Though I agree that it represents a somewhat creepy invasion of privacy, I can't stop reading Amazon's new list of what readers are highlighting on their Kindles. The Amazon e-book device allows readers to highlight a passage in a book simply by dragging a cursor across it, and somehow (we don't really want to know how, do we?) Amazon is tracking these selections and reporting them to the whole wide world.
At Amazon.com, one list displays the Most Highlighted Passages of All Time, with "all time" presumably referring to the two and a half years since the Kindle was introduced. A second list aims to identify what's trendy by reporting Recently Heavily Highlighted Passages. The current number one on the "all-time" list is this passage from Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: "Those three things—autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward—are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying." Why did this passage hit home for 1,742 Kindle users? Are they unhappy in their jobs? Searching for fulfillment? Mad at their boss? I also couldn't help but notice that the dominant book on the all-time list is The Shack, with SIX of the top 10 passages. Here's a sampler of what readers choose to highlight from William P. Young's allegorical Christian novel: "Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions. Most emotions are responses to perception—what you think is true about a given situation. If your perception is false, then your emotional response to it will be false too." Hmm. Perhaps they were highlighting that passage so they could figure out what it means?
My personal favorite passage is this one from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which has been highlighted by 581 Kindle users (so far): “Is it so small a thing to have enjoyed the sun, to have lived light in the spring, to have loved, to have thought, to have done, to have advanced true friends?” It's a lovely sentence and one that I might have marked myself.
Do you highlight passages in books as you read them? And what do you think of Amazon's new effort to track and report what readers are doing on their Kindles?
Children's Book Week has been around since 1919, and this year the celebration runs from May 10-16. I love these posters for the week:
The Children's Book Week website is a great resource for parents and young readers themselves. You can. . .
If you've been looking for a fun and easy way to get comprehensive info about books for kids and teens, this is it. Our first issue will come out May 26, but you can sign up now.
As our launch date gets closer, I'll post more about the newsletter, including info on how to enter a stellar kids book giveaway.
What is your family, library, school or bookstore doing to celebrate Children's Book Week? Let us know in the comments section, and share some ideas for other readers. . .
Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things
by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee
Houghton Mifflin, April 20, 2010
Debra's obsessions with preservation and perfection have become her identity. She is "the keeper of magazines." If she were to stop colecting or to get rid of them, her sense of self would be lost. When I asked her about this, she said, "To stop would make all those years a waste of my life. It would make my existence invalid." At the same time she realized the cost. "This has ruined me, " she said. "I'm smart and creative, and I could have been happy. But I'm not anything. I have done nothing. I'm collecting life without living it."
In her review, Becky Ohlsen described it as "no ordinary coming-of-age novel. Or rather, it is ordinary, in the sense of being universal, even though the story’s primary setting will strike most readers as exotic and unfamiliar."
To learn more about the story, which follows Kimberly Chang through 20 years of her life, watch Kwok describe it in her own words in the book trailer below. Here's an excerpt: "It's basically a story about loss of innocence, it's about overcoming hardships. . . but at its core, it's a love story."
If you're interested in the behind-the-scenes life of an author, Kwok keeps a funny and informative blog. ("And hotels will give you stuff, like bottles of wine and extra flowers and chocolates. At one hotel, I found a copy of my book. ‘That’s a strange gift,’ I thought, ‘I already have a copy of my book.’")
Abby, our fiction editor, has expressed a lot of excitement for this novel, and I personally can't wait to read it. To give you an idea of the buzz it's already built up, consider this: I'm #9 out of 21 holds at the Nashville Public Library.
Have you read Girl in Translation? Is it worth the hype?
Saw this floating around the Internet yesterday and had to post it here in case any Book Case readers missed it. As a child of the 80s, the tone of the commercial really took me back (do they still make commercials for kids with the same cheesy voiceover?) Favorite moment: when the "super disguise mustaches" are removed.
