Curiosities

Monday Links

On this sad aniversary, the Pioneer Press provides a small selection of 9/11 books and movies.Ed does a great job reviewing Haruki Murakami's new collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Kudos to him for penning a thoughtful and thorough review.The AP writes up a new video game based on the Christian apocolyptic Left Behind series of books. The novels have sold more than 63 million copies according to the story.This made me a little queasy: A teacher in Hurst, Texas has ignited an interest in reading among her students by having them all read a book together... James Patterson's young adult thriller Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment. Whatever it takes, I suppose.
Curiosities

Thursday Links: Reservoir Noir, Calvin & Hobbes, Early Looks, Gunter Grass, Google, DFW

Waterboro Library in Maine has compiled a list of books about "Drowned Towns," - "Mysteries and other fiction with a featured element of intentional submerging, inundating, and flooding of towns, villages, cities, and other places as a consequence of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, hydroelectric power, irrigation, flood management, and job creation." Also known as "Reservoir Noir."Rare art by Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson (via)AICN Books offers early looks at The Road by Cormac McCarthy and A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon.The Written Nerd looks at the ethics of "street dates," the "do not sell before this date, or else!" restrictions that come with blockbuster books.The IHT looks at Gunter Grass' new memoir, roughly translated as Peeling the Onion. Earlier this month Grass told the world that the book would reveal that he had been a member of the Waffen SS during World War II. Word has it, the book is unlikely to appear in the US any time soon.Google now lets you add a Book Search widget to your Web pages. The search engine giant has also announced that it will start making public domain books available in PDF form. Here's an example.YPTR, in amusing fashion, takes up the question of DFW and whether he will produce a novel again.
Curiosities

Midweek Links

I thoroughly enjoyed the second installment of Emdashes' Ask the New Yorker Librarians series.Michiko Kakutani hates Jonathan Franzen's new memoir, The Discomfort Zone. Kakutani's wrath filled pen aside, Ed explains why she's right, and I have to agree. I looked back through the archives here and realized I hadn't elaborated on it much beyond writing back in 2003 that "Franzen's non-fiction bugs the heck out of me," but it put me off enough that I avoided reading The Corrections for a long time because of it.Speaking of reviews, it's a good thing Bob Dylan didn't get the Franzen treatment. He tells contactmusic.com that while he doesn't care about music reviews, the reviews for Chronicles Vol. 1 meant a lot to him: "Most people who write about music, they have no idea what if feels like to play it, but, with the book I wrote, I thought, 'The people who are writing reviews of this book, man, they know what the hell they're talking about. They know how to write a book, they know more about it than me.' The reviews of this book, some of 'em almost made me cry - in a good way. I'd never felt that from a music critic, ever."Even though it seems like there's another "book banning" story in the news every week, the AP reports that the 405 challenges reported to the American Library Association last year is the smallest number since they started keeping track in the early 1980s. The challenges have dropped by more than half since the ALA started Banned Books Week to promote free expression. Kudos to the librarians.The second most brilliant magazine in the world (refer to the top item in this list for the first), The Economist has a characteristically well-considered a piece on the newspaper industry's timid efforts to embrace the Internet. Thanks to Millions contributor Andrew for sending this along.
Curiosities

Other Ventures

What's it like being a young journalist in a turbulent time for the business? Some of my fellow Medill grads and I have created a blog to discuss that and other pressing matters. If you're a journalism junkie like I am, you'll enjoy The Newshole. Check it out.Longtime Millions contributor Emre has started a blog called Live from Gybria, where he will chronicle his travels, his life as a Turkish expat, and his studies at my illustrious alma mater, the Medill School of Journalism. Luckily, Emre will still be posting here, too. In fact, we'll be putting up some more of his reading journals here in the next few days.And congrats to Anne Fernald (proprietor of the litblog Fernham) whose book Virginia Woolf: Feminism and the Reader has just been published.
Curiosities

