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Book Review: Life without Envy by Camille DeAngelis

 

(St. Martin’s Press, 2016)

Life without Envy by Camille DeAngelis

By Michelle Waitzman

Camille DeAngelis is a novelist whose career has had its ups and downs. Like many writers, she often found herself battling self-doubt, jealousy, bitterness, and frustration. She decided that it was time to re-examine her beliefs about herself and her career and, most importantly, to examine her ego and how it was affecting her professional life.

Life without Envy: Ego Management for Creative People will resonate mainly with readers who consider themselves “creators” (authors, poets, visual artists, musicians, etc.). Although it is written from the point of view of a writer, and most of the examples in the book revolve around writing, it addresses common problems with working in any profession where success and failure are often subjective and where both praise and criticism are taken very personally.

Editors may find that this book is not really targeted to them unless they also have a writing career or aspire to have one. Nonetheless, some of the examples are likely to ring true. As an editor, it’s easy to feel envy or frustration after working for months to shape and improve a book, only to see all of the praise and credit for its success go to the author (whose work may not have succeeded without you). Also, many editors suffer from “imposter syndrome,” which is a feeling that you are only pretending to know how to do your job (despite the fact that you are actually well-qualified) and believe that you will be caught out and exposed. (more…)

Book Review: Make It Happen, by Kari Chapin

(Chronicle Books)

 Make It Happen, by Kari Chapin

By Christine Albert

Time is a commodity that often seems to be in short supply. Recognizing the need for professionals to learn not only how they’re using their time, but also how to work more efficiently, Kari Chapin created Make It Happen: A Workbook and Productivity Tracker for Getting Stuff Done. A business consultant, podcaster, and public speaker, Chapin has also authored two books on growing a creative business and has designed an idea-generation workbook. Having worked for 15 years in marketing and publicity, Chapin understands that time is money—so it’s important to work faster, smarter, and better.

As the title suggests, Make It Happen is not simply a time-tracking tool. Part journal, part productivity tracker, it lets users create schedules, track time spent on various tasks, reflect on their work habits and possibly improve their process. The workbook provides prompts, activity trackers, schedule outlines, and blank notes sections. While some elements repeat (such as the “Make It Happen,” “Break It Down,” “My Time Today,” “I Could Swap,” and double-page reflection prompts), they’re not set in repeating order. Instead, Chapin includes a blank date box on each recto page—a good choice as it allows for greater flexibility. This open-ended design lets users tailor the workbook to their own work style and preferences. (more…)

Book Review: Other-Wordly: Words Both Strange and Lovely from around the World  by Yee-Lum Mak 

(Chronicle Books, 2016)

By Jaye Marsh
Other-Wordly: Words Both Strange and Lovely from around the World by Yee-Lum Mak 

Jungian analyst Robert Johnson’s oft-quoted words from his book The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden have stayed with me: “Sanskrit has 96 words for love, ancient Persian has 80, Greek three, and English only one.” Given the English language’s predilection for absorbing new words from many cultures, it still has a paucity of beautiful and concise terms for the eternal and universal concepts of love, pain, and the sublime. In her search for the sublime in language, Yee-Lum Mak created Other-Wordly in which we find “komorebi: the sunlight that filters through the leaves and trees” and “hiraeth: a homesickness for a home which maybe never was”. Mak is from California and currently completing advanced English studies at the University of Edinburgh. Her love of words began when she stumbled across the Portuguese term for “the love that remains” (saudade), which sparked her search for other “strange and lovely” words.

Some words are striking, respectfully highlighting different cultural norms. Others show a sense of humour about the human condition. Two paired Japanese words let us peek at cultural values: “tatemae: what a person pretends to believe” and “honne: what a person truly believes.” A lovely Spanish word describes my favourite activity, “sobremesa: the time spent around the table after dinner talking to the people with whom you shared the meal.” Not wanting to spoil the joy of discovery, I expect most of us in the editorial world can relate to page 13: buying books, hoarding books, books piling up – there are words for that! (more…)

Book Review: Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb

Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb
(Rodale Books, January 2016)

By Jessica Trudel

Not all editors are writers, but all editors are readers. The majority of us fell in love with stories when we were little, making friends with the characters on the page. Some of those memorable characters were inside TV shows, movies, and video games, too. Steve Kamb, the author of Level Up Your Life, reminds us of our greatest childhood heroes and uses that nostalgia to make goal-setting fun again.

The concept for Level Up Your Life began for Kamb when he found himself with everything a person needs—family, friends, a good job—but he still felt unfulfilled. After establishing a website to help gamers like himself get fit (nerdfitness.com), Kamb realized that wellness is about so much more than physical fitness. He writes, “I wanted to turn my life into a game…I could become adventurous Steve Kamb, actively planning crazy experiences that would take me out of my comfortable hobbit-hole and away to far-off lands, into life-changing moments of growth and adventure.” He realized that by gamifying his life, he could start accomplishing all of his personal and professional goals. And that’s exactly what he did.

Now, Kamb is teaching others how to do the same thing. With Level Up Your Life, Kamb shows readers how to use this same system to achieve their own goals.

