Thoreau's Vista

Twenty-year-old Henry David Thoreau began his journal on this day in 1837. He kept at it for the next quarter century -- forty-seven manuscript volumes, regarded by some as his most important writing, being an invaluable record of both the inner man and his time. The journal contains reflections upon national and international events -- the hanging of John Brown, for example -- but we read mostly of the woods, the seasons, and Thoreau's daily comings and goings, all spiced with his large and small observations. In the entry of October 22, 1857, the twentieth anniversary of the journal's inception, we are advised to "Celebrate not the Garden of Eden, but your own":

Look from the high hill, just before sundown, over the pond. The mountains are a mere cold slate-color. But what a perfect crescent of mountains we have in our northwest horizon! Do we ever give thanks for it?… I look up northwest toward my mountains, as a farmer to his hill lot or rocky pasture from his door. I drive no cattle to Ipswich hills. I own no pasture for them there. My eyes it is alone that wander to those blue pastures, which no drought affects. They are my flocks and herds. See how they look…. Ah, I am content to dwell there and see the sun go down behind my mountain fence.

Daybook is contributed by Steve King, who teaches in the English Department of Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. His literary daybook began as a radio series syndicated nationally in Canada. He can be found online at

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.