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Sunday Links, July 6, 2014

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Half a KingWhat to Read Next

A Fantastical Librarian talks about the most anticipated new books for July and August, with a heavy emphasis on young adult novels.

Io9 lists the most essential science fiction and fantasy novels to be published in July.

Dreams of gods and monstersOmnivoracious lists the best young adult novels of the year — so far.  How many of them have you read?  (Me:  zero.  Lots more reading to do.)

Stella Four offers graphic novels to share with young readers.

Michael Dirda writes in The Washington Post about specialty presses and the innovative horror literature that they publish.  He doesn’t mention, though, that many of the books from these presses are beautiful objects in addition to being full of good reading material.  For instance, I’ve recently acquired a copy of Scott Nicolay’s Ana Kai Tangata, and it is a very well-made book with a sturdy dust jacket, interior illustrations and a strong binding.  And while I can’t afford them, I’ve browsed through some of Centipede Press’s gorgeous editions with great pleasure.  When I’m rich (and that’ll happen any day now, right?), I’m buying their entire line.

American innovationsKirkus provides a slideshow of nine contemporary novels that it believes are destined to be regarded as classics.  I couldn’t resist Rivka Galchen’s American Innovations — and truth be told, I own several of the other books mentioned as well.  Now if I only had time to read them!  (I must say that in every Sunday Links column, don’t I?)

Read Diversely!

We have alwaysCare to expand your reading horizons to include some books by women?  (Check the last ten books you’ve read:  aren’t a majority of them by male authors?  That seems to be the default, even among us feminists.  Books by men receive more reviews, more publicity by publishers, and, ultimately, more readers.)  Bustle suggests 13 women authors you may not have heard of, but who deserve your immediate attention.  Nine of these writers are women I’ve never heard of, and I’m fairly well-read, so my TBR list grew considerably longer when I read this column.  I’m a little surprised at the inclusion of Shirley Jackson, to whom I think most people are exposed in school (either because of “The Lottery” or “One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts,” two marvelous short stories); I would have suggested Angela Carter, who I believe is more often passed over and unheard of by many.  But hey, if the mention leads a few more readers to Jackson’s creepy novel, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, it’s very much to the good.

Who Fears DeathAlong the same lines, consider whether the movement toward diversity ought to include science fiction and fantasy writers.  A recent article in the New York Times listed a “new wave” of African writers, but omitted Nnedi Okorafor.  Okorafor has won numerous awards, including the 2011 World Fantasy Award for best novel for Who Fears Death and the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa for Zahrah the Windseeker.  She certainly belongs on any list of hot new African writers in my estimation!

The Hundred Thousand KingdomsThis podcast features several others who talk about diversity in geekdom, and where to find books by minority writers — and what those writers have to offer.

Adults Reading Young Adult Fiction

Yes, we’re still talking about this.  Mark Medley writes about purging his shelves of young adult fiction in reaction to the now-famous Slate article demanding that adults cease reading such puerile stuff, tongue planted firmly in cheek.

The Well's EndThe Los Angeles Times looks at how young adult fiction has opened up new markets for writers who found their more adult novels languishing unread.

E-Books Versus Paper Books

Yes, we’re still talking about this, too.  Mary-ann Astle talks about her obsession with the printed word instead of its electronic equivalent, something to which I can most definitely relate.  (Only two overflowing bookcases?  Ha.  My husband and I have more than 50, almost all of them double-shelves.  I’ll show you true obsesson!)

Great ApesAnd increasingly, research is showing that our brains react differently to words on a screen as opposed to words on paper.  Is this good or bad?  Opinions differ.

Some tech writers have even suggested that the day of the e-reader is past, and that we’ll all be reading off our phones or iPads.  How does anyone read a book on his or her phone, anyway?  I just can’t see how having such a tiny bit of text available at any one time leads to a satisfactory reading experience.

Rebuilding the newsOne thing seems certain:  the digital revolution continues to play havoc with journalism.


For the most part, basic access to e-books through public libraries has been satisfied, but achieving customer satisfaction has not.  At a recent Publishers Weekly executive breakfast held at Random House, a panel of librarians, publishers and service providers attempted to hash out innovative and experimental approaches to lending e-books.

3D printerWhat are people using their library’s 3-D printers for?  Lots of cool stuff, and not many books.

Other Fun Stuff

Make your own very cool-looking lamp out of an old book.

I enjoyed this Periodic Table of Epic Reads.  It includes not just big books, but also twenty-seven different series.  If you’ve a need to immerse yourself in another world for a while, this might be your best source for the right title(s).

JoylandEmily Schultz wrote a book called Joyland years before Stephen King wrote a book with the same title.  Confused, readers bought many, many more copies of Schultz’s library than would normally be the case eight years after its initial publication.  This means that Schultz got a very nice royalty check she wasn’t expecting.  This Tumblr shows how she spent the money.  It’s funny and heart-warming.  What a stroke of luck!

CaliforniaSpeaking of strokes of luck, Stephen Colbert made Edan Lepucki’s first novel, California, into an instant bestseller when he mentioned the novel on his show and urged people to buy it.  The novel is published by Hachette which, you may recall, is feuding with Amazon over numerous matters, and Amazon is refusing to sell Hachette books under the same terms that books offered by other publishers.  California, for instance, is listed at Amazon as “currently unavailable.”  But you can buy it elsewhere, and thousands of people did.  I’ve long carried a torch for Colbert, and this only makes me love him more.

If you question whether you’re truly addicted to reading, PopSugar lists 50 signs that will make it clear your habit is really an addiction.  At least 40 of them apply to me.

A Game of ThronesDaniel Hope writes an open letter to a driver he saw reading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones while driving.  Yikes!  And speaking of A Game of Thrones, see how it stacks up, lengthwise, against other books and series.

I missed this cool story called “Librarians in the Branch Library of Babel” by Shaenon K. Garritywhen it was first published, but I’m sure glad I found it now.  Robin Sloan, the author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (which I loved; see my review here) discusses the story and, particularly, its use of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, to explore what sorts of changes to a novel make it an entirely different book.  Translation?  Changing adjectives?  Rewriting from memory?  It’s an exciting and rather mind-boggling exercise.