So many books in the world

Google counted, and there are 129,864,880 books in the world. Click through to see how they counted or, if you read one a week, you can get started on the next 2.5 million years of reading.


How to write like Vonnegut

"Don't use semicolons. They stand for absolutely nothing. They are transvestite hermaphrodites. They are just a way of showing off. To show that you have been to college."

Go here for the rest of the speech. Amazing.



Mr. Rogers Crayola factory edition

Interested in seeing inside the Moleskine factory? It's no Crayola factory with Mr. Rogers, but it ain't bad either.

Also: the making of rugs! (Yes, ok, slightly unrelated)


Libraries and spoofs, all the rage

In my round up last week at PMN I pointed out this video of the Old Spice guy shilling for libraries. Now I bring to you Stephen Jones, on the value of studying in the library:

I'm on a cart!


Actually useful information

You may think that good writing, or hard work, or good representation sells books. You would be super wrong. You know what sells books? Metadata. And, womp womp:
"There used to be consistency throughout the retail channel," Savikas said. "Amazon and B&N and other retailers all needed the same stuff." But that was before the appearance of channels like the Apple app store: "They need completely different data," Savikas said, pointing out the impact of agency model e-book pricing. "Now there may be four or five different prices for a single book."
You might write an amazing piece of work, but no one's going to find it if Amazon can't link it up right at the bottom, and if the pricing gets effed up. And most publishers don't have the resources to make sure its right everywhere. Damn internet, ruining everything.

People who read this post also read...other posts...here...

Round up day, friends and foes

Head on over to PMN, for all the me time you could ever want.


Things that I should not have to read before breakfast

Remember back when Phillip Pullman was making waves because schools wanted to do background checks on authors before they visited the kiddies? Once again humanity has failed us and children's author K.P. Bath has been convicted of possessing child pornography.

So, yea, maybe background checks are a good idea. Maybe also a hard drive search for everyone? And congratulations to the news, for icking me out before breakfast.


Bad romance

I swear, I'm getting back into the swing of things soon, but in the meantime: some people I think misunderstand what "romance" means. For me, and this is just an opinion, I don't include Josef Fritzl in the "romantic" category. But some might disagree!


My free time was eaten by goblins

But I still put together a round up at PMN. Go, read, conquer. Or something? Damn goblins.


Hall of heroes personified

As we all know, American culture is built on a millenial world view, which sees the end of days coming at any time. And I'm not saying the zombie apocalypse is nigh, but I am saying: what could be more American than a good apocalypse?

Max Brooks, chronicler of the apocalypse, did an interview with Shelf Life. He says:
I knew I had turned a corner when I did my first zombie-protection lecture, which was at Colorado College, I believe. Two hundred people showed up and I was so panicked, flop-sweating like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News. I did my lecture for 45 sweaty minutes and I opened the floor up to questions, thinking, okay, they’ve suffered through my lecture. I thought they’d ask me questions like, “Is Will Ferrell really that funny?” or “Is Tina Fey nice?” but the questions were all, “If I cut off my arm, can I stop an infection?” “What rifle do you recommend at what range?” “Should I wear body armor?” They were all actual zombie questions, and I thought maybe I was on to something.
Oh man, be my friend, Max Brooks.

The truth speaks to me through comics

If only there was some justification for constant blog reading...except replace "novel" with "procrastination" in my case.

Thanks to Michael for sending the link along (and for being nice about my blog-slacking!).


This dead air is brought to you by...

Work being out of control! Will post intermittently as things are hilarious.

Besos to you all.


Oh magical publishing eight-ball, show me your ways

Susan Orlean's story of bouncing from editor to editor and house to house is disheartening, yes, but is pretty normal. Hurray for an industry that pays little enough that the slight pay bumps you get from constantly moving are enough to make you repeatedly scuttle your entire life at a single place!

What do you mean, "a plot"?

I know we've all been there, seen that, but this article on the lack-of-plot associated with "good writing" hits the nail right on the head:
What Gaiman alludes to and Chabon tackles directly is the genre which we now know as "literary": the fictional worlds inhabited by people who think a lot and say a lot and feel a lot, but don't actually do very much over the course of the narrative - they might be caught up in the swell of an emotional riptide, perhaps, until Chabon's "moment-of-truth" revelation brings the story, such as it is, to a close.

The ongoing, endless war between "literary" fiction and "genre" fiction has well-defined lines in the sand. Genre's foot soldiers think that literary fiction is a collection of meaningless but prettily drawn pictures of the human condition. The literary guard consider genre fiction to be crass, commercial, whizz-bang potboilers. Or so it goes.
Call me a troglodyte, but I do enjoy when things actually, you know, happen...


Secret love lives that kind of ick me out

Today was apparently the day of love stories that make me go, "...oh..."

First, we've got the Anne Frank novelization, plus boning. That's just awkward. I understand that she was a teenager, but, I don't know. It's just weird.

Also weird is the Emily Dickinson potential love story. And, hey, I'm not saying she shouldn't have had a man-friend of some sort. I'm saying that the way they describe it is creepers:
Over the next few months, Emily turned to [Otis Phillips Lord, her father's friend] the handsome widower – not as a father but as a suitor of sorts. Later, a granddaughter of Dickinson’s confidante Elizabeth Holland suggested that Lord’s tenderness had “long been latent in his feeling for her.”
I'm sorry, the words "father figure" and "lover" should really not go in the same sentence. That is creepos.

Best food books

Everyone in the world should love the following things: napping and eating. And, to further love of the latter, the Chicago Tribune asked chefs to list their favorite non-cookbook food books. Hello, added to my reading list.


Where does Stieg Larsson stand on the ladies?

I haven't read any of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, but I'm a bit confused on his feminist message. And it turns out, I'm not alone (warning, hey, there are spoilers at the link and heading forward, which are now spoiled for me, I need to stop reading so damn much):
This macho make-believe doesn’t negate Larsson’s professed feminism. But it does cast a shadow over how I read the many, many scenes of horrific violence inflicted upon female characters. One victim is choked to death with a sanitary napkin down her throat. Another is tortured, then decapitated with a saw. Lisbeth is raped. The crimes are unspeakable — which you could argue is the point for an activist like Larsson: Bring it into the open, try to prevent it from happening again. Still, Larsson seems to want it both ways: to condemn such savagery while simultaneously exploiting it in graphic detail for titillating storytelling purposes. And that makes me uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, as Missy Schwartz says at the link, Larsson is a little too dead to help untangle the tangles...

I now live at Hogwarts

Because Harry Potter land is open!
Hundreds queued up for butterbeer, while others crowded into the Owl Post. By mid-afternoon, a line of 200 hopefuls stood outside Ollivanders wand shop. And another location to buy souvenir wands was added outside the Owl Post, which has been a bottleneck for shoppers.

At lunchtime, the line for Three Broomsticks restaurant extended out to the entrance of the Wizarding World, and more than 150 customers stood in the heat to buy butterbeer.
The lines are the real attraction, it seems.


Time for a Rolling Rock and a round up

Too early for the Rolling Rock? I guess you can just take the roundup, then...


Fast Food Nation, why do you get so much press?

Confession: I never much cared for the book Fast Food Nation. It framed everything as such a shock, and I wasn't that shocked. The Jungle it wasn't. Hell, it wasn't even The Omnivore's Dilemma, which I thought was more insightful.

Anyway. Apparently we're revisiting in. Boo, just lay down and die already, FFN.

Cops bust woman, 74, for pouring mayo in book drop

You heard me. Oh, you want more?
BOISE, Idaho -- Police in Idaho think they might have solved a yearlong condiment crime spree. Authorities said a 74-year-old Boise woman arrested after pouring mayonnaise in the Ada County library's book drop box is a person of interest in at least 10 other condiment-related crimes.
Check it out!


