Thursday, March 26, 2009

Top Java Moments... in literature

Benjamin Obler's top 10 fictional coffee scenes

From Cheever to Murakami, debut novelist and coffee lover Benjamin Obler brews up the most aromatic mentions of coffee in literature.

1. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Janie went down and the landlady made her drink some coffee with her because she said her husband was dead and it was bad to be having your morning coffee by yourself.

2. The Russian Debutante's Handbook by Gary Shteyngart

...he grew restless, attributing it to the coffee settling in his stomach.

3. Running Dog by Don DeLillo

Glen Selvy stuck his head around the edge of the partition to say good night. Lightborne asked him in for coffee, which was perking on a GE hotplate in a corner of the room. Selvy checked his watch and sat in a huge, dusty armchair … [Lightborne] poured three cups. Moll believed she detected an edge of detachment in Selvy's voice and manner.

4. The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño


I'm sick for real. Rosario is making me stay in bed. Before she left for work she went out to borrow a thermos from a neighbour and she left me half a litre of coffee. Also four aspirin. I have a fever. I've started and finished two poems.

5. Good Evening, Mrs And Mr America and All the Ships at Sea by Richard Bausch

The waiter came to take their orders. He stood in front of them, holding his pad and waiting - a balding, heavyset man with a tattoo of a falcon on one arm.

"Oh," she said. "Let me see. I'll have a cup of chilli with onions and crackers, and the pork chops, with a baked potato, and a salad. And these chicken wings. Am I going too fast?"

The waiter looked at her with drowsy eyes. "Salad - " he said.

"And milk. And coffee. Oh, and sour cream and butter on the potato."

6. Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence

What will you drink – coffee?

7. A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

I met her in autumn nine years ago, when I was twenty and she was seventeen.

There was a small coffee shop near the university where I hung out with friends. It wasn't much of anything, but it offered certain constants: hard rock and bad coffee.

8. The Comforters by Muriel Spark

"Tell me about the voices," he said. "I heard nothing myself. From what direction did they come?"

"Over there, beside the fireplace," she answered.

"Would you like some tea? I think there is tea."

"Oh, coffee. Could I have some coffee? I don't think I'm likely to sleep."

9. George Saunders's short story The Barber's Unhappiness from his collection Pastoralia

Mornings the barber left his stylists inside and sat outside of his ship drinking coffee and ogling every woman in sight.

10. John Cheever's short story O City of Broken Dreams from The Stories of John Cheever

The Malloys found their way, that afternoon, to the Broadway Automat. They shouted with pleasure at the magical coffee spigots and the glass doors that sprang open.

- Benjamin Obler, writing for

Read the unabridged article here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Warning: books may damage your health

I've noticed an odd consensus springing up among what used to be called the establishment: that reading inevitably produces good, wholesome citizens. After last week's Children's Society report declared that Britain's youth were devolving into feral illiterates, the government insisted that what they need is a damn good reading.

- Alastair Harper,

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Save The Words!

If you love words as much as we do, find room for them again in conversation. Each time you use an abandoned word you increase its chance of survival. Adopt a word today!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Green is the New Black

Green is becoming more fashionable than ever. From recycling and slick solar panelling, to kitting out your sprog in organic bamboo-cotton nappies, there are so many ways we can help to slow down the decimation of this pretty planet we live on.

You are already on the Green Team by supporting Pulp Books (and therefore Food & Trees for Africa), but if you would like to do more we recommend the following books:

Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life
Sophie Uliano
Paperback, 309 pages


"Gorgeously Green" is a handbook for living the good life while caring for the Earth. Packed with the most up-to-date information, this work covers fashion, home, travel, and more. Illustrated.

Going Green: 365 Ways to Change Our World
Simon Gear
Penguin SA

This South African title will help readers 'go green' one day at a time. Filled with simple and easy-to-implement tips and steps on how to decrease your carbon footprint and make the world a more sustainable place, Going Green is the perfect beginner's guide. The tips are divided into categories such as home, office and garden and all prove the point that saving the environment need not be an expensive or time-consuming activity. In fact, by implementing these tips into daily life readers may end up saving more than just the environment.

