Archive for winter

The Book Booth: New Starts Edition


Image: Mental Floss

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.

We have survived yet another New Years Eve here in our little town. There were surprisingly few fireworks shot off at midnight this year; that is was below freezing outside may have had something to do with it. But there were enough pyrotechnics that the animals were not happy.

We may have begun a new year, but the winter remains, and will so for the next couple of months. The good news is that the sun has started to move north again (ok, the earth's axis is tilting to the north again), and the hope of new spring can give solace to our souls. But the winter remains an inspiration to some writers as the Guardian show us with its list of the ten memorable literary works featuring the chilly days and nights.
Winters in Literature

Other writers take the chill off by imbibing spirits that warm the body. And perhaps give some inspiration as well. Flavorwire has these photos showing us some authors enjoying a drink. Or two.
Authors and Booze

A good snack can take the edge off the alcohol. Some cheese and crackers at the desk can help the writer to ponder the next bon mot. MentalFloss shared recently some snacks authors in the past have enjoyed.
Authors and their Snacks

One could enjoy a good snack,a glass of wine and be inspired while reading some of the finest works around. BuzzFeed gives us what they consider to be the 51 most beautiful sentences in literature. And they're pretty darn good.
Beautiful Sentences

As we begin the year, we need to know what is hip and what is not. So when it comes to overused words and phrases, the folks at Lake Superior State University has compiled the words to avoided for the coming year. Ah, "skill set", we hardly knew ye.
Words Which Are Already Hackneyed

I used to read literary magazines frequently. But for whatever reason, I grew out of the habit. So it is good to be reassured that they're still around and being read, as Juan Vidal at NPR tells us.
Literary Magazines

When I first began working in the book biz lo these many years ago, Mass-Market paperbacks were still disdained by "bookpeople" and you could still find bookshops that would not stock them. I didn't quite ever get that attitude inasmuch as I devoured them while growing up. Louis Menand at the New Yorker offered up this fine meditation on the "pulps" and their impact on the world of books.
Pulps Remembered

Of course there was a lot of crap published by mass-market houses (and there still is), but not much was crappier than the works of Ayn Rand. So it was nice to see that Dick Cavett refused to have her on his show, not because of her writings themselves, but for the demands she made in order for her to make her appearance.
No Ayn for Dick Cavett

Finally, SeattleTammy found this photo slideshow. It's pretty amusing, but probably not safe for work. So save it for the home computer. #NSFW
Reading Weird Books in Public

Happy New Year!

May 2015 send many a good book your way. And tell us what you're loving in the world of printed matter.


The Book Booth: National Poetry Month Edition


Photograph: Matt Carr/Getty Images / The Guardian

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.

April, which can be either have showers sweet or be the cruelest month, depending on your attitude, is National Poetry Month. Whenever it rolls around, it makes me feel guilty as I don't read nearly enough of the stanzaic art. But I do have a copy of Kenneth Fearing's Selected Poetry on the nightstand, and I will read it soon and assuage my guilt.

If you, too, are behind on reading verse, check out Flavorwire's 50 most essential poetry books. These are good suggestions and any list that includes Shel Silverstein on an essential anything has got to be pretty good.

It has been nearly forty years since I read Kenneth Koch's Wishes, Lies and Dreams, about teaching the craft of poetry writing to inner city children. One hopes that poetry is still taught in schools and Andrew Simmons at the Atlantic makes a compelling argument for it being done so.

Although not a poet per se, John Steinbeck had a way with words and is neglected these days, at least by academic critics. Not so with Susan Shillinglaw who has this appreciation of thirteen of his novels at Publishers Weekly.

William Faulkner, on the other hand, did indulge in writing poetry, but obviously is now much more regarded as a novelist. ABE Books had this feature on Faulkner with some great book jacket art.

For science fiction fans that are looking for something new, io9 had these suggestions for neglected writers. I have to admit that I have not heard of, much less read, some of these authors.

