Posts tagged with "book" - Faerye Net 2013-05-27T19:37:06+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Bring Up the Bodies 2013-05-27T19:37:06+00:00 2013-06-03T03:55:34+00:00 <p>I am off series books. It&#8217;s been so for a time: my &#8216;to-read&#8217; list on Goodreads is a shocking 260 books long, and might be longer if I hadn&#8217;t preserved it by the expedient of a &#8216;to-maybe-read&#8217; list. Series addiction would send the thing spiralling out of control.</p> <p>But here I am, finishing <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9781250024176'>Book Two</a> and <em>chafing</em> for the next. How did I get here? (Besides the exemption in my series fear for audiobooks, that is!) I have a sneaking fondness for <a href="" target="links">Booker winners</a>, so I was curious about Hilary Mantel&#8217;s <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780312429980'><em>Wolf Hall</em></a> already. The only thing I knew about it other than its Bookerness was that it and its sequel, <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9781250024176'><em>Bring Up the Bodies</em></a>, were about the reign of Henry <span class="caps">VIII</span>.</p> <p>Now, I was rather interested in the history of the Tudors as a child, due largely to feminist-schoolgirl awe of Queen Elizabeth, but also due to morbid-schoolgirl fascination with messy history. I didn&#8217;t even realize at the time what messy history Henry <span class="caps">VIII</span> was following! Now, Henry&#8217;s story, his desperate quest for a legitimate male heir, seems to me haunted and beset by that of Edward IV, whose legally flawed marriage(s) created such a succession crisis. (See Josephine Tey&#8217;s <em><a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780684803869'>The Daughter of Time</a></em> if you need convincing that Edward IV&#8217;s overactive tendency to put a ring on it, not any evil of Richard III&#8217;s, overthrew his little son.) Anyway, I had a very shallow sort of knowledge of Henry VIII&#8217;s reign, just enough to school my family in &#8220;Divorced, Beheaded, Died&#8230;&#8221; and explain which queen was which when we visited England when I was 13. In college I learned a bit more by taking a class on Medieval and Tudor History of England.</p> <p>I never went in for the recent fad on Tudors, however. There&#8217;ve been some very successful book series and movie adaptations as well as the <span class="caps">HBO</span> &#8220;Tudors&#8221;, but I couldn&#8217;t summon much interest. Elizabeth, after all, is appealing to me &#8212; complicated, cagy, iconoclastic and independent. Henry <span class="caps">VIII</span>? Choleric, wife-killing Henry? Just a stage-setter, an interesting little soap opera backstory for my heroine. So it&#8217;s possible I came at <em>Wolf Hall</em> with precisely the right degree of ignorance and knowledge: broad background in the Wars of the Roses and the Reformation, enough knowledge of the course of Henry&#8217;s marriages to appreciate foreshadowing and see the other shoe about to drop, but enough ignorance to be constantly surprised.</p> <p>Mantel has chosen her hero so well: Thomas Cromwell, a low-born but brilliant man who rose to stand at Henry&#8217;s right hand. I haven&#8217;t read up on what&#8217;s known of his life yet (that might mean <span class="caps">SPOILERS</span>!) but he is a wonderful character for a smart, thoughtful novel (or two, or please soon, three!) on Henry VIII&#8217;s struggle for an heir. He&#8217;s an outsider but not: born in England but educated all over Europe. This allows him to see Tudor English customs as non-transparent, to show them to us and remark on them, without losing any credibility as a character truly of his age. He isn&#8217;t blindered and constrained to the life of the court, so this isn&#8217;t the familiar, gossipy soap-opera version of Henry VIII&#8217;s court intrigues.</p> <p>Thomas&#8217;s life story is interesting, and his upwards social trajectory is appealing to a modern reader who is unlikely to believe in the divine right to rule or the intrinsic superiority of noble blood. His background in Europe and his interest in the Tyndale Gospel and the reformation of the Church make Thomas a big-picture thinker. And somehow, despite my semester of Medieval and Tudor history, this big picture is one that hadn&#8217;t really sunk in. Henry&#8217;s desperate need for an heir (and obligatory assumption that the fault was in his women, <a href="" target="links">not in him</a>) was not only a catalyst but an <em>opportunity</em> for many. Henry&#8217;s easily mocked desire to cast off his first/brother&#8217;s wife constituted a huge challenge to papal authority at a time when many were already chafing to throw off Rome&#8217;s yoke. Thomas Cromwell, early (and secret) Protestant, smuggler of banned texts, reader of the Gospel in English, is the perfect character to lead us through this foment. This is not just about Henry&#8217;s heir or Henry&#8217;s bed: this is the end of the Medieval. This is the cusp of a new world.