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July 2011 (137 posts)
It's Summer Reading Week at Oprah.com! This week we're profiling the writers and books that you love, as well as some unexpected tidbits about all things literary. Today's homage: The websites that enhance our reading experience.
Are you, like O's books editor Sara Nelson, lucky enough to read at your desk in the middle of the day without anyone flinching? No? For those of us who must remove our noses from our favorite books when duty calls, the these three sites are a great way to get your literary fix online.
1. Forgotten Bookmarks
Everyone knows used bookstores are packed with treasures just waiting to be discovered, but what we don't think about is that sometimes the best items are inside the books. This site collects the, yes, forgotten bookmarks, ranging from "oh, neat!" retro like cardboard game pieces (fittingly found inside a vintage copy of Swiss Family Robinson) to the breathtakingly personal: wedding photographs inconspicuously stashed within Pamela Wayne's Ann's an Idiot.
2. The Book Inscriptions Project
In that same vein, The Book Inscriptions Project chronicles handwritten messages readers come across in hand-me-down or borrowed books. Love letters, poetry, and the most down-to-business notes all provide a totally compelling peek into strangers' lives.
3. Slaughterhouse 90210
"Kurt Vonnegut, meet Brenda Walsh" is the tagline for this Tumblr which pairs high-minded literary quotes with stills from TV shows. Snooki and Charlotte Bronte? Lisa Simpson and Raymond Chandler? Unlikely bedfellows, sure, but matches made in heaven all the same.
Personalized Reading Recommendations from Sara Nelson
Summer Movies Inspired by Some of Our Favorite Books
An Ode to the Humble Paperback
Take a step back from the situation, the saying goes, and things will be better. As with most sayings, we tend to ignore the idea. Now, however, is the time to search the attic for any dusty plaques or grandma-looking needlepoint pillows bearing that message.
This month, researchers at the Emotion Regulation and Self-Control lab at the University of Michigan revealed that a change in perspective can lead to newfound wisdom. "In a nutshell," said assistant professor Ethan Kross, "People often experience difficulty making decisions when it comes to intensely meaningful situations."
Giving yourself some psychological distance, his team discovered, can help you think—and understand—in deeper ways. How was that distance achieved? By asking people to visualize their futures as if they were a fly on the wall—so that they could see themselves.
For example, if you couldn't find a job, thinking about your having a job in the future—as say, a software programer—might lead to a less-charged, bigger-picture understanding of your present life, one takes into account the rough economy and your lack technical skills...instead just of how hard you're trying or how tired you are or how frustrated. Voila! Your tired, frustrated, non-technical self now has a potential avenue to explore: taking a computer class.
When's the last time you really thought about the experience of cooking? Not the sensations you feel when you warm up leftovers or pour cereal into a bowl, but what it actually feels like to crack an egg open or pat strawberries dry? Chris Kimball, founder and editor of Cook's Illustrated, made me consider the physical act of preparing a meal recently, in an editorial in the July/August issue of his magazine. The essay, "Zero Degrees of Separation," isn't available online, unfortunately, but it reads, in part, "we cook... to remind ourselves that we are alive, because we want to run our fingers across a silky side of salmon or grab hold of a bloody point-cut of brisket." Me? I love the tactile pleasure of shucking corn; mixing ground meat with eggs, cheese, herbs and breadcrumbs with my bare hands for meatballs; and pulling open the oven door, giving a pan of smashed potatoes a stir and feeling a blast of heat mixed with the scent of roasted garlic and rosemary.
So...why do you cook? And what's your favorite sensation from cooking?
It's Summer Reading Week at Oprah.com! This week we're profiling the writers and books that you love, as well as some unexpected tidbits about all things literary. Today's homage: the hidden life of bookstores.
Do you remember the fairy tale where little elves popped out of the woodwork at night and helped the cobbler repair his shoes? Personally, I've always imagined similar creatures living at my local bookstore—tiny, luminous Tinkerbells restocking the picture books, surprisingly silent giants transporting boxes of dictionaries and atlases, a very organized troll in charge of the whole operation from the cashier's counter.
Turns out I was wrong. People set up bookstores. People who move very, very, very fast—as Galley Cat proved to me in this silly, surprising video of a bookstore built in one minute, 17 seconds.
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* You don't have to be a sports fan to appreciate the Flannel of the Month blog which tells the stories behind historical baseball shirts. [Flannel of the Month]
* On this week's Moth podcast, TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone tells the sweet, funny story of using a traumatic event from his childhood to shield his daughter from the world's impatience. [The Moth]
* "When I read about people of great character like this, I am inspired to stay true to my own values, give back to the world, and be thankful for the freedoms we all take for granted."—Gary Sinise on Unbroken, the story of Louis Zamperini, a juvenile delinquent turned Olympic runner turned World War II POW. [O Magazine]
* "Raise the aesthetic standard—the public is more perceptive than you think."—Walter Allner, the art director famous for getting everyone in the Time Life building to leave their lights on to spell out 500 for a Fortune cover, who died this week at 97. [NYTimes.com]
"When reading facial expressions, different cultures home in on different parts of the face. In the United States, we focus on mouths; the Japanese, by contrast, search for feeling in the eyes. These emoticons say it all."
Keep Reading: 6 reasons to smile now
When Congress decided to ban the energy-sapping bulb, though, Hasbro engineers were faced with a challenge. But kitchen-minded kids (and their parents) can relax: The oven isn't going the way of the Atari 2600. It's evolving--something that's actually very much in the spirit of the Easy-Bake, which has spawned a gourmet Easy-Bake cookbook with recipes from famous chefs, recipes sites that include such creations as Wild Mushroom Flan, and even a PC that let you cook pancakes at your desk (okay, that one isn't real, but wouldn't it be fantastic?).
The latest incarnation of the Easy-Bake, which goes on sale this fall, has a fancy internal heating element instead of a light bulb, and doors on the left and right sides instead of in front. Such innovations--plus a larger cooking chamber and baking pan--blow the menu of baking options wide open to include cookies, red velvet cupcakes, pizza, pretzels, cinnamon twists and brownie sticks.
As much as I love the idea of an almost 50-year-old toy getting a modern makeover (and we're nothing if not fans of constant evolution), I think Michelle Paolino, VP of global brand strategy and marketing for Hasbro Girls Brands, put it best. She has strong ties to the Easy-Bake, having played with one as a kid in the early '80s, and she was excited work on the update: "A lot has changed," she says, "but that feeling of creation is still really relevant today."
When In Doubt, Bake
7 Decadent, Retro Desserts
Common Baking Pitfalls
You're two days away from the weekend. Here are a few fun finds to help the time go by faster:
Dining Room Measuring Spoons, $24. Why save the good silver when you can put it to use everyday? So much prettier than the plastic kind--you might be tempted to keep them on display instead of tucking them back into the kitchen drawer.
Magic Wand Programmable TV Remote, $90. Calling all Harry Potter fans! Control your television with this magic wand; it learns up to 13 commands from your existing remote and maps each to a unique motion (flicking the wand from side to side changes the channel, flicking up increases the volume--and you can do it all minus the Hogwarts degree).
Joie de Vivre Banner, $10. Celebrate life (or a friend's birthday) by hanging this festive French phrase on the wall or above a door.
Creme Filled Cookie Soaps, $5. Give these chocolate-scented, Oreo-shaped soaps to your favorite cookie monster.