Archive for the ‘Book News’ Category

Monday Miscellany

Monday, April 21st, 2014

The big literary news of the past week was the death of Gabriel García Márquez and the announcement of Pulitzer Prize winners. But there is other news as well, particularly about upcoming publications:

Spring brings bounty of new titles for book lovers

Mary Ann Gwinn, book editor for the Seattle Times, lists both fiction and nonfiction titles to be published in May and June. Her list includes books by Stephen King, David Guterson, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Best Summer Books 2014

Publishers Weekly chooses some books worth looking out for this summer, both fiction and nonfiction.

 

Reading Agency survey finds 63% of men rarely read

The Bookseller has some distressing news: the results of a survey conducted by the Reading Agency:

Researchers found that being too busy, not enjoying reading and preferring to spend their spare time on the internet means men read fewer books, read more slowly and are less likely to finish them than women.

Here’s one finding I find particularly interesting: “Nearly three quarters of the men surveyed said they would opt for the film or television adaptation of a book, whereas the same percentage of women were as likely to go for the book itself.”

The research was conducted in Britain.

The Death of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

From Wikipedia (public domain photo)

American writer Edgar Allan Poe died under mysterious circumstances, and many sources attribute his death to chronic alcoholism. But this post on The Medical Bag offers a different explanation, posited in 1996 by Dr. Michael Benitez, a cardiologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center who practices a block from Poe’s grave.

Monday Miscellany

Monday, February 24th, 2014

The Best Book You’ve Never Read: ‘Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age’

On the Publishers Weekly blog Gabe Habash describes what can be an elusive concept, narrative voice:

Books that are voice-driven are, of course, dependent on the strength of the voice. Think about the best character-narrators you’ve read: maybe it’s Scout or Holden Caulfield or Humbert Humbert. Our favorite narrators have voices that we, as readers, have a desire to keep consuming; their words are as addictive as M&Ms. There’s a powerlessness, a relinquishing, involved when you read a great first-person book, when you fall head over heels–simply through the hypnotic rhythm of the narrator’s words, you choose to give up your own agency in untangling events for yourself and sort-of smittenly accept the narrator’s. The narrator, simply by virtue of his/her voice, gets you to listen.

Why We Can’t Get Enough of Twisted Marriage Thrillers

Gone Girl: cover

“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

A new wave of bestselling novels depict the dark side of marriage with secretive husbands and betrayed couples. Lucy Scholes on what they reveal about matrimony today—and their literary ancestors.

A look at the popular appeal of novels like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and S. J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep. Scholes’s discussion of the literary history of this theme is informative. And, if you are as intrigued as I am by these psychological narratives, you’ll appreciate her list of forthcoming books in the same vein.

Farewell Bridget Jones – hello literary bad girls

The [U. K.] Guardian has news of another current literary trend:

With their descriptions of nights out gone wrong and no-holds-barred sexual encounters, a clutch of newly released novels are full of women behaving badly. From Zoe Pilger’s raucous debut, Eat My Heart Out, published this month, to Caitlin Moran’s semi-autobiographical How to Build a Girl, which aims to capture that “moment when you try to discover exactly who it is you’re trying to be”. In February Helen Walsh, whose 2005 novel Brass shocked reviewers with its frank depiction of twentysomething female sexuality, brings out her fourth novel, The Lemon Grove, an atmospheric story of middle-aged female sexuality. In May, Emma Jane Unsworth’s second novel, Animals, memorably described as “Withnail for Girls”, hits the shelves.

But what’s driving this new crop of female antiheroes? Unsworth, 35, who drew on her own friendships for Animals, a gloriously over-the-top account of female friendship, says it’s partially a desire for something new.

What’s Become of the So-Called Literary Bad Boy?

But all the literary news isn’t about the women, although this discussion is more about the persona writers create for themselves than about the characters they create on the page.