</p> <p>Mantel writes beautifully but often simply. Her style here, third person present and relentlessly Cromwell-focused (until the second book, she routinely uses &#8216;he&#8217; to refer to Cromwell whether or not there has been another masculine antecedent, which can be a trifle confusing,) serves the story well, lending immediacy to these centuries-old events. The narrative inhabits Cromwell so thoroughly that his asides, his incidental associations, become part of the fabric. His memories, images or words, bob back up in my consciousness a week after finishing the book, as they bob back up throughout the first and second book. I can&#8217;t wait to hear his voice again in the third.</p> <p>Also, how sinister and wonderful is the <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9781250024176'>second book</a>&#8217;s title? Bring up the bodies, bring up the bodies, bring up the bodies&#8230;</p> Superreaders 2011-07-20T16:28:37+00:00 2011-07-20T16:32:34+00:00 <p>My mother, I told a fellow author once, is the kind of reader you want. One time I recommended <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780547085753'><em>The Hearts of Horses</em></a> by <a href="" target="links">Molly Gloss</a> to my mom &mdash; actually, I may have bought it for her as a present. Either way, she loved it. She bought several more hardback copies to give as birthday presents, and I am pretty sure once the trade paperback was out, she bought <em>two</em> extras to lend out to friends. I stress the two because buying one extra copy of a book she owns and loves is fairly ordinary for my mom. She sticks her return address labels on the extra copies and presses them into the hands of the friends and quilters with which her life abounds.</p> <p>One library copy of your book, I&#8217;ve been told, translates to some number of readers &#8212; and those readers may in turn recommend your book, buy their own copy, or buy it as a gift. My mom, I&#8217;m convinced, is even better than a library, if she loves your book. In the case of <em>Hearts of Horses</em>, she probably bought at least five copies herself, and spurred some unknown quantity of other purchases.</p> <p>I used to think of this specifically as something my mother does, until the other day I was talking books with my friend Dan. I know Dan reads ravenously and always has, and he is free with his recommendations. But as he pressed a <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780825462900'>historical murder mystery</a> into my hands, I protested, &#8220;My to-read list is over 250 books long! If you give this to me, you&#8217;re not likely to get it back.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;Oh, I don&#8217;t count on getting any book back that I lend out,&#8221; he said. &#8220;If I was worried, I&#8217;d buy a second copy to lend.&#8221; Suddenly, I realized: Dan is constantly extolling his favorite books. He lends books like you&#8217;re doing him a favor by taking them off his hands. I&#8217;m pretty sure he drove his friends&#8217; reading as early as middle school (although I didn&#8217;t know him then, so it&#8217;s merest hearsay.) Dan is like my mom. Perhaps like <a href="" target="links">my friend Jan</a>, the English teacher with the vast bookshelf of lending books for her students &#8212; books she buys herself. They&#8217;re <em>superreaders</em>.</p> <p>This is not meant to impute miraculous powers. While I imagine it&#8217;s easier to consume large stacks of literature and promote the chosen few if you read quickly, superspeed is not the defining characteristic: not being content simply to read and enjoy is. These people are boosters, and part of their enjoyment of reading is sharing it. These are the people who will drive the sort of social recommending model I envisioned in <a href="" target="links">&#8220;The Future of Genre&#8221;</a>. They&#8217;re tastemakers, pushers, book evangelists.</p> <p>Who do you know that takes their love of reading out of the page and into the world? Are you a superreader?</p> Pedantry Pays 2011-03-10T22:56:24+00:00 2011-03-10T23:00:40+00:00 <center><a href="" title="My free Norton Critical Edition of Hamlet by Felicity Shoulders, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="375" alt="My free Norton Critical Edition of Hamlet" border="0" /></a></center> <p>I have often been told that it just isn&#8217;t worth the effort to correct people on the internet, and I&#8217;ve largely been convinced. It&#8217;s sometimes rude, or a disingenuous means of avoiding substantive debate, and often the matter simply isn&#8217;t that important.