Level Up Your Life isn’t a book about editing, but it is a book for editors. It’s for anyone who wants to reach his or her personal and professional best in life. What are your editing goals? To gain five new clients this year? To expand into a new field of editing? To upgrade your skills and take a new course? Whatever your goal, Level Up Your Life will show how to make goal-setting fun through gamification. (more…)

Book review: See Also Deception, by Larry D. Sweazy

(Released May 2015)

By Vanessa Wells

Book review: See Also Deception, by Larry D. Sweazy

Full disclosure: I have never been into murder mysteries. No early Nancy Drews, no later Agatha Christies—frankly, I just felt like I would never be able to figure the mystery out and would feel kinda dumb, so I never embraced the genre. The only reason I was interested in the Marjorie Trumaine books by Larry D. Sweazy was that I’d heard they were written by and about an indexer.

I was a little skeptical about how the second book of the mystery series, See Also Deception, could pick up with a new murder only months after those of the first, but this fell by the wayside once I cracked open the book. In a nutshell, our newbie-sleuth heroine cannot accept that her librarian friend has committed suicide, and her indexer-character tenacity leads her to work the details of the case that are missed by the police. Fortunately, foreshadowing is well handled and carries the reader’s interest rather than handing over the solution to the murder on a silver platter. This is perhaps due to Sweazy’s writing habit of working organically and without complete pre-outlining, which lets the story unfold for himself as much as for his audience.

In his acknowledgments, the author says, “Indexing, like writing, is a job best done in isolation.” In See Also Deception, he has again succeeded in creating an atmosphere that highlights the protagonist’s isolation, both physical and psychological, despite the constant presence of her invalid husband and her community of Dickinson, North Dakota. The bleak feeling also works for the character and plot development that he tantalizingly creates for the reader. (more…)

Revisiting Betsy Lerner’s The Forest for the Trees

By Alanna BrousseauRevisiting Betsy Lerner’s The Forest for the Trees

“No matter how beleaguered the world of editing has become,” writes Betsy Lerner in The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers (2010), “no matter how short a book’s shelf life in today’s market, no matter how Kindled, downloaded, or digitized, none of us can ever forget the feeling of first discovering the majesty of reading.”

Lerner, an editor turned author turned literary agent, has two books under her belt and a third, The Bridge Ladies, forthcoming in May. I was introduced to Lerner after enrolling in one of my first editing courses in the publishing program at Ryerson University. Her first book, The Forest for the Trees, was one of two primary resources we drew inspiration from over those fast-paced few months. Lerner’s dry wit and self-deprecating humour were invigorating—a far cry from the polite prose we had been reading up until that point.

I did some digging later and stumbled upon Lerner’s blog, and I have been a devout follower ever since. Her posts, often whimsically titled (“You’d Be a Wing in Heaven Blue”), contain the same caustic humour that was the hallmark of The Forest for the Trees. Lerner frequently engages with her readers by posing questions to them at the end of each post. As a result, the comments section has become a lively community where writers encourage each other in their respective endeavours and offer congratulations when the hard work finally pays off. (more…)

Book review: Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation, by David Crystal

(Released October 2015)

By Nicole North

 Making a Point: The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation

This latest book by world-renowned linguistics authority David Crystal showcases his talent for instructing writers of English while entertaining them with great wit and a punchy narrative style. Punctuation is the focus of Making a Point, and Crystal gives a detailed and straightforward history of its use as well as effective advice.

For Crystal, punctuation is about improving legibility, avoiding ambiguity, reflecting the natural rhythms of speech, and clarifying complex sentences. Editors and writers of all sorts will find this book helpful. Crystal uses examples from an impressive array of works—short stories, poetry, novels, essays, advertisements, and emoji-laden text.

Each example illustrates topics pertinent not only to specific genres of writing but also to greater points about today’s uses of punctuation. This study of punctuation as a window into linguistics in general and effective communication in particular elucidates a key aspect of writing and editing. (more…)

Book review: Penguin and the Lane Brothers: The Untold Story of a Publishing Revolution, by Stuart Kells

(Released August 2015)Penguin and the Lane Brothers

By Ana Trask

Penguin Books has been an international literary treasure—a cultural institution that remains a stronghold in the publishing market—since its inception in the 1930s. The 2013 merger with Random House further cemented its omnipresence in the literary scene. However, despite its decades-long prominence, accounts of Penguin’s history have been incomplete and erroneous. Stuart Kells seeks to set history straight in this meticulously researched, unbiased biography of the publishing behemoth and its founders.

When Kells wrote this book, Wikipedia listed Allen Lane as the sole founder of Penguin Books. In fact, all previous biographies of Penguin focus on Allen, whom the public hailed a publishing genius. So how did a man whose favourite book was The Culture of the Abdomen: The Cure of Obesity and Constipation establish a publishing empire? The answer is he didn’t.

Kells unearthed a vast array of sources to reveal that the lesser-known Lane brothers, Richard and John (who were co-founders with Allen and held equal ownership), were not only instrumental in the hatching of Penguin but also the wings that made this flightless bird soar. Richard in particular was the ongoing driving force, as John was killed during World War II. Richard rightfully takes centre stage in this story; this book might as well have been subtitled The Untold Story of Richard Lane. He was the true “architect” of Penguin. (more…)