Greetings and welcome to the Full Beaver Moon Edition of You Are What You Read. The swamps are about to freeze so it’s time to set those traps People! Fall is in retreat and winter is on the march. Also, you all should be aware that this will be a ‘Super Moon’ and the moon will appear to be approximately 14 percent larger in the sky. This will go down on the 14th and won’t happen again until 2034. So, enjoy that light People. Anything to help you get those traps set and pelts at the ready! If you want the 411 on that you can read about it on Space.com.
Speaking of light and dark, with the return of Daylight Savings Time this past week, our walk to the train in the evening will be increasingly happening in the dark. Please People. We beg you. Be vigilant! When you see one of us in a crosswalk, this is not the time to speed up and play Librarian-Whack-A-Mole. We cannot do nice things for you like getting you books, DVDs and waiving fines if we are dead in a crosswalk. In fact, when you are dead in a crosswalk you aren’t doing much of anything; except, maybe, playing the role of a speed bump. And to be honest, some of these transgressions happen in broad daylight, darkness has nothing to do with it. Pedestrian fatalities have actually decreased in the state but are up overall across the nation. We understand about busy lives and being in a hurry but please, please, please yield to us pedestrians. After all, aren’t we all just stumbling in the dark? Help a friend out and let us cross. We thank you in advance.
This week we have some literal word play, ATTICA, ATTICA, Brooklyn, France, and some pretty.
Yes, yes, yes, DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from SUN with The Playlist.
We are BACK People. We missed you.
Let us begin!
James is getting his Linguistic Geek on. Literally. “Despite my best efforts to fully renounce prescriptive linguistics to the contrary, I could certainly still care less about the word ‘literally.’ I’ve always found myself siding with Garner’s Modern English Usage on this one: "When ‘literally’ is used figuratively: to mean ‘emphatically, metaphorically, or the like’ the word is stretched paper-thin (but not literally).” (If you’re the type to flip through a descriptivist usage dictionary with passive-aggressive prescriptive annotations, you should literally check it out.) Even if I won’t ever fully embrace the newest meaning of the word, McWhorter’s newest book Words on the Move: Why English Won't - and Can't - Sit Still (Like, Literally), has at least given me the context to accept that its autoantonymity was an inevitability. Through the book, McWhorter more than establishes word-meaning transience as an undeniable tenet of spoken language, he goes on to outline what types of words are most likely to change and why. However, if you’re not already a fan of McWhorter’s work, this might not be the book to start with; it doesn’t flow as well as something like his Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue, which I can’t recommend highly enough. Also, if you’re at all inclined to listen to podcasts, Stephanie and I recently started listening to his Lexicon Valley podcast and—I can do this—literally… can’t wait for new episodes.”
Steph is working this week on rectifying the sins of her recent past. “I was embarrassed this year when the National Book Awards finalists for non-fiction were announced and I had read exactly ZERO of them. Bad librarian! So I’ve been trying to cram them in before the announcement next week, and most recently read Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson. Drawing on first-person accounts and other research that she recently uncovered, the book presents a retelling of the Attica uprising, starting with the slow build-up of grievances from both prisoners and corrections officers in the months before the takeover, and ending only a few years ago, when the final court cases in its aftermath were resolved. Thompson’s writing is straightforward and effective, because the facts of the situation are so shocking that no flowery language is needed. I was genuinely shocked over and over by the facts she shares, especially the first-person interviews. The Attica uprising is more complex than anybody ever admits, and whether you lived through the news or only know it from pop culture references, there’s a lot for all of us to learn.”
Sweet Ann tackled a past National Book Award winner this week with Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. “I loved the writing style and wisdom of the author describing the coming of age of four young girls in 1970's Brooklyn. They are poor and have difficult lives but there is a fierceness in the way they cling to each other. August is the narrator and she has moved to Brooklyn with her father and younger brother from Tennessee. Something has happened to her mother, but August keeps telling her younger brother and to reassure herself, that her mother will come tomorrow or the next tomorrow. The raw pain of their mother no longer being there is palpable. Eventually August will join a group of girls who run the streets of Brooklyn and think they will conquer the world. Sadly there will be ‘another Brooklyn’ that will make these girls grow up fast and face the hardships of life. This is a beautifully written novel in short prose that moves the story along and as a reader you will savor every word.”
Barbara M No surprises with this one this week. “In 1945, after the Nazis left Poland, Soviet soldiers arrived and swept through the country brutally attacking and raping women. In the same year a young French doctor, Mathilde Beaulieu, arrived with the Red Cross to care for wounded French soldiers. Mathilde learned of a convent where the rapes of several of the nuns had resulted in pregnancies and did what she could to alleviate the situation. The French movie director, Anne Fontaine, took that true story and developed it into a beautiful, poignant film, The Innocents. The cinematographer Caroline Champetier used muted tones of black, white, grey and sepia to create a dark and melancholy mood. A sad but lovely film.
Diane is here this week with another new favorite in her canon of pretty books. “Beautiful: All-American Decorating and Timeless Style is the title of Mark D. Sikes’ first book on interior design. He has been featured in many shelter magazines and now this book is showcasing some of his best projects. The interior spaces are based on traditional style with a contemporary feel that mirrors the trends that are happening today. Timeless perfectly describes his style of design.”
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from Meat Chicken with the Playlist and some final musings. What’s good Pats? “Winter is rapidly approaching. The leaves on the trees are a lifeless brown and are being carried away by the wind. There are more bare branches than I’d care to see. Daylight savings happened but no longer can my husband beat the sunset to play ball outside after work with my son. We wake up in the dark and stumble our way through making breakfast, lunches and getting kids off to school. It’s a great time to reflect, re-evaluate and settle in with a mug of something hot and a good book in hand. You’re going to need some tunes to get you through the darkness. I hope this helps.”