Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Catcher in the Rye is gone: JD Salinger Dead at 91

News recap by Danielle, Guest Commentary by LG

BBC News reported today that beloved American novelist JD Salinger, 91, has died of natural causes:
The reclusive writer died of natural causes at his home in the state of New Hampshire, his son said.

The Catcher In The Rye, first published in 1951, is a tale of teenage angst. It has become one of the most influential American novels of the modern era.

Soon after its publication, Salinger shunned the fame it brought and became a recluse for the rest of his life.

Read the rest of the announcement HERE

BBC has also posted Salinger’s intriguing obituary.

I first read The Catcher in the Rye when I moved to New York. A boy I was dating touted it as his favorite book of all time. I stopped seeing him before I could return his worn, tattered copy, but it was a good acquisition for my shelf.

I haven’t touched the book since the summer of 2006, and even though I found Holden Caulfield to be an interesting character, I probably would have related much easier to him if I had a) been a boy or b) been much younger. Regardless, I enjoyed the novel, and it’s one I’ll probably read again someday.

More mythical than the novel, though, is the author himself. Salinger was a reclusive nut, to put it bluntly. He wrote one great novel and then disappeared into oblivion. But, I must say, I’m glad he’s taken actions to protect his name and his novel, effectively blocking the publication of 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, a follow-up to the classic novel. He also refused to sell the film rights to Rye. Kudos to you, Salinger. I think a film adaptation of the book would be an atrocious rape of the text. It’s just one of those books I’d never want to see on the screen if only because it’s so iconic.

The last interview Salinger ever gave was in 1980—before I was even born. Nevertheless, the author lives on as a literary legend, a figure whose words have meant so much to untold numbers of adolescents around the country—and possibly the world.

Word has it that 15 manuscripts have been found in the deceased author’s home. I can only pray that heirs won’t violate his wishes and try to publish those books.

Though the author has passed, long live his text. Unpublished.

Have you read The Catcher in the Rye? Did it have an effect on you?

Apple's iPad Creates Quite the Stir

Yesterday, Apple officially released the iPad: the newest e-book reader to join the market. But it's not only an e-book reader; it's a "tablet" that Apple claims is "the best way to experience the web, emails, photos, and video. Hands down."

At 1.5 pounds and half an inch thickness, the 9.7-inch LED-backlit display has a Multi-touch screen and can do just about anything. And as such, rumors are circulating that the iPad will effectively kill the Kindle. Blogger Scopique over at Cedarstreet discusses:

Now that the iPad is out of the iBag, some people are talking about how the iPad’s iBook e-book reader will deep-six the Kindle.

I’m not so sure about that.

First, the price. A friend of mine just paid $259 for a Kindle. Compare that with $499 for the iPad’s basic model. This is kind of a throw-away point, because anyone who wants to boost the iPad will tell you that it’s more then just an e-book reader, so the price is justified. I suppose on some level, yes, this is true, but for people like my father, who just want to read a book, $499 is a bit steep.


Still not sold? Consider the late Ted Kennedy. Sen. Kennedy’s book True Compass was used as an example during Apple’s presentation of iBook. On the display, the book was seen as listing for $14.99. I immediately jumped over to the Kindle store to check on Amazon’s e-book price for the same tome: $9.99. It’s good to see the Apple Tax is still in effect.

Read more HERE

Scopique has some excellent points, all of which are related to the big green (aka $$$), something our society deems most imperative. So will the lay person spend more on an iPad, when they can do basically the same things with a Kindle? Unless they're technologically obsessed, I doubt it, too.
The New York Times, however, discusses how the upricing could effect the publishing industry positively, despite its disgruntled customers (as well as other things):
With a few notable exceptions, the print world welcomed Apple’s new iPad on Wednesday, eager to tap into the 125 million customers who already have iTunes accounts and are predisposed to buying more content from Apple.

“We have learned that it is never wise to stand between a consumer and a preference” for how they get their content, said John Makinson, chief executive of Penguin Group, the book publisher.

The iPad may offer an even more attractive prospect: the chance to reset the downward spiral in e-book prices.