Dr. Deadlove, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bite

Question: how will you survive the (clearly imminent) zombie apocalypse? Some think that the answer is to take the plunge, get yourself bit, and join the mob of the undead:
Most humans labor under the belief that being undead is a terrible curse. That the living dead are monsters, nothing more than animals. Most humans believe zombies are unhappy....Instead of fighting the zombies, instead of shooting yourself in the head to avoid turning into one of them, let yourself go. Embrace it. If enough of us willingly became zombies, we could change the world. Start a new civilization.
You guys are all welcome to take the bite. Otherwise, you can audition for Survival Team Ombreviations.

Glenn Beck rules the writing world

Apparently Glenn Beck's new novel is out (and to think, I wasn't tracking this closely!). And what are the people saying?

...Apparently, most people aren't saying anything. Don't worry though, he'll sell a shit ton anyway.


When murder messes up your book launch

Sometimes writing the book, getting it agented, getting it published and getting to press isn't the problem. No, sometimes your co-author get accused of attempted murder just as the book comes out, and that really tanks the whole thing.

Ruh roh, I'm illiterate

I hear that linking makes you a worse writer:
A sentence that's written to include hyperlinks won't necessarily make as much sense without them. You write differently when you know you can't dodge explaining yourself by fobbing the task off on someone more eloquent or better informed. You have to express what you want to say more completely, and you have to think harder about what information ought to be included and what's merely peripheral. (Knowing what to leave out is as important to writing well as what you include.)
Well, shit, I'm illiterate city. Woe is me?


Glenn Beck novel trailer!

Oh oh oh oh oh this is so exciting. By which I mean, what the fuck is going on in that video??

Yet another Twilight post

I know everyone loves Twilight and all of its iterations and movies and chat boards and on and on and on, and so I bring you this interview with Stephanie Meyer about the mental conception of Bree Tanner. Meyer says:
In the beginning, I wasn't fascinated specifically by Bree — it was the newborns in general. While I was writing Eclipse, there was a lot going on behind the scenes, of course, things Bella didn't know about. Because I was focused on Bella, I couldn't delve too deeply into the newborns' story, however, there was always in my mind a general idea of what they were up to.
Hurray more Twilight!

Dissecting fictional characters for fun and profit

Psychology is important, reader types, for mental health and enrichment. Also, though, to tell us what is up with Edward Cullen. Because seriously, what is up with Edward Cullen?
hey stipulated early on that Edward was, indeed, a vampire. But since he was supposedly 100 years old, not 17 as he appeared, his adolescent moodiness suggested arrested development.
Ah, science, how I love thee.


Apple buys into my biggest pet peeve in e-books

Apple contends that the iPad accounts for 22% of all e-book sales, which is most likely bullshit. Because Apple is so known for its transparency, no one can really replicate the numbers, but:
Still, Mr. Jobs said that iPad owners downloaded over five million books in the last two months, or 2.5 books per iPad. Although it is not clear how many of these books are free, this is still a troubling trend for Amazon.
Why? Why do people do this? Because they're assholes who equate downloads with sales. These are not sales if they are free. I'll take anything that's free! But I'm a discriminating consumer when it comes to spending my actual money. There is a difference, Apple, so don't inflate your numbers.

...End pet peeve.

Author estates: Super complicated

We all know how effed Steig Larsson's estate is. Well, it turns out his problem is not so uncommon. The answer, of course, is to 1) write a will, 2) never produce anything anyone cares about, or 3) leave it all to me, and I will milk every last penny out of your blood, sweat, and tears.

Overheard from your life

There's a new writing project afoot, called the Bugged Initiative, in which British writers eavesdrop and use conversations they hear as inspiration. It's the British version of Overhead in New York, but less mockery based. Maybe.


Justin Long argues for gay marriage

I'm so confused...usually I don't like Justin Long so much, but today I find him awesome:

How does this affect my beliefs about Justin Long? Crap, I guess I like him now.


Celebrities write for kiddies

In response to Evangeline Lilly's children's book (which some charming person mentioned here) Jezebel, my favorite of blogs, put together a list of books to be written by celebrities. Because being famous means you know what children like to read.

Cute Penguin covers that don't technically exist

Amy Fleisher designed the absolute cutest classic Penguin covers that Penguin never designed. As a sucker for newly covered classics, I heart these.


Netflix, marry me

We've already talked about streaming literary adaptations from Netflix. What will they come up with next? Of course it's a list of Netflix for people who love plays. Is there anything Netflix can't do? (Besides send me a copy of "Amadeus" that doesn't need to be flipped like an LP, of course.)

Seriously, what happens at BEA?

BEA is a mystery. What really happens there? Answer: human sacrifice. Spooky!

Round up day

At Pimp My Novel. Click click click...


Breaking up is hard to do

Especially when you have to break up with a book. This article is great, for the ways it breaks down types of books to dump.

All hail, Biblioracle

For the indecisive, those who don't plan ahead, and don't believe that every book on GoodReads deserves five stars oh em gee!, meet the Biblioracle. Based on your last five book choices, and a sacrifice of your choice, it will tell you what to read next.

I will do the same, in exchange for cookies.


Fingerprinting for library books

Because library cards are so old hat, the school system in Machester wants to use fingerprints to check out library books. What, the retinal scans were too expensive?
This is quite clearly appalling,” said Phil Booth, national coordinator of NO2ID, a privacy campaign group.

“For such a trivial issue as taking out of library books the taking of fingerprints is way over the top and wrong.

“It conditions children to hand over sensitive personal information.”
I think the real point is to crack down on library theft more effectively. You don't return your book? Your fingerprints are already in the system! So when you, 13 year old Joey, get pulled over for speeding and arrested for assaulting an officer, they'll match your fingerprints to your stolen library book and fine the crap out of you. Libraries saved!

Self-pubbing apps

Would you like to self publish, but skip that messy "book" stage? Well, you're in luck, friend. Now you can self publishing to an iPhone app! This will work because:
An iPhone might not be the ideal format for reading, but it gets points just for turning up. As Andrews puts it: “People carry their phones constantly, so you’re never stuck without something to read.”
I love getting points for just showing up.

Summer reading, or how I keep myself entertained

Honestly, I think the only reason people put such emphasis on summer reading is because there are no massive gift giving holidays to liven up sales. That said, hurray lists of summer reading!

If you are an indie lover, check out this list of choice summer reading from independent book sellers (from NPR, naturally). If you are a steamy romance reader, check out this list of steamasaurus rexes (written by one of the women from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, obvi). And if you are just really shallow (me!), check out these classics with great new covers.

Cue reading and no work getting done.


Gaga for Gaga, library style


Why I heart the Rejectionist and Le R hates Cormac McCarthy

I know we all already read the Rejectionist religiously, because that blog is so good and so smart and so spot on. Well, Le R strikes again with her analysis of man fiction and her response to Cormac McCarthy. Heart heart. Heart.

The Oatmeal explains Twilight, my heart explodes

I love the Oatmeal. My universe has been explained so succinctly by poorly drawn comics, and I love love love it. So the Oatmeal explaining Twilight? Game on.


