Book Reviews

Stop the Cliches!

Tom Payne from the UK's Telegraph writes about cliches in book reviewing. His article is an "searingly honest" "tour de force" with "penetrating insights"....

Do you accept the redundancy of today's book reviews "warts and all" or do you find them "woefully inadequate"?

(Thanks to Read Roger for pointing out this article.)


(Not) Everything is Miscellaneous

Peter Morville has a Review Of the new book, Everything is Miscellaneous, David Weinberger's "mesmerizing" new book about organization, authority, and knowledge. "David has done a masterful job of weaving the histories of library science and information architecture into a hot and sexy page-turner of a story."
The book's dedication, "To The Librarians" leads Peter to wonder what could've come next... Thanks for nothing? May they rest in peace? After reading the book, he's still not sure.


Trend: Newspapers Eliminating Book Review Sections

As evidenced in our most recent poll, lots of newspapers (for example The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) have begun to drop or diminish their book review sections. Here's what the book review industry has to say about it, and offers suggestions for what you can do to reverse or slow the trend. Wednesday's New York Times also examines the issue of declining book reviews .


Readers of books dying off?

Kathleen Parker Says People who read books are different from other people. They’re smarter for one thing. They’re more sensual for another. They like to hold, touch and smell what they read. They like to carry the words with them – tote them on vacation, on train rides and, most heavenly of all, to bed.

They’re also a dying breed. And newspapers, apparent signatories to a suicide pact, are playing “Taps.â€

The news that The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has eliminated its book editor position – causing much Sturm und Drang throughout the Southern literary community – highlights the continuing demotion of books and literature in American culture. While an Internet petition circulates to reinstate Teresa Weaver as book editor, writers are expressing concern they’re losing their best vehicle for recognition.

New Children's Book by a Librarian About, Well, a Kid at the Library

Inspired by a poem from a young patron written in honor of her birthday, Carla Morris, a librarian at the Provo (UT) Library has written a children's picture book "The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians." The book, published by Peachtree Press took six years to put together; mostly waiting for illustrator Brad Sneed to supply the pictures. Deseret News reports, and here's the publishers catalog copy.

Fuel Lines

There's a lot of stuff we consume while barely pausing to consider where it comes from; it is easy, these days, to be insulated from production. Inquisitive writers profitably explore the knowledge gap: recent work about the life stories of handguns, French fries and Panama hats comes to mind. Tracy Kidder chronicled the creation of a computer in "The Soul of a New Machine," and last year Michael Pollan traced the sources of our dinners in "The Omnivore's Dilemma." This year comes something new about those obscure practicalities of how does it get here: "Oil on the Brain," by Lisa Margonelli. Article continued here.


Hell Is Other People on Amazon

Kelly writes "This article is an enjoyable little rant about observing the "mental worlds", which is Hell, of other people via Amazon book reviews. The author believes this effort will be good for us, and we better do it soon, because, as he says,`Amazon's remarkable venture in practical free speech is ending. In the nineties, before America's dullard consensus had really gotten the hang of this internet thing, there really was a time when you could post honest reviews on Amazon. That's over. First they did away with swearing and libel — the very mainstays of critical prose. Then they started insisting that reviewers use their real names, taking all the fun out of impersonating your enemies and plugging your own books.' Learn how to go to Hell here: ople_on_amazon.html"


Southern Discomfiters

Lee Hadden wrote "Southern Discomfiters," By STUART FERGUSON. Wall Street Journal, February 17, 2007; Page P13

This is a book review of a biography of "showing the unlikely firebrand Juliette Hampton Morgan as the very stereotype of a lady librarian. (Her warm smile and sparkling eyes more than make up for her rather severe hair and dull dress.)"

A devout Episcopalian, Morgan insisted that the New Testament required the equal treatment of everyone, no matter their skin color. She urged her library, unsuccessfully, to allow black patrons to use its collections. Her Dec. 12, 1955, letter to the Montgomery Advertiser in support of the just-begun bus boycott is especially moving...

'Terror' rides the Arctic seas

Like many modern readers, I impatiently demand that an author hook my attention from the very first paragraph. Yet one of my absolute tiptop favorite novels, Lonesome Dove, begins slowly.

Dan Simmons' brilliant fictional saga, The Terror, requires some patience as well. The problem isn't the crackling opening. It's because many Americans are unfamiliar with the ill-fated 1845 British expedition to the Arctic Circle led by Sir John Franklin. The fate of the 129 men became an obsession in Britain because most of their bodies were never found. For Americans, it may take a few pages to grasp the setup and connections. Rest of book review at USA Today is here. Recently there was an episode of NOVA that dealt with the expedition. The web page for the episode is here.
The expedition took 2400 books with them. You can see a list of their provisions here.
The title of the book comes from the name of one of the ships on the expedition, the HMS Terror.


The Case of the Missing Books, by Ian Sansom

From Booklist: "Librarians have found themselves a new hero in Israel Armstrong."

From Kirkus Reviews: "A buoyant series kickoff....Sansom writes with refreshing deftness and sharp wit."

And from The Clarion-Ledger a review of what seems to be delightful read, particularly for librarians...

The Case of the Missing Books (Mobile Library Mysteries)
by Ian Sansom

Publisher HarperCollins describes this first of a series thusly: "Israel Armstrong is a passionate soul, lured to Ireland by the promise of an exciting new career. Alas, the job that awaits him is not quite what he had in mind. Still, Israel is not one to dwell on disappointment, as he prepares to drive a mobile library around a small, damp Irish town. After all, the scenery is lovely, the people are charming ; but where are the books? The rolling library's 15,000 volumes have mysteriously gone missing, and it's up to Israel to discover who would steal them...and why. And perhaps, after that, he will tackle other bizarre and perplexing local mysteries like, where does one go to find a proper cappuccino and a decent newspaper?"

A nebbish-y librarian, who woulda thunk it??


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