Book Reviews

Russell Baker on Nicholson Baker, libraries, and newspapers

Russell Baker reviews Nicholson Baker and Margaret Brentano's The World on Sunday: Graphic Art in Joseph Pulitzer's Newspaper (1898-1911), touching on Baker's beef with librarians along the way:

Baker himself is a warrior in the struggle against America's throwaway culture, specializing in bookish matters. He has strongly criticized libraries for replacing their card-file indexes with electronic blips and for miniaturizing original documents and papers on inch-and-a-half-wide strips of microfilm. Microfilm enables them to clear shelves of a lot of cumbersome stuff after shrinking it to fit on plastic strips. Since librarians are among the world's most civilized people (who else does such priceless work so cheerfully for such rotten pay?), most of them probably dislike the carnage as much as Baker does, but they are prisoners of a society that is running out of storage space. As every suburban homeowner knows, America's astonishing plenty threatens to overflow every last crevice and cranny, every hallway and closet, attic and cellar, garage and crawl space, and finally overwhelm everyone too sentimental to pack grandmother's wedding pictures off to the dump. America's astonishing credit cards make us all victims of the sorcerer's apprentice. No wonder libraries settle for lifeless little plastic photos.

Complete article from the New York Review of Books.


Crime writers are denied prizes by literary snobs

Scottish writer Ian Rankin believes that "literary snobs" turn up their noses when it comes to crime fiction.

The Edinburgh-based author and creator of the hugely successful John Rebus books has lambasted critics who ignore the crime genre.

He said: "Most of us [crime writers] are selling much more than any more 'literary' author could hope for so they can be as snooty as they like. His Interview Continues at The Independent.

Stereotypes confirmed in top 100 Canadian books

The Globe And Mail Columnist Kate Taylor says A literary magazine released a list of the 100 most important Canadian books Thursday - and confirmed stereotypes of Canada as a land of wonks obsessed with politics and national identity, yet gave only the briefest nod to hockey.

Narnian Order

GregS* writes "Interesting article by John J. Miller at National Review discussing the order the Narnia books should be read in as opposed to the way they are now packaged. Also some personal tidbits concerning C.S. Lewis and his views of writing: He believed that readers should try to share a poet's consciousness rather than study it. "I look with his eyes, not at him," wrote Lewis. "The poet is not a man who asks me to look at him; he is a man who says 'look at that' and points; the more I follow the pointing of his finger the less I can possibly see of him.""


Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea

From the Gadgetopia website I’m a little surprised, frankly, that I’m four years into this blog and I’ve never mentioned this book. I saw it on the shelf the other day at a used book store, and I can’t believe I haven’t told you about it.

I read “Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea� on my honeymoon at Atlantis, six years ago. It’s easily one of the top five books I’ve ever read. Entire book review and blog posting at


Amazon in Cross-Fire of Battling Reviewers

The NYTimes Reports last week was drawn into the reviewers battles when it was persuaded, at least briefly, to censor comments cautioning readers about a book on taxes. The issue involved customer reviews of "Cracking the Code: The Fascinating Truth About Taxation in America," a self-published book by Peter Eric Hendrickson of Commerce Township, Mich. The book asserts that Americans are not required to pay taxes and teaches people how to exploit the I.R.S. system for processing refunds.


Book Reviews Based on One Sent[e]nce

Jack Pendarvis Reviews Books. Well, he reviews books based on just one randomly chosen sentance from each book.
He calls City Of God rollicking, and puts Moby Dick " in the time of Jesus".
Via Kottke.


America's Pirate Wars

The New York Times has an article discussing three books about pirates. In the early years of the Republic, America was threatened by pirates at home and overseas. Each of three new books treats a different aspect of that vertiginous period.


Rule one. Read the book

Anonymous Patron writes "Eyes may be on the star writers, but what's it like for the support act with them at the Edinburgh International Book Festival? Richard Holloway Chair of the Scottish Arts Council, sets out to answer that question in Rule one. Read the book from - The Herald."


The case for hiring biased book reviewers

Over on Slate, Jack Shafer says stamping out conflict of interest may result in a "fairer" book review. But will it produce a better one? He thinks not.He says book reviews aren't yearbook photos for authors to treasure. They're for readers. Editors who obsess on fairness do so at the risk of inducing narcolepsy in their readers.



Subscribe to Book Reviews