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Book News Monday: Banned In the USA, Wall Street Saves Book Reviews, and More

  • Ban On the Run: Happy Banned Books Week, everybody!

    The traditional way to celebrate this week in my neighborhood has always been to make a huge, delicious cake and carry it out to a room full of excited children. Then one of the parents lunges forward, screaming shrill objections to the ingredients, and hurls it against the wall before anyone can have a piece.

    Now that we're in a recession that allegedly ended last summer (remember that day, when suddenly your bank account was magically full again?), that seems wasteful. Instead, you might try celebrating by reading a banned book — has a bunch to choose from right here (you might be surprised to see what titles made the list).

    The Huffington Post offers 10 "flashlight-worthy" titles that have been banned or challenged.

    Meanwhile, Boyd Tonkin wonders in The Independent if there are books that really should be banned. The short is answer is: NO.

  • Easy Like Saturday Review: Slate reviews the newly revamped Wall Street Journal's Saturday edition, which has added a book review section at a time when many book review stalwarts are being slashed to ribbons.

    The radical changes come in "Review," which incorporates expanded book reviews, the arts, and the sort of culture, politics, and "ideas" journalism that you find in the Sunday "perspectives" sections of newspapers...

    "Review" has recruited name-brand writers for its first issue. There's Kwame Anthony Appiah on how to deal with "honor killers," James Grant on what a terrible economist John Kenneth Galbraith was, a Matt Ridley column on the science of human nature, a Gregg Easterbrook book review, a humor column by Joe Queenan, a "Commerce & Culture" column by Virginia Postrel, and a lead essay about geniuses and tinkering by Steven Johnson. Often, the big names brought in to help start a new publication or revamp an old one are there for their marquee value only and turn in crap copy. Not here.

    So, now you have an excuse to be lazy at coffee shops on Saturdays, too. Perfect!

  • Kindle's Pool Ad Sinks: PC Magazine's Tim Bajarin isn't too impressed by Amazon's first TV commercial for the Kindle (which, you may recall, is a total piece of idiotic, exploitative crap) — purely for practical reasons.

    After all, how many people actually sit by the pool reading in bright sunlight — and how often?

    Most of us read in bed, on the couch, or in my case, often sitting on a plane where the iPad's backlight is actually welcome. Don't get me wrong, I own a Kindle and love it. It's a great reader. But that's all it is. The iPad is a personal computer. Comparing the two is just silly. In fact, I think this ad demeans the Kindle by suggesting that its only good feature is its ability to be read outdoors.

    Yeah, don't forget, with its flat screen and sturdy plastic backing, the Kindle makes a great coaster that can comfortably hold two to three drinks.

  • Can't Get No Love: In another instance of what I'm going to call the "Nicholas Sparks Delusion" — which would be a great title for another posthumous Robert Ludlum thriller — super-mega-ultra-bestselling romance author Danielle Steel insists her books are NOT romance novels.

    Also, she has nine motherflippin' children!!! Holy crap.

Book News Bits:

  • In the kind of news that elicits either rabid cheering or fierce hissing and spitting, it seems Andrew Lloyd Webber is writing his next musical based on L. Frank Baum's classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which will open in London next year.

    And if that news gets a reaction, check out this part: "starring Michael Crawford." Ooooh! Did you feel your stomach clench when you read those words? That was something.

  • What do writers tell themselves when they get a bad review? And what do book critics tell themselves when they become published writers and get a taste of their own medicine? Fun reading for anyone who's been slammed over the head by a claw-hammer opinion.
  • You were just thinking there aren't enough eBook models in the world, right? And now along comes the Galapagos tablet readers from Japan's Sharp Co. (due in December), so you can breathe a sigh of relief and cry, "Hallelujah!"
  • And speaking of eBooks, here's Stephen King talking about the form on CNN Money, referring to books as a "delivery device" for story. It worries me when the book industry uses the same terminology for its products as the tobacco industry.

÷ ÷ ÷

Chris Bolton co-created the all-ages webcomic Smash, which will soon be published by Candlewick Press, and created the comedy series Wage Slaves. His short story "The Red Room" was published in Portland Noir from Akashic Books.

Books mentioned in this post

2 Responses to "Book News Monday: Banned In the USA, Wall Street Saves Book Reviews, and More"

    dotdotdot September 29th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I think the annual Banned Books Celebration needs to happen, cake hurling and all. I love it.

    (Post hurling, several booksellers and or librarians will emerge with an identical cake, and the children will cheer.)

    Chris Bolton September 29th, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    dotdotdot: I'll start baking. You work on your throwing arm. Next year!

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