• Mind-boggling tidbit: Geordie Greig's recently published biography, Breakfast with Lucian, was written entirely on his Blackberry.
• A 1640 book of psalms—one of only 11 known copies of the first book ever published in English in what would become the United States—sold at auction this week for a whopping $14.16 million dollars, the most ever paid for a book.
• There's fantastic news for those of us who repeatedly salivate from afar over the schedule of cultural events held at the 92 Street Y in NYC! The 92Y has just launched an online archive of more than 1,000 recorded performances—completely searchable by topic, year and performer. Raise your hand if you see a little binge watching in your future.
• Finally, the folks at Quirk put together a fun list of the best author cameos in movies based on their books.
• The 2013 National Book Awards finalists were announced this week, narrowing each category down from 10 to 5 contenders. The winners will be revealed on November 20. In the meantime, you can familiarize yourself with the books in the running by downloading free excerpts here.
• With Halloween right around the corner, we can't get enough of Flavorwire's amazing collection of photos of famous authors dressed up in costumes.
• Speaking of Halloween, if you like creepy stories, Byliner is offering up an exclusive new tale called "Devotion" by Maile Meloy. (Those who aren't Byliner subscribers can download the book for $1.99.)
• Bloomsbury is launching a new popular science imprint, Sigma, which will feature books on subjects such as evolutionary biology, astronomy, robotics, bioengineering and climatology. Inaugural titles publishing in October 2014 will include Sex on Earth by Jules Howard and The World's Smallest Mammoth by Victoria Herridge.
• What's the most famous book set in your state?
• Finally, check out this nifty collection of original artwork used on iconic book covers over on the Publishers Weekly blog.
This week on BookPage.com, Roger Bishop praises Robert Caro's The Passage of Power (which I squealed about in November) by writing, "Political biography doesn’t get any better than what Caro does." This installment of Caro's incredible Lydon Johnson biography covers the years 1958 to 1964 and is surely a must-read for people who are interested in American history, politics or how a person longs for and acquires power. As a Bill Clinton devotee since birth (what can I say? I'm from Arkansas!) and someone who has devoted roughly 25 hours of her life (so far) listening to his autobiography on audio, I thought I was going to die and go to heaven when I learned that Clinton was reviewing Caro's book in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review. The glowing review is online now.
John Irving's In One Person is our Top Pick in Fiction this month; reviewer Matthew Jackson calls it "among the most challenging, dense novels Irving has ever produced," providing readers who are willing to take the journey with "immense rewards." If you've ever wondered about the day-to-day life of the best-selling novelist, read the profile "John Irving: the hitman" in The Telegraph, in which journalist Ariel Leve writes an intimate portrait of the author.
Speaking of mega-successful novelists, Stephen King (whose latest Dark Tower novel went on sale last week) has written a passionate, explicit and—yes—amusing scolding of the superrich in America. An example: According to King, those guys "float serenely over the lives of the struggling middle class like blimps made of thousand-dollar bills."
The Wall Street Journal seems to be the go-to publication for hot-button commentary, whether Amy Chua is telling us why Tiger Moms are superior or Meghan Cox Gurden is taking on the "violence and depravity" in contemporary YA literature. The latest book piece that caught my eye was Book Lover columnist Cynthia Crossen's column about "heavy heroes."
A reader asked: "Considering that more than a third of Americans are considered to be obese, why are there so few modern novels with overweight heroes or heroines?" Crossen gives a brief history of overweight characters in literature, including now-classic books with "heavy heroines" like Good in Bed and She's Come Undone. She also introduces a term that was new to me: "chunk lit."
In the past our readers have asked for a "best" list highlighting books with an overweight main character, which is maybe something we should revisit. For the time being, I recommend Heft by Liz Moore.
Happy weekend, readers! Have any links to share? What are you reading this weekend?
It's no secret that we're fans of both Stephen King and Lauren Grodstein, so we were especially excited to hear that the two are doing a live webcast for the Algonquin Books Blog on March 3. King is a great champion of lesser-known artists, both musical and literary, and he's definitely picked a winner here. Can't wait to see how this conversation unfolds.
As if you needed another reason to want an iPad: Book critics—and buddies—Laura Miller and Maud Newton have created The Chimerist, a new site that explores "the intersection of art, stories, and technology" by highlighting iPad functions and apps with a literary or artistic angle. Just a few posts in and I'm hooked: the Strange Rain app sounds totally crazy, in a good way, and I've been inspired to look for an Escher wallpaper for my iPhone.
We were delighted to find out a couple of weeks back that author Kate Christensen has started a blog. As you might expect, it's not the typical
"come to my author signings" kind of blog. It's more of a memoir-cum-diary, and it's anything but chronological. The two things you're guaranteed are excellent writing and a recipe at the end. I will absolutely be making the "Bachelor's Supper" from one of last week's posts.
