recommendations

Go Read This | Bookish Acquired by Zola

Interesting piece of news this:

Michael Pietsch, CEO of Hachette, said the founding publishers “never intended to run Bookish forever,” and that their objective of starting a first-class recommendation engine has been achieved in the current Bookish version. Despite the problems, and costs, of getting Bookish off the ground, Pietsch said the founding publishers would tackle the venture again. “We saw a need for a great discovery engine and that is what we created. We are happy to see it move to Zola where we expect it will thrive.”

With Bookish, Zola will be able to expand on existing elements of its social networking capabilities. Chiefly, the acquisition allows Zola to incorporate Bookish\’s book recommendation technology into its site. (That technology is a proprietary algorithm pairing users with content.) Regal said this is “the most exciting aspect of the Bookish opportunity. ” The recommendation engine Bookish has built will be incorporated into Zola’s site and this, Regal thinks, “is going to be really significant.” While Regal could not share details about how the Bookish algorithm would be added to Zola, he said it will happen “in the months to come” and he could explain more once “we have more insight into their technology.”

via Bookish Acquired by Zola.

Christmas Books Special – 2009 – Part 4 of 4 Children’s

It is difficult when writing about such a huge category as Children’s books, which as within it so many genres and sub genres, to choose just three books, but somehow I have managed it.

Ancient Folk Tales of Ireland


Ancient Folk Tales of Ireland
Hawkhill Publishing is a new house, run by Colm Ennis formerly of Hughes & Hughes. he has had a fairly good start and Ancient Folk Tales of Ireland continues his run of good releases. Illustrated by Paul Bolger a somewhat unknown (for reasons I cannot fathom) illustrator of some talent and based on the stories collected by Douglas Hyde Ireland’s first President, this is a wonderful book of the kind all homes should have. It brings to life many of the older and now sadly neglected Irish folktales that warrant our attention.

The Circus Ship


The Circus Ship
Written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. This is a wonderful book. The images shine and he text sparkles and more importantly, they work well together. The production values are something else. I love the book for all those reasons and because my searching leads me to believe that the book is based (in the REAL LIFE STORY sense of the word based) on an actual event, the Sinking of the Royal Tar (Google Docs).

A Little History Of The World


A Little History of the World
E.H. Gombrich wrote this book in German in 1935 and it was only translated to English and released in 2005. It is a startlingly good read and while it strays towards the upper end of the Children’s category, I think it worth adding here to encourage the reading of solid non-fiction by children.

Christmas Books Special – 2009 – Part 3 of 4 History

Straight into this edition. To read part 1 and part 2, click the links!

Empires Of The Sea

Empires of the Sea: The Final Battle for the Mediterranean, 1521 – 1580
Roger Crowley also wrote Constantinople: The Last Great Siege. That was a good book. But it lacked two things that make this book essential reading, personality and narrative structure. It is as if Crowley went away after Constantinople and read Tom Holland, realised that he could do as well or better and set to. He paints a wonderfully engaging picture of the Mediterranean world and of its rulers, capturing the burdened Phillip II in a few short sentences scattered throughout the book. His real strength though is that his insight stretches to the tensions within the camps and between them, explaining with equal authority the pressure on the Sultan’s commanders and those of the Christian states. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, it is just excellent.

Hidden Cork

Hidden Cork: Charmers, Chancers and Cute hoors (DOI: I commissioned this book)
I love a good non-fiction book that opens up unknown places and interesting little bits of information, digestible if you will. Hidden Cork brings to life many of the characters and crazy people who have populated the history of the city along with the stories of fabulous and forgotten events. Michael Lenihan, who wrote the book, is an absolute charm of a writer who has a deep interest in the topic and a passion that is unrivalled. A gem of a book.

The Gutenberg Revolution

The Gutenberg Revolution
John Man’s short and concise biography of Johann Gutenberg is a joy to read. When I look at how the world is changing for what (firmly tongue in cheek) Cory Doctorow at TOC Frankfurt called The People Of The Book, this is the perfect Christmas gift for the publisher, writer, editor or reader in your life. Man has really fleshed out a character who up until I read his books, was at best a cardboard cut out. Maybe it’s my emerging preference for quality narrative fiction (this list really attests to that) but I’d recommend it to anyone, not just a book fan, but the history fan too.

Like the Sci-Fi & Fantasy section, keeping this section to three is too hard and so I have cheated a little by suggesting two notable exclusions.

Notable Exclusions

The Dictionary of Irish Biography
Yes it is expensive, yes it is beyond what most people would need or want, but it’s very imposing-ness makes it invaluable and essential for those engaged in deep study of Irish history, even as jumping off point.

A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain
By Marc Morris is an absorbing account of the life of Edward I, a man most people only know for being William Wallace’s enemy in Braveheart. In fact his life was enormously interesting spanning wars in the Levant, France Scotland and Wales, not to mention a vicious civil war while he was still only crown prince. Morris delivers a stirring narrative too, all told one of the better biographies I’ve read