“We have learned that it is never wise to stand between a consumer and a preference” for how they get their content, said John Makinson, chief executive of Penguin Group, the book publisher.

The iPad may offer an even more attractive prospect: the chance to reset the downward spiral in e-book prices.

Read the rest of the article HERE

I'm still unsure how I feel about all this. I just recently gave in to buying a Sony E-Reader for work and am not a fan of these e-readers in general (though I must admit that I love it for submissions. It makes me life so much easier!). So, more to come from me on this.

What do you think of the iPad?

Just for kicks

Just thought this was a cool photo for a Thursday morning:

Thanks for leading me to it, Tara!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Sensitivity of Literary Editing

This week, the Recalcitrant Scrivener blogged about editing and revising a manuscript from both an editor's and an author's point of view:

Editing is a sensitive issue—for writers, for editors, for everyone involved. Virtually all writers can benefit from working with a good editor. But note: the key terms here are “with” and “good.” Which is to say, the writer and editor have to be well matched—they have to understand each other and be able to communicate. What most writers resent is an editor who has a very different view of the trajectory of their work and then attacks the manuscript in a vigorous manner based on that view.

Most notably, editors are essential for serving as a sounding board for ideas, catching unintentional repetitions, and identifying passages and plot developments that don’t work. Word by word revisions are less important, and in some cases counterproductive. Finishing the manuscript of a novel is after all very different from writing and editing a magazine or newspaper article.

Read the rest of the blog post HERE

The Recalcitrant Scrivener goes on to discuss two examples of unacceptable literary editing, one by an editor (Raymond Carver's editor) and one by an author (Jack Kerouac).

I'd never heard these two particular examples myself but the idea of literary editing has always been intriguing to me (duh, my job), but editing literary fiction is very different from what I've been doing thus far in my career. I took two classes in college on the very topic and it's amazing how varied opinions can be on what is and isn't go editorial-wise and how authorial intent can be so subjective, especially if the author isn't there to set editors or readers straight.

Personally, I think the key to being a good editor is understanding the authorial intent by communicating with the author first-hand and then doing everything he/she can to help the author achieve that intent in a way that everyone is happy with. While that's a very simple concept, it can be difficult in execution. But for me, it's always, always the goal. It's the author's book. Not mine. I just do the best I can to guide.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2000-2010: The Decade of YA Omnivoracious blogger Heidi Broadhead has nicknamed the past ten years "The YA decade." And I've gotta say, I'd agree.

Broadhead writes:

No other genre (except maybe graphic novels) has grown and changed as much during the last decade as young adult fiction. Inspired by Harry Potter (and probably a little bit by Lemony Snicket and Artemis Fowl), a whole generation of voracious readers emerged, and a whole new group of writers came up with stories to keep them reading well into their teens.

Over the past few years, we've seen a lot of YA controversies: Is the drinking in this book appropriate for young adult readers? What's the deal with these adult readers of YA? Should Rebecca wear the red dress or the blue dress to the prom? Should she go with the dark faerie or the newly-made-vampire geek boy?

Read the rest of her post HERE

YA has just gotten more and more controversial over the years, with darker themes and edgier characters fighting their way to the surface. Broadhead goes on to spotlight eight authors who have helped to shape the genre in the past decade.

Laurie Halse Anderson and Scott Westerfeld are my personal favorites from this particular list. Broadhead describes Anderson as "writing about the things you're not supposed to talk about; enduring a book ban now and again with grace; general awesomeness," and Westerfeld as "supernatural teen romance crossover; author as celebrity; book-writing mommy; person who dreams about something and writes it down and it becomes a best-selling series."

Both of these descriptions are pretty spot on (minus the "book-writing mommy" which I don't quite get to be honest), and they'd absolutely be on my list of the most influential authors of the past decade. Some of her others would be on my list as well (Stephanie Meyer, anyone?). I'd also toss on my list Elizabeth Scott for Living Dead Girl and Stephen Chbosky for Perks of Being a Wallflower (technically 1999 but close enough) to name a couple.

