Courtenay books dominate Australia libraries

Bryce Courtenay's books dominate public library shelves, with six of his books appearing on the list of the top ten books held in Australia.
Figures released by the Public Lending Right Committee show that over the past three years, Courtenay's Solomon's Song is the book most often bought by libraries.

This is followed by Courtenay's Tommo and Hawk, and Four Fires. Are such records kept for other countries?

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Reclusive Judy Blume shares her inspirations

Bob Cox spotted This Story on Judy Blume, and her visit to Park School students in Baltimore.
They say Judy Blume wished aloud that she could speak to kids at a public school, too. In fact she wished she could talk to kids more often. On the other hand, it's a mystery to her why anybody thinks that writers who hide themselves away to get their ideas on paper could possibly feel comfortable standing before hundreds of kids.

Luckily, Judy Blume is a ham, a frustrated actress, and her performance yesterday was much like what happens in her books: She offers humor, empathy, solace, maybe even enlightenment, whether it's related to fear of putting your face underwater - as in Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great - or adolescent struggles with puberty and religion, as in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.


Italy to bare bones of famous bard

CNN has a story about a plan to dig up the grave of Francesco Petrarch to find out more about his appearance and health.

The 14th century Italian poet Francesco Petrarch left hundreds of letters detailing his life and thoughts. Now scientists plan to dig up his remains to find out more about his flesh and bones.

Petrarch became famous for the hundreds of love poems he wrote to the mysterious Laura, a woman he worshiped from afar. For her, the poet perfected the sonnet form that would influence William Shakespeare and many others.


The Case of the Missing Marketing Blitz

A New York Observer article about the lack of marketing - and thus ordering by Barnes & Noble - for Julie Hecht's The Unprofessionals.

To sell a book without Barnes and Noble is like trying to make bouillabaisse without fish: The retailer is a basic and noticeable ingredient. And it’s hard to believe that Random House "forgot" to approach the Barnes and Noble buyers.


To Stars, Writing Books Looks Like Child's Play

A story from the NY Times about the recent explosion of famous people writing children's books.

A handful of celebrities, like John Lithgow and Jamie Lee Curtis, actually have a gift for writing for children: they know how to tell a story and how to tell it with words and pictures and whimsical wit. For others, children's books are just another way to merchandise themselves, another vanity production: Britney books, along with Britney dolls, Britney cellphones and Britney mouse pads.


Imprisoned Cuban writer-librarian given PEN Award

Steve Fesenmaier writes "Cuban writer-poet- librarian Raul Rivero Castaneda and the Sierra Leone PEN Centre were given the Freedom to Write Awards by PEN West on Monday."


For a love of books

A Toronto Star Article covers Azar Nafisi, ran a clandestine reading group in her Tehran apartment for seven young women who had been her best students.In her recently published memoir, Reading Lolita In Tehran (Random House), Nafisi writes that Mitra, a student in her secret class, once asked her, "Why is it that stories like Lolita and Madame Bovary — stories that are so sad, so tragic — make us happy? If we were to write about our lives here in the Islamic Republic of Iran, should we make our readers happy?"


Booker winner joins 'roguish writers'

Here's A BBC Piece on Booker Prize winner DBC Pierre. They say his recent revelations he was a former drug addict and gambler, selling his best friend's house to pocket the proceeds, has enlivened the largely conservative world of literature.
Shattering the more conventional image of authors as strait-laced types working away in rose-covered cottages, Pierre joins that roguish band of writers whose colourful personal lives are probably as famous as their prose.


Neil Postman, 72, Mass Media Critic, Dies

The NYTimes Reports Neil Postman, a prolific and influential social critic and educator best known for his warning that an era of mass communications is stunting the minds of children — as well as adults — died on Sunday at a hospital in Flushing, Queens. He was 72 and lived in Flushing.


Finding a Middle Earth in Montana

Interesting NYTimes Story on 19-year old author Christopher Paolini.
He has never been to school, he was home-schooled, and was only 15 when he wrote his fantasy novel "Eragon," about a boy who finds a magic stone that is transformed into a dragon and then sets out to avenge the death of his uncle and to defeat an evil king. Now four years later, "Eragon," published by Alfred A. Knopf, is third on the New York Times hardcover children's chapter books best-seller list, outselling four of the five Harry Potter books.



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