Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Variations on a Theme: Mythology

When I was in college, I took a course on Greek and Roman Mythology. It was an elective that turned into one of my favorite courses of study. (The fact that I got to go all arts-craftsy and make collage probably helped.) This month's variation on a theme is centered on mythology in all of its forms.

All summaries are from Barnes and Noble.

Edith Hamilton

Since its original publication by Little, Brown & Company in 1942, this author's Mythology has sold millions of copies throughout the world & established itself as a perennial bestseller in its various available formats: hardcover, trade paperback, & mass market paperback. Mythology succeeds like no other book in bringing to life for the modern readeer the Greek, Roman & Norse myths & legends that are the keystone of Western culture - the stories of gods & heroes that have inspired human creativity from antiquity to the present. This new Back Bay trade paperback edition of Mythology replaces the Meridian edition formerly available from the Penguin Group. In August 1998 a new mass market paperback edition of Mythology published by Warner Books will replace the Mentor/Dutton Signet mass market edition formerly available from the Penguin Group.

Don't Know Much About Mythology: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Stories in Human History but Never Learned
Kenneth C. Davis

Since the beginning of time, people have been insatiably curious. They’ve asked questions about where we come from, why the stars shine and the seasons change, and what constitutes evil. The imaginative answers crafted by our ancestors have served as religion, science, philosophy, and popular literature. In this latest installment of the New York Times bestselling Don’t Know Much About® series, Kenneth C. Davis introduces and explains the great myths of the world using his engaging and delightfully irreverent question-and-answer style. He tackles the epic of Gilgamesh; Achilles and the Trojan War; Stonehenge and the Druids; Odin, Thor, and the entire Norse pantheon; Native American myths, and much more, including the dramatic life and times of the man who would be Buddha. From Mount Olympus to Machu Picchu, here is an insightful, lively look at the greatest stories ever told.

Roland Barthes

What is astrology? Fiction for the bourgeoisie. The Tour de France? An epic. The brain of Einstein? Knowledge reduced to a formula. Like iconic images of movie stars or the rhetoric of politicians, they are fabricated. Once isolated from the events that gave birth to them, these “mythologies” appear for what they are: the ideology of mass culture. When Roland Barthes’s groundbreaking Mythologies first appeared in English in 1972, it was immediately recognized as one of the most significant works in French theory—yet nearly half of the essays from the original work were missing. This new edition of Mythologies is the first complete, authoritative English version of the French classic. It includes the brilliant “Astrology,” never published in English before, as well as gorgeous photographs of 1950s France to help readers visualize the myths Barthes masterfully decrypts. Mythologies is a lesson in clairvoyance. In a new century where the virtual dominates social interactions and advertisement defines popular culture, it is more relevant than ever.
The distinguished literary critic and leading exponent of semiology, the science of signs and symbols, seeks to create a mythology of daily life.

American Gods
Neil Gaiman

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life. But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself. Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

Richard Reynolds

The super hero has been the staple of the modern comic book since the late 1930s. The phenomenally successful movies "Superman" and "Batman" have made these two comic book super heroes as familiar worldwide as any characters ever created. Yet to relatively few aficionados are they known at first hand from their appearances in comic books. Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology explores the origins of the super hero by documenting how heroes emerged from the comic book genre and are defined both by its history and by audience expectations. To show some of the most influential and paradigmatic figures, this study focuses on the texts of three comic books in the genre--The X-Men, The Dark Knight Returns, and Watchman. It examines ways in which the comics mythologize both the role of the hero and the nature of consensus, authority, and moral choice. Blending academic scholarship with specialized knowledge of the comic book medium, Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology will have appeal for several audiences. Since most of the academic scholarship published on comic books has focused on history rather than on cultural analysis, this book will be of great value to scholars of popular culture.

