What We Are Reading Today: Birds of the Middle East

What We Are Reading Today: Birds of the  Middle East
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Updated 23 May 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Birds of the Middle East

What We Are Reading Today: Birds of the  Middle East

Authors: Richard Porter, Oscar Campbell, & Abdulrahman Al-Sirhan

The Middle East is home to some of the most spectacular birdlife in the world.

It features 180 superb color plates depicting some 900 species and subspecies as well as 646 color distribution maps that show the breeding range for almost every species.


Book Review: ‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison

Book Review: ‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison
Updated 12 June 2024
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Book Review: ‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison

Book Review: ‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison

“The Bluest Eye,” published in 1970, is the debut novel by acclaimed American author Toni Morrison. 

It tells the story of a young African-American girl called Pecola Breedlove who grows up during the Great Depression and longs to have blue eyes, which she sees as a symbol of beauty and worth.

The novel’s exploration of racism and internalized oppression is one of its most compelling aspects. 

Morrison illustrates how racist beauty standards become internalized, especially by young black girls such as Pecola. She portrays how the dominant white culture’s idealization of white, blue-eyed beauty creates a deep sense of shame and unworthiness in Pecola, who believes her blackness and brown eyes make her inherently ugly.

In the novel, Pecola’s mother Pauline has also adopted these white beauty standards, and in turn projects her own feelings of inadequacy on to her daughter, demonstrating how damaging ideals rooted in racism become embedded within a community over time.

Another aspect of the novel is the nuanced exploration of how economic and social marginalization exacerbates this racism.

Pecola’s family lives in poverty, which further contributes to their sense of debilitation and lack of agency.

“The Bluest Eye” serves as a searing indictment of racism’s corrosive effects, while also acknowledging the complex psychological and social factors at play. 

It received critical acclaim and is considered an important work of 20th-century American literature. Morrison’s vivid and poetic writing style is a hallmark of the novel.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Language of Mathematics’ by Raul Rojas

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Language of Mathematics’ by Raul Rojas
Updated 12 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Language of Mathematics’ by Raul Rojas

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Language of Mathematics’ by Raul Rojas

Galileo famously wrote that the book of nature is written in mathematical language.

“The Language of Mathematics” is a wide-ranging and beautifully illustrated collection of short, colorful histories of the most commonly used symbols in mathematics, providing readers with an engaging introduction to the origins, evolution, and conceptual meaning of each one.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Pocket Instructor: Writing’

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Pocket Instructor: Writing’
Updated 11 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Pocket Instructor: Writing’

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Pocket Instructor: Writing’

Edited by Amanda Irwin Wilkins and Keith Shaw

“The Pocket Instructor: Writing” offers 50 practical exercises for teaching students the core elements of successful academic writing.

The exercises— created by faculty from a broad range of disciplines and institutions—are organized along the arc of a writing project, from brainstorming and asking analytical questions to drafting, revising, and sharing work with audiences outside traditional academia.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘Citizen and Subject’ by Mahmood Mamdani

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Citizen and Subject’ by Mahmood Mamdani
Updated 10 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘Citizen and Subject’ by Mahmood Mamdani

What We Are Reading Today: ‘Citizen and Subject’ by Mahmood Mamdani

In analyzing the obstacles to democratization in post- independence Africa, Mahmood Mamdani offers a bold, insightful account of colonialism’s legacy — a bifurcated power that mediated racial domination through tribally organized local authorities, reproducing racial identity in citizens and ethnic identity in subjects.


Book from Egypt that could be world’s oldest up for auction in London

Book from Egypt that could be world’s oldest up for auction in London
Updated 10 June 2024
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Book from Egypt that could be world’s oldest up for auction in London

Book from Egypt that could be world’s oldest up for auction in London
  • Crosby-Schoyen Codex, discovered in 1952, was buried for over 1,500 years
  • Book that ‘revolutionised the study of Christianity’ expected to fetch over $3.8m at Christie’s

LONDON: A book from Egypt put up for auction in London may be the oldest in the world, experts have suggested.

The Crosby-Schoyen Codex “revolutionised the study of Christianity” and could be sold for more than £3 million ($3.813 million).

The oldest complete text of the book of Jonah, the codex was written around the third century AD and buried for more than 1,500 years. It will go on sale at Christie’s auction house in London on June 11.

“All of the oldest books in the world are roughly dated and have now been re-dated to the third or fourth century,” Eugenio Donadoni, a senior specialist in books and manuscripts at Christie’s, told the BBC.

“This (codex) was previously dated (to) the second, but they’re all around third or fourth. This could be the earliest, but you can’t say with absolute position.”

Donadoni said the codex is of huge significance in understanding the spread of early Christianity.

“It’s a cornerstone of early faith and a witness to the earliest spread of Christianity around the Mediterranean.

“What’s particularly fascinating about it is that it’s a self consciously assembled compilation of texts for the celebration of one of the earliest Easters and monastic communities in upper Egypt.

“It’s one of the three major finds of the 20th century that revolutionised the study of Christianity.

“We’re talking about early Christians finding their feet as Christians, still steeped in Jewish traditions.”

The codex was discovered as part of a larger trove, found buried in a jar at the base of a mountain near the small town of Dishna in 1952.

It was acquired by the University of Mississippi in 1955, and eventually bought by Norwegian manuscript collector Dr. Martin Schoyen in 1988.

Schoyen’s collection — at over 20,000 texts — is one of the largest in existence. It includes 400 fragments of early copies of the Bible.

The codex — the oldest known book in a private collection in the world — is one of 61 manuscripts being sold at Christie’s by Schoyen.

Also for sale is a 13th-century Hebrew manuscript expected to sell for more than £1.5 million.

On its website, Christie’s said: “The sale spans 1,300 years of cultural history and includes world heritage manuscripts such as the Crosby-Schoyen Codex, the Holkham Hebrew Bible, the Codex Sinaiticus Rescriptus and the Geraardsbergen Bible, but also Greek literature, humanist masterpieces, early English law, a historically important Scottish chronicle, and the earliest known book-binding.”