But one of Broadhead's choices is surprising to me: Meg Cabot, most famous for her book turned movie The Princess Diaries. Broadhead describes Cabot as "cheeky girl humor; writing one of the first super-series; constantly encouraging aspiring writers." While that description is mostly accurate, I don't see Cabot as doing anything particularly exciting or inventive. She's basically chick-lit for teens and I don't think I'd call her books a "super-series," let alone the first one.

But oh well. Different strokes for different folks.

Also, check out this interesting article by Mark Haverstock on what makes YA so controversial and why it's changed so drastically, originally a magazine article published in the June 2004 issue of Children's Writer/Newsletter of Writing and Publishing Trends.

Who would be on YOUR list of the most influential YA authors in the past decade?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Guest Blogger, LG: Trend Alert--A New Way Cover It Up

Have you ever found yourself caught in the middle of an argument where one person adamantly claims that publishing is a dying industry, waving a Kindle or e-Reader in the air, while the other screams in horror and clutches his or her physical book tightly?

Oh, you haven’t? Lucky you.

But those of us who love our books--and can’t live without our technology--don’t have to be caught in the middle anymore!

BookBook has created the ultimate technology- and book-lover’s computer cover. It’s a practical and quirkily-stylish way to protect your beloved MacBook in the style of a rare leather-bound hard back book. It would also look pretty good on your shelves next to your other books—especially if you’re at risk for being burglarized. (I kid, I kid.) They’re pricey at $79.99, but they’re also hand-made and the website claims, “No two are alike.” Pretty dang cool.

Now if only they’d make these for e-Readers!

The BookBook is made for 13- and 15-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro. Keep your eyes on this small start-up company. They’re sure to be coming up with some great ideas in the near future.

Check out the BookBook HERE

About the blogger: LG is a 20-something writer and blogger from Alaska currently living in New York City. She works in publishing and television production to pay the bills, but continues to write, read, and study pop culture and technology trends to her heart's content in her free time. Visit her blog, "Big Girl, Bigger City" to read about her daily misadventures.

Thanks for joining us at Reading Between the Lines, LG!

If you or anyone you know would like to guest blog for RBtL, please inquire via e-mail.

Bloomsbury Apologizes for Whitewashing...Again

Publisher's Marketplace linked to the Bloomsbury website today where the publisher apologizes for their most recent whitewashing scandal on Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore. The website says:
Bloomsbury is ceasing to supply copies of the US edition of Magic Under Glass. The jacket design has caused offense and we apologize for our mistake. Copies of the book with a new jacket design will be available shortly.

But why did Bloomsbury even bother whitewashing again when it cause so much offense with their publication of Liar (discussed HERE)? Are they just in it for the publicity and whitewashing intentionally? Or were editors and designers just plain careless?

With the stir that's been caused by this escalating process, it's anyone's guess. Let's just home they mean it this time and don't whitewash again. Three strikes and you're out, Bloomsbury.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rosie the Elephant on the Big Screen

It looks like Rosie the elephant is going to get her close-up. Water for Elephants, the novel by Sara Gruen, has been picked up for the silver screen.

And according to, the cast will likely be star-studded:

Robert Pattinson and Sean Penn are circling Fox 2000's Depression-era drama "Water for Elephants."

Reese Witherspoon has already boarded to the film, which will be directed by Francis Lawrence. Scribe Richard LaGravenese is adapting for the bigscreen.

Based on Sara Gruen's best-selling historical tome of the same name, story centers on a Cornell U. veterinary student who leaves his studies after his parents are killed and joins up with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, working as a vet for the circus. Witherspoon will play Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August (Penn), the charismatic but twisted animal trainer.

Studio, which is eyeing a June start date, wouldn't confirm details of the project. Gil Netter, Erwin Stoff and Andrew Tennenbaum are producing.

"Twilight" star Pattinson has been on every studio's wish list. His deal is expected to close. Penn, who is in Haiti on a humanitarian mission, is the bigger question mark. He has an offer from the studio but is still mulling the role.

See the article HERE

I think this novel will translate quite well to film. While the writing was my favorite part of the book, the story is incredibly entertaining, powerful, and moving. I could see Penn, Pattinson, and Witherspoon (the only one currently signed) taking on the roles of August, Jacob, and Marlena in a very general sense. But I'm only convinced that Sean Penn is absolutely PERFECT for the role.

