May 2010

One Book, One Twitter…It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Book Club

Don’t believe what you read, says author and editor Jeff Howe in the Christian Science Monitor. “The Internet is not destroying literature.” If anything, he argues, “the new medium could breathe new life into a few old ones.”

To prove his point, earlier this month Howe kicked off “One Book, One Twitter,” which Howe hopes will become “the largest collective reading exercise in history.” As Howe explains in book industry trade magazine Publishers Weekly, “This summer, thousands of people from all over the world are reading Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods.’ They will then discuss the book using Twitter, a new-fangled technology that’s doing for the epigram what Anne Frank did for diaries.”

Howe says he got his idea from Seattle’s celebrity librarian Nancy Pearl who, in 1998, launched the “One City, One Book” group read concept, now adopted by many other municipalities as well.

Discussions in 140 characters or less…what are your thoughts?

Queens Teens Love Manga, but Their Passion Is Jeopardized by Funding Cuts

They come from all over the ethnic patchwork of this neighborhood of modest-to-fancy brick houses and square green lawns in the borough of Queens, New York: East Asian, South Asian, Caribbean, African-American, Jewish. (Only one speaks Japanese at home.) But at the library, they identify as otaku — Japanese slang for manga aficionados — and their divisions run purely along manga lines. Fans of shonen action manga challenge partisans of romantic shojo; experts debate the merits of series like Full Metal Alchemist, Death Note and Fruits Basket. Readers pool their knowledge to puzzle out magic spells, ninja moves and warrior codes that dominate the manga universe.

Manga clubs have coalesced in libraries in various Queens neighborhoods — Flushing, Jamaica, Long Island City — and the genre has colonized young-adult rooms in libraries around the country.

Now, librarians write books and journal articles to figure out how to tap into this powerful vein of interest that seizes early adolescents just at the age when they are most likely to drift away from libraries.

The manga mania, like so much else in the city during the recession, is threatened by budget cuts. Beginning in July, proposed cuts would reduce library staff by more than one-third and opening hours by nearly half, library officials say. Thirty-four community libraries would be open only two or three days a week. New York Times reports.

Letters with Character: Book Promo Invites Letters to Fictional Characters

As part of the promotion for What He’s Poised to Do, Ben Greenman’s forthcoming book of stories inspired by letters, Harper Perennial invites folks to submit a letter written to a fictional character.

Harper Perennial is posting selected letters at Letters With Character: the blog. There’s a moving letter to Charlie of Stephen Chbosky’s oft-challenged The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and a funny one to Lowly Worm of Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go.

Who would/will you write to?

Librarian Reprimanded For Reaction

10-Year-Old Caught Surfing Porn At Library
Librarian Reprimanded For Reaction

A Salinas librarian was reprimanded after she caught a 10-year-old boy looking at pornography on one of the library’s computers, Salinas TV station KSBW reported.

Librarian Elizabeth McKeighen said that she caught the child looking at the pornography on a computer in the children’s area.
“I reacted, in all honesty, with shock,” McKeighen said.
McKeighen said she touched the boy on the back, but the boy’s mother said the librarian smacked the child.

Police investigated the incident and McKeighen was warned she could lose her job if it happened again.

Full piece

Great Writers, Bad Novels

Great Writers, Bad Novels : “Have you ever struggled through a book by one of your favorite authors? I’ve enjoyed most of Graham Greene’s books thoroughly, but I just finished “The Lawless Roads,” about his travels through 1930s Mexico, which I found to be tedious. Though I still think he’s great, this novel has tainted my view of him. Have you ever that experience? “

Would Kagan Ban Books?

The NY Sun’s air tight legal analysis says books no, but, pamphlets yes… “Let us just say that these columns have been covering the courts since 1933, and it’s hard to recall an exchange before the high bench more unsettling in respect of our basic liberty to conduct a free and robust election debate.”

Good Books That Almost Nobody Has Read

Good Books That Almost Nobody Has Read
In early 1934, Malcolm Cowley, then literary editor of the New Republic magazine, sent out a series of letters to a number of America’s leading novelists and critics. About a dozen writers responded, and Cowley reprinted their lists and comments in two articles: “Good Books That Almost Nobody Has Read,” which appeared in the 18 April 1934 issue; and “More About Neglected Books,” which appeared on 23 May 1934. In addition, several readers responded to the first article with suggestions of their own, and their letters appeared in the 30 May 1934 issue. Although Cowley concluded the first article with an observation that, “American criticism ought to be given a chance, too, for sober second judgment of the books that deserve it,” the New Republic did not return to the subject until its brief series, “Lost and Found”, which is included among the Sources on this site.

The digital age will eventually solve problems faced by town libraries


Barnstable’s libraries have served my family well, so I admit I am partial to their survival. For example, I’m composing this column in an apartment 34 stories above the Hudson River, with a glorious view of New York City’s west side.

One of our sons lives here with his wife, he an assistant professor of theoretical physics in the City University of New York system, and she, a native of Singapore, a bright cog in the gigantic and complex wheel of international banking.

Where are they on this morning off? With all the glitz the Big Apple has to offer, they are at the local library sitting in solace among the greatest minds that ever writ and shared. It’s a habit that was fashioned for him in that unobtrusive brick library on Main Street, Hyannis, where as a Barnstable High School student, he pored over Einstein and Gandhi, becoming a vegetarian in the process. It was the inspiring prose of those intellectual giants that helped hone his latent talents for cosmic inquiry and imbued him with the mental and physical discipline needed to pursue it.

Full article