Welcome to Sunday Links, fans! As usual when your capricious Linker misses a few weeks, her return column is full to the brim with information and fun. So pour yourself a cup of coffee, an orange juice, a hot chocolate or some other lovely beverage to get you through the next couple of hours, pull up a chair, and settle in for some clicks.
First and foremost: we’ve lost Lucius Shepard. I’m finding that I can’t quite take that in completely. He is one of the writers I most admire, if only for his amazing creation of The Dragon Griaule. Go find one of his books and read it, regardless of your genre preference. Lucius was one of the greats, and it is a genuine tragedy that we will have no new writing from him as our years go on.
Awards and Award Nominations
‘Tis the season for book awards and nominations, and they’re coming fast and furious.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced its 2014 Literature Award winners.
The Arthur C. Clarke Award nominees have been announced. And this year the list contains a couple of books by women — a nice improvement over last year’s all-male list.
Ursula K. LeGuin has won the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction from Literary Arts, an organization that honors Oregon writers, for her two-volume short story retrospective, The Unreal and the Real.
The 26th Annual Lambda Literary Award finalists have been announced. These awards “celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender writing for books published in 2013.”
Looking for something new to read? Pick a list and see if you don’t wind up with an armload of new books.
Brian Eno offers 20 essential books for sustaining civilization.
Were you an insatiable reader as a kid? Buzzfeed takes your childhood favorites and uses them to offer you some tasty new books to read now that you’re an adult.
The Huffington Post takes a similar approach to suggesting women writers to read in 2014: if you liked X, you’ll surely like Y, with Xs and Ys in a variety of genres.
Are graphic novels your thing? If so, io9 has a list of 17 fantastic completed webcomics for you to binge read. See you in May!
Detective novels not your thing? Don’t miss these essential detective novels for people who don’t read detective novels.
Read the book that’s most popular in your state! Or pick a state at random and read the most popular book there. This website identifies the most popular book in each of the 50 states.
BuzzFeed has a list of 13 reasons 2014 might be the best year for fantasy in the 21st century. It’s hard for me to disagree when I have all of these books either preordered or already in my hot little hands.
Spritz, a new app for reading faster, gave rise to a lot of handwringing about reading generally. Me, I’d rather read at a pace that allows me to enjoy what I’m reading, not just take it in.
Charlie Jane Anders looks at the statistics about reading around the world in a lengthy article on io9. Her conclusion seems to be that reading for a sustained period of time, whether from paper or a screen, is a more rewarding experience than reading in short bursts. Me, I’m still reeling from the thought that most people in the United States only read about five hours each week. I’d go mad from withdrawal if you limited my reading that drastically!
Mashable has the 25 best Tumblrs for book nerds. Lots of great stuff here, and the article is worth looking at to get the links to Writers No One Reads and Go Book Yourself all by themselves. And I got lost on the Strand Tumblr for a while, just looking at what that marvelous bookstore finds in used books — photographs, annotations, notes — amazing stuff. And the vlog brothers! How did I not know about them before?
Why are you addicted to books? You don’t need BuzzFeed to tell you why, but they give you 33 reasons anyway. A bunch of nice quotations from a bunch of great authors, with some cool pictures of people reading to go along with them.
To make this a better world, everyone needs to read more science fiction.
We all tend to judge books by their covers. Back in the days when I lived in a big city and therefore rode public transportation instead of driving a car, I used to be embarrassed by the covers of some of the books I read (which wasn’t unusual for a science fiction / fantasy / horror reader in those days — and, to some degree, is still usual (especially for horror) today). And sometimes I’m embarrassed that some covers make me want to read books that are not books I really want to read. (For that convoluted mess of a sentence, read: I liked the covers to the Twilight books.) If you’re going to judge a book by its cover, do it intelligently.
Need a shortcut to all of Shakespeare’s deaths and murders? Here you go — an infographic you can cut out, fold up, put in your pocket, and use for fun at parties.
Are you ready for bookless libraries? The Bexar County Library outside San Antonio, Texas, has created an all-digital library called BiblioTech. Granted, it’s only a branch in a system that has plenty of actual, physical libraries, but it still gave me a chill.
Are Costco stores a model for internet-era public libraries? It’s an interesting thought: more training for staff, more investment in staff, more investment in inventory, more value for the consumer.