Garrison Keillor shits on your dreams

Keillor paraphrases The Incredibles, saying if everyone is a writer, no one is. He tells us about hanging with publishing celebs at a rooftop party, with "wall-to-wall authors and agents and editors and elegant young women in little black dresses" (the last being either call girls or the assistants from the publishing house). And, you know what?
[T]his book party in Tribeca feels like a Historic Moment, like a 1982 convention of typewriter salesmen or the hunting party of Kaiser Wilhelm II with his coterie of plumed barons in the fall of 1913 before the Great War sent their world spinning off the precipice.
That is bold, sir. And at fault? Drum roll please...oh, it's self-publishing, the whipping boy of traditional publishing everywhere!
Call me a pessimist, call me Ishmael, but I think that book publishing is about to slide into the sea. We live in a literate time, and our children are writing up a storm, often combining letters and numerals (U R 2 1derful), blogging like crazy, reading for hours off their little screens, surfing around from Henry James to Jesse James to the epistle of James to pajamas to Obama to Alabama to Alanon to non-sequiturs, sequins, penguins, penal institutions, and it's all free, and you read freely, you're not committed to anything the way you are when you shell out $30 for a book, you're like a hummingbird in an endless meadow of flowers.
I choose not to articulate my thoughts on this, sirs and madams, for the sake of my sanity. Oy.

Spontaneously spouting poetry requires work

Sure, we all want to be able to throw off a line of poetry in conversation to sound as brilliant as we really are, but what to memorize for maximum smarm?

The fanfic dilemma

Confession: I avoid fanfic like the devil avoids church. I'm generally not interested in non-canonical views of characters I'm attached to, which I think explains why I've never heard of the Marion Zimmer Bradley fanfic fandango. Jim C. Hines does a really great job of bringing all the facts together, and sheds some light on a tricky wicket.


Orlando Bloom is not a musketeer

Orlando Bloom, continuing his domination of books-to-movies, will be the Duke of Buckingham in a new adaptation of The Three Musketeers. You heard that right, gentlefolk, they're going to put Orlando Bloom next to Christoph Waltz, and hope that no one notices that one of the people with an accent is actually a block of wood.

Hurray casting!

Watch your favorite book instantly

Netflix, how I love thee! I will instantly stream a movie, thank you.

For those of you who need to stream literary shiz, GalleyCat put together a list of instantly streaming literary adaptations. The lesson I learned is that women don't write books that become movies that stream instantly. Womp womp.

On the importances of titles

Oh, Elizabeth Eslami, I really feel for you, in your article about people assuming your book is erotica. A slightly misleading title is making you have to defend your characters' reputations and repeatedly state that they are not incestuous.

But no one saw this coming with the title Bone Worship?


Rock stars and authors, one and the same

No, I'm kidding, only Neil Gaiman gets to be a rock star author (except for celebrity memoirs). But Jeffrey Wasserstrom came up with 5 reasons author tours are like rock concerts. Among them is the knowledge that being the opening act for someone huge is bittersweet. He of course leaves out the drugs and groupie sex, to meet HuffPo standards of cleanliness.

Science pop-up book makes me feel smart

Sure, it might be aimed at a slightly younger crowd, but this pop-up book about particle physics will make a scientist of me yet. Collide your own atoms and see if you can discover popped-up Higgs Boson particles before CERN--I double dog dare you.

A primer in technology

Do you feel overwhelmed by all the new doo-dads and interwebs running around? Well, I can't really help. But I can help if you're interested in the gossipy side of Silicon Valley. Behold, a reading guide to titles about the tech-mafia leaders. Nerds: they're so in right now!


Bad Ombreviations

I may have skipped writing posts in favor of watching the Lost finale. I know, bad. But hey, look at...this...bulldog who can't get up!

Hey, he has to learn to get himself upright. It's dog science. And ADORABLE.


Not be a crotchety grandma yet again, but...

So, okay. The Rumpus is launching a new book club, and, well, I'll let them describe:
You’re invited to a moderated online discussion with the author at the end of the month which we’ll edit and run on The Rumpus as a feature article. You can also write a review of the book and we’ll run the best written review on the website. You don’t have to participate in the discussion or review the book, you could just subscribe to receive a new, unpublished book every month.
Now, on the one hand, it is nice to be able to read something first, and be the smug, "Oh, you're just getting to that now? I read it before it was cool" guy. And talking with the author about her book, also a great way to engage with the text. And I don't have the issues that the dick commenters do below the announcement (Oh, $25 is too much! How dare you make any profit on this endeavor?). But I feel all "ew" inside about the reader reviews. Don't we have enough crappy reader reviews? Isn't that what Amazon and Goodreads are for? Why are you punishing me Rumpus? I don't care about John D. Took An English Class Once's opinion. Throw me a bone! Don't open another forum for meaningless crap reviews!

Then again, it's possible I just hate book reviews. In which case, please disregard, and give your $25 to the Rumpus.

Outer space, weirder than you thought

But not just because of the space itself. Sometimes the human aspect is the weirdest. Mary Roach's next book is going to be about all the shit we don't talk about when going into space, and some of it is just weird.

Sure, being in space makes you hotter, but, if you're a Japanese astronaut, they make you origami 1,000 paper cranes to see how you deal with boredom and monotony. The plus is, you get a wish after the thousand paper cranes. The downside is, anyone who doesn't wish for Sadako to live is a fucking monster, and doesn't get to go on the shuttle. What a traumatizing story. Thus concludes today's chapter of "For real, you gave that to children?"

Pimp my Novel round up

Over at Pimp My Novel. And the world makes sense once again!


Storing the stash with style

For some of us, closet space is a mythical beast to be worshiped and lured into our homes. For this demographic, where do you store your books?

Om nom nom storage I love you.

Using Twitter...for good?

This post about geographic slang disparity via Twitter is awesome. He writes:
The southern US is the focal point for words like "bruh" and "ima" (and its orthographic variants i'ma and imma), while "hella" is centered in California and "rad" in the Pacific Northwest. "Wicked" is more characteristic of New England (especially Massachusetts), but less strongly than the others (perhaps because of its polysemy - its meaning as "very" is likely a regionalism but its older sense of "evil" is almost certainly not).
His methodology is also pretty interesting.

Blowing up enemies with book learnin'

Ever wondered what a tank covered in books looks like? Wonder no more! Take that, ignorance! Take that, illiteracy!

Sidebar: I would have embedded the video, but it is unembeddable. Why would anyone do that? You're not driving more traffic by making it harder to access, sirs. You're just pissing me off. Argh.


Wheeling, dealing, and busting ghosts

I'm taking the day off because, well, I am lazy. In exchange, I bring you library support and Ghostbusters:

Day off: earned.


People don't want to keep books that they won't reread

Some smarties crunched some numbers, and put together a list of the most and least desired books on book swap websites. Interesting stuff, reader types!

Lost is awesome, also a to-read list

Lost is amazing for many (many, many many) reasons, but up there are the regular allusions to great books and great ideas. The writers are incredibly well read and have fabulous taste in books, and drop tons of hints and insight into the characters and plot:
If one book was most influential on the show, it was probably “Alice in Wonderland.” "To say there is only one is unfair," said Lindelof, "but we keep coming back to 'Alice in Wonderland' thematically. That was a book that both Carlton and I remember very specifically as children. It was a gateway drug to sci-fi and fantasy in many ways."

One wild success, or a career of pretty good?

Would you rather write one insanely successful book, or a string of literary titles? I would take the one-off (less work, my friends), but there's been some discussion about which is better:
Sometimes, there are writers who seem born to produce just one book. Ralph Ellison published Invisible Man in 1952 and spent the rest of his life trying to follow it. Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano was the fruit of a life-and-death struggle. Jack Kerouac's On the Road towers above all his other books, and he died an alcoholic aged 47. Guiseppe di Lampedusa's The Leopard was not fully recognised until after his death.