James Parker argues that all the great literary bad boys are in the past:

In 2014 we have bad-boy chefs (Bourdain, Ramsay), bad-boy priest-comedians (Russell Brand), bad-boy athletes (the demonic Uruguayan soccer player Luis Suárez). Inspiration and transgression are still tangled up for us, at some level. And it’s possible, I suppose, that some young wordslinger could come along and wring a new twist from the tired repertoire of writerly naughtiness — be a postmodern literary bad boy. But in the end, who cares?

Although these New York Times pieces are set up in the point-counterpoint format, Rivka Galchen’s argument doesn’t seem all that different from Parker’s:

And I would argue that certain traits we associate with the “literary bad boy” . . . have little to do with the genuinely countercultural thinking or the intelligently transgressive prose. Instead they are, upon inspection, just the fairly straightforward qualities of persons with more financial or cultural or physical power who exercise that power over people with less. There’s nothing “counter” about that, of course; overpowering in that way implicitly validates things as they are, and implies that this is how they ought to be. So I presume that when we value literary-bad-boy-ness — and there is a lot to value there — those traits wouldn’t be, if we thought about it, the essence of bad-boy-ness; those traits aren’t even distinctive. They’re just trussed-up versions of an unfortunate norm.

Book Review: Books as History by David Pearson. Obsolescence Guaranteed?

Here’s another wrinkle in the printed books vs. ebooks discussion, the book as object:

The book as object is part not only of the history of communication, but also of art and design.

A book can be altered, beautified or cherished in ways that produce unique objects worth preserving. Each generation leaves its marks: inscriptions, annotations, bookplates, new bindings, armorial stamps, defacements. Readers also often add useful details omitted in the texts. As such, printed books have their own histories which become part of our wider historical heritage and evidence base. Pearson argues that e-books and tablets simply won’t offer these unique, telling attributes.

The Coolest Places On Earth To Read A Book

You must see these 8 photos on Huffington Post. They might influence the plans for your next vacation.

‘About a Boy’: from novel to film to sitcom

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

‘About a Boy’: from novel to film to sitcom | Entertainment | The Seattle Times.

Nick Hornby’s novel “About a Boy” keeps finding new lives. It inspired a well-received movie of the same name starring Hugh Grant, and now NBC has adapted and Americanized a series version.

. . .

It’s worth a look. More farcical than its print and big-screen predecessors, the series version nonetheless has its charms. Jason Katims (“Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood”) is producer and series creator, Jon Favreau directed the pilot and, in the three episodes I have seen, the cast is as endearing as the characters are offbeat. And there’s a really good soundtrack.

A recommendation from the Akron Beacon Journal‘s Rich Heldenfels.

Monday Miscellany

Monday, January 6th, 2014

The Bestselling Books of 2013

Publishers Weekly has gathered some interesting statistics about last year’s book sales. Among their findings: “fiction is the genre of choice for customers who read e-books” and movie adaptations created demand for several titles, including Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

See the books included on these lists:

  1. Nielsen BookScan Top 20
  2. Amazon Kindle Top 20
  3. Amazon Print Top 20

8 books I bailed on in 2013

Laura Miller, book critic for Salon, reads a lot of books and usually writes about the ones she recommends. Here she summarizes 8 books she didn’t finish last year, cautioning “what follows are my responses to books you might possibly have heard of, rather than the absolute worst things I read.”

See why she bailed on these books:

  1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  2. Gun Machine by Warren Ellis
  3. The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates
  4. Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime by Adrian Raine
  5. At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcon
  6. Confessions of a Sociopath by M.E. Thomas
  7. Truth in Advertising by John Kenney
  8. Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova

How Do E-Books Change the Reading Experience?

Each week in Bookends, two writers take on questions about the world of books. This week, Mohsin Hamid and Anna Holmes discuss how technology affects the way we read.

Newbery Winner to Promote Her Genre

Television, music, and video games all compete with books for children’s attention. For this reason the Library of Congress in 2008 created the national ambassador for young people’s literature, a new position dedicated to promoting literature for children. A new ambassador is named every two years.

