Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's time for a costume change

Every book can't be Tolstoy, you know. And even if you don't care about reading Wonder Woman, who doesn't care about what she looks like? The new writer of the series has this to say: “She’s been locked into pretty much the exact same outfit since her debut in 1941...If you’re going to make a statement about bringing Wonder Woman into the 21st century, you need to be bold and you need to make it visual. I wanted to toughen her up, and give her a modern sensibility.” He added, “What woman only wears only one outfit for 60-plus years?” More...

The steamy side of Emily Dickinson

The steamy side? The woman hardly ever left the house! But get this: "Several times a week, during the last two years of Emily Dickinson's life, a weird and symbolic drama would play itself out in the old Dickinson family house, the Homestead. At 2:30 in the afternoon, the poet's brother, Austin—a married father of three, a pillar of Amherst society, and the treasurer of Amherst College—would leave his house next door, ostensibly to pay a call on Emily and his other sister, Lavinia. In fact, he came to meet Mabel Loomis Todd, the seductive young wife of the Amherst College astronomer David Todd." Mabel and Austin were going at it hot and heavy downstairs while Emily was upstairs—and guess who ended up publishing Emily's poetry. Yep. Mabel. It's quite a story, outlined in a review on Slate. I didn't know any of this!

Nice offer on Audible

I heard about this on the This Week in Tech podcast (our operation here has no connections with Audible, so this isn't a sales pitch or anything). For the next few days, you can get a free audiobook provided you're not already a member. Check it out: I just grabbed The Life of Pi, which I've never read and everyone raves about (both as a read and as a listen). Since our offices moved recently, and I have a longer commute, I'm pretty sure I'll be signing up for a regular Audible account forthwith. But it's nice, meanwhile, to start with a freebie.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

School libraries

This is scary. "And speaking of school libraries, NPR reported a few days ago that they are increasingly becoming seen as a luxury where school budgets are concerned. Since there are few laws mandating that schools must have libraries, they are beginning to go by the wayside as budgets dwindle." Libraries nowadays are about more than books. Can we afford to let them die out? Here's the whole article: link.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Should stories tell a story?

Neil Gaiman addresses this issue in the introduction to his new anthology, discussed in The Guardian. "What Gaiman alludes to and [Michael] Chabon tackles directly is the genre which we now know as 'literary': the fictional worlds inhabited by people who think a lot and say a lot and feel a lot, but don't actually do very much over the course of the narrative." More...

The world's longest novels

Okay, this being Select Editions, maybe we don't understand the meaning of the words "long novel," but's list is still interesting to us. "We have selected 15 of the best single volume behemoths - all true monsters of literature that could be judged on their weight alone. It is possible to find longer novels but we thought it would be unkind to recommend L Ron Hubbard books or horrendously lengthy self-published beasts. Those readers lacking stamina can look away now." More...

By the way, we were linked to this via John Williams's The Second Pass, which we quote: "Atlas Shrugged is probably the longest novel I’ve ever read. And boy, did it feel like it."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bookstores and libraries in the future

Consider the hub: "Can the bookstores and libraries of this world stay viable and relevant in this age of e-downloads? I think they can. But they need to expand their definition of business a little if they’re going to do so. One clue as to how this may evolve can be found in the way other businesses are updating themselves these days. And in my news feed these days, the big buzzword has been the ‘hub.’ " More...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fiction is dead?

The L.A. Times rises to the occasion.

"Put down that dragon tattoo girl. Stop catching up with Bree Tanner. You don't need any help from Kathryn Stockett, or to chew your fingernails through a hunger game. Forget about the latest from Scott Turow or David Mitchell or Charlaine Harris or Paul Auster or Rick Riordan or Stephen King. Novels are over. Fiction is dead. Here we go again." More...

To Kill a Mockingbird not a classic?

We say, draw your own conclusions.

"It's time to stop pretending that 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is some kind of timeless classic that ranks with the great works of American literature. Its bloodless liberal humanism is sadly dated, as pristinely preserved in its pages as the dinosaur DNA in 'Jurassic Park.' " More...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The list of summer reading lists

(Via) Flavorwire has aggregated pretty much everybody's summer reading lists. If you can't find something on one of these, you might want to consider watching TV instead.

Monday, June 21, 2010

John Updike's archives

The article in the NY Times is fascinating, about a young writer fighting the establishment, and learning his craft.

“Updike’s archive may be the last great paper trail,” Adam Begley, a critic and literary journalist now at work on a biography of Updike, said in an e-mail message. “Anyone interested in how a great writer works will find here as full an explanation as we’re likely to get.” More...

