Neil Gaiman fans vote for ‘Neverwhere’

The last time HarperCollins posted a free Gaiman book, American Gods was the people’s choice and it was a hands-down success. This time they’ve made Neverwhere the 30-days or bust book! The novel will be available to read for 30 days, then expires. Until then, though, freeeeee! (You just need Adobe Digital Editions, which you can download for free, too.) If Neverwhere dissolves into computer atoms at the end of the thirty days and you haven’t finished reading it, never fear: You can always download the audio or ebook from the SPL catalog!

It might also be good to note that Neil Gaiman will be in town on Oct. 3 to do a reading for his new novel, The Graveyard Book (it’s sponsored by University Bookstore). Or maybe I should leave that out—I already have to get in line super early just to get into that reading!      ~ Deb B.

Spending the afternoon in a Japanese Garden

Seattle is a city of garden aficionados, so it is fitting that we have one of the best Japanese gardens outside of Japan. With sweeping vistas and decades-old plantings tended with exquisite care, the Seattle Japanese Garden is a spot of meditative beauty.

It is also host to a variety of festive events. If you are curious to hear Japanese music on the evocative string instruments the koto and shakuhachi, you will want to visit on Sundays until October 26, between 1 and 3 p.m., to hear Duo En play (weather permitting). October 12 is Continue reading “Spending the afternoon in a Japanese Garden”

Science Books for the Non-Scientist

I am not a scientist, but I’m married to one.  I was an English major and for most of my life have been a loyal fiction reader.  A few years ago, though, I began dipping into nonfiction and discovered that there is a rich realm of science books for the non-scientist.  Many are elegantly written with finely drawn characters and are such page-turners that they read “like fiction.”  As an added bonus, I don’t have to sound so ignorant around real scientists.

One of my favorite science writers is Dava Sobel, a former science reporter for the New York Times who is adept at making complex topics easy to grasp.  She mixes in a fair amount of history and profiles of eccentric personalities, making the science easier to absorb for a lay-person like me.

Try any of these Sobel titles:

The Planets 

A graceful exploration of our solar system, weaving together science, mythology, history, art and music.  A fun, small book! Continue reading “Science Books for the Non-Scientist”

Opening new worlds: Mysteries in translation

For those of us who love mystery novels, the quest for the next exciting detective or, better yet, the next series, is endlessly diverting. As it happens, this is a wonderful age for us, with the advent of many new absolutely top-notch works and series from abroad, best-sellers in their own countries, being released here in translation from their original languages. Whatever your area of interest, from Amsterdam to Tokyo, there is a novel for you!

The classic Maigret mysteries, by Georges Simenon, a Belgian writing in French, are the forerunners of this trend. Maigret, who appears in almost 80 novels, enjoys the pleasures of life as he pursues criminals. Another early example is The Fairy Gunmother, also originally in French, which established Daniel Pennac in France as a preeminent comic-thriller writer. His detective, named Malaussène, works as a professional scapegoat, taking the blame for others’ mistakes in Belleville, a racially diverse section of Paris. A series of madcap adventures ensue. Continue reading “Opening new worlds: Mysteries in translation”

Scooters scream into mainstream

There’s a meteoric rise in scooter use since gasoline jumped the $4 mark.  I’ve been scooter commuting since 2002 and I’ve got a lot more company these days. Scooter registration is up 33% over the period June 2007 to June 2008 in King County.

Fuel costs for your car range between $1200 -$4200 per year. (That’s the difference between a 1984 Corolla and 2008 Hummer with gas at $4.20 per gallon and 15000 miles per year). Calculate your own yearly gasoline tab . Factor in maintanence, insurance and depreciation and we’re NOT saving a bundle on our car ownership.

Parking is more costly and more scarce.  The Department of Transportation is considering limiting the number of parking permits to one per household Continue reading “Scooters scream into mainstream”