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The Book Booth: Twas the Week Before Christmas Edition

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The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. @SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore here, as well as a brick and mortar storefront mini-store in Hoquiam, WA at 706 Simpson Ave (Route 101 South). Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

The Book Booth: Twas the Week Before Christmas Edition

I hope this finds everyone enjoying the holiday season and feeling in a festive mood. Alas, I do miss those days of yore when there would be tons of Christmas specials where Perry Como, or Andy Williams, or the great Der Bingle would serenade us with holiday songs. These days all we have our Republican debates and those hardly put anyone into the Christmas spirit.

Let that not be said of actor Benedict Cumberbatch who has written to Father Christmas with an eloquent plea for that merry ol' soul. Here's his letter, plus others written by some noted British celebrities.
Letters to Santa (aka 'Father Christmas')

On the other hand, it seems that Ayn Rand sent Christmas cards, and I'm pleased I never received one from her. Here are some imagined seasons greetings from that sour person.
Imagined Seasons Greetings Cards from Ayn Rand

Last week we took a look at some of the "best of 2015" lists. The New Yorker book reviewers have now chimed in with their selections. Again, a lot of books I need to catch up on.
The 'New Yorker's 'Best of 2015 List

Then, again, I did catch up on some classics reading using the Sad and Useless ultra-condensed versions.
The Classics 'Sad and Useless' Versions

You'll have noticed that the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is condensed for your pleasure. But once again, a school has stopped teaching the book to its 11th graders. You'd think these Quakers would know better. H/T to Lucian for the link.
Censoring 'Huckleberry Finn' Again!

With the success of The Martian at the box office and at bookstores throughout the land, there seems to be a new (or retro) trend towards real science in Science Fiction. Examples would include not only Andrew Weir, author of The Martian, but long-time established writers like Neal Stephenson and Kim Stanley Robinson, as NPR reports.
New Interest in Science Fiction as a Result of 'The Martian'?

Did you know that way back in 1974, soon after the earth formed, the US National Institute on Drug Abuse commissioned sci-fi author Robert Silverberg to survey the use of drugs in science fiction stories? Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing has the story here.
How Often Do Drugs Play a Role in Science Fiction Stories? 

It seems odd and quaint in these technological days, that writers would not avail themselves of it and write first drafts with pen and paper. But that is exactly what Neil Gaiman does and here are some examples of those initial drafts.
Neil Gaiman's First Drafts Written with Pen and Paper

James Lee Burke, author of the Dave Robicheaux mysteries, doesn't say whether he writes on the computer or with a pen, but he did offer some tips on writing recently for Publishers Weekly.
Writing Tips from James Lee Burke

Finally, it has been sixty years since Vladimir Nabokov's groundbreaking novel Lolita was published by Olympia Press. Here are some appreciations of the work by the Lolita Fan Club.
'Lolita' Turns 60 - Some Thoughts

A Merry Christmas to all of you celebrating the holiday. And please let us know what books you are loving at this time of year.

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The Book Booth: The Best of 2015 Edition

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The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. @SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore here, as well as a brick and mortar storefront mini-store in Hoquiam, WA at 706 Simpson Ave (Route 101 South). Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

The Book Booth: The Best of 2015 Edition

We seem to be in the midst of the holiday season, now, and a Happy Hanukkah to all of you who celebrate the festival of lights. Seattle Tammy and I are getting our house in shape so we can set up a tree this year. Which is something we really haven't done in a while. So we are enjoying so far.

It is also that time of year when the critics give us their "best-of" lists, which always are fun to explore. For instance, the Boston Globe has an exhaustive list here.
The Boston Globe's 'Best Of' List

And of course the New York Times has their selection of the best ten books here.
The New York Times' 'Best Of' List

NPR has its list, complete with dust jacket art, which is pretty cool.
NPR's 'Best Of' List

President Obama has his own opinions. He recently shared with ABC his picks for favorite novel (Lauren Groff's Fates and Furies) as well as his favorite movie and song.
President Obama's 'Best Of' List

All these lists make me realize, I have so many books I need to catch up on.

Tracy Chevalier is probably best known for her novel Girl with a Pearl Earring. She also has had published The Last Runaway and her novel At the Edge of the Orchard will arrive in March of next year. Both of those novels deal with mid-19th century America. So she is well-acquainted with novels from the Civil War and she chose her top five here. I would add Daniel Woodrell's A Woe to Live On, which was filmed by Ang Lee some years back as Ride with the Devil.
Tracy Chevalier's Recommendations

Ethan Hawke is both a versatile actor and novelist. His most recent novel is Rules for a Knight. The New York Times interviewed him here and I must say, he has good taste in literature.
NYT Inverview with Author Ethan Hawke

For graphic novel fans, this one looks like a good one. It is the life of Rosa Luxembourg as visualized by Kate Evans. Here's an excerpt from the Nation Magazine.
Graphic Novel on the Life of Rosa Luxembourg

So what are the best novels ever written by a British author? The BBC sought the opinions of over 80 book critics that live outside Merrie Olde England and came up with this list of the top 25.
25 Greatest British Novels (chosen by non-Brits)

Mark Twain lived to see a great many things that we now take for granted. Electrical lighting. The automobile. The airplane. And the advent of motion pictures. Here he is from 1909, the year before his death, filmed by non less than Thomas Edison.
Mark Twain Filmed by Thomas Edison

Finally, in case you need any convincing, Bustle provides the 11 reasons you should give books as gifts this year. But I doubt you need the convincing. And you probably have your own good reasons.
Why You Should Give Books as Gifts This Holiday Season

Have a wonderful weekend and please let us know what books you're asking Santa for this year.

