Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rave Reviews for the November 9 Book Discussion Read

The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton. Discussion Leader: Patrick Lee Lucas, Department of Interior Architecture. Monday, November 9, Hodges Reading Room, Jackson Library, 7:00 pm. Space still available—RSVP now to Kimberly_lutz@uncg.edu or at http://library.uncg.edu/fol/register/ .

This promises to be a great discussion—check out the book’s reviews:

It would be hard to overstate my praise for this book. De Botton is a graceful and engaging essayist, miraculously combining both levity and profundity. For anyone such as myself, who is appreciative of architecture but not especially knowledgeable, this is the perfect initiation. The book itself is beautiful, with over a hundred illustrations. If you have never thought about the importance of the buildings that provide the settings for our lives, The Architecture of Happiness will change that fact forever.
--Kevin Gill in Entertainment Today, 08 March 2007
For de Botton, almost every building not only has a character, it influences our own. We are, he writes, "for better or for worse, different people in different places." Like the persons we meet, architecture can make us happy; but it can also, perhaps more often, make us miserable: "In a hotel room strangled by three motorways, or in a waste land of run-down tower blocks, our optimism and sense of purpose are liable to drain away." Dirt, disorder, and failures of d├ęcor can also be deeply injurious. "What will we experience in a house with prison-like windows, stained carpet tiles and plastic curtains?" Clearly, we (or at least anyone reasonably sensitive and perceptive) will experience horror and dismay. Yet as de Botton points out, "we are never far from damp stains and cracked ceilings, shattered cities and rusting dockyards."
--Alison Lurie in The New York Review of Books, 15 March 2007
"Buildings speak - and on topics which can be readily discerned," de Botton argues. "They speak of democracy or aristocracy, openness or arrogance, welcome or threat, a sympathy for the future or a hankering for the past."

Suddenly, the reader intuits why the architecture of Disney World seems unsettling or eerie and why it's easier to believe in God in Westminster Cathedral than in the McDonald's restaurant nearby. Perhaps the richest chapter in "The Architecture of Happiness" is called "The Virtues of Buildings," which amounts to a concise, globe-trotting survey of architectural order, balance, coherence and elegance. De Botton balances his pages with instructive examples of the ugly.
--Karen Long in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, 24 September 2006
Something is wrong with the building.

Perhaps it's the vinyl siding. What the homeowner chose to cover up 25 years ago, wooden clapboards sheathed and sightless underneath, and forgotten, is worrisome. Or the problem might be the anachronistic attempt at re-creating an Italian garden with cheap materials: cement lions and clay urns, faux-aged to look classical, when anyone can tell they came from Home Depot.

You can't exactly put your finger on it (Is it the relationship of the window frames to the amount of glass? Or the width of the column to the weight it supports?), but it is all wrong, and the building makes you dissatisfied, or angry, or just plain depressed.
But why? Can that unease even be expressed? And when a building manages to give us solace, or a door seems harmonious, or a home reinforces a state of mind, what is the formula that explains their success?

Such is the quest embarked upon by "The Architecture of Happiness," Alain de Botton's erudite and readable treatise on the aesthetics of architecture.
--Ethan Gilsdorf in San Francisco Chronicle, 4 October 2006

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book and Reading News for November 2009

Following are the book and author events in the Triad that I know about during November:

FREE Friends of the UNCG Libraries Events

Monday, November 9: Friends of the UNCG Libraries Book Discussion of The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton, led by Patrick Lee Lucas of UNCG’s Interior Architecture Department. Free, but registration is suggested at http://library.uncg.edu/fol/register/

Other book and author events at UNCG:

Monday, November 16: Sonia Nazario’s book, "Enrique’s Journey," is the campus read at UNCG this year. Ms. Nazario will appear at UNCG at 7:00 p.m. in the Sullivan Science Building Auditorium at UNCG. Her appearance, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the UNCG Libraries, Housing and Residence Life, the Graduate Student Association, the English Department, the Lloyd International Honors College, and the Human Rights Research Network. We recommend parking in the McIver Parking Deck off Market Street at McIver Street. For a campus map, see http://www.uncg.edu/online_map/printable/alpha_legend_08_08.pdf . Earlier on November 16, from 3:00-4:00 pm, Ms. Nazario will address students and UNCG staff and faculty in the Cone Ballroom, EUC.

Wednesday, November 18: The Center for Creative Writing in the Arts is pleased to host a reading and book signing by Brian Ray, a fiction writer who already has earned a level of praise rare for an author under 30. Currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English at UNCG, Mr. Ray, has been hailed by Booklist as “a talent to watch” upon the recent publication of his book Through the Pale Door, winner of the 2009 South Carolina First Novel Prize. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the UNCG Faculty Center on Wednesday, November 18, at 4:00 pm. Refreshments will be served.

Thursday, November 19: Will Read for Food Benefit Reading for Greensboro Charities. Will Read for Food, started by UNCG English professor Hope Hodgkins, began in 1994 as Writer’s Harvest. Since 1995, the benefit has been run by novelist and short story writer Michael Parker and has featured faculty from the MFA Writing Program at UNCG as well as other authors from across the Triad. Donation. Weatherspoon Museum Auditorium, UNCG. 7:00 p.m.

Other book and author events in the Triad that may be of interest:

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009: Paul Krugman, economist, columnist, author and intellectual, appearing as part of the Bryan Series organized by Guilford College—7:30 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium in the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. While available, tickets are $35 each and may be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com by calling 1-800-745-3000 and at the Greensboro Coliseum Advance Box Office.

With Support from Salem College Committee on Cultural Events
7:00 PM (doors open at 6:15)
Salem College Fine Arts Center: Hanes Auditorium
601 S. Church St., Winston-Salem, NC

Featuring John Hodgman, in his only NC appearance on national tour for the paperback release of MORE INFORMATION THAN YOU REQUIRE. Hodgman is the Resident Expert on “The Daily Show” and the PC persona in Mac commercials. He is currently appearing in the movie “The Invention of Lying” with Ricky Gervais. He has served as the Humor Editor for the “New York Times Magazine”, as an occasional Flight vs. Invisibility Consultant on “This American Life,” Advice Columnist for “McSweeneys,” and Comic Book Reviewer for the ”New York Times Book Review.” His first book, published in 2005, is THE AREAS OF MY EXPERTISE.
Justin Catanoso, Executive Editor “The Business Journal” of the Triad will moderate.
For more information, visit http://www.blogger.com/www.bookmarksbookfestival.org

* $15, STUDENT
* $20, GENERAL
*$40, RECEPTION (private reception begins at 5:30 PM includes hors d’ouevres; a paperback copy of More Information than You Require; reserved seating at the conversation event, a book signing; and limited VIP parking. ($20 is tax deductible)
* Buy tickets 24/7. Call: Brown Paper Tickets 1-800-838-3006 for event 85049
-or- online at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/85049

Wednesday, November 18: Ali Vincent, author of Believe It, Be It. 7:00 PM
Greensboro Barnes and Noble, Friendly Center, 3102 Northline Avenue, Greensboro, NC 27408, 336-854-4200

Coming soon:

January-21-March 5, 2010—Forever Free: Abraham Lincoln’s Journey to Emancipation Exhibit, Jackson Library Reading Room, UNCG campus