Quick summary of links: Crafts made from cat hair! Scenery overkill in fiction! Underrated books written by women! And is Jeff Kinney superman? Please share your own favorite links in the comments.
No sooner does Obreht's narrative work up a little momentum or present a masterful scene than it hits a patch of long, dozy paragraphs filled with way too much detail about the scenery.
What links have you been forwarding this week? Here are a few worth sharing:
The Tournament of Books starts on Monday, if you can believe it. On the first day, we can look forward to a Pre-Game Primer with Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner, then Tuesday we're off with Jennifer Weiner judging Room against Bad Marie. I can't wait! Find the full bracket here, and start placing your bets.
I apologize for posting a link roundup that directs you to even more links—but that's what's great about surfing blogs, right? I always enjoy Greg of The New Dork Review of Books' monthly "Compendium of Literary Links," and February is no exception. In Greg's words: We'll attempt to debunk the idea that reading is overrated, we'll give you a new reading-related social network to check out, and we just might get you laid. Intrigued? Good! Check it out here.
In serious book news, there were a couple of major items this week. In one, HarperCollins President of Sales Josh Marwell posted an open letter to librarians about his company's new eBook policy, which stipulates that eBooks can be checked out 26 times before they expire. As you might imagine, librarians are responding. In this post, a library system in Oklahoma notes that sometimes physical books are circulated 100 times before being replaced or repaired.
The other big news item is that if you own an iPad, you'll now have access to 17,000 Random House titles in the iBookstore. Here's more from the LA Times on how the iPad 2 impacts readers.
Happy Friday! What are you reading over the weekend? I plan to spend a lot of time with So Much for That to prepare for an upcoming podcast.
Have you recently come across any links worth sharing? Share away in the comments! Here are my favorites:
Linda Holmes of NPR's Monkey See blog has published a post to get you pumped up in the post-Oscar world: Your 2011 Books-Into-Films Lineup, From 'Eyre' To 'Water' To 'Desert'. And man, does this lineup of books-to-film look good. We already knew about We Need to Talk About Kevin and One Day and Jane Eyre, but what about Moneyball and Desert Flower and Too Big to Fail? I can already taste the popcorn . . .
If you've ever wondered about how to spot a first edition of a book, The Awl has a post on that very topic. Just out of curiosity: Are any readers of The Book Case collectors of rare books? (Signed copies, first editions, etc.?)
Novelist Sonya Chung has written an essay for The Millions on authors "who dare to leap the imaginative chasm of gender." She questions: Are they successful? How does one measure? She specifically looks at Annie Proulx's famous story, "Brokeback Mountain" (and excerpts a sexually graphic passage).
Benjamin Hale has written a novel that might take the cake for weirdest premise of the month: The narrator of The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore (reviewed here in BookPage) is an ape. The Westword catches up with Hale to ask him how he came to write from such an unusual point of view.
For your end-of-the-week (woohoo!) reading pleasure, here are a few click-worthy links:
Legendary children's editor Margaret K. McElderry died at 98 years old on Monday, and there have been many wonderful celebrations of her life posted online. I'd recommend you read the obit in the New York Times and also this post on their ArtsBeat blog, which links to an old interview McElderry gave to The Horn Book. I think we can all agree with this quote from McElderry on the importance of children's publishing: “If you don’t catch them young, you won’t have any adult readers.”
The Guardian's books blog is a personal go-to for posts on books and reading, and this essay from Gabriel Brownstein is a must-read for those of you who followed the great Franzenfreude drama of fall 2010. In the post, Brownstein compares Allegra Goodman's The Cookbook Collector with Jonathan Franzen's Freedom—the two have similar themes and both writers are excellent. Brownstein tells us why only one of the novels got the Capital Letter treatment ("Great" vs. "great").
It is always a sad day when a bookstore closes, whether Outloud!, an independent GLBT bookstore in Nashville that will shut its doors on Feb. 20, or Borders, the mega-chain that filed for bankruptcy this week and will close at least 200 stores. Rebecca Joines Schinsky at The Book Lady's Blog has written a great post on five ways to support bookstores. The list includes ideas such as attending events (and actually buying books!) and sharing your love of a specific store like you might share your love of a fabulous restaurant.
How do you support bookstores?
Finally, I am happy to report that it is currently 68° in Nashville, and I can't wait to spend some time outdoors with a book. Top of my stack? Deborah Harkness' fantastic (I know because I dug in last night!) A Discovery of Witches—read a Q&A with the author here. Remarkably, this debut novel is already climbing the NYT bestseller list.
What are you reading this weekend?
Here are three articles to get you thinking here at the end of the week. Have you come across any must-read blog posts lately? Share the link in the comments.
The always wonderful Laura Miller (author of The Magician's Book) addresses Vida's recent findings that there are fewer books written by women reviewed in literary publications. Part of the problem (and this was explored by Ruth Franklin in The New Republic) is that there are fewer books written by women in general. Franklin wrote: "magazines are reviewing female authors in something close to the proportion of books by women published each year. The question now becomes why more books by women are not getting published." Miller attempts to answer that question here. I have done some approximation of the study Miller suggests—asking men and women to list favorite authors or books—and I have to say that I agree with her results.
Newsweek has a roundup of quotes from people in the book industry on the topic that just won't go away—how e-books are transforming the biz. Surprise! Most of them don't think the physical book is "going anywhere."