I'm not a huge Pattinson fan in general and would prefer someone else personify the character, though I'm interested to see his real acting chops in some of his upcoming films. Jacob is a young, redhead in the historical part of the play and a 90-year-old (or so) man in the present day. It'd be ideal to find an actor who could be aged to play both roles and I just can't see Pattinson being able to pull that one off. I'm imagining Tobey Maguire a la "Seabiscuit"--though he might be a little to harsh. Jacob needs some naivete, though Maguire can do that too I suppose--when he plays Peter Parker, for example. Another good choice would be Ryan Gosling.

Also, while I think Witherspoon is a great actress (check her out in "Walk the Line" if you don't believe me!) and I can see her playing the role of the female in a love triangle and even see her standing atop a galloping horse, Marlena's character is exotic (I have whitewashing on the brain after yesterday's topic). I see her more as Marion Cotillard.

Who do YOU think should play Jacob and Marlena?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Whitewashing the Covers of YA Novels

Yet another YA novel that depicts a colored protagonist as Caucasion on its cover has hit shelves--and it's the second in less than a year for the publisher, Bloomsbury USA.'s Kate Harding reports:

Last summer, the publishing house Bloomsbury USA drew substantial criticism for featuring a white girl with long, straight hair on the cover of Australian author Justine Larbalestier's "Liar," a young adult novel about a girl whom the author describes as "black with nappy hair which she wears natural and short." At the time, Larbalestier blogged not only about her own disappointment but about similar examples of cover whitewashing, and the pervasive belief among publishing professionals that "black books don't sell" -an assumption apparently based on the premise that a "black cover" is the primary characteristic distinguishing such books from better selling titles. "Yet I have found few examples of books with a person of colour on the cover that have had the full weight of a publishing house behind them," said Larbalestier (adding in a footnote, "And most of those were written by white people").


The same publisher has done it again, releasing Jaclyn Dolamore's "Magic Under Glass" -- the protagonist of which is clearly described as having brown skin -- with a young white woman on the cover. Bloomsbury's fear of losing the white market was evidently greater than their embarrassment over the "Liar" debacle -- unless, of course, what they chiefly learned from the "Liar" debacle is that you don't need to put as much money into publicizing a novel if its packaging is sufficiently controversial (in which case, you're welcome, jerks).

Read the entire article HERE

In both of these instances, the authors have been outraged--and rightly so. Larbalestier's open disappointment with the cover portrayal encouraged readers to stand up against the blatant racism with her. The action even forced Bloomsbury to redesign the cover to "to better reflect the protagonist's appearance," Harding reports. But it was definitely forced.

There are multiple schools of thought by publishers regarding race on book covers, but the biggest reason being cited for whitewashing is sales. And it's not only in YA, but in adult fiction as well (Mitali Perkins discusses more examples in her interesting article for School Library Journal HERE). Publishers claim that covers with people of color just don't sell, and that most of the book-buying market is white.

But why do you think that is oh great publisher in the sky? Because you do nothing to change it.

Readers often want to read something they can relate to, but if there are so few covers of color, how do you expect the people of color to relate to all the white covers out there? Many publishers do have African American publishing lines, but even so, they usually don't get the same backing in-house or the same promotion and support as the non-AfAm titles. So they're dead in the water. Why not do a little desegregating and give all the books a fair shake, based on little things such as, oh a book's merit and quality?