Neglected classics brings us an interesting list, an initiative from Graham Greene in the 1940s to reprint forgotten recent masterpieces. One or two of these are far from neglected nowadays, but one wonders about the rest. Link.

Slow reading

In my previous publishing job many years ago, the corporation brought in speed reading instructors to help us do our work more quickly. It took me months to unlearn what they taught us! And now slow reading has new proponents.

"You see schools where reading is turned into a race, you see kids on the stopwatch to see how many words they can read in a minute," he said. "That tells students a story about what reading is. It tells students to be fast is to be good." Newkirk is encouraging schools from elementary through college to return to old strategies such as reading aloud and memorization as a way to help students truly "taste" the words. He uses those techniques in his own classroom, where students have told him that they've become so accustomed from flitting from page to page online that they have trouble concentrating while reading printed books. More...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Free audiobook or ebook of Crime and Punishment

If your idea of a summer beach read is 1) either electronic or audio, and 2) Dostoevsky, you're in luck. Link.

Michael Koryta's playlist

Select Editions used Michael Koryta's ENVY THE NIGHT a couple of years ago, so I was curious to see his musical playlist, published in the NY Times book blog. It's a little bit of everything, and I'm going to check a few of these out. Here's the link.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Happy Bloomsday!

The LA Times meditates on the popularity of James Joyce's Ulysses. "It was like nothing ever written before — a novel of 265,000 words divided into 18 'episodes' recounting in complete detail a single day in the outward and inner lives of an ordinary Dubliner, the advertising canvasser Leopold Bloom, his friends and unforgettably unfaithful wife, Molly. (June 16, 1904, was chosen because it was the date of his first walk with Nora.) Joyce told his friend Frank Budgen that his intention was 'to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the Earth, it could be reconstructed out of my book.' " More...

Shakespeare? Totally bogus!

"For it seems that even in a field as narrow as dramatic poetry, once you declare that a god has walked the earth, satanic forces must instantly spring up to deny him....A lowly actor from a small-town background, like 'the man from Stratford,' could not possibly have written these extraordinary plays." A review in the Village Voice covers the story of the worship of, and disbelief in, the Bard of Avon.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer reading for billionaires

@Galleycat provides us with this list from J. P. Morgan Private Bank. "Every summer the bank sends clients a list of recommended books to read, a list culled from 450 books recommended by bankers around the world. The Wall Street Journal dubbed it 'The Billionaire Book Club.'" More...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Boston shuns book-reading program

There's positive and negative. Still, it can't hurt.

"At its best, the One Book program brings people together who would have never met otherwise to read and talk. It creates a bond among participants and fosters a culture of reading. And, according to a report in Library Journal, it’s a boon for books. The journal said One Book, One Chicago selections are circulated up to 4,000 times by local libraries, and local bookstores see sales for selected titles jump 300 percent. Critics argue the idea is one more example of officials intruding on people’s lives by telling them what to read, or that it’s simply trying to fill a void that doesn’t need filling." More....

Friday, June 11, 2010

Time Magazine's iPad app

You might want to look at this. I gather it's not live (according to the source) but, boy, is it appealing. News on the iPad is an open frontier, and I like the way Time is going at it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

E-readers compared

Personally, I use the iPad because I want to do more than read, but it does make a great bookreader. The NY Times looks at the major players.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What the iPad can't do

The New York Review of Books pins it down: you can't annotate every page like you can with a book on paper. You can't turn it into your own. For students, and plenty of others, that might be a problem.

Monday, June 7, 2010

On the madness of collecting first editions

This article is a bit British, but fun. "Valuable copies are the ones nobody has read. It is like taking your shoes off when it rains. Nothing spoils a book like reading it." More...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Writers interview themselves

Or, more to the point, ask themselves questions the journalists don't, in The Guardian. Some contributors are Ian Rankin and Nadine Gordimer. Fun stuff.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summer reading gives us suggestions from a dozen literary lights.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Interview with Janet Evanovich

The Big Thrill interviews the creator of Stephanie Plum.

Crime writers discuss their creations

This anthology from Otto Penzler looks especially interesting.

The Edgar Award-winning anthology The Lineup collects almost two dozen essays and stories by some of the crime and thriller genres' brightest lights on the origins of their best-known characters. Most are anecdotal, detailing the strange circumstances, coincidences, and influences that came together to bring a character to life. Some get more creative; for instance, Robert Crais actually interviews his characters Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. More...