Sunday Links, July 28, 2013

Man Booker PrizeThe long list for the Man Booker Prize has been announced. I’ve heard of only a few of these books, so this is an especially good reference for me.

The winners of the Shirley Jackson Awards have been announced. You’ll find much more to add to your list of books and stories to read here.

The winners of the Thriller Awards have been announced. If you want to read the nominees as well as the winners you can find the complete list here.

The nominees for the Sideways Awards for Alternate History have been announced. The winners will be announced at the World Science Fiction Convention, commonly known as WorldCon, which will take place in San Antonio, Texas, on the weekend of August 30, 2013.

The InformantIf you’d like to read business books while you lounge on the sand, the New York Times has the right reading list for you. The books that are narrative descriptions of businesses or deals gone wrong — or right — sound like they might actually be entertaining enough to qualify as beach reads.

GracelingIf, on the other hand, you’d like something just as good as The Hunger Games to keep you occupied while you soak up the sun this August, BuzzFeed suggests 15 series to read that are just as good. I can vouch for Kristin Cashore’s novels, but suggest some caution with Cassandra Clare. There are at least a few others I’d like to try. It’s a good list. And the Kindle version of Veronica Roth’s Divergent is presently on sale at Amazon.

You can catch up on reading women writers of science fiction and fantasy by following A.C. Wise’s advice. Here’s Part One, and it’s hard to disagree with her suggestion that you start with Ursula K. LeGuin. Part Two is here, and I’d particularly note the inclusion of Toni Morrison. Fantasy is moving into the mainstream in a big way of late.

I’m fairly certain that Wise’s list was created in reaction to a good bit of discussion of sexism in publishing that’s been burning up the Internet lately. Here is an editor’s take on the issue, which some have dismissed as making excuses and others have found a position with merit.

You can catch up on SF short stories by women with this list, which helpfully provides links on where to find the 100 stories listed.

Pride and PrejudiceHere’s a sort of reverse list: avoid people who claim that their favorite novel is on this list. Yes, my favorite book is there: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. And while I waited with a houseful of cats for my Mr. Darcy, I actually got one. So there.

BookRiot asked its readers to recommend good history books. Those readers came through in a big way, with a list of great fiction and nonfiction, and the comments add even more.

Thousandth NightI bought quite a few of the novels on this list of Kindle science fiction and fantasy books available for $3.99 or less. I’m especially eager to read the novellas published by Subterranean Press, which are usually far too pricey for me.

The Millions writes about the most anticipated books of the second half of 2013. I’ll take one of each, please! (In fact, I’ve already pre-ordered Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, a sequel to The Shining.)

Cuckoo's callingYou’ve surely heard by now that J.K. Rowling disguised herself as Robert Galbraith to sell her mystery novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling. Have you thought, though, about the lessons her experience offer to the rest of us who scribble on?

Left Hand of DarknessHave you been reading these Sunday Links columns and wishing that they didn’t contain quite so much about science fiction, fantasy and horror? Well, I have an ulterior motive: I want to convert you to my favorite genres. And to help me in that quest, I turn to Damien Walter, who has this list of science fiction novels for people who hate science fiction. I’d start with Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, myself; it’s an amazingly good novel, regardless of genre.

And if you’re wondering why I’m so hot on science fiction, consider the possibility that science fiction may save the liberal arts. Short-sighted politicians see no benefit in studying anything but the natural sciences; yet the liberal arts are the laboratories of the imagination that gave rise to such inventions as the submarine, the helicopter and the cell phone. Be careful, politicians, in replacing those who dream with those who only follow directions and make. We need both sorts of people.

I don’t get it; why are we closing libraries? Have we really gotten past the need of a clean, well-lighted place for books (and computers) for those who can’t afford them? Or even those who can? I live with thousands of books I haven’t read yet, but I still go to the library almost weekly for other books I can’t afford as well as for the joy of being in a big building stuffed with books. The United Kingdom is looking to close 400 public libraries by 2016. What a horrendous idea.

I’m always coming across lists of the essential books in this or that genre that a well-informed reader absolutely must have read. I’ve never read everything on any such list, ever. But this list of science fiction and fantasy books at least gave me a chance; I’ve read 59 of the 100 books listed. How many have you read?

Great GatsbyBookRiot muses about whether there is such a thing as the Great American Novel. I’ve always thought Mark Twain wrote it in Huckleberry Finn, with F. Scott Fitzgerald coming in a close second with The Great Gatsby. Do you have a candidate? Do you accept the notion of a Great American Novel?

The brilliant John Kessel has written an excellent essay about “innocent killers,” focusing largely on Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. This novel has been made into a big budget film that will be hitting the theaters this fall, so this essay is especially valuable.

Writing is hard. No, really, it is. I don’t know why it should be so difficult to sit down and put words on a page, but it is. So if you need to get something written, these 10 inspirational TED talks might be of use.

Penguin Random HousePenguin and Random House have finalized their merger, giving rise to Penguin Random House. I really would have liked the name Random Penguin myself, but I guess that carried a bit too much fun, as neither of these publishing houses has ever been known for having much of a sense of humor. Two hundred and fifty imprints! Wow. The New York Times calls this move “publishing’s big gamble,” and they may be right: it will be a challenge for the imprints to maintain some form of distinctiveness if that’s not a priority. And distinctiveness is what the marketplace needs.

The fallout for authors from a merger or financial problems with a publisher can be immense. Imagine having published two books of a trilogy with one publisher when that publisher suddenly becomes insubstantial, disappearing from the world little by little, problems mounting. Or imagine hearing that your publisher has just filed for bankruptcy, as recently happened to my husband. Yikes! J.M. McDermott writes about how the Night Shade Books affected him. I sure hope Skyhorse will be a more than worthy successor to Night Shade, which, whatever else you might say about it, sure knew how to pick good books and new authors.

Just in case you needed an excuse to read, it turns out that being a lifelong bookworm may keep your intelligence at its peak in old age. It makes sense to me that exercising the brain would work the same way that exercising the body does. I’m a fan of Lumosity, the website with brain games and the daily workout, which serves much the same purpose, but it’s good to know that reading and writing also help, because reading and writing pretty much define my life.

Readers seem to love to play with the objects of their obsession. Hence things like book titles with one letter missing (The DaVinci Cod, for example). I personally find the Steinbeck rewrite of “Mad Men” to be pretty compelling.

If you’re not sure whether you’re addicted to books or not, this list should help you figure it out. I always have suitcases that look like the one pictured in #13, even after the advent of the Kindle.

Game of ThronesTelevision has come up with a pretty cool Iron Throne for “The Game of Thrones,” but it’s nothing like the throne that exists in George R.R. Martin’s imagination. The artist for Martin’s conception is Marc Simonetti — a name I’m going to be keeping an eye out for in the future, because his renderings are beautiful.

When you sleep with a book, you never sleep alone.

Yale LibraryAnd I’ll leave you with even more pretty pictures: first, ten beautiful bookstores; and, second, the 49 prettiest libraries in the world. I’ve not really heard of library- and bookstore-centric tourism, but one could do worse than to discover the world by visiting places for books. Yes, Hay on Wye, one day I’ll visit; I promise.


1 Comment to Sunday Links, July 28, 2013

  1. July 28, 2013 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    What an excellent batch of links! All the shortlists are driving me nuts—there’s so much I want to read this summer.

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