Archive for books

The Book Booth: Summer Days Edition


book necklace

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, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

Some of us enjoy a cool, refreshing drink on a weekend summer day. Others are busy penning the worst opening line for a novel, hoping to win the distinguished Bulwer-Lytton Prize. Keep writing and better luck next year as this years winner has been announced. And it is worthy.  The Winner!

Earlier in the month, Rick Perlstein's The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan was published. His previous history of the sixties, Nixonland, received great acclaim (as it should have, it is a terrific read). However Right-Wing critics took the opportunity to impugn Perlstein with charges of plagiarism. Laura Miller at Salon, however, says enough is enough and looks at the issue here. Plagiarism?

And then there is quoting out of context. Which, it seems, Amazon has been doing using no less a personage than George Orwell in its on-going battle against the Hachette Publishing Group. According to the Guardian, the Orwell estate is not happy, not happy at all.  Amazon Misquoting

In sadder news this week, we saw the passing of Robin Williams (Laffy had a sweet tribute here  Laffy's post on Robin Williams). His comic legacy is huge, as is his cinema performances, among them Dead Poets Society. His contribution to keeping literature alive is examined by Roger Tagholm at Publishing Perspectives. Robin Williams's Legacy

As we have talked about here many times, film adaptations of written works often spark a lot of controversy, especially if an author loves or hates the adaptation. Shortlist. com has thirty such responses in a fun presentation. Film Adaptations Not Everyone Is Happy With

The Telegraph recently weighed in on the top 100 novels everyone should read. I found the rankings a bit odd, but there are some interesting choices.  The Telegraph's Top 100 Novels

Then there are the well-meaning English teachers who seem to have a literary canon of their own. George .R.R. Martin had little use for them or their canon. He seems to have made out ok...  SciFi Will Rot Your Brain - or Maybe Not

We all have our own passions when it comes to books, or any art medium for that matter. iO9 has this list of books that will make one more passionate about science and scientists.

You are reading this post on the internets, of course. And we all know that the internets are meant to post cute cat pictures. So enjoy some cats and their literary names, courtesy of Buzzfeed.

Looking for something weird and good to read for the weekend? Novelist Stephanie Feldman recommends these ten creepy novels that will give you the shivers. From Publishers Weekly.

Finally if you are looking for something "crafty" to do this weekend, and you want some inspiration, take a look at these book-related projects from Buzzfeed. Book-related art.

So kick back, enjoy that chilled drink, and let us know what great book you are reading. And by all means, have a great weekend.


Quickie: Rand Paul is "writing" a book



Got time for another Quickie?

Via The Hill:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is working on a new book slated for release next year at the same time he decides on a potential 2016 presidential bid. [...]

His office said it was still being written.

And by written, they meant plagiarized.

That was today's (second) Quickie. Was it good for you?


The Book Booth: Yet Another Full Moon Edition



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, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

It looks to be a clear summer night in our little town this weekend, and we should be able to see the glorious moonlight this evening as it traverses our southern sky. There is something about a full moon that satisfies the soul. Almost like reading a good book...

It's still two months away from the Nobel Prize announcements, but checking the odds, Haruki Murakami is once again the favorite. (If you are the wagering kind, you'll find the odds here :)

Murakami's previous novel IQ84 is a huge, ambitious work, but his new work is shorter, and has this appreciation from Laura Miller at Salon.  Murakami.

If your curiosity is piqued but want to know more about Murakami's work, check out this summary by Matthew Stretcher at Publishers Weekly of his favorite novels from the author. Murakami novels.

It seems that this year is the 60th anniversary of the publication of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

The Guardian offers up this quiz in order to see how much you really know about Tolkien and his magnum opus.

From the department of the creepy, comes this article from BoingBoing regarding William Burroughs and his, umm, er, distaste for centipedes. Caution, it is illustrated. William Burroughs

And H/T to my friend and author Ray Vukcevich, writer of short stories and general whimsy. You can see Ray's webpage here.

Even creepier, though, is this new jacket design for Penguin Classics release of Roald Dahl's Charley and the Chocolate Factory. I mean, huh?

From the files of history department comes a review of this interesting book on the birth of modernist painting in Paris, Sue Roe's In Montmarte:Picasso, Matisse and Modernism in Paris 1900-1910. with another H/T to our friend Lucian!

Now I didn't know this. Many long-term booksellers have taken the seminar offered by the American Bookseller Association. I did, many full moons ago. And it seems that Amazon Chairman of the Board, Jeff Bezos did as well.

Though I don't think we attended together. I'd probably have remembered that. American Bookseller Association Seminar

I do know that I am not the hippest guy around when it comes to social media. And although I know of Tumblr, I have not used it. Perhaps I should.

For Anne Rice fans, who thought that the lamentable Queen of the Damned would be the last film version from her Vampire Chronicles, take heart! More movies may get made!

