…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!
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.
We have some news.
I am very pleased to announce that starting today, our longtime staff writer Lydia Kiesling will be moving down the virtual hall and taking over my virtual office as editor of The Millions.
Lydia has been a vital part of this project since 2009 and so recalls the tail-end of our “book blog” days and has been a major contributor to the site’s transformation and growth over the subsequent six-plus years. She is a special talent, and I have complete confidence in her ability to inject new energy and ideas into The Millions while maintaining the quality and tone that we are known for. Lydia’s unique voice and intelligence has won over new readers to The Millions even as she has become a writer to watch beyond the confines of this magazine. I don’t doubt that Lydia will surpass what I have done as editor.
I am moving on because it was time to move on. Thirteen years is an epoch and I am rather set in my ways. I owe it to The Millions and our readers to open the door for something new.
What should you expect? We are not planning any big overhaul or shift in focus, but you will soon see a new and vital editorial voice underpinning what we do.
If you write for or pitch pieces to the site, or communicate with me in my capacity as editor, those inquiries should now all go to [email protected] I can still be reached for inquiries related to the business side of The Millions and other inquiries not related to editorial.
Please join me in welcoming Lydia!
Thanks for everything.
Here are some words from our new editor in chief:
I’m thrilled to be stepping into Max’s shoes! The Millions is one of the most meaningful presences in my life–not only because it’s allowed me to fumble toward my own voice as a writer, but because it’s afforded a glimpse of the amazing multiverse of readers and writers that find a common home online.
This site has been a part-time labor of love carried out with full-time intensity for more than a decade. Briefly, it’s my hope to continue Max’s support for an incredible group of staff writers and editors, to be proactive in the search for new voices, and, ideally, to find ways to pay more people more money. Above all, I want to keep the lights on, not only for excellent, unmissable book coverage, but for those signature Millions essays–things that seem unlikely and unpitchable, and wind up being unforgettable. I can only hope to live up to Max’s very high standard.
The Millions is six years old today. We’re another year deeper, and as in past years it seems an appropriate moment for reflection.Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the shape and format of what we do here. The Millions is ostensibly a blog, a publishing format that seems to have had a brief heyday around 2005. Prior to that, blogging was maligned as some sort of barely human form of discourse, the rantings of madmen and -women or the laughably amateur efforts of the idle or obsessive.Gradually, the form matured, and was adopted and institutionalized in many corners. For The Millions, maturing meant bringing on regular contributors and working with publishers and publicists to wrangle interviews with and essays by notable writers. It also meant thinking of ourselves as a legitimate (even “mainstream”) publication.But now, suddenly, blogging is feeling a little old-fashioned. First Facebook, then Twitter and Tumblr, have fetishized brevity and broadcasting, leaving blogs looking ponderous and even insular by comparison.There is, no doubt, huge value in these tools. Facebook and Twitter offer connectivity, though with built-in limitations to communication. And add Tumblr to the mix and you have three incredible tools for filtering, or, as it is sometimes better better termed, curation.In the vast wildness of the internet, we rely on curators. Some people are very good at it. There are also algorithmic curation tools and community-driven curation tools, though their output tends to be robotic in the case of the former and reflective of a form of self-reinforcing mass peer pressure in the latter. Meanwhile, through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and more prosaic means like email and chat, our friends and “friends” curate for us, shooting links our way to make us laugh or think.We do some curation here too. Over the last year we’ve regimented our “Curiosities” posts, with all of our regulars providing links, making for a curious weekly mix of goodies from around the web.But much more of our energy is devoted to something else: generating original reviews and essays, some quite short and others very long. Increasingly, it seems, this sets The Millions apart. It dictates that, though there are nine of us, we rarely publish more than one or two items a day. It also means that we tend to have a lot invested in each item we post. We invest time in each piece you see here, but each also bears the promise of The Millions’ survival and future growth – the more that people care about what we write, the more The Millions grows. And, of course, the opposite holds true as well.This isn’t meant to be rant of any kind. I wanted to bring it up because I value the work that the contributors here do and because I appreciate that all of you out there read it and all the professional and amateur curators who link to it. That is a big part of what makes running The Millions worthwhile.In thinking about all this, I spent some time skimming through The Millions archives of the last year, and while these aren’t the longest or most popular or even necessarily the “best” things we’ve run all year, they are, I think, a worthy sample of what The Millions is all about:This year, Garth cracked wise about novel titles. Garth and Kevin reviewed one of the most talked about books of the year, and later, the book’s author made an appearance. We had visits from other illustrious guests, as well. Andrew reviewed a quirky book and wrote about music. And Emily asked, “Why So Serious Batman?” Edan did many a great interview. Garth tried to make sense of tragedy. We did group posts and covered notable literary events and generally offered our own twist on things.Thanks for another great year, Millions readers. We continue to value your intelligence, curiosity, and feedback.
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!