Either way, in songs or novels, sustaining a lifetime's work as a writer is exceedingly difficult. Most literary careers begin, and possibly end, before the age of 40. Some fly too close to the sun, and fall to earth; others give up, exhausted and demoralised.


Ray Bradbury: The man, the myth, the mythology

Ray Bradbury is super, super prolific, and may or may not be the great American mythologizer.
He's seen the future, and it's not all grand pink-stoned chess cities on Mars and houses that tidy up after you. It's also knowing that the world is about to end and that there's nothing to do but lie under the covers and wait for oblivion to come. It's a room full of robots telling stories about the people who made them, long after the human race has vanished from the earth.
Live strong, Ray.

Dear Daddy Long Legs, please do advise

Some might suggest that, of women in literature, Juliet Capulet might not be the best for love advice. Mostly because she was 13, and my love advice at 13 involved having friends talk to boys for you and wearing Bonne Bell Lip Smackers.

I would prefer to ask...erm...I actually can't think of anyone I would prefer to ask. Awkward. Thoughts?

Hotties can read

Are you interested in hotties? And you interested in men? Then perhaps you'll be interested in Hot Guys Reading Books. Some of the guys aren't reading, and some aren't...hot...and some of the photos seems to have been taken surreptitiously, which is a little sketchy, but for the most part, hurray!


International book covers are ridiculous

What possible discussions took place in Germany, for instance, when publishers first received the manuscript for Martin Amis's House of Meetings – a novel that describes the misery of life in a Russian gulag – and set to work on a cover that featured six figures body-popping in the windows of a modern apartment block? What prompted Italian book designers to give junior wizard Harry Potter a hat shaped like a mouse, and why did the French opt against the monochrome design that jacketed Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated in the UK and the US, concocting instead a watercolour of somebody fondling a woman's breasts?
These are super fair questions! What is up with some of these international covers?

Tyra Banks, smizing model

Because while she writes, she smiles with her eyes. Her YA trilogy stars the Intoxibellas, and that's how you know this is actually Tyra's brainchild, because only she would come up with that.

Love. Her.

The mistress memoirs and the path to a book deal

It turns out, having writing talent doesn't land you a book deal. In reality, all you have to do is fuck a celebrity (not even an A list one!).

So, aspiring authors, take heart: don't worry about rejections, because boning, and not talent, is the way to success.


Neil Gaiman charges $45k for four hours

Neil Gaiman recently spoke at a library event, and was paid $45,000 for a four hour talk (and before anyone asks, the money was earmarked for speakers, so they couldn't spend it on anything else).

Some people are angry, but I say, hey, I would also charge that much. Now taking speaking engagements! Mail cash, and I assure you I'll show up.

Romantic writers: They're just like us!

They go on crazy diets! They hurt themselves trying to impress the ladies! They give each other nicknames! They redecorate!

Check out five little known facts about Romantic writers. Super fun times.

Lee Child has no stuff

But in Lee Child's case, he has no stuff by choice, whereas I have no stuff by lack of money and lack of desire to go into debt. Because I'm smart, America. Down with credit card debt! Anyway. Back to Lee Child's living habits:
The entire left-hand wall—stretching from the white Corian kitchen counter along the living space and to the windows that open to a small balcony—is a plane of glossy white laminate cabinetry. Inside the cabinets are some 3,000 books, as Mr. Child believes books make a room visually chaotic and that displaying them is pretentious. The books are shelved randomly; Mr. Child said his photographic memory allows him to know exactly where each one sits.
Dear Mr. Child,

I am incredibly messy, and also will be really chatty when you're trying to work. If you're looking for a freeloader, please contact me before you turn to Craigslist.

Laura C. Ombreviations


Happy Mother's Day with domestic gifts

EW put together a list of 24 books to give your mom for Mother's Day (which is useful to you now only if you're a day late...). I only link to it late because it's a bit oddly skewed toward domestic tasks, with books about cooking, sewing, decorating, and gardening making up the vast majority of titles. And sure, a lot of moms like those things. But where are the zombie survival guides? The local restaurant guides? Moms can like thrillers, too. Just saying.

So, moms: what books would you prefer for holidays?

Things about Twilight I could have kept from you

I have, in the past, been a bearer of Twilight related bad news for society. I have sworn that, one day, I will be a force for good, instead of evil, but it just keeps being easier to bring the bad Twilight news to the fore. So, continuing my trend: did you know that Twilight related baby names have shot through the roof? There's going to be a whole generation of boys named Cullen dating girls named Bella, causing their parents to squee to no end.

And, although the boys won't sparkle, there are coping methods for non-sparkle boyfriends. ...Are these all signs of the apocalypse, or just me getting a headache?

Feminist toys for girls and boys

Check out the Bronte sisters action figures, and the Brontesaurus:

Do want. And thanks to Michael, for sending this along!


Rounding up, rounding up the road

At Pimp My Novel. Go go!

Also, I think I've made a reference to The Wiz previously in a round up title, and I'm not sure because I won't look it up. How's that for lazy?


The bodice rippers of architecture

An awesome new collaboration between romance publisher Mills & Boon and the UK's National Trust has inspired Meredith Blake to consider similar collaborations in the US.

She says it might be a little difficult, but, hello, sweeping plantations of the South! Ranches and stately northern farms! ...Other places! We can do for the Walt Disney Concert Hall what Dan Brown did for the Vatican.

Once again Amazon confuses "bestseller" with "most downloaded"

Over at Jacket Copy we learn that the top 10 Kindle downloads are free. And, look, as someone who regularly creates free content (that is read by people who regularly create free content) I'm not saying there's anything wrong with offering an e-book for free. I think it can be a savvy publicity tool, and a nice boost for your numbers (clearly). But I will say that these are not bestsellers because they're not being sold.

So, yes, these are the top 10 Kindle downloads. But they are not the top 10 sellers. As the Jacket Copy post says, other titles by the same authors that are being sold (as opposed to being given away) are ranked in the mid-thousands, which really makes you question how good a sense you can get of what people like and what people take because it's free.

I vote we actually make a distinction between "most sold" and "most downloaded." Because most people I know stream movies they would never pay for, use Pandora to listen to music they would never buy, and, oh, use the Kindle to download books they would never purchase.

How to cope with your unread library

Kirsty Logan writes at the Millions about her vast collection of unread books, why she keeps them, and how she avoids feeling guilty about them. I have absolutely felt this way before:
Last week I bought a book. I looked at the blurb and read the first paragraph, and I could feel the texture of the book in my mind....With every sentence I read, the book I had imagined shrank smaller and smaller. By the end of the third page, it had disappeared. The actual book was by no means bad, it just wasn’t the book I thought it would be.
Been there! I think I'm also less likely to read books I got for free, or bought for cheap, as opposed to books I've borrowed, or expensive books I've bought. Am I alone in this?


Get sucked into a book

For reals!

Angry authors say great things

Amazing list of quotes from angry authors. Oh god, I love when people say things they shouldn't (who aren't me).

The New Yorker speaks

The New Yorker (holiest of holy)'s web editor Blake Eskin talks about how the New Yorker approaches the internet. He says:
...[I]f you had to come up with a list of adjectives for what the New Yorker brand represents – excellence, polish, depth – those aren’t necessarily things you can achieve on a blog, podcast or Twitter feed.

When we started the website the original plan was to fact check blog posts and that just doesn’t work. You can’t ask people to write in a freer, more immediate way and then put them through the same editorial machine. But New Yorker writers tend to have informal voices that are a lot more formal than most.
Fair point! He talks a lot about tying in blogs and print--really interesting, really worth the read.


Animals as plot devices

Many have lauded Yann Martel's use of animals as characters in his novels (but not all). Andrew O'Hagan has a great article about animals as major characters in fiction. Interesante!

