Issue of February 20, 2011

Winter marches on, even in southern California, so to keep you warm we have lots of excellent reading. From literature to audio books, from bookmarks to xxx, it’s here. Curl up, enjoy our columnists—and perhaps find wonderful new books to add to your shelves. We wish you a wonderful week.

At a time of increasing global unrest, it’s more important than ever to understand the world outside our borders. Lev Raphael’s reading of famed translator Edith Grossman’s book about the (difficult) art of good translation shows that we have little chance of knowing other countries and peoples if we cannot engage with the minds of their authors, a theme he explores in Found in Translation.

Cleopatra. The name rings romance. But the reality may be far different—more convoluted, complex, political, savvy—than mere sexuality. Nicki Leone reviews the recently issued biography of the Egyptian queen and finds a (mostly) wonderful book unfortunately hobbled, in part, by the subject’s own legend and its myriad incarnations in History is Written by the Winners (if They’re Men).

In the midst of writing her first novel, Lindsay Champion undertook to read the well-known On Writing by Stephen King. Much more than a how-to book, this “dual-layered educational memoir” teaches that writing earnestly enriches the lives of writers’ readers and of writers themselves as Lindsay discovers in Notes from the King.

Time is one of those elusive things that is hard to define. Yet it runs our modern lives. We live by the clock and we die by it (at least for the official records). Lauren Roberts explores the history of the devices used to keep track of time, and of two companies in particular whose beautiful bookmarks, originally intended as sales tools, pay tribute to the pride of workmanship in Odeur du Temps.

Guest columnist Alessandra Bianchi was with her family on a beloved trip that had turned sour and silent when she came up with an idea that turned everyone’s mood completely around: Finding the Boy in the Man in the Balloon.

If you know anyone (or are someone) who is still displaying December holiday items she, he or you are not alone. Lauren Roberts finally took down her Christmas tree only to discover that the books that had been moved to make room for it now had nowhere to go in Books. And More Books.

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