Finally as we close this weeks post, comes a quiz from MentalFloss. Can you guess what these author's previous line of work was? I couldn't, scoring a dismal 10%.

Authors' Day Jobs.

A most pleasant weekend for you all, with many books. And please let us know what works you are loving!


The Book Booth: Dog Days Edition


image via

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, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

August is here. The days are beginning to shorten, almost imperceptibly, and the skies remain blue, at least here they do. The kids are still out of school and we seem them playing in the park, dashing through the water fountains.

And Baseball is still being played.

Yesterday marked the non-waiver trade deadline and a lot of players now have new homes. Also earlier in the week, the Hall-of-Fame induction ceremonies were held, with some worthy names being celebrated. That includes one of the best writers on baseball, Roger Angell who received the Spink Award for his outstanding career covering baseball for the New Yorker magazine.  Roger Angell

As it is still summer, there is still time for a vacation. Novelist Emma Straub takes a look at some literary vacationers which looks like fun. Though I caution all to not make a journey with Patricia Highsmith's Mr. Ripley.  Literary Vacationers.

I'd suggest skipping these locales explored by Jason Diamond over at Flavorwire as well. They're not even places you'd want to visit, much less live there.  Depressing Places in Literature

One of the places Diamond recommends avoiding is the late Chilean novelist Roberto Bolano's Santa Teresa from his last novel 2066. If you have not read Bolano, check him out. Chris Andrews at Publishers Weekly suggests that the novel Distant Star is his best. You can read his appreciation here.  Roberto Bolano

If traveling around Dublin in 1904 is your cup of tea, but you have struggled with reading Ulysses, good news is on the way. Joyce's classic novel may soon become a video game. And perhaps a bit more accessible. Ulysses as a video game? 

More good news! A collection of stories that Dr. Seuss wrote for Redbook magazine circa 1950 and long-forgotten will be issued in September from Random House. And as the Guardian reports, some of the characters will be familiar to you.  Short Stories by Dr. Seuss.

I was not aware that there was such a group as the Penguin Collectors Society. It apparently has 500 members, all devoted to owning books from that esteemed publisher. The New Republic tells us about them as well as tracing the evolution of book jacket design through its history.

It seems some of these collectors are running out of room to store their books. They just might want to consider a hideaway bed, like the one featured here at Lifehacker. What To Do With All Those Books.

In sadder news, the novelist Bel Kaufman, author of Up the Down Staircase, passed away at the age of 103. I read it many years ago, while still in high school, and it was one of those seminal novels for me at that time. I remember having the book with me in English class and my teacher noticing it on my desk. "I wish I'd written that", she whispered to me.  Bel Kaufman has left us.

Finally comes an appreciation of the independent bookstore from author Bill Morris who is upbeat about its prospects for survival even in the Age of Amazon. H/T to my good buddy Brian Payne for sending this along to me.

Enjoy these lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer and please let us know what books you're reading and loving.


The Book Booth: A Midsummer Edition


Book Hammock

Image: The Daily Mail

Baseball's mid-season classic is over with the American League prevailing and marking (sort of) the half season mark. The summer days seem sweetly long. And temptation lures us to sit under a tree, or on a bench with a book in hands, transporting us to other worlds and times. Summertime, oh, yes.

Earlier this week a memoir by Marja Mills concerning the author Harper Lee and titled The Mockingbird Next Door was released. And to quite a bit of controversy. Although not quite as reclusive as, say, Thomas Pynchon, Ms. Lee does keep to herself. And she is not happy with this book.  More here.

But not so fast, says Ms. Mills. Both Harper Lee and her sister Alice knew that a book about them was in the works and both Ms. Mills and her publisher, Penguin Press, stand by the book.

The whole affair opens up other, old, controversies. Did Harper Lee, who has published only one book in her life, really write Mockingbird, or did her friend Truman Capote have a hand, maybe a heavy hand, in its composition? Frankly, anyone who has ever read Capote and Mockingbird shouldn't have any doubts. To Kill a Mockingbird reads NOTHING like a Capote story or novel. That he may have made a suggestion or two, sure. The folks over at LiberaLand have this take on the whole can of worms here. H/T to Lucian! Harper Lee: You Don't Know Me.

That authors, like Capote and Lee, should seek each others company and advice shouldn't be any surprise. Literary history has many such examples and Claire Fallon at HuffPo examines a few of them here.  Author Friendships

The world being such as it is, and because we all need a chuckle from time to time, Jason Diamond has put together a list of 25 books that will make you laugh out loud. There are some missing here....

Which the staff at Publishers Weekly makes up for with this list that includes both James Thurber and Catch-22.  PW's Funny Book Staff Picks.

Fortunately, humor is not a verboten area for writers. At least not yet. But are there still taboos in the world of publishing and subject matter. Francine Prose and James Parker ponder the question at the New York Times.  The Last Literary Taboos.

