“This particular moonshot fell about a hundred-million books short of the moon.” Over at The Atlantic James Somers has the story of what went wrong with Google’s audacious plan to digitize all the world’s books. And like an interesting time capsule, you might want to read Robin Sloan in our own pages from some years back about a very, very cool book scanner.
An illustration of why Cliffs Notes are never a substitute for the real thing.The Britannica Blog looks at “fun facts” about the 1,000 most popularly held books in libraries around the world, including this item: “Which author has the most works on the OCLC Top 1000 list? William Shakespeare (with 37 works). He is followed by Charles Dickens (16 works) and John Grisham (13 works).” Here’s the full list where The Bible comes in at #1, the Census at #2, and Mother Goose at #3 (in 2,036 different versions and editions.) (via)Powell’s is making a series of short documentaries about writers that will supplement and stand in for book tours. From the New York Times: “The British author Ian McEwan is the star of the first film, which is planned to run 23 minutes and will feature snippets from an on-camera interview with Mr. McEwan, as well as commentary from peers, fans and critics.” The film is being put out to coincide with the release of his new novel, On Chesil Beach. (via)
“As time passed, I realized the Philip Roth I’d known before the two documentaries we ended up doing was in the process of transformation. The Roth I’d known for many years was an obsessively committed writer who, in the terrifying limbo between one book and another, could fall victim to a storm of depression or be spent to the point of looking as if his blood had been drained from his veins… This Philip Roth seemed to be discovering new, unexpected pleasures in life, like spending time in bed reading in the morning or inviting friends to his home to share with him the meals prepared each night by his newly hired, young and lovely cook.” Livia Manera Sambuy writes about her friendship with Philip Roth for The Believer. Pair with Gabriel Roth‘s recent guide to “everything you need to know” about the elder Roth’s oeuvre.
As has been much noted elsewhere, the Wall Street Journal landed reclusive Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson to review a recent bio of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. New York explains how the review was arranged. Meanwhile, the New Yorker has John Updike reviewing the book.BLDGBLOG articulates why I love LA so much (and why it is quite possibly the greatest city in the country). For some of my own thoughts on LA, harken back into the deepest archives.Since almost the minute I finished An Army at Dawn, the first installment of Rick Atkinson’s three-part look at the liberation of Europe during World War II, I have been pining for the second book. And now I have it. The Day of Battle covers the war in Sicily and Italy and I will be reading it presently. (It was An Army at Dawn that inspired our lists of World War II fiction and nonfiction.)My alma mater is showing Google Books some love.
Out this week: The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin; Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler; The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson; This Too Shall Pass by Milena Busquets; Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe; and Smoke by Dan Vyleta. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.