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The Book Booth: December Is Here Edition

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Image: Buzzfeed


The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. @SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore here, as well as a brick and mortar storefront mini-store in Hoquiam, WA at 706 Simpson Ave (Route 101 South). Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

The Book Booth: December is Here Edition

Yes, the leaves have fallen for the most part. In fact at my computer station, usually nicely shaded by Magnolia leaves, is now aglow with sunlight that pierces my eyes on sunny days. Who knew I'd need shades to play on the internets?

And it is holiday shopping season. Christmas music is ubiquitous in all the stores and we can only hope we can make it through the month without hearing Frosty the Snowman over and over again. But it is easy enough to get over the holiday blahs with some good books. Bustle recommended these Christmas stories to help inspire a good Yule.
Yule Stories

Small Business Saturday has come and gone. I hope you were able to visit one or more of your local independent businesses. President Obama did his part, patronizing Upshur Street Books in DC with his daughters and buying an armload of books.
A Literate World Leader: President Obama's Christmas Shopping List

If you've been waiting to do shopping for yourself or others, you might want to consider these titles that Buzzfeed recommends as good December reading. The Gold Eaters by Ronald Wright has piqued my interest. And Isabel Allende is a fine writer.
More Great Books to Read This December

The latest craze has been adult coloring books. There is something meditative and pleasant about coloring. Except if you worry too much about going outside the lines. Or if you are a man who worries about indulging in childish pursuits. Good fortune, though, there are coloring books for men!
Adult Coloring Books (Yes, You Read That Right!)

Well, there is a bit of controversy over the new BBC production of War and Peace. I've read the book, albeit some time ago, and I just don't remember this part.
The BBC Rewrites Tolstoy?

About 99% of all writers, especially those who are young, cannot support themselves by writing alone. Those day jobs are important to keep going. Here is what some writers did for a living before becoming famous. H/T to Lucian for the link.
How Authors Kept Body and Soul Together While Writing Masterpieces

Ancient Rome has long been a source of fascination to me. It was the area of history I concentrated on in college and I enjoy whatever novels or histories that come along. Here NPR has interviewed Cambridge Classics professor, Mary Beard, about her new history SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome. And like her, I really loved I, Claudius.
Interview with Cambridge Classics Professor & Author Mary Beard

Hoping that you are enjoying the season! Please let us know what books you are enjoying and what books you plan to give as gifts!

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The Book Booth: Black Friday Edition

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Image: Washington Post


The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. @SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore here, as well as a brick and mortar storefront mini-store in Hoquiam, WA at 706 Simpson Ave (Route 101 South). Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

The Book Booth: Black Friday Edition

Here's hoping you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday, and that you survived the Black Friday sales at your local shopping mall. What I actually hope is that you skipped Black Friday all together and are enjoying some holiday shopping at your locally owned business. It is, after all, Small Business Saturday today.

Of some interest this past week, we find that since the terrorist attacks in France two weeks ago, the sales of Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast have sky-rocketed, especially in its French translation. Which makes some sense inasmuch as it is a late life love letter to the fabled city.
Hemingway's Paris - A Moveable Feast - Sales Soar

From our end of the year lists Department comes this from BookRiot. These are the best literary Ted Talks from 2015. I enjoy a good Ted Talk when I find one and these are pretty darn good.
Literary Ted Talks

But nothing beats the Muppets when it comes to literature.
Sesame Street's Best Literary Moments

As NPR points out, it has been an event-filled year for Ta-Nehisi Coates, winner of the non-fiction award last week from the National Book Foundation. Here is an illuminating interview with him about his life and work.
Ta-Nehisi Coates Interview

Unless one is writing out-and-out pornography, sex is one of the more difficult topics to write well about in fiction. Noy Holland, whose most recent novel is titled Bird, discusses sex in fiction.
Sex in Fiction

From time to time here, I've pointed out recent discoveries of famous author's lost works. Some belong lost. Others remain of some interest. Well, it seems that a lost play by William Faulkner has been found. It is a comedy called Twixt Cup and Lip and was written soon after the Great War. The Washington Post has the story.
A Newly-Discovered Play by William Faulkner

Book dedications are usually mundane salutes to wives, moms, dads, best friends. But some are a bit more. Distractify has come up with some pretty lively ones here. I especially like the one made to Colin Firth. And thanks to our friend Caleb for sharing the link.
Badass Book Dedications

And when the next Black Friday comes, what will you do? Steely Dan has it covered for you here
Steely Dan

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend. Please do support your local businesses today. And do let us know what book has you in its thralls.

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