Happy Friday, readers! It's Friday the 13th and a three-day weekend for many of you . . . must be an extra lucky day.
The link that's had our office buzzing the loudest in the past few days is the New York Times' reading list roundup for fans of Downton Abbey. GalleyCat followed the paper's lead with a list of poetry for Downton fans and a writer at the Hairpin noted her disappointment that she'd gotten scooped by the NYT! (We may have been thinking something similar—but I say: You can never have too long a reading list if you love Downton!)
It is time to announce the contestants, judges, and brackets for the original, one-and-only, full-combat, oddly-predictive-of-the-Pulitzer-Prize, eighth annual TMN Tournament of Books, coming March 2012, presented by Field Notes.
One of my favorite YA authors is Sara Zarr (she was a National Book Award finalist for Story of a Girl, and I interviewed her on video about How to Save a Life). She's done a nice blog series this week in honor of the five-year anniversary of her debut novel. Any aspiring writers—or those curious about how a book (that a writer has written) becomes a BOOK (that you can buy)—ought to check it out here.
Got any links to share? What are you reading this week? Let us know in the comments.
io9.com shared Lizzie Stark's answers that age-old question: What if great literary writers of the last 200 years had penned Twilight instead? For example:
Flannery O'Connor: When Native American werewolf Jacob threatens her with death, Bella reconsiders her hardcore racism, and just for one milisecond, the audience finds her sympathetic.
Tim O'Brien: It's all about the memories these vampires have carried with them for the past couple hundred years. Just think how much that would have deepened their characters. "Bella looked into Edward's smoldering eyes and knew all the pain he carried with him, the cross burned into the cleft of his muscular chest, 1 oz., the dash of his hair across his forehead, dangling ever-so, 5.oz, etc… etc… "
Issue 16 of The Thing Quarterly comes from Dave Eggers. Each issue of The Thing is an object that is connected to literature. So Issue 16? It's a short story on a shower curtain -- or, according to The Thing, "a monologue told to Dave Eggers by his shower curtain."
There's an interesting (and amusing) article in this week's New York Times Book Review about authors who tweet: why some tweet, why some don't tweet, why publishers want them to tweet.
There are quotes from several of my personal favorite author-tweeters, Salman Rushdie, Jennifer Weiner, Margaret Atwood and Gary Shteyngart. @EmperorFranzen even gets a shout-out, and Jeffrey Eugenides comes across as a bit stuffy because he won't interact with readers on his publisher-created Facebook page.
Take a look, have a laugh and let us know: Who is your favorite author who tweets?
Happy weekend, readers! Believe it or not, it's currently 64° and sunny in Nashville. I can't believe I'm saying this on January 6, but I sure wish I were reading a book in the park right now. Do any of you have big reading plans this weekend?
Hi, everyone! BookPage is closed today and Monday to make way for poppers and champagne -- or curling up with some dogs and the Alexander McQueen book (ahem).
But there were a few things I've been soaking up this week I just had to share in our weekly links...
One of my favorite art & culture blogs, Colossal, completely knocked my socks off last week with these carved book landscapes by Guy Laramee. (HuffPost also took note.) Colossal quoted Laramee: "So I carve landscapes out of books and I paint Romantic landscapes. Mountains of disused knowledge return to what they really are: mountains."
We got the scoop from GalleyCat about songs from a forthcoming companion album to The Hunger Games movie (the soundtrack will be released separately). It will include Arcade Fire with a song titled "Horn of Plenty" and The Decemberists with "One Engine."
Below is the track for "Safe and Sound" by Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars:
Read more to get info about Jennifer Lawrence's contributions to the album!
After a banner year for YA movies (War Horse, HP 7.2, Tintin, Hugo and Twilight) and 2012 looking strong as well (of course, Hunger Games), Salon asked a number of authors -- including Sherman Alexie, Gregory Maguire and Sara Zarr -- to name their best and worst picks in teen book-to-movie adaptations and to name the titles they favor for future features on the silver screen.
For example, here's what Kathryn Lasky (the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series) had to say:
Which book would I like to see adapted? “The Giver.” Why that book has not been turned into a movie I don’t know. I suppose right now, everybody’s into … vampires and very flashy, brutal dystopias; “The Giver” is so quiet, compared to that — no vampires. But that is the one movie that I feel absolutely should be made.
Have a wonderful weekend! We'll see you next year! (har har)
Happy holidays! BookPage is closed tomorrow, but we couldn't end the workweek without our weekly link roundup.
