Friday, May 16, 2008

The Art of

100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library
Originally posted on May 14, 2008
Written by: Jason Lankow, Ross Crooks, Joshua Ritchie, and Brett McKay

There are the books you read, and then there are the books that change your life. We can all look back on the books that have shaped our perspective on politics, religion, money, and love. Some will even become a source of inspiration for the rest of your life. From a seemingly infinite list of books of anecdotal or literal merit, we have narrowed down the top 100 books that have shaped the lives of individual men while also helping define broader cultural ideas of what it means to be a man.

Whether it be a book on adventure, war, or manners, there is so much to learn about life’s great questions from these gems. Let us know in the comments which of these you loved, hated, and the books that meant a lot to you and should have made the list (you can even get really indignant about your favorite book). And without further ado, this is our list.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Set on the East Coast in the roaring 20’s, this American novel is a classic. From it we learn that often the wanting of something is better than actually having it. It is relevant to every man’s life. Furthermore, one true friend is worth infinitely more than a multitude of acquaintances.

"He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles… It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor."

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Considered by most to be the authoritative text on statesmanship and power (how to obtain it as well as an illustration of its trappings), although certainly a shrewd one.

"From this arises an argument: whether it is better to be loved than feared. I reply that one should like to be both one and the other; but since it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking."

Essentially, Machiavelli advocates letting your people have their property and women, but making sure that they know what you are capable of doing if they step out of line.

To continue, click here.

When Life Imitates Art...

Chester Himes' A Rage In Harlem begins with the lead character, Jackson, getting duped by a couple of scam artists. The grifters promise Jackson that they can double dectuple the value of his cash by wrapping it in 'specially treated chemical paper,' and then heating it up in the stove. When the novel was originally published in 1957, this scam -- and variations of it -- were already the stuff of urban legend. Maybe if more folks read Himes' crime fiction, scams like the following wouldn't still be happening today.

Man Loses Money Trying to Double It by Marinading
BEIJING, May 12 (Xinhuanet) -- A Vietnamese man in Norway who believed that mixing cash with a special liquid could double its value suffered in fact a loss of 35,000 U.S. dollars, according to media reports Monday. This unidentified man was told by a 32-year-old Frenchman that if he mixed the real cash with blank bills and then marinate them in a special liquid for one night, he would have double the amount of the cash. The gullible Vietnamese believed the Frenchman's story and gave him 180,000 kroner (35, 000 U.S. dollars). But when he prepared to collect his money the next morning, both the cash and the Frenchman disappeared. "He has given a statement that leads us to believe that he really believed this was possible. But we are of course having a hard time understanding how someone could actually believe such a tall tale," police officer Ragnar Ingberg said. Early on March, the Frenchman was arrested while trying to leave Norway. He is set to stand trial in a lower court near Oslo next week. But his lawyer claimed that his client is extremely surprised to be charged with something that was so incredible.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Book News, In Brief

Happy 100th birthday, Wind in the Willows. The Orlando Sentinel has a hyperbolic tribute to you.

Great news for geeks (like me), acid fiends (er...guilty) and hippie dippie starchildren (no, not at all). Not only will HarperCollins be releasing Arthur C Clarke's final book, The Last Theorum, later this year, they also plan to re-launch their entire line of Clarke books.
Correction, Via Michael:
Harper Collins UK is doing the final Clarke book over there, but Random House/Del Rey is doing the book in the US.

Everybody loves a list -- even the members of America's corporate cabal! Here's a link to The Top 25 Books Corporate America Is Reading, and a second link to a press release offering shout-outs to Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, the only women's business book to make the list.

Comics creator Elizabeth Genco (Blue) asked a number of the leading indie comic book shop owners for tips on how to get a self-published work put into their stores. The answers that she was given (Avoid: Bad design both from a visual standpoint and a financial one: an unreadable spine, an unattractive cover or a cover that doesn’t reflect the interiors in some way, a title or price that’s impossible to find. You need to have: An ISBN on there.) can applied to all self-published endeavors. (A tip of the hat to The Beat for the initial heads-up.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Free Online Manga: Nana

Review stolen from Comics Worth Reading:

Nana is a little slow-starting, but the result is more than worth the time invested. A few volumes in, it becomes incredibly addictive. Like many manga series these days, the first volume is prologue, leading into a simple premise. Two girls named Nana come to Tokyo to follow their dreams and in search of love; they wind up rooming together and learning from each other.

Book one is made up of two stories, each one introducing a different Nana. The first, Naive Nana, is largely average, with no distinguishing characteristics except for her boycraziness. She falls in love instantly with highly inappropriate choices. As the book opens, she’s being dumped by the married man she’s been sleeping with.

More disturbingly, she has no drive and no purpose in life besides being in love. Nana constantly refers to her bad-luck name and the poor omen of the number 7 and the “demon lord” who’s cursed her for no known reason. Her friends think she’s joking around, but she says it in one of those “ha ha only serious” ways. She’s looking for anything to seize upon to make herself not responsible for her own life.

Best friend Jun wants to go to Tokyo to art school, and since Nana thinks she can meet boys there, she tags along. Soon she meets Shoji, and after confusion over whether she’s capable of having a male friend (no) and some drunken evenings, she’s involved with Shoji and trying to find her way to Tokyo to follow her friends.