Inside the house of Dave Barry

The NYTimes went to Dave Barry's house, took some pictures, and did an interview that allowed him to speak more than the interviewer (unlike Deborah Solomon, my arch-nemesis, who quotes herself more often than the people she's interviewing). Barry says:
Best Recent Gift: My wife gave me a shaving thing with a brush on it. For 35 years I shaved in the shower, without looking, which is why my right sideburn was always shorter than my left. The new shaver has made me a more clean-cut human being, and I even use after-shave, and women want to have sex with me now. All of them.

If He Had $20 He’d Buy: Just $20? Well, that rules out drugs.
Well, I've found someone else I'm a fan of.


Books to read before 16 (or now, if you have the time)

I usually have some arguments with lists, but I think this list of 20 books to read before you turn 16 is pretty solid. Granted, I haven't read all of them, but I didn't say, "Really?" to any of them, which is a huge thing in my world.

Jewish fiction as the quintessential American experience

At 3 Quarks Daily, Bliss Kern writes about new Jewish fiction and its place as the new American experience:
New Jewish American authors find themselves free from the burden of identity politics and have space to allow the particularity of their characters and stories to emerge. The stories that have emerged so far have the power to speak to readers with little or no relationship to Judaism. The pages of these stories capture the unselfconscious attachment young Americans, raised to tell a story of being 1/4 this and 1/4 that, have for their mythic past. Their characters are familiar to all; like young Americans today, they must all refashion myths from the past to craft a sense of self and collective identity in which they can feel comfortable. Although a past story of exile and landlessness stands almost in direct opposition to the American story of patriotism and manifest destiny, the stakes of recognizing each as not the truth of the present do not.
This piece is worth the read, I think. I would say, however, that the thesis seems to boil down to the idea that Jewish writers are American, rather than an "Other," which I think is a little reductive, of both what makes an American and an American Jew.

Erotica saves publishing, peasants rejoice

Apparently erotica is one of the few growth industries in publishing. To quote:
Exactly why erotic literature has become so popular now is a matter of speculation, though it doesn't seem entirely coincidental that the creators were mostly raised in the era of Madonna videos on MTV, open discussion of sex during the initial HIV scare, and the mainstreaming of porn. Much of the new erotica is simply porn moved to the printed page, only smarter and largely aimed at women.
Once again, Madonna is at fault. Damn you, Madonna!


Literary comic time

Some people seem to prefer Hark! A vagrant to Qwantz. In the interest of fairness, check out this series of Hark! A vagrant comics about The Great Gatsby. And then we can vote and all agree that Qwantz is number one.

Chocolate chocolate chocolate

Check it out: 5 best books about chocolate. I want!

Twitter and grammar, things that make me vomit edition

I have a personal policy, that involves eschewing e-contact with all people who use text speak, can't spell, and abuse emoticons (you get one per conversation. This is a strict rule that is enforced with real-life slaps once we finally meet up). That said, I choose to avoid the bad spellers (Firefox has built in spell check. Use it, please), the terrible grammarians, and emoticon abusers. I don't seek them out or, God forbid, try to fix their mistakes, like these Twitter grammar jerks.

And yes, I realize that someone who has a blog dedicated to commenting and occasionally judging stuff (who, me?) is throwing rocks from a glass house, but seriously, this is like going to visit the monkeys at the zoo and complaining when they throw shit. It's what monkeys do. Sure, there are some non-shit flinging monkeys, and some grammatically correct Twitter-ers, but not many.

Plus, seriously, it's like bailing out the Titanic with a thimble. Smoochy was wrong: you can't change the world, and you also can't make a dent.


Outer space + reading = awesome

Outer space is super awesome. Case and point made by this picture, taken from the Hubble:
Check out an explanation of what this picture is and even more pictures, from the book Hubble: A Journey Through Space and Time by Edward J. Weiler, at Boing Boing. They include the Sombrero Galaxy! Man, I wish I were a scientist.

Futuristic dinosaur space fairy tales

Question: is there anything better than Qwantz? Answer: of course not.

Why yes, you do have time to read the entire archive during your lunch break. And I can tell you from experience: don't forget to read the rollover text, or you'll have to read the whole archive a second time.

What a million teen weddings and subsequent pregnancies look like

Are you a teen who read the Twilight books, and was inspired by the message of abstinence? Do you find solace in the series' portrayal of the creepily controlling behavior of an older man toward an easily influenced young woman? Have you found your own creepy controlling older man, and want to perhaps indulge in your hormones without the patina of sin?

If so, you're in luck, my friend! Just email your hundred year old honey the link to buy this replica of the engagement ring Edward gave to Bella (with real diamonds!), and you'll be at it like rabbits in no time.

Then all you'll have to do is get pregnant with your own demon spawn and allow it to literally kill you because you decided not to consider options like the pill, the ring, the patch, the shot, an IUD, or fucking condoms. And if you're really lucky, you might just get your own episode of 16 and Pregnant.


Men can't read, or so I hear

At HuffPo we find former editor Jason Pinter talking about why publishers don't think men read. He writes about pitching a book by professional wrestler Chris Jericho to a room full of New York editor:
Needless to say, pitching Jericho's book to my editorial board was like pitching iPads to the Amish. A whole lot of blank stares and a whole lot of people saying 'I don't get it'. Now, this is not the fault of the individuals, but it is the fault of a system in which in a room of 15-20 people, not one of them knew what I was talking about.
I think there is something to be said about the gender disparity in publishing, just like there's something to be said about the geographical and political clustering in the industry. But Chris Jericho? Ech.

A guide to editorial positions

Associate editor, editor, managing editor, editor-in-chief--what do all of these things mean? Well, check out this guide. A sample:
Assistant Editor – this person is not even an editor, just some uncreative person with an English degree who’s in charge of adding or removing commas. They also have to replace curly quotes with straight quotes, and remembering where all the italics were when somebody loses the HTML. This person wears glasses, and was not loved as a child.
Don't say I never solved anything for you.

I do not like green eggs, that schmutz, I do not like it, what a putz*

Yiddish has slowly been dying out for generations, reader types, with no solution in sight. Until now, with Dr. Seuss in Yiddish. And it's good, I hear:
Dr Seuss works improbably well in Yiddish. Yiddish's strength is its onomatopoeic expressiveness; and it contains a lot of Germanic words that are cognates for their English equivalents (such as "bloyer," which means "blue;" and "fish," which means "fish!"), but they're pitch-bent enough to make them sound a little off-kilter, which makes them perfect for a Seussian rhyme.
Hurray for the doctor!

*Yes, I'm using "putz" and "schmutz" as a slant rhyme. No comments.


Call me Ishmael, one fierce tenor

After the news about the Atonement opera, I thought there was nowhere to go but to the land of less insane. With the rise of the Moby Dick opera, I can safely say: I was so, so wrong.

Moby Dick opera-style at the Dallas Opera now, but, with its inevitable success, I can only hope it will come to NYC and the Met, so I can see how they get a live sperm whale on the stage.* Ben Heppner, who plays Ahab, has this to say:
“I’m still trying to find my sea legs, which I guess I mean as a pun,” Mr. Heppner said after hobbling through his second day of rehearsals on the artificial limb his role requires....“Ahab is beautifully written for my voice,” Mr. Heppner said, “But today that peg leg was rubbing hard on my shinbone. I’d never thought about that, or I might have been less eager. But we’re making progress.”
And artist with the soul of a guy who doesn't like to have to wear things that chafe--we may be in love.

*Yes, I fully believe the Met would and could do this. Because they are bad ass.

