Saturday, February 28, 2009
On March 2nd at noon, the Bookstall in Winnetka will be hosting a lunch with Jacqueline Winspear, author of the popular Maisie Dobbs mystery series. Winspear will later speak at 6pm at the Seminary Co-Op bookstore in Chicago.
Also on March 2nd Tim Dorsey will sign his latest novel at the Borders in Oak Brook at 7:30.
On March 3rd at 11:30, the Lake Forest Bookstore will host a lunch with Adriana Trigiani.
Also on March 3rd at 7:30 pm at the Borders in La Grange, Frank Delaney will sign his latest novel Shannon.
Also on March 3rd at 7pm at the Barnes and Noble in Old Orchard, Joanne Fluke will sign her latest novel.
On March 15th at 2pm at the Borders in Oak Brook, Jodi Picoult will sign her latest novel. She will also speak on March 16th at 12:30 at the Borders on State Street in Chicago.
On March 20th Lisa Lutz will speak at the Barnes and Noble in Evanston at 7pm.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Anyway, I was intrigued and I needed to know more about this banana situation, so I checked out Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan Koeppel. I suppose this book is really more than I ever wanted to know about bananas, but it is interesting. For instance, I didn't know that the Cavendish banana is not the only variety of banana out there. Apparently there are hundreds of different varieties of banana throughout the world, ranging in size from a pinky finger to a large mango, with skin colors ranging from green to crimson and purple and flesh ranging from white to orange. Also, did you know that it is actually a sterile banana plant that produces the fruit that we eat? And obviously, a sterile plant can't reproduce, so in order to grow bananas, cuttings have to be taken from the sterile plant and grown. In nature, organisms evolve over time to become stronger, more resistant and less susceptible to disease, etc. But because bananas come from sterile plants that do not reproduce, they have not had the opportunity to evolve and are a very fragile plant, easily susceptible to disease. The Cavendish banana is currently under threat from disease. This has happened once before. Before the Cavendish, the Gros Michel was the popular variety of banana that most people ate, but it succumbed to disease and was wiped out by the 1950s. Banana scientists are trying to come up with an alternative, in case the worst should happen. But creating a new variety of banana that is more resistant to disease and that people will enjoy, is very difficult. Banana's are a "plant breeder's nightmare." Because bananas come from a sterile plant, this means there are no seeds they can use for breeding. Every once in a while, some seeds will be found in a plant, but this is rare, and even then the success rate for producing an edible banana is low. I certainly hope they are able to find a solution. The future of millions of breakfasts hang in the balance here.
And now I will leave you with more fascinating banana facts:
In 2007 Chiquita was fined $25 million in by the U.S. Department of Justice for payments made to an acknowledged "terrorist organization" in Columbia.
Dole was sued in 2007 in U.S. courts for using chemicals that render workers sterile.
In 1999, U.S. banana consumption is 100 bananas per person per year.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Staying up until 1am to finish a book is not something I do very often, but I did last night with Josh Bazell's Beat the Reaper. Dr. Peter Brown is a sleep-deprived, pill-popping intern at a run-down Manhattan hospital. When he enters the room of Nicholas LoBrutto, he realizes he knows this man from his former days as a mafia hitman. Peter Brown is actually Pietro Brwna, and currently in the Witness Protection Program. When LoBrutto threatens to rat him out if he doesn't survive his surgery, Peter must make sure the incompetent and unethical surgeon, Dr. Friendly, doesn't screw up. In between his encounters with a sexy drug rep, a patient with a pain in his ass, and his eager med students, Peter tells the story of how he came to be a hitman.
I had a lot of fun reading this novel. Bazell has produced a unique novel; not your run-of-the-mill crime novel. The pacing is swift. The tone is darkly comic, which I loved. Peter's footnotes provide really interesting tidbits on science, the healthcare business, and the mafia. And although Peter is technically a bad guy, he's a compelling character that I found myself rooting for. But be prepared for alot of violence (the ending is MESSED UP!). This is definitely one you don't want to miss. I read that Leo DiCaprio is going to produce (and maybe star in?) the film, and Bazell is working on another novel with this character.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Books to movies...Film rights have been sold for The Story of Edgar Sawtelle with Oprah and Tom Hanks producing. Neil Gaiman's Newberry award-winning Graveyard Book will be made into a movie. Dr. McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) has bought the movie rights to Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain, which he will produce and star in. Television rights for M.J. Rose's The Reincarnationist have been sold to Fox.
Awards...The National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for its awards. The finalists in fiction are: Roberto Bolaño for 2666, Marilynne Robinson for Home, Aleksandar Hemon for The Lazarus Project, M. Glenn Taylor for The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, and Elizabeth Strout for Olive Kittredge. You can check out the rest of the nominees here. The finalists for the $100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature are Elisa Albert for The Book of Dahlia, Sana Krasikov for One More Year, Anne Landsman for The Rowing Lesson, Dalia Sofer for The Septembers of Shiraz, and Anya Ulinich for Petropolis.
In other news...Things are not looking good in the publishing industry. Many publishing houses continue to lay off employees. Publisher's Weekly recently laid off its editor-in-chief Sara Nelson. Reed Business Information, which owns PW, as well as Library Journal and School Library Journal has decided to make SLJ's editor Brian Kenney the editorial director of all three publications. Reed is also shutting down Criticas, a guide used by many librarians to select Spanish-language titles. The Washington Post is dropping its Book World section. February 15th will be its last issue. Content will now be divided between the Outlook and Style & Arts sections. BookExpo Canada, scheduled for June, has been cancelled, allegedly due to lack of industry interest. Are you sufficiently depressed?
And now for some fun facts to lighten the mood...JFK was a bad library patron! When President Kennedy served in the Senate in the 1950s, he checked out the 1930 biography A. Lincoln by Ross F. Lockridge from the Library of Congress and never returned it!! The book was recently found amongst President Kennedy's papers. The book has been listed as missing in the Library of Congress's online catalog and will be returned to the Library.
Remember that dreamy scene in the BBC's Pride and Prejudice where Colin Firth dives into the lake after returning to Pemberly? That wasn't actually Colin Firth doing the diving. A stuntman was used for the dive because they worried that Firth could catch Weil's disease, which comes from rat urine in the water. Nice, huh? For a single man in possession of a good fortune will not be so desirable if he has a rat pee disease. Also, the portrait of Mr. Darcy (Firth) that hung in Pemberly in the movie was recently sold at auction for about $16,000.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Have you ever thought about where your coffee beans come from? Do you wonder if "fair trade" coffee is really fair? Many products are labeled with an origin, but what about things like your wood flooring or your wedding ring or the tchotchkies in your living room? Where do they come from? And who are the people that make these items? Fred Pearce decided to find out where all of our "stuff" comes, which he chronicled in Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff. The book is divided into sections: food, clothes, metals, and stuff from China. My favorite section was about food because, you know, I like food. Pearce travels to Africa to see where coffee beans, cocoa and green beans come from. He also tracks down the source of most of our wild fish and prawns, as well as palm oil (which is in 1/3 of all products) and bananas. By far, the most interesting chapter was about the banana. I've heard rumors that the banana is in danger of disappearing, but I always brushed it off as an urban legend. But it's actually true. There is a very real possibility that in our lives, the banana as we know it will cease to exist. Fascinating banana facts, and overall, a fascinating and very readable book. From the gold mines in South Africa to the Great Mall in China, Pearce provides us with an inside look at where it all comes from and the effect our "stuff" has on the planet and the people who make it.