Ever wondered where the printer's marks (aka colophons) on the spines of books came from? Publishers from Penguin to Pocket to Knopf addressed that question this week on Publishing Trendsetter, and their answers might surprise you. My favorite is the story behind Overlook Press' winged elephant.
What links have you discovered this week? Tell us in the comments!
Literary Review revealed their shortlist for the 2011 Bad Sex in Literature award on Tuesday, and the 12 nominees include 1Q84, 11/22/63 and The Land of Painted Caves. The winner will be announced on December 6. In the meantime, check out the rest of the list as well as some really bad examples via Huffington Post, such as this one from Stephen King:
She was wearing jeans. The fabric whispered under my palm. She leaned back and her head bonked on the door. "Ouch!" I said. "Are you all right?"
Doubleday's Thanksgiving Twitter challenge, Literary Turducken, had some great results that are worthy of a chuckle. The original post said: “The Literary Turducken combines not one, not two, but three classic works into one, in the spirit of the turkey+duck+chicken creole classic.”
2012 will be a big year for Charles Dickens, what with it being his 200th anniversary. Amidst all the celebration will be a bit of a change, however . . . specifically to Great Expectations. A new film adaptation of the classic work comes out in 2012, directed by Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and starring Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes. This article over at The Telegraph has Newell comparing it to Hannibal Lector and calling it a "thriller." It will also have a new ending.
My opinion: I'm into it. You?
Earlier this week we let you know that Stephen King was working on a sequel to The Shining. Well, somehow that discovery led me to Lilja's Library, a compendium of King links, news and video created by a Swedish fan. Just the last week's worth of posts turned up gems like the promo for Maximum Overdrive and an MTV bit with King acting as a VJ and interviewing AC/DC. But I think my favorite is a clip from a Portland, Maine, newscast about a 1983 book signing. The fashion! The accents! (Close second: Stephen King killing it on "Celebrity Jeopardy!" in 1998.)
James Patterson wrote an article about getting kids to read for CNN that has been burning up the social networks ever since it was published on Wednesday. "Sorry, moms and dads, but it's your job—not the schools'—to find books to get your kids reading and to make sure they read them," Patterson begins, going on to discuss how he turned his own son, Jack, from a reluctant reader to a devourer of books. Patterson has founded ReadKiddoRead, an organization that sends free books to needy children and suggests great reads to kids of all ages (the children's section of BookPage is good place to look too!). Parents out there: Do you agree with Patterson's manifesto? What books have your kids loved?
For another take on getting kids—especially boys—to read, see our interview with reading advocate (and all-around hilarious dude—he did write The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, after all) Jon Scieszka.
Another link making the rounds is Terry Gross' interview with Maurice Sendak on "Fresh Air." Warning: Have tissues nearby, because this may be the rawest and most emotional interview I've ever heard on public radio. The subject of discussion is aging—the author is 83, and he lost his partner of 50 years, Eugene, in 2007—and also Sendak's latest book, Bumble-Ardy. In BookPage, Alice Cary described Bumble-Ardy as "a riotous birthday tale" filled with "the master’s wild, wonderful illustrations." (Check out Sendak's author page on BookPage.com for more reviews of his work.)
What literary links have you uncovered this week?
Hope everyone had a great, summery week! Today's weekly links celebrate classic favorite reads (and suggest new ones), recognize some great songwriters' books and enjoy some book-to-film if-onlys. Enjoy!
Socially important or academically fascinating books might get all the attention, but that doesn't make them great reading material. The Guardian points readers to some overlooked masterpieces.
Some examples include Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust over Brideshead Revisited and Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle over Slaughter-House Five.
What are your this-over-that reading suggestions?
The New Dork Review of Books celebrates medium-crossover books -- particularly those from musicians (and disregarding "idiot celebrities"). There's something very similar between telling a story through song and through prose, as often a creative mind can tell a tale through either medium.
This week, Ron Howard's epic adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower was scrapped. Flavorwire added it to "the long list of proposed book-to-film adaptations by famed directors that never saw the light of day." They listed the 10 book-to-films they'd love to see, including Orson Welles' adaptation of Heart of Darkness, Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote and Terrence Malick's Blood Meridian.
Maria Popova over at Brain Pickings has compiled a list of 7 Obscure Children's Books by Authors of Grown-Up Literature, including one of my favorites, T.S. Eliot's Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, as well as 6 others I did not expect. Mark Twain's Advice to Little Girls might be my new favorite thing - ever:
Have a wonderful weekend! What will you be reading?