Archive for Reading

Barrett-Browning Love Letters Online

An ill woman, forbidden to marry by her father. An ardent suitor. Hundreds of love letters written over the space of less than two years. A secret marriage. An outraged father disowning his daughter and never speaking to her again. Such are some of the elements that comprise the relationship between Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, two of the Victorian era’s most prominent poets. All their love letters are now online; you can see digital versions of the originals as well as transcriptions. The entire database of letters is also searchable. Brief biographies are available here. You can read most of Robert Browning’s works online as well as the works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” (From her Sonnet 43)

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Putting the Fiction Back in Science: Nature’s “Futures” Short Science Fiction Stories

Beginning with Arthur C Clarke’s short story in 1999, Nature has now published more than 400 short(under a 1000 words more or less) science fiction pieces by some of the most accomplished writers in the field (Norman Spinrad, Gregory Benford) as well as lesser-known luminaries from other fields of endeavor. These are all freely available at this site – Web Focus: Futures – where you can find the latest stories, a podcast, archives, and links. An overview/history of this feature is also available.  For those of us who are SF enthusiasts, this is a delightful weekly treat.

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Summer Reading Lists

Don’t know what to read for the summer? (Luckily, that is not a problem for us!) We heartily recommend perusing the various lists attached to Rebecca’s Pocket. This ever-expanding enumeration takes you from science fiction to historical fiction to vampire fiction to business school reading. There are dozens of lists to examine. Enjoy!

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Reading Scores for Urban School Districts

It is a mixed bag, according to Reading 2009: Trial Urban District Assessment. Eighteen urban school districts participated in this latest go-round, and the results were compared against both national and large city results(large city being defined as having a population of more than 250,000). Some urban districts made progress, but most did not. Urban districts closest to NJCU include New York City and Philadelphia. These figures come as part of  the larger The Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2009 survey. Results for New Jersey (and all other states, along with comparison tables) in the various report cards (mathematics, reading, science, and writing) are available online as well. All of these surveys are  subsumed under the NAEP. What is the NAEP? “The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas. Assessments are conducted periodically in mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, and U.S. history.”(overview) News reports are to be found at: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Atlanta Constitution, and The San Diego Union Tribune.

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Summer Reading Lists

Don’t know what to read for the summer?(Luckily, we don’t have that problem; there is a stack of naval fiction, science fiction, and history awaiting us. Also, as we have for the past decade, we will re-read some classic works which we read as callow youths, but to which we now bring years’ worth of experience. This year we’ll be tackling afresh Plutarch and Thomas Paine. We recommend that everyone do the same. Re-read with fresh eyes.) This site, Rebecca’s Pocket, has over 100 links to various reading lists, from Stephen King: 7 Great Books for Summer to 10 Best Summer Cookbooks of 2009 to Independent Booksellers Pick Summer’s Best Reads. There are lists for everyone! Enjoy your summer reading.

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Reading on the Rise

So reads this optimistic report from the National Endowment for the Arts, representing significant increases in reading levels across all socioeconomic lines and reversing declining rates for the past 25 years. What happened? In light of previous gloomy reports, such as Reading at Risk and To Read or Not to Read “…millions of parents, teachers, librarians and civic leaders took action(inspired by thousands of journalists and scholars who publicized the issues at stake. Reading became a higher priority in families, schools, and communities.”(p.2) A nice summation, with additional comments from such worthies as James Rettig, president of the American Library Association, will be found in this New York Times article.

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Today in History: “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac Published

 “On the Road” is considered by many to be emblematic of the Beat Generation(corrupted into “beatniks”), along with Ginsberg’s “Howl” and Burroughs’ “The Naked Lunch.” Written in three weeks on one continuous taped-together sheet of paper, the work was the result of seven years’ worth of notes and observations. Critics and readers alike are still divided over its worth or lack thereof. Regardless, “On the Road” presents a perspective at odds with the prevalent ethos of the 1950s. It is a book that should be read; it is a book that needs to be read.( We have a yellowing, dog-eared copy in our office which we finished a couple of years ago after having read it in our youth. Years of experience and age can surely change one’s apprehension of literature!) Time Magazine considered it one of the 100 best novels for 1923-2005. The New York Times has a great deal of information on Kerouac, along with his obituary and chapter 1 from “On the Road.” Other useful sites for Kerouac include Dharma beat, and the American Museum of Beat Art. A 1968 interview with Kerouac appears in the Paris Review, and an NPR examination of Kerouac is also available along with video and audio clips. One of the best sites for examining the Beat Generation and which contains excerpts/full text writings is the Beat Page. And please do not forget the dozens of books and thousands of articles available in the Guarini Library on Kerouac and the Beats. And the beat goes on!

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