Sunday Links, August 18, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the LaneNot the Booker Prize published its long list. Some really marvelous-sounding books there. The shortlist was announced a few days later, and Neil Gaiman is at the top. Sounds like I need to pick his new book up soon. The winner will be announced on October 12.

The finalists for the David Gemmell Legend Awards have been announced.

The Killing MoonThe winners of the World Fantasy Awards have been announced.

There are oodles of science fiction, fantasy and horror Kindle books on sale this month for $3.99 or less; and here, another 18. I must have purchased at least a dozen. Does anyone know if Amazon has a similar list for other genres?

If you prefer to swap instead of buy, Local Book Swap might have something for you.

The-MillionsFlavor Wire offers the 25 best websites for book lovers. I agree that The Millions belongs right at the top, and a few of the other recommendations seem right on target to me, which means I’ll be perusing others on the list that I’ve somehow overlooked. What’s your favorite?

Fantasy readers know that magic comes in many different forms, and that some systems of magic are written better than others. io9’s readers discuss the best magical systems in literature.

The Lies of Locke LamoraI recently reread The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch; you can read my review here. I think it’s one of the best fantasy novels of recent years, along with Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind and George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. You can read more about the book in this piece about the novel and its sequels, which notes that the author seems to have had a grand time writing it. The third book in the series is coming out this fall, and I can’t wait.

DickensI’ve always wished I could set down a book that I wasn’t enjoying, but I rarely do that. For one thing, I don’t think it’s fair to review a book I haven’t completely read. For another, I guess I’m a bit obsessive. Something’s going to have to change, because there are just too many great new – and old! – books to read and too few hours, days, weeks, months and years left in which to read them. Barnes & Noble offers the five stages of breaking up with a book that isn’t doing one any good. They picked a great example; I’ve always felt guilty about not reading any Dickens. But I still feel like I should keep trying.

When I was a kid, I had a favorite tree that I’d sit in to read. I don’t think anyone else ever used the platform that someone had carefully nailed into place at the top of a ladder of steps attached to the trunk but me, at least not during those summers. I’d spend hours on end reading the books that were ultimately responsible for making me the reader I am today. The Hairpin offers the books of summer, and asks readers to name their own “summer fever” books; the discussion goes on for more than 200 comments that name book after book. Perfect for your own kids to mine for good reading – or for you, for that matter.

Mary ShelleyWhy, yes, I do rather natter about the status of women in the literary world, don’t I? Here’s a piece from The Guardian about the “invisible women” of science fiction. It’s an interesting discussion of how women are dismissed as SF writers, despite one woman’s highly credible claim to have invented the genre.

It’s odd, but some writers quit, or even die, and yet continue to release new books. How? Through the magic of ghostwriters. I could have named a few more than appear in the linked article, including Robert B. Parker, who has several ghostwriters continuing his several series. At least they are given full credit.

King Golden HairHere’s some exciting news: some 500 new fairy tales have been discovered. I can’t wait to read them!

What’s next for the novel? Book Riot wants to know. It seems to think that some form of interactive art form will replace the novel in short order. But aren’t all novels interactive, in that you have to use your imagination to get what’s going on? Or is that a terribly old-fashioned thing to say?

Breakfast nookI keep books. I started accumulating them when I was in college, and the pace of acquisition has increased over the years. Many people don’t understand this, especially given that you can now carry 1000 books with you at one time in the form of an ereader. But I love being surrounded by books, for lots of reasons. Book Riot explains why one might choose to keep books instead of treating them as disposable items.

And along those lines, does anyone reading this need proof that reading a book is better than watching television? I spend far more hours on the former than on the latter, don’t you?

Franz KafkaMy husband and I are longing to go to Prague, the city we most associate with Franz Kafka. So this “blag” about Kafka caught my eye. I’d never heard or read the term “blag” before, but it apparently is the equivalent of a cheat sheet – a piece that will give you enough information so that you can sound informed about something about which you really know nothing. Read this piece and you can be an instant authority on Kafka, even if you’ve not even read “The Metamorphosis.”