Last week, the Internet was atwitter about Farhad Manjoo's Slate article about the pros of ordering from Amazon vs. your local bookstore that stood in stark contrast to conventional bookish wisdom. Some excerpts:
"As much as I despise some of its recent tactics, no company in recent years has done more than Amazon to ignite a national passion for buying, reading, and even writing new books."
"Sure, every local bookstore promotes local authors, but its bread and butter is the same stuff that Amazon sells—mass-manufactured goods whose intellectual property was produced by one of the major publishing houses in Manhattan.")
William Faulkner no doubt had more than one favorite drink recipe—but yesterday Maud Newton shared his formula for a hot toddy (and a few other author libations).
According to Faulkner's niece, who shared the recipe in The Great American Writers Cookbook, "Pappy alone decided when a Hot Toddy was needed, and he administered it to his patient with the best bedside manner of a country doctor."
Writer and critic Christopher Hitchens died on December 15, and there have been many thoughtful tributes published in the past week. A couple of the best, I think, have been
"Christopher Hitchens: 'the consummate writer, the brilliant friend'" by Ian McEwan (published in The Guardian), and "Regarding Christopher," by feminist critic Katha Pollitt (published in The Nation).
McEwan's piece describes Hitchens' final weeks at the medical center in Houston—a time during which Hitchens continued to read, write and engage with authors and ideas until the very end. Pollitt's is more of a critical essay, but certainly helps to provide the "bigger picture" surrounding Hitchens' outsized personality. She writes about both the good and the bad.
Have you come across any click-worthy links this week? Please share in the comments.
Happy weekend, readers! All of us from BookPage hope you have a wonderful week with family, friends and lots of books.
I know we've been flooding the blog with Best of 2011 coverage (and there's more to come!). Of course, I love reading our own "Best of" lists, but I get an even bigger kick out of reading other people's lists—since they introduce me to books I might have overlooked.
Prime example: After reading The Book Lady’s Best of 2011: Literary Fiction, I was inspired to place a hold at the library on Alice LaPlante's debut mystery novel, Turn of Mind.
David Gutowski's Favorite Nonfiction of 2011 (on his blog Larghearted Boy) introduced me to Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl by Stacy Pershall—who, according to Gutowski, "excels at putting the reader in her shoes and demystifying mental illness." (And what can I say? We all know I'm a sucker for any book that has anything to do with Arkansas. Memoirist Pershall grew up in Prairie Grove, Arkansas, a town I've never heard of, and I thought I was Arkansas' proudest daughter.)
What are some of the best Best of 2011 lists you've come across this year?
Ever wondered how some self-published authors manage to set themselves apart, sell hundreds of thousands of books and make profits in the six figures? There's an interesting story in today's Wall Street Journal Books section about an author who did just that: Darcie Chan, author of The Mill River Recluse, a debut novel that has been New York Times e-book bestseller.
I love the annual "Year in Reading" series on The Millions, and as usual, this year they've got a long list of impressive contributors: Eleanor Henderson (author of Ten Thousand Saints); Chad Harbach (author of The Art of Fielding); Adam Ross (author of Ladies in Gentlemen); Amy Waldman (The Submission); and many more. Click here to browse the list of this year's contributors—and learn about the favorite books of a few of your favorite authors.
Have you come across any interesting links this week? What are you reading over the weekend? (I'm reading The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst; so far, I love it! Can't put it down.)
Everyone dreams of finding a lost novel by their favorite author. At Flavorwire, they've collected 10 instances where this actually happened. Several are recent releases—including one that was reviewed by BookPage last month.
If you haven't visited Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris and locked lips with Oscar Wilde's gravestone—you've missed your chance. The tomb of the beloved playwright has been restored and a protective barrier has been put in place to protect it.
Read more about the tomb renovation and listen to actor Rupert Everett's comments at the unveiling on BBC news.
With the rise of eBooks, the topic of how much books are worth is cropping up everywhere these days. At The Outlet, Kristopher Jansma gets a different perspective on that issue by visiting The Book Thing in Baltimore, where all the books in stock are—you guessed it—completely free. Their mission is "to put unwanted books in the hands of those who want them" and apparently they're succeeding. As Jansma says, these are books that are:
Bought once, passed over, forgotten in basements, and finally simply given away. I began to suspect that I’d wandered into a library out of a Borges story, full of made-up names. Many appeared hopelessly irrelevant and out-of-date. Kafka could hardly have imagined a better illustration of how little books seem to be worth to so many people these days.
