(Book Sculpture by Guy Laramee)
Happy Friday, readers! I am normally thrilled for the weekend because it means lazy Saturdays and Sundays spent with a good book. Due to some mid-week travel a few days ago, though, I've squeezed in even more weekday reading than usual. After a two-day binge, yesterday I finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Can't wait to tell you more about why I loved this book! What are you looking forward to reading this weekend?
Here are a few links, for your entertainment:
Jennifer Weiner was the keynote speaker at this year's BookExpo America Blogger Convention. Her address gives good advice about blogging and some insight into this popular author's relationship with the media. Worth a read—especially if you love her books!
We lost a literary luminary on June 5; Ray Bradbury passed away at the age of 91. (Read the New York Times obituary here.) How many of us read and pondered Fahrenheit 451 as young readers? On The New Yorker's book blog, Junot Diaz writes about Loving Ray Bradbury. NPR has re-posted an interview with the author from 1988. An excerpt: "It's not going to do any good to land on Mars if we're stupid. And I want to save the future generation, I want to teach them to read when they're 5 and 6 and 7 years old."
Finally, we've given you plenty of summer reading suggestions here on The Book Case, but here's another fun resource. Teach.com has put together a Summer Reading Flowchart, featuring 101 picks in a variety of genres, from dark fiction, to poetry to biography and more.
What links have you been sharing this week?
According to last week's article in the New York Times, "Discreetly Digital, Erotic Novel Sets American Women Abuzz," thousands of suburban moms have become obsessed with Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James' erotic novel. The numbers speak for themselves: So far, the trilogy has sold more than 250,000 copies, in both paperbacks and eBooks.
Starting this week, Vintage Books has made the three titles in the trilogy—Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed—available in eBook. In April, Vintage will publish trade paperback editions with a print run of 750,000 copies. (The series was initially published by Australia's Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House.)
The buzz surrounding this series may seem like reason for the publishing industry to rejoice, but NPR blogger (and GalleyCat editor) Jason Boog writes that the books, which were born as Twilight fan-fiction—open up a whole other can of worms:
Does the book owe more than just character names to Twilight? Even though the names and relationships have changed, Fifty Shades of Grey reproduced the mad thrill of reading Twilight, the moody relationship at its core and the endless emotional analysis.
[University of Utah English professor Anne] Jamison argues that the story and the success of the book pose a unique ethical and legal problem for the publishing industry: "Whether the explicit, conscious use of another writer's fan base, via creation of characters known and experienced as 'versions' of the writer's characters, for commercial purposes, constitutes any kind of damage or infringement."
It's a question the publishing industry must reckon with.
Yesterday was the Ides of March (a.k.a. the 2056th anniversary of Julius Caesar's death), and The Awl has created a playlist in honor of the date. Blogger Dave Bly writes, "If Caesar had had access to Youtube and its trove of music videos, instead of some creepy old soothsayer, maybe he would have heeded the warning and avoided being stabbed to death by his friends in the Senate." Check it out here.
Algonquin Books publicist and BookPage reviewer Megan Fishmann has written a post for The Hairpin called "The Writer-Groupie Experiment." Fishmann writes about meeting famous authors—and how easy it is now for a fan to contact a favorite writer.
Her experiment involves contacting 10 famous authors via Facebook and asking what they ate for lunch. Read her funny (and oh-so-relatable!) essay here to see how it worked out.
Found any good links this week? Share in the comments!
One bizarre news story that's been making the rounds this week has been the discovery that Q.R. Markham's debut novel, Assassin of Secrets, contains significant plagiarized passages, and was recalled by Little, Brown. Stories like this are puzzling, because we all wonder: Why, in an age of Google, would anybody think they could get away with plagiarizing?
On The New Yorker's book blog, Macy Halford suggests the possibility that the author (his real name is Quentin Rowan) had planned an "elaborate ruse" all along. Halford quotes the review of Assassin of Secrets from Kirkus, which includes in the line:
“Containing elements of the 007 and Jason Bourne sagas, Graham Greene’s insular spy novels, William Gibson’s cyber thrillers, TV’s Burn Notice and Mad magazine’s classic Spy vs. Spy comic strip, this book is a narrative hall of mirrors in which nothing and no one are as they seem and emotion is a perilous thing to have.”
