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Book News for Tuesday, August 22, 2006

  • Nick Hornby gives us all permission to read whatever book we'd like, regardless of critics, lit-snobs, and other naysayers.

    If reading books is to survive as a leisure activity — and there are statistics that show that this is by no means assured — then we have to promote the joys of reading, rather than the (dubious) benefits.

    I would never attempt to dissuade anyone from reading a book. But please, if you're reading a book that's killing you, put it down and read something else, just as you would reach for the remote if you weren't enjoying a television programme.

    I cannot imagine anyone who wouldn't do this on their own. The people I know who read the books Hornby has to slog through actually claim to enjoy them — which makes about as much sense to me as acrotomopheliacs (people who want to be amputees). But, then, I can think of several body parts I'd rather lop off than squirm through certain books.

  • Author Iain Banks blames video game addiction for his missed deadline. Specifically, he fingers Sid Meier's Civilization as the culprit. (Via Ed Rants.)
  • The New York Times profiles author Harry Crews on the occasion of his first book in eight years, a novella titled An American Family published by Blood and Guts, a small Los Angeles press (which we apparently don't have in stock).
  • Writing in today's Washington Post, Richard Ekman — president of the Council of Independent Colleges — sings the praises of Google's controversial project to "digitize great libraries and offer books online," claiming it has "the potential to do a lot of good for higher education in this country."

    Only a small fraction of the huge number of books published today are printed in editions of more than a few thousand copies. And the great works of even the recent past are quickly passing into obscurity. Google has joined with major libraries to make it possible for all titles to remain accessible to users.

    I can't help wondering if Google's project would cause even more books to be printed in editions of only a few thousand copies — and if the print runs would shrink even further. And who benefits from that?

  • The Keep author Jennifer Egan recommends five books that have influenced her: The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, Underworld by Don Delillo, The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson, and White Teeth by Zadie Smith ("When you factor in her age, it becomes really mind-boggling. I mean, my work was horrible at that age.").
  • Be careful what you wish for: the Times of London takes a look at literary one-hit wonders. (Via BookSlut.)
  • Edward Champion is offering a $25 Powell's gift card to the winner of his Second Annual Naughty Reading Photo Contest.

    I'm so glad I don't have to be one of the judges. I'm sure there are lots of attractive book lovers who will take all kinds of ultra-sexy photos, but I have a feeling there will be many more like last year's finalist who posed on the toilet. Yikes.

÷ ÷ ÷

Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.

The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.





4 Responses to "Book News for Tuesday, August 22, 2006"

  1.  
    Simon Scott August 22nd, 2006 at 1:57 pm

    Too bad Nick Hornby doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. Anyone who tried to read his last book with the suicides wanted to kill themselves. He should pay more attention to great writing and read less trash like "Da Vinci's Code."

  2.  
    Alexis August 22nd, 2006 at 5:11 pm

    Also via Bookslut: The CW is producing a series based on the Gossip Girls novels. My inner teen is already rolling her eyes and making snarky notes in the margins of her history book.

  3.  
    flyinggo August 24th, 2006 at 2:49 am

    I can't help wondering if Google's project would cause even more books to be printed in editions of only a few thousand copies — and if the print runs would shrink even further. And who benefits from that?

  4.  
    Samps August 24th, 2006 at 12:50 pm

    We (Powell's) will be getting the Harry Crews book sometime in September. Look for it then!

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