Lagniappe

Most companies get very upset if someone messes with their logo, but Google is different.  It regularly puts its logo through all sorts of gyrations and variations.  The often-innovative Google doodles are generally posted for a day, celebrate birthdays, the changing seasons, great events, and just about anything else you can imagine that is non-controversial.  In the United States we see some of the doodle, but many of the doodles are to commemorate events in other countries around the world, and so are never displayed on the Google USA website.

Samples of the many book-related Google doodles are listed below.

  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Birthday on May 22, 2006
  • 200th Anniversary of the birth of Gogol on April 1, 2009 (He wrote the short story “The Nose.”)
  • Hans Christian Anderson’s 205th Birthday on April 2, 2010 (5 images)
  • Karen Blixen’s Birthday on April 17, 2010
  • J. M. Barrie’s 150th birthday on May 9, 2010
  • Agatha Christie’s 120th Birthday on September 15, 2010
  • Mark Twain’s 176th Birthday on November 30, 2011
  • 112th Birthday of Jorge Luis Borges on August 24, 2011
  • Charles Dickens’ 200th Birthday on February 7, 2012
  • Bram Stoker’s 165th birthday on November 8, 2012

To see all of the doodle, start at the Google doodles homepage.  Once you get there, you can choose a year (from 1998 to 2013), and choose a particular country if you wish.  You can also do a Google search at the top of the page with particular words such as “literature,” or “history.”

Pac-Man’s 30th anniversary was celebrated on May 21, 2010 with a miniature working model of the addictive game.  To play it, click on “Insert Coin,” and the game will automatically begin after a few seconds.  Use your computer’s arrow keys to navigate.   If, like me, you remember Pac-Man from the early days of computers, you’re sure to love this working version complete with sound.

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Have you read any of the following books?

  • Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice by various authors (1978)
  • Old Age: Its Cause and Prevention by Sanford Bennett (1912) (If he hadn’t died in an accident at age 85 in 1926, he might still be alive.)
  • The Pleasures of the Torture Chamber by John Swain (1931)
  • Fish Who Answer the Telephone by Professor Y. P. Frolov (1937)
  • Italian Without Words by Don Cangelosi (1989)
  • How to Become a Schizophrenic by John Modrow (1992)
  • Reusing Old Graves by D. Davies and A. Shaw (1998)
  • Bombproof Your Horse by Rick Pelicano and Lauren Tjaden (2004)
  • How to Be Happy Though Married by Tim LaHaye (2002) (Actually, there are a number of books with that title listed on Amazon.com.  It must be a hot topic.)

Those are just a few of the oddly titled books that have been penned over the years.  I am reluctant to list some of the titles because they are so gross.

As you might expect people have noticed the strange titles, and there is, also as you might expect, a literary prize given for the weirdest book title of the year.  The prize is called the Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year.  You can find out more about the prize here, or you can go to the official website.

The shortlist of this year’s finalists can be seen here.  The winner will be announced on March 22nd.

There are also a number of books that list some very strange titles.  Bizarre Books: A Compendium of Classic Oddities by Russell Ash, and How to Avoid Huge Ships and Other Implausibly Titled Books by Joel Rickett are two books that you might enjoy.

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The Los Angeles Times has something for those of you who just can’t get enough of books.  You can now put bookshelf wallpaper on your walls.  And it can either be subtle or quite loud depending on your taste.

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There are theories.  Lots and lots of theories.  Among them: Winnie-the-Pooh has ADHD, Eeyore suffers from depression, Odyssius took 10 years to return to Ithica because he really didn’t want to go home, and Harry Potter was an abused child who created a fantasy world in his head to compensate for his real-life situation.  And, you won’t believe what they say about Dorothy!  Read the theories for yourself – if you dare.

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“So many books, so little time.”  If that’s how you feel, perhaps you should take a speed reading course.  Or perhaps not.  Does the speed at which we read have anything to do with comprehension and retention of the information we read, and is there any difference in reading an actual, tangible book and reading the same book on an e-reader?  Jessica Love writes about these questions and more in an article in The American Scholar.

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Flavorwire, one of my favorite sites for interesting lists, offers a list of ten memorable sets of sisters in fiction.

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The next edition of the live author interview program In-Depth on Book TV (C-SPAN2) will air Sunday, March 3rd from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. CST.  The featured author will be history professor Larry Schweikart.  His books include A Patriot’s History of the United States, and 48 Liberal Lies About American History.

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