The American Novel Since 1945 – Open Yale Courses

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I recently discovered an incredible (free) resource for learning more about some of the great novels in American literature from the last fifty years.  I found this originally when scrolling through the options in “iTunes U” on my phone, but the link below is for the course online.

The American Novels Since 1945

I have been listening/watching these courses for a few weeks now and I have only made it through the first two novels, but I am anxious to get through them all. The instructor provides a list of some of the most influential works in American literature since 1945, and helps the audience to understand the history and culture surrounding the work and the author.

For example: I learned that Black Boy by Richard Wright was intended to have two parts… but do to pressures from the publisher only the first part about growing up in the south was released in the 1940’s. The second half was not published until decades later. when you read the novel you will realize that the theme of his work is incomplete without that second half.

I did not really care for the second book on the list; Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor, but the lectures through this course added perspective, and created an interesting context for the work that I never would have appreciated if I hadn’t listened to the presentation.

I hope you find this resource as interesting as I have.

San Francisco MOMA – modern art text

“Send me Aggression” – “The Girl with the Knife in Her Hand”; Yoshitomo Nara

This is one of the coolest things I have come across in awhile… The Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco now offers a chance to see many of the hidden gems from their collection through text message. Just send a request to the number 572-51, with the words “send me” followed by just about anything (Nouns, colors, emotions, etc.) and they will send you back a picture of one of their pieces related to that word. There are more details and information in this article that I read on an art blog called “Hyperallergic”.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – Text Service

Of course, I had to try it for myself :

Text message to 572-51; “send me water”…

Richard N. Kauffman, “Columbine Lake, Evening”, ca. 1956

“Send me bicycles”…

Unknown, “Untitled [Men with bicycles]”, 1920’s

Of course, there is not a match for every word you may come up with, but try a few and see what they come up with. Then a miniature version of each work is yours to keep forever.

The Light Between Oceans – M.L. Stedman


I am a few years behind on this novel from 2012. I saw a preview for the movie that came out last year that made me curious. I still haven’t seen the movie, but I can’t stop thinking about the book. If you have ever wanted to just be alone and forget the rest of the world exists… then you will probably like this book. If you have ever made a bad decision for a really good reason… then you will probably like this book. If you have ever thought of what it would be like to lose a child… then you will definitely love the first half of this book, and you might hate the second half.

In any case, I couldn’t put it down. Has anyone seen the movie? Thumbs up or thunbs down?

(Here is a link to the Goodreads page… I always love how polarized the reviews are… most people loved it, a few people really hated it, one lady was upset because she got a fine from the library… I don’t see how that reflects on the actual story though.)

Goodreads – The Light Between Oceans


Italic Bookmarks – NEW and Ridiculously Good-Looking!

hedge maze         mill creek mahalia

animal stripe

There are three new bookmark patterns/styles available for the Italic Bookmarks line. These are each made of thick, durable upholstery material with pronounced textures and unique patterns and colors.

All three will be available for purchase early next week through Etsy:

Buy Italic Bookmarks


Reading While Walking

Reading while walking? Dangerous.

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This post made me laugh. It also reminded me of how I used to make fun of people that I saw reading at the gym while they were on a treadmill or a bike… until I tried it. It makes it harder to get a real intense workout, but it makes it easier to stay longer and go to the gym more frequently. Try it!

This post talks about reading while walking around outside… which I haven’t tried, but sounds like a health risk. Check out the post here:

Walking and Circles

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I read two new articles on a “knowledge forum” website called  Big Think. These both feature a simple and meaningful breakdown of very intriguing research that has been conducted related to brain-function, habit, and thought process.

The first article presents research to suggest that the act of walking can stimulate brain function specifically related to “creativity”. Let’s take a walk! You can read it here:

 Walking and Creativity

The second article explains research that has established a link between language, culture, etc and the way a person draws a figure as simple as a circle. I assumed that everyone draws a circle the same way I do, starting at the top and moving in a counter-clockwise motion… not so. You can read that article here:

The Way You Draw Circles


Hokusai – The Great Wave


You have probably seen this famous painting by Japanese Artist Hokusai. What you might not have known was that the artist created his most famous work at the age of 71.

This article from The Economist 1843 talks about the artist and his most famous works, all created after the age of 70. His unique attitude was that the older he got, the better he would be. He referred to himself as “Old Man, Crazy to Paint”

read the article here – Hokusai: old man, crazy to paint | 1843

Where have all the Sundays Gone?

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This was a great short story that I found on a site called Words Without Borders. The goal of the site is to provide opportunities to sample contemporary writing from around the world. Each story is translated to English, and they all have to do with universal themes such as “love” or “leaving home”. This story is from Japan. It was fun to read because you get a sense of so many different emotions: loss, nostalgia, love, heartbreak, loneliness. Its all bundled up in a short passage.

Read the short story here:  Words Without Borders Campus


The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between, by Hisham Matar (Random House) – The Pulitzer Prizes

I just finished reading this book a couple of weeks ago. Very moving, informative, and personal. It was an engaging read and moved along at a good pace. Congratulations on the Pulitzer Prize 2017!