 1974, and there have been seven years (1914, 1918, 1935, 1940–1943) in which the Nobel Prize in Literature was not bestowed at all.

With the support of our editorial team, we have created a chronological list of all the 21st century Nobel Laureates in Literature –winners from the years 2001 – 2012, that includes a brief info on why they are awarded and what were their contributions. Take a look:

2001

V. S. NAIPAUL - He is a Trinidadian-British writer of Indo-Trinidadian heritage of Kanyakubja Brahmin known for his novels focusing on the legacy of the British Empire’s colonialism. Mr. Naipaul won the Nobel Prize in Literature “for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories”. He also won Man Booker Prize for his novel In a Free State. His other popular works include many fiction and non-fiction such as The Mimic Men, Guerrillas, A Bend in the River, Half a Life, India: A Wounded Civilization, etc.

2002

IMRE KERTÉSZ - He is a Hungarian author of Jewish descent, Holocaust concentration camp survivor, who received Nobel Prize in Literature, “for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history”. His popular works are Fatelessness, Liquidation, Detective Story, The Pathseeker, The Union Jack, and Fiasco.

2003

JOHN MAXWELL COETZEE - An Australian of South African origin, he is a novelist, essayist, linguist, and translator, who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider, and for which he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Also. he was the first author to be awarded the Man Booker Prize twice: first for Life & Times of Michael K in 1983, and again for Disgrace in 1999.  His works include:

2004

ELFRIEDE JELINEK - She is an Austrian playwright and novelist, who awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for her “musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that, with extraordinary linguistic zeal, reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power”. Jelinek’s novels in English are The Piano Teacher, Lust, Wonderful Wonderful Times, Women as Lovers, and Greed.

2005

HAROLD PINTER - He was an English playwright, screenwriter, director and actor, who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms, and that led him to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. One of the most influential modern British dramatists, his writing career spanned more than 50 years with popular plays like The Birthday Party, The Homecoming, and Betrayal, each of which he adapted to film. His other popular screenplays are The Servant, The Go-Between, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Trial, and Sleuth (2007).

2006

ORHAN PAMUK - The first Turkish writer to have won the Noble Prize, he in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures through his award-winning books like My Name Is Red, Istanbul, The New Life, Snow, etc.

2007

DORIS LESSING - She is a British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer. Her novels include The Grass Is Singing, The Golden Notebook, The Good Terrorist, Martha Quest, The Four-Gated City, A Proper Marriage, Landlocked, etc. While conferring the Nobel Prize in Literature to her, the Swedish Academy described her as “that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”.

2008

JEAN-MARIE GUSTAVE LE CLÉZIO - Popularly known as J. M. G. Le Clézio, he is a French-Mauritian writer and professor who was bestowed the Nobel Prize in Literature as an “author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization”. He has written many award-winning books in French that are translated in English as: The Interrogation, The Flood, Terra Amata, War, Desert, The Prospector, Wandering Star, and Onitsha.

2009

HERTA MÜLLER - The Swedish Academy conferred the Nobel Prize in Literature to this Romanian-born German novelist, poet, and essayist by describing her as a woman “who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed”. Her much acclaimed novels include The Hunger Angel, Traveling on One Leg, The Land of Green Plums, The Passport, The Appointment, etc.

2010

MARIO VARGAS LLOSA - A Peruvian-Spanish writer, politician, journalist, and essayist, Vargas Llosa rose to fame in the 1960s with novels such as The Time of the Hero, The Green House, and Conversation in the Cathedral. Upon announcing the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Swedish Academy said it had been given to Vargas Llosa “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat”.

2011

TOMAS TRANSTRÖMER - As per the Swedish Academy, the Nobel Prize in Literature was bestowed to him “because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality”.  This Swedish poet, psychologist and translator has offered us some great work of poems that are as fresh as life, such as The Half-Finished Heaven and The Great Enigma.

2012

MO YAN - Best known to Western readers for his 1987 novel Red Sorghum that later adapted into a film of the same name, this Chinese novelist has been referred by Donald Morrison of U.S. news magazine TIME as “one of the most famous, oft-banned and widely pirated of all Chinese writers”.  Mo is the most recent winner the Nobel Prize in Literature, who won for his work as a writer “who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary”.