Green Architecture
Philip Jodidio

James Wines puts up the various - and often irreconcilable - concepts of environmentally-friendly architecture for discussion, making a case for an architecture that not only focuses on technological solutions, but also tries to reconcile man and nature in its formal idiom. Among the examples of contemporary ecological architecture presented are works by Emilio Ambasz, Gustav Peichl, Arthur Quarmby, Jean Nouvel, Sim Van der Ryn, Jourda and Perraudin, Log ID, James Cutler, Stanley Saitowitz, François Roche, Nigel Coates and Michael Sorkin.

Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century
Alex Steffen
HNA Books

Written by leading new thinkers who believe that the means for building a better future lie all around, this text is packed with the information, resources, reviews, and ideas that give readers the tools they need to make a difference. From eco-building to responsible shopping, political action to humanitarian relief, this work puts the power to solve problems into the readers' hands.

Jane’s Delicious Garden: How to grow organic vegetable and herbs
Jane Griffiths
Sunbird Publishers

Do you want to grow organic vegetables but don’t know where to begin? Jane’s Delicious Garden is the perfect book for you - whether you have green fingers or not. Packed with practical advice, time saving tips, step by step instructions and personal anecdotes, this book is for beginners and gardening gurus alike. With over 200 photographs, and detailed information on nearly 100 different vegetables and herbs, this guide will enable you to feed your family and friends with wholesome, organic food harvested from your own garden.

When Santa Turned Green
Victoria Perla
Thomas Nelson Publishers

A creative holiday story introduces kids to environmental awareness with ways that they can make a big difference. Everything's going along smoothly at Santa's workshop until he discovers a leak in his roof, and he realizes the North Pole is melting because of global warming. Faced with the reality of what this could mean for Christmas, not to mention the planet and the future, Santa is determined to turn things around.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Barbara Kingsolver
Harper Perennial

In her first full-length non-fiction narrative, bestselling author Kingsolver opens readers' eyes in a hundred new ways to an old truth: you are what you eat. The bestselling author returns with a wise and compelling celebration of family, food, nature, and community.

On Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening Without Boundaries
Richard Reynolds
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

When Richard Reynolds began planting flowers secretly at night outside his tower block in South London he had no idea he was part of a growing global movement committed to combating the forces of neglect, land shortage and apathy towards public spaces. But his blog attracted other guerrillas from around the world to share their experiences of the horticultural front line with him and become a focal point for guerrilla gardeners everywhere. "On Guerrilla Gardening" is a lively colourful treatise about why people illicitly cultivate land and how to do it. From discretely beautifying corners of Montreal to striving for green communal space in Berlin and sustainable food production in San Francisco, from small gestures of fun in Zurich to bold political statements in Brazil, cultivating land beyond your boundary is a battle many different people are fighting. Unearthed along the way are the movement's notable historic advances by seventeenth century English radicals, a nineteenth century American entrepreneur and artists in 1970s New York. Reynolds has researched the subject with guerrilla gardeners from thirty different countries and compiles their advice on what to grow, how to cope with adverse environmental conditions, how to seed bomb effectively and to use propaganda to win support.

Wake Up and Smell the Planet: The Non-Pompous, Non-Preachy Grist Guide to Greening Your Day
Grist Magazine
Published by Mountaineers Books

Sustainability is the new "bling," and Grist knows how to wear it.

Not a guide about guilt, but about making little choices throughout the day that improve the planet. Grist is the hottest online magazine covering sustainability and popular culture.

Like Grist, this is a quirky, humorous, entertaining, and sometimes irreverent read. We all have our morning routines, whether it's making coffee, walking the dog, feeding the kids, a shower and a shave, the office commute, or some combination thereof. And at each of these morning moments (in fact, at any given time throughout the day) we're making choices. What to eat, what to wear, how to dispose of dog poop or diapers, how to travel from point A to point B, where to have a post-work cocktail, and on, and on, this compact and resourceful handbook takes a look at how to simplify and "green" our daily choices, from the moment we get up in the morning, until we finally lay our heads down at night.

