Sunday Links, September 22, 2013

RedshirtsThe winners of the Hugo Awards were announced over Labor Day weekend at WorldCon. Apparently the fact that John Scalzi’s Redshirts won the award for best novel caused some controversy, especially because Scalzi is such a popular figure in the blogosphere with his Whatever blog. I thought Redshirts was funny and occasionally deep, but I’m not sure I would have voted for it as the best novel of the year. Then again, I wouldn’t have voted for the other two of the five nominated books I’ve read, either, though I enjoyed both. Perhaps I have a bad case of English-majoritis, along with others who dislike that this populist award keeps handing the honors to popular books and popular writers.

The second Copper Cylinder Awards have been awarded.

The Man Booker Prize shortlist has been announced.

Doctor SleepOmnivoracious offers its list of the best books of September.

Kirkus lists its best bets for science fiction and fantasy published in September.

Western North Caroline Public Radio has some suggestions for fall reading.

Nathan Fillion (left) and Richard Richard Brooks in the Fox TV show FireflyIs science fiction a discriminatory genre? The Guardian believes it is, holding that most authors are white males. Most reviewers are, too, as are most books reviewed. Yet I’m reading an awful lot of terrific stuff by non-white and/or female writers just lately. Perhaps it’s a matter of choice? And if so, why do so many readers choose to read books written by white males? Is that a result of the biases in reviewing? Do publishers have biases of which they’re not aware? How do we fix this, if it’s really a problem?

Gender biases cause problems when we’re trying to get boys to read, too. The whole notion of gendering books — deciding what book is appropriate for boys to reach, and which for girls — discourages early readers.

Moby DickLots of us lie about having read classic books we haven’t actually read. Not me; I’m willing to tell anyone that I’ve never made it through any Dickens novel, and that I’ve read the first couple hundred pages of Moby-Dick at least three times, but never finished it. What book do you pretend you’ve read, but never really laid eyes on through to the last page?

The computer revolution is bringing change to the Library of Congress. Hope they don’t decide to do away with books altogether.

And speaking of the computer revolution, there’s a new service called Oyster that’s being described as “Netflix for books”. I thought this was what I was already getting through my Amazon Prime membership, where I get to borrow books for free, but there are apparently enough distinctions and extra perks to Oyster that Amazon is feeling a bit nervous.

KindleI fear that I will soon have loaded my Kindle with as many books as it can contain, and still want to purchase more e-books. But what’s really embarrassing is when I get set to buy a book, only to be told I bought it a year ago, or six months ago or even — and this is really embarrassing — only six weeks ago. Is this a sort of Kindle Dementia? If so, is there any cure? (And this has been happening to me with paper books for years, so it’s not like it’s anything new. Still, I will continue to insist unto my dying day that there’s no such thing as too many books.)

Here’s a nice, chewy article about literary fiction and its discontents — its deliberate discontents. It’s well worth reading not just the article, but also the comments (which are polite and complex and interesting).

This essay on the novella is also a strong article about a piece of the literary world — and one that gets little notice. I’ve enjoyed novellas for a long time, especially because they are so well-suited to science fiction and fantasy, but this article takes the form well past those genres to talk about how useful it is generally. It’s going to take me a while to study it, and to read some of the sources and examples cited.

On WritingI may have found my nephew’s Christmas present: four books that every young writer should read. In fact, I think I’ll read them myself, even though I am no longer young. I’m still young as a writer!

How much are you willing to pay for an e-book? This article breaks it down: this price is a “buy on sight” and that price is a “I have to know the author.” For me, if it’s an author I love, I’m going to want hard copy — but if it’s an author I love and the hard copy is an expensive small press edition, or she’s publishing her book as a serial, I’ll go for the e-book.

I’ve become a convert to e-books with the purchase of my Kindle Paperwhite, and now there’s a new one that’s supposed to be even better. Gizmodo gives you the lowdown. In addition, the Los Angeles Times explains everything else Amazon announced about its MatchBook Program.

time to readHave you noticed that your e-reader will tell you not only what your location in the book is (in a “location number” that is completely meaningless to me, as well as in a percentage figure that’s a lot more revealing), but also how many minutes are left in the book? I presume this means the book is predicting how much longer I should be reading it, or any subpart of it. I don’t usually get anywhere near the short time period the book predicts, which confirms what I’ve said about myself for years: I don’t read fast, I just read constantly. Do you want your books to tell you how long you should spend reading them? Flavorwire says not just no, but hell no.

When books can tell you how long you’ve got to read them, we’re opening the way to other complaints by our paged friends, too.

I’m a bit surprised at this list of films based on comics that, apparently, most people don’t know were based on comics. I did. But then, I read comics. There’s a lot of interesting work going on in this medium of late. You might consider giving a graphic novel a try one of these days and seeing if you agree.

the crane has some tips for the budding book collector. Most book collectors I know didn’t set out to be collectors, but just sort of accumulated a library as the years went by — and then maybe chose a particular author or set or publisher they wanted to collect. That’s how it worked for my husband, who has been seduced by various publishers (he collects DAW paperbacks, having started when all DAW paperbacks had yellow spines and the publisher never issued hardcovers; it’s not quite as much fun now that the publisher has expanded into hardcover and dropped the yellow spines, even if they are still numbered sequentially). Me, I collect science fiction, fantasy, horror and mysteries, with no special focus beyond “I want to read this.” E-books might change that for me, though, as there are some books I’ve read in that intangible format that I want as signed, hardcover first editions. (Just wait until you read The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness early next year. It’s an amazing book.)

anna dressed in bloodSchool Library Journal explains that horror is a staple, not a trend among books written for — and read by! — young people. I’ll add that if you’re not reading young adult fiction these days, you’re missing out on some excellent writing. As far as I can tell, the only thing that gives a book a YA label these days is the fact that the protagonist is under 18.

Is there anyone reading this who does not consider himself or herself addicted to books? If you have to ask yourself that question, here’s a handy quiz from Buzzfeed that will help you figure it out.

Maybe you’re having the opposite problem: you’ve got reader’s block. If so, this column will help you get out of it. It’s not unusual for me to find I’ve started a dozen books and nothing’s caught my attention, which is a form of reader’s block — and one addressed in the linked article. Maybe you need to have a good talk with your slump before you can let it go, though.
Today is officially the first day of fall. It’s time to put away the hammocks, replace the petunias with mums, and start thinking about Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even a bibliophile has some changes to make.

The Night CircusAnd now: literary manicures. I wince at the thought of what these must cost. They’d be great fun, though. I’d especially love to have the manicure for The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

I’ve been rereading Stephen King’s The Shining in preparation for reading Doctor Sleep, the sequel, which is due out on Tuesday. I’ve seen Stanley’s Kubrick’s interpretation of the book in film; who hasn’t at least seen Jack Nicholson’s “He-e-e-e-e-r-e’s Johnny!” I find a horror film to be far more disturbing than horror on the page, perhaps because I can pace my reading, while a film goes at its own pace. But io9 contends that there are at least 10 books that are scarier than most horror movies. I’ve read a few of them, but I’m still not sure I agree. What say you?

Fore-edge paintingBooks are so often works of art, often in mysterious ways. I never heard of hidden fore-edge paintings, but these examples of the art will blow you away.

Cats and dogs demonstrate 15 kinds of readers.

I leave you with some beauty: these miniature libraries are astonishing in their detail.


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