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?
First up this week is a lighthearted contribution from the terrific site Open Culture. Anyone who grew up watching Looney Tunes will enjoy these classic cartoons with a literary angle. 1946's "Book Revue" (embedded below), has all the elements—memorable musical numbers, wacky humor and prolonged chase scenes—that make Warner Brothers cartoons so beloved. Apologies in advance for leaving you humming "nothing could be feener than to be in Caroleeena in the moooorning." Click here to read Open Culture's post and see an even earlier version of the "books come to life" genre.
We told you about World Book Night coming stateside earlier this week—but giving away free books is not without controversy. Unhappy with the selections to be given away in the UK, and with the expense being shouldered by publishers, author Susan Hill is starting her own event, Not World Book Night, that encourages people to pick a book from her list of selections, read it and pass it on. The Guardian says of her list and mission:
From Metroland to The Turn of the Screw, Midnight's Children to The Day of the Triffids, it's a wonderfully eclectic line-up – Hill was "looking to stimulate interest in the best, not suggest the obvious and recommend", she tweeted, later telling me that she was "thinking just to do some more recommends… no hidden agenda!"
So the Steve Jobs bio is out, and the reviews and excerpts are everywhere (including our site!). But one of the funniest takes I've seen is that of Book Shop Santa Cruz, who created the tumblr site "Watched by Steve" in homage to that memorable cover photo. Hard to pick my fave, but I think it might be this one (look hard to find Jobs!).
We're less than two months away from the release of the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie, and I bet I'll run into more than a few Lisbeth-look-alikes this Halloween weekend. Those of you who want to look like Lisbeth, but, perhaps, didn't get your act together in time for October 31 can still look forward to some wardrobe additions. Swedish chain store H&M is launching a line of clothing inspired by the Stieg Larsson's books. Have to say that I agree with a comment from The Guardian . . . "Hard to think a high street collection stems back to a book originally called Men Who Hate Women."
Happy weekend! What have you been reading this week?
Writers joined the Occupy Wall Street movement in a big way this week—and we're not just talking about Naomi Wolf getting arrested. A new "Occupy Writers" page has authors like Francine Prose and Alice Walker writing about what the movement means to them. Lemony Snicket's contribution shows his trademark wit and humor in a list of 13 observations on watching the demonstrations (from a distance, of course!).
Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 comes out next week, and you can read all about it in the November issue of BookPage. If you want a preview now—and you're interested in the process that goes into creating the design elements of a book—watch this video with Chip Kidd, the well-known art director at Knopf. In the video, he explains how certain aspects of the book influenced the beautiful book jacket and interior art:
He continues the conversation on Knopf's blog, where you can also see a close-up of the 1Q84 book jacket.
This week, Slate posted a new short film by Spike Jonze and handbag designer Olympia Le-Tan that takes place inside an antiquarian bookstore. It's a stop-motion bookstore love story . . . in which the books come alive. Check it out:
This week, there's been a lot of buzz about the Ken Auletta profile of Jill Abramson in the New Yorker. If you're wondering why Auletta spent a couple of paragraphs on Abramson's voice, well, watch this clip from CBS Sunday Morning and wonder no more. By the time Braverman got around to asking her about the way she talks, this viewer was definitely wondering the same question! (Bonus: a behind-the-book story of her memoir, The Puppy Diaries.)
If witty literary lists are your thing (and if you're reading this blog, they probably are!) you shouldn't miss Flavorwire's roundup of literary couples who would date in real life. Example: Jo March and Rhett Butler.
How far can a friendly literary rivalry go? Jonathan Franzen pushed the limits during an interview with the New Yorker's David Remnick in which he oh-so-casually implied that David Foster Wallace fabricated parts of his essays. You can find a thorough breakdown of the interview at the Awl—it's fascinating reading. (You can watch a video excerpt here.)
As the popularity of ebooks rocks the traditional publishing and bookselling worlds, new models are emerging. Two recent entrants caught my interest. The first, The LitPub, is an "online community bookstore" with a curated list of books they recommend. Some can be purchased through their site; others are outsourced to Powell's or Amazon. More on the LitPub's mission and ambition is found here.
The second is Emily Books, a site founded by Emily Gould and Ruth Curry. Emily Books sells ebooks only—they'll select one a month to highlight. Readers can buy a year's subscription and get all 12 books, or purchase them individually.
Our first weekly link is for something a little different: a cinnamon roll recipe. The literary connection? It's credited to author Jodi Picoult. These "Dark and Dangerous Cinnamon Buns," originally published in the King Arthur Flour cookbook, sound like a worthy (healthier) challenger to my go-to cinnamon roll from the Pioneer Woman. If you give it a try, let us know how it goes!
The literary world was abuzz yesterday about a certain billboard in Times Square. Yes, that's Jeffrey Eugenides (striding to the top of the bestseller lists?) up there larger than life. The WSJ has the story. We agree, the Marriage Plot is totally "swoon-worthy."
Steve Jobs' sudden death was mourned by millions. In a twist of synchronicity, the Millions happened to post a review of his sister Mona Simpson's best-known novel, Anywhere But Here, on Thursday morning. It is well worth reading and has me eager to check out Simpson's work.
We've been blogging a lot about books made into films lately, and today I got word of another movie to anticipate: Johnny Depp will produce (and possibly star in) a movie based on the life of Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. Given Depp's turns as Willy Wonka, the Mad Hatter and J.M. Barrie, this sounds like a casting made in heaven. Read more in the Hollywood Reporter.
One children's book that's gotten a lot of buzz this year is Catherynne M. Valente's debut middle grade novel, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. From the intriguing title to the gorgeously odd illustrations to the entirely beguiling world Valente has created, it's a strange and delightful book that packs in a vast amount of references and allusions to myths, fairy tales and classic children's books. Over at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, blogger Julie Danielson has put up a long and fascinating interview with Valente. You'll find out, for example, why Valente thinks fairy tales have such enduring appeal, and why when she was a child, she thought that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was "a horror story." (Beware spoilers for the book if you have not yet read it!)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is one of BookPage Associate Editor Kate Pritchard's favorite books of 2011, and in fact Danielson called on Kate to help contribute questions for Valente! For more on this remarkable book, read a review in BookPage, which asserts that Valente "writes beautifully with a rich and deep vocabulary that is every bit as enjoyable as the plot of the story."
Happy Friday! Do you have any links to share? What are you reading this weekend?
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?
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.