Saturday, October 29, 2005

The latest book news from PW

The October 17, 2005 issue of Publishers' Weekly has a picture of John Lennon on the cover. The lead stories are about manga, Japanese style comics and several other currently popular topics and authors. John Lennon died 25 years ago which has generated interest in the Beatles. The PW cover article reviews eight new books about the Beatles. In another article, PW notes that the movie Capote has created interest in Truman Capote's works, especially In Cold Blood. Take a look at thePW website for book reviews, free email newsletters you can sign up for to keep informed about the latest news in publishing and more.


Memoirs have been around in one form or another from pre-literate days to the present-day online blogs and personal tell-all websites. The book that stands out in my mind as the beginning of the latest surge in popularity of this genre would be Angela's Ashes: a Memoir by Frank McCourt (1996.) Despite, or because of, his grim and brutal childhood, McCourt's memoir was widely read and it was beautifully written.
Other popular and literate memoirs written in the last decade that come to mind are: Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters' First Hundred Years by Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delaney; The Liar's Club by Mary Karr and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggars. But then the inspired or merely perspired, the depressed, addicted, talented or talentless all took pen to paper to confess to an avid reading public.
Whether the memoirist is telling his stories over a campfire in a cave or huddled over the warm glow of a computer screen, telling our own stories and learning other people's stories is an age-old tradition. In recent years, so many journal writing groups have formed that the unwritten memory barely existed. For a while it seemed as though publishers were literally grabbing random people off the street and sticking a microphone in their faces to dictate their story to a ghostwriter. And of course, every celebrity seems to have penned his/her story, no matter how thin a book that might make.
Rick Bragg (All Over But the Shouting) tells about writing memoirs in this issue of The Writer magazine
Frank McCourt writes about memoirs in this issue of Writers' Digest magazine. And in another issue of the same magazine, there is more advice on the subject.
Good, bad or indifferent, memoirs remail a popular genre.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Funny Websites Vaguely Related to Books

Libraries have evolved in recent years into showcases of cutting-edge technology, and in the process have changed so much that patrons of yesteryear would barely recognize the 21st century library. Librarians' top priority should be educating patrons about all these innovations and in that spirit I strongly recommend this educational website
Peeps Visit the Library
In fact, the modern library must be updated to accomodate all the new hardware. Here are some cost-effective ideas for library renovation -
Unusual Library Solutions
And finally, the modern, wired library needs to retain a human touch, or feline, as the case may be:
Library Cats Map
If it's weird, it's on the web. If it's really weird, it's at the library

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Books into Movies

This month there are three movies out that are based on books: Where the Truth Lies, North Country and In Her Shoes. To read more about these books and others that have been made into feature films, go to Books into Movies which is a regular feature of the website BookReporter.

The Virgin Blue

The Virgin Blue was the first published novel by Tracy Chevalier, author of the popular and well-reviewed Girl With a Pearl Earring. The reviews were not as favorable and my bookgroup as a whole did not like it as much as her second book, but it did spark a very lively discussion. The story of 20th century American, Ella, who is living in France, is linked with the life of her distant relative, 16th century Huguenot Isabelle. Ella's dreams and other mystical feelings and signs lead her to uncover the secret of her ancestors. The coincidences and devices that drive the plot are somewhat arbitrary and unconvincing but the writing is solid and novel will appeal to historical fiction fans.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Publisher Websites:Algonquin

If you are always looking for the next good book to read, try publisher websites. They have downloadable studyguides for book groups, email newsletters you can sign up for, lists of author events, interviews with authors, books excerpts and more. Algonquin Press of Chapel Hill is a small press that specializes in current Southern fiction writers, slightly offbeat or quirky authors. For example, they have published the Lost Girls and other books of Lee Smith, Candy Freak by Steve Almond, The Woman I kept to Myself by Julia Alvarez, Tab Hunter Confidential, A Dixie Christmas, Enslaved by Ducks by Bob Tarte and other memoirs and literary fiction.

Top 100 Books

Americans love lists and one new one about books is on Time magazine's website. It lists the top 100 books in English published since 1923. This is one of the most popular pages of Time's website. There is also a place for reader comments, reviews of each book and a look back at Time cover stories on various writers over the years.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Rhiannon Nolan mystery series

Like most readers, I'm always looking for an author who reminds me of my favorite authors whose works I have read and reread. So when I saw the promotional comments of the back cover of Kathy Buchen's detective series comparing her to M. C. Beaton, I checked it out. Besides, Buchen is a librarian, so I felt I had to support a fellow librarian who made the leap to the authorial side of the book business. Buchen's detective is fiftiesh lawyer Rhiannon Nolan, self-deprecating and wise-cracking, who moves to a small town in Wisconsin filled with eccentrics and the odd murder or two. The first in the series of three, so far, is Death in Chintz (2004.) The town Lothario is murdered and all his many ex-girlfriends and their husbands are suspects. We meet Rhiannon's best pal, her family, the ineffectual police chief, her always-present handyman and her adoring (from afar) mechanic who repairs her car after her many fender-benders. If you are looking for a fast, entertaining book of the "cozy" mystery variety, give this series a try.

28 Year Old Retires to Florida

I just finished Early Bird; a memoir of early retirement by Rodney Rothman which passed the time pleasantly. The book received mostly favorable reviews, but it isn't hilariously funny, so don't expect that. Rothman, former writer for David Letterman, was laid off from his job as a television writer and decided to try out retirement well ahead of schedule. He moves to a retirement community in Florida and gives a balanced and non-judgemental view of his senior citizen roomate and others he meets during his six month "retirement." You can read the reviews on Amazon to get a more detailed view of the book. My feeling was that it filled in the time between books that I really "meant" to read or "should" read for book groups and it was perfect for reading on a rainy day, which we've had a lot of lately.