As one customer wrote on Amazon: "Get the book and compare it to the writers whose stuff he lifted; it's a fascinating exercise, and not a bad book. I bought 20 copies from my local bookstores and have then listed various places if you can't find one. Get them now while they're hot; they'll be worth quite a bit later on!"
On a less serious note, NPR's MonkeySee blog has posted a funny piece called "How to Name Your First Novel." (Listen up, all you NaNoWrMo-ers!) Click over to the post to start filling in the blanks in this Mad Libs-style exercise. For example:
If Your First Novel Will Be A Workplace Satire
At Least They Left Us The [A PIECE OF OFFICE MACHINERY]
(I like At Least They Left Us The Fax Machine.)
We've already teased you with an excerpt from Christopher Paolini's Inheritance, but at least you can get your hands on the book now, if you want to. Paolini has given an interview in which he gives hints about his next project. UK book site TheBookseller.com interviewed Paolini. The author explained that his next project will most likely be in the science fiction genre—although he's not ruling out a return to the world of Eragon.
Happy Friday! What literary links have you enjoyed this week? What are you reading this weekend?
Here are a few links to provide some end-of-the-day enlightenment:
Books as home décor
Lately I've been thumbing through Damian Thompson's Books Make a Home (to be released on October 1) and daydreaming about new arrangements for my bookshelves. I was thrilled to get even more inspiration from a roundup of 20 Celebrities With Stunning Home Libraries. If you feel like drooling over somebody else's house—or you need even more encouragement to buy more books—take a look at these awesome photos.
Book blogger face-off
Maud Newton's NYT Magazine piece from last weekend attributes modern Internet-speak to the essays of the late David Foster Wallace. It's an entertaining piece—but a weak argument, according to Internet firebrand Ed Champion, who tears into her essay on his blog. Newton and Champion were among the first book bloggers, though the scope of each of their sites has changed over the years.
Happy birthday to The Moviegoer
There's been quite a bit of press surrounding the 50th anniversary of Catch-22 (there's also a new 50th-anniversary edition out, as well as Tracy Daugherty's biography of Joseph Heller, Just One Catch). This week, The Millions published a nice essay on another novel that's having a 50th anniversary—and it happens to be one of my favorites: Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, which beat out Catch-22 for the National Book Award in 1962. The book tells the story of Binx Bolling, a man engaged in "the search," or "what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life." Here's more from the essay:
F. Scott Fitzgerald thought “the purpose of a work of fiction is to appeal to the lingering after-effects in the reader’s mind.” Other than Fitzgerald’s own works, I’ve never read a novel whose power lies so fully not in the course of being read, but in the astral glow of having been read. When I completed The Moviegoer for the first time, I was at a loss to explain the significance of the 242 pages I’d just traversed, but I knew they had been important. I felt the novel working on me in strange ways, like a slow-release drug. That so much of The Moviegoer’s effect is felt when it’s not being read can be attributed not to some defect in Percy’s prose, but rather to the nature of the novel’s moral project.
Happy Friday, readers! What are you reading this weekend? I can't wait to dig into When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (author of Mudbound).
Here are a few links to provide some end-of-the-day enlightenment:
EW was among the 1 million who got an advance look at J.K. Rowling's Pottermore. They report that although the content is currently limited to book one in the series, "there’s still more than enough to make your entire afternoon disappear like a temporus suckus spell," explaining that the site's interactive elements, which include being sorted into houses, "represent the kind of useless but still desperately desired reward system that can turn horribly, wonderfully addictive."—check out their full report.
Booklamp.org is the latest attempt to predict what you might like to read based on what you have liked to read in the past. My test didn't go well, since the first two books I attempted to plug in weren't in the database at all.
Which confirms my belief that there's just no substitute for the human touch when it comes to these things—anyone want to compare the results they get from Booklamp with our own Book Fortunes feature? (Via)
Guardian blogger Laura Barnett claims that "the worst idea ever" goes to a new diet book for . . . 6- to 12-year-olds. It's called Maggie Goes on a Diet, and it's about a 14-year-old girl who "is transformed from being overweight and insecure to a normal-sized teen who becomes the school soccer star." Hmm. Nothing wrong with books for kids promoting healthy lifestyles—I always thought the American Girl books were good for that—but I feel for poor Maggie after seeing this book jacket:
Happy Friday, readers! Any big book-related plans for the weekend? I'm very much looking forward to finishing The Cookbook Collector, our Top Pick for Book Clubs for August.