</p> <p>A few days ago, however, I decided I had to speak up. I saw a <a href="!/NortonCriticals/status/42987681029955584" target="twitter">typo in the Norton Critical Editions&#8217; twitter stream</a>.</p> <p>I adore <a href="" target="links">Norton Criticals</a>. Their footnotes are consistently useful, their historical contexts and critical essays interesting. The books, expensive though they are, give you a solid, rich feeling. When you have a Norton Critical in your hand, you feel you really have a handle on the text. (It is a continuing &#8212; no, really &#8211; source of regret to me that I sold back my <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780393960693'><em>Great Expectations</em></a> back after English 10 in high school. It was so beautiful! And had both endings!) I am currently in the midst of my <a href="" target="links">winter campaign</a> through <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780393966473'>the Norton Critical <em>War and Peace</em></a>, complete with footnotes both by the modern editor and by the translator, who was <em>friends</em> with Tolstoy.</p> <p>So I figured that if this bastion of precision, this fortress of the footnote, had promulgated a common misspelling (&#8220;Suess&#8221; for &#8220;Seuss&#8221;) they should be told; if only to prevent it being spread further by virtue of their authority. I drew my pedantry around me and <a href="!/faerye/status/43071911575552000" target="twitter"><em>corrected Norton Critical</em></a>.</p> <p>This was the happy result:<br /> <blockquote><a href="!/NortonCriticals/status/43323588681531392" target="twitter">New policy: for every typo found in the <span class="caps">NCE</span> twitter feed, a free <span class="caps">NCE</span>. Your choice of new editions- Hamlet or Utopia.</a></blockquote></p> <p>Yes, gentle reader. I got something good and valuable &#8211; a free book, my first <span class="caps">NCE</span> of a drama! I can&#8217;t wait to sample the critical matter! &#8211; for telling someone they were wrong on the internet.</p> <p>A red letter day, indeed.</p> Classics January 2010-12-31T17:14:56+00:00 2010-12-31T17:15:59+00:00 <p>So, I&#8217;m thinking of starting a new tradition. As some of you may know, if I froze my <a href="" target="links">to-read</a> list tomorrow and didn&#8217;t deviate from it until I was done, it would probably still take me 5 years to finish. This means that any individual book&#8217;s claims tend to get short shrift, and there&#8217;s a sort of triage at play: oh, I <em>need</em> to read that as research for a project; oh, I <em>need</em> to read that so I can return it to its rightful owner; oh, I <em>need</em> to read that because I know the author. This means that if I have a whole lifetime to read a book and no greater prompting than my own curiosity or its own merits, a book may keep sliding down the list indefinitely, especially if it&#8217;s long.</p> <p>Well, I want to arrest the slide somewhat. I&#8217;ve been meaning to read <em>War and Peace</em> forever, and I have a perfectly lovely <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780393966473'>copy</a> of it to read, and by jiminy, I&#8217;m starting it tomorrow. Do I promise to finish it by the end of January? No. I am not insane. But I think starting off the new year with an old classic will be a good experience, and hopefully, one worth repeating next January.</p> <p>Who&#8217;s with me? Have you been meaning to dive into <em>Moby-Dick</em>? <em>Our Mutual Friend</em>? <em>Persuasion</em>? <em>I, Robot</em>? (I didn&#8217;t say whose definition of classic you had to use!)</p> My favorite reads of 2010 2010-12-13T22:33:10+00:00 2010-12-15T09:41:20+00:00 <p>As usual, I read very few <em>recent</em> books last year. (In fact, one of my favorite reads was the <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9781570623950'><em>Tao Te Ching</em></a>, so that shows you how far back I sometimes reach for reading material.) So here, regardless of original release date, are a few more of my favorite reads of the year, along with excerpts from my reviews:</p> <p><em><a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9781400095209'>Half of a Yellow Sun</a></em> by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: A sweeping novel set before and during the Nigerian-Biafran war of 1967-1970. <a href="" target="links">&#8220;Each of the point-of-view characters, who differ in age, race, gender and class, traces a believable and human arc&#8230;.Adichie tells a complex and disturbing story with a large, vivid cast, and draws it to an ending that feels true. A remarkable book.