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New in Paperback for July

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July is an exciting month in the world of paperbacks. These are the new releases I’m looking forward to seeing hit the bookstores in the next few days. Look for them as you wander around the front tables this weekend. The comments are open below, what paperback releases are you looking forward to?

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
by Cheryl Strayed

Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.

Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond.  Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.

Dear Sugar columns at The Rumpus
An interview with the Other People podcast
An interview with NPR’s Weekend Edition
An interview with TIME magazine

The Nervous System
by Nathan Larson

After a series of large-scale terrorist attacks, New York City is reduced to a shadow of its former self. As the city struggles to dig itself out of the wreckage, a nameless, obsessive-compulsive veteran with a spotty memory, a love for literature, and a strong if unique moral code has taken up residence at the Main Branch of the New York Public Library. Dubbed “Dewey Decimal” for his desire to reorganize the library’s stock, he gets by as bagman and muscle for unscrupulous politicians and underworld figures—as detailed in the first book in this series, The Dewey Decimal System.

In The Nervous System, Decimal, attempting to clean up loose ends after the violent events in the first book, stumbles upon information concerning the gruesome murder of a prostitute and a prominent US senator’s involvement. Immediately he finds himself chasing ghosts and fighting for his life, pursued by Blackwater-style private military contractors and the ever-present specter of his own past. Decimal confronts a twilight world of Korean hostess bars, childhood bogeymen, and the face of the military-industrial complex gone haywire—all framed by a city descending toward total chaos.

Nathan’s Book Notes piece for the soundtrack to The Dewey Decimal System

The Future Is Not Ours: New Latin American Fiction
by Diego Trelles Paz (Editor); Janet Hendrickson (Translator)

The Future Is Not Ours: New Latin American Fiction brings together twenty-three Latin American writers who were born between 1970 and 1980. The anthology offers an exciting overview of contemporary Spanish-language literature and introduces a generation of writers who came of age in the time of military dictatorships, witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, the birth of the Internet, the murders of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and the September 11th attacks in New York City.

The anthology features: Oliverio Coelho, Federico Falco, and Samanta Schweblin (Argentina); Giovanna Rivero (Bolivia); Santiago Nazarian (Brazil); Juan Gabriel Vásquez and Antonio Ungar (Colombia); Ena Lucía Portela (Cuba); Lina Meruane, Andrea Jeftanovic, and Alejandro Zambra (Chile); Ronald Flores (Guatemala); Tryno Maldonado and Antonio Ortuño (México); María del Carmen Pérez Cuadra (Nicaragua); Carlos Wynter Melo (Panama); Daniel Alarcón and Santiago Roncagliolo (Peru); Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro (Puerto Rico); Ariadna Vásquez (Dominican Republic); Ignacio Alcuri and Inés Bortagaray (Uruguay); and Slavko Zupcic (Venezuela).

by Enrique Vila-Matas; Anne McLean (Translator); Anna Milsom (Translator)

Dublinesque opens with a renowned and retired literary publisher’s dream: he finds himself in Dublin, a city he’s never visited, and the mood is full of passion and despair. Afterwards he’s obsessed with the dream, and brings three of the writers he published on a trip to the same cemetery where Paddy Dignam was buried in James Joyce’s Ulysses, where they hold a funeral for “The Gutenberg Age.” And then he notices that he’s being shadowed by a mysterious man who looks exactly like Samuel Beckett…

In this witty and poignant novel, perhaps his finest yet, Enrique Vila-Matas traces a journey that connects the worlds of Joyce and Beckett and all they symbolize: great literature and evidence of the difficulties faced by literary authors, publishers, and good readers, their struggle to survive in a society where literature is losing influence.

Read an interview with Vila-Matas on The Paris Review Daily
The Quarterly Conversation reviews Vila-Matas’s previews novels

Your Voice in My Head: A Memoir
by Emma Forrest

Emma Forrest’s memoir was called “a journey of healing” by Interview magazine and “a beautifully written eulogy for the doctor she credits with saving her life” by Los Angeles Magazine. The book received acclaim from reviewers across the country, the movie rights were snatched up quickly, and Emma herself enchanted audiences at readings in New York and Los Angeles. Brave, brilliantly written, and anchored in the reality of everyday life, Your Voice in My Head is destined to become a classic of the genre.

An excerpt at The Guardian
Emma’s essay in The New York Times
Emma’s essay in The Paris Review
Emma’s Book Notes piece for the soundtrack to Your Voice
Maud Newton reviews Your Voice in My Head at The Awl
An interview with Interview Magazine
An interview with Ron Hogan

The No Variations: Journal of an Unfinished Novel
by Luis Chitarroni; Rhett McNeil (Translator)

A cryptic, self-negating series of notes for an unfinished work of fiction, this astonishing book is made up of ideas for characters and plot points, anecdotes and tales, literary references both real and invented, and populated by an array of fictional authors and their respective literary cliques, all of whom sport multiple pseudonyms, publish their own literary journals, and produce their own ideas for books, characters, poems . . . A dizzying look at the ugly backrooms of literature, where aesthetic ambitions are forever under siege by petty squabbles, long-nurtured grudges, envied or undeserved prizes, bankrupt publishers, and self-important critics, The No Variations is a serious game, or perhaps a frivolous tragedy, with the author and his menagerie of invented peers fighting to keep their feelings of futility at bay. A literary cousin to David Markson and César Aira,The No Variations is one of the great “novels” of contemporary Latin American literature.

