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Rebuilding a library

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Five years ago, everything I owned--including a modest but very meaningful library--had to be dismantled and given away. Now that my life has stabilized again, I want to rebuild the library. Many of these books have been lent to friends and colleagues for inspiration over the years and I want to continue that tradition. These five books would be a terrific start.

    The Botany of Desire

    A farmer cultivates genetically modified potatoes so that a customer at McDonald's half a world away can enjoy a long, golden french fry. A gardener plants tulip bulbs in the autumn and in the spring has a riotous patch of colour to admire. Two simple examples of how humans act on nature to get what we want. Or are they? What if those potatoes and tulips have evolved to gratify certain human desires so that humans will help them multiply? What if, in other words, these plants are using us just as we use them? In blending history, memoir and superb science writing, Pollan tells the story of four domesticated species - the apple, the tulip, marijuana and the potato. All four plants are integral to our everyday lives and Pollan demonstrates how each has thrived by satisfying one of humankind's most basic desires. Weaving fascinating anecdote and accessible science, Pollan takes the reader on an absorbing journey through the landscape of botany and desire. It is a journey that will change the way we think about our place in nature

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    Winnie-the-Pooh: Winnie Ille Pu

    What could be better than Winnie-the-Pooh? Winnie-the-Pooh in Latin! A.A. Milne's irrepressible Winnie-the-Pooh is translated in Latin in Ille Pu. Now back in print with a new introduction. Featuring E.H. Shepard's original illustrations throughout, Ille Pu is the perfect gift for those studying Latin or indeed for any fan of the "Bear of Very Little Brain". Originally a hit with critics and classicists alike, this is a truly novel offering. The nation's favourite teddy bear has been delighting generations of children for 90 years. Milne's classic children's stories - featuring Piglet, Eeyore, Christopher Robin and, of course, Pooh himself - are both heart-warming and funny, teaching lessons of friendship and reflecting the power of a child's imagination like no other story before or since. Pooh ranks alongside other beloved character such as Paddington Bear, and Peter Rabbit as an essential part of our literary heritage. Whether you're 5 or 55, Pooh is the bear for all ages. A.A. Milne is quite simply one of the most famous children's authors of all time. He created Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga and Roo based on the real nursery toys played with by his son, Christopher Robin. And those characters not only became the stars of his classic children's books, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, and his poetry for children, they have also been adapted for film, TV and the stage. Through his writings for Punch magazine, A.A. Milne met E.H. Shepard. Shepard went on to draw the original illustrations to accompany Milne's classics, earning him the name "the man who drew Pooh". Alexander Lenard was a Hungarian writer, poet, artist, linguist and teacher. His Latin translation of Winnie-the-Pooh, which took seven years to complete, was published in the UK in 1960 and immediately became a bestseller.

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    Beowulf

    Composed towards the end of the first millennium, the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf is one of the great Northern epics and a classic of European literature. In his new translation, Seamus Heaney has produced a work which is both true, line by line, to the original poem, and an expression, in its language and music, of something fundamental to his own creative gift.The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on, physically and psychically exposed, in that exhausted aftermath. It is not hard to draw parallels between this story and the history of the twentieth century, nor can Heaney's Beowulf fail to be read partly in the light of his Northern Irish upbringing. But it also transcends such considerations, telling us psychological and spiritual truths that are permanent and liberating.

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    No Great Mischief

    In 1779, driven out of his home, Calum MacDonald sets sail from the Scottish Highlands with his extensive family. After a long, terrible journey he settles his family in 'the land of trees', and eventually they become a separate Nova Scotian clan: red-haired and black-eyed, with its own identity, its own history. It is the 1980s by the time our narrator, Alexander MacDonald, tells the story of his family, a thrilling and passionate story that intersects with history: with Culloden, where the clans died, and with the 1759 battle at Quebec that was won when General Wolfe sent in the fierce Highlanders because it was 'no great mischief if they fall'.

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    The Inconvenient Indian

    In The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King offers a deeply knowing, darkly funny, unabashedly opinionated, and utterly unconventional account of Indian-White relations in North America since initial contact. Ranging freely across the centuries and the Canada-U.S. border, King debunks fabricated stories of Indian savagery and White heroism, takes an oblique look at Indians (and cowboys) in film and popular culture, wrestles with the history of Native American resistance and his own experiences as a Native rights activist, and articulates a profound, revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.Suffused with wit, anger, perception, and wisdom, The Inconvenient Indian is at once an engaging chronicle and a devastating subversion of history, insightfully distilling what it means to be "Indian" in North America. It is a critical and personal meditation that sees Native American history not as a straight line but rather as a circle in which the same absurd, tragic dynamics are played out over and over again. At the heart of the dysfunctional relationship between Indians and Whites, King writes, is land: "The issue has always been land." With that insight, the history inflicted on the indigenous peoples of North America--broken treaties, forced removals, genocidal violence, and racist stereotypes--sharpens into focus. Both timeless and timely, The Inconvenient Indian ultimately rejects the pessimism and cynicism with which Natives and Whites regard one another to chart a new and just way forward for Indians and non-Indians alike.

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