If you’re looking to publish a story in a periodical, these tips from Lit Reactor might make the difference between acceptance and rejection. It seems so obvious to say that you should be familiar with the periodical to which you are submitting a story or an essay, but apparently lots of folks skip that step.

How do you tell when you’re a professional writer? Nick Mamatas offers a tongue-in-cheek – sort of – answer to that question.

DemosthenesMaybe what you need to be a professional writer is a weird habit or two. Barnes & Noble lists some of the weirdest writing habits of authors whose names we all know. Nowadays, though, if you shaved half your head, it wouldn’t mean you had to stay home until it grew back, thus forcing you to write. While that may have worked for Demosthenes, these days you’d just be making a fashion statement.

Yes, I was dismayed to learn that the author of a smutty, poorly-written trilogy earned more money than any other author in 2013 so far, and a writer who is more of an industry that an actual writer is second. In fact, in my estimation there are only three writers on that list worth their salt (which of the writers I would choose is left as an exercise for the reader.) If the world were just, better writers would be at the top. Book Riot explains why I’m just being a snob, and how the numbers are actually rather encouraging.

Speaking of snobs: here are some translations of the things book snobs say. I appear to be subject to the charge of snobbishness on quite a number of counts!

The increase in ebook sales is slowing, but Nathan Bransford explains why that’s essentially meaningless to the future of ebooks. I confess I find myself buying more and more ebooks myself, instead of investing in hard copy; my Kindle Paperwhite is very comfortable to read.

The next best thing to an e-reader for ease of reading? A mass market paperback. I wish the publishing industry hadn’t gone to trade paperbacks for so many titles; mass market paperbacks are cheaper, easier to hold, and less of an investment.

The disappearance of bookstores is more of a problem for publishers than for readers. As a reader, I have no trouble finding new books to read online, but it must be hard to break through all the noise and images to bring one particular book to the notice of one particular reader. I’m really curious to see how this is all going to work out.

Jeff BezosHave you heard that Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, has purchased the Washington Post? It’s not clear right now whether he’s buying it to kill it or to cure it. Bezos himself is promising “change,” but without offering specifics. One can hope that Bezos will pioneer a new paradigm for newspapers to save them from obsolescence, but it’s hard to know what will happen. If the news makes you overly anxious, try this comedy bit from the New Yorker stating that Bezos “clicked on Washington Post by mistake.” Lives there one among us who has not made that error at Amazon?

Pictures of Lego librarians! Very cool. Lots of fun.

And this video of the Jane Austen Fight Club had me crying tears of laughter.

Many of us readers are introverts. I’m not sure which way the causation runs; are we introverts because we like to read so much, and so much of the time, or are we readers because we’re introverted and would rather get our world mediated by the written word? At any rate, there are some problems only an introvert will understand, and Buzzfeed lists them.

Time XKCDXKDC is my favorite web comic. I don’t always get it, not being an engineer or a mathematician, but usually I do simply because I read a lot, including about science. Recently, the writer/artist, Randall Munroe, did a long, long series of frames called “Time.” It was a wonderful science fiction tale, and you can watch the whole thing here. It’s profound, in its own way, and well worth the 40 minutes it takes to see every frame.


3 Comments to Sunday Links, August 18, 2013

  1. Rohan's Gravatar Rohan
    August 18, 2013 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I hope readers of this blog will be able to think of at least one excellent website for book lovers that is shockingly absent from that Flavor Wire list … (cough cough Open Letters Monthly cough cough) :-)

  2. August 19, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    A small correction, those are not the winners of the World Fantasy Award but the nominee lists (except for the lifetime achievement award). Winners will be announced at WFC this fall.

  3. Kat Warren's Gravatar Kat Warren
    August 27, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Regarding that BookRiot piece on snobs, I especially like this one: “People who shop at Amazon for books are evil. = I have disposable income and like to make moral judgements about people who do not.”

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