Superheros and Gods: A Comparative Study from Babylonia to Batman
Don LoCicero

The work provides a unique study of superheroes and gods in literature, popular culture, and ancient myth. The author selects a number of mythological figures (e.g., Babylonia's Gilgamesh and Enkidu), ancient gods (e.g., Greece's Eros and Tartarus), and modern superheroes (e.g., the United States' Superman and Captain Marvel) and identifies the often striking similarities between each unique category of characters. The author contends that the vast majority of mythological superheroes follow the same archetypal character patterns, regardless of each hero's unique time period or culture. Each of the first nine chapters examines the heroes and gods of a particular region or country, while the final chapter examines modern descendants of the hero prototype like Batman and Spiderman and several infamous anti-heroes (for example, Dracula and The Hulk).

Other Mythic Titles
Bulfinch's Mythology - Thomas Bulfinch
Christian Mythology - Allen McMains
The Clayfooted Superheros: Mythology Tales for the New Millennium - Rose Williams
D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths - Edgar Parin D'Aulaire
Mythology - Lady Hestia Evans
Mythology - Neil Philip
The Prose Edda: Tales from Norse Mythology - Snorri Sturluson
Rebuilding God: Towards a New Christian Mythology for a Post-Modern World - Peggy Catron
Sith, Slayers, Stargate, & Cyborgs: Modern Mythology in the New Millennium - John Perlich, ed.
Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human - Grant Morrison

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Seen on the Metro: Oddly familiar...

Last week on the metro, I was minding my own business when a dust jacket caught my eye. The book was Running the Books by Avi Steinberg. I was unable to read the subtitle from across the metro car, but the cover seemed familiar.

Later, when I got a chance to check Barnes and Noble, I discovered the title was familiar because the text is on my TBR list. The book's complete title is Running the Books: The Accidental Adventures of a Prison Librarian.

Yup. We librarians gotta read about each other. I, for one, consider a perk of my job.

Also, the cover of this book is awesome.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What I Read This Week: February 26, 2012

Huzzah! I made it to the gym this week and, thus, put a small dent in my magazines. (Yes, I am still talking about magazines and will be for awhile. For some reason, I can't keep up with my Atlantic subscription.) Aside from that, I read several other interesting things over the week. Behold!
  • NPR had some great stories this week. I subscribe to a few of their blogs and listen almost every day, so you could call me an NPR fanatic... but they really do have some great stuff. My favorites from the past few days include:
  • Oh yes, the magazines, I should have mentioned them earlier. This week, I got through:
    • Over half of the Jan./Feb. issue of The Atlantic. This is a very nice issue so far. I greatly enjoyed reading and was amused by the article on nutmeg, a little horrified by the article on torture, and found the images of America at Work to be quite interesting.
    • I also read the new Everyday Food. That's right, I got to it the day after it arrived in my mailbox. Woot! I pulled a few recipes, most of them slow cooker and dessert related.
  • I finished a book! My most recent professional read was How to Succeed in the Project Management Jungle. I flew through the last few chapters - not because it was good, but because it was mainly "skim these pages" case study. Full review later.
  • Finally, I started a new book - Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge. It is the first book from my Titanic collection that I will be reading this year. The Boyfriend and I saw a Titanic 3D screening on Valentine's Day. That spurred me to go find a book from this collection to read. So far it's... interesting.

Friday, February 24, 2012

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find: Sale

These tights were selected for one reason, and one reason alone: they're on sale. Surf the on over to Bare Necessities for 25% off everything.

These are Wolfords: Mikado Tights.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Links and Stuff: February 23, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

YouTube Tuesday: Rainbow

I can't believe I haven't posted this yet. (I apologize for getting this song stuck in your head... but at least it's cheery.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What I Read This Week: February 19, 2012

I shall deem this week "Valiant Effort." For not spending a lot of time reading, I seem to get a lot stuff read. I don't know how that worked, but it did. I'll take it.
  • One of these days, I will get through my magazine pile. I'm convinced that as soon as I catch up, a whole new flock of issues make there way to my inbox. This week, I managed to finish the Nov./Dec. 2011 issue of American Libraries. There was a phenomenal article on veterans and a writing workshop. If you click on any links in this post, please click this one that takes you to the story.
  • In the strictly professional reading category, I flipped through the most recent Neal-Schuman Publishers Catalog. I noted a few books about management and leadership that I should probably add to my TBR list. I also conducted my first review of the Computers in Libraries Conference Advanced Program. I'll have to start picking out what sessions to attend soon.
  • I also finished... yes, I said finished... Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea. I've been working on that book for weeks. It's dense for how small it is. Full review to come later.