&#8221;</a></p> <p><em><a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9781569471425'>Breath Eyes Memory</a></em> by Edwidge Danticat: <a href="" target="links">&#8220;This book started out as a quiet little story, and ended up thundering so loud I had to fall to my knees. It has similar extremes of gentleness and brutality, sometimes intermixed in a way that is so, so human.&#8221;</a></p> <p><a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9781594489259'><em>The Ghost Map: The Story of London&#8217;s Most Terrifying Epidemic</em></a> by Steven Johnson: Perhaps my most timely read. I took it off the &#8216;to-read&#8217; list because it was the Multnomah County Library&#8217;s &#8220;Everybody Reads&#8221; book &#8212; for once, I was a joiner and I liked it! <a href="" target="links">&#8220;A fascinating nonfiction book about cholera, Victorian London, epidemiology, scientific breakthroughs, social patterns, and more. As that suggests, this book ranges quite a bit in topic and scope, but the transitions are excellently accomplished, so that the reader&#8217;s mind happily follows the author from bacteria to waste removal systems and back again, forging unexpected connections and learning as it goes.&#8221;</a></p> <p><em><a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780547394602'>The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America</a></em> by Timothy Egan: Seeing him speak at Wordstock made me finally heed my family&#8217;s call for me to read this book. <a href="" target="links">&#8220;Come for the amazing stories of survival and inferno, stay for the perspective on the history of the American West, the Forest Service and conservationism!&#8221;</a></p> <p>None of the books I read this year <a href="" target="links">bowled me over</a> sufficiently to join my list of all-time favorites, but these were solid, finely crafted books I enjoyed reading. I hope I read even more next year &#8212; I have such a stack to enjoy!</p> Favorite Two Books of 2009 2010-02-08T12:44:57+00:00 2010-02-08T12:50:17+00:00 <p>I&#8217;m not a terribly decisive person, as anyone who can remember movie reviews here, which used a scale from 1-10 <em>in half increments</em> can attest. Thus it should surprise no one that I had a tie for &#8220;favorite book&#8221; of 2008, between <a href="" target="links"><em>The Blind Assassin</em></a> by Margaret Atwood and Virginia Woolf&#8217;s <a href='' title='Mrs. Dalloway at' rel='powells-9780156628709'><em>Mrs. Dalloway</em></a>. I rather like the two-spot system. It allows me to be indecisive, and after all, rating books is so vicious. Reviewing them is hard enough &#8212; rather like trying to capture the taste of a fine coffee in words &#8212; but rating them is so final and arbitrary. Choosing two is perhaps no less arbitrary than choosing one, but it seems more friendly. And, in theory, two favorites allows me to have variety in my choices (although 2008&#8217;s two lushly penned literary novels about characters&#8217; hidden internal lives may not prove that point.)</p> <p>You may wonder why I am posting 2009&#8217;s favorite books in February. But since, as I <a href="" target="links">posted yesterday</a>, I don&#8217;t read in a timely fashion, my posting habits should shock no one.</p> <p>Last year, my two favorites were:</p> <p><a href='' rel='powells-9780007149827'><img src='' style='border: 1px solid #4C290D;' title='More info about this book at (new window)' align="left" hspace="20"></a> <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780007149827'><em><strong>The Yiddish Policemen&#8217;s Union</strong></em></a> by Michael Chabon.<br /> This is the first thing I&#8217;ve read by Michael Chabon, tho&#8217; several of his works are on the list. One of the things I loved about this book is how it started small, acquainting me with the details of the alternate-history setting, and reveling in the synergy of hard-boiled style with Yiddish words and fatalistic humor. Then it opened out, and out, and out.</p> <p>It works as a murder mystery, and an alternate history. It&#8217;s well-paced, beautifully built, and has an ample helping of intrigue and danger. But by the end the stakes are higher, and the meaning greater, than I ever would have guessed from the simple joys of the first few chapters. It had me weeping. The characters, even archetypical Detective Landsman, are vivid and likeable. The writing is witty, if occasionally over the top. It&#8217;s just a splendid, unique story.</p> <p><a href='' rel='powells-9780316005401'><img src='' style='border: 1px solid #4C290D;' title='More info about this book at (new window)' hspace="20" align="right" ></a> <a href='' title='More info about this book at' rel='powells-9780316005401'><em><strong>The Player of Games</strong></em></a> by Iain M. Banks.