Architecture of Change: Sustainability and Humanity in the Built Environment
Kristin & Lukas Feireiss
Die Gestalten Verlag

Architecture of Change features recently built and realised work that – in addition to its exceptional architectural quality – makes a notable contribution to a liveable and sustainable future. The book also covers current initiatives that promote innovative research in this sector and thus encourage an emerging generation of environmentally aware architects and urban planners. Presenting over forty impressive examples of pioneering international projects that are improving our environment in real ways, the publication is a relevant reference for both a professional and general audience.

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: 365 Simple Ways to Save Energy, Resources, and Money
Joanna Yarrow
Published by Chronicle Books

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint is the world citizen's guide to pushing back the advance of global warming. This colorful handbook offers 500 practical, easily achievable ideas that conserve energy, prevent pollution, and save money. Did you know that unplugging appliances and cell phone chargers when not in use can reduce electricity bills by 10 percent? Or that recycling just one glass bottle saves enough power to run a computer for 30 minutes? Whether the subject is jet travel, dishwashing, or any of the 50 topics in the book, surprising statistics and innovative graphics will inspire action and demonstrate that simple habits can lead to big results.

Love Green Food: Cooking and Eating with Consciousness
Larissa Green

A fresh bold approach to eating and cooking naturally, consciously and spiritually. It is non-prescriptive, fun and simple and anyone - from die-hard meat eaters to the leafiest vegetarians - will enjoy cooking from this book.

The Virtuous Consumer
Leslie Garrett
Published by Inner Ocean Publishers Inc

Is laminate flooring good or bad? Should one buy beverages in plastic bottles or cans? And how can one crack the code of little numbers in triangles on the bottom of plastic containers? "Virtuous Consumer" is for busy people who want to buy responsibly but are not sure where to start. There's surprisingly little useful information available, so in this book Leslie Garrett provides the answers to commonly asked questions. Each chapter in this practical, easy-to-read book reveals how a particular sector of the economy impacts the planet and its people.

Green Is the New Black: How to Change the World with Style
Tasmin Blanchard
Published by William Morrow

For fashionistas who care about global warming and next season's hot looks, "Green is the New Black" is a must-have accessory.
Does our shopping addiction contribute to climate change? What's so special about organic cotton? Who are the real fashion victims behind $5 jeans?
From green carpet glamour to ethical bling, slow and low travel to the joys of swap parties, Blanchard explains the principles of green fashion, from why it matters to how to do it, with fun facts and essential directories on every aspect of sustainable stylish living. Full of emerald-hued fashion secrets from Blanchard's celebrity friends, "Green is the New Black" is smart, inspirational, and will show even the most diehard shopaholic how she can salve her desire and her conscience, and begin to pull off one of fashion's toughest colors with ease. Ready to be eco-fabulous? If you want to change the world and your wardrobe, don't go shopping without it!

Pulp Books supports Earth Hour. To sign up go here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

To Feather a Nest, a Wild Goose Chase

“The Cradle” has enough drama to fill 700 pages. But Somerville focuses solely on life’s catalysts — those unpredictable catastrophes, coincidences and revelations that suddenly bring our pasts into focus, destabilize our presents and make our futures appear random and chaotic.

As a writer, I’m still wondering how Somerville created this exquisitely complex story on such a small canvas. As a reader, I’m glad he did.

- Dean Bakopoulos,

Read the review here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

M&B and Virgin kiss and make up

Just to keep you updated, following Mills & Boon’s protest against Virgin’s kissing ban at Warrington station, Virgin have removed the signs and the two companies have decided to kiss and make up!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Audrey Niffenegger Receives $5 Million Advance for Second Novel

Six years after the publication of her blockbuster best-selling novel, “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” Audrey Niffenegger has sold a new manuscript for close to $5 million, according to people with knowledge of the negotiations. It is an especially significant sum at a time of retrenchment and economic uncertainty in the publishing world.

After a fiercely contested auction, Scribner, a unit of Simon & Schuster, bought the rights to publish the new novel, “Her Fearful Symmetry,” in the United States this fall. The book is a supernatural story about twins who inherit an apartment near a London cemetery and become embroiled in the lives of the building’s other residents and the ghost of their aunt, who left them the flat.

