This week's mail brought something beautiful to BookPage: a set of Penguin's new clothbound classics. Designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith and previously available only at Waterstone's bookstore in the UK, these new jacketless hardcovers pair early 20th-century styling with classic content.
The eight titles available in the US are Great Expectations, Wuthering Heights, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Cranford, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Jane Eyre and The Picture of Dorian Gray. (Links go to images of each book.) Each retails at $20 and contains a ribbon bookmark. In a nod to their stylish appearance, the books will be sold at Anthropology and Urban Outfitters as well as your local bookstore. More titles—including Madame Bovary and Crime and Punishment—are available in the UK; if the series proves popular here, perhaps they'll make the jump as well.
Bickford-Smith is a senior designer at Penguin UK, and is responsible for some of the more memorable Penguin Classic covers that have appeared over the past few years. In a recent interview, she gave her designer's perspective on the ebook phenomenon:
Electronic books are inevitably going to impact physical publishing, but the printed book is a very successful technology in its own right and I don’t think it will be entirely displaced. For all the advantages of ebooks—portability, interactivity, production and distribution savings—there’s something potent about the physical object that will always have a strong appeal. I like to think that as the volume of physical books declines, the average quality of the design will increase, because books will have to work harder to justify their physical presence.
More about the series can be found on Penguin UK's blog.
At BookPage, we have been struck by the number of high-profile movie adaptations of beloved children’s picture books. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Where the Wild Things Are immediately come to mind, but there are others, too: The Polar Express (written in 1985, adapted for the big screen in 2004); Curious George (1941, 2006); Horton Hears a Who! (1954, 2008).
On Tuesday, HarperCollins launched a Where the Wild Things Are website with the theme, “Read it Before You See It.” As many of you know, Spike Jonze’s “Wild Things” movie – based on Maurice Sendak’s unforgettable 1963 classic – hits theaters on Friday. (See trailer below the jump.)
Sendak’s book includes 10 sentences. Many readers will remember the simple and powerful last line, about Max’s dinner: "And it was still hot.” Sendak’s language may be wonderful, but it is undeniably sparse. Reading this book as a child, I would never have picked it to be a clear choice for a movie adaptation. Based on the trailer (cool music, cooler costumes, muted colors -- a definite departure from typical kids' flicks), I can't wait to see the movie.
Browse the book, courtesy of HarperCollins, here:
Browse Inside this book
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Click here to read an interview with Sendak in BookPage.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” based on Judi Barrett’s 1978 story (illustrated by Ron Barrett), was released in theaters on Sept. 18. I haven’t seen it yet, but reception has been positive – the movie was #1 in the box office for two weeks in a row (see trailer below). Barrett’s prose does lend itself to animation, I think:
The menu varied. By the time they woke up in the morning, breakfast was coming down. After a brief shower of orange juice, low clouds of sunny-side up eggs moved in followed by pieces of toast. Butter and jelly sprinkled down for the toast. And most of the time it rained milk afterwards.
Has anyone seen "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs"? Did the animation live up to the fabulous illustrations in the book? Based on the trailer, there seem to be some notable differences in the movie (where is Grandpa Henry?).
What other children’s books would you like to see as movies? Lynn nominated Goodnight Moon. I’d like to see movie versions of The Lorax, The Giving Tree (“Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy” . . . my heart breaks just thinking about it), and one of my all-time favorites, Mercer Mayer’s Liza Loo and the Yeller Belly Swamp.
Where the Wild Things Are trailer:
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs trailer:
I was amazed by all the feedback on our “Book Blogs We Love” post. I think I’m going to have to give up book reading to focus on book blog reading. (Just kidding – never!) But seriously: How do all you blog readers keep up with the massive content out there? RSS feed? Ridiculously organized toolbar?
There were many more wonderful blogs mentioned in the comments to yesterday’s post, but here are a couple more that caught my attention:
Lots of inspiration here, and keep the suggestions comin'!
This morning brought news of this year's National Book Award nominees. It's an eclectic list that contains a couple of surprises (such as American Salvage). We're rooting for Colum McCann or Jayne Anne Phillips for fiction (fun fact: the same reviewer who wrote about this year's Booker Prize winner, Wolf Hall, for BookPage also covered Lark and Termite—does that mean Jayne Anne's a shoo-in?), and my personal nonfiction pick is the fascinating Fordlandia.
David Small's Stitches seems like the obvious front-runner for Young People's Literature, given its crossover success and starkly powerful images, though we wouldn't rule out Charles and Emma, a moving exploration of the Darwins' marriage. We'll find out whether we're right when the winners are announced on November 18.
Full list of nominees after the jump! Who's your favorite on the list? Is there a book you thought should have made it that didn't?
Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage (Wayne State University Press)
Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin (Random House)
Daniyal Mueenuddin, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (W. W. Norton &
Jayne Anne Phillips, Lark and Termite (Alfred A. Knopf)
Marcel Theroux, Far North (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Judges: Alan Cheuse, Junot Díaz, Jennifer Egan, Charles Johnson, Lydia Millet
David M. Carroll, Following the Water: A Hydromancer's Notebook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Sean B. Carroll, Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search
for the Origins of Species (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Greg Grandin, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt)
Adrienne Mayor, The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy (Princeton University Press)
T. J. Stiles, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (Alfred A. Knopf)
YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE
Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith (Henry Holt)
Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
David Small, Stitches (W. W. Norton & Co.)
Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped (HarperTeen/HarperCollins)
Rae Armantrout, Versed (Wesleyan University Press)
Ann Lauterbach, Or to Begin Again (Viking Penguin)
Carl Phillips, Speak Low (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Open Interval (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Keith Waldrop, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (University of California Press)
You can find more information about the awards on the site for the National Book Foundation.
This post about the past weekend's Southern Festival of Books goes back to the very first night, when BookPage reserved a table at the Authors in the Round dinner. We got to the cocktail party a little late but there was plenty of time to catch a glimpse of authors like Kathryn Stockett, Robert Hicks, Jill McCorkle, Michael Sims and even John Carter Cash, who was wearing a dapper seersucker suit.
Our dinner companion was Madison Smartt Bell, who we're pretty sure was happy with his seat between two lovely ladies.
Conversation ranged from his early years in Nashville, to the Bell witch, to the merits of Goucher College, where he is a professor of English. And of course we talked about his forthcoming novel, Devil's Dream, which brings one of the Civil War's most complicated generals, Nathan Bedford Forrest, to life. Bell told us his college-aged daughter helped him finalize the book's structure, which jumps backward and forward through time with each chapter. Watch for more details in a website interview in November.
If you could have dinner with an author, who would it be?
That was before I realized how many book blogs there are. Holy moly. You know how sometimes Time magazine or Newsweek will release a list of the 100 best books of all time? (Or 1001!) Those lists drive me crazy, particularly when I start to tally up how many (i.e., how few) of the books I’ve actually read (and when I remember that I still haven’t read Catch-22). Well, that’s how I felt when I started perusing book blogs. It’s not uncommon for a book blog to feature a blogroll with over 50 blogs, to review new books every day (and these are recreational bloggers, presumably with other full-time jobs and responsibilities), and to receive over 20 comments per post. Figuring out how to navigate this large and active community is a daunting task… but here at The Book Case we’re going to make an earnest effort to try.
As part of an ongoing series, we offer part 1 of “Book Blogs We Love.” In each installation, we’ll give an overview of a few awesome book blogs.
Readers, please give us suggestions!
The Book Lady’s Blog is written by Rebecca, a book seller (and soon-to-be marketing coordinator for a medical company). Recent content includes a guest post from Allison Hoover Bartlett, author of The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, and a diatribe on the self-indulgence of Nicholas Sparks. I also enjoyed the review (with lots of great excerpts) of Michael Chabon’s latest, Manhood for Amateurs.
Technical writer Ti writes Book Chatter. My favorite thing about this blog is the format of reviews, each of which include a blurb from the book’s publisher, a short summary (“the short of it”), and a longer reflection (“the rest of it”). Recent reviews include Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Francine Prose’s Goldengrove.
Erin, who works at a public library, writes A Life in Books. The blog is basically Erin’s reading diary, which I love because of the variety of coverage. At BookPage, we write about what’s being published right now, and it’s refreshing to read about books that have been out for a while (like Hilma Wolitzer’s Summer Reading, which Erin found in a bargain bin at Border’s!). I also like this blog for the conversational tone of its reviews.
Finally, I'll admit that I was inspired to get going on this blog-finding project by Nina Sankovitch, whom I discovered in the New York Times. Nina reads a book a day and writes reviews on her website. At BookPage, we were pretty wowed by Nina's story. I figured that if she can read a book a day, then I can pump up my blog reading.
I may be the last person to hear about this, but a post this morning on Galley Cat caught my eye. There’s a company out there called BookSwim that’s marketing itself as the Netflix of books. For a monthly fee, you can have books (including brand-new hardbacks and textbooks) shipped to your door.
As a devoted library-goer, the site initially left a bad taste in my mouth because of the “Why not just go the library?” section (Answer: late fees, limited hours, limited selections, long waiting lists for popular titles, location). Hmm. I don’t know about that. Even if there is a long wait for new titles, my favorite part of going to the library is browsing the shelves and finding a surprise.
The site also seems to be keeping a close guard on the price of plans. Instead, we get details such as: “Whether you've got our 3 or 5-books-a-month plan, you've got your nose in a book, the wind at your back and the sun upon your face.” After a little digging, I found out that the cheapest plan (1 book at a time) costs $9.95 a month + $3.99 shipping and handling. 3 books at a time is $23.95 (free shipping) and 11 books at a time (“devout reader”) is $59.95.
Seems a bit steep to me, although I won’t knock the company until I hear feedback from someone who’s used their services. With so much new fiction out there this fall, I wouldn’t mind getting a few hardbacks at a discounted price.