No one buys book apps, we are all screwed

In a majestically depressing graph, which you can check out here, we find that, while book related apps account for 18% of the apps in the iPhone app store, they only account for 3% of downloads. And, as we learned from the whole "Kindle bestsellers" thing, downloads do not mean purchases.

The caveats here are, of course, 1) that these stats were mostly collected prior to the launch of the iPad and thus Apple's bookstore, 2) that the Amazon app is a single app that you can use to download many books, and 3) these stats are crowdsourced, not official from Apple, so the potential for discrepancies are huge.

That said, I think the only right thing to do is panic about the demise of the industry. Woe to all of us, the book is dead.

Librarians pick books through arcane methods like "reading reviews"

Abigail Goben posted about how she decides which books to buy for her library. She says she reads reviews, listens to others in her field, and keeps herself well connected through the interwebs.

She of course forgot to mention the true decider: witchcraft. Dum dum duuummmm.

...She also explains what you can do as an author to not creep out librarians and get them to buy your book. Victory, information!



Reading at Rikers

Jamie Niehof, an intern with the Correctional Services Program, wrote a post for the New York Public Library about running the library at Rikers. My favorite part was:
Each prisoner is allowed one book and one magazine. The most popular books are by far James Patterson's novels, so popular in fact that we have to lock them up after book service because they tend to disappear. I wonder if James Patterson has any idea. National Geographic is the magazine of choice, and there is an entire box of them to choose from, some as far back as the early 80's. Urban magazines and books were in high demand, with almost no supply.
God, James Patterson is popular literally everywhere.

Joyce Carol Oates on widowhood

Joyce Carol Oates writes in the Atlantic about her first year as a widow, and it is one of the sadder things I have read. She writes:
My job at the university is to impersonate “Joyce Carol Oates.”

Strictly speaking, I am not impersonating this individual, since “Joyce Carol Oates” doesn’t exist, except as an author-identification. On the spines of books shelved in certain libraries and bookstores you will see OATES but this is a descriptive term, this is not a noun.

This is not a person. This is not a life.

A writing-life is not a life.
Absolutely worth the read.

The queasiness of the MFA

Lionel Shriver did an interview with Big Think in which she slams the "indulgent middle class gestalt" of getting an MFA. While she herself has one, she says:
I sometimes feel, in retrospect, I should have gotten a proper education in something like history....If I'm going to be honest, what I really needed in my early twenties was an audience.
She finds "something unwholesome" in awarding a degree that, for most students, has a best case scenario that allows you to teach classes for others to get that same degree--an issue prevalent in most higher education humanities and art degrees.


Spellings, I haz it?

After the previous news about cooking with "ground black people," the Book Bench put together a list of poor spelling and copyediting through history.

This includes the Bible that encourages, "Thou shalt commit adultery." In other news, this Bible has been sanctioned by the Anglican Church to only be valid on opposite day.

PS I considered writing this whole post as a LolCat, but decided against it. Ur welkomz!

That's what she said: Literary haterade

Writers are notoriously cranky, reader types, not only in regard to their own work, but also in regard to the work of others. And sometimes, they just want to throw down. Like Faulkner on Mark Twain:
A hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old proven sure fire literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.

That is what the kids would call "a burn," I believe. And there are 49 more! Click click, sirs and madams.

Also, thank you michael for sending this along!

Knowledge of volcanoes trumps that of zombies

Hello, American friends stuck in Europe and European friends stuck everywhere but Europe. Are you mad about this whole Iceland/volcano thing? If so, I hope you are only mad at yourself, for not being properly prepared for the temporary volcano apocalypse in the same manner that I'm sure all of you are ready for the zombie apocalypse and Y2K part 2 (The Reckoning).

For those of you who are sure you would be ready for volcanobliteration, take this quiz of volcano knowledge (um, about volcanoes in literature) and see how you stand. Stand ye strong?

I took this quiz and got 5 out of 10, and the admonition, "Don't blow your top, but nothing much erupted there." So maybe someone else should be in charge of our survival from volcanoes. Volunteers?


The art of the anonymous review (hint: only do it if you're nice)

People really love to leave mean comments on blog and nasty reviews on Amazon. But guess what--you may be unmasked! This happened to Dr. Stephanie Palmer, the wife of a British academic, who flamed other academic texts on Amazon.

Well, that blew up in her face.

So you need a typeface?

Check out the flowchart. Flowcharts for life!

Bitches be crazy, Victorian style

There are many (many) crazy ladies in literature, but they're especially concentrated in Victorian literature. But were they really crazy, or just regular type ladies who were interested in sex?

Just something to think about.


Ground black pepper is decidedly not "ground black people"

A misprint in an Australian cookbook (in which "people" was substituted for "pepper" of the "ground black" variety) cost $20k to fix. Now, this super sucks, and is one of the worse possible typos. The publisher's response?
"When it comes to the proofreader, of course they should have picked it up, but proofreading a cook-book is an extremely difficult task. I find that quite forgivable."
Of course it's forgivable! It's not like you pay proofreaders to keep you from having to recall for misprints.

Failed screenwriters of yesterday are the intellectuals of yesterday

In an excerpt from Eli Batuman's book, "The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them," Salon publishes a list of screenplays written by people famous for not being stifled screenwriters. This includes Winston Churchill, Jean-Paul Sartre, Aldous Huxley, and, of course, Vladimir Nabokov:
As a struggling young writer in Berlin, Vladimir Nabokov once wrote a phenomenally depressing screenplay titled "The Love of a Dwarf" (1924). The protagonist, a sexually frustrated London circus dwarf, has a one-night stand with the depressed, childless wife of a circus magician. The dwarf quits the circus and retires to a small northern town, waiting vainly for the magician’s wife to join him. Eight years later, she turns up on his doorstep, announces that he has a son, and rushes away. The dwarf pursues her, but dies of a heart attack at her feet. To the gathering onlookers, the magician’s wife announces that her son died a few days ago. In 1939, Esquire printed a short-story version of "The Love of a Dwarf," titled "The Potato Elf": it was Nabokov’s first American publication.

That is all.

George Washington: Thieving scalawag

George Washington forgot to return 2 library books in 1789, and now owes $300,000 in library dues. Shame on you, father of our nation. Returning library books is a civic duty, sir.


Reading and gaming: So happy together

Are you a serious gamer, reader type? If so, you may want to read the 5 best books about video games. Because reading about video games and playing video games go hand in hand.

But don't read and play at the same time, or you will fall off your Wii Fit and develop a sex addiction. You can't make this stuff up, guys.

Librarians won't tell you what to do...

They'll just send you really passive-aggressive notices.

Amazing. Click click, sirs.

Go read my roundup

Over at Pimp My Novel. Unless you've already read it, in which case: besos for you, sir or madam.


Crowdsourcing Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck fans of the world, prepare yourselves to vote on the cover of his novel. Just think: Lady Liberty, or Lad Liberty?

Professor of vice, scholar of debauchary

It turns out academics do more fun stuff that I had previously thought. First we found this analysis of the ethics of vampirism (and part 2 is up!), and now we have Mara L. Keire of Oxford, who writes about American red light districts. She says:
I wanted to write a history of American drug culture, but I soon discovered that if I wanted to talk about the regulation of drugs, I really needed to understand the regulation of alcohol. And to understand the limitations on drinking, I needed to grapple with people’s attitudes toward saloons. Once I started reading the anti-saloon literature, I soon realized that reformers were more concerned about men drinking with prostitutes than with workers grabbing a beer. In other words, step by step I found that I was studying red-light districts: the environment for vice, not simply vice itself.
So. Smart. Please be my friend!

