Saturday, August 20, 2011

Literary Shoes and a Homemade Life

From MediaBistro's "GalleyCat" comes this marvelous new website and readers resource, BookLamp:

How Publishers & Readers Can Use BookLamp
By Jason Boog on August 18, 2011 3:53 PM

Ever wish you could find new books the same way Pandora helps you find new music? Using a series of algorithms, BookLamp analyzes your favorite books for five style elements and then delivers you customized recommendations with similar themes and style.

The site currently tracks more than 618 million data points, trying to decode the DNA of literature. Here’s a simple explanation: “Motion, Density, Description, Dialog and Pacing are stylistic metrics or terms developed to help make the complicated under-workings of our analysis more understandable. They are not the complete picture of what makes up a book’s writing style, nor a complete picture of what BookLamp tracks in a book, but they do measure elements that a person can easily understand.”

In another awesome use of literature for functional design, here are shoes created from famous works of classic literature (I am partial to the Romeo and Juliet shoes):

"Here's the idea: sneakers inspired by some of the greatest literary works of all time. Each design pays tribute to one fantastic book everyone should read before they die, and shows off your love of classic fiction to the world. I'll admit, this is a passion project for me. New designs will keep coming as often as my time and creative energy permit. Suggestions always welcome, though I'll have to have read the book before I can design them. Comments, referrals and promotion absolutely encouraged Women's sizes: According to Zazzle, women should order a men's shoe 1.5 sizes smaller than their size—so if you wear a women's size 7 you should order a men's 5.5. I may end up specifically designing women's counterparts if there's a demand for it."

I have just finished Molly Wizenberg's "A Homemade Life" for my Tuesday night book group, and because I'd just read "My Year With Eleanor" and "Tolstoy and the Purple Chair" this book felt like the third part of a trilogy about women finding their way through grief and/or pain by concentrating on doing something positive with their life, in this case, cooking as a vocation and falling in love (and getting married). Wizenberg loses her father to a swift and brutal cancer, and spends much of the book talking about the foods that he made, and the foods she grew up eating. She also discusses the time she spent in Paris, and the excellent foods she ate there. Unfortunately, since I can't have dairy or eggs, her recipes that are found in each chapter are not ones I can try, because all of them have butter and cream in them, as well as nuts and onions. Still, it was a delicious read, and one I will not soon forget. Though I plan on asking the willowy Ms Wizenberg (she is visiting the Covington Library in late September) how she manages to stay slender when she eats a couple of sticks of butter and pints of cream every day, along with French bread and chocolate. If I ate like that, I'd be huge. Still, I'd give this book a solid B+.

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