21 February 2009

Review of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt

Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) is about . . . well . . . traffic. This book has information and facts about what traffic is, what causes it, how different factors contribute to it, and what has been tried to reduce it. Unfortunately, the book reads like a mass grouping of magazine articles. It is choppy and repetitive. I found myself skimming large portions of statistics and facts (though you may find this useful if you plan to be on Jeopardy). I also had difficulty reading the book for extended periods of time. It was a good read in small doses.

The book was not all bad. I enjoyed reading Vanderbilt's human interest stories and anecdotes. For example, there is a portion about how LA gets all the limousines to the Oscars on time. There really are a bunch of men watching and controlling the traffic signals. It is also interesting that there is a direct correlation on the type of government a country has and how its people drive.

This could have been an excellent book if it had a good edit. It could say the same thing in half the pages and rearranging some parts would make it flow better. The book has not changed how I drive nor how I react to traffic. I now understand the reason for a mile back-up on the highway for one stalled car, but I am not more patient about it.

Overall rating - 6 out of 10

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02/22/09 Last Week in Literary News

The New York Times Best Seller List

All of the following books are available from Amazon,and I have listed them in the above carousel for your convenience.


  1. THE ASSOCIATE, by John Grisham
  2. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  3. THE HOST, by Stephenie Meyer
  4. FOOL, by Christopher Moore
  5. BONE CROSSED, by Patricia Briggs


  1. THE YANKEE YEARS, by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci
  2. OUTLIERS, by Malcolm Gladwell
  3. DEWEY, by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
  4. A SLOBBERING LOVE AFFAIR, by Bernard Goldberg
  5. MULTIPLE BLESSINGS, by Jon Gosselin, Kate Gosselin and Beth Carson

Literary News Stories

2009 Hugo Nominations Open


2009 nominations for the Hugo Awards is now open. View the Hugo Award page for detail and guideline on nominations. The deadline for nomination is the end of February.

Author Terry Pratchett receives knighthood
AP - Wed Feb 18, 10:14 AM ET

Author Sir Terry Pratchett is knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II at

LONDON - Fantasy author Terry Pratchett has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to literature.

Pratchett is known for his "Discworld" series of novels, and has sold more than 55 million books worldwide.

Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih dies in London
Reuters - Wed Feb 18, 10:41 AM ET

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudanese novelist Tayeb Salih, who won fame with his 1966 novel Season of Migration to the North, died in London Wednesday at the age of about 80, a friend and associate said.

British students don't know classics: poet laureate
Reuters - Tue Feb 17, 1:22 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Teaching major works of English literature is becoming more difficult because students lack enough knowledge of the Bible or classical mythology to appreciate them, Britain's poet laureate said on Tuesday.

Obscure Tolkien book to come out this spring
AP - Tue Feb 17, 4:29 pm ET

In this 1967 file photo, author J.R.R. Tolkien is shown. An early,NEW YORK – An early, long-unpublished work by J.R.R. Tolkien is coming out.

"The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun," a thorough reworking in verse of old Norse epics that predates Tolkien's writing of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, will be published in May by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Visit Yahoo's Book and Publishing news site for more literary news stories throughout the week.

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17 February 2009

This Week in the News

From New York Times Best Seller List:

Hardcover Fiction 

  1. The Associate, by John Grisham
  2. Run for Your Life, by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
  3. Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson, Book 4), by Patricia Briggs
  4. The Host: A Novel, by Stephenie Meyer
  5. True Colors, by Kristin Hannah

Hardcover Non-Fiction

  1. The Yankee Years, by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci
  2. Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell
  3. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
  4. A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media, by Bernard Goldberg
  5. Multiple Blessings: Surviving to Thriving with Twins and Sextuplets, by Jon Gosselin, Kate Gosselin and Beth Carson

Literary News Stories

Publisher Alfred Knopf Jr. dies at age 90
AP - Mon Feb 16, 2:48 PM ET
NEW YORK - Alfred A. Knopf Jr., son of publishing legends and an influential publisher in his own right, died Saturday. He was 90.

British author says she is banned from Dubai event
AP - Mon Feb 16, 1:56 PM ET
LONDON - A British author said Monday she has been banned from a Dubai literary festival because her forthcoming novel contains references to homosexuality.

Geraldine Bedell, a journalist for the Observer newspaper and the author of several previous novels, said organizers had been discussing launching her book, "The Gulf Between Us," which is set in the Gulf, at the festival.

But she claims festival director Isobel Abulhoul later wrote to her publishers, saying: "I don't want our festival remembered for the launch of a controversial book."

"The Gulf Between Us" is scheduled to be published by Penguin in April.

Speed it up! A-Rod book out sooner than planned
AP - Fri Feb 13, 12:34 PM ET
In this Nov. 14, 2008 file photo New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez attends the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel grand opening party in Miami Beach, Fla. A-Rod is due to appear under the tent behind the third-base stands at Steinbrenner Field on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009 for a news conference addressing his admission last week that he used banned drugs. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)NEW YORK - An unauthorized and highly anticipated book about Alex Rodriguez is coming out a month sooner than planned.

Publication of Selena Roberts' "A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez" has been moved up from May 19 to April 14 as scrutiny builds on the New York Yankees slugger after he acknowledged using banned substances from 2001-2003 while playing for the Texas Rangers.

"Da Vinci Code" author sees secret revealed
Reuters - Fri Feb 13, 3:02 AM ET
Author Dan Brown poses during a photocall for U.S. director Ron Howard's out of competition film 'The Da Vinci Code' at the 59th Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006. (John Schults/Reuters)LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "The Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown has made a living unraveling secrets, but on Thursday one of his own secrets was revealed by a close collaborator, who said the writer's next book is finished.

But late in the day, a spokeswoman for Brown's publisher Doubleday, would say only that Brown "is making great progress," stopping short of a full confirmation or denial.

"We do not yet have a title or publication date to share," added spokeswoman Suzanne Herz. Doubleday is a unit of Bertelsmann AG.

Hemingway letters shed new light
AFP - Wed Feb 11, 3:04 PM ET
Thousands of letters by American author Ernest Hemingway, seen here in an undated file photo, containing intimate details of his life are shedding new light on the writer, Cuban researchers said in a media report Wednesday.(AFP/File)HAVANA (AFP) - Thousands of letters by American author Ernest Hemingway containing intimate details of his life are shedding new light on the writer, Cuban researchers said in a media report Wednesday.

"There are lots of intimacies in these letters," researcher Rosalba Diaz told the daily Juventud Rebelde, saying she had been impressed by how many letters had been found which "break with his image of being a wild man."