Friday, February 17, 2012

BOOLEAN: Decided About Spots

The weather has been mild but dismal. Gray gray gray. Gray all day. As much as I love gray, I want more color in my life right.

These tights are from my BOOLEAN Board on Pinterest. They make me happy. I would wear them with a denim skirt.

Sadly, I have no idea where you can find them. If anyone knows, please enlighten me. I think I want to add them to my collection.

Send your BOOLEAN pictures and links to

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Links and Stuff: February 16, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

BOOLEAN: Lacey Thing

I love these tights. The design is not your typical floral lace design; they're a bit more stylistic.

Sadly, I made the poor decision to wear them on a cold day. Lace tights put up no fight against the chill of winter wind. At least they're awesome to look at.

Send your BOOLEAN pictures and links to

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What I Read This Week: Feb. 12, 2012

I was out and about a lot this week. (Go Caps!) I also decided to introduce The Boyfriend to The Tudors. (Gotta love Netflix streaming.) That said, I still managed to get some reading in this week.

  • Just when I think I'm making a dent in my magazine pile, Real Simple sends me the March edition. So, I spent Monday night reading the February 2012 issue so that I can finally call myself up to date. The cover recipe (slow cooker chicken and dumplings) is going into my "To Make One Day" pile. Actually, everything in the slow cooker recipe section looked delicious. I also think I might try a few of the crunchless ab exercises.
  • Also Monday night I succeeded in finishing off my Cooking Light magazines. Huzzah! (I now expect the March issue to arrive in my mailbox ASAP.) The Jan./Feb. 2012 issue was rather average for Cooking Light. I only ripped out a few pages to save for later. I am, however, looking forward to the future articles on the top 100 cookbooks of the past 25 years. I would also be lying if I didn't admit that I salivated over the Chocolate Recipes section.
  • I subscribe to The Washington Post. Normally, I skim most articles, but this week I found their story on local youth ice hockey to be quite good.
  • Finally, I read a few more pages in my two ongoing books (Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea and Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle). One of these days I will actually get around to finishing them.

Friday, February 10, 2012

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Bzz

These tights are a nice spine on your typical fishnets. Instead of a diamond pattern, these babies have a honeycomb.

You can purchase a pair from Bare Necessities.

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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

BOOLEAN: Plaidtastic

Last week, I busted out the Kate Spade tights I pounced on in December. They've been sitting around waiting for the perfect day to try them out. It's been far to warm this winter to wear thick, flannelesque tights.

Finally, I could wait no more.

I love them AND they're comfy. I consider these tights an epic win. Now I want to get my hands on a black dress so that I can style them differently.

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Seen on the Metro: Pop of Color

It's winter on the DC metro. That means I get to see a lot of black and gray coats. Sometimes, my commute to work is so drab in color I wish I could wear a party hat. I just need something to jazz up my ride.

Today, I was in for an unexpected surprise. A man boarded the train a stop after I got on. He was your typical commuter. Black coat, khaki pants, gray backpack, drab baseball cap. Le sigh. Then, he whipped out a book. The cover was so bright red I was nearly blinded. Thank you, David Brooks' publishing company. The cover of The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement gave me something to smile about.

As a bonus, on my way off the train, I noticed a woman with a leopard print Kindle cover. Awesome!

YouTube Tuesday: Hide and Seek

I'm beginning to think that Portlandia may have to make an appearance in my Netflix queue. More library sports leagues!

Monday, February 06, 2012

New Tab!