It's enraging to me. There's too much stereotyping and racism still alive in the world today anyway, there's no reason to add more to it by blatantly disregarding the color of a character's skin. Not only is it dishonest to the book, its author, and its consumers, but these choices are perpetuating the "poor sales." As Harding points out:

[...]maybe sales numbers aren't the only important factor to consider here. Yeah, I know, faceless corporations, profits, shareholders, blah blah blah. But the decision-makers here are still human beings -- and more important, so are the consumers. In addition to the high probability that publishers have created a self-fulfilling prophecy where covers featuring models of color are concerned, they are hurting people with their current practices.
It's shocking to me that the big-wigs haven't picked up on this yet, or that they're disregarding it if they have. I guess there hasn't been enough of a fall-out yet. They won't take action it seems until it is significantly affection them negatively. So, it falls to us consumers and authors to express their disapproval and push for change. Harding--and I--urge you to do something:

But as Anna North at Jezebel suggests, there's no reason not to send a bunch of angry letters. Adds Ari at Reading in Color, "We should keep blogging, emailing, writing about this issue" -- Bloomsbury's been shamed into doing the right thing once before, at least. And as Larbalestier said back in July, perhaps the most important thing we can do -- especially white people, who could easily read nothing but books about ourselves, and far too often take that option -- is prove the prevailing wisdom wrong. "When was the last time you bought a book with a person of colour on the front cover or asked your library to order one for you?" she asks. If you want to see more of them, here's her best advice: "Go buy one right now. "
What do YOU think about whitewashing?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The E-Reader Plunge

So I did it. I took the plunge. I ordered myself a Sony E-reader. And it's red.

I bet you never thought you'd read those words from my keyboard!

It was a tough call, but I had to do it. I'm getting so many submissions for work, plus my bosses' submissions and second reads for other editors, that it's just too much to keep carting all over creation. So, this way, I can have them all at my fingertips.

I'll be using it strictly for work purposes--and maybe for creative writing purposes when a friend asks me for feedback on something--but that's it. This is not an E-book reader for me, it's just an E-Reader. I am not about to cave on that one.

So, we'll see how it goes. I'm picking it up tonight at Best Buy and then I can get it loaded with all the reading I have to do for work. And I can tuck away the receipt for my 2010 taxes, as lucky for me, I'm in the publishing industry and can write it off! I'm not sure I would have succumbed otherwise, to be honest.

More to come! :-p

Erich Segal, 72, Dies of Heart Attack

"Love means never having to say you're sorry" is probably the most famous line Erich Segal ever wrote. I won't go on to give my opinion on the truth or lack thereof of that statement, but either way, it skyrocketed Segal's popularity. And that's how most people will remember the beloved Love Story author and screenwriter who died Sunday, January 17, 2010.

Erich Segal, best known as the author of Love Story, died on Sunday of a heart attack, his friend Ned Temko said today. He was 72.

Segal wrote the bestselling book about love and bereavement, which became a chart-topping film, in 1969 when he was 32 and a classics professor at Harvard. As its most famous line, "love means never having to say you're sorry", entered popular culture, Segal became a celebrity and regular on TV shows, as well as a commentator on the Olympic games for the ABC network.

However, he continued to write right up to his death, producing more than half a dozen novels, essays, literary criticism and, with his dear friend and comrade-in-comedy, Jack Rosenthal, a new English translation of the opening Friday-night Hebrew prayer for the West London Reform Synagogue. His last major work, in 2001, was a scholarly look at the history of comedy, and of dirty jokes, from the ancient Greeks through to Stanley Kubrick's Dr Strangelove.

Read the rest of the article HERE

I haven't read Love Story myself. In fact, I hadn't even known it was a book before it was a film (which I also haven't seen but is in my Netflix queue). But Segal has written many screenplays--including the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine"--that I have seen. He was a brilliant scholar and talented writer, with profound vision and an extraordinary life story (check out his impressive obituary HERE).

My thoughts are with Segal's family and friends at this difficult time. RIP Erich Segal.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The New Yorker Hearts Neil Gaiman

I rarely read the New Yorker. It's just not my style. But this morning I couldn't overlook this intriguing article about Neil Gaiman--"Kid Goth: Neil Gaiman’s fantasies"--by Dana Goodyear:
Gothic horror was thoroughly out of fashion in children’s literature when, in the early nineteen-nineties, the writer Neil Gaiman began to work on “Coraline,” a book aimed at “middle readers”—aged nine to twelve—in which he reimagined Clifford’s demon as “the other mother,” an evil and cunning anti-creator who threatens to destroy his young protagonist. “The idea was, look, if the Victorians can do something that deeply unsettles kids, I should be able to do that, too,” he told me recently.