The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci’s Arithmetic Revolution
by Keith Devlin

Leonardo of Pisa—better known today as Fibonacci—was the first Westerner to recognize the power of the Hindu-Arabic number system (featuring the numerals 0 through 9), which offered a much simpler method of calculation than the finger reckoning and cumbersome Roman numerals used at the time. His book Liberabbaci (The book of Calculation) remade the West as the dominant force in science, technology, and large-scale international commerce. Leonardo of Pisa is best known today for discovering the Fibonacci sequence of numbers appearing in biological structures throughout nature, but despite the ubiquity of his discoveries, he has largely slipped from the pages of history. Keith Devlin, NPR’s “Math Guy,” re-creates the life and enduring legacy of this brilliant yet overlooked mathematician.

Listen to Keith on NPR’s Weekend Edition
Follow him on Twitter

On The Shelf: e-Readers, Borges, and The New Weird

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In his essay this week, The E-Reader of Sand: The Kindle and the Inner Conflict Between Consumer and Booklover, Staff writer for The Millions Mark O’Connell spoke for all of us book nerds when he reflected on his own collection:

Like many people who love to read, I exist in a paradoxical state of having both far too many books and far too few. I probably don’t have many more than the average literature lover of my age, but I live in a smallish apartment, and it often feels hazardously, almost maniacally overcrowded with books. A precarious obelisk of partially read paperbacks rises from my bedside table, coated in a thin film of dust. My shelves are all two rows deep, stuffed with a Tetris-like emphasis on space-optimization, and pretty much every horizontal surface holds some or other type of reading material. I haven’t read nearly all of these books (many of them I haven’t even made a serious attempt to get started on) but that doesn’t stop me from accumulating more at a rate that neither my income nor my living space can reasonably be expected to sustain.

He goes on to discuss the Kindle he received as a gift and the conflict he feels as he incorporates e-books into his life. I too got an e-Reader as a gift only, unlike Mark, I rarely, if ever use it. Sometimes I’ll download copyright free books, which means they don’t cost me anything but I can’t say I’ve ever gotten around to reading them. Instead I continue to fill my physical shelves, even as they overflow and threaten to make inviting anyone over to my place an incredibly embarrassing experience—unless of course the other person is a hoarder and in that case, they will feel right at home.

I’m not a Luddite. I love technology. I aspire to have robot-brain, something I loosely define as becoming part machine in order to maximize efficiency, but there’s something about reading on a screen that lacks appeal—at the moment.I would like to use this opportunity though, for all you ereading fanatics out there, current and potential, to point out that you can buy ebooks, given that you have a device other than the Kindle (in which you can only buy from Amazon—as far as I am aware), that you can buy ebooks from your local independent booksellers. Yes, it is true. Some of you probably already know this but for those who don’t, especially those who are thinking about buying an ereader, if your local book store has a deal with Google ebooks you can support your local bookseller even if you are going digital. Check out your local store’s website and see if they’ve signed up for the service. If not, buy from someone else’s local indie bookstore.

Do you have an eReader? How has it changed your reading habits? Where do you buy your ebooks?

On the shelf this week:

The Book of Sand and Shakespeare’s Memory by Jorge Luis Borges
O’Connell compares the e-Reader to the book in Borges story, The Book of Sand: a book that has no beginning and no end. I’ve been meaning to read Borges’ short surrealistic fiction for a while now and this one sounds like a good place to start.

The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci’s Arithmetic Revolution by Keith Devlin
I recently heard Keith on NPR’s Science Friday discussing The Man of Numbers and it’s sounds like exactly the kind of math book I would read. Fibonnaci, or Leonardo of Pisa, was born at the tale-end of the 1100s and is the man who brought us the numbers 0-9; in doing so he revolutionized the trading world of his day.

The New Weird edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
There’s a subgenre in science fiction called “New Weird,” a style of writing that evokes pulpy dime-store novels. Ann and Jeff are two of the most respected editors in the sci-fi fantasy world today and their collections reflect their talent for spotting quality stories. The New Weird brings you tales from Felix Gilman, China Mieville, Michael Morcock, Clive Barker, and others. Defintely a crowd-pleaser.

The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt
Continuing with my foray into steampunk, The Court of the Air is on my shelf. It received a thumbs up from science fiction author and reviewer Paul Di Filippo. It has all the basic elements: mystery, Victorian sensibilities, and clockwork gadgets—which is to say, I can’t wait.

What’s on your shelf?