Readers, overwhelmed by choice, implode and buy nothing

Book pricing has gone haywire. Peter Osnos at the Atlantic uses David Remnick's The Bridge as an example of the pricing craziness (although he could also have pointed to the forthcoming Twilight novella):
Here are the ways you can buy it: the hardcover list price is $29.95 and the CD audio lists at $50. But that is barely the beginning. Amazon sells the printed book for $16.47, the Kindle e-book version for $14.82, the audio CD for $31.50, and the downloadable audio for $34.12. B&N.com has a "member" price for the hardcover of $15.52 and the CD for $36. At Borders.com, the book is $17.97. The Sony Reader e-book is $14.50.
What Osnos takes away from this is that a) things are bananas in publishing, and b) readers should take advantage before they figure it out. I think it probably has more to do with the ease of comparing prices, as bookstores have always had the discretion of their own pricing (although fewer format options).

Just remember, in your shopping, that some people are not so fond of the Apple bookstore, even though vooks are big in iPad world.


Revisting the past, YA style

A new trend in the blogosphere is rereading childhood books and mocking their hilarity. Also enjoying the awesomeness that was Sweet Valley.

How to write the sexy bits

Russell Smith put together a guide to writing your own graphic sex in novels (not sex in graphic novels, although perhaps the advice would also apply?). I think the trick might be, "If you are snickering, so is everyone else."

Verily, thus Shakespeare tweeted

Shakespeare characters tweet, verily they do!


Hit Girl, Kick Ass, and language

On his blog, author China Mieville (who I think is a wonderful author, for what it's worth) put up an interesting analysis of the use of the word "c*nts" by an 11 year old girl in the movie "Kick Ass," in particular discussing the difference between how the term is used in the US and the UK. He writes:
When used as an epithet on either side of the Atlantic, c*nt has been invaluable to a misogynist agenda. There has, however, always been something explicit, & thus both exact but socially limiting, about the American version: used to attack women by describing them as their supposedly self-evidently loathsome vaginas, the cuss proclaims itself the woman-hatred it is. The British (& Antipodean) tradition, by contrast, in designating the vulva the telos of shittiness indiscriminately, though it may blunt the sheer stiletto specificity of the sexism, allows for a multitasking of spite: against a particular person, usually a man, predicated on that against an entire gender.
Mieville goes on to say that "Kick Ass" may well herald an age in which the c-word becomes regularly used for both genders, which will push the American meaning of the word to the neuter of the UK. I vigorously (very vigorously) disagree. It is not uncommon to hear men told "not to be a bitch," the implication being that their behavior is feminized and unacceptable. Similarly, I think that the use of the c-word toward men will convey the same negative concept of acting in a feminine way.

Now, Jezebel also addresses the representation of women in "Kick Ass," and deals with the c-word, and I am an unabashed Jezebel lover. However, Jezebel fails to recognize the teleology of the vulva, and doesn't use the word "gynophobia" (the lamest of phobias), so I'm a little torn on which interpretation to prefer.

Dothraki is real, squees from my face

So, ok, deep breaths: HBO created a grammar for the language Dothraki from A Game of Thrones. No I'm not that excited whatever shut up.

Charles Dickens: May have been a dick

So, rumor has it that Charles Dickens was not always so nice. To quote:
At the age of 45, [Dickens] decided that his wife no longer deserved his love, and he made her leave their home--her youngest children were then 9 and 6. "To think of the poor matron after 22 years of marriage going away out of her house!" said Thackeray at the time. The chattering classes probably knew about it, but Dickens continued to write his books celebrating the healing of families, the love of young sweethearts and the creation of new homes - while his discarded wife tried to preserve her early letters from her husband in order to prove to the children he tried to estrange from her that there was indeed a time when her husband had loved her.
But the question remains: does it matter if novelists are good people? Hopefully not, because if so, we are down to way fewer books to read, world.


Vampires do shop at Whole Foods

An open call to Emily Colette Wilkinson: please be my friend. Although I ever so slightly mocked this conference on vampires in modern writing, and still think it is a little silly, Wilkinson has written a really amazing analysis of vampirism in the Twilight and Sookie Stackhouse books, which made my inner psuedo-academic fall in love. She writes:
Our vegetarian vampires, I think, are afflicted with the same crises of conscience that we are as first-world twenty-first century humans. We eat too much, we shop too much, we use too much fuel, water, land; we mistreat the animals on which we depend for food and the other peoples whose labor produces for us the cheap abundant goods we have all grown so used to....Contemporary vampire fiction mirrors our collective anxiety about our need for self-discipline and a return to a more humane approach to our fellow beings....From the shimmering pâleur of the vampire radiates something new and hardly otherworldly: an aura of white liberal guilt.
The whole post is absolutely worth the read, and is only the first of two. Is there such a thing as being a pop culture PhD? Because if so, I will start working on stuff like this posthaste.

Young explorers, unite for nature

Things everyone loves this time of year: rediscovering that there is life outside, enjoying said life outside, adventures. For the tiny people around, this isn't always a "rediscovery" so much as a first time discovery. But how can we interest them in the great outdoors while secretly educating them?

This list of nature focused picture books is the equivalent of hiding carrots in cookies. They'll never know that education has hit them square between the eyes.

1770, a great year for sex

The 1770s, which saw the American Revolutionary War and the beginning of Britain's industrial revolution, was a trying decade for England. Luckily, that timeframe also saw the publication of the erotic pamphlet, The Crafty Chambermaid.

While we all appreciate ye olde erotica (Boccaccio, looking at you), not only is this original mass market written in verse, but the titles of the three segments are faboosh, being "How the young Merchant fell in Love with his Mother's Chambermaid"; "How they met in a Grove, where the young Merchant attempted her chastity"; and "How the Crafty Chambermaid outwitted the Merchant, by putting an old Bunter to her bed, which so affrighted him that he ran down Stairs and alarmed the Family; Concluding with their happy Marriage, and other things of Note".

Also from the article:
Another title in the collection is The Devonshire Garland. "This one's slightly racier," said custodian Emma Wright. "It includes incest and all sorts of things – the main protagonist dies when she realises she's inadvertently slept with her son."
People in the 1770s really knew how to party.


I will break you! Son of a biscuit.

This video is dual purpose: it is hilarious, and it quells my desire to have kids. They are loud, and, in this case, super rude. I would have been in time out about 15 times during this 10 minute video if I had pulled these stunts when I was 3. Actually, I would still be in time out now.End digression, commence video!

To quote Zaylee: I will break you! If you don't watch this. Although if you watch the outtakes, you worry that this is how the Britney Spears-es and Lindsay Lohans of the world got started. First it's a Flip camera and some chocolate chips, next it's Disney stardom and rehabs. Stay strong, Zaylee!

Glenn Beck owns you

Glenn Beck, giant crying man child, made $13 million this year from publishing. This is not counting his other endeavors.

Why yes, I am super jealous and bitter. How did you know?

Read my round up or face my wrath

Seriously, I will sic a dinosaur on you if you don't read my round up. Go read!


Decoding Palin, don'tcha know

Honestly, I can't remember if Sarah Palin ever said "don'tcha know" or if that was only the mom from Bobby's World, but either way, I think the point is made that Palin has some great folksy shit to say. Luckily, for those of us too bourgeois to understand the peasant dialect she speaks, a translation has arrived.

But seriously, it's a really interesting analysis of how Palin speaks, and how she conveys her message through her style. You betcha!