Midweek Links: New Yorker, Google, Leroy, Quills, Cuba

Emdashes notes that the New Yorker is issuing an update disk for its Complete New Yorker DVD-ROM set. She also spotted the Complete New Yorker being sold on a portable hard drive.At the Washington Post, an academic writes in defense of the Google Book Search Library Project: "Only a small fraction of the huge number of books published today are printed in editions of more than a few thousand copies. And the great works of even the recent past are quickly passing into obscurity. Google has joined with major libraries to make it possible for all titles to remain accessible to users."At the SF Chronicle, a report that somebody is finally holding the folks behind the JT Leroy hoax responsible: "Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Mary Jane Skalski of Antidote Films, an independent film company that bought the rights to JT LeRoy's novel, Sarah, have sued LeRoy and/or Laura Albert (who was LeRoy) and Judi Farkas, Hollywood manager of the writer. The New York Times reports that in the suit, filed in New York, the filmmakers want $45,000 they paid in options and $60,000 in costs they paid in developing the project." You'll recall that back in January I asked What about JT Leroy? (via Ed)The corporate-sponsored literary popularity contest The Quills is back. Here are the many, many nominees. I don't have much to add to what I wrote about The Quills last year: "If we are dissatisfied with the Booker Prize or the National Book Award or the Pulitzer, the Quills, which casts the net very wide and relies on voting from the reading public, have been presented as a populist alternative. The results are less than satisfying. It is not news to anyone that the reading public likes Harry Potter and books by Sue Monk Kidd and Janet Evanovich. I hold nothing against those bestsellers, but naming them the best books of the year does little to satisfy one's yearning to be introduced to the best, to have an encounter with a classic in our own time. We like those bestsellers because they entertain us, but while monetary success is the reward for those entertaining authors, awards have typically honored books with qualities that are more difficult to quantify."Another book banning attempt: The Miami-Dade School Board has sided with a parent who wishes to remove Vamos a Cuba (A Visit to Cuba) and 23 other books from school libraries. The pro-book banning contingent contends that the books fail to give an accurate picture of life in Cuba under Castro. The Miami Herald has the latest.
Curiosities

Friday Links

All week I've been enjoying posts by Jeremy Blachman at the Powell's blog about life after the publication of his debut novel, Anonymous Lawyer. I particularly enjoyed hearing about his experience at BEA.In other blogging authors news. Critically acclaimed crime novelist George Pelecanos paid a vist to Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and left three posts. His new book is The Night Gardener.BarnesandNoble.com now accepts PayPal, so sell stuff on eBay and use the proceeds to buy books!Can't remember if it's forbidding, foreboding, or formidable? Check out Common Errors in English Usage, also available in book form.
Curiosities

Quick Links

Starbucks is going to start pushing books one at a time, Oprah style. Their first selection is Mitch Albom's For One More Day. The general reaction seems to be, why couldn't they have chosen a better book?The University of California library system has signed onto the Google Books Library Project. U of C is now involved with both of the two major library scanning projects. (The other one is the Open Content Alliance, which is led by the Internet Archive, Yahoo and Microsoft.) The story at CNet.BookMooch is a new book swapping site that lets people exchange books with other people for free. How it works: "Give & Receive: Every time you give someone a book, you earn a point and can get any book you want from anyone else at BookMooch. Once you've read a book, you can keep it forever or put it back into BookMooch for someone else, as you wish. No cost: there is no cost to join or use this web site: your only cost is mailing your books to others. Points for entering books: you receive a tenth-of-a-point for every book you type into our system, and one point each time you give a book away. In order to keep receiving books, you need to give away at least one book for every two you receive. (via)
Curiosities

Quick Links

The LBC gets name-dropped by the Inside Google Book Search blog.After a too-long hiatus, Tingle Alley is back. Rejoice!The seamy underbelly of the celebrity cookbook industry.
Curiosities

Weekend Links

Bat Segundo bags his biggest fish yet: John UpdikeOn their blog, the Freakonomics guys are looking for poker players to help them with an experiment, but the bigger news is that the post reveals a sequel to the bestseller is in the works.Part one of a interview with book designer Paul Buckley of Penguin Book Group - includes lots of examples of his work.John Batelle doesn't mind that pirated copies of his book The Search are being sold on the streets of Mumbai.
Curiosities

Quick Links

Patrick Reardon looks at 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die for the Chicago Tribune, and decides he wants to add his own favorites. Check out his eclectic list at the end of the piece. (thanks Steve)Maud mentioned off-hand that she abandons 95% of the books she starts before page 50. Sandra posted that this was "quite a failure rate," and Maud responds in the comments that in this case she was "pining for a very specific kind of manic reading experience that happens for me maybe ten times a year now rather than every few days, as it did when I was a child."Dogbert writes a book: "It's part fake autobiography and part plagiarism" (via H2O)Pinky is about to start an MFA program at Pitt. The reading list looks excellent.Harper Lee will have an item in O of all places. According to the AP story, "a letter for Oprah Winfrey's magazine on how she became a reader as a child in a rural, Depression-era Alabama town." It's for the July "special summer reading issue."