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Sunday Links, August 10, 2014

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What to Read Next

John Scalzi lists his favorite books about epidemics.  I’m surprised he left out Mira Grant’s Newsfeed Trilogy — but maybe he classifies those more as zombie novels than novels about epidemics.  But if that’s the case, how come he included Max Brooks’s World War Z?  Still, it’s hard to argue with his choices; Stephen King’s The Stand may be the best book ever written about an epidemic.

io9 has a terrific list of ten novels that will make you more passionate about science.  It would be easy to double the size of that list, I think.  Add the novels of Richard Powers, for instance (maybe Plowing the Dark would be a good place to start), or some of Marge Piercy’s work (like He, She and It), or a novel or two by Margaret Drabble (The Peppered Moth, perhaps).

CNN offers its opinion on what African writers you should be reading right now.  The article substantially lengthened my list of books to read.


Buzzfeed, with one of its inimitable lists, gives us 18 things that happen when you’re addicted to reading.  Number 12 is especially telling for me, as I regularly burst into tears when something sad happens in books.  You should have seen me while I was reading John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars.  (Or, rather, it’s a good thing you didn’t; red eyes, leaking nose and splotchy face is not my best look.)

I’ve had this feeling more than once:  either I liked something no one else did, or I hated something everyone else liked.  It’s the reviewer’s dilemma.


io9 offers tips for creating memorable characters.

Lev Grossman offers advice on how not to write your first novel in a fascinating biographical essay.  I’m excited to read his new novel, The Magician’s Land — the third in his trilogy of books about a school for wizards that is no Hogwarts, but somehow manages to convey much of the same charm on a fully adult level.


The dispute between Amazon and Hachette continues to simmer — though just lately, it seems to be coming to a rolling boil.  Amazon has launched a website called readersunited.com, through which it is appealing to its customers to support it in the dispute.  John Scalzi wrote a well-reasoned article on his blog, Whatever, about how this gambit indicates that Amazon is feeling increasingly nervous about how it is being perceived by its customers.  One of the reasons why Amazon seems to be feeling the pressure:  a petition by more than 900 authors, published in today’s New York Times, asking Amazon to stop using authors as hostages.  The signatories to the petition include a number of heavy hitters, including Stephen King, John Grisham and Douglas Preston.  Not all of the writers are published by Hachette, either, not by a long shot — but they all understand that their publishers could be next in Amazon’s crosshairs.  The Guardian has more information about the petition.  One of the bloggers for the Times points out how wrong Amazon was to choose George Orwell and paperback books as their example of how publishers and authors resist new forms of publication.  Independent authors have responded with a petition of their own in support of Amazon.  Author Hugh Howey has gone further, writing on his blog that authors are being hoodwinked by traditional publishers, who are making a fortune off electronic books but failing to share the riches with the people who wrote the product that’s making them so much money.  The Los Angeles Times, on the other hand, writes about how Amazon’s numbers regarding ebooks aren’t as transparent as Amazon suggests.  How will this dispute be resolved?  It’s anyone’s guess, but right now it looks to me as if Amazon is losing.  Stay tuned.

Fun Stuff

To celebrate the upcoming publication of Haruki Murakami’s new novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Toast gives us a list of ten ways to determine whether we’re in a Murakami novel.

Michael Cunningham and Ursula K. LeGuin talk about orthodoxy, gender and breaking down the barriers between genres.  The article also gives you a link to buy LeGuin’s The Lathe of Heaven for only $3.99.  It’s one of my favorite books of hers, and I heartily recommend it.