A few weeks ago I blogged about the "summer slide"—the learning loss that sometimes occurs in children during summer break—because a professor at the University of Tennessee has found that giving low income kids access to books during the summer can decrease the learning gap. Several media outlets have reported on this study (we cited an article from the Christian Science Monitor) and now the New York Times is weighing in.
Tara Parker-Pope (author of the just-published For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage, reviewed in the June issue of BookPage) begins her Health column with a provocative question: "Has your child cracked a book this summer?"
Her advice is to allow your kids to choose their own books.
“A child’s interests are a door into the room of reading,” said Ms. Galinsky [president of the Families and Work Institute], who said her own son turned away from books during grade school. Because he liked music, she encouraged him to read music magazines or books about musicians. Her son later regained an interest in reading and has a Ph.D.
“If your child is turned off by reading, getting them to read anything is better than nothing,” she said.
If you've got some time to kill online, or you'd like to join an interesting conversation about the impact of books, follow the "books that changed my life" thread on Twitter. (I'd say, at this moment, people are responding via Twitter at a a rate of about 5 tweets a minute.)
All you have to do is click here and read the tweets, all marked with the #booksthatchangedmylife hashtag. (And, if you have a twitter page, tweet your own response!)
Publishers, book bloggers and readers everywhere are getting into it, and answers range from classic novels to reference texts to picture books.
If you're not into tweeting, feel free to leave your answer in the comments right here on The Book Case.
Update: #booksthatchangedmyworld is also a popular topic on Twitter.
Speaking of bloggers (thanks again, Rebecca!) -- news recently broke of a big book deal for The Bloggess, aka Jenny Lawson. Jenny will write Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir ("Little House on the Prairie, but with more cursing," according to Publisher's Marketplace) for Amy Einhorn Books.
Do you read The Bloggess, or any of her columns ("Ask the Bloggess," "Goodmom/Badmom," "Sexis Funny")? Will you check out her memoir?
If you had to make a prediction, which blog will become the next book deal?
If these covers are any indication, we're going to be starting at the backs of a lot of people's heads this fall.
At least this brunette beauty is letting her locks flow free! Probably because she's an unconventional woman for her time, just like Cleopatra. The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove (Crown, August) is the second novel from Susan Gregg Gilmore, and it's set in Nashville! We're looking forward to giving it a read.
No one does "wistful" like an Anita Shreve heroine, and this photograph evokes that emotion perfectly. It's possible that Shreve's novels kicked off this back-of-the-head trend; her last book, A Change in Altitude, featured this motif as well.
And last but not least, a debut novel about a ballerina, Russian Winter (Morrow, September). Her chignon is lovely, but the low back on her top (leotard?) combined with the backwards necklace is giving me an Exorcist flashback.
Have you noticed this trend? Do these covers spark your imagination, make you curious or set a mood? Or would you rather see a person's face on the cover of your book?
One of the most time-tested ways of generating reader interest is asking a question (and yes, we're guilty of it at this blog!). Lately we at BookPage have noticed some doozies leading off the back cover copy of a few soon-to-be-released novels, and we have a question of our own: given a book's cover and title, can you guess which question it promises to answer? Share your score—or your favorite flap copy question—in the comments.
Publishers are always looking for innovative ways to promote books, and it seems that Sarah Mlynowski has found a winning idea to spread the word about Gimme a Call, a teen novel about a high school senior whose phone can only call her freshman self.
First, Mlynowski tweeted, Ever wonder what YA authors would tell their high school selves? (If they had magic cell phones that could call the past?) #gimmeacall.
And over the next few days she posted follow-up tweets ("What @sarazarr would tell her high school self: You are NOT FAT. You will be, but you're not now, so enjoy it. #gimmeacall") and the concept went viral. In the last week, Mlynowski has contributed essays to the Huffington Post and Publisher's Weekly about the #gimmeacall phenomenon, and today—the book's pub date—the trend is still going strong. (Just search #gimmeacall on Twitter.)
