Being famous has never seemed that attractive to me—but after seeing these pictures, I might have to reconsider. These 20 celebrity home libraries, which have been making the rounds on several book blogs this week, will dazzle. Do you think Jimmy Page's music library belongs on the list? What's your favorite? Personally, I prefer the messy ones, like Nigella Lawson's, although I'm also partial to anything with a ladder.
Galleycat's roundup of 5 free university-level writing courses—published on YouTube—might have you second-guessing the need for that MFA program.
And audiobook nuts will want to check out this free podcast from the BBC: a dramatization of Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate, read by Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant. Apparently this 1960 novel about the battle of Stalingrad was so alarming to the KGB that they actually locked up copies of the book!
Happy Friday, readers! What are you reading this weekend? I've finally gotten my hands on The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, so I know what I'm doing . . .
Here are a few links to jump-start your weekend reading:
The internet has been buzzing about a blog post on Publishers Weekly's Genreville blog about YA Agents saying "No" to novels with gay characters.
On Colleen Lindsay's blog, The Swivet, book agent Joanna Stampfel-Volpe responded to the post—apparently she was an agent who considered the LGBTQ project, and she says the original post got it wrong. (Lindsay is a member of the business development team at the Penguin Group.)
Read both posts for yourself and see what you think.
In goofy, hilarious, awkward news, romance author Susan Anderson has responded to a typo in her novel, Baby, I'm Yours. Let's just say that it would not be appropriate to print the typo here on The Book Case—and Anderson's response had be cracking up for a good couple of minutes.
Finally, in the inspirational category, I bring you a guest post from Julia Glass, one of my very, very favorite authors. To commemorate the paperback release of The Widower's Tale, author Meg Waite Clayton posted Glass's essay on her path to publication. The moral: If at first you don't succeed. . . It's an inspiring story, and it makes me love Glass even more.
Happy Friday, readers! Here are a few links to provide some end-of-the-day enjoyment. Do you have any articles or click-worthy links to share? What are you reading this weekend?
Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 (a play on Orwell’s 1984) is one of our 25 most anticipated books for fall. The novel comes out on October 25, but if you "like" Murakami's Facebook page, you'll gain access to the first chapter now. Check it out!
With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 looming, the Guardian Books site has commissioned "9/11 stories" from six writers, including Geoff Dyer, Will Self and Laila Lalami, that address the question of "what fiction can tell us about 9/11." You can find all six stories here.
Are you or anyone you know a struggling writer? Frustrated with your day job? Perhaps you'll feel inspired (or just amused) by this newly-released video from Open Road Media, in which authors like John Lutz and Andre Dubus explain how they paid the bills while they were trying to make it as writers:
Find more literary fun on the Open Road Media blog.
Any reader raised in the South over the last 40 years or so probably has fond memories of the work of Kathryn Tucker Windham, that indefatigable journalist-turned-ghost-story teller. Until her death this June, Windham chronicled the South's history through its legends in memorable books like 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey and Terrible American Legends. Since I'm among the children who had Alabama Ghosts as required reading in middle school, I was happy to see Windham's legacy discussed on the Paris Review blog.
In Windham’s tales, the romanticism of the South collides with the reality of its racial politics, myth and fact intertwine to present a picture of the South that is as true as any textbook.
The LA Times blog shared some wisdom for aspiring writers, plucked from Ann Patchett's "The Getaway Car," which was published by Byliner as a Kindle single on Monday and is available for $2.99 from Amazon. The advice includes:
A deep, early love of poetry should be mandatory for all writers.
No one should ever go into debt to study creative writing.
As far as I'm concerned, writer's block is a myth.
Does it seem like a lot of so-called serious literary writers are suddenly publishing commercial smash hits? (See: Justin Cronin and The Passage.) You're not the only one who has noticed. Today in The Millions, Kim Wright writes about how "The good ship Literary Fiction has run aground and the survivors are frantically paddling toward the islands of genre." (She continues: "Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but there does seem to be a definite trend of literary/mainstream writers turning to romance, thrillers, fantasy, mystery, and YA.") Wright's debut novel, Love in Mid Air, was published a year and a half ago, and now she is at work on a more commercial novel about Jack the Ripper. Why do you think a literary author might be inclined to write commercial? (Grocery bills? Cay payments??) In your mind, does genre = somehow not as good?
