Archive | July, 2011

Encyclopedia Irrelevantia

31 Jul

There’s no doubt about it: the internet has killed the encyclopedia.

That’s a pretty sad story. Remember when you really really wanted your own set of encyclopedias? I used to think only rich people had them, because they seemed so expensive (were they expensive? I have no idea what they actually cost).*

Which isn’t to say that we never had our own. We first flirted with serialised learning with Messrs Funk & Wagnall, when the books were being sold at a heavily discounted price from Coles in the late ’80s. You could collect the whole set if you went back every week, but we stopped after one. I believe it covered the first part of the letter A (so my sister and I were good for projects on Aborigines, but Ants were out of bounds).

Later, Mum and Dad invested in our education, and we became the owners of an entire World Book set. School projects had never been so exciting! Until the thrill wore off after about a month.

Now, in every Rotary book sale and select secondhand bookstores, you’ll find rows and rows of outdated Britannicas, World Books and Funk & Wagnalls taking up space. I can’t imagine people buying them anymore**… they’re just gilt-edged headstones of a time before google.

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*So I just looked it up and it seems a new World Book set costs $2,255. But if you’re not choosy about how current the information is, you can always check out eBay (full sets from 99c!).

**Apart from people who can do this, of course.

Any new books?

25 Jul

[I realise this blog has been pretty light on book reviews lately (well, pretty light on everything except my pleas for sponsorship), but I promise to get reviewing again soon. Seriously! Maybe if you sponsor me I’ll get back to it even sooner?]

If you’re like me, a trip to the bookstore (remember those quaint little retail spaces?) or even an online bookshop can be confusing – and, quite frankly, daunting. I wander around, committing the ultimate sin of judging books by their covers (and blurbs), hoping I stumble across something decent. Sure, there are authors I know are pretty much safe bets, and on rare occasions I do actually have a book in mind when I head in, but for the most part it’s a bit hit and miss.

Which is why I want to introduce you to Any New Books?. Any New Books?, meet my cool reader. Don’t worry, he/she is totally awesome, just like you!

So the idea is that you sign up at anynewbooks.com with your email address, tell the site what genres you’re most interested in, then sit back and wait for the weekly email newsletters that feature a selection of new books from that genre. The email links straight to the books’ pages on Amazon (but the company doesn’t seem to be involved with Amazon in any financial sense – yet).

And this site is why my Amazon wish list is starting to get a liiiittle out of control.

I love that the service is free and that it exposes me to so many books I would never hear of without it. I also really like that there’s a strict editorial policy that means the books are chosen on their own merit, not because of any deals with publishing companies.

Yay for nerdy booklovers! Sign up here!

Stuff (that) Mel gives me

18 Jul

How does one feel when one’s friend starts a blog populated solely by items one has emailed to that friend in the past? Flattered, sure. And a bit weird, to be honest. And thirsty, definitely thirsty. Where's the blog of the stuff I've emailed YOU, huh?

My friend Shaun (of the now possibly defunct Popcorn and Wine blog, and the definitely defunct blog I could have sworn was called Random Ramblings, but I can’t find any remnants of it anywhere so maybe not) has started a blog called ‘Stuff that Mel gives me’*. Over the years I’ve apparently emailed him hundreds of links to videos, images, articles and whatever else can be found on the internet. I thought he would have been giving them a perfunctory glance before sending them to the trash, but it seems he’s been saving these emails and links, and is now showcasing some of them on the blog.

I love the idea. Like everyone else, I send links to my friends with the hope that they laugh or cry or are enlightened by the content. But it’s also a bit nerve wracking – after all, every time I send a random link to someone I have a mini moment of “What if they hate it and they lose whatever respect they had for me?” Now, with this blog, EVERYONE IN THE WORLD CAN LOSE THEIR RESPECT FOR ME. Exciting times, people, exciting times.

Of course, it also totally appeals to the narcissist in me – I naturally have impeccable taste and want everyone to see the wonders I’ve curated from the world wide web (albeit filtered through what I thought Shaun would like, then what he chooses to post on the blog).

You should totally bookmark the site, sign up to email updates or add it to your RSS feed right now… after all, with Shaun’s record, it seems this blog may not last long.

*The blog itself is titled ‘Stuff that Mel gives me’, but the address reads ‘Stuff Mel gives me’. The inconsistency is troubling in itself, but it’s also not factually correct – it would be much better if it was ‘Stuff Mel has sent me links to’ or ‘Stuff Mel has directed me to on the internet’. Catchy, no? Anyway, Shaun is aware of this, and I’m sure his next blog will be named in a more correct manner. We can all relax.

My challenge

8 Jul

WILL YOU SPONSOR ME?

(Apologies if you got two emails about this post, the MS site is being a bit screwy. They might know a lot about reading and fundraising, but they’re a bit crap at making widgets that can be embedded in other sites…)

Pay for me to read… please?

4 Jul

I’m doing The Novel Challenge to raise money for MS Australia.

donate please?

You should totally read all about it, then give me all your money, biatches! I’ll be posting reviews of whatever I read, so the more you donate, the more guilty I’ll feel when I’m not reading – so I’ll be reading more, then posting more. It’s like value for money, kind of. Well, not really, but anyway…

DONATE DONATE DONATE

Inchoate

3 Jul

This word has come up in a few stories I’ve read lately. But do you think I can find one of these examples now, when I’d like to actually use one in my blog? Of course not. My exceptional organisational skills have failed me for the first time ever (ha).

Anyway, inchoate – according to the good old Merriam-Webster – means:

being only partly in existence or operation; imperfectly formed or formulated

roller coaster, unfinished

That's one inchoate roller coaster.

But I prefer another definition:

in an initial or early stage; incipient.

That one’s from The Free Dictionary.

Fun fact 1: ‘Inchoate’ is currently in the top 20% of words being looked up on the Merriam-Webster site at the moment. What’s with that?

Fun fact 2: It’s pronounced in-CO-et. Pronounce the ‘h’ at your own peril…