Stop by the stately Mercantile Library at 7 p.m., where the literary magazine [sic] will be hosting a party. I’ll be reading from, and signing copies of, A Field Guide to the North American Family, and the illustrious Diane Williams, editor of NOON and author of Excitability, among other titles, will be reading from her new book, It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature. The Merc is located at 17 E 47th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues. I’d love to see you there.
You may have noticed that a few days ago I added another newsfeed to the sidebar. This one provides book headlines from the Christian Science Monitor. I’m pretty excited about this because the Monitor happens to be one of my favorite newspapers. The paper’s interesting history sets it apart from most dailies. Despite its name, the Monitor is not a religious paper. It was founded by Mary Baker Eddy, a devotee of the Christian Science religion, in 1908, but it was not meant to be a religious organ. Eddy was a prominent Boston citizen, and she had been getting a lot of grief from Joseph Pulitzer and his newspaper the New York World. She created the paper because she was convinced that newspapers should do more than attack people. She wanted her paper “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.” The result is consistently excellent journalism with a great international focus and a deeper insight into the news than most daily papers provide. Have a look at the paper here.Tomorrow is one of the biggest literary days of the year: the announcement of the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature. Speculation abounds.
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!
After about three days of tinkering, cutting and pasting, and banging my head against the wall, I’m happy to announce that The Millions has a new address, a location on the internet from which I’m hoping it will not move.Before I go any further let me ask you to please update your bookmarks to www.themillionsblog.com. I’ve set it up so that visitors to the old blog will be redirected to the new blog automatically, but that will only be in place for a limited time. If you read The Millions via its RSS feed, that has changed as well: this is the new feed.Now, why did I do this? Well, the previous address, my Realistic Records address, was meant to be temporary. I moved my young blog there to get it off of Blogspot. At the time I knew very little about registering domains and FTPing and things like that, so I just had my friend Derek set me up on the domain he had bought for our little record label project. Well, the record label project is ancient history, I was tired of my blog’s unwieldy address, and I figured it made sense for The Millions to be on a domain that was owned by me and not someone else.Some housekeeping issues. In moving the site, I took the opportunity to change a few things, including switching commenting systems. I think the new setup will be better for conversation on the site, but unfortunately all the old comments are gone. I wanted to save them but there wasn’t any way. Also, the site search will not work for a while until the new site is indexed in Google. Finally, please let me know if you are encountering any difficulties viewing the new site or if you find any broken links. You can email me here.Thanks!
…in the VQR Young Reviewers Contest. Our own Emily Colette Wilkinson was awarded the prize for her review of The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale. We’ll post a link if and when VQR puts the review online. Congrats Emily!
I can’t believe it’s been three years, but it’s true. I started The Millions three years ago today (though it didn’t become a Blog About Books until a little later.) Want to see what it looked like? Ugly! In the intervening years I’ve tried to make the blog a little nicer to look at and a little easier to read. I’m still having fun though, and I wouldn’t have kept it up for this long (I’ve never kept anything up this long!), if it weren’t for you guys. So thank you. Thank you to my contributors who keep this place from being too monotonous. Thank you to all those folks in the publishing industry who work hard to get good books out there to the people and who are kind enough to occasionally send me books they think I might like. Thank you to writers and aspiring writers for creating things for us to read (and for visiting The Millions sometimes). Thanks to my fellow book bloggers – if it weren’t for you guys, this would be a pretty dull hobby. Thanks most of all to the readers of this blog and the readers of books. I’ve greatly enjoyed our ongoing, virtual conversation.All those thank yous. One of the nice things about having a blog is that you can publicly pretend you’ve just won an Oscar any time you feel like it.Finally, I just want to harken back to my so-called manifesto from way back when, when I laid out why I think it’s important for us to discuss what we read. It’s still my goal for the blog today: “Given that you and I will only be able to read a finite number of books in our lifetimes, then we should try, as much as possible, to devote ourselves to reading only the ones that are worth reading, while bearing in mind that for every vapid, uninspiring book we read, we are bumping from our lifetime reading list a book that might give us a profound sort of joy.”Keep reading good books!
The Millions notched its fourth anniversary this weekend, and I’m very pleased that the site is still going strong and more popular than ever. As much as I’d like to take full credit for this, much of it should go to my contributors who really stepped it up last year and who since the redesign at the beginning of this year have, in a few short months, really taken the site to another level.I should also thank the readers of The Millions whose participation in the comments and whose emails to me help make working on the site a tremendously fulfilling endeavor. In fact, just peeking at the site’s stats and seeing how many regular readers we have makes me feel very grateful to know that so many readers appreciate what we’re doing here.And what is it that we’re doing here? As ever, The Millions and its fellow book blogs continue to evolve. One of the most interesting developments over the last year is how several bloggers have become regular fixtures in newspaper book sections across the country. Some of these folks were critics before they were bloggers, but some, like Ed, began down that path with their blogs. Even as blogs have been increasingly accepted as legitimate voices contributing to the greater literary discourse, there are still those who question their value and accuse them of cliquishness and worse. Hopefully, though, book blogs will continue to matter enough to enough people that they will continue to be targeted by such attacks. I’d rather The Millions be criticized than irrelevant.The Millions, of course, has never been particularly controversial. Fomenting arguments has never been a big part of the site’s mission, as much fun as it to sometimes get involved in those battles. The mission of this blog is to act much like your favorite independent bookstore might. As I’ve written before, “one should be able to walk into [a good] bookstore and be able to grasp, based upon which books are on display and based upon conversations with staff and fellow customers, what matters at that moment both in the wider world and in the neighborhood.” I hope that when people “walk into” The Millions they get that same feeling from those of us who write the posts and from their fellow readers who leave comments.Deeper than that, at the very core of The Millions, is that we should seek out good books to read and pass them along to like-minded friends. As I wrote nearly four years ago when I decided that the site needed a manifesto to give the then bumbling proto-Millions some shape, “this isn’t about compulsory reading; this is about making sure that whatever you read will serve a purpose for you and that, as often as possible, this purpose is to bring you the curious sort of joy that only a book can.” There’s more there too.All of which is to say, I hope The Millions still feels relevant and worthwhile amid the millions of blogs that crowd the Internet. To me, our mission is still worth pursuing. Thanks again to all of you for another great year. Let’s have another.Previously: An Historic Day; The Millions Turns Two; Thanks for Three Years from The Millions.