As Salon's Broadsheet points out, the video was made by the team who wrote and directed last year's film version of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Are there other authors you'd add to this action figure collection?
The world's favorite smizing*, H2T** model is writing teen books!
Tyra Banks—host of America's Next Top Model and The Tyra Banks Show—has signed a three book deal with Delacorte. The series is called Modelland, and according to Publisher's Marketplace it's about "a teenage girl who finds herself competing for a way of life that's both hotly desired and woefully out of reach at an academy for Intoxibellas, the most exceptional models known to humankind."
Turns out this isn't a huge leap for Tyra, as she's an avid reader. On her blog, she posted: "Modelland has always been a part of my mind and my heart. As you might know, I step into a bookstore and I shake (really!) because I love books so much."
Wendy Loggia, who worked on Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Lauren Kate's Fallen, will edit.
Variety has more on Tyra's decision to write fiction (she's already the author of self-help book Tyra's Beauty Inside & Out):
"I have this notebook I write everything in and started working on titles and breaking down characters. And I kept going and going. I knew I didn't want it to be some autobiography; I wanted to create a fantastical place."
Banks said the books shouldn't be considered "chick lit" but will contain messages of empowerment within the fantasy storyline. "I wanted to make the project a little more what my brand is," she said. "And give (readers) an experience that they haven't seen when it comes to this modeling world."
Banks said she sees "Modelland" as eventually turning into a feature franchise and has already received interest from studios. "I'm not writing the books as scripts," she said. "I'm writing true literature, which can then be adapted into film by Bankable."
*"smize" = smiling with your eyes, in Tyraspeak
**"H2T" = head-to-toe modeling
This week we're posting a lot of new content on BookPage.com, from a whimsical story of a rabbi's unlikely journey to a multilayered fantasy. I've read Turtle in Paradise, and it was a perfect story for tweens. Now, I think I may pick up The Frozen Rabbi. Which of the books look good to you? (Click on the titles for more info.)
English author Andrew Grant shares why his David Trevellyan novels—including new book Die Twice—are set in the U.S.A.
I was lucky enough to attend the excellent Murder 203 conference in Connecticut recently, and one of the questions I was asked most often during the event concerned the settings of the first two David Trevellyan novels. Specifically, panel-goers were curious about how I came to base them both in U.S. cities. Specially as I—and my protagonist—actually come from the U.K.?
Barbara Clark reviews acclaimed author Steve Stern's wacky new novel, The Frozen Rabbi
The Frozen Rabbi tells the whimsical story of Polish rabbi Eliezer ben Zephyr, who, in 1890 and while in a meditative state, is unaccountably frozen alive in a block of ice during a freak storm. Lost and presumed dead by his rabbinical colleagues, he’s later discovered by a Polish laborer, still encased in ice, buried in a nearby pond. The old rabbi is preserved as a kind of holy talisman by the worker’s family and carted about, still frozen, to various locations for the better part of a century—until he accidentally thaws out and wakes from his long hiatus in a freezer in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1999. The unlikely and sometimes hilarious adventures of the ancient rabbi, as well as those of his “discoverer,” 15-year-old Bernie Karp, make up the contemporary half of this entertaining adventure.
Baby Mouse author Jennifer L. Holm shares the inspiration for her latest middle-grade novel, Turtle in Paradise
This book started out with a story my mom liked to tell about her childhood. She grew up in New Jersey with her mother and maternal grandparents. Her grandmother (Nana) was from Key West, Florida. During the summers, Nana would take my mom to Key West to visit relatives there. My mom didn’t really like going to Key West. It was a long drive by car, and Key West in July is hot and sticky and people didn’t have air conditioning back then like they do now. But strangest of all to my mom was what her mother told her to do in Key West: she was to “shake out her shoes” before she put them on. My mom didn’t know why her mother wanted her to do this, but she did it anyway. And then one day, she shook her shoes and out popped… a scorpion!
