Book Reviews

'Little Book' Tells A Wonderfully Big Story

Books We Like by Maureen Corrigan
Fresh Air from WHYY, August 20, 2008

Selden Edwards' debut novel, The Little Book, has what they call in the publishing biz a great "back story." Edwards began writing the novel in 1974 when he was a newly minted English teacher; during summer vacations (and, I would guess, tedious faculty meetings) over the next 30 years, Edwards kept plugging away at his novel. Now, at long last, the magnum opus has been published.

Read or listen to full review here.


Coldblooded Commerce in Coldblooded Contraband

Book: THE LIZARD KING The True Crimes and Passions of the World’s Greatest Reptile Smugglers
Review in the NYT: In “The Lizard King,” his book about the wild world of reptile-dealing chicanery, Bryan Christy describes a smuggling incident at Miami International Airport. An Argentine man who claimed to be carrying a suitcase full of ceramics turned out to have crammed all this into his single piece of luggage: 107 chaco tortoises, 103 red-footed tortoises, 76 tartaruga turtles, five boa constrictors, seven rainbow boas, seven parrot snakes, 20 tarantulas, 10 scorpions, 90 tree frogs, 20 red tegu lizards, about a dozen other lizards and two South American rattlesnakes. It was one wiggling, squiggling, brilliantly packed load of trouble.


"Books" a Memoir by Larry McMurtry

Reviews (mixed mostly) are sprouting up (in those publications that still have book reviews) for Larry McMurtry's new book simply entitled "Books".

McMurtry, in addition to being an author (Terms of Endearment, Last Picture Show, and the Pulitzer prize-winning Lonesome Dove), has been a bookseller in Archer Texas for the last forty-some years, and that is primarily the subject of this, his fortieth book.

Reviews: SF Examiner, NYT, Chicago Sun-Times and the Boston Globe.

New Volume on the History of Children's Books

Scripps News reports: From the publication of the lesson-filled "New-England Primer" to the midnight bookstore parties for the latest "Harry Potter" volume, children's books have provided a valuable -- and fascinating -- window into American culture.

That's the premise of "Minders of Make-Believe" (Houghton Mifflin, $28), the newest book by children's-book historian Leonard S. Marcus. In this highly readable book aimed at adults, Marcus details the rise (and, often, the fall) of major U.S. children's-book publishers, as well as the key role played by librarians in the 20th century in determining what American children should read.

Booklamp's Algorithms Pick Reads For You

There have been previous stories on LISNEWS about Booklamp but I think it is useful to know when these services have stories about them in the popular media because patrons will start to mention the service.

Story on NPR: The creator of a new Website says its database can predict books you'll enjoy reading. Just type in your favorite and the site's algorithms will scan for others with a similar level of action, amount of description, dialog, tense and perspective.

Full Story here: Booklamp's Algorithms Pick Reads For You Expands Book Coverage

National Public Radio has expanded the book coverage on its website, adding weekly book reviews, and has hired six new book reviewers—including a graphic novel reviewer—and added more features to an already existing lineup of author podcasts, critics' lists and other book-focused content. Among the new slate of reviewers joining are Jessa Crispin, founder of the literary blog; John Freeman, book critic and a former president of the National Book Critics Circle; and Laurel Maury, freelance comics and graphic novel reviewer and a longtime contributor to PW Comics Week.

“We’re building up our book coverage because book content really works for our audience,” NPR senior supervising producer Joe Matazzoni explained.

Full story at Publisher's Weekly

What children say about children's books

Ask an adult what makes a children's book appealing, and she might talk about the colorful artwork, the clever storytelling or the lessons imparted.

Ask a child what makes a children's book appealing, and she might say, "It is weird and happy!"

Obviously, children and adults have different ideas about what makes a good children's book.

ALA President Offers Reading Suggestions for Gay Pride Month

June is when many gay and lesbian Americans celebrate their sexuality. In recognition of Gay Pride Month, Loriene Roy, President of the American Library Association tells listeners about books that highlight the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender experience. Read &/or Listen at NPR.

This hour, On Point: Great summer reads, '08.

Every book lover knows the thrill. A hot summer day. A porch swing, a hammock, a long curve in the beach -- and a great, transporting read. Maybe it's lords and ladies that first took you there. Or Spanish romance. High plains gunfire. Down and dirty spies. High-blown history. Distant lands.

On Point Radio [MP3] is asking top book mavens for their recommendations this summer. They've got a white tiger, and fear and yoga in New Jersey. Black flies, a black dove, Gandhi, Churchill, and 1434.

Playing the Odds

In the New York Times:
Book review of THE DRUNKARD’S WALK
How Randomness Rules Our Lives.

State lotteries, it’s sometimes said, are a tax on people who don’t understand mathematics. But there is no cause for anyone to feel smug. The brain, no matter how well schooled, is just plain bad at dealing with randomness and probability. Confronted with situations that require an intuitive grasp of the odds, even the best mathematicians and scientists can find themselves floundering.

Suppose you want to calculate the likelihood of tossing two coins and coming up with one head. The great 18th-century mathematician Jean Le Rond d’Alembert thought the answer was obvious: there are three possibilities, zero, one or two heads. So the odds for any one of those happening must be one in three.

Read full review here.



Subscribe to Book Reviews