Many authors are plagued at seminars and readings by the question, where do you get your ideas? It is a question most writers dread getting because they don't remember or they just seem to happen. Stephen King, however, can answer that question, at least in part, in this short essay on how he came up the idea for Carrie.

On the good news front, Kazuo Ishiguro will publish his first new novel, The Buried Giant, in March of 2015. He has not published one since 2005, so this comes as welcome news. And if you have not read his Remains of the Day, go do so right now. We'll wait for you.

In sadder news, last week saw the passing of Peter Matthiessen at age 86. Although probably best known as wonderful nature writer, he was a fine novelist and I cannot recommend At Play in the Fields of the Lord enough. The New York Times ran this obituary.

Banned Books Week wont happen again until next October. But for those who'd like to plan ahead, Cory Doctorow over at BoingBoing has a fashion tip here!

Finally, of all the book accessories available, I think the book plate is my favorite. You can use darn near anything as a bookmark (grocery receipts serve us well around here), but the plate is personal. HuffPo had some examples of some beauties here.

Please enjoy this weekend. Read some poetry. And by all means, let us know what book is delighting you!


The Book Booth: Opening Day Edition



Photo of Tennessee Williams Credit: Express/Getty Images

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.

With Spring comes Baseball Season. All thirty teams start with a clean slate and hopes for October playoff berths. Best of luck to them all. But especially my Seattle Mariners.

It is the season of flowers and many a garden is a-bloom. Keats
observed that a thing of beauty is a joy forever. So in that spirit, here are some gorgeous childrens books illustrations from the 1920's, including some by Arthur Rackham. From Buzzfeed.

I will be heading out to the library later, where I will pick up a copy of the well-reviewed recent novel, Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones. In this day and age, my library system sends me email notices when items become due. But in times past, one had to rely on memory. MentalFloss found some library books that were past due and then some.

Here's a prize that I did not know existed and hadn't realized it was so coveted. It is the Diagram Prize for oddest book title. And this years winner indeed has an odd title. H/T to our friend Mark McKay for alerting us.

Book Clubs have become a huge feature on the literary landscape these days. Publishers spend a great deal of time and money marketing their titles to them. And why not? It is a fine way to share passion for reading. And for eating. Literary biographer James Atlas offered up some thoughts on the phenomenon at the New York Times Book Review.

So your hopes to become a rock 'n' roll star didn't quite pan out.
Plan B, of course, was to be a best-selling author. The problem is,
though, that the sales figures are not what they seem. And you may have to invest some big bucks to get there. On to Plan C!

Well, if Plan C involves academic publishing, take heed. There are vanity houses out there who'll be happy to publish that senior year paper of yours. H/T to our good friend and author of Tone Deaf in Bangkok, Janet Brown.

But if writing is what you really want to do, don't be dissuaded by the previous links. Give it a go and along the way, you will find these books on writing very useful. Via BrainPickings.

And if you become famous enough, your juvenilia will be much sought after and published. Even if it has been left in a drawer for eighty years, as seems to be the case with Tennessee Williams.

I do have a certain fascination with early cinema. So I found this article from MentalFloss on early adaptations of famous novels very interesting. Alas, some of these we will never see.

I have been binge watching Dexter on the Netflix. It is based on a
mystery novel entitled Dexter Darkly Dreaming, which I have not read.  Other novels have been adapted to the tee-vee medium and with the success of Game of Thrones, I'm guessing that studio execs are looking for fresh material. io9 has some suggestions.

Here's hoping you are enjoying your weekend with a good book, some spring like weather and excitement over the coming baseball season.

And please let us know what books you are enjoying.


Overnight: Dylan Winter and the Starling Murmurations



Wondering what starlings are? Here's the Wiki. This video is about the amazing patterns they make when they swarm.

My friend Susan Frybort on Facebook sent this video my way. Thanks, Susan!