<br /> This is the second book I&#8217;d read by Iain M. Banks (now I&#8217;ve read three) and it really cemented his place in my esteem. It&#8217;s a smart, almost virtuosic science fiction novel set in his Culture universe. It&#8217;s about societies, the power of culture and language, and yes, games. The writing is very precise, the characters believable even when they are unpleasant. The settings are imaginative &#8212; in one case, both giving me my first suspicion that Iain M. Banks is a fellow geology geek, and one of the strongest attacks of <a href="" target="links"><em>sensawunda</em></a> I can readily recall. (Banks&#8217;s work is fairly sensawunda-intensive, I&#8217;d say.) Most of all, it is, as I said, smart. The plot, themes and subtext are all honed and working together. It&#8217;s as impressive as it is enjoyable.</p> <p>I was actually rather shocked to realize this book was written in 1988. I didn&#8217;t notice anything that dated it at all. I&#8217;m pretty sure this book &#8212; its layers of meaning and insight, its intricate plot, the mindblowing settings and sense of scale and space &#8212; will stick with me for years to come. Thank you to Michael for recommending it to me and <a href="" target="links">Ryan</a>, and to Ryan for buying it and leaving it within easy reach.</p> <p><em>Postscript: Man, look at those covers. Different, striking, communicative. I especially love the Banks cover.</em></p> On what I read and when 2010-02-07T22:20:14+00:00 2010-02-07T22:21:06+00:00 <p>I&#8217;m planning, tho&#8217; it&#8217;s February, to blog about my two favorite books of 2009. I found myself about to confess my love of an award-winner from several years ago with the words &#8220;I&#8217;m a bit late to this party&#8221;. But I can&#8217;t really apologize for being a late reader with any sincerity, since it&#8217;s something I don&#8217;t plan to change.</p> <p>My list of books to read, housed at <a href="" target="links">Goodreads</a> and <a href="" target="links">LibraryThing</a>, is well over 200. Those lists, while they capture all the recent additions, probably miss a few books tucked on shelves that I&#8217;ll &#8220;get to eventually&#8221;. I have a daunting, delicious heap of books to read, many of them already made manifest through the cunning use of <a href='' title='' rel='powells'>Powell&#8217;s</a> gift cards. Therefore, I&#8217;ve a natural reticence about adding to the list.</p> <p>It usually takes more than one &#8216;strike&#8217; for a book to get added to my list, unless the strike is a doozy (recommendation comes from great authority, I need an audiobook and it&#8217;s on the library shelf, et c.) I wait for a general impression to accumulate: people whose taste I tend to share say &#8216;yea&#8217; (often I couldn&#8217;t even tell you who by the time I get the book), it&#8217;s a Powell&#8217;s staff pick, the blurbers are writers I admire, the premise is interesting, and so on. The thing about my accumulation system is that it takes a while. Rave reviews when a book is fresh don&#8217;t count as much with me, subconsciously, as continued mention a few months down the road, and even my early-reading pals take a while to work through a book and share their opinions. I don&#8217;t tend to buy new books, or even put them on my list.</p> <p>This puts me at odds, I think, with Jo(e) Q. Public, and even with my younger self, who counted her allowance money and waited with anguish for the latest Mercedes Lackey book to come out in paperback. My reading is more erratic and my choices more eccentric these days, but it&#8217;s making me happy. I very seldom read a book in paper that doesn&#8217;t, at very least, entertain me. My delayed reading system probably contributes quite a bit to that.</p> <p>That doesn&#8217;t make it any less embarrassing, though, when my favorite books of 2009 were published in 2007 and 1988, and my 2008 picks were the <a href="" target="links">2000 Booker winner</a> and a <a href='' title='Mrs. Dalloway at' rel='powells-9780156628709'>masterpiece from 1925</a>.</p> <p>Do you read a lot of new releases? How long is your list?</p> Amazon won't sell these books 2010-01-31T14:12:41+00:00 2010-01-31T15:22:23+00:00 <p><a href="" title="These books are not available from Amazon, 1/31/2010 by Felicity Shoulders, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="375" alt="These books are not available from Amazon, 1/31/2010" border="0" /></a></p> <p>I&#8217;m a little disappointed to see only writers and publishing industry folks talking about Amazon&#8217;s dispute with Macmillan. Short version: Amazon has a dispute with Macmillan Books over one small aspect of their business (ebooks) so they pulled <b>all</b> their <b>paper</b> books from sale. They are throwing their weight around in a maneuver straight out of the WalMart Monopolist&#8217;s Handbook.