Sunday, August 5, 2012

Good: Day 2

The second assignment in August's 30 days of food campaign is to learn how to say "thank you" in 10 languages. I did a mental check of what languages I already know:

  • Cantonese: Do jeh

  • English: Thank you

  • French: Merci

  • German: Danke

  • Italian: Grazie

  • Japanese: Arigato

  • Korean: Gamsahabnida

  • Mandarin: Xie xie

  • Portuguese: Obrigada

  • Spanish: Gracias

  • Vietnamese: Cam on

That's 11, including English. Not bad! Of course this means I didn't actively learn something for the day... so I decided to intentionally learn how to say it one more language. Swedish: Tack.

In what language(s) can you say "thank you"?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Good: Back to school


This month I'm going to try Good magazine's 30 days of good challenge. The theme is "Back to School" and today's assignment is to start reading a book.

From young adult fiction to literature to short story to a book on lettering, I've got a stack of books in progress and am going to continue with them.

Here's what I have:

  • Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire. I was #200-something on the list when I put this book in hold! But the library has 300 copies of it (!) so the wait wasn't so bad.

  • Zadie Smith, On Beauty. I finished her first, prize-winning novel, White Teeth, last year, and found this copy in my local thrift shop.

  • John Biggs, Craft of Lettering. I like how this book describes the characteristics of each letter and I enjoy learning typographic terminology. Here's an excerpt of the letter J, which I read on the train this morning:

J is a letter which was not used by the early Romans and therefore does not appear in their inscriptions, but it came into occasional use in the second century for the consonant Y and the vowel I. It was not until the seventeenth century that J was established to represent its present consonant sound. In form it is an I carried below the bae line and may taper to a point or swing to an abrupt finish in a sheared terminal. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries it sometimes ended in a circular blob. In 'modern face' letters the tail of the J does not descent below the line.

  • Lydia Davis, Collected stories. This is a dense volume and full of all kinds of stories, some of which comprise simply one sentence. It's great short-span reading, and gives me great hope for my own scattered craft! Here's one short story, "A Position at the University":

I think I know what sort of person I am. But then I think, But this stranger will imagine me quite otherwise when he or she hears this or that to my credit, for instance that I have a position at the university: the fact that I have a position at the university will appear to mean that I must be the sort of person who has a position at the university. But then I have to admit, with surprise, that, after all, it is true that I have a position at the university. And if it is true, then perhaps I really am the sort of person you imagine when you hear that a person has a position at the university. But, on the other hand, I know I am not the sort of person I imagine when I hear that a person has a position at the university. Then I see what the problem is: when others describe me this way, they appear to describe me completely, whereas in fact they do not describe me completely, and a complete description of me would include truths that seem quite incompatible with the fact that I have a position at the university.

  • Isabel Allende, Island Beneath the Sea. Sent to me, along with the above, by someone I greatly respect and admire, describing it as probably the best book he has ever read. I can't wait to get into it!

  • Kathryn Stockett, The Help. I know: super behind on this one. I saw the film last year but have not had a chance to crack it open yet.

  • Clare Vanderpool, Moon Over Manifest. First one, pulled at random, on my quest to read the Newbery Award winners. This is 2011's and I like it so far.

This is only a part of the stack of books strewn about my apartment. Who knows when I'll finish them all! Bye the bye, as it always is. What's on your summer reading list? I love recommendations. And do you know about Goodreads? Yea or nay? Or would you vouch for another book list site?