Another quick update - I've created a tab for all the "Features" on the blog.

Check it out.

On the Job: The End

After much consideration, I've decided to end the On the Job series of posts.

Sometimes you have to admit to yourself when something is not working. I wanted to try to make it more library oriented, but I felt odd writing these entries. While I love to share advice, these entries always felt forced.

I hope these posts helped, and the old posts will remain on the website. I want to refocus this blog and I can't find a place for a weekly work advice column.

I'm trying to trend this blog back into books, reading, information, and libraries (with a side helping of tights). I hope you'll stick with me as this blog continues to adapt and grow.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

What I Read This Week: February 5, 2012

This list is short because The Boyfriend and I discovered the wonders of Downton Abbey. Maggie Smith rules.

  • In this week's episode of Meghan Wants to Reduce Her Magazine Pile, I read through the January 2012 issue of Real Simple. My favorite article covered social media statistics and etiquette. Also, the recipe section was mighty tasty looking in this issue. I flagged several to try later.
  • I also managed to get a few pages more completed in my work read (Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle). It's okay.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Book 2: Countdown

TITLE: Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella
AUTHOR: Mira Grant
STARTED: January 8, 2012
FINISHED: January 9, 2012
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: "How are you feeling today, Amanda?"

SUMMARY: [From] The year is 2014, the year everything changed. We cured cancer. We cured the common cold. We died. This is the story of how we rose. When will you rise?

Countdown is a novella set in the world of Feed.


Ahem, now that I've got that out of my system...

This novella was a nice way to tide me over until Blackout is published in May. In this novella, Grant covers how the zombie epidemic started. It's a prequel of sorts - but the kind of prequel that truly helps you understand where the last book in the series may head. Such a tease!

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Football

Football players wear tights. Okay, tight pants stuffed with all the rejected shoulder pads from the '80s. Still, it's BOOLEAN wear that comes in lots of pretty colors.

Also, Go GIANTS!

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Thursday, February 02, 2012

Book 1: A Highland Christmas

TITLE: A Highland Christmas
AUTHOR: M.C. Beaton
STARTED: January 1, 2012
FINISHED: January 7, 2012
PAGES: 131
GENRE: Mystery

FIRST SENTENCE: More and more people each year are going abroad for Christmas.

SUMMARY: [From] In the dark, wintry highlands of Lochdubh, Scotland, the spirit of Old St. Nick is about as welcome as a flat tire on a deserted road. The Calvinist element in Lochdubh has always resisted what they view as the secular trimmings of the holiday, so for most of the townspeople, there's no pudding, carols, banquets, gifts, or even whisky for Christmas.

Nor is crime taking a holiday, as Hamish soon finds himself looking for a missing cat belonging to a lonely spinster. Confrontational and curt, the unfriendly woman insists her pet was stolen. Looking into her eyes behind her heavily bolted door, Hamish can see her true problem-she lives in great fear...but what is she afraid of?

Then some thieves make off with a Christmas tree and lights in nearby Cnothan and Hamish must investigate. As if that isn't enough on his holiday plate, Hamish's romance of the new schoolteacher is going fine, until she mentions a perfect little girl whose family abhors Christmas...and whose behavior has recently become very imperfect.

Now it's up to Hamish to make things right. He has to protect an unhappy girl, unlock the secrets of a frightened old woman, and retrieve some stolen holiday goods. And he had better do it quickly, for the church bells will soon toll, and all of Lochdubh will be forced to face another dreary winter without the warm embrace of A Highland Christmas.

THOUGHTS: The summary above is about as long as the story. Well, almost. This book, like all of M.C. Beaton's books, is a quick and enjoyable read.

This entry into the Hamish MacBeth series is a slight diversion from Beaton's usual affair. Hamish and all the characters of Lochdubh are still the same, but the mystery is much lighter. In the end, you don't care who committed the crime, you're just happy it's Christmas season in the Scottish highlands.


Links and Stuff: February 2, 2012