- Motoko Rich, The New York Times

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The New Scrooge

Are there lemonade stands that donate more to charity than

With's recent announcement of profits of $645 million on revenues of $19.17 billion last year, the company isn't just surviving the recession—it's pounding its rivals into the dust. So it's cakes and ale all around for charitable beneficiaries of the Seattle giant's largesse, right?

Sure—if they're buying.

While is famously cheap in its prices, it's also become infamously cheap to the community it lives in. The tacit silence over Amazon's stinginess was first broken in a 2007 complaint on a Publishers Weekly blog by a rival Seattle bricks-and-mortar bookseller. When Paul Constant, books editor at the Seattle alt-weekly the Stranger, followed up on the post last year, he hit a stone wall: "[] has refused to return repeated e-mails and calls from The Stranger about the company's seemingly nonexistent contributions to the Seattle arts scene," he wrote at the time. "Internet searches for any sign of philanthropy on behalf of the company prove fruitless."


Monday, March 9, 2009

Dinner Companions

Alone in London last spring, I took Grégoire Bouillier’s short book “The Mystery Guest” to my favorite restaurant, propping it up over my baba ghanouj, chorizo and tortilla. I slurped mansaf soup between page turns and crumbled bits of yogurt pistachio cake into the book’s gutters, simultaneously finishing my meal and the story. It was a lovely date. A week later, at the Hay Festival, a literary gathering in Hay-on-Wye, the writer A. A. Gill was asked who his ideal dinner companion would be. His reply: “One of the great joys is to go to a restaurant you can’t afford and sit and eat with a book.” This led me to wonder whom other authors were taking to dinner, so I asked a few of my favorites.

- Leanne Shapton, The New York Times

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Introducing The New York Times Graphic Books Best Seller Lists

Comics have finally joined the mainstream. Anticipation for the live-action film version of “Watchmen,” the dark and violent superhero opus that saw its birth in comic books and arrives in theaters on Friday, has built to a nationwide boil. And today The Times introduces three separate lists of the best-selling graphic books in the country: hardcover, softcover, and manga. We’ll update those lists weekly in this space, and offer a few observations along the way.

- George Gene Gustines, The New York Times

Read the list here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

You Are Here: A Portable History of the Universe

For the past 20 years or so, popular-science books have attempted to explain to an incredulous public the latest preposterous theories concocted by scientists to explain mystifying stuff such as quarks, God particles, matter being in two places at the same time, or nowhere at all, electrons on the far side of the universe that seem to know what you're up to, cats that are simultaneously alive and dead, or neither, and so on. Reading these noble attempts to get the message across - in Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, or Martin Rees's Just Six Numbers - you occasionally note a tone of slight impatience from the author when the really tricky stuff comes along. “Look, you dummies, it just is, ok?”


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's Our Right To Kiss Where We Like

Mills & Boon came out in protest today against Virgin's ban on public displays of affection in UK station. Read about Virgin's stunt here.

“Romantic embraces and passionate kisses are a vital part of life and should never be discouraged. We believe that attempting to restrict passion to certain times or areas is a denial of the human right to express love” says M&B spokeswoman Sarah Ritherdon.

The Virgin move outraged Cheshire travellers who are denied the right to kiss goodbye to their loved ones.

Outraged commuter at Warrington Bank Quay Station said: “There’s enough doom and gloom around at the moment, why are Virgin trying to impose more misery?”

If you're outraged by the breach of our fundamental right to kiss in public, change your facebook profile picture to the poster shown here and spread the word!

- Nigel Warburton, The School of Life

Monday, March 2, 2009

Book of the Week: Wetlands by Charlotte Roche

Charlotte Roche is a literary phenomenon. In April last year she was the first German author to top Amazon's monthly bestseller list, outselling stellar talents such as Khaled Hosseini. Her debut novel, Wetlands, has sold half a million copies at home and is so sexually explicit that people are said to have fainted at readings.
Read the full article here.

- Joan Smith, Time Online