As a kid, I was much more of a DC comics guy. I liked Superman, Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern. All those guys. But once I exhausted the monthly issues of those super-heroes, I would catch up on Riverdale's own Archie Andrews and wonder what did he ever see in Veronica. Alas, Archie has grown up and is scheduled for a noble death, saving the life of his best friend.

On a sadder note, the South African novelist and Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer passed away this week at age 90. The Guardian had this appreciation of both her life and her work here.

And to top of this fine summer day's post, and for those of us taking a staycation this year, take a gander at this list from Eilsabeth Donnelly at Flavorwire detailing a non-fiction tour of the US of A with an eclectic and delightful selection of books.

Enjoy your day in the sun and please let us know what you are reading these days. We'd love to hear from you.


The Book Booth: Fifth of July Edition



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, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday yesterday with magnificent pyrotechnic displays and that your eardrums are not shattered, there were no cinders in your eyes and that you ended the day with as many digits as you began the day with.

It being a holiday weekend, I'm sure many of you may be heading to the beach to soak some rays. In our little town, not far from the ocean, we are seeing a lot of RVs and surfboards as the tourists pass through. And I'd think many of them have reading material with them. The beach read is now a long tradition, as MentalFloss points out. And it is nice to see the all-too forgotten Ring Lardner appear on the shortlist. Beach Reads From 100 Years Ago

The busy folks at MentalFloss also picked the most favorite novels set in all the states. They ask if you agree or not. For my state, they picked Twilight, which takes place about 100 miles north of us. I'd hate to think that title is representative of the great state of Washington. I might have gone with something by Tom Robbins (pick one). At least something without vampires with angst. Most Famous Book Set In Each State

I learned long ago that an author may not copyright a title. If I so wished, I could write a novel and title it Gone with the Wind if I so chose. Not that I would. I'd go with Treasure Island or The Great Gatsby, or something I liked better. It seems that duplicate titles are something of a problem and the Guardian asks if writers are running out of titles.

Maybe decisions about titles are a matter of writers block. Andrew Lewis Conn, who has recently published a novel O Africa, a title I have not seen used before, suggested seven ways to get past the tyranny of the blank page. How To Get Past Writer's Block

Or you could go with Brian Eno's whimsical and fun Oblique Strategies.

For those of you looking for new and off-the-beaten path books, you might want to take a look at the New York Times' article on new and young African authors. Africa seems to be going into a literary renaissance that only the post-colonial scholars have been aware of.

SeattleTammy and I are regular users of our local library. Ours is staffed by some fine and knowledgable librarians and it is always a delight to browse the shelves. The folks at Pew recently conducted a survey on library usage and discovered some interesting facts about them. It would seem most people think libraries are a good thing! Even if they don't use them much.

Finally, are you stuck at home? Not going to the beach or your local cafe to take in the ambience? You could be dreaming about going to one of these places and luxuriate in a book-friendly world. Via BuzzFeed. Places Bookworms Would Rather Be Right Now

Have a great weekend, enjoy yourselves and please let us know what you've pulled off the bookshelf to enjoy.


Bill Clinton Death Wish: To Die For Hillary



Well, when you're an author with inside connections, you will sometimes shine a light on some amazing stories. And today was no exception over at Fox News. Among the highlights was an interview with author Ed Klein, reported on by Raw Story:

"An author who Fox News hosts insisted had “impeccable” sources told the network on Tuesday that former President Bill Clinton had considered using his own death to help Hillary Clinton win the presidency.

That's some pretty big news. Sourcing is important if you're going to make claims like that.

Host Steve Doocy reiterated that Klein’s “sources are impeccable,” and that he had even talked to the household help after one of the Obamas’ vacations at Martha’s Vineyard.

Talking to the household staff after a vacation stay does sound pretty impeccable. I'm sure the Clintons felt comfortable revealing everything to strangers who were making their beds and doing their dishes.

Let's dig a little deeper and take a look at Ed Klein's bona fides. He's a previous author on the Clintons with his 2005 book, The Truth About Hillary, which was panned by critics for being “poorly researched, poorly written, poorly sourced.”

In that explosive expose of a book, Klein suggested that Hillary Clinton was a lesbian and that she was raped by then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton (D) when they conceived their daughter Chelsea. Now you can see where the 'poorly researched, poorly written, poorly sourced' label comes from.

Letting you decide the accuracy of those claims, let's look at Klein's  latest revelations. First Bill Clinton, upon being told he has a progressive heart disease was actually quite happy on two fronts. First, he thought "progressive" meant liberal (the author's way of making a joke). But secondly he felt good about his passing because of what it could mean for Hillary.

“And he’s discussed with Hillary, according to people who were in the room with them when he did it, what would happen if he died,” Klein said. “What should Hillary do? And what is said is, ‘Hillary, you should put on widow’s weeds, dress in black, and it would be worth a couple of million votes.”

This is all too delicious just to read.You gotta see it to believe it. The most amazing thing to remember is that just yesterday the hosts had been skeptical of Klein's assertions. What turned them around? See for yourself: