The Sputnik Awards are a new prize for speculative fiction. The voting system is not like the other awards. [more inside]
X-Rays Reveal 1,300-Year-Old Writings Inside Later Bookbindings [The Guardian] The words of the 8th-century Saint Bede are among those that have been found by detecting iron, copper and zinc – constituents of medieval ink. Medieval manuscripts that have been hidden from view for centuries could reveal their secrets for the first time, thanks to new technology. Dutch scientists and other academics are using an x-ray technique to read fragments of manuscripts that have been reused as bookbindings and which cannot be deciphered with the naked eye. After the middle ages manuscripts were recycled, with pages pasted inside bindings to strengthen them. Those fragments may be the unique remains of certain works.
J. K. Rowling Just Can’t Let Harry Potter Go [The New York Times] J. K. Rowling always said that the seventh Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” would be the last in the series, and so far she has kept to her word. But though she’s written many new things in the intervening nine years, including four adult novels, she’s never been able to put Harry to rest, or to leave him alone. [more inside]
The Morph Club Podcast - Two comix illustrator friends revisit Katherine Applegate's popular 1990's YA book series Animorphs! Join them as they laugh and cry about sad morphing teens and the horrible aliens who hate them. [more inside]
In Hangzhou, China, a new bookstore designed by XL-Muse contains mirrored ceilings as well unique designs around mirrors that provide amazing illusions, as well as a very unique "book playground".
TS Eliot's rejection of Orwell's Animal Farm [The Guardian] Digitised for the first time by the British Library, Eliot’s rejection is now available to read alongside others including Virginia Woolf’s to James Joyce. Eliot’s letter is one of more than 300 items which have been digitised by the British Library, a mixture of drafts, diaries, letters and notebooks by authors ranging from Virginia Woolf to Angela Carter and Ted Hughes. The literary archive reveals that Orwell was not the only major writer to suffer a series of rejections: the British Library has also digitised a host of rejections for James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, showing how his patron Harriet Shaw Weaver attempted to find a printer for the novel she had published in serialised form in The Egoist. [more inside]
Don’t Know What To Read? Let Goldman Sachs Tell You. [Melville House] "Goldman Sachs: financial giant, hotbed of enthusiasm for subprime mortgages, and hapless recipient of your hard-earned money. Who better to tell you what to read? Well, now they are telling you what to read, in the form of a recently-published recommended book list [PDF]. We’re talking about people who incurred $550 million in fines for schemes to turn a profit on the civilization-threatening financial crisis they themselves had helped create, and the line between genius and chutzpah is notoriously hard to draw, so, yeah, I’d like to know what’s on these folks’ bedside tables."
“I still think you could do something that no one has ever done before.” - the story of Kit Williams and Masquerade, a children's book of illustrations that also served as clue to the location of a golden hare, and, despite an ignoble end to the competition, kicked off a crazy off treasure hunting books and videogames in 1980s Britain.
At 78 years of age, legendary author Judy Blume has made an interesting career choice - in February she opened a book store in Key West, FL. [more inside]
The New York Society Library maintains an elegant online database of its circulation records from 1789 to 1805, a period that includes its stint as the first library of the United States Congress. To help you get a handle on the data trove (assembled from 100,000 records tracking every book that every patron checked out), the Library offers visualization tools and two curated lists of interesting readers: 57 representative women and 40 Founding Fathers.
An Interview with Guy Gavriel Kay [io9] Guy Gavriel Kay has carved out a unique niche, writing fantasy novels that take real-life historical settings and transforming them into something new and different. His latest novel, Children of Earth and Sky, takes place in a version of 16th century Europe that’s under threat from a version of the Ottoman Empire, and includes a fictionalized version of real-life Croatian bandits called the Uskoks, who stole from the Venetians and the Ottomans for justice. We talked to Kay about just how he manages to turn real-life history into a world all his own. You can read an excerpt of Children of Earth and Sky, introducing the character of Danica, here. [more inside]
Mom is Dating Weird Wayne From the wonderful Awful Library Books blog (previously) comes this book by Mary Jane Auch, perhaps most famous for the "I Was a Third Grade ... " series of books [more inside]
The NYTimes Style Section has identified a new trend: Men reading books! In clubs! Which obviously need ultra-manly names. Never fear, Twitter to the rescue with #ManlyBookClubNames. Whether you read with the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Patriarchy or The Great Fratsby, Goodreads has some suggestions for your new ultra-manly reading life.
