Stockbrokers and art gallery owners take off for half the summer. Maybe bloggers should too. Due to my impending wedding (T minus 4 days), and a busy schedule of traveling and moving (for the second time in three months), I will have to cut back on my blogging for the next month and a half or so, at least until we get settled in Chicago. In the meantime, expect approximately one post per week, and also a more relaxed attitude as befits the time of year. You should try it, too, and maybe we’ll run into each other among the gallery owners and stockbrokers in the Hamptons, on the Vineyard, or in the South of France.
Late last year, we tried something new: we asked Millions readers for support. The response has been very positive and it’s a thrill to see that so many of you value what we’re doing here. We are grateful that many readers have decided to contribute to The Millions since November.
A very special thank-you goes to our two Sponsors at the $500-per-year level. Our Sponsors have the opportunity to dedicate their support to anything or anyone they wish, and we’ve created an acknowledgment area on the membership page.
The amount we’ve raised so far provides us with some helpful breathing room as we look to become less reliant upon the internet giants who, as sources of revenue, tend to control the destinies of places like The Millions. It also helps The Millions produce the big features that are highly valued by readers: Year in Reading and our Most Anticipated list.
As you may have noticed from the review we ran yesterday, there’s a new contributor at The Millions. I’ve known Ben since college, and we’ve talked about collaborating on projects in the past, so it’s good to finally work together on something. Since college Ben has spent a lot of time living in and traveling around Asia, and he’s spent a lot of time in Japan. Here’s his bio:Ben Dooley is a translator of Japanese and an aspiring novelist. He spends much of his time traveling with his trusty laptop. In his spare time, Ben makes beer, pontificates, and obsessively applies to graduate school programs in obscure subjects of dubious worth.Welcome Ben!
Though Garth made his first appearance yesterday with his post about the Illustrated Pynchon, I’d like to formally welcome him aboard. I’ve known Garth for a long time – at least a dozen years, I think – and we’ve always talked about books, so I’m glad he decided to join us. He’ll have other reviews and dispatches up soon. Let the hazing commence.
Today we’re unveiling an exciting new feature at The Millions. Over the last seven-plus years, we have written about thousands of books. Knowing that people like to dig through the archives to read about the books we’ve covered, we’ve tried to create ways to make that easier, but until now our efforts had proven unwieldy to use and to manage.
So, in an effort to solve this problem once and for all, we’ve spent several months putting together a new section that we are proud to show off today: The Millions Books and Reviews.
That main page is an exercise in serendipity. Hit refresh and ten new random books will appear that have been mentioned on the site at some point in our history. Click on any one of those covers and learn more — or hit refresh again.
If you are looking for something more specific, browse by author using the alphabetical navigation at the top of the page. From those pages you’ll be able to click through to any book and view The Millions’ coverage of that book.
You may notice that in some cases we have more than one listing for a book — this is because over the years we may have linked to more than one edition of the book (paperback and hardcover, most commonly).
We hope you find this new feature useful. Before I let you go check it out, I just wanted to thank our many readers who have supported the site. This support has allowed us to continue to innovate with features like this new section and hopefully provide a great experience for readers looking for book coverage online.
After nearly two years in Chicago, we’re picking up and moving again. For the rest of the summer, we’ll be in temporary digs in Maryland until we find ourselves a place in our as yet undetermined final destination. Packing is going much better this time around. We didn’t wait until two days before to get started; there’s no storage unit involved; we’re not getting married in a month; and we don’t have to go halfsies on a rental truck. We’re also driving a fraction of the distance, a measly 696 miles according to Google Maps, though I’ll be behind the wheel of the rental truck this time around as we watch Chicago get smaller in the rearview mirror.Ah, Chicago, I don’t think we ever fell in love with it the way did LA, but it served as an excellent weigh point on our long journey from the West coast back to the East, where we both grew up. I will miss a few things, though. Chicago has a magnificent skyline that I never tired of looking at. Along the same lines, Lake Shore Drive is an incredible road, flanked on each side by Chicago’s two great wonders, its architecture and Lake Michigan. I’ll also miss the weather here. After four years of no weather in LA, the weather here was a great entertainment, from blizzards to thunderstorms. I did a lot of walking in Chicago (at times in the weather conditions just mentioned), and I’ll miss that too, along with my rides on Chicago’s rickety “L,” which is both charming and frustrating in its rickety unreliability, but it’s certainly the only public transit system I’ve ever seen that offers such a great view.Sure there was some bad stuff about the place. After getting used to freewheeling, progressive LA, Chicago, big city though it is, felt a little slow and, dare I say it, unenlightened. At the same time, since I was immersed in a rigorous graduate program, and Mrs. Millions was working hard to pay the bills (thank you!), I will leave here knowing that I never appreciated the place as much as I could have.But, alas, it’s time to move on. Accordingly, there won’t be much posting here for the next couple of weeks. In fact, it’s possible that the site will go completely dark until July, but do not be alarmed. I’ll be back soon enough.Housekeeping Note: To those who send me catalogs/books/other random stuff, my Chicago address is no longer valid, so please don’t use it any more. Since I’m going to be at a temporary address for a bit, I don’t have a new address to share, but as soon as I get one, I’ll put a note here, and I’ll let people know by email. Thanks!
