This month Simon Goldhill’s Freud’s Couch, Scott’s Buttocks, Brontë’s Grave is the University of Chicago Press’s free eBook offering. I have not read it yet, but the book is all about writers, their homes and travel. When I travel I always look up local literary points of interest and local indie bookshops to visit. They are so much more interesting and telling than the usual sight-seeing fare.
Goldhill’s book not only points the way to where these literary locations are, but also digs a little deeper in trying to connect the dots between these places and the writers that were there. I scanned a bit of it and he seems intent to tackle questions like:
Why did author go there? What were they looking for? What will you find if you go there today? Some of the historical sites of note, listed in the book, are:
- Sir Walter Scott’s mansion
- Wordsworth’s cottage
- the Brontë parsonage
- Shakespeare’s birthplace
- Freud’s office
So if literary pilgrimages and bookstore tourism are your thing, be sure to check out UCP’s free eBook this month. (There are a few caveats: they use Adobe DRM, so you’ll need an approved eReader app for that and a kindle fire may be the only kindle device that can read these free ebooks. I haven’t confirmed that though.)
I haven’t read this one yet, but I hear good things. John G. Greer’s In Defense of Negativity: Attack Ads in Presidential Campaigns is a FREE ebook until the end of October. The publisher, The University of Chicago Press have made it free until then. So you have just a few days.
In Defense of Negativity came out in 2006 and I remember it because Greer takes an opposing view from my own: he thinks negative political campaigns are good for our country and the political system. I’ve skimmed through the book and saw some points that seemed valid, but I’m going to have to wait until I read it to really say.
I can’t argue with Greer’s notion that there are major problems within the U.S. political system. He just seems to think that we give way too much weight to negative political campaigns and that they’re not the problem at all. In fact, working through ads spanning from 1960-2004, he thinks they have contributed more to the political landscape than they have detracted.
If you’re curious too, click through to get the free download. Should be a good one to discuss over beer with friends sometime.
I have no affiliation with The University of Chicago Press Books, but if you like smart non-fiction books, their free monthly offerings were pretty good this year. You may want to sign up for 2015 through their e-mailing list. It’s free. They also have a really robust catalog of interesting books that is worth checking out.
Books are great, but FREE books get a whole different section on the Awesome Meter. Fortunately, book people are high on the Awesome Meter themselves – want proof?
Just check out these three places around Birmingham where readers can find free books all stocked by folks who understand the value of books and the joy of reading.
Crestwood Coffee Company
As soon as you walk into the Crestwood Coffee Company you will see the books lining the wall to the right of you. The selection is a good one for a “take one and leave one” kind of a set up. Lots of big names and hardbacks. Certainly worth checking out. The book conditions run the gamut from bent covers to brand new with stickers still on them. It’s a great place to find free books (and the coffee is tasty too).
Little Free Library Avondale
The Little Free Library movement is a great one. Boxes and birdhouses of books are cropping up all over the country. This one is found in a street-side courtyard at the Methodist Church in Avondale. I have no idea who maintains this or how often the stock is updated. When I stopped by it was all paperbacks with a mix of fiction and poetry. All the books were in the condition you’d think they’d be if left in a box outside.
Literacy Council Book Cart
This cart is maintained by the folks of the Alabama Literacy Council. It is rolled outside almost every day, and it’s always worth checking out. You have to stop by early though as the cart of free books sits in the middle of the loft district. So every dog walker and jogger has a chance to pick through the offerings. Please note: the LC offices and cart are temporarily on 2nd Ave. North after a fire damaged their building on 1st Ave. North. I’m not sure when they’ll move back.
What am I missing? Are there other good spots around Birmingham for picking up free books? Let me know… of course… I wouldn’t blame you one bit of you wanted to keep your find a secret.
Today is officially the unofficially official National Science Fiction Day. So happy NSFD! I got this info from both Wikipedia and Slate… is it possible to get any more legit than that?
The day was chosen due to it being Isaac Asimov‘s birthday. Which is a pretty good reason. Asimov has written one book for every star in the sky it seems. And his Foundation Trilogy is one that sparked my reading interests many many many years ago.
If you are interested in the history of Science Fiction I do not think you can do much better than Brake’s and Hook’s Different Engines. This book may feel a bit dry at times, but it’s simply because it ranks well in the researched/scholarly category and you are learning stuff. But the book is fascinating and worth your time.
They convincingly trace the birth of Science Fiction to Johannes Kepler’s Somnium, which he was working on in 1593, but was published posthumously in 1634. Their sense of what is and isn’t Science Fiction is a good one and offers wonderful insights for any fan of the genre.
As a gift for National Science Fiction Day this year I’m offering you a link. A very sci-fi bookish/reading link. Click here to go to Project Gutenberg and download a free ebook version of Lyn Venable’s Time Enough at Last. This is the short story that inspired the classic Twilight Zone episode of the same name.
You remember it don’t you? The one where bibliophile Henry Bemis survives a nuclear bomb and stumbles upon a public library and finally has enough time to read! With no one around to bother him! But then… so sad.
Anyway, enjoy the quick read by Venable and then go watch that episode of the Twilight Zone. It’s fun, but his wife is really mean.
Happy National Science Fiction Day!