We’ve had a great deal of dystopian fiction being published in recent years, but I don’t remember seeing any fiction about utopias during the same time. That makes this io9 article about seven utopias that changed the future all the more interesting. I never thought of “Star Trek” as a utopia before, but it works.
British war diaries from 1914-1922 are now available for electronic browsing through Britain’s National Archives. This is an obvious boon to historians, but for those who just want a picture of the past through the eyes of those who lived it, it’s also a valuable resource.
Damien Walter suggests that writers stop thinking of their work as a profession and begin thinking of it as a practice. He explains, in part, that “The happiest and most creatively fulfilled writers I know are the ones who tend to put their writing practice ahead of any and all professional concerns unless they can be balanced.” It’s a great bit of writing, and quite an inspiration.
I was very taken by this article on 18 things creative people do differently. I practice some of these things — I’m pretty good at observing everything, people-watching, surrounding myself with beauty (that’s what all these bookcases and books are, people: sheer beauty (though the rose on my desk is nice, too)). But some of these items were and are considered huge mistakes, and I’ve had that pounded into me for more than 50 years: no day dreaming, no working all night, no solitude. I’m going to reread this article every week for a few months and make a conscious effort to practice some of these steps. And I’m going to stop beating myself up when I stay up until 3:00 a.m. working to finish a project. And then maybe some of the other, more difficult steps will become easier.
For the speculative fiction writer, io9 gets more specific with ten things every new creator of science fiction should know. “You’re the worst judge of your own work” is especially important for me to remember, as I never think any of my stuff is any good.
The Association of Writers and Writing Programs hosted Ursula K. LeGuin and Molly Gloss, two excellent science fiction writers, at their recent meeting. It was apparently a great meeting, with lots of advice for the blooming speculative fiction writer.
Brain Pickings explains the difference between good writing and talented writing, with help from Samuel Delany: “Good writing is clear. Talented writing is energetic. Good writing avoids errors. Talented writing makes things happen in the reader’s mind — vividly, forcefully — that good writing, which stops with clarity and logic, doesn’t.” I think I need Delany’s book, About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews.
And as the rejections roll in, I’ll remember: famous people got rejection letters, too. It’s always a comfort to remember that the likes of Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Plath and Kurt Vonnegut got plenty of rejections — and sometimes some pretty darned snide ones, too.
Author Chuck Wendig explains the varied emotional stages of writing a book. You’ll laugh until you cry. This particularly rang true for me: “Every word is like extracting a rotten tooth with a pair of rusty needle-nose pliers. It is a day of great effort that yields nearly no result. A rich, full fruit tree with one fucking apple dangling.” Yeah. Tell me about it.
William Kingsland and Rakesh Satyel of Siegel + Gale suggest that publishers need to think more like Amazon. In particular, they suggest that publishers will need to develop more of a direct relationship with their ultimate customers, those who read books, instead of the middlemen, the bookstores. How conscious are you of who publishes what you want to read? I didn’t begin to notice who published what until I started writing book reviews, when I noticed that certain publishers seemed to always publish books I really liked. And really, don’t you pretty much always trust Knopf and Farrar Straus and Giroux for mainstream fiction? Don’t you seek out the small, specialty presses for the best horror fiction? They all have personalities. Pay attention to whose colophon on the spine of the next couple of books you read and see if you agree.
The blog Dear Author wonders if genre fiction is creating a market for lemons — that is, whether the bad self-published genre fiction is driving out the good stuff, or at least making it much harder to find and much more expensive. It’s a great economic study that looks to Gresham’s Law (yes, that college course in economics you took really will help you out here) to explain that we should exercise some caution lest we wind up with nothing but crap to read.
Chuck Wendig points out that the lack of competition for Amazon is dangerous. You can’t buy an e-book from another retailer and read it on your Kindle, can you? And yes, that’s a growing problem.
In the wake of the Google Books decision allowing Google to scan 20 million books from libraries and make them available on the internet, what does “fair use” mean under the copyright laws? Has this exception finally eaten the rule?
At The Millions, book editors discuss the first books they acquired. Sure sounds like a fun job.
First, fictional restaurants that came to life. Most of them are in amusement parks, but what the heck? They’re still fun.
And I saved the best for last: children’s classic books as minimalist posters. If I had children, these would decorate their bedroom walls. As it is, they may wind up decorating my own.