you had me at…

“Cranes keep landing as night falls. Ribbons of them roll down, slack against the sky.”

Those are the first two lines of The Echo Maker, by Richard Powers, this years winner of the National Book Award for fiction. I bought the book after I read them and I wasn’t disappointed, it was a great read.

Other opening lines I like: From Barbara Kingsolver’s, Prodigal Summer; “Her body moved with the frankness that comes from solitary habits. But solitude is only a human presumption. Every step is thunder to beetle life underfoot; every choice is a world made new for the chosen.” From Nicole Krauss’s, The History of Love; “When they write my obituary. Tomorrow. Or the next day. It will say, LEO GURSKY IS SURVIVED BY AN APARTMENT FULL OF SHIT.” From Alice McDermott’s, After This; “Leaving the church, she felt the wind rise, felt the pinprick of pebble and grit against her stockings and her cheeks-the slivered shards of mad sunlight in her eyes.” Ahhh, bookbabie bliss.

If you’d like to test your knowledge of famous opening lines from some classics, Encarta has a great quiz, click here to see how well read you are (or in bookbabie’s case, if your aging brain has any functioning memory cells left!).

If you take the quiz, come back and post your scores and tell us what book you’ve read recently that had you at the first few lines.

is bill gates a crybabie?

baby-crying.gif

Bookbabie came across some rather depressing books stats on Dan Poynter’s website this morning.

Who is Reading Books (and who is not)

One-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. Many do not even graduate from high school.

58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.

42% of college graduates never read another book.

80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.

70% of US adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

57% of new books are not read to completion.

And then this afternoon the chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates, testified before the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee about the need to improve education and immigration procedures if the United States is to remain competitive in a global economy. Gates cited figures that show the U.S. has a low rate of high school graduation relative to many other countries. To make America more competitive, he urged Congress to begin by setting a goal to have every U.S. child graduate from high school, and to double the number of science, math and technology graduates by 2015.

So come on people, turn off the TV and get thee and thy children down to the nearest bookstore, pronto! Okay, bookbabie is climbing down off her soapbox now and going to read The History of Love, so far she is loving the first person voice of the main character, Leo Gursky.

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” Margaret Fuller

best of youtube

Have you ever wondered what those annoying computer viruses look like that wreak havoc on your hard-drive, causing programs to freeze-up and giving you those scary error messages? Take a couple of minutes to watch this wonderfully creative animation as a computer virus goes head-to-head with it’s animator in a battle for PC supremacy!

shades of new york

Zina Saunders is a professional writer-illustrator and native New Yorker who chronicles the lives of New York City residents on her very cool website, Overlooked New York. She also interviews each subject and does a brief write up about them and about their “joyous” obsessions. Some of her subject categories are; Rooftop Pigeon Guys, Animal Lovers (like Dora above), Subway Musicians, and Curry Contestants. Wonderful paintings and snapshots of some of the colorful people that make New York the great city that it is. Check it out (and if you happen to be a book editor, I for one would buy a collection of her portraits!).

munch on

Looking for a healthy snack to munch on while curled up with your favorite book this weekend or watching the Oscars? Lesser Evil is a snack food company that makes yummy treats that have no trans-fatty acids, no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors and they are gluten-free. I recently tried (and devoured) a box of their KettleCorn. Okay, maybe a handful of carrot sticks would be a healthier snack, but come on, it’s not snacking if there aren’t a few calories involved!