“As much as I claimed that I read for my own edification, it was a lie. The books I was most drawn to were those that were loved by someone in my life. Reading them, I thought, would teach me all I needed to know about them—nice and safe, from a distance. Reading them with one hand, it was easy to have the other keep them at arm’s length.” Romy Sugden writes for The Oyster Review about trying to connect with her estranged father by reading John le Carré‘s A Perfect Spy.
Michele Filgate was so terrified by Dave Eggers’s The Circle that she quit social media for a week and wrote about the experience for Salon. “I don’t want to become like Mae, sacrificing real-life friendships for the allure of the screen. I want to be aware of the world around me. I want to write about that world. I want to feel more alive, even if that means being lonelier in the process.” Pair with: our review of the novel.
“This is a huge generalization, but [American novels] have tended not to have all the elements that make it good for television, whether it’s too interior or there’s not enough action. The Brits tended to write more colorful stories rather than the darkness and struggle. Dickens and Trollope certainly knew how to write sequels, books that would make good ongoing series again and again. And the greatest love stories are in the Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. I don’t know what our equivalent is.” In a piece for The Atlantic Spencer Kornhaber wonders, “Is American Literature Too Dark for TV?“
The 2016 election will never truly end, at least not in the literary world. Buzzfeed noted that “a series of recent campaign books have enjoyed monster debuts, demonstrating a voracious reader appetite for behind-the-scenes looks at one of the most surprising elections in history”. And before you think this trend will end any time soon, Buzzfeed lists some up and coming titles that will be published later this year or sometime next year. “The success of campaign books come during a tough period for the publishing world, where industry sources have described the difficulty of getting authors on television or attracting media attention in a frenzied environment focused on Trump.” We’re all about the publishing industry doing well but this seems like a slightly unhealthy obsession for both readers and publishers.
Great posts over at Sarah’s blog and at M.J. Rose’s about where books sell the most copies (think Wal Mart) and why Amazon rankings don’t mean much in the way of book sales. (via Tingle Alley)They’ve announced the nominees for the Quills Awards – an attempt to build a book-focused version of the typical, bloated TV awards show. The nominees seem to be stale mix of award-winners and nominees (NBA, Pulitzer, etc.) from the last 18 months and middlebrow bestsellers that aren’t particularily literary, but aren’t outright trash either. Will anybody watch this? I mean, I like books, but yawn.For the last two weeks, Harry Potter #6 has “been the top-seller in every single one of The Book Standard’s 99 local-area charts. But this week, a glimmer of hope appeared for other authors, as The Book Standard charts registered a change – one single change.” How a “conservative talk-radio personality” unseated Harry Potter in the Bristol-Kingsport-Johnson City, Tennessee, area.Godzilla pauses for a moment before his rampage. Click it. It’s funny.
“Year-end lists are always subjective and incomplete, but they are especially tricky for books. A dedicated film critic can watch every wide release film and a theater critic can go to most every play, but the book critic is faced with an insurmountable mountain of books each year. The sheer number of books is inspiring as a reader, but it can make “best of” lists laughably subjective when the critic has only read a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of books published each year.” This might help to explain the logic and intent of our own Year in Reading series, but it also prefaces Electric Literature‘s list of the top 25 story collections of 2014 (which includes recent Year in Reading alum Phil Klay‘s Redeployment).