Gaiman, who is forty-nine and English, with a pale face and a wild, corkscrewed mop of black-and-gray hair, is unusually prolific. In addition to horror, he writes fantasy, fairy tales, science fiction, and apocalyptic romps, in the form of novels, comics, picture books, short stories, poems, and screenplays. Now and then, he writes a song. Gaiman’s books are genre pieces that refuse to remain true to their genres, and his audience is broader than any purist’s: he defines his readership as “bipeds.” His mode is syncretic, with sources ranging from English folktales to glam rock and the Midrash, and enchantment is his major theme: life as we know it, only prone to visitations by Norse gods, trolls, Arthurian knights, and kindergarten-age zombies. “Neil’s writing is kind of fey in the best sense of the word,” the comic-book writer Alan Moore told me. “His best effects come out of people or characters or situations in the real world being starkly juxtaposed with this misty fantasy world.” The model for Gaiman’s eclecticism is G. K. Chesterton; his work, Gaiman says, “left me with an idea of London as this wonderful, mythical, magical place, which became the way I saw the world.” Chesterton’s career also serves as a warning. “He would have been a better writer if he’d written less,” Gaiman says. “There’s always that fear of writing too much if you’re a reasonably facile writer, and I’m a reasonably facile writer.”

Read the entire article HERE

I've only read one of Gaiman's books--The Graveyard Book (which was reviewed HERE)--but I liked his style and am planning to read one of his adult novels one of these days. If anyone has any recommendations as to which to check out first, I'd be much obliged! :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Classic Self-Publishing Endeavor

Self-publishing has been around for years and years. Anyone can take his or her writing and turn it into a bound book or e-book. Some self-published authors are even beginning to get so much buzz that they landed themselves book deals with legitimate publishers (Can you say Boyd Morrison's The Ark?). I know people who have self-published, and if I am ever able to finish writing anything, might even consider it myself.

There's one self-publishing endeavor though that I hadn't ever considered--fair use/public domain material. The bloggers over at Personondata brought this to my attention (via Publishers Marketplace):

Niche publishers like The Folio Society have been re-purposing publishing content into finely re-worked books for many years. These titles have expressly designed covers, often come slip cased and contain commissioned illustrations that were never in the original versions. They are beautiful objects but they are also one person's representation of design and manufacturing and other than the high quality there is only minimal uniformity across the titles. On a different level other titles from series such as Everyman's Library are similar in format but not of the unique quality as The Folio titles.With not too much work you could create your own collection of titles.


For someone like me who values the book as an object, creating my own title list of classic books with covers and interiors designed by me could become a viable avocation and source of deeper engagement in reading.

Read more HERE

It surprises me that this idea never crossed my mind, as I love classic literature and find physical books fascinating. I'm constantly rooting around used and rare books bookstores and trying to analyze the design decisions that were made. (I took a class in college that tackled the subject and since then have been obsessed.)

If I had the money, this self-publishing classics idea is one I would absolutely consider doing. The only question is, what classics would I pick?

I think I'd start with these five:

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

What would you choose?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sum It Up in Six-Words

Today I learned about the six-word memoir.

It's said that Ernest Hemingway made the concept famous when he won a contest at a bar in which participants had to write a story in six words. Hemingway wrote, "For sale: Baby shoes, never worn."

I was instantly intrigued. And apparently, I'm not the only one because Smith Magazine took it even further. Smith Mag. asked contestants--mostly well-known writers, comedians, and the like, but some lay people as well--to write a story in six words, their own story--a memoir--and then they chose the best of the collection and compiled them into a book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, published by HarperPerrenial.

Why? Well, the CBS Early show ran a special on the book back in February 2008, when the book pubbed (I know, I'm very behind on this one), asking just that question:

"I really believe everyone has a story," says Larry Smith [Smith Mag. co-founder], "and a lot of people are afraid to start telling their story, (saying things such as), 'Oh, I don't write for The New Yorker' or 'I'm not going to have a best-selling memoir.' But, with six words, anyone can start, and when we asked people to tell their story in six words, they came bursting through our doors.

