Books that make Shakespeare easy to understand for kids and youth of all ages. Oxford offers help with Shakespeare by publishing three different styles, so when someone says, “I don’t understand Shakespeare” these translations will make Shakespeare easy to learn, easy to read and fun to follow.
Archive for the ‘Great Reads’ Category
A reissue of a book originally released in 1970, offering a personal glimpse into one of Canada’s most controversial and beloved leaders. Written by Pierre Elliot Trudeau, you will learn much about the man by the opinions he shares in this fascinating, easy read.
International relations and global politics are often subject to the context and perspective from which they’re analyzed. This well informed piece is one of few that offer detailed analysis of global politics from a Canadian perspective. Written by two highly acclaimed scholars who are active world wide at various levels, this book is an updated look at how the political pockets of today’s world are interacting with each other. An essential university text as well as a fascinating read for anyone interested in world politics.
Donna Bennett and Russell Brown provide an encore of a celebrated collection of Canadian authors and literature. Not only the perfect collection for those studying Canadian literature in college or university, but also a fabulous vacation or summer read!
The bard may be immortal, but how do you make Shakespeare relevant—or for that matter understandable—for today’s students? A new series from our School Division provides an answer, and I discuss it in the latest installment of my video blog:
Isaac Asimov is best-known as a science fiction writer—I understand his Foundation series is to be filmed by Roland Emmerich—but the majority of his more than 500 books were actually nonfiction. Indeed, from the 1950s through the end of the ’80s, Asimov was virtually a one-man Book of the Month Club, issuing well-regarded tomes on everything from subatomic physics to Shakespeare.
Some of those books remain in print, but many have gone by the wayside. I’d particularly like to see Asimov’s science essays brought back into print. Carl Sagan once called Asimov “the greatest explainer of the age,” and Asimov’s series of essays originally written for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and later reprinted in a couple of dozen volumes by Doubleday & Co. are masterpieces of the science writer’s craft.
Of course, some of those essays are dated now, but the step-by-step historical approach Asimov took to explaining scientific subjects means that many are just as valid now as when they were written 40 years ago.
Take, for instance, his 1971 collection of F&SF essays, The Stars in Their Courses, which I recently re-read. Asimov’s discussions of Newton’s laws of motion and how the mass of the earth was first measured are models of how to explain difficult concepts simply and engagingly. The book also includes a couple of insightful essays on the sociology of science (“The Fateful Lightning,” on Ben Franklin and the lightning rod; and “The Sin of the Scientist,” where Asimov argues that the development of poison gas warfare during World War I permanently altered social attitudes toward science for the worse).
These essays (and hundreds more that he wrote during a career spanning half-a-century) deserve a new lease on life. Asimov’s ability to render even difficult concepts easy—indeed, deceptively easy—to understand remains, in my opinion, unmatched by any other popularizer of science.
The other day at work, a colleague asked me if I’d read any good books lately. I bumbled around and managed to come up with an answer of sorts, but the truth is, the question caught me flat-footed. –Not because I don’t read books (I do), but because I don’t tend to think of the concepts of “reading books” and “work” as having much to do with each other.
Given that I work in book publishing, that sounds odd, I admit; but while I do a lot of reading at work virtually none of it involves books. I read reports, memos, spreadsheets, and emails by the thousand. Once in a while I read a manuscript, which is kind of, but not quite, a book. But actual books? Not during working hours!
Nonetheless, I have read some books recently which I recommend to you – for instance, Bruce Hutchison’s The Fraser. Hutchison was perhaps the preeminent Canadian journalist of the twentieth century. His career spanned seven decades and apart from his newspaper work, he also published a couple of dozen books, three of which won the Governor General’s Award for creative nonfiction.
The Fraser was part of a long-running series called “Rivers of America.” It was first published in the US and W.H. Clarke, who around mid-century ran the Canadian branch of Oxford University Press as a de facto imprint of his own firm of Clarke, Irwin, secured the Canadian rights.
The reissue includes a new introduction by noted journalist Vaughn Palmer. It’s a great book and I recommend it highly. Hutchison was a terrific writer and his account of the exploration of the Fraser River valley and the settlement of British Columbia is enormously entertaining. Pierre Berton later acknowledged the influence Hutchison had on Berton’s own bestselling popular histories, and if you enjoyed The National Dream or The Last Spike, you’ll enjoy The Fraser.
As has been noted elsewhere in the blogosphere, if you think you’ve heard of something like the iPad before … well, you have. Forty-two years ago, in his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, legendary science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke described a device virtually identical to the iPad. He called it the “newspad,” and here’s how he described it:
“When he was tired of official reports and memoranda and minutes, [Heywood Floyd] would plug his foolscap-sized Newspad into the ship’s information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. One by one he would conjure up the world’s major electronic papers; he knew the codes of the more important ones by heart … He would hold the front page while he quickly searched the headlines and noted the items that interested him [which he would expand] until it neatly filled the screen and he could read it with comfort.”
The newspad makes an appearance in the movie 2001 as well: if I recall correctly, you see one of the astronauts aboard the spacecraft Discovery en route to Jupiter reading it while eating breakfast.
Not only did Clarke guess right about the i/news Pad, he also guessed right about its contents. Again from the novel: “There was another thought which a scanning of those tiny electronic headlines often invoked. The more wonderful the means of communication, the more trivial, tawdry, or depressing its contents seemed to be.”
Amen to that.
The quarter-century stretching from 1950 to 1975 marked for many the Golden Age of magazine journalism in Canada. Magazines such as Maclean’s, Saturday Night, and Chatelaine reached the zenith of their influence. Equally important, but almost forgotten today, were the lithographed “Saturday supplements,” Weekend Magazine and The Canadian, that were distributed with Saturday newspapers throughout the country and reached millions of readers each week.
I well remember those magazines, and I was delighted when the opportunity arose to preserve some of the best material from Weekend in more permanent form. Ernest Hillen was among the finest magazine journalists of the era, and his pieces for Weekend still evoke a poignant sense of what this country and its inhabitants were about in the late 1960s and early ’70s.
One of Hillen’s assignments was to travel the country from coast-to-coast, profiling interesting people and places, many of them well off the beaten track. In the pages of A Weekend Memoir, you’ll meet rodeo riders, small-town newspapermen, southwestern Ontario farming families, and a variety of other unforgettable characters. It’s a series of snapshots of times and places now lost beyond recall, but still alive in memory … and in the pages of this book. I recommend it.
We commend to your attention the newly published City of the End of Things, an omnibus edition of three short books by Northrop Frye, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Edward Togo Salmon originally published by Oxford in the 1960s and ’70s.
Frye remains well-known as one of Canada’s preeminent literary theorists, and Oppenheimer was of course the father of the atomic bomb. Salmon is less well-known except to people like me who have come across the Edward Togo Salmon Building on the McMaster University campus in Hamilton, Ont. — he was one of Canada’s most distinguished classicists and historians during the middle third of the 20th century.
The three brief books making up City of the End of Things were first presented as part of the Whidden Lecture Series at McMaster (a series which continues to this idea) and although they were first published more than a generation ago, they are in many ways as current as today’s headlines. Oppenheimer provides a clear introduction to some of the key issues of nuclear physics and muses upon the relationship between science and society; Frye considers the role of the arts in an increasingly commercialized world; and Salmon reflects on the factors contributing to the fall of empires. He takes the Roman and British Empires as his examples, but what he says is just as appropriate to the American Empire in today’s post-9/11 world.
Incidentally, OUP also publishes Abraham Pais’ biography of Oppenheimer.