Memorable Monday: Read Only If You Dare!


In this tongue-in-cheek article, Lemony Snicket takes on some of the most "dreadful and shocking" passages in children's literature -- including Mary Poppins!

In this tongue-in-cheek article, Lemony Snicket takes on some of the most “dreadful and shocking” passages in children’s literature — including Mary Poppins!

More than a few children have shuddered over the dark passages of the popular A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The series’ main characters Klaus, Violet and Sunny Baudelaire are orphaned when their parents are killed in a fire caused by arson. The children come under the care of their mysterious uncle Count Olaf, who plots their deaths to claim their inheritance. His nefarious threats continue even when the children go to live with another, more sane relative.

It doesn’t get much more frightening than this!

Lemony Snicket, the pen name of author Daniel Handler, weighs in on some of the more frightening lines in children’s literature — more shocking than they first appear.

For our Halloween reading this week, check out Mr. Snicket’s selection of 13 “shocking”  passages if you dare:



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Thoughtful Thursday: Body Parts & Fiction

Rapunzel's famous locks are among the most memorable "body parts" in fiction.

Rapunzel’s famous locks are among the most memorable “body parts” in fiction.

Continuing with our week-long series on Great Books, we wonder if you have ever thought about some of the most memorable body parts in fiction?

Before you start thinking wildly, remember this is a family friendly blog!

We don’t want you to be overcome by a case of “the vapors” and have to take to the fainting couch to collect yourself. So, let us make this perfectly clear: We’re not talking about people who have died tragically in books, and we’re not delving into anything that might make one blush.

That said, my Editorial Assistant, Mom Karen, wants you to think about interesting characters and what they were known for — Rapunzel is a given!

Check out this interesting post on the Barnes & Noble blog and see if you guessed any of these:

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Wordy Wednesday: Really “Great Books” …

Charles Darwin is one of the writers whose works are included in the "Great Books of the West World" series.

Charles Darwin is one of the writers whose works are included in the “Great Books of the West World” series.

Talk about some heavy, but valuable reading!

In 1952, Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. published Great Books of the Western World, a monumental undertaking to present “great books” in a single collection of 54 volumes.

The criteria established by the original editors included: a book relevant to contemporary issues; a book that would be worth rereading, and a ook that met 25 of the 102 great ideas, which the editors selected, that would foster “the great conversation about the great ideas.” Some of these were sin, law, liberty, slavery, tyranny, family, good and evil, truth, government, among many others.

The writers and their works include “the ancients,” such as Homer, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Plato and Aristotle. William Shakespeare, John Milton, Geoffrey Chaucer and Niccolo Machiavelli were included, as well as some of the more “contemporary” authors Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Leo Tolstoy and Sigmund Freud. A second edition was published in 1990 to include a number of 20th century authors, such as Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Samuel Beckett and William Faulkner.

The series grew to 60 volumes in the second edition. Today, many of the books and writings from the series can be found as e-books or read on the Internet.

The idea for series began with Robert Hutchins, University of Chicago president, who worked with philosopher and educator Mortimer Adler to develop a course for businessmen that would enhance their education by the sharing of ideas through the world’s “great books.”

Such an undertaking in the 21st century would be much different, no doubt, but many of the books found in the “Great Books” series remain relevant and well worth reading.

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Terrific Tuesday: Writers & Books

Great books -- even the old ones -- inspire new thoughts, new goals, new dreams.

Great books — even the old ones — inspire new thoughts, new goals, new dreams. (Photo by Adam,

As we continue to honor Great Books Week, I have asked my Editorial Assistant, Mom Karen, to find out what writers and readers themselves have to say on the subject of reading and great books.

In spite of the cobwebs in her brain that she must be saving for Halloween (why else would they still be filling that empty space in her head!), my Editorial Assistant has found some rather profound thoughts from others about books, and we are sharing these with you.

“By elevating your reading, you will improve your writing or at least tickle your thinking.” ~ William Safire, author, columnist, journalist, Presidential speech writer

“I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book.”
~ Groucho Marxa, comedian and movie, TV star

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, author, poet, philospher

“A house without books is like a room without windows.
~ Heinrich Mann, German novelist

And my own personal favorite is this:

“Technology hasn’t changed reading. It’s improved it. E-Book Readers make reading accessible anywhere, any time.” ~ Lady Louise, blogger, book character

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Terrfic Tuesday: Ads Promote Great Books!

BookAdsWhat would it be like if you, the reader, fell asleep with your favorite book?

In an effort to promote reading,  Israeli bookstore chain Steimatzkty turned to the advertising agency ACW Grey Tel-Aviv to create an imaginative campaign that featured readers sleeping next to their favorite literary characters.

The campaign included featured print and video advertisements.

Check out the clever campaign at to see if any of your favorite books are among those chosen!

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Fantabulous Friday: The Great Gatsby


Although the book itself didn’t achieve huge financial success for F. Scott Fitzgerald when it was first published, “The Great Gatsby” as a book and movie is a fascinating depiction of the period of time known as the Roaring Twenties. It is considered the best work of the decadent era of the Jazz Age, known for flappers, excess and wealth. And it did become financially successful for its theater and movie rights.

This 21st century version of the movie debuts in movie theaters today, and Mom Karen is eager to see Leonardo DiCaprio as the mysteriously rich Jay Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as the fragile Daisy Buchanan. Mom Karen loved the version with Robert Redford as Gatsby and Mia Farrow as Daisy, and she loved the book as well.

The novel was Fitzgerald’s greatest, but he died at age 44 not realizing the literary acclaim that ultimately came to him after his death. He is considered one of the finest writers of the 20th century.

Even if you’ve read “The Great Gatsby” before, read it again. It’s a novel in which you discover something new every time. This book about life in America before the Great Depression continues to attract new generations of readers and fans.

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