The next ambassador for young people’s literature will be Newberry Medal winner Kate DiCamillo, author of Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux:

With a warm, lively personality and a boisterous laugh, Ms. DiCamillo would appear a natural fit for the post of ambassador, which asks for an ability to relate to children and an overall contribution to children’s literature. She is the fourth person appointed to the position, following Jon Scieszka (2008), Katherine Paterson (2010) and Walter Dean Myers (2012).

The Top 10 Library Stories of 2013

For libraries, 2013 was an eventful year. PW takes a look back at the top 10 library stories of the year, and a look ahead to what might be on the horizon in 2014.

Read what Publishers Weekly has to say about these news stories from last year:

  1. An E-Book Breakthrough?
  2. Google, GSU and Fair Use
  3. The Common Core’s Rough Debut
  4. What Happened to Copyright Reform?
  5. Pew Finds Americans Love Their Libraries, But Use Is Declining
  6. A Bookless Library?
  7. The NYPL [New York Public Library] Goes Back to the Drawing Board
  8. The Digital Public Library of America Launches
  9. Congress, White House Push for Public Access to Research
  10. The Death of Aaron Swartz

Monday Miscellany

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Robert McCloskey Sketches for “Make Way for Ducklings”

Born in 1914 in Hamilton, Ohio, Robert McCloskey came to Boston to attend the now-defunct Vesper George Art School. He left to live in New York for a time and established a career as an author and illustrator in the late 1930s. Over the years, he became the force behind beloved tales like Homer Price, Blueberries for Sal, and Time of Wonder. His most famous work is Make Way for Ducklings, which tells the story of a pair of mallards in Boston who take their eight ducklings from the Charles River to Boston’s Public Garden. The Boston Public Library has digitized over 100 of McCloskey’s studies for this wonderful work for consideration by the general public. Visitors can zoom in and look around and some of these great works. Visitors can also create their own curated collections for use at a later date.

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2013. https://www.scout.wisc.edu/

Slideshow: The Emily Dickinson Archive

The New York Times offers a good sampling of the materials now available online through The Emily Dickinson Archive. There’s also a link to the archive itself.

What 20 years of best sellers say about what we readKid With Books

How has your reading changed in the past 20 years? From readers shopping in brick-and-mortar bookstores, to the dominance of game-changing online sellers, to a digital era of e-reading and instant delivery, the book industry has gone through monumental change. And USA TODAY has been there all along. Look through 20 years of best-selling books.

This feature by USA TODAY offers an informative look at how reading and books have changed over the last 20 years. Includes lists of the best-selling books for each year.

How Changing Technologies Influence Storytelling

The Internet has changed (and keeps changing) how we live today — how we find love, make money, communicate with and mislead one another. Writers in a variety of genres tell us what these new technologies mean for storytelling.

The New York Times rounds up comments on technology from the following authors:

  • Margaret Atwood
  • Charles Yu
  • Marisha Pessl
  • Tom McCarthy
  • Rainbow Rowell
  • Dana Spiotta
  • Frederick Forsyth
  • Douglas Coupland
  • Tracy K. Smith
  • Emily Giffin
  • Ander Monson
  • Elliott Holt
  • Victor LaValle
  • Lee Child
  • Meg Cabot
  • Tao Lin
  • A.M. Homes

The 10 Best Mystery Books

Thomas H. Cook, one of the best at what he does, has done it again with 2013′s Sandrine’s Case, which is just as intricate and surprising as you’d expect from the Edgar winner. A veteran thriller and mystery writer of over 20 books, Cook shared his favorite mystery novels.

I love mysteries, but I’ve only read two of the books on Cook’s list for Publishers Weekly. But the two that I have read, A Crime in the Neighborhood and A Simple Plan, are very good.