Anyone out there tried BookSwim? Is BookSwim going to do for bookstores what Netflix did for Blockbuster?
Another dispatch from the Southern Festival of Books…
Bell is the editor of New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best (2009), an annual anthology of short fiction. Wilson and McCorkle both have stories in the collection. (And lucky for us, both stories are printed in their entirety online -- see links below.)
McCorkle read an excerpt from “Magic Words,” originally published in the fall 2008 edition of Narrative.
I loved hearing some back story behind McCorkle’s process; specifically, how she chooses subjects for her fiction and why she’s defined as a “Southern writer.” McCorkle said that she constantly carries with her an “ongoing collection of ideas.” When she decides to sit down and write depends on how much time she’s spent “walking around and thinking” about a character or situation.
Originally from North Carolina, McCorkle said that “the setting of a small Southern town comes right out of reality.” She continued, “Sometimes a place holds all the other pieces together.”
Wilson read from “No Joke, This is Going to be Painful,” originally published in Tin House.
As Bell said in the session, Wilson’s story “breaks taboo”; he writes across gender (his first-person narrator is female). Originally from Winchester, TN, Wilson explained that his characters operate in a small town in Tennessee because that’s what he knows.
Both McCorkle and Wilson were at their funniest while talking about student writing. (McCorkle teaches at NC State; Wilson teaches at Sewanee.)
Students run into trouble, according to McCorkle, when they don't “put a pulse in that body.” Lately, she said, she’s seen far too many “fairies and vampires” rather than living, emotional (human) characters with real stories to tell.
At the beginning of the session, Bell spent a few minutes talking about the different generations of Southern writers – from the Fugitives to the present. What has changed the most, he said, is the “rootedness of Southern writers.” Bell, for example, was born in Tennessee, but he has lived in New York and now teaches in Baltimore.
McCorkle described her childhood in Lumberton, North Carolina, a town home to I-95. Growing up, McCorkle was struck by the thought of the highway connecting "New York and North Carolina." Thus, the highway image often shows up in her work.
“What’s different about the New South is that it’s no longer a place of total alienation,” she said. “We have the freedom to get on that highway and go.”
I have yet to get my hands on New Stories from the South. Do any readers have a favorite story from the collection? For any fiction writers out there: Do you, like McCorkle and Wilson, place your characters in the region of your childhood? Are people "Southern" writers because their settings are Southern?
While the anticipation grows for Stephen King's Under the Dome, buzz is also building for the latest project from his son, who writes as Joe Hill. Hill's debut, Heart-Shaped Box, was an uber-creepy tale of a haunted rock star that demonstrated that a talent for tapping into the dark side of human nature just might be genetic.
In February, Morrow will publish Hill's second novel, Horns, a book the author describes as "another heart-warmer." It's already been optioned for film by Mandalay entertainment. The premise: a man wakes up after a wild night to find horns growing out of his head—and like Pinocchio's nose, they keep growing every day. Turns out his girlfriend's murder might have something to do with his strange condition.
Like King's Under the Dome, Horns will also be released (in the UK, at least) in a limited edition by PS Publishing. The limited edition of 500 will include art by Vincent Chong and be signed by the author. Full details on the special edition can be found here.
What do you think of this special edition trend? Are there any books you'd like to have a $300 deluxe version of?
As we blogged last week, Friday through Sunday was the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. In honor of our Cozy Corner column – where Joanne Collings reviews two cozy mysteries a month – I attended a session on Friday called “A Whodunit and a How-to: Cozy Mysteries.” Authors Jennie Bentley and Emyl Jenkins were the speakers.
In August, Bentley wrote a behind-the-book column for BookPage about Spackled and Spooked, the second installation in her series about home renovator Avery Baker. Jenkins is the author of The Big Steal, a dead-body-free mystery starring antiques appraiser Sterling Glass.
At the Southern Festival of Books session, both authors described the concept of cozy mysteries and how their personal interests have played into their writing.
The parameters of the cozy genre are quite firm, according to Bentley: “no bad language, no sex, no gore, no violence.” She said that most cozies have a “gimmicky hook with tips in the back.” (For example, Jenkins includes an illustrated guide to antiques at the back of The Big Steal.)
A real estate agent and home-renovating enthusiast, Bentley received a three-book contract from publisher Berkley Prime Crime. The third novel in her series, Plaster and Poison, will come out in March 2010. Bentley has recently agreed to write two more books about renovator Avery Baker, and she joked that prospective titles might be Mortar and Murder or Haunted House and Homicide.
Jenkins, who has worked as an appraiser for many years and who authored a book titled Emyl Jenkins’ Appraisal Book before turning to fiction, insisted that “people and their surroundings can be very important – what you chose to have around says so much about you.” Thus, objects play a key role in The Big Steal as her heroine seeks to recover missing antiques. At the Southern Festival of Books, Jenkins got a lot of laughs when she revealed what she avoids in her writing: The 5 Bs: blood, bodies, bombs, bad language, bedrooms.
Any cozy fans have book recommendations? If you were going to write a mystery without a murder, what would your hook be?