Nana’s casual acceptance of relationships based on nothing but physicality is disturbing, especially her affair with the married man. That pairing was based around nothing but sex, and Nana’s inability to comprehend how she was being used makes it hard for me to identify with or even understand her. In short, she’s an idiot (or, as a friend of mine calls her, the “wishy washy wimpy one”). But that’s just where she starts.

Thankfully, the author gives her enough luck to survive, and as I read more about her, her touching faith in the future is beginning to grow to me. When she gets to Tokyo in book two, she stumbles into a great job and coincidentally encounters the second Nana.

That Nana, a singer and punk rocker, is the kind of strong personality the first Nana needs to learn from. When musician Nana’s boyfriend gets picked up by a Tokyo band on the rise, she refuses to follow him until she can do it on her own terms. She’s determined to take care of herself, even if it requires sacrifices. The two Nanas first encounter each other on the train to the big city, where Naive Nana spills her guts to the more reticent Punk Nana. Although the same age, the two seem like they’re from completely different generations in their temperament and attitudes.

Like Ai Yazawa’s previous manga series Paradise Kiss, an underlying theme here is that the family you build and choose is better than the one you happen to be born into. Naive Nana is a mostly ignored middle child, and Punk Nana was an orphan raised by a harsh grandmother. The two of them have made small groups of close friends with shared interests to support them instead.

To begin reading, click here.

Book News, In Brief

Parents' groups always seem to hand awards to the crappiest books. Oh, look. Here's another. Via Marketwire: iParenting Media Awards announced My Bag and Me as a winner in the book category. My Bag and Me is a thoughtful book educating children on the topic of going green and ways to reduce waste on the earth. Grocery shopping bags are not only wasteful but unnecessary, especially when a special reusable bag is available. My Bag and Me comes with its very own reusable shopping bag for children to use when shopping with mom and dad.
Seriously, if any of my abusive foster parents had ever handed me a book called My Bag And Me, I would've called Social Services on them.

At long last, a real crackhead's memoir. From The Huffington Post: We just got our hands on an early, early copy of New York Times columnist David Carr's memoir, The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life. His Own. It documents Carr's adult life of addiction and recovery as well as his career and family trajectory. Because of the recent strain on the genre by hoaxers like JT LeRoy, Margaret Seltzer, and James Frey, Carr actually went to the trouble of video-interviewing other participants in the events that he remembered, just to be as accurate as possible.

Nerds: Looking for a great way to stir up stagnant pheromones? Try Campus Quidditch! Via Ashland Daily Tidings: "Run, snitch, run!" With a shout, Jessica Snee sets an afternoon game of "quidditch" into motion. The once-fictional sport, featured in author J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels, made its debut on the Southern Oregon University campus Sunday. In the Harry Potter universe, the "snitch" is a winged golden ball, the capture of which ends the quidditch match. Here on SOU's Cox Lawn, the snitch is freshman William Barondeau. The "seekers" on both teams aim to snatch a tennis ball in a sock from the back of Barondeau's cargo pants. "It's weird being a ball," Barondeau said after the game.
(Question: How long do you think it will take before Rowling's lawyers come sniffing around?)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Book News, In Brief

Girls and gays love Wicked. That's why I'm dedicating this Gregory Maguire-related link to my lesbian sister.

There's only one thing worse than a public poetry reading. An amateur public poetry reading. Poet Laureate Charles Simic offers advice on reading one's sonnets aloud.

Johnny Ryan makes comics like the ones you used to read as kid. Well, the ones you used to have to hide from your parents for fear of a switchin' with the Jesus stick. Vice Magazine interviews the dirty bastard, and includes plenty of examples of his work.

The Independent asks, why are so many political memoirs published, and does anyone read them? (How meta would it be of me to ask: Why do newspapers ask questions about the publishing of political memoirs, and why do bookstore blogs link to them?)

Eerily similar -- and similarly English -- The Guardian UK asks: They are petty, shabby and shallow, and tell us nothing about the real workings of government. No wonder the latest crop of backbiting political memoirs - from Cherie Blair, Lord Levy and John Prescott - make such compelling reading. But why write them, and why now?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Book News, In Brief

Gruffalo author bums out stoner fans with her harsh vibes. Via Entertianment Times Online: Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, the bestselling children's book about a mouse's adventures with a monster, has backed the reclassification of cannabis, blaming the drug for exacerbating the mental illness that drove her son to suicide. Whatever, dude. Dr. Seuss never talked sh*t about the green, and he was, like, a doctor.

Christian film company Walden Media announce larger tithes in '09. Via Walden Media, the film studio behind The Chronicles of Narnia franchise, is teaming with HarperCollins to create a children’s book imprint.Known as Walden Pond Press, the imprint will acquire and publish titles for children. Walden Media will then have the option to develop and produce some projects as feature films.

The trailer for the film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight has already been viewed more than two million times -- in just three days. Not only does this mean that Meyer will be taking her 'trilogy' well past book three, but you can expect a sequel or two from Hollywood, to boot. So far, the first three Twilight books have sold over 6 million copies in the U.S. alone.