If you’re arriving here because of my appearance on Midmorning, welcome! By way of a little background, I started The Millions in early 2003 when I was a bookseller at an independent bookstore in Los Angeles. I’ve since moved on from there, but the blog has stuck around. We now have several contributors besides me, and we write daily about books and other cultural topics.Regarding the topic of today’s show, you can read some additional thoughts of ours in these posts.Bandaids for Broken Book SectionsThe Era of the Trusted Fellow ReaderAuthority, an Anniversary, and Book ReviewingWe also suggest that you take a look at our Book Review Index, which includes all the reviews ever penned for The Millions by both our regular contributors and our many, many guests. The reviews range from our longest considerations, to our briefest squibs, to appreciations and ruminations. And don’t miss our Year in Reading, our end-of-the-year series for which we asked dozens of well-known writers and bloggers to tell us about the best book they read all year.Finally, if you like what you see here, please bookmark the site or subscribe to our RSS feed. Thanks!Update: A link to listen to the segment should be up at the MPR site soon (I went on around minute 35). If you heard the segment, let us know what you thought. Leave a comment below.
I find it hard to believe, but today is the one year anniversary of The Millions, making this little Blog About Books a veritable ancient in the “blog world.” Authoring this blog has been a great experience for me. It turned me from an unmotivated, but ostensibly “aspiring” writer, into someone who writes for an audience every day and can now seriously contemplate life as a writer without much dread. If there’s any folks out there who are contemplating a similar sort of writing life, putting together a blog is a great way to get the kinks out, not to mention all the web skills you pick up along the way.When I first started The Millions it wasn’t even a blog about books, it was just a… blog. My buddy Derek had had a blog for a while and was really into it. It looked like fun and I was getting tired of trying to muster up the energy to write in my journal each day, so I decided to give it a try. My first post appears to have been about politics, and I think it was my last post about politics. I kind of meandered along like that for a while, writing intermittently about art lectures and rock and roll shows and things like that until one day in the shower, where I have most of my epiphanies, I had an epiphany. A Blog About Books. “I’ve decided to reinvent The Millions…”, I wrote. A manifesto soon followed. And it was followed again and again by more and more manifestos. And of course I went bookfinding and bookspotting. And occasionally people read the blog and they seemed to enjoy it and some of them even left comments or emailed me or asked me a book question. It’s been fun. I hope to keep doing it, too. I don’t have a lot of readers, 30 to 60 a day, and most of those are family members, but I’m pretty addicted to it. This year brings lots of busyness and lots of changes. I’m getting married, moving, and going back to school, but maybe I’ll find the time to make it to The Millions anniversary #2 on March 24th, 2005; you’ll have to keep reading to find out.The anniversary might be a good time to post another manifesto, and since I think I may have written a (small) one today in responding to an email from a reader, I might as well put it up here:I lean perhaps too much on the side of being uncritical about books. In fact, I prefer to allow the books I read to be a jumping off point for conversation or to talk about the experience of reading a particular book. I feel like that there is so much qualitative judgment being passed on books (…and music…and movies) that it tends to drown out the other stuff… so I haven’t wanted The Millions to add to the din of the review culture. Having said that, I think it IS important to pass qualitative judgment on books, but it is far more important to single out (and try to get people to read) the good ones instead of knocking down the bad ones. I also fear that my usual positivity makes me seem like a corporate shill for Amazon, but I’m hoping that most of my readers aren’t so cynical. I just happened to have all of this on my mind since it turns out that today is the one year anniversary of The Millions.Thanks to all you trusted fellow readers!