I became familiar with Gimme a Call when Emily Booth Masters gave it a great review in BookPage, writing:
Sarah Mlynowski’s Gimme a Call is chick lit for teens, but the focus on a very pertinent life lesson makes it more than just a fun read. Readers will think about their own past mistakes in a new light as they see what can happen when the present is informed by the future.
There have been a lot of mashups and boundary-crossing novels in fiction lately, but this one took me by surprise.
Amish + Vampire = ??? Well, conflict, for sure, since it is unlikely that the Amish community looks on the undead with anything approaching approval.
From Publisher's Marketplace:
Leanna Ellis's FORSAKEN, first in the Plain Fear series in which a young Amish woman mourning the mysterious 'death' of her beloved, now a vampire, must choose between two brothers, between good and evil, between a lasting love and the damnation of her soul, to Peter Lynch at Sourcebooks.
There sure are a lot of book jackets in the news this week (see an earlier post on the jacket for Jonathan Franzen's Freedom).
In July, Bloomsbury UK will release seven new covers for the Harry Potter books in an effort to draw new readers; profits are down 35% at the company, in part because it's been a year without a Potter release. Chief executive Nigel Newton envisions this project as "a new look for a new generation of readers who did not grow up with the Harry Potter series coming out book by book." (As a side note, do you have a favorite Potter cover? This isn't a very creative answer, but I will always love the Mary GrandPré editions.)
And yesterday, there was an interesting story in the New York Times about a problem with e-books: people can't see the book jacket when you're reading in a public place, which in the past has been free advertising for publishers (not to mention a means for self-expression). Here's an excerpt:
“There’s something about having a beautiful book that looks intellectually weighty and yummy,” said Ms. Wiles [a reader interviewed for the story], who recalled that when she was rereading “Anna Karenina” recently, she liked that people could see the cover on the subway. “You feel kind of proud to be reading it.” With a Kindle or Nook, she said, “people would never know.”
When was the last time you read a book based on a cover you saw in a public place? The NYT article mentions Chris Cleave's Little Bee as book with an appealing jacket—which is funny, since last week I picked it up in a bookstore because the cover is so striking.
In the years since 9/11, there have been no shortage of novelists willing to take on the subject. Some of the best examples were published about 4 or 5 years ago: Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; Don DeLillo's Falling Man; S.J. Rozan's Absent Friends; Jess Walter's The Zero; Jay McInerney's The Good Life.
In recent months, another round of novelists has taken on the topic. One of the most recent, and most notable, is James Hynes' Next, which our reviewer Lauren Bufferd says is his best book yet. Other reviewers agree; Next has had a lot of buzz, including a rave review in the New York Times.
And on April 6, Sue Miller's take on the tragedy, The Lake Shore Limited, hits shelves. Watch for an interview in our April print edition. A sneak preview of the piece:
The fictional what-ifs of her new novel were sparked by a real-life connection to the events of that tragic day. “I had a friend who was staying with someone whose sister was killed on 9/11. Due to the circumstances, my friend felt it was necessary to stay longer than she would have otherwise, and to enact a role, something my main character ends up doing in the novel.”
There's a new trend in covers these days: bicycles! Is it the environmental movement? The growing popularity of steampunk? Who knows; as someone who rides a bike more often than your average citizen (it's fun, I promise!) I'm happy to see it.
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More are on the way this spring: Roddy Doyle's The Dead Republic (April), the long-awaited final volume of the Henry Smart trilogy that began in 1999 with A Star Called Henry; and Emily Winslow's The Whole World (June), an anticipated debut that is being compared to Kate Atkinson's Case Histories.
Tell me about your favorite bicyclist hero/heroine—or, if you can't think of one, your first bike—in the comments, and you'll be entered to win a copy of The Manual of Detection. ETA: Contest closed.