Archive for christmas

The Book Booth: A Christmas Carol 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: A Christmas Carol Edition

As is my tradition, I post this portion of the end of what Dickens called Stave 3 of A Christmas Carol, as the spirit of Christmas Present takes his leave of Scrooge. The warning holds as true this year as it did for Dickens in 1844. Want and Ignorance remain with us, especially as we have witnessed this past Fall among the Republican candidates.

Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate the day and here's hoping for a splendid 2016 for us all.

"'Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,' said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit's robe,' but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw.'

'It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,' was the Spirit's sorrowful reply. 'Look here.'

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

'Oh, Man. look here. Look, look, down here.' exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.

'Spirit. are they yours.' Scrooge could say no more.

'They are Man's,' said the Spirit, looking down upon them. 'And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it.' cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. 'Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.'

'Have they no refuge or resource.' cried Scrooge.

'Are there no prisons.' said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. 'Are there no workhouses.'" - A Christmas Carol, Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits

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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: December Is Here 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: 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: Boxing Day 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: Boxing Day Edition

Yes, I know Boxing Day was Friday. But I see no reason not to make a long weekend out of it. Here's hoping everyone had a joyous holiday and are now ready to take on the new year ahead.

Some of you may still be in the Christmas spirit. If so, you could check out the Guardian's top ten Christmases in literature. I was happy to see Joyce's The Dead included. Others were new to me, but that is one of the nice things about lists.
Guardian

Last week I closed the post with the haunting images of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol as the Ghost of Christmas Present departs from Scrooge. Clive Irving of The Daily Beast give the novella a proper context for both Dickens time and ours in a illuminating rumination.
How Dickens and Scrooge Saved Christmas

At least one Scrooge like policy has been overturned recently. Last year England and Wales stopped prisoners from receiving parcels of books. The BBC reports that the ban has been overturned. Good news, indeed.
Books in UK prisons.

For those of us keeping score, here is a recent study of book buying trends and demographics. None of this too surprising, except maybe in putting a number to how many purchases happen on the internets.
Online Book Sales

The end of the year continues to bring on the "Best of 2014" lists. But this one from James Woods at The New Yorker includes some titles that may have escaped the eye and are worth your time.
Best of 2014 You Might Have Missed

If you need more suggestions, NPR has some 250 books you can hear about, with niftty search bar and cover art for many of the discussed titles. And it has archives as well from years past.
NPR Book Lists

Chris Lane at the Houston Press has this amusing assessment from his time working in a chain bookstore. The pilfering of stock, alas, is a fact of life. In addition to the areas of books most lifted, I'd add certain kinds of writers. I know that at one point, one chain bookstore I know of, had to put all the Beat writers and Charles Bukowski behind the counter. And I can attest to some of the grosser things that happen. At one store I worked at we stocked the Sunday New York Times. This was before all the advances in technology and the paper wouldn't arrive to the store until Wednesday or Thursday of that week. We had the papers in a rack in front of the cash registers. Anyway, one evening a customer brought his purchases to be rung up and, unbeknowst to us, decided to "water" the paper. Sigh.
Behind the Scenes Working in a Chain Bookstore

Enjoy your weekend, and a Happy New Year to come. Give us some our top ten lists, too.

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