Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Decatur Book Festival

If you're going to be in Atlanta for Labor Day Weekend and you're not planning to come to the Decatur Book Festival, change your plans. It's going to be the place to be Saturday and Sunday. From 10-6 on Saturday and noon to 6 on Sunday, you can attend performances, cooking demonstrations, poetry readings, author talks and book signings. Plus, there will be a street fair and that's where I'll be most of the time. I'll be sitting with Write Choice Services. Mainly we'll be there because we love writing and love writers, and one of the things we do best is help writers write (and a host of other things). If you're there stop by and see me.

I'm also planning to see a couple of my favorite authors speak. In addition, I'm really excited to attend the book launch party for The Whole Fiasco, the book produced through the writing program at KIPP Strive Academy and The Wren's Nest that I've been lucky to be a part of for the past two years. I can only speak for the fabulousness of my own student's story, but if that's any indication, the entire book should be a very impressive story collection, especially considering the age group of the authors (fifth and sixth graders).

Overall, the Decatur Book Festival is sure to be a good time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gone With the Wind Turns 75

A few days ago, at long last, I finished reading Gone With the Wind, nearly 20 years after reading it for the first time (and if I remember correctly, I had not yet seen the movie at that point). I bought a new copy for the occasion, the 75th Anniversary Edition, which includes a preface written by Pat Conroy. Much of Conroy's take on this novel was also included in My Reading Life, which I recently read and blogged about.

What I didn't remember from reading it during the summer between the eighth and ninth grades was how detailed Mitchell is in her descriptions of Civil War battles and an Atlanta in her infancy. Most particularly, we get a much clearer picture of Scarlett's inner dialogue than in the movie, so I feel like I now know her better.

I visited the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown Atlanta again during my reading of this book. I've been before but not since it was renovated, and I'd recommend a visit by anyone who has read this book or enjoyed the movie (or, hopefully, both).

I felt properly prepared to embark on this reading journey thanks to Pat Conroy's assessment of the novel in the preface, a novel, he says, "shaped the South I grew up in more than any other book" and which "still glows and quivers with life."

It's been a couple of years since I watched the movie (probably this viewing), so this seems like a good time to watch it again.  

Atlanta area book club meeting with Better World Books

This Thursday, August 25, Better World Books is hosting its first-ever book club meeting for The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz. The event is to be held at Park Tavern in Piedmont Park from 6-8:30 pm. I'm going, and if you've read this book, you should too!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Book Review: The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments From Lives on the Road

Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Published on: May 26, 2011
Page count: 304
Genre: Nonfiction
My reading format: Advanced reading copy in Adobe Digital Editions from NetGalley
Available formats: Hardcover

The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road

Paul Theroux, a travel writer for more than four decades, recently published this book, a compilation of his own thoughts on how travel is best accomplished and the writings of other travel writers. Each chapter covers a theme of traveling such as using trains, traveling alone, items a traveler must have and strange foods travelers have encountered around the world. Those writers quoted in the book include many I've heard of and many I haven't. And truthfully, I hadn't yet come across Theroux in my reading, so I like that by reading this I was exposed to people I'd never heard of before. A couple of them will make it on my "to read" list. 
I love to travel and I love to read, so when I love when I can combine the two either by reading while I'm traveling or reading about traveling while I'm at home waiting for my next trip. That's why this book caught my eye. 
I am surprised fairly often with what I read. A book turns out to be not quite what I expected, and many times that works out in my favor. I learn something I wouldn't have known otherwise, or enjoy the book than I thought I might. Sadly, that's not the case with The Tao of Travel. I wanted to know about Theroux's travels. That's why I picked up the book. I wasn't so much interested in hundreds of pages of quotes from other writers, which is what I got. The variety of experiences included in this book are vast, but reading quote after quote after quote was nearly enough to make me abandon this book before I'd even finished the first chapter. I pressed ahead because I thought surely the rest of the book wouldn't be the same way. Well, it was. There are 27 chapters in the book and finally, finally, finally in Chapter 26 I got to what I'd been hoping for all along. Theroux had five short episodes of interesting events/people/places he'd encountered over the years during his travels. Each of the five gave him cause to reflect and it changed his perspective on that trip as a whole. It was great stuff. Then, in the final chapter, he gives readers a list of 10 pieces of advice on traveling. I also liked that very much. Unfortunately, the two chapters at the end, though I liked them, weren't enough to make me like the whole book. 
However, I am curious enough about Theroux now to read some of this other books where he relates only his own experiences. And, I like writers who are willing to share advice with other aspiring writers, like he did in the last chapter. On that note, I found a YouTube video of the author that I really like where he does just that. So while I don't necessary recommend The Tao of Travel, I am interested to read more of what this writer has written. Are you familiar with him? What are his other books like?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Take on E-Readers

I get asked on a fairly regular basis if I have an e-reader and how I feel about them. I don't have one, and as of right now I don't have any plans to get one. I remember thinking last year on the plane to London how nice an e-reader would be for a trip like that when space is limited but a lot of reading can get done. I also would like to be able to easily borrow books from libraries with an e-reader whether I end up with a Kindle, a Sony, an iPad, a Nook or anything else. I'm sure a software person could tell me why if I really wanted to know, but I still just think these things should all just be universal. I hope one day that will be possible.

I've heard some proponents of e-readers talk of the products' environmental friendliness. Recently, in a weekly email newsletter from Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, the store's owner said, "But--if I heard one more time, 'Well, e-books are more environmentally sound than paper books because they save trees,' I'll....I'll....well, I won't scream, because you can't hear me. So I'll quote an article about this instead." And she linked to this article.

Besides, how cute are my library shelves at home going to look if they no longer have books on them? I like the feel and smell a book provides much more than I'd like to have the convenience of multiple books on one electronic device. If I get one, I'll let you know, but in the meantime and probably even after I'm the owner of an e-reader, I'll still prefer to do my reading from physical books.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Ultimate Web Marketing Guide

I really didn't intend to be absent from my blog for nearly a month. I've been doing a lot of reading but I haven't been talking about it because the books have been long ones. I'm reading Gone With the Wind and am about three-quarters of the way through. The other long one that I've just finished is The Ultimate Web Marketing Guide by Michael Miller. It's over 600 pages and I've been reading a chapter or two a day when time allowed for the past several weeks.

The Ultimate Web Marketing Guide

Fifteen years in high school ago I was a media assistant and the library was the only place on campus students could access the Internet. I remember checking out a few websites and wondering what good it would ever do me. I just had my 10 year college reunion earlier this summer. Nearly everything that's in this book didn't exist when I was taking classes in professional communications to prepare for life after college. As I was doing research online for papers for the first time there wasn't yet a standard way to cite those resources. So things have changed a lot and this will continue. I imagine that everything I've just read about in the Guide may be obselete in just a few years.

The book was recommended to me by a graphic designer colleague several months ago. Reading it all the way through has been immensely helpful for me in thinking about how clients could utilize these tools to leverage their online presence. Some of the tools are things I deal with often (effective websites, search engine optimization, email marketing, blogging, Facebook and Twitter) and some are things I don't do directly but need to know about (podcasts, mobile applications, mobile websites, pay-per-click and display advertising, and others).

To me learning new things for business and personal growth is part of life. All the time it took me to read this book was well worth it. If you're in the business or in charge of marketing where you work but not sure where to start, get this book.