First, I think I'll re-read John Updike's "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu" as it's the 50th anniversary of Ted Williams' last at-bat—and his famous final home run, when "the ball seemed less an object in flight than the tip of a towering, motionless construct, like the Eiffel Tower or the Tappan Zee Bridge." (My favorite line: "All baseball fans believe in miracles; the question is, how many do you believe in?")
In celebration of this essay, first published in the October 22, 1960, issue of The New Yorker, the Library of America has released a special commemorative book which includes an autobiographical preface and an afterword written by Updike. The book was prepared just months before Updike's death in January of 2009. For more on the significance of this essay—considered to be the best baseball essay ever—see this nice tribute in Saturday's New York Times.
In other baseball news, Ken Burns' The Tenth Inning premieres tonight on PBS. The documentary covers the period from the 1994 strike through the 2008 season and is the first chapter in Burns' Baseball series since 1994.
What are your favorite books/essays/documentaries about baseball?
Forever, the final book in Maggie Stiefvater's best-selling Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, doesn't come out until July 12, 2011—but yesterday the jacket was unveiled on Scholastic's blog and Steifvater's LiveJournal:
Christopher Stengel, Associate Art Director of Scholastic, has designed all three jackets in the trilogy. (I'm a big fan of his work; he also designed for Francisco X. Stork's Marcelo in the Real World.) Back in July, when Linger was released, Stiefvater interviewed Stengel about the process of designing the jackets. If you're a fan of the trilogy (or graphic design), the Q&A is worth a read. Here's an excerpt—a quote on why Stengel's concept did not include photos:
Sometimes photography is the correct approach for a certain book depending on the age range and content, and other times, an iconic and graphic direction is needed. It's a matter of picking the right tool(s) for the job, I guess. While Shiver may be a YA title, it felt like it truly deserved to be set apart from the many photo-based covers on the shelves.
Sena Jeter Naslund is the author of Ahab's Wife and five other novels. Her latest, Adam & Eve, comes out today.
In a Q&A with BookPage, Naslund describes Adam & Eve as "a story of genesis set in 2020, in a half-mythical Eden. My Adam and Eve re-create themselves, given a world where violence and war are the snakes in the garden." [Continue reading this interview.]
Naslund shares more about her book in this trailer—including why she chose to use an ampersand in the title and why literature is empowering:
Will you read this novel?
Many of you are already subscribers to BookPageXTRA, the most popular of our three e-newsletters—today, we're inviting you to be contributors as well. For those not in the know, XTRA comes out twice a month and includes previews of the print edition of BookPage, exclusive reviews and interviews, editors' picks and lots and lots of book recommendations. We also give away books in each issue. Here's a sample of the most recent edition.
Next week's XTRA is all about social media—and how BookPage communicates with booklovers and spreads the word about new books through this blog, Facebook, Twitter and more. Of course, we have our own ideas about how all this works, but we'd love to share yours as well. To contribute, just answer any or all of the questions below in the comments.
Why do you like reading book blogs?
What books or authors have you discovered from book blogs, Facebook fan pages, etc.?
Have you connected with other readers thanks to book blogs? Why are these relationships important to you?
We will choose several comments for inclusion in the newsletter (and we'll only include your first name).
Can't wait to read your comments!
Happy Banned Books Week! Since 1982, the American Library Association has celebrated our freedom to read by calling attention to the books that are most frequently banned in the United States. This year's BBW runs from September 25-October 2.
Here's a bit more on the purpose of BBW, from the ALA website:
Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.
See this list for BBW library events around the country.
Also, Judy Blume—a personal favorite author of mine, and no stranger to censorship—maintains a great website on why books are challenged and why it's important to speak up for intellectual freedom.
Have any of your favorite books been challenged? (Hello, Harry Potter!)