But then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Middlesex. I already had a copy at home but… well… it was free. I felt a little guilty, almost as if I was shoplifting, except that all around me there were others mining for their own hidden gems. Suddenly I saw that the brilliance of The Book Thing: by removing all cost, each book is given a new chance at appreciation.
Here's a lovely little story to send you into the weekend.
Over in Scotland, a "Library Phantom" has been dropping "glorious little paper sculptures into libraries and museums all over Edinburgh." Just recently, a librarian discovered a note from the Phantom in the Women's Anthologies section. Apparently the anonymous sculpture project is "a tiny gesture in support of the special places." Read more on NPR.org.
What links have you discovered this week?
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?
Just when we thought we'd seen every sort of DIY book under the sun, along came Crafting with Cat Hair from Quirk Books. The publishers sent out a couple of calls for cat hair submissions from readers earlier this year, and the response was overwhelming. Quirk Books representative Katie Hatz talked with the blog Catsparella about the project in a fun (and weird) interview that reveals just what they did with all that hair.
Though it's not from this week, Rachel Stark's illuminating post on at Trac Changes about a recent trend in YA covers makes for good reading. The trend: Dead girls. "Dead girls in water, dead girls in bathtubs, dead girls in forests, dead girls in pretty dresses. Girls who might be dead, or might just look dead. Dead girls in so many pretty dresses." the covers below are just a few of the examples she gives.
She goes on to present a historical view of the allure of the dead girl (Poe, the Pre-Raphaelites) before concluding that in this instance, it's teen girls' own obsession with mortality that is driving this trend. As a girl I definitely had the "astonishing taste for that which is melodramatic, desolate, and downright morbid" that Stark mentions, which manifested itself in a love of Lurlene McDaniel novels and memoirs like Alex: The Life of a Child. Stark's conclusions about the reasons for this fascination are disheartening but also convincing. Give it a read; it will get you thinking.
We lamented on the blog when beloved local bookstore Davis-Kidd shut its doors. Months later, we mentioned (in passing) local author Ann Patchett's plans to open a new bookstore as her gift to the city. Well, readers in Nashville—and many, many people beyond our city—surely know by now, Parnassus officially opened on Wednesday. The Grand Opening is tomorrow. Several BookPage staffers plan to brave the crowd and go buy a book.
It has been heartening to see the incredible media coverage this bookstore has received. Below, find a roundup of links. For more updates, be sure to "like" Parnassus on Facebook!
• From the New York Times (front page!): "Novelist Fights the Tide by Opening a Bookstore"
• On CBS's The Early Show: "Famed writer opens bookstore in town without one"
• From local paper The Tennessean: "Author Ann Patchett's Parnassus store brings books back to Green Hills"
• On NPR's All Thing Considered: "Author Ann Patchett Opens Own Indie Bookstore"
• On Tennessee culture site Chapter 16: "Out of Chaos, Discovery: Parnassus Books is opening this weekend in Nashville, and Chapter 16 has the inside story"
• In publishing industry newsletter Shelf Awareness: "Grand Opening for Parnassus Books"
• On Nashville's News 2: "Local author prepares to open new bookstore in Green Hills"
• On local website Style Blueprint: "Faces: Ann Patchett & Karen Hayes"
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part I opened last night, and theaters across the country are filling up. But did you know that where you live might predict your level of Twilight love? Goodreads says so, anyway. Check out their map of the so-called "Twilight Belt."
Happy Friday! What are you reading this weekend?
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?
Generally at the Book Case we try to stay above tabloid gossip. But when one of the biggest literary names around decides to start joking about Kim Kardashian's divorce, it's impossible to resist sharing.
Salman Rushdie also hosts a twitter thread called #LiterarySmackdowns, which pits two classics against each other every Monday. This week, it was American Pastoral vs. Portnoy's Complaint. (To find out who won, you'll have to visit the thread.)
Here at BookPage, we've pretty much been drooling over any Hunger Games movie-related news for at least a year. So, when we heard that Vanity Fair scored a photo shoot with the cast—and posted the photos online—it was music to our ears. Check out the photos here, and don't forget to hover your mouse over the various actors. The shot is interactive, and you can read info about each actor (and their role in the movie).
What literary links have you enjoyed this week?