An anthropological look at vampire lit

The University of Hertfordshire is putting on a conference about vampires in literat...books. And it looks to be a doozy! Potential topics include:
  • sexuality and the (living or undead) body  
  • Goth culture 
  • celluloid vampires: adaptations and incarnations
  • teen vampire/zombie fiction 
  • blood, money, and circulation 
  • the Undead as Other (nationality, class, gender, etc.)
Guys. We are ALL GOING. To quote the cinema: pack your shit! Pack your shit! We gotta get out of here!

Classics be damned, one star!

Over at Salon, Jeanette Demain writes about the rash of one star reviews for classics on Amazon. Just because something is called a classic doesn't mean it's any good, sirs. My favorite review she cites is about Charlotte's Web:
I really didn't care that Wilbur won first prize. And how in the world does a pig and a spider become friends? It's beyond me....Even as a child I found the plot very far-fetched. It is because of this horrid book that I eat sausage every morning and tell my dad to kill every spider I see.
And my day has been made. Go to the link to check out all of the poorly spelled and completely ungrammatical rants. You will not be sorry.


Judy Blume quiz!

Check it out, ladies and gents. I scored a 64%, which is higher than Jessica at Jezebel. Beat that!

What Phillip Pullman means to me

Phillip Pullman has been around the internet a lot lately, because of his new book about Jesus and the controversy it has stirred, as well has his views on the future of publishing and on censorship. However, his fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials, is still the jewel in his crown, and Intelligent Life has a great analysis of Pullman's style, taking a look at the things that make him the writer he is.

When asked how to become an expert on art, Rabo Karabekian replies, "All you have to do, my dear, is look at a million paintings, and then you can never be mistaken." The same can be said for great writing--all you have to do, my dears, is read a million books (and probably think about how they're written), and you'll never be mistaken about good and bad writing again. One analysis down, 999,999 to go.

Number crunching: Family fun

Publishers Weekly put out a revised list of 2009 book sales, fiction and non-fiction, hard covers and mass markets. What's really interesting (and perhaps obvious) is that almost all of the top selling titles are by authors who are franchises in and of themselves.


I super do want an iPad, it turns out

So, yea, I think in theory the iPad has a lot of weird problems, and I understand that no Flash, and no USB ports, and the weird keyboard issues, are all bad. And these beautifully rounded up iPad skeptics do point to something important.

But...it is so. Shiny. Apple, how do you make everything so desirable? Clearly the answer is that Steve Jobs is a wizard.

In which stalking pays off

Step 1: Write a book.
Step 2: Get book rejected many, many, many many times.
Step 3: Find the address of famous people who run a television book club.
Step 4: Book deal!

Yes, this is the only way to get a book deal. Commence stalking, all ye who enter here.

The First Brother-in-Law spills

And boy, does he have some nice, enthusiastic, and encouraging things to say. Note to Craig Robinson: you're doing tell-all wrong.

Robinson, brother of the First Lady, has a memoir coming out, in which he wrote about his parents meeting not-yet-President Obama. Verdict? "'Too bad,' Marian said. 'Yep,' Fraser answered. 'She'll eat him alive.'"

This is, of course, the prequel to Robinson's novel about zombie Michelle Obama, in which she literally eats Pres-bama alive.


Consumers and t-shirts and lit, oh my!

America is the land of consumerism and capitalism, folks, and culture and money have always gone hand in hand. The best way to spend your money may be on these literary t-shirts. Super cool!

Plus, if you wear one of those shirts, and use one of these book covers, you can read Twilight or erotica on the subway, and no one will be the wiser.

Eating, reading, and Laura Ingalls Wilder

I have a deep love for Laura Ingalls Wilder--at first, when I was little, almost entirely because she was another Laura, but later because her adventures were so awesome. Now I have another reason to love: her written food-gasm. Pete Wells writes:
Some of Wilder’s accounts of hog butchering are exact enough to serve as manuals. If you have a big enough pot (and the fortitude to scrape out a pig’s cranium), you could follow her directions for boiling the head meat, then chopping, seasoning, cooling and shaping it. You would have head cheese. And while her description of Ma’s cooking off the fat in big iron pots over a wood stove might not inspire can-do confidence in a first-time lard renderer, it does, in fact, give a reasonably complete picture of the process, down to the skimming and draining of the crunchy solids, the cracklings.
Om nom nom. Plus, he includes recipes! Hurray, Laura Ingalls Wilder, greatest of writers and first food writer I ever cared about.

Prison bloggers, unite

Lil' Wayne, recently incarcerated rap artist, has begun blogging from jail. Now, I don't particularly care about what he has to say, but Gawker put together a great post comparing Lil' Wayne's prison blogging to great prison writers of old, including St. Paul and the Marquis de Sade.

Prison: can super help your writing. That advice is free to all you aspiring novelists!


April Fools is over, thank God

I really dislike April Fools Day, mostly because it makes sifting through the internet really, really irritating. Luckily, someone put all of the AFD literary shenanigans together, so we won't all tear our hair out all weekend trying to get to the bottom of the truth (which, contrary to popular belief, I can indeed handle).

Villainous, authors

Some authors are bad, reader types. Not only in the "talent" sense, but also, often, in the cinematic "what a bad ass or a crazy" way. And, oh look, a gallery of the best of these bad authors!

How convenient.

Round up time

At PMN. check it out!


E-books ruin America, make babies and puppies cry

The people are angry, reader types--angry at the e-book overlords. First they won't display all book covers on iTunes, which makes for the crankness. Very enraging, and it's only the tip of the iceberg!

Then the e-books make it harder to flirt on the subway, because you can't see the cover and strike up a conversation (even when the reader is perhaps actively giving you dissuading vibes and non-committal answers and is on her way to work and doesn't want to talk to anyone and is already lobbying to be one of someone's many fiancees and oh em gee please stop talking to me).

Also, e-books are putting monks out of business. Have ye no decency, sirs?

Twilight returns, funds blood suckers

Stephenie Meyer wrote a new novella! Which she's giving away for free on her website! Which stars a vampire who was in Twilight! And if you do buy it, money will be donated to the Red Cross! Which I assume was picked because it's ironic to have vampirism benefit blood donation! But I'm not sure, and might be giving people too much credit!

And now I am exhausted, from that sincere level of enthusiasm.

Nicholas Sparks-ize your movie

Nicholas Sparks, you are so good at writing really similar books and making people buy them. Give me your secret potion sir!

Oh, wait, someone else already found it, and showed us what 10 movies would be like if they were inspired by Nicholas Sparks novels. So...good...

Plus, thank you, great Rejectionist, for sending along the link, with the subject line "HAHAHAHAHA" and no text in the body of the email. You read my friggin mind.


Margaret Atwood loves Twitter.

Seriously, she loves the Twitter. She writes:
One follower led to another, quite literally. The numbers snowballed in an alarming way, as I scrambled to keep up with the growing horde. Soon there were 32,000—no, wait, 33,000—no, 33,500… And before you could say LMAO (“Laughing My Ass Off,” as one Twitterpal informed me), I was sucked into the Twittersphere like Alice down the rabbit hole. And here I am.
Oh my goodness, Ms. Atwood, I officially love you.

Celebrity gossip? Count me in

I am a devoted Jezebel reader, and they have yet to let me down. A perfect example of this continued excellence is this gallery of 20 celebrity biographies you must read. Damn you Jezebel, giving me more to read...

Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters

Never had to have a chaperone, no sir, I'm there to keep my eye on her.

Sisters are important, reader types, because, as the song says, they care, share, stick together--all sorts of things. Celebrate sisters with this list of the best books about sisters, which I think is pretty good (except it includes I Capture the Castle, which I haaaaated last time I read it).

And, to leave you with the immortal words of sisterly love: Lord help the mister, who comes between me and my sister, and Lord help the sister who comes between me and my man.