We love lists at BookPage, and this one caught my eye if only because of the funny title: "The Top 50 Essential Non-Fiction Books for Weirdos," compiled on Geez Pete. It's a great, variety-packed list, and you can find additional info on many of the titles on BookPage.com.
Lots of good links this week, from a heartwarming story about a beloved children's author to some much-deserved recognition of a group of Southern writers. Enjoy! (And share your own favorite links in the comments.)
Nonprofit publisher The Library of America posted an interesting piece on Tuesday about how Arthur Miller wrote The Misfits (his first original screenplay) for his wife Marilyn Monroe. They divorced before the premiere.
I love this story from Poquoson, Virginia. A group of fourth graders read Tuck Everlasting at Poquoson Elementary School, then had so many questions they sent author Natalie Babbitt a letter. The 78-year-old author sent them back a two-page response addressing their questions. (She included the information that she will not write a sequel to the story.)
If you like comparing and contrastign hardcover with paperback jacket designs (when they're different), you'll enjoy this week's post on The Millions. C. Max Magee judges American book jackets alongside their U.K. counterparts. For example:
(I have to say that I also prefer the U.K. version.)
On a related note, check out BookPage's favorite book jackets of 2010, if you haven't already.
In the February issue of Vanity Fair, there is a very glamorous photo and write-up of the literary ladies of Atlanta—including plenty of BookPage favorites (Kathryn Stockett, Karin Slaughter and Emily Giffin, just to name a few). Alan Deutschman—husband to Susan Rebecca White—calls Atlanta "the most vibrant new literary scene outside of Brooklyn" and praises the authors' fearless writing "about the region’s troubled legacies of race, class, gender, and sexuality."
What links from the week do you think are worth sharing? A few of my picks:
If you read my Q&A with Stanley Fish about the excellent How to Write a Sentence and still want to know more, see this Slate round-up of Stanley Fish's Top Five Sentences. This one is mentioned in both my piece and Slate's:
"Last week I saw a woman flayed, and you will hardly believe how much it altered her appearance for the worse." —Jonathan Swift, 1704.
The Guardian's Books Blog has a great post on "extreme book design." The subhead tells you all you need to know: "Setting fire to fields, tangling with tarantulas: it's all in a day's work for a book jacket designer."
Reynolds Price died last week, and John Williams at The Second Pass has excerpted a few nice quotes from a 1991 Price interview with the Paris Review. BookPage reviewed Price's Letter to a Godchild: Concerning Faith.
Once the member known for her collection of “distant” fedoras and head scarves, Claudia is now a graphic designer at a small web development company. She also makes intricate wire jewelry which she sells at traveling craft fairs. She often barters her web design services for pottery and furniture made by fellow local artists.
She owns the entire collection of Sex and the City on DVD.
There was a lot of buzzing about the Newbery and Caldecott winners this week, especially because 2011 was the first year both awards went to a debut author or illustrator (not to mention the snub on The Today Show).
Some of my favorite coverage was on local blogger Jules' Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, where you can see early sketches of the illustrations honored with a Caldecott Honor or Medal. Very cool. I especially loved looking at this older post, from June 2010, which features Erin Stead before she won the Caldecott for A Sick Day for Amos McGee. You can see Erin's workspace and some early (wordless) scans from the book. You don't get a better behind-the-scenes look at a picture book's creation than that!
In other news, The Millions recently ran a fascinating breakdown of fiction in The New Yorker over the past seven years. A sample: only 36.6% of the stories were written by women.
I was sorry to see that Nashville did not break the top 10 in this year's study (conducted at Central Connecticut State University) of the most literate cities in America. (We ranked at #22.) Still, I enjoyed Flavorwire's list of 10 Great Works of Literature for America’s 10 Most Literate Cities. A few of the picks were to be expected (Gone With the Wind for Atlanta), but others are new to me (Until They Bring the Streetcars Back by Stanley Gordon West for St. Paul—not Franzen's Freedom).
Just for fun: Still can't figure out the difference between affect and effect? The Oatmeal has put together a funny (and handy) chart for sorting out those pesky words so many of us just can't get right in our heads.
What links do you have to share this week?
To mix it up in 2011, I'm going to start including occasional bookish links from websites that aren't blogs in my regular end-of-the-week roundup.
Example A: Find your Birthday bestseller thanks to BibliOZ—because we all need something fun on a Friday. (John Le Carré's A Perfect Spy was #1 on the fiction list in the week of my birth; what about you?)
Many of our readers love challenges and teen books, so I thought The Contemps Challenge – Part Deux (via Galleysmith) would be of interest. The Contemps are "a group of YA authors with contemporary novels releasing over the course of a year" with a mission to "spotlight contemporary fiction for young adults through blog posts, author events, and (over)sharing from our teen years." Even if you're not up for a challenge right now, The Contemps' site is worth a visit for regular posts such as "Hot Topic Tuesday" or "Spotlight Wednesday." BookPage has reviewed several of the authors in the group, such as Daisy Whitney and Sarah Ockler.
You'll chuckle and learn a bit about how musicians and writers think in this Q&A between Michael Hearst and Mary Roach (hosted on Largehearted Boy). Michael Hearst's band's latest album is called Planets. Michael Roach's latest book is Packing for Mars (ha, ha—get why they would be a good fit?), and the two have collaborated on a song called "Zero Gravity Blues." In other news, this week Mary Roach joined Twitter and is now tweeting away with more than 1,000 followers!
What are your weekly links?
Looking for new book blogs to follow? Browse all of our Best of the Blog columns.