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August 2012 (129 posts)
Each week, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors of O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. This Monday, we've gone back to the days of yore (and oars) with...
Silver: Return to Treasure Island
By Andrew Motion
What would Jane Eyre look like 40 years after falling for Mr. Rochester? What kind of life would they have together? It's just this kind of question that celebrated poet Andrew Motion asks about another English classic, Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. To answer it, he's written the deft, wildly imaginative Silver: Return to Treasure Island, a story set 40 years after young Jim Hawkins has returned to England with his bounty. Devastated by the loss of his wife, he drinks himself into a stupor while halfheartedly running a small inn. Not surprisingly, his only son—also named Jim—runs away to sea with his father's old map. Accompanying him is Natty, the clever yet mysterious daughter of Long John Silver, the notorious star of Stevenson's original novel. A series of high-seas adventures ensue that include everything from booby-trapped jungles to abused captives to missing precious metals. What's so fun—and gripping—about this sequel is that, first of all, you don't have to have read Treasure Island (key details are studded throughout) and, second of all, Motion shares that wickedly delightful sense of story and language of his predecessor. Every chapter crackles with energy and action. Lies, betrayals, romance, humor—expect them all. But Motion also uses this reflection on the fictional past to comment on social issues like slavery and environmentalism, which Stevenson could not. What results is a page-turner that thoughtfully questions its own world—and makes you long for a sequel to the sequel.
Check out another 19th-century adventure, The Good Thief
Join Oprah's Book Club 2.0
So when Seventh Generation, masters of eco-friendly household cleaners, launched a new line of soaps, lotions, and body washes this summer, I was game to get my suds on. Like any packaging, you should skip the marketing hype on the front ("natural," "pure," and "healthy" aren't regulated claims) and flip to the backside. Here, the science is transparent and promising: No parabens, phthalates (hormone disrupters that have been linked to increased cancer risk), or synthetic fragrances.
Equally noteworthy: This line is one of the first to qualify as a USDA Certified Biobased Product. The new seal discloses the percentage of materials that are made from renewable plant and marine elements versus petroleum products. All certified products must meet a threshold of 25 percent renewable resources, but Seventh Generation's mandarin-scented body wash, for instance, is 93 percent plant-based. Consider it a clean routine that leaves no residue of environmental guilt. ($4 to $8, seventhgeneration.com)
Arranged and photographed by Congdon, an arrangement of vases looks like a group of girls standing around at a party. Her drawing of vintage baking dishes resembles a small flock of expectant boats. Browsing through the blog offers the singular pleasure of readjusting your vision to see the beauty of every day objects (who knew tape measures were so beautiful?) And I especially love that she's included "imagined collections." What could be better than an imagined collection? No storage. No dusting. No limits.
Check out more of Lisa Congdon's whimsical work at her site. (Oh yeah, and for all you print media collectors, Collection a Day is a now a book.)
What Our Cookbooks Say About Our Lives
Collecting Advice from the Antiques Roadshow Experts
Hello again, Friday! We're looking forward to the weekend and looking back on the things that made our week.
USA Olympic Swim Team parodies Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe"
Gabby Douglas, the first African-American woman to win the all-around gymnastics gold, says "Gold medals are made out of sweat, blood and tears" [via TODAY]
Next level summer reading: Book covers matched with bikinis [via Matchbook]
A NYC real estate agent finds the locations of famous album covers [via Open Culture]
This mom crafted a wedding present with the items her son left in his pockets over the years [via BuzzFeed]
Until, that is, a vacationer recently found the ring on that same beach and returned it to Rafferty; it turns out the ring traveled less than a mile (surviving some major hurricanes) in over three decades. (For more on how the good Samaritan found the ring's owner, read the whole story.) Rafferty says, "It made me think, maybe nothing's ever lost forever." And it makes me think, maybe Planet Lost Thing is a closer, and more benevolent, place than we ever knew.
Message in a Bottle, Finally Delivered
A Ring Saves a Life, and Other Everyday Miracles
Slurpy, drippy, creamy, sweet—what's not to love about ice cream? But by late summer, my daily diet of the frozen treat means I'm also itching for new ideas. Here are five toppings capable of transforming that bowl of vanilla (or chocolate or strawberry...) into something deliciously new.
Lark Fine Food's Scourtins
They're like...cookie crumbles
Except...they're studded with bits of black olive. The sweet-salty contrast may sound jarring, but it was love at first bite in our office. The traditional French-style cookie's olives are almost raisin-like in their concentrated sweetness. And the super-buttery, super-crumbly texture makes it easy to crush a few of these grown-up cookies (at left) over ice cream.
Spoonable Sesame Caramel Sauce
It's like...traditional caramel
Except...toasted white sesame seeds give this so-thick-the-spoon-won't-move sauce an almost chewy consistency and a subtly salty bite. I especially loved it spooned over Talenti's Double Dark Chocolate gelato, for a doubly decadent match.
Jansal Valley Basil Crystals
They're like...candy sprinkles
Except...this basil candy is made from small, hand-harvested basil leaves mixed with sugar syrup. Crunchy, colorful, and sugary, the topping also packs an herbaceous freshness that can elevate a simple bowl of strawberry ice cream.
So it was that I joined the grand tradition of accidental solo traveling. And I found what so many solo travelers have discovered: that traveling alone isn't lonely at all, that you find yourself open to different things and much more likely to make new friends as you go. I found myself staying at the famous Shakespeare & Co. bookstore in Paris, and while working my shift to earn my night's stay (yes, I was such a wild and crazy kid that I managed to find myself with a job) I met a fellow Midwestern 20-something who had expatriated to France and showed me the town. I found myself at an all-night dance party (breakfast and all) in small town Spain; I channeled my inner Madeline at a girls-only-former-convent in Venice; a Hawaiian goth became my best friend for few days in Granada; I spent a very strange overnight train ride listening to an Indian med student's techno in an Italian dining car. And when I wanted to be alone, I was, so that I could write and draw for hours in my journal and (sorry, but I was 20), discover myself. In other words, it was an entire summer of experiences I would not have had otherwise, and, I'm sure, never will have again.
But even I have to admit, the idea of doing something like this now sounds impossible, if not terrifying. Where did that youthful bravado go? Nowadays, I just wouldn't feel comfortable bunking in a co-ed youth hostel with rowdy Norwegian skateboarders. I have a mature person's fear of death, muggings, and not getting to shower regularly. And besides, a bit of adventuring is practically de rigueur when you're 20. What about when you're 40? or 60? or...80? Enter the great Solo Traveler blog. The site was born in 2009, when Janice Waugh found herself an empty-nester and a widow all at once. She decided to take what fate had handed her and run with it...all the way across the world. Now, as she puts it on the site, "I travel solo and I carefully observe how I do it."
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.
* Charlie Brown is going to Japan! (USA Today)
* Kiese Laymon documents what it's like to be "born a black boy on parole in Central Mississippi" in this powerful essay, "How to Kill Yourself and Others in America: A Rememberance." (Cold Drank, via Gawker)
* Prolific and celebrated writer Gore Vidal passed away this week at 86. Flavorwire has collected his best zingers, including: "Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a damn." (Flavorwire)