Q&A: Marie Lu on Legend

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Marie Lu was an art director at Online Alchemy, a video game company, before she turned on to write full-time. She always has a special interest in dystopian world that can be measured in her debut novel “LEGEND“, a full-fledged YA dystopian work. She was first inspired to write Legend while watching Les Miserables one afternoon, and wondered how the relationship between a famous criminal vs. a prodigious detective might translate into a more modern story. Her upcoming novel “PRODIGY” is the sequel of “LEGEND” and is going to release in January 2013.

Since it would be enthralling for the readers of dystopian genre to hear from the writer of the NY Times bestseller LEGEND, we recently had managed to catch up with Marie Lu through e-mail. She talked candidly on her debut and upcoming works. Check out the whole stuff:

How would you review LEGEND for those unfamiliar with your work?

Legend takes place in a dark, futuristic America. It tells the story of a fifteen year old boy who is America’s most wanted criminal, and a fifteen year old girl who is hired by the government to hunt him down. Think Blade Runner meets Catch Me If You Can.

How did you come up with this book?

I was first inspired to write Legend when I was watching the movie version of ‘Les Miserables’ on TV one afternoon. I thought, “Hey, it’d be really fun to write a teenage version of this story—a teenage criminal versus a teenage detective.” The story spun off from there.

What is legend in the book? Or how the title LEGEND describes the book?

The title refers to both Day and June, who are legendary in their own right in their world. They are young people who have the potential to permanently reshape their society.

How did you create the character of ‘Day’? Is he related to you personally in some ways?

Day is actually a character who has been in my head since I was in high school. I set out to create a Robin Hood type of character, and Day just walked into my head with his arrogant smile. It was sort of organic. He originally starred in an old fantasy manuscript of mine, but I could never find quite the right story for him. He doesn’t have much in common with me, although I see traces of his personality in my boyfriend!

Our readers would love to know about the LEGEND’s upcoming sequel PRODIGY.

Prodigy is set about a week after the events in Legend. Day and June are forced to strike a deal with the Patriot rebels: in exchange for the Patriots’ help, they must help assassinate the new Elector of the Republic. Readers will get to venture outside of Los Angeles and explore other areas of the Republic, and they might get a peek at the Colonies as well. There’s also more romance in this one, I’d say.

You must have had some interesting experiences whilst compiling as well as conducting research for this epic. Could you share those with the readers?

Much of my research came from real-life dystopias that have existed in our world and still exist today. I drew a lot of inspiration from research I did on North Korea, the eugenics movement that happened in the United States in the early 20th century, and China’s Cultural Revolution. I actually lived in Beijing during the Tiananmen Square Massacre (I was five at the time) and remember seeing the tanks out in the streets. That memory went directly into a scene in Legend.

If your readers were allowed to borrow anyone idea from LEGEND, what do you think could that be?

I hope readers take away Day’s motto from the book: that every day is a new twenty-four hours, and that everything is possible again. Day believes in ‘walking in the light’, which to him means to always seek out the truth even in a world full of lies, and to always do the right thing even if surrounded by darkness.

Apart from a writer, what’s the most dominating character in you?

An artist or a gamer! I love to draw, and I love to play video games.

Who is/are your major inspiration as a writer?

I’m constantly inspired by other writers, as well as by all forms of creative media, be it movies, music, art, games, etc. Everything around me inspires me.

Do you read in your spare time? What’s your favorite genre to read? 

Yes, I try to read as much as I can in my spare time. I’ve loved fantasy and science fiction since I was a kid, and those two genres are still my favorites.

Do you have any message for your readers?

The same message that Day has: Walk in the light!

Now, we would like to thank Ms. Lu for taking up our interview, and wish her all the best for  upcoming projects.

Books About Differently Abled Children: Celebrating International Day of People with Disability

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Author: Sherry Helms

Today is December 3, the International Day of People with Disability. Promoted by the United Nations since 1992, this international day has been celebrated with varying degrees of success around the globe. The day is observed with an intent to promote an understanding of disability issues, and to mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. This day was originally called as “International Day of Disabled Persons”.

