A Brief Review of Two ERB Books

I am deeply disappointed in the quality of these two ERB books received from Amazon yesterday in my efforts to complete my collection of Burroughs’ novels. Both are noted as “Manufactured by Amazon.ca” in Bolton, ON. Production quality is poor, particularly in the designs and layout: they are more like amateur efforts than professional publications. The Jungle Adventures book from “Premium Classics Books” (no address is … (more–>)

Musings on Collecting and Reading ERB

As some readers here know, I’ve been a lifelong aficionado of Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB, born 1875), particularly of his Barsoom (Mars) series, but also his Pellucidar and Caspak series. Well, I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of them, including, of course, the iconic Tarzan novels for which he is best known. Okay, maybe not so much his westerns (but then, I was never a fan of … (more–>)

Books for the Kaiju Aficionado

With possibly two new Godzilla films coming to theatres in 2023*, it may be time to refresh your memory and appreciation of the previous films in the franchise. And what better way to do it than with a brand-new book about them? And perhaps re-reading some of the content in your older book and movie collection (especially that Criterion Collection of the first 15 Godzilla films … (more–>)

Bread Machine Cookbooks

Among my shelves of books on baking bread by hand, is a smaller selection of books about using a bread machine to craft loaves and other items. I admit I’ve been somewhat lax in my creative uses of the bread machine, using it only to bake somewhat plain, whole loaves when I wasn’t up to or able to bake one entirely by hand. The results, I … (more–>)

Real Bread, Slow Dough, Bread Books

Making bread is a small passion of mine, has been for many years as readers here will know*, although the results of my efforts do not always match my optimism. It’s always a bit of a guessing game what will result when I put the dough in the oven. That doesn’t stop me from trying, though, and I thoroughly enjoy the tactile process of making the … (more–>)

Back to Horace No. 2

I was browsing online recently because I wanted to order another book of Horace’s Odes or maybe his Epistles in my efforts to understand and appreciate the poet more fully. I was scrolling through the always-poorly organized list of items on Amazon’s search page results (selected, it seems, mostly to promote a wide range of unrelated rubbish they want to offload…). Some titles caught my eye … (more–>)

How to Win an Election

Anyone running for office should consider reading How to Win an Election, by Quintus Tullius Cicero, translated by Philip Freeman. It’s a short, small book subtitled An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians (Princeton University Press, 2012). It contains both the Latin and the English translation of Quintus’ letter to his more famous brother, the orator Marcus Cicero. Quintus penned it in 64 BCE when Marcus decided … (more–>)

Back to Horace

During the pandemic lockdowns, I heard a lot of people bemoan their inability to travel; on vacation, to visit relatives, to shop, or just to get out of their homes and see new places. People felt isolated, some went stir-crazy. We are a not merely a culture easily bored with staying in one place: our entire species has wanderlust. Two millennia ago, the poet Quintus Horatius … (more–>)

The Science Fiction of Robert Frost

Robert Frost was a great American poet, and I’ve enjoyed many of his poems over the decades I’ve been reading poetry. Some are a tad bucolic for my taste, but many also plumb the depths of human emotions so succinctly as to make Frost more universal than simply American. But while he never wrote any science fiction, his words have been used in that genre. Recently … (more–>)

Hobbesian vs Benthamite Politics

Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) was not an optimist about human behaviour. Writing more than a century after Niccolo Machiavelli, the English political philosopher argued in his masterwork, Leviathan (1651), that the quest for power was the main motivation for humans. And that our quest to acquire more would never cease until we were dead. He wrote: …in the first place, I put for a general inclination of … (more–>)

Ancient Election Wisdom

I recently came across this piece by Marcus Tullius Cicero (one of my favourite classical authors) on the Sententiae Antiquae website (a good source of classical Latin and Greek translations), taken from Cicero’s oration Pro Murena (35-36). Lucius Licinius Murena was elected as his election as consul in 62 BCE but was subsequently accused of bribery. He was defended by  Cicero, who recorded his speech for … (more–>)

The Book of Knowledge: 3

Back in the Mesozoic of my life, I came across a quotation from Giacomo Casanova that, as far as I can remember these days, went “No man can know everything, but every man should attempt to.” For many decades, I didn’t know the source, or whether it was misquoted, misattributed, or simply a fake as we experience so often on most internet quote sites (aka clickbait … (more–>)

The Book of Knowledge: 2

Last post I mentioned I had rescued a set of encyclopedias from the dumpster at the end of this year’s Mother Of All Yard Sales (MOAYS; an Optimist Club event). I didn’t explain what I saved and why, but I’m here to explain, and to show. Bear with me. First, let me give you some personal background. Aside from being a writer, in my career I … (more–>)

The Book of Knowledge: 1

When I was growing up in the Fifties and Sixties, having an encyclopedia in your home was the bee’s knees, to use my grandmother’s phrase. It was a sign of sophistication and learning, of culture and wisdom. And being reasonably well-off, because encyclopedias were not inexpensive. I can still hear Jimminy Cricket singing the song (it’s how I learned to spell encyclopedia). Many school libraries had … (more–>)

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