School Board Reverses Ban on Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’ – Brian Feldman – The Atlantic Wire

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

The Randolph County school board in North Carolina has rescinded its ban on Ralph Ellison’s highly revered Invisible Man following a little over a week of intense criticism from free speech and literary advocates. The 5-2 decision, initially sparked by a parent’s complaint that the book was not appropriate for teenagers, was reversed in a 6-1 vote on Wednesday night. The ban had been widely criticized and ridiculed since it went into effect on September 16, and was highly protested, even including a giveaway of the book at a local store.

via School Board Reverses Ban on Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’ – Brian Feldman – The Atlantic Wire.

Here’s a little bit of good news for the end of Banned Books Week: Sometimes the good guys win.

Monday Miscellany

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Little Libertarians on the prairie

Cover: Little House on the Prairie

A Libertarian tract?

Christine Woodside argues that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter, journalist Rose Wilder Lane, edited her mother’s reminiscences into books that project a Libertarian point of view:

A close examination of the Wilder family papers suggests that Wilder’s daughter did far more than transcribe her mother’s pioneer tales: She shaped them and turned them from recollections into American fables, changing details where necessary to suit her version of the story. And if those fables sound like a perfect expression of Libertarian ideas—maximum personal freedom and limited need for the government—that’s no accident. Lane, and to an extent her mother, were affronted by taxes, the New Deal, and what they saw as Americans’ growing reliance on Washington. Eventually, as Lane became increasingly antigovernment, she would pursue her politics more openly, writing a strident political treatise and playing an important if little-known role inspiring the movement that eventually coalesced into the Libertarian Party.

Today, as Libertarian values move back into the mainstream of American politics, few citizens think to link them to a series of beloved childhood books. But the Little House books have done more than connect generations of Americans to the nation’s pioneer history: They have promoted a particular version of that history. The enduring appeal of the books tells us something about how deep the romance with self-reliance runs through American history, and the gaps between the Little House narrative and Wilder’s real life say a lot about the government help and interdependence that we sometimes find more convenient to leave out of that tale.

And the continued popularity of the Little House books makes it hard to argue against the influence those books have had in shaping our vision of American history and the American spirit.

Mysterious Press to Publish Early Larsson Story

Mysterious Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, announced it will publish a story by a 17-year-old Stieg Larsson never previously available in English. The piece is part of a larger anthology of Sweden’s greatest crime writers, A Darker Shade of Sweden, and is slated for publication in February 2014.

10 Books Every Woman Should Read

From fearless female protagonists realising their dreams in the face of adversity, to witty social commentaries on the female condition as well as two very different feminist manifestos written fifty years apart – here are 10 of the most influential and unputdownable books that celebrate, in their own way, what it is to be a woman.

This list includes some books I expected to find (e.g., The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath) and some I didn’t (e.g., How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi).

Books to Have and to Hold

KindleAnd the debate surrounding print books vs. ebooks rages on. Here’s Verlyn Klinkenborg’s opinion:

When I read a physical book, I remember the text and the book — its shape, jacket, heft and typography. When I read an e-book, I remember the text alone. The bookness of the book simply disappears, or rather it never really existed. Amazon reminds me that I’ve already bought the e-book I’m about to order. In bookstores, I find myself discovering, as if for the first time, books I’ve already read on my iPad.

All of this makes me think differently about the books in my physical library. They used to be simply there, arranged on the shelves, a gathering of books I’d already read. But now, when I look up from my e-reading, I realize that the physical books are serving a new purpose — as constant reminders of what I’ve read. They say, “We’re still here,” or “Remember us?” These are the very things that e-books cannot say, hidden under layers of software, tucked away in the cloud, utterly absent when the iPad goes dark.

Digital reading: not so discreet after all…

I like reading on both my Kindle and my iPad; I also like reading print books. I don’t see what all the seemingly endless discussion is all about. Both print and ebooks are good; neither one is inherently bad.

On the other hand, The Guardian may have a point here:

At the end of 2012 the Electronic Frontier Foundation published the latest edition of its E-Reader Privacy Chart, and the results aren’t great. Almost every service tracks searches for books, meaning not just what you read, but what you’re interested in, is stored. Every book you purchase is linked to your account. . . .

