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author takes action

Thursday, November 20, 2008 by kate

Props to Penguin Group, which announced it has built a school in Afghanistan in partnership with the U.N. Refugee Agency and the U.S. Association for UNHCR.

The school was built after Afghan-native and Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini was named a U.S. envoy to UNHCR. Last year, Hosseini went to Afghanistan and saw a need for better education in a country where students were taught by teachers under trees or in tents. The new school teaches 270 students grades one through six.

Hosseini has been sharing Afghan’s culture with readers for years with his book The Kite Runner.

“Over the past few years, I have been humbled by the outpouring of empathy and compassion from my readers for the people of my homeland,” Khaled Hosseini said. “It is a great honor to me when readers write me to say that they have found a personal connection to Afghanistan and the suffering of its people through my novels. To me, this school is the physical expression of that connection."

Riverhead Books VP Geoffrey Kloske added, "We are sincerely grateful to Khaled Hosseini for inspiring us to turn our attention to a community in need halfway around the world. We are honored to be working so closely with Khaled and UNHCR to provide a more fertile learning environment for the children of Afghanistan, who may very well become our leaders of tomorrow."

It’s good to finally report on more than massive celebrity book deals. Thanks Penguin.

Previous Post: ‘Clueless’ in the kitchen

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'Clueless' in the kitchen

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 by kate

It seems like oodles of actors are ditching scripts and picking up pens. Alicia Silverstone is the third actress in recent weeks to announce a book deal, though her diet and fitness book probably won’t be as funny as Sarah Silverman or Tina Fey’s book.

The Kind Diet is due out next fall and will guide readers on how to choose the right foods in the kitchen while also taking into account the environmental impact of what we eat. It also comes with a 3-step diet program and 75 vegan recipes.

Apparently, Silverstone’s not so Clueless when it comes to the environmental eating.

Publishing director Pam Krauss said, "We were … struck by the breadth of her knowledge about environmental issues and the impact of diet on the planet …She really makes the plant-based foods that are the cornerstone of her diet sound delicious and indulgent, and her enthusiasm for her program is infectious.”

Silverstone is also well known for her support of animal-related charities such as the Amanda Foundation and PETA, which honored her several years ago with a Special Humanitarian Award.

If a Kind Diet will help me look like Alicia, I’m definitely down with talking nicely to my food.

Previous Post:Sarah Silverman's book deal

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Silverman on the shelf

Monday, November 17, 2008 by kate

Sarah Silverman has signed a $2.5 M book deal with HarperCollins, according to The Observer. But, apparently, three of the publisher’s imprints are still fighting over who gets to print her book, and Silverman may end up meeting with the top editors at Harper, Collins, and William Morrow before she makes her decision.

The Emmy-winning comedian plans to write a collection of comedic essays, similar to Tina Fey’s book, which was recently sold for a reported $6 M. Sarah’s agent actually promoted her book as "Just like Tina Fey." But from the look of the price tag, she’s not even half as good a Tina.

Previous Post: The Opinion Makers

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lying facts

Thursday, November 13, 2008 by kate

There’s something wrong with polling today, according to David Moore, former senior editor for Gallup Poll for 13 years. In The Opinion Makers, Moore claims pollsters don’t repeat public opinion, as most people believe, they manufacture it.

As I was covering the recent election, I found myself reporting poll results almost daily – sometimes several polls a day. It was amazing to me how we could rely on these results, which varied so widely from poll-to-poll and day-to-day, as public opinion.

“Media polls give us distorted readings of the electoral climate, manufacture a false public consensus on policy issues, and in the process undermine American democracy,” Moore says.

Moore’s writing is succinct, witty and incredibly interesting – especially given the recent election.

For instance, I never knew pollsters usually exclude Alaska and Hawaii in polls because of their time zones and small populations. (Which means Pres.-elect Obama’s home state didn’t participate in many of the recent polls)

And pollsters don’t take into account respondents’ ignorance on subjects.

“News media polls typically gloss over public ignorance and apathy, and instead, through the use of forced-choice questions, squeeze some type of answer out of virtually all respondents – with typically only a small percentage who volunteer that they know too little to express and opinion.” Pollsters are treating these responses as serious judgments

This is an issue overlooked by many news agencies. An issue many Americans aren’t even aware of. We all take polls at face value.

“The problem lies not in the declining response rates and increasing difficulty in obtaining representative samples, though these are issues the polling industry has to address. The crisis lies, rather, in the refusal of media polls to tell the truth about those surveyed and about the larger electorate. Rather than tell us the ‘essential facts’ about the public… they feed us a fairy-tale picture of a completely rational, all-knowing, and fully engaged citizenry.”

Moore’s book is so captivating because it relates to current issues and events: the Iraq war, presidential elections, the troop surge, Guantanamo Bay, children’s health insurance and abortion.

He notes that the problem with telling the truth about public opinion is that it’s not news that large proportions of voters are undecided or that many Americans have no strong opinion on an issue.

“[Pollsters] studiously avoid reporting on widespread public apathy, indecision, and ignorance. The net result is conflicting poll results and a distortion of public opinion that challenges the credibility of the whole polling enterprise. Nowhere is this more often the case than in election polling.”

“Eventually, the many conflicting and nonsensical results should shame pollsters and the news media into reform. Only if that happens will polls achieve their ideal role in the democratic process – telling the truth about the public, warts and all.”

Previous Post: the man behind the mic

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the man behind the mic

Tuesday, November 11, 2008 by kate

George Carlin’s daughter, Kelly Carlin-McCall, has made a deal with Hyperion Books to create an oral history of her father's life, including his struggles with drugs and alcohol, USA Today reports.

Due out next fall, the story will come from family and friends such as his older brother, Patrick, and his manager of 30 years, Jerry Hamza.

Five months after he died of heart failure, Carlin is still on the minds of many. Just yesterday, Jon Stewart, Joan Rivers and others were at the Kennedy Center in Washington, where Carlin was named the first posthumous recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

‘I hope he is looked upon like Mark Twain,” Carlin-McCall said, ‘someone who wanted to slap us into higher thinking and used humor to help us laugh at ourselves."

Previous Post: Something Borrowed review


a book worth borrowing

Thursday, November 6, 2008 by kate

I usually try to pick gender-neutral books for Book Break, but this week I ditched the mainstream man and picked up Something Borrowed.

Within the first few pages, Rachel, a single lawyer in NYC, finds herself in bed with her best friend’s fiancé on her 30th birthday. I know. It sounds terribly cheesy and soapy, but stay with me.

This book is Shakespearian Sex in the City with a dash of Devil Wears Prada, minus the fancy talk and fashion tips. It’s steamy and sordid and I found myself feeling bad for the cheaters, Rachel and Dex. You end up rooting for The Other Woman. Emily Giffin was able to skew my moral compass, but I couldn’t help wonder what Dr. Phil would say.

I admit, I didn’t like how neatly everything wrapped up, but that’s what you get when you pick up Female Fiction*. The book flows and like Cheetos or chocolate you won’t want to stop. (I read this is one sitting and felt less guilty than I would had it been chocolate or Cheetos.)

Borrow Something Borrowed from a friend, or buy it for someone you know turning 30. Just make sure you keep a close eye on her and your own man.

*I don’t care for the term Chick Lit.

Previous Post: Stone Angel

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