"More than 15,000 entries poured in from around the country, some filled with heart, others with happiness. Publisher Harper Perennial calls them ”fascinating, hilarious, shocking, and moving."


Says Larry Smith, "There's really a lot going on in this little book. It's a fun little book, but it's intense, you know -- like all the emotions we feel year-to-year, day-to-day -- the whole human drama's in here -- in six words."

Read the rest of the article (and watch a clip) HERE

Among some of the book's contributers are Stephen Colbert ("Well, I thought it was funny."), Mario Batali ("Brought it to a boil, often."), and Joan Rivers ("Liars: hysterectomy didn't improve sex life.").

But that's not all...Smith Mag. turned the phenomenon into a series with Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak (1/09), I Can't Keep My Own Secrets (9/09), and the newest addition to the six-word memoir family, It All Changed in an Instant (1/2010):
[It All Changed in an Instant] contains hundreds of micro-mini memoirs from people unknown and known. Smith got several people you've heard of -- including Junot Diaz, Malcolm Gladwell, Sarah Silverman, Art Spiegelman, Molly Ringwald, Margaret Cho, and Tony Hawk -- to give it a go. (LA Times book blog)

Read more HERE

I think this idea is basically genius. It's amusing, it's tragic, it's powerful. And it's something anyone can do.

Let's give it a whirl, shall we?

Mine would be "Laughing, loving, learning, repeating till understood."

Share with us! What is YOUR six-word memoir?

Monday, January 11, 2010

A New Way to Study

Barnes & Noble College is trying something different. In addition to selling new and used textbooks to students at universities around the country (including my own alma mater, Boston U.), they're offering textbook rentals, for a fraction of the cost. fills us in:

After test-piloting a textbook rental program at three campus stores, Barnes & Noble College is rolling out the program more broadly to 25 U.S. colleges. Students will be able to rent textbooks from their campus bookstores, online, or from Barnes & Noble (BKS) stores on campus. Students who want to rent online will be able to do so through their campus bookstore websites, such as Ohio State’s or the University of South Carolina’s.


Campus bookstores still have a lock on a lot of textbook purchases because professors order their books through those stores. But the rise of these rental options has students asking themselves why should they pay $150 for a textbook when they can rent one for $25 instead? As more students do the math, Barnes & Noble had better hurry up and roll out textbook rentals across all college campuses.

Read the whole post HERE

This is the first I'd heard of a textbook rental program, but apparently, it's not all that new. In implementing this program, B&N is playing catch-up to internet start-ups Chegg and BookRenter. While I'm sure this is something students will clamor for--pinching pennies is HUGE when you're a struggling college student--I'm not sure I would have participated if this had been available when I was in school. I had a tough time even buying used books! Other people's margin notes, highlighting, etc. always threw me off. I needed the fresh and clean pages to mark up on my own. And I'd imagine that is a no-no for book rentals.

However, it's likely to happen anyway. The wear and tear on college textbooks is tremendous, and so I'm not sure how well the books will hold up. Just like DVDs that get scratched at Blockbuster, these books are going to get torn, written in, spilled on, and who knows what else.

But, on the plus side, the stressful rush on the university bookstore when the semester begins will certainly be minimized. Anyone who's ever had to fight for a copy of The Norton Anthology of British Literature knows what I mean.

I guess we'll have to wait and see how many students jump on board this growing trend. And how many books get destroyed in the process.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Quickie Book Review: "Penelopiad" by Margaret Atwood

I've never read anything by Margaret Atwood, but after reading my friend Marie's quickie review on her blog, Debriefed, I might have to add Atwood to my queue:

I was pleasantly surprised by this different Atwood style. This novella tells the tale of Penelope, wife of Odysseus, and her side of the Odyssey events.

What captured my attention and kept me flipping the pages as fast as my reading eyes would allow, were interludes by the twelve maid chorus. Twelve maids that were believed to have been disloyal (wrong!) and were hanged by no other than Odysseus himself. They tell us their version of the story from beyond the western horizon. The mental image of their feet twitching is scarring.

Just the right amount of humor, wit and eerie feeling, à la Atwood, of course.