 

 

Monday Miscellany

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Zocalo Public Square

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit daily ideas exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism. The entire initiative is a project of the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and the New America Foundation, and its goal is to “explore connection, place, big ideas, and what it means to be a citizen, be it locally, regionally, nationally, or globally.” Visitors should look at the Ideas area to read meditations on subjects like “Do I have Any Business Being a Doctor?” and “Why We Keep Coming Back to Gatsby.” The Books area is a real pip, featuring omnibus reviews (The Six-Point Inspection) and “Squaring Off,” in which authors answer five questions about the essence of their books. Visitors shouldn’t miss the Viewings area, which includes beautiful photographic essays on the Salton Sea, polling places, and the places where Americans gather.

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2013. https://www.scout.wisc.edu/

The Chicagoan

In the wake of The New Yorker’s creation, a group of Chicagoans decided to create a like-minded publication for the Windy City. With that in mind, The Chicagoan was born in 1926. This jaunty publication, which lasted until 1935, aimed “to portray the city as a cultural hub and counter its image as a place of violence and vice.” This remarkable website created by the University of Chicago Library brings together the near-complete run contained within the library’s collection for general consideration. Visitors can start by browsing through some of the historic covers on the site, and then move on to perform a full text search of every issue. New users may wish to start by looking at the April 9, 1927 issue, which contains a number of humorous illustrations and a profile of the editor of Poetry, Henry Blake Fuller.

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2013. https://www.scout.wisc.edu/

The Boy in the Snow7 Compulsively Readable Mysteries (for the Crazy-Smart Reader)

In these intelligent, totally compelling new reads, savvy women detectives (and one exceptional man) not only save the day but also save themselves.

 

Monday Miscellany

Monday, May 27th, 2013

A Pearl Buck Novel, New After 4 Decades

Pearl S. Buck

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Big recent literary news is the discovery of a final novel by Pearl S. Buck, the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The manuscript was discovered in a storage unit in Texas. Buck’s son, Edgar S. Walsh, believes that Buck completed the manuscript for the book, The Eternal Wonder, shortly before her death from cancer in 1973.

Peter Conn, a professor of English and education at the University of Pennsylvania who wrote “Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography,” said that of Buck’s contributions, she most notably commanded the imagination of American readers with her descriptions of China.

“Pearl Buck strongly shaped Western and specifically American perceptions of China to an extent that had not been seen in the past,” he said. “She actually can make claim to a unique kind of cultural achievement, which is to prepare Americans for the increasingly tangled relationship we were going to have with China for the next 70 or 80 years.”

I Like Likable Characters

Novelist Jennifer Weiner participates in the latest dust-up among women writers:

Quick: What’s the most unforgivable sin a writer can commit in fiction? A writerly crime so awful that major, award-winning novelists are condemning it on the pages of Publishers Weekly and inveighing against it in The New Yorker? If you said lazy plotting, dull language, or cardboard-thin characters, well, shame on you. Currently, the most gauche thing a modern-day writer can do is write protagonist who is—-oh, the horror—-likable.

Why is likable worse than, say, boring, or predictable, or hackneyed or obscure? When did beloved become a bad thing? And, now that likable has become the latest code employed by literary authors to tell their best-selling brethren that their work sucks, is there any hope for the few, the shamed, the creators and consumers of likable female protagonists?

In this piece Weiner takes on both Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs, and Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings.

Apparently Weiner chooses to fight the stereotype that girls should play nice.

Beware of book blurbs

Warning: You can’t judge a book by the blurb on its back cover:

The Washington Post did not review Martin Amis’ latest novel favorably, but the book blurb suggests otherwise

New Research Tools Kick Up Dust in Archives

Read how smartphones and computers have changed the face of archival research.

The pros: Researchers have become more productive and can easily make their findings widely available.

The cons: Use of these tools raise issues of intellectual property protection and deprive institutions of income from document copying.

Amazon Buys Goodreads

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Amazon Buys Goodreads.

Just in case you missed the day’s hottest literary topic. . .