Category Archives: New York Times

Resolution – Read More

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nonickphoto

Frank Bruni wrote a thoughtful resolution article in the New York Times titled For 2014, Tweet Less, Read More.  I’m not wasting my time tweeting (I waste it in other ways!) but I do want to read some missed classics (Anna Karenina), study countries through literature (France), and refresh my art history knowledge with well chosen books (I’m a fan of DK books and want to read Art That Changed the World).

Bruni writes about the fevered pitch of public discourse and the lack of online etiquette.  How does this relate to reading?  Well, Bruni suggests that more reading encourages an understanding of broader viewpoints.  It allows for deliberation and “forces a pause.”  How welcome that would be to our current aggressive and ineffective political shouting matches!

I can’t fix the rude rants in public forums.  But I can read to my increase my knowledge – both for perspective and to grasp the facts accurately.  As we’ve all heard before, the best conversationalists truly listen.  So I’m going to “listen” to a broader range of books this year.  What’s on your bedside table?

Judging a Book by its Title

Anat Tikker

“Title-mania afflicts the greatest as well as the humblest.”

How strongly does a book title impact your decision to read it?   I’d bet they’re as important as catchy wine labels – and that books and bottles are bought for those reasons alone.   In author Andy Martin’s commentary in The New York Times, Is This Title OK?, he explores the difficulties of finding the right title.  An author may agonize over a title only to have the publisher reject their favorite.   Looking at current bestselling fiction, you see titles ranging from descriptive (The Boy in the Suitcase) to obscure (Beautiful Disaster).  Some titles truly give you the flavor and subject of the story while others try too hard to be arbitrary and stylish.

I recently read Alexander Fuller’s Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness and thought that was a great title (and book).   Another book I read attracted me with its funny title – I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids.  Do you have a favorite book title?

 

Crazy Busy!

graur razvan ionut

“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. ”

 

This appealed to me from The ‘Busy” Trap in the New York Times because… well, I have been so busy!  But wait, I don’t mean that as “a boast disguised as a complaint” as author Tim Kreider suggests.   It has been reality (work, kids, blah, blah!).   Actually I aspire to the “idleness” Kreider describes that is his life.   He says it is possible by choosing time over money.

How smart.  Perhaps, if idleness became the new status symbol (“sure I’d love to get together!”), then we’d all be a lot happier.

The Just-Right Desk

“The ideal recession desk would be one that makes you feel successful and abundant when you sit at it, without costing so much that you feel foolish for having spent the money.”

That’s the well-spoken advice of Reiko Gomez, a feng shuioriented interior designer who has refocused her practice on recession-proofing the home, in a New York Times article titled In Search of the Just-Right Desk. The article points out that the American desk is more important than ever – needing to function as a command center for job searches, freelance work and plain old surfing.

I think your space expresses your approach to work. It sets the mood for creativity. Mine includes red coral, red file folders, a giant diamond-shaped paper weight – hopefully all sparking my energy to finish two books this year!

Inaugural Words

The New York Times found an interesting way to look at the language of inaugural addresses through history. In Inaugural Words: 1789 to Present, you can click on a president and see which words he chose to use the most – the frequency of the words matches their importance at the time. Click through the years to see that George Washington spoke often of government, John F. Kennedy repeated pledge and ask, and Bill Clinton chose to use America and promise a lot. What stands out to me in President Obama’s speech yesterday are the words work, crisis and hard. The happy dancing of last night is over and the president begins the immense job of putting those words into action today. Obama also repeated endure more than most presidents – and I think he can.

Last of Summer Reads

There’s still a few more days of summer to grab and book and settle in your beach chair for an afternoon read. However, in the New York Times Newly Released, it lists books released this month that are far from breezy.

“Everybody suffers, but Americans have the peculiar delusion that they’re exempt from suffering.”

This is Peter Trachtenberg’s introduction to The Book of Calamities: Five Questions about Suffering and Its Meaning. If this sounds a bit too heavy for a summer read, the Times recommends the more hopeful expatriate fiction This Must Be the Place by Anna Winger. Do the weight of the subjects you read follow the thermometer and vacations?

Same Old Politics

“McCain would venture forth on the back of his bus, going places other Republicans don’t go, saying things politicians don’t say, offering the country the vision of a different kind of politics — free of circus antics — in which serious people sacrifice for serious things. It hasn’t turned out that way.”

Political speak is fascinating. Today messages are inspected and dissected so intensely that a candidate speaks off-the-cuff at their peril. Here New York Times Columnist David Brooks is discussing how John McCain is now sticking with the daily party line message points and running a traditional presidential campaign. McCain’s attempt at doing things his own maverick way didn’t work. Where is the change many of us had hoped for? Perhaps once one of our candidates is in the White House, they can buck the system just a little bit.

A Book Lover at 101

“A lifelong lover of books, Ms. Goodyear lost her sight about four years ago, but in its place has acquired a roster of readers who stop by regularly, bringing with them dogs, gifts from their international travels and offerings of dark chocolate, the elixir she has savored daily since she was 3.”

Elizabeth Goodyear just celebrated her 101st birthday. She is a lover of books and has friends who visit her regularly to read to her, including books by her favorite novelist Rumor Godden. A popular New York Times article titled In Strangers, Centenarian Finds Literary Lifeline profiles this lady who exclaims she didn’t think much would be happening at her age but is happy to have daily visitors. Goodyear’s one-bedroom apartment sounds like a lively place; as she says “usually there’s something going on here.”

McCain’s Money ‘Wisdom’

“Beltway wisdom has it that the addition of such a corporate star will remedy Mr. McCain’s fiscal flatulence.”

It’s not really funny that a political candidate knows so little about the economy — but I did have to laugh at this “turn of phrase” in Frank Rich’s column in The New York Times titled “It’s the Economic Stupidity, Stupid.” Rich goes on to write that John McCain vows to read Greenspan’s book as a tutorial and is thinking he’ll learn to get online one of these days. Oh dear. The “right” vice president won’t fix what’s wrong with McCain. Along with his lack of fiscal know-how, I can’t imagine him ever uttering a stunning sentence.

Gore’s Energy Message

“We should tax what we burn, not what we earn.”

Al Gore is calling for Americans to end our reliance on fossil fuels and embrace greener sources of energy. His plan would include taxes on carbon dioxide production which he refers to in this sentence. Gore spoke at an energy conference today saying our future is at stake.

Gore is using his unique position for the greater good. By being so knowledgeable about energy and by speaking out, I’m sure he’ll have more influence on our country than he would have as president. Being independent has the advantage of saying the words he needs to say without worrying about the political impact. Let’s listen.