Written by Gabrielle

August 18, 2011 at 6:01 am

books about math, science, and going crazy…

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i dont have much to write at the moment. im thinking a lot: consuming new information, reinforcing it, digesting it, applying it… but i havent been moved to put it on paper. there’s been nothing to say that hasnt already been said better by someone else.  but it’s starting to kick in: i’ve been improving my one-liners–because i feel more comfortable speaking in soundbites. but until i have anything original to say, here’s a book i read, a book i’m reading, and some others on my list…

Zero1. zero:the biography of a dangerous idea by charles seife. – this one was pretty cool. as the subtitle says, it’s a biography of zero. seife starts off before civilizations had zero–it just didnt exist in their minds–to quantum physics and blackholes, concepts we toy with today. the history of zero’s development is more interesting than you’d think. i was definitely determined to finish this one and lucky for me, it’s short:approximately 250pages.

The Infinite Book 

2. the infinite book:a short guide to the boundless, timeless, and endless by john d. barrow. – i’m reading this one now. after reading the biography of zero, i realize how perfect it is to read a book about infinity after learning about nothing. both are rebels{}both have flouted conventional wisdom{}and both have committed heresy. the infinite book is just as understandable–and entertaining–as zero. 


Memoirs of My Nervous Illness cover3. memoirs of my nervous illness by daniel paul schreber. – this is going to be my ‘fun’ book… i’m feeling the need to kick back and read something that that won’t require me to be well-rested. i was sold after reading the back of the book. it’s written by some german official–in1884–who was going crazy and decided to write a book while he was in an asylum. in the intro–written by the author–it says that his writings were intended for his wife, and friends, who he was going home to and who he thought should know what he had been through. only, he wasnt writing because he was cured from being crazy and merely reflecting. he was trying to explain his relationship to, and with, God. it’s completely serious and really well-written. freud, jung, and deleuze had each been obsessed with it.


4. number:the language of science by toby dantzig. – this is another biography of math. it sounds a bit broader than zero and infinity and i thought the cover was pretty cool.


5.  dialogue concerning the two chief world systems by galileo. – this is one of galileo’s major works–or so i’ve been told. in this one, he takes his theory for why the earth revolves around the sun and breaks it down into dialogue form with stories. it’s said to be more accessible for common readers–i can’t remember if that was intentional. i’m curious to see if he can explain the copernican and ptolemaic systems–two things i know absolutely nothing about but are the at the center of his proof–in a way that i would understand.Ideas And Opinions

  6. ideas and opinions by albert einstein. – since i’m not quite ready for einstein’s theory of relativity, i figured i’d start with some of his essays and letters. i’m a big fan of quotes so  i’m hoping to find some good ones.

Written by Gabrielle

May 15, 2010 at 10:15 pm

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bertrand russell is my math teacher

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Principles of Mathematics (Routledge Classics)i was a complete slacker in high school… i was distracted, bored, angsty, and whatever else kept me from caring about arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and calculus. it turns out, i never learned math. i can barely multiply and just the other day, i learned, or relearned something long forgotten, that when you multiply two negatives, you get a positive. i’m still trying to wrap my head around that one.

given all this it might seem odd that i am now reading Betrand Russell’s 500 page book, Principles of Mathematics. i blame Badiou, who i have spoken of before on this blog. basically, Badiou claims that all thinkers worthy of being called philosophers must know math. since reading – or attempting to read – Badiou, i have felt strangely inadequate when it comes to understanding the world around me – and an unusual disatisfaction with the usual political philosophy books that i’ve accumulated over the past year or two.

Betrand Russell claims, according to the back of his book, that math and logic are identical and what is commonly thought of as math is just a bunch of deductions from logical premises. i’m willing to entertain the idea but it’s becoming pretty clear pretty fast that it’s going to take a bit of effort on my part to decipher how Russell plans to prove this. it’s a whole lot of vocabulary i’ve never had to grapple with before and so what will follow is my attempt to decode the language of math and logic to see if Russell makes any sense.

in the meantime, if you’re like me and need to start with – or should start with – the basics, The New York Times Opinionator blog has started a great series on math that does just this. Steven Strogatz, a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University has started  a weekly series that breaks down math for the common high school slacker. his first post can be read here: from fish to infinity.
and the subsequent posts are here: rock groups, and the enemy of my enemy.

Written by Gabrielle

February 17, 2010 at 6:38 am

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adventures with math

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i’ve never been a math person. i was the idiot in class who asked, “what are we ever going to use this for?” and thought i was being funny. logic was kind of cool and i like the whole, “if…, then…, therefore…” type stuff and once when we were doing graphs the teacher said that height could never be negative, and i said, “yea, we’d be upside down.” and he said, “whoa, man. that’s deep,” in that mocking, stoner voice, which made me laugh – ’cause it was true. but nope, i am not – and never was – a math person.

but lately, i’ve been reading alain badiou and, as i mentioned before, he likes math. i mean, looooves math. i can’t even get into it because i still don’t understand it. tonight, i picked up those sparks notes quick reference guides. basic math and geometry. it was pretty appalling how little i knew.

i’m curious to know how math fits into our everyday lives. since starting the book, i’ve noticed a change in my photography, the way i see things in a frame.


Written by Gabrielle

November 19, 2009 at 10:46 pm

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