Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Settling Down with a Don

There are several definitions of "don" including (but not limited to):

-a Spanish gentleman or nobleman
-preceptor: teacher at a university or college (especially at Cambridge or Oxford)
-the head of an organized crime family
-Celtic goddess; mother of Gwydion and Arianrhod; corresponds to Irish Danu

In the case of Mary Beard, it's definitely the second definition. She's a professor of Classics at Cambridge, and her blog, aptly titled "A Don's Life," has been running on the Times website since 2006.

There's been a lot of talk about blogs-turned-books lately, and so it's timely that I happened to pick this book up off my shelves. Since I've been having trouble settling on a book, it's nice to have one that's humorous, and the sections are super-short. Each blog entry runs around 2-3 pages, and Beard is quite the spirited commentator. I love her very refined British wit.

My favorite entry thus far is titled, "Ask a Silly Question," from July 13, 2006. The university holds "media training" occasionally wherein the staff learn all sorts of tips and tricks for handling themselves on radio and television. Tips like wearing soft, pastel colors to look one's best, and the age-old ability to avoid the question at hand in favor of promoting a specific agenda. Beard is highly amused by the training, which essentially asks academics--pros at answering questions--how NOT to answer the question. She writes:

I don't imagine I shall be following all the rules we were given. Honestly, I can't see me in the recommended pastel colours and trim jackets, even if they are flattering in front of the camera. But, at the very least, it's nice to know what the rules are that you're breaking.
Ahh, yes. I feel the same way about rule breaking.

When it comes to blogs-turned-books this one seems like the best kind. While it makes me feel a little icky to think of a blog created simply in hopes of getting a book deal (and it happens a lot), Beard's is certainly a well established and maintained blog of quality that's been made into a book. I love it so far, so let's hope it holds out! This could be just the pinch I needed to keep on my reading wave this year.

Read Mary Beard's blog.

FTC blah blah: Received this one FREEEEE and IN THE MAIL from a publicist. Do you need to know which one? I can't recall. Let me know via royal decree or carrier pigeon. *smooches*

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