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Thursday, July 10, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 56.0° F  Fair


Madison Central Library's bold new Media Lab has free tools for budding artists, animators and videogame designers

If you've visited the new Central Library, you might have noticed a mysterious room near the teen section that resembles a TV studio, complete with computers, cameras and a green screen. It looks like some kind of secret workshop where the staff makes library propaganda. >More
 A Book A Week: Longbourn by Jo Baker

Longbourn is a down-at-the-heels understaffed house in 19th century England, where you are more likely to get pigshit on your shoes than to meet a nobleman. The fact that Longbourn is the home of the Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice is hardly mentioned in Jo Baker's Longbourn, and the few Bennet family members who do appear in the novel do so peripherally and mostly unsympathetically. >More
 Jordan Ellenberg, the math evangelist

Jordan Ellenberg really wants you to like math. Not math in the sense of calculating a tip or doing your taxes, but math as the path to understanding, math as evidence, math as truth. Hence the title his new book, How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, which Penguin Press released this week. >More
 A Book A Week: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

It's hard to write about We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler without spoilers. If you are considering reading it, I recommend you stop reading this and go get the book right away, before you accidentally discover the secret. >More
 A Book A Week: The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

Attentive readers will know that Robert Galbraith, author of The Cuckoo's Calling, is a pseudonym for J. K. Rowling. The Harry Potter author was outed by someone from her law firm, but not before she had gotten this book published, sold a decent number of copies, and had offers from television production companies for the rights. >More
 A Book A Week: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Reading Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch was like going to a big, loud party that went way too late. Some of the time it was fun and really astonishing, but a lot of the time I just wished I were doing something else. >More
 A Book A Week: The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

World-building is one of the trickiest parts of writing fantasy and science fiction. Books are often front-loaded with detail, and sometimes this detail is essential for understanding later plot developments. >More
 A Book A Week: The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin

Is Valerie Martin's genre-bending The Ghost of the Mary Celeste a ghost story? (There are lots of ghosts.) Is it an investigation of a real historical mystery? (What happened aboard the brigantine Mary Celeste in 1872, and why was it found floating derelict near Gibraltar, its crew and captain missing, but with no signs of a struggle and all the cargo intact?) >More
 A Book A Week: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Who can keep up with Neil Gaiman? He writes fiction (for adults and children), screenplays (for film and television), comics and graphic novels. He seems to always be popping up here and there, speaking, teaching, blogging... the man is busy. >More
 A Book A Week: How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

I am always on the lookout for books by (and about) funny women, but they aren't so easy to find. You'd be amazed at the junk that pops up in a search on Google or Amazon. >More
 A Book A Week: The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble

Margaret Drabble is a "writer of a certain age" (according to Fay Weldon, more of which later). She's also a leading lady of British letters, author of 17 novels (most of which I've read), and she's got some of those letters after her name (DBE) that mean the Queen likes her. Her latest novel is The Pure Gold Baby, about an anthropologist called Jess, who raises her mentally handicapped daughter Anna as a single mother in North London in the 1960s and '70s. >More
 A Book A Week: Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

In the Curtis Sittenfeld novel Sisterland, the eponymous country is inhabited by two people only: a set of twins, Daisy and Violet. As children, the Sisterland geography was their shared bedroom, but it was also the inside of their heads. >More
 A Book A Week: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes was in Madison a few months ago for the opening of the new Central Library. At that event she read from her latest book, The Girl You Left Behind. I reviewed that book in advance of her visit. But most people who came to hear Moyes read that day were fans of her previous book, Me Before You, which was a big seller. >More
 A Book A Week: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

Alice Munro's stories conjure up feelings that I don't normally experience from reading fiction. I abandon my concern with plot or character arcs (though these are certainly present) and instead allow myself to be transported by the beauty of each story as a whole. >More
 A Book A Week: Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones's Diary was clever and original when it came out in 1996, and I loved it. I also liked the 2001 movie version starring Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth. Somewhat less interesting was the sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. That book broke no new ground and as far as I could tell only served to wrap up the romance. >More
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