Back to the Future by Tony Tulathimutte [The New Republic] For 45 years, Don DeLillo has been our high priest of the American apocalypse, having tackled just about every man-made disaster: nukes in End Zone, nukes and garbage in Underworld, toxic pollution in White Noise, financial busts in Cosmopolis, terrorism in Falling Man, terrorism and the death of the novel in Mao II, war in Point Omega. His latest novel, Zero K, clears out every end-times scenario left in the bag: climate change, droughts, pandemics, volcanoes, biological warfare, even meteor strikes and solar flares. But these only menace in the background as future probabilities, and the novel’s focus is not human extinction but its inverse: immortality through cryonics. [more inside]
One breezy afternoon in 2001, two friends of mine, Richard and Dido, were mooching around a building site in Cambridge when they came across a battered yellow skip. Inside were 148 handwritten notebooks. Some were crammed into an old bottle box that had jaunty green print on the side: "Ribena! 5d!" Most were scattered across the bricks exultantly. A few had royal emblems from George VI's time. Others were bright, bubblegum colours, tangerine and mushy-pea green. A chalky jotter that Dido picked up broke like chocolate. Inside, the rotted pages were filled with urgent handwriting. Running up one of the margins were the words, "Hope my diaries aren't blown up before people can read them – they have immortal value." There was no name or return address on the books. The diarist was simply "I" who had lived, and then died, and been pitched in a skip.– Diary of a somebody: could I solve the mystery of 148 lost notebooks? is an essay by Alexander Masters about the writing of his new book, A Life Discarded.
"These charts will come in handy when trying to explain the book nerd existence to your bibliophobic friends."
Subway Reading: Taking Fake Book Covers on the Subway [YouTube] [Video] How would you react if you saw someone reading 'Getting Away With Murder for Dummies on public transport?' Comic Scott Rogowsky (@ScottRogowsky) took some pretend, provocative book covers on an underground operation. [via: The Guardian]
“To Become Louder, Even Still”: Responses to Sexual Violence in Literary Spaces Apogee Journal has collected fourteen responses from writers to sexual violence perpetrated in the literary community. [more inside]
On the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth, writers and artists reflect on her greatest creation. [The Guardian] [more inside]
The Bible makes most challenged books list in US for first time. [The Guardian] Americans have objected to titles as diverse as the Bible and Fifty Shades of Grey over the last year, according to a list of the most challenged books which has just been released by the American Library Association. [more inside]
‘For over two millennia,’ Ian Johnson writes, ‘all our knowledge of China’s great philosophical schools was limited to texts revised after the Qin unification.’ Now a trove of recently discovered ancient documents, written on strips of bamboo, ‘is helping to reshape our understanding of China’s contentious past.’ [more inside]
RIP Barry Hines, author of A Kestrel for a Knave that was adapted into the British film classic Kes. He also wrote the screenplay for Threads. [more inside]
The Mass-Market Edition of To Kill a Mockingbird Is Dead by Alex Shephard [The New Republic] Harper Lee’s estate will no longer allow publication of the inexpensive paperback edition that was popular with schools. On Monday, February 29, a judge in Monroe County, Alabama sealed Harper Lee’s will from public view. The motion was filed by the Birmingham law firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, which was acting on behalf of Tonja Carter, Lee’s lawyer and the executor of her estate. [more inside]
With trepidation, Weßel ordered a scan, which showed a typed carbon copy, with corrections in Koestler’s handwriting. The date on the title page, March 1940, was the date on which Koestler is known to have finished the novel. There was no doubt. Weßel had stumbled across a copy of the German manuscript of Koestler’s masterpiece. The implications of Weßel’s discovery are considerable, for Darkness at Noon is that rare specimen, a book known to the world only in translation. [more inside]
New Snowcapped Mountains and Swirling Vortexes Excavated from Vintage Books by Guy Laramée. [more inside]
30 Books You Need To Read Before You Turn 30 (Huffpost Arts & Culture, Katherine Brooks) / 33 books everyone should read before turning 30 (Business Insider, Richard Feloni and Drake Baer) / 30 works of Canadian fiction to read before you're 30 (CBC) / 30 Books by Women to Read Before You Turn 30 (Bustle, Gina Vaynshteyn) / 30 Books Every Man Should Read By 30 (slideshow or thumbnails, Esquire, Sam Parker and Claudia Canavan)
Recovering the Classics is a crowdsourced collection of original covers for 100 great works in the public domain, designed to increase interest and access to classics in e-book format. [more inside]
Sometimes a good book comes out that doesn't receive the attention it merits. To give them a second chance, there's the Phoenix Award -- given to a children's book published twenty years previously. This year's winner is Frindle, by Andrew Clements, first published in 1996.
Cristian Ispir explores 14th-century bibliophile Richard de Bury's advice on how to take care of books — or rather, how not to.
Rebecca Solnit: 80 Books No Woman Should Read.
Web pages are ghosts: they’re like images projected onto a wall. They aren’t durable. Contrast this with hard-copies—things written on paper or printed in books. We can still read books and pamphlets printed five hundred years ago, even though the presses that made them have long since been destroyed. How can we give the average independent web writer that kind of permanence? Joel Dueck on building a website with Matthew Butterick's Pollen, allowing it to also be published as a printed book.
"The Complete Review, “a selectively comprehensive, objectively opinionated survey of books old and new,” sits on the margins of the literary world, where it has flourished for sixteen years. As of last Friday, according to an analog counter on the site’s decidedly unglamorous homepage, it had reviewed three thousand six hundred and eighty-seven books, from a hundred different countries, originally published in sixty-eight different languages—an average of two hundred and thirty books a year. Virtually all of this criticism, and everything else on the Complete Review, is the work of Michael A. Orthofer, a fifty-one-year-old lawyer who was born in Graz, Austria, and brought up in New York City. " [more inside]
The Brackets for The Morning News 2016 Tournament of Books by The Tournament of Books Staff [The Morning News]
You already know the titles and judges that will participate in this year’s tournament. You likely perused the “long list” for a glance at 86 of our favorite works of fiction from last year. You might have even checked out our 11 previous tournaments, just to whet your appetite—or maybe you have no idea what we’re talking about, in which case you should go read this primer. [Download the 2016 brackets as a .PDF][more inside]
Scientists find evidence of mathematical structures in classic books. [The Guardian] James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake has been described as many things, from a masterpiece to unreadable nonsense. But it is also, according to scientists at the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Poland, almost indistinguishable in its structure from a purely mathematical multifractal.
“The absolute record in terms of multifractality turned out to be Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. The results of our analysis of this text are virtually indistinguishable from ideal, purely mathematical multifractals,” said Professor Stanisław Drożdż, another author of the paper, which has just been published in the computer science journal Information Sciences.
"I told her I was sick of reading about white boys and dogs" In the past year, Philadelphia native Marley Dias has successfully written a proposal for (and received) a Disney Friends for Change grant, served food to orphans in Ghana and recently launched a book club. Dias is 11 years old. Dias' latest social action project is the "#1000BlackGirlBooks" book drive. Frustrated with many of the books she's assigned in school, she confessed to her mother during dinner one night that she was unhappy with how monochromatic so many stories felt.
Leaders in different fields share the 10 books they’d take with them if they were marooned on a desert island. For his bookshop installation, One Grand, the editor Aaron Hicklin asked people to name the 10 books they’d take with them if they were marooned on a desert island. [more inside]
25 Steps To Being A Traditionally Published Author: Lazy Bastard Edition. Your brief guide through the process, from drafting (5. All First Drafts Are Word Vomit Made Of Horse Shit) to querying (14. I Have Queried Every Agent In The Entire Universe, And No) to post-publication (25. My Book Sales Did Not Exceed My Wildest Dreams And I’m Disappointed Because My Publisher Didn’t Get Me Enough Publicity And Barnes And Noble Doesn’t Carry It And I Wasn’t On Oprah And 50 Shades Sucked Butt And Wah). [more inside]
How Could The Winds of Winter Be Published In Only Three Months? With dedicated labor, long hours, and a highly-focused publishing machine, that's how.
Stephen Leather accused of cyberbullying by fellow thriller writers. by Alison Flood [The Guardian]
Over the past week, the authors Steve Mosby and Jeremy Duns have each alleged that Leather is behind websites set up to attack them. On 4 January, Mosby blogged about the launch of the site fuckstevemosby.com, which featured an exhaustive collection of the times he swore online. Mosby claims that the site was set up by Leather. Duns, the author of the Paul Dark spy novels, then blogged a lengthy analysis of the reasons why he believes Leather is behind a series of sites abusing him – including the claim that the recently established site fuckjeremyduns.com briefly redirected to Leather’s own site about his character Spider Shepherd.[more inside]
‘‘Alice used a writing style that today you can’t really use in the social sciences.’’ He sighed and began to trail off. ‘‘In the past,’’ he said with some astonishment, ‘‘they really did write that way.’’ The book smacked, some sociologists argued, of a kind of swaggering adventurism that the discipline had long gotten over. Goffman became a proxy for old and unsettled arguments about ethnography that extended far beyond her own particular case. What is the continuing role of the qualitative in an era devoted to data? When the politics of representation have become so fraught, who gets to write about whom? [more inside]
"From a comic standpoint, anyone who’s every been to a cocktail party with university colleagues knows that even at the best of times it’s an ongoing comedy of manners, a ballet of awkwardness. There exist in university settings the following: Competition, ego, eccentric personalities. Sartorial affectation (berets, tweed blazers, brightly colored silk scarves, Trotsky-style beards, all manner of glasses). Bureaucracy and Machiavellian maneuvering. Snubs and indignities and inappropriate flirtations.[more inside]
"All, as they say, ripe for satire."
Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories by Colleen Gillard [The Atlantic] Their history informs fantastical myths and legends, while American tales tend to focus on moral realism.
If Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn were each to represent British versus American children’s literature, a curious dynamic would emerge: In a literary duel for the hearts and minds of children, one is a wizard-in-training at a boarding school in the Scottish Highlands, while the other is a barefoot boy drifting down the Mississippi, beset by con artists, slave hunters, and thieves. One defeats evil with a wand, the other takes to a raft to right a social wrong. Both orphans took over the world of English-language children’s literature, but their stories unfold in noticeably different ways.
Why do male authors and subjects dominate history books? Digging into bestselling history books in the United States. (SLS) [more inside]
Given that it's no longer widely taught in even the most prestigious high schools in the US and UK, and given the current economic climate, Why should Millennials Study the Classics?