For some reason (short attention span?) I've been reading tweets more than blog posts this week. So in addition to highlighting posts, here are a few follow-worthy hashtags:
#SIBA10 -- for dispatches from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show
#NBF -- for dispatches from the National Book Festival
#FridayReads -- for notes on what people are reading today
#PunctuationDay -- for notes on National Punctuation Day
What hashtags are you following?
September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month!
Posted by the blog of the New York Public Library
Did you know that September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month? I know I'm probably preaching to the choir, but if you need any reasons to get a library card, check out this list of "52 Way to Use Your Library Card" from the ALA.
Why do you love your library card? (Access to thousands of free books—duh!)
Q&A with Emma Donoghue
Posted by Jennifer Weiner
Ever since BookPage ran an interview with Emma Donoghue—and Donoghue wrote a behind-the-book essay for our website—I have been itching to read Room. This Q&A on author Jennifer Weiner's blog makes me even more eager to run out and buy a copy of this Man Booker-shortlisted novel.
In this Q&A, I was especially interested to read Donoghue's reasons for having a 5-year-old breast feed in her novel (some critics have expressed discomfort with this aspect of the plot). Also, the author revealed that her next book will be about "1870s San Francisco lowlifes."
What blog posts did you enjoy this week?
Also on The Book Case: Browse posts from our "Best of the Blogs" series.
Today is the 7th annual National Punctuation Day.
According to a column in the Seattle Times, the day was founded in 2004 as "a celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotation marks, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis."
How are you going to celebrate? By pointing out grammatical errors on street signs? Revisiting ole Strunk & White? How about reading what is surely the liveliest book on punctuation published in recent years, Lynne Tuss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves?
When this book came out in the United States in 2004, BookPage editor Lynn Green described it as "funny and self-deprecating but always serious" about encouraging the proper use of punctuation. "Truss is a stern commander in the war on careless writing. Weary editors, schoolteachers and fellow sticklers everywhere will wish her victory in this much-needed battle."
I would also recommend you read The New Yorker's less glowing (but amusing) review, which points out Truss's punctuation mistakes and includes the line: " 'I am not a grammarian,' Truss says. No quarrel there."
Also, read this blog post (I linked to it a few months back) about writing a love letter to your favorite punctuation mark.
What is your favorite punctuation mark?
In case you missed it yesterday–a second trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I has been released. The movies just keep getting better; does this new glimpse have you looking forward to November 19?
Today the Guardian posted a provocative essay by Imogen Williams about "how the Brontës divide humanity"–claiming that people love either Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights, but not both. As Williams puts it:
If you want to be particularly contentious, you can divide those who satisfy the basic entry criteria into two types – those drawn to demure, bookish Miss Eyre and those for whom the pyrotechnical hanky-panky between Cathy Earnshaw and black-browed Heathcliff is paramount – and call them Librarians and Rock Stars.
The article is quite amusing, but as someone who admires both books, I'll have to be counted among the exceptions who prove her rule—although if I had to choose between the two, I'd take Jane Eyre. (So perhaps, in Williams' scheme of things, that makes me a Librarian with Rock Star leanings?) But if we're talking fave Brontë novel, the winner would be The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by neglected third sister Anne. Which gives me a great excuse to post one of my favorite literary comics of all time, from the fantastic Canadian cartoonist K. Beaton:
Which Brontë classic is your favorite? Do you agree or disagree with Williams' thesis? And why can't Anne Brontë get any love?
This novel takes place 10 years after the classic Sweet Valley High series ended. Per the description from St. Martin's Press:
Iconic and beloved identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are back and all grown up, dealing with the complicated adult world of love, careers, betrayal, and sisterhood.
Daytime Confidential interviewed SVH creator Francine Pascal for any hints—will Lila, Todd and the rest of the Sweet Valley gang be back?—but all the author would say is: "Think March 29th. That's when all will be revealed. All the main characters are back and waiting to be rediscovered as adults." (Pascal also mentioned that she's signed on as a consultant for Diablo Cody's Sweet Valley movie adaptation.)
What do you hope will happen in Sweet Valley Confidential?