Read any good literary links this week? Share in the comments!
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.
Happy Friday, book-lovers! Here are some Internet tidbits we've been reading this week . . . enjoy!
Random House asked readers to tweet about the most undateable characters in literature using the hashtag #undateableinlit. They started it off with a classic character from Charles Dickens‘ Great Expectations:
“Let’s give ‘undateable' a bookish twist. We’ll start: wearing a wedding dress every day since being left at the altar. #UndateableInLit.”
I read some great articles this week on the printed book. This piece from the Chicago Tribune suggests publishers fight back, guns blazing, against the onslaught of e-reader advertising with their own ad campaigns.
Brooklyn-based indie publisher Melville House has started a project called HybridBooks, which gives print books some of the perks and secondary information previously only available on e-readers. The use of a Quick Response barcode will allow readers to access extra features, or "illuminations." They are launching the project with five novellas, each titled "The Duel" but written by five different literary masters.
And even though it's an older article, we wanted to suggest a reading retreat! This post from Laura Miller at Salon.com encourages "getting away from everything but your books." Doesn't that sound lovely?
What will you be reading this weekend?
Happy Friday, everyone! Here are a few things we've been reading about this week:
The winner of the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest was announced on Monday. Named for the author of "It was a dark and stormy night," the contest honors the worst possible opening sentence to an imaginary novel. The winner was University of Wisconsin professor Sue Fondrie:
Dave Eggers wrote a portrait on celebrated picture book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are) for Vanity Fair. The feature celebrates Sendak's upcoming book, Bumble-ardy -- the first book he has both written and illustrated in 30 years. (We blogged about "a pig who longs to party" back in March.)
The article reads almost like a good-natured argument between Eggers and Sendak over just how fantastic and iconic Sendak's work is. Read the portrait here.
The Book Lady's blog featured a guest post by Augusten Burroughs' mother, Margaret Robison, where she talks about how and why she penned The Long Journey Home. After her sons' best-selling memoirs depicted her as more than a little insane, she shared her own perspective in her March 2011 memoir.
And last but not least, perhaps my favorite thing this week: Harry Potter as a teen romantic comedy.
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?
Happy weekend, readers! I am yawning at my desk right now after a very late night of applauding, crying and gasping in front of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (more on that later). Did anyone else go see it?
Before I went to the movie, I very much enjoyed playing the "Paperback Game," thanks to New York Times reviewer Dwight Garner. His explanation of the game came out a couple weeks ago, but I'm sharing the link now because it's so darn fun.
All you need for the game is a stack of books, a group of friends and pen and paper. One person reads the back copy from the book, then everybody writes down what they think is a plausible first line of the story. Then, everyone guesses what they think is the correct first line (the reader writes down the real first line). Find the full description of the game here, and try it this weekend! If you like playing Balderdash and you like books, you'll love this game.
In other Harry Potter-related news, Laura Hibbard of the Huffington Post has written about why Hermione is "The Heroine Women Have Been Waiting For." She writes: "Essentially, without Hermione, Harry wouldn't have been 'the boy who lived.'" Do you agree?
Finally, Jennifer Weiner is on a roll. Her new novel, Then Came You, came out on Tuesday, and her TV show The Great State of Georgia debuted a couple of weeks ago. Some readers may scoff at this link, but I thought TV Guide did a good interview about the show, if Weiner's book fans are interested. Best quote of all: "While Weiner, whose book In Her Shoes was adapted into the 2005 Cameron Diaz-Toni Collette film, loves her new role as a television writer and executive producer, she doesn't plan to give up novel-writing anytime soon."
Have any links to share? Let us know!
Also: What are you reading this weekend?