</p> <p>I know the previous #amazonfail furor was over social justice, and this is &#8220;just business&#8221;. A lot of readers also have a personal pocketbook-pug in the ebook-pricing dogfight. But publishing is the business of selling </b>ideas</b>, and that makes it everyone&#8217;s business. I&#8217;m by no means saying everyone needs to delete their Amazon account as a few authors have done. To be honest, I&#8217;m not doing so. I haven&#8217;t bought a book from Amazon in a long time because of their strong-arm tactics toward publishing companies (they did something almost identical to a UK company) and print-on-demand sellers. I intend to continue that policy.</p> <p>All I&#8217;m hoping is that some folks outside the publishing industry &#8212; readers, consumers who are affected by this &#8212; read about this and think about it. Books are the lifeblood of our civilization, the strongest thread connecting past and future. I&#8217;m not gnashing my teeth with anger over this dispute, and I&#8217;m not asking you to do so: I&#8217;m just saying that, given Amazon&#8217;s powerful place in the bookselling industry, this is an important conversation, and one everyone who reads and loves books, paper or digital, should pay attention to.</p> <p>Here&#8217;s some reading:<br /> <ul><br /> <li><a href="" target="links">Just the facts Friday, from the New York Times</a>.</li><br /> <li><a href="" target="links">Macmillan&#8217;s statement</a> yesterday.</li><br /> <li><a href="" target="links">Cory Doctorow&#8217;s BoingBoing post</a>.</li><br /> <li><a href="" target="links">Tobias Buckell on this situation, and e-book pricing in detail</a> (long, quite thorough) (Mirrored on <a href="" target="links">SFWA&#8217;s blog</a>).</li><br /> <li><a href="" target="links">Live feed on the #amazonfail twitter topic</a>. Tweeters who&#8217;ve been voluble include <a href="" target="links">the Science Fiction &amp; Fantasy Writers of America (<span class="caps">SFWA</span>)</a> and <a href="" target="links">Tor author Jay Lake</a>.</li></ul></p> <p>If you decide to do something, here are some ideas:<br /> <ul><br /> <li>Buy a Macmillan book (Tor, Forge, St. Martin&#8217;s, Picador, Farrar Straus &amp; Giroux, et c.) from another retailer, like <a href="" target="links">Powell&#8217;s</a>, this weekend.</li><br /> <li>Commit to buying all your books from another retailer.</li><br /> <li>When you link books from your blog or website, link to another retailer (I use Powell&#8217;s: their <a href="" target="links">Partner Program</a> is nice.</li><br /> <li>Write an <a href="" target="links">email to Amazon</a>, telling them if you disagree with their actions. If you&#8217;re taking any business elsewhere, you can tell them this way.</li><br /> <li>Blog about this, <a href="" target="links">delicious</a> links about it, whatever comes naturally.</li><br /> <li>If you&#8217;re on <a href="htp://" target="links">Twitter</a>, retweet messages and links about this.</li><br /> <li>If you&#8217;re on <a href="" target="links">Facebook</a>, post links or update your Facebook status so your friends hear about this.</li><br /> <li>If you belong to <a href="" target="links">Flickr</a>, take a photo of any number of Macmillan books and contribute it to <a href="" target="links">my new group, &#8220;Amazon won&#8217;t sell these books&#8221;</a>. I love taking photos of books (weird, I know) and I hope this will cause some conversation.</li></ul></p> <p>Thanks for reading!</p> <p><strong>Update, 3:18pm, 1/31/2010:</strong> Amazon has announced they will acquiesce to Macmillan, in a <a href="" target="links">post on their Kindle fora</a>. The tone of the announcement, I feel, is very misleading. It paints Amazon as the victim of Macmillan&#8217;s strong-arm tactics, even while it admits Amazon pulled the books. Choice language: &#8220;&#8230;Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books.&#8221; They don&#8217;t mention that Macmillan wanted to charge as little as $5.99 later in the book&#8217;s life cycle.</p> <p>So now that I&#8217;ve read their spin, I have a correction to make to this post: I <em>wasn&#8217;t</em> angry. Now I am.</p> <p>Amazon hasn&#8217;t said when they will restore the books, and I would still love to see your Macmillan books added to the Flickr group &#8220;Amazon won&#8217;t sell these books&#8221;.