Book Reviews

Humor Books to Combat the SAD Season

A very chipper Nancy Pearl tells NPR's Steve Inskeep about some of her favorite books to brighten up what might be a dark part of the season (winter solstice arrives on December 21st). Her list and a click to listen button here.


Forthcoming Children's Book: The Librarian of Basra

Author/illustrator Jeanette Winters and publisher Harcourt will soon be releasing a picture book based on a true story; about a librarian in Basra Iraq who at the outbreak of war saved books by putting them into hiding.

The real librarian, Alia Muhammad Baker, now hopes with the help of the publisher to put a portion of the funds to use rebuilding the destroyed library. Story from Bookselling This Week.


Where do bestsellers lists come from?

How do newspapers and magazines compile their bestseller lists? The New York Times' seems to rely more on brick-and-mortar stores, whereas USA Today's might emphasize mass merchants and non-bookstore outlets. Since newspapers' statistical methods are confidential, it's hard to know for certain. The Washington Post explains how bestseller lists are born and why they don't always agree with each other. [BugMeNot] (via)

(Note: none of the BugMeNot logins seem to work. If you don't have your own, try going in via Romenesko [left hand bar])


NYT: Raucous New Novel, "The Librarian"

Blake first gave us an inkling of this story last Thursday in which the NYT Times reviewer mentioned that "librarians were soon to go the way of blacksmiths and town criers, their chosen field made obsolete by Internet search engines and self-perpetuating electronic databases".

The Sunday New York Times Book Review (now online) has Neil Genzlinger's take on Larry Beinhart's new novel, ''The Librarian,'' in which a "Dewey decimal doofus" holds in his hands nothing less than the fate of the free world. By the author who brought us "American Hero", the novel that became the film "Wag the Dog", Beinhart's latest is also a take-off on a current U.S. President, a certain "Augustus Winthrop Scott" --a man from a privileged family, with a dubious record of National Guard service and rich and powerful business backers. Hmmm.

The book involves a plot in which the incumbent puts into place a "steal the election" plan after he loses a debate and a lot of voter support.

Genzlinger says of the book "The story is outlandish fun, but it carries with it a serious critique of the electoral process, the American power structure and the real-life conduct of both President Bush and the news media." Here's the review.


Kirkus Reviews sell out?

teaperson writes "The Christian Science Monitor's book editor, Ron Charles, reports on two new programs from Kirkus Reviews, which will let publishers buy placement in new publications. Self-published authors can get a review for $350.

The second new product is Kirkus Reports, set to appear early next month. It highlights titles that the editors feel are the best lifestyle books (health, parenting, personal finance). But to be included in this free e-mail newsletter for magazine and newspaper journalists, publishers must pay $95 per title.

Ron will NOT be selling his reviews."


AlterNet: MediaCulture: Kitty's Litter

Fang-Face writes "There is
a very interesting review of Kitty Kelley's latest book. To synopsize:

As a book, The Family will merely affirm the worst suspicions of both those who hate George Bush and those who hate the Evil New York Liberal Media. But a few people who aren't too fond of the president might just change their minds. If you are the kind of person who roots for the monster in horror movies, expect to come away from The Family as a devoted Bush fan.

The whole of the piece is a back-handed compliment to Kelley. I think."


Southern Author Pens a Library Love Story

Author, professor and minister RHETT ELLIS (how Southern is that?) lives in Monroeville, Alabama, hometown of one of America's finest novelists, author Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird).

It is there that he was bitten by the library bug. It is there that he teaches Ethics at Alabama Southern Community College and preaches on Sunday in his Baptist church. It is there that he wrote his third book, "How I Fell In Love With a Librarian and Lived to Tell About It."

"How I Fell In Love With a Librarian and Lived To Tell About It" (Sparkling Bay Books, February 2004) is available from all major booksellers, including Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. ISBN softcover: 097063140; hardcover: 0967063159.


A dance at the edge of America's rage

Anonymous Patron writes "A dance at the edge of America's rage is a Detroit Free Press review/interview of the deeply unsettling "Checkpoint" by every librarian's favorite author Nicholson Baker."


Interview with Sam Tanenhaus, new direction at NYT Book Review

ka sends us this interview with the new editor of the New York Times Book Review. In it, new editor Sam Tanenhaus talks about what he likes to read, and how the NYT Book Review will change under his guidance.


It's only fiction, but is it legal?

teaperson writes "Although this was discussed already when reported by the Independent, the Christian Science Monitor's book editor, Ron Charles, gives his take on Nicholson Baker's upcoming book:

'The last time a US president and Nicholson Baker appeared in the same sentence, the subject was sex: In 1998, Kenneth Starr discovered that the world's most famous intern had given Bill Clinton a copy of Mr. Baker's erotic novel "Vox."...

Baker's newest work, "Checkpoint," is literary fiction, and carries Michael Moore's case against Mr. Bush to extremes that the partisan moviemaker has never dared approach. It may also be the most specifically articulated argument about killing a sitting US president ever published by a major commercial publisher.'




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