“My idea of the ideal literary dinner party remains locking a book under my left wrist while conveying risotto to my mouth with my right at the kitchen table.” Stacy Schiff talks literary dinner parties and more in this week’s New York Times By the Book column. Schiff’s latest, The Witches: Salem, 1692, is out this week.
"[C]hildren often prefer the factual over the fantastical. And a growing body of work suggests that when it comes to storybooks, they also learn better from stories that are realistic. For example, preschool-aged children are more likely to learn new facts about animals when the animals are portrayed realistically as opposed to anthropomorphically." Two new studies suggest that where learning is concerned, realism trumps fantasy in children's books. Which is as good a time as any to ask our own Jacob Lambert's question: Are picture books leading our children astray?
“It turned out that the most successful Christmas records tended to have two common qualities: catchy, upbeat melodies and imagined unlikely scenarios for anthropomorphized yuletide characters.” Move over, Frosty! It’s beginning to look a lot like … an unseasonably warm December. Here is a brief history of Christmas songs and of their often-surprising rise from corny kitsch to global sensation.
The Tide King author Jen Michalski shares a wonderfully honest account of how she managed to write her way out of the closet. “People, mostly nonwriters, are always surprised when I tell them I wrote so much growing up,” she says. “But those words, I want to tell them, weren’t written for anyone else – the audience who needed to see them and the audience for whom they were written was me.”
Bud offers a charming man about town piece that touches on the intersection of technology and culture.One of my biggest on-the-job challenges back when I was a bookseller was recommending books for finicky teenagers. In an effort to take some of the guesswork out of this endeavor, Anita Silvey, a professor of children's literature at Simmons College in Boston, wrote 500 Great Books for Teens. Scripps news prints 20 of those recommendations, including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby, and, of course, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.Germany is prosecuting seven men for burning a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank, in a case that highlights the symbolic power of books.And in Trenton, NJ, librarians are accusing a library accountant of refusing to purchase the novel Whore by Tanika Lynch for the library's collection because "he objected to the title."