</p> Typefaces past 2009-06-27T00:33:10+00:00 2009-07-16T13:07:26+00:00 <p>Many of us, myself included, have only a consumer&#8217;s knowledge of book design. It&#8217;s like chocolate cake: I&#8217;ve eaten many and have some opinions and fond memories, but I&#8217;ve never made one. (No, box cakes don&#8217;t count!) I think it&#8217;s easy for those of us who aren&#8217;t in the publishing industry to forget how much effort goes into choosing typefaces, layout and style for a book.</p> <p>Two things brought the topic to mind of late: <a href="" target="links">Jay Lake</a> tweeted a link to this <a href="" target="links">Lit Slits quiz</a>. Of course most of the clues to the books&#8217; identity come from the actual words the &#8216;slit&#8217; reveals. However, in at least one case, I knew the author and series immediately: whether or not you like Harry Potter, he&#8217;s got some lovingly designed, distinctive books. Even without the chapter headers in their zany serifs, the page brings the memory back to anyone who&#8217;s read those books.</p> <p>That&#8217;s what amazes me: how evocative the shape of a few letters can be, even when I couldn&#8217;t recall them at will or describe them to you. It&#8217;s like a more subtle version of the way smell brings memory in its train. I open my own copy of a beloved book and each previous reading is present in my eye on the page, my fingertips on the paper.</p> <p>I&#8217;m reading Ursula K. Le Guin&#8217;s <a href="" target="links"><em>Left Hand of Darkness</em></a> right now. I picked up this copy at <a href="" target="links">Ravenna Third Place Books</a>. It&#8217;s used, hardback, and it&#8217;s been on some journeys &#8211; it bears a Portuguese stamp from a bookshop in Brazil. And best of all, it&#8217;s from a book club.</p> <p>Oh, I know, that means it&#8217;s not collectible. It may mean the covers aren&#8217;t as durable, and all sorts of things. But this book is typeset exactly like the oldest of my dad&#8217;s book club books &#8211; books like Asimov&#8217;s <a href="" target="links">Foundation Trilogy</a>. It feels the same, smells the same. This is 100% pure old-school science fiction, and it fills me with nostalgia, even though the story is new to me.</p> <p>What books carry this extra meaning for you? Are there books whose beautiful design adds to your love for them?</p> Buy Indie Day 2009-05-01T10:20:54+00:00 2009-05-01T10:22:22+00:00 <p>So I <a href="" target="links">hear</a> that today is <a href="" target="links">Buy Indie Day</a>, a day you celebrate by buying a book at your local independent bookstore. You know this is more relevant to my interests than <a href="" target="links">Beltane</a>, so I thought I&#8217;d talk it up here.</p> <p>There are as many reasons to shop at indie bookstores as there are stores. One of the important ones, though, even if you aren&#8217;t kneejerk anti-corporate like the average Portlander (seriously, I once met a raving anti-corporate hipster <em>getting trained to work for Starbucks</em> here), is that books are one of the most crucial forms of &#8216;speech&#8217;. An independent bookstore can provide a more diverse perspective than a big store may be interested in doing; many of them sell used books, making sure ideas are cheap and stay in circulation. Whether they have a specific focus &#8212; mystery books, feminism, local authors, poetry, et c. &#8212; or not, each store provides its own set of books and possibilities, not one mandated from further up or dictated purely by market forces.</p> <p>To be honest, I have a hard time even formulating cogent arguments for why you should go to your local independent bookseller. It feels like arguing that you should try drinking water, or breathing air. I grew up piling in the car every other weekend for a family junket to <a href="" target="links">Powell&#8217;s</a> downtown. We didn&#8217;t usually have a specific book on our minds, or a particular birthday to buy for. We just liked going there, walking our little instinctive circuit &#8212; in my case and my dad&#8217;s, an in-depth look at the Paleontology/Dinosaurs shelves, then a quick search of Photography, followed by a cruise of sci-fi &#8212; seeing what we could see.</p> <p>That&#8217;s one of the beauties of the indie bookstore, I think. You never know what you&#8217;re going to find. You venture into a little storefront in a strange town because that bookstore could hold anything from a treasure trove of old pulp paperbacks to an extensive collection of Civil War history and memoir, from a labyrinth of bursting shelves to a fabulous place to drink coffee and read. You could find bargains or forgotten childhood joys, or just a way to soak away an hour in the shelves and booksmells of a new place. Even a bookstore you know surprises you every time.</p> <p>So hit the <a href="" target="links">IndieBound Store Finder</a> and buy a book near you today. Who knows what you&#8217;ll find?</p>