I give it :
4/5 on the scale of Awesome
5/5 on the scale of Something-Different-Worth-A-Shot

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Beloved Children's Author Takes on New Role

When I saw the headline "Katherine Paterson, 77, Takes Over as Ambassador for Young People's Literature" my intial reaction was "Something's wrong here. 77 is not young."

It was a silly first impression but I didn't understand anything about this headline. Off the top of my head I didn't recognize that Katherine Paterson is the beloved children's author of The Bridge to Teribithia or that the Ambassador position was one that simply encourages young people to read and parents to read to their children.

Intrigued, I clicked through to the New York Times website and dove in. I was pleasantly surprised by what I learned and smiled to myself as Paterson expressed a viewpoint of children's literature that I myself wholeheartedly share:

Ms. Paterson, who is perhaps best known for the novel “Bridge to Terabithia,” said it was reading that informed her future writing self. As the daughter of missionary parents in China, she read her way through her parents’ library of children’s classics by A. A. Milne, Beatrix Potter, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Kenneth Grahame and Frances Hodgson Burnett. “That is where the friends were,” she said, evoking her lonely childhood.

Now, as ambassador — a joint appointment by the Library of Congress’s Center for the Book and Every Child a Reader, a nonprofit group affiliated with the Children’s Book Council, a trade association for children’s book publishers — Ms. Paterson hopes to share the unfettered pleasure that reading can deliver.

“I think of all the joy reading has given me,” she said. “It is not just because it is good for you, but because it is good.”


With her silver hair cut in a feathered bob, Ms. Paterson, who drives a gray Prius and lives and works in a cluttered 1830s-era farmhouse, is a mother of four and grandmother of seven.

But it wasn’t her experience as a mother that gave her the ability to tap into the emotional landscape of children. “People often say, ‘Now that your children are grown up, how can you still write for children?’ ” she said. “And I say, ‘I never wrote for them.’ I always write for the child in me, and she is still in there.”

Read more about Paterson as Ambassador HERE

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Book Biz in 2010--It's Anyone's Guess

It's 2010 now, my friends. Not much has changed, but we have a whole new mass of books to look forward to. We also have the ever-evolving publishing industry to keep alive.

2009 was a busy year for the book biz. It was a year of change. Some say it's a scary time, and others believe it's exciting and full of possibilities. I haven't yet decided what I think. But Bob Miller of the Huffington Post has written an interesting piece--10 More Book Publishing Predictions--outlining the changes that took place in 2009 and his personal expectations for the year to come:
Decades from now, when we look back at the book business in 2009, it seems likely that we'll see it as a threshold year, one in which all of the signs were there for what followed. It was a year in which sales held steady (Nielsen Bookscan, which covers 75% of the market, reported that overall unit sales through December 20 were 724 million copies, only a 3% drop from last year--and adult hardcover fiction was up an amazing 3%), and a few authors were so successful (Stephanie Meyer, Jeff Kinney) that the fates of entire publishing houses were altered by them; however, it was also a year that saw publishing's profit margins squeezed in perplexing new ways.


It was a year in which review coverage of new fiction disappeared almost entirely, and yet one first novel (Kathryn Stockett's The Help) sold more than a million hardcover copies thanks to word of mouth alone. It was a year in which publishers continued to spend exorbitant amounts of money on print advertising, in spite of data showing how ineffective such advertising tends to be, but also a year in which some publishers discovered the power of online media to reach niche markets at significantly lower costs.

What does this mean for the future? That for every trend there will be a counter trend. And since this is the time of year for Top Ten lists, here's mine:

1. Trend: The large publishing houses will continue to reduce overhead as profits shrink in the years ahead. Counter trend: Publishers will be looking for mergers and acquisitions to compensate for those shrinking profits. The Big Six could be the Big Three within five years.

2. Trend: These companies will continue to focus more resources on fewer titles, using their strengths as large-scale marketers and distributors to publish brand-names. Title count at the largest houses could drop by as much as fifty percent over the next five years. Counter trend: At the same time, self-publishing (including partnerships like the one announced recently between Author Solutions and Harlequin) will grow exponentially.

Read the rest HERE