Leslie Moïse reviews the third book in Jane Lindskold’s Breaking the Wall series, Five Odd Honors
Life is not turning out the way college student Brenda Morris expected. Instead of literature and history, she spends much of her time studying self-defense, learning magic and how to infuse mah-jong tiles with her life force, or ch’i, for magical purposes. With her mentor, former child star Pearl Bright, and a band of mortals and ghosts called the Thirteen Orphans, Brenda works to unravel a century-old curse. Insane warrior Thundering Heaven, Pearl’s long-dead father, is only one of the powerful, treacherous enemies the group must face.
Blogger Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose.com will edit a collection of J.A.-inspired short stories by the likes of Lauren Willig, Adriana Trigiani, Karen Joy Fowler, Laurie Viera Rigler, Elizabeth Aston, Pamela Aidan, Stephanie Barron, Syrie James, Alexandra Potter, Beth Patillo, Frank Delaney, Diane Meier and 10 other writers, according to Publishers Marketplace.
The interesting tidbit is that one of the stories in the collection could be written by you! Pemberley.com will host a contest for inclusion in the collection, and the book will be published by Ballantine.
If our feature on Write That Book Already! had you inspired, maybe this contest would be a good way to flex those writing muscles. . .
Got any good story ideas?
Raise your hand if you read On the Road when you were a teenager, and it was, like, your favorite book of all time (right after you got over The Catcher in the Rye). Yeah, me too. I read Jack Kerouac's Beat Generation classic on my bunk bed at summer camp, and I'm pretty sure I listed the "burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles" quote as my favorite in more than one yearbook.
I suspect that die-hard Kerouac fans will have mixed feelings about the following news:
On the Road adaptations have been rumored for years, but now it's really going to happen. Walter Salles, best known for The Motorcycle Diaries, will direct the film. Garrett Hedlund (Four Brothers, Eragon) will play Dean Moriarty, the free spirited friend of narrator Sal Paradise. Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame will play Mary Lou. The movie should be out in 2011.
What do you think—are you excited about this news, or is On the Road one of those untouchable books that shouldn't be adapted at all? Who do you see as Sal? I'll admit that I'm skeptical. . . although I'm eager to learn more about the casting and the direction of the screenplay.
What book blog posts have you enjoyed this week? A few of my favorites include. . .
Alice In Openland
Posted by Open Culture
Maria Popova writes about the public's renewed interest in Lewis Carroll's Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, "easily the most beloved work of children’s literature of the past two centuries." Popova provides a list of "free versions of, tributes to, and derivatives of" Carroll's 1865 classic, from a Russian translation with awesome illustrations to a video of the earliest cinematic adaptation of the book (c. 1903). It's definitely worth a look. And if you haven't seen Tim Burton's recent "Alice" movie, read Trisha's report on the "weird and wonderful" wonderland.
The Passage - Justin Cronin
Posted by books i done read
Raych's posts are always hilarious, and her review of The Passage is no exception. Here's an excerpt: "And it's great, liebchens. Stressful, because Cronin leaves you sitting for a minute, anxious but subdued, before flinging you out over a crevasse and then letting you hang there for (p)ages. My anxiety is currently palpable. You may have no fears re: the ending, you will not be Patrick-Ness'ed into cliffhangerry rage, but even if the promo bits hadn't been all ZOMG TRILOGY I still would have been looking over my shoulder for the sequel. Read it. You know, when it comes out next month. Of which I will remind you." Trisha interviewed Justin Cronin for our June issue, so check in at BookPage.com at the beginning of the month. We think The Passage might be "the buzz book of the summer"—do you agree?
Hate Mail Dramatic Reading Project #9
Posted by Edward Champion's Reluctant Habits
Speaking of hilarious blog posts, if you haven't checked out Edward Champion's "Hate Mail" series, in which he posts recordings of himself reading hate mail in various voices, I'd strongly recommend you check it out. This week he's reading in the style of a Tennessee Williams protagonist. I also like his Richard Milhous Nixon-style reading. What's your favorite?