Each year the day comes with a different theme in order to look into the issue from every aspects of life — political, social, economic and cultural. This year (2012) the UN has decided to commemorate the IDPwD with the theme: Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”.  The celebration of this year provides us with an opportunity to address the exclusion of persons with disabilities by focusing on promoting accessibility, as well as removing all types of barriers in society.

Availing this opportunity, we are offering today a list of 5 selected Books about Differently Abled Children that sheds light on the extraordinary capabilities as well as the special needs of children with disabilities, letting us understand that they are rather able to do things differently, and that they need all embrace and encouragement, instead of exclusion from things we consider normal. Here goes the list:

A Different Kind of Boy: A Father’s Memoir on Raising a Gifted Child With Autism by Daniel Mont – A little nine-year old boy looks down at the gymnasium floor. The room is filled with children who like and respect him, but he has no real friends. He can barely name anyone in his class, and has trouble with the simplest things – recognizing people, pretending, and knowing when people are happy or angry or sad. Much of his life has been filled with anxiety. And yet he was only one of seven fourth graders in the United States to ace the National Math Olympiad. In fifth grade he finished second in a national math talent search. That boy is autistic. In this book, his father writes about the joys, fears, frustration, exhilaration, and exhaustion involved in raising his son. He writes about his son’s struggle to learn about life, and to understand what it means to connect with other people. And, oh, yes, math. Lots about math.

Letters to Sam: A Grandfather’s Lessons on Love, Loss, and the Gifts of Life by Daniel Gottlieb – Written in the tradition of bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie, this book is a powerful collection of love letters from a quadriplegic grandfather to his autistic grandson.

Daniel Gottlieb was a quadriplegic –the result of a near-fatal automobile accident that occurred two decades ago– and he knows enough not to take anything for granted. Then, his grandson Sam, when only 14 months old, was diagnosed with Pervasive Develop-mental Disability, a form of autism, and suddenly everything changed. Now the grandfather and grandson were bound by something more: a disability, and Daniel’s special understanding of what that means became invaluable. Daniel then began writing a series of heartfelt letters that he hoped Sam would read later in life. This lovingly written, emotionally gripping book offers unique and universal insights into what it means to be human.

There’s a Boy in Here by Judy Barron and Sean Barron – This is a view from inside the mind of autism—a dual autobiography written in point-counterpoint style by Judy Barron and her son, Sean Barron. Together, they chronicle Sean’s young life and the effects of autism on him and his family. As a youngster, Sean was confrontational, uncontrollable, “isolated and desperately unhappy.” Baffled about how to interact with others, he felt “like an alien from outer space.” Then, at seventeen, Sean experienced a breakthrough that began his release from autism. Today he’s a public speaker, college student, and reporter, and close to his family. Everyone must read this book.

A Smile as Big as the Moon: A Special Education Teacher, His Class, and Their Inspiring Journey Through U.S. Space CampMike Kersjes always believed that his students could do anything—even attend the prestigious Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, where some of America’s best and brightest high school students compete in a variety of activities similar to those experienced by NASA astronauts training for space shuttle missions. The challenge was convincing everyone else that the kids in his special education class, with disabilities including Tourette’s syndrome, Down’s syndrome, dyslexia, eating disorders, and a variety of emotional problems, would benefit from the experience and succeed. In this groundbreaking book, Kersjes explains how, with remarkable persistence, he broke down one barrier after another, from his own principal’s office to the inner sanctum of NASA, until Space Camp finally opened its doors. After nine months of rigorous preparation, Kersjes’s class arrived at Space Camp, where they turned in a performance beyond everyone’s expectations.

The Elephant in the Playroom: Ordinary Parents Write Intimately and Honestly About Raising Kids with Special Needs – Four years ago, Denise Brodey’s young son was diagnosed with a combination of special needs. As she struggled to make sense of her new, chaotic world, what she found comforted her most was talking with other parents of kids with special needs, learning how they coped with the emotional, medical, and social challenges they faced.

In this book, Brodey introduces us to a community of intrepid moms and dads who eloquently share the extraordinary highs and heartbreaking lows of parenting a child with ADD/ADHD, sensory disorders, childhood depression, autism, and physical and learning disabilities, as well as kids who fall between diagnoses.

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