Book Reviews

BookReviews

The Future of Book Reviews Critics vs Amazon Reviewers

Top critics Morris Dickstein and Cynthia Ozick debate who are truly the book critics today (hint: Amazon reviewers) and what this means for reviewing. Jane Ciabattari reports.

In the age of rapid digital revolution in publishing, when readers have book review options ranging from decades-old publications like The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, and The New York Times Book Review, to Twitter book clubs, literary websites, online publications like this one, and Amazon reader reviews, what is the role of the book reviewer? And how has that role changed?

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What Gingrich reveals in his many book reviews

What Gingrich reveals in his many book reviews
Along with college professor and bestselling author, the former Republican Speaker of the House added presidential candidate to his resume today. But if Gingrich wished, he might also include his ranking as an Amazon.com “top reviewer.” Indeed, he hit his peak in 2004 rising into the top 500 of the site’s reviewers, based on how often readers found his reviews helpful. Since then his ranking has slipped, and he hasn’t posted a review since 2008.

The Rationality of One-Star Reviews

The Rationality of One-Star Reviews
But how did customers respond to this pricing decision? They were outraged! As you can see on the product page, the book has been overwhelmed with one-star reviews based not on the quality of the book itself but instead on the perception of greed and unfairness on behalf of the publisher. “junk,” writes Amazon reviewer Juan M. “It’s ridiculous that the E-BOOK is as much as the physical copy. Greed indeed.”

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West Of Here': What Happened To The Frontier?

From <a href=http://www.npr.org/2011/03/04/133562427/west-of-here-what-happened-to-the-frontier>NPR's Morning Edition</a>: <blockquote>In his new book, "West of Here", novelist Jonathan Evison takes readers back to one of the last unexplored territories of the American West: Washington state's Olympic Peninsula ...

Review: The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood

The New York Review of Books has a review of The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
(Click image to enlarge)

Newbery & Caldecott Medals Awarded at ALA Midwinter

From the LA Times/ Jacket Copy Blog: The American Library Assn. presented its top honors for books for children and young adults at a ceremony in San Diego Monday morning. The highest award, the Newbery Medal, is awarded each year to the most distinguished book for children; it went to "Moon Over Manifest" by Clare Vanderpool. The Caldecott Medal, the top award for illustration, went to the book "A Sick Day for Amos McGee," illustrated by Erin E. Stead and written by Philip C. Stead.

The ALA award medallions, which can be found on the covers of later editions of the winning books, not only signify excellence, they also can mean a longer commercial life for the books, as well as assure they find a place in libraries. Finalists also receive the medallions.

The hour-long ceremony, which began at 7:45 a.m., included the announcement of dozens of awards and finalists before an audience attending the ALA's midwinter conference. The roster of winners was too long to invite the authors, illustrators or publishers to the podium to accept their awards.

A Year in Marginalia

Observations, bits & pieces accumulated while reading during the year, by Sam Anderson, New York Magazine Book Editor.

Best Novels of 2010 According to Ron Charles

It's hip, it's happening, it's a round-up...from the totally hip Ron Charles of the Washington Post.

Non-Book Items (That Don't Exist) But Would Make Great Gifts!

Ron Charles has several non-book items to recommend as gifts; "the booklie" (super-size one-size fits all, made from the pages of remaindered novels), "spine" (the scent of reading) and the "doogk" (an ereader for our canine friends) among them. Special author appearance by Julie Klam and her doggie. Nice production values! From the Washington Post's 'totally hip book reviewer'.

'The Passages of H.M.' Reviewed by Ron Charles

Another great (better than evah!) video book review from Ron Charles, the Washington Post's 'totally hip book reviewer'. Book is 'The Passages of H.M.' by Jay Parini, a biography about author Herman Melville, beloved (but apparently rather weird) author of Moby Dick. Mrs. totally hip totally helps out:

National Book Award Winner Patti Smith Begs Us, "Don't Abandon the Book"

Patti Smith won the National Book Award for Nonfiction this past week for her memoir "Just Kids," which recounts her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe in the '60s and '70s. But "Just Kids" is far from her first flirtation with the written word.

Smith has actually published numerous books of poetry. And unlike other successful rock stars who have stumbled awkwardly into verse (Jewel and Billy Corgan come to mind), Smith's work reflects that she was a poet first, and that her love affair with the art runs deep.
It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max's Kansas City. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies.

Books Done Better: You Tell Us How

Book review staff at NPR ask for feedback about what books they should look at in the future.

Full piece here.

Ron Charles Spooktacular Book Review (now with VIDEO!)

OMG, he's lost his bookmark...in the woods...with books he HASN'T even read. The Washington Post's Ron Charles presents... "I'M NOT A WITCH, I'M A BOOK CRITIC". Guest appearance by author Lisa Scottoline in a reenactment of Hitchcock's shower scene from Psycho. Wild.

Review: Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self

@Roncharles (Washington Post) tweets: "Totally Hip Video Book Reviewer dons bacon, admits errors, loves Danielle Evans' short story collection BEFORE YOU SUFFOCATE YOUR OWN FOOL SELF." Here's the video book review and the written review.
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Cooler Than a Book...It's BOOKER

Another video book review of the Book Prize Finalists from the Washington Post's hipper than hip Ron Charles:

Meet Adele Mundy, Badass Space Librarian

Even fantasy librarians can be awesome.


For conspiring against the government of Cinnabar, her family was massacred; she is the sole survivor. She's a scholar, a librarian turned Signals Officer who has joined Daniel Leary, a lieutenant in the Republic of Cinnabar Navy (RCN) to battle against treacherous politicians, the Alliance, rebels, and all manner of galactic grief and peril. She is a master of information technology and spy craft. She likes weapons and knows how to use them.

Don't mess with Adele Mundy, sharpshooting librarian in space. More on this title, "Some Golden Harbor" by David Drake at BookTryst.

DAILY SHOW Appearance Trumps NYT BR

EarlyWord has an interesting entry titled:
DAILY SHOW Appearance Trumps NYT BR

Excerpt: It can now be quantified; an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart does more for a book’s sales than a review in the NYT Book Review.

Full entry here: http://www.earlyword.com/2010/09/07/daily-show-appearance-trumps-nyt-br/

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Franzen's New Novel Freedom

Did you enjoy the last Ron Charles video book review? Here's the new one...on Jonathan Franzen's new and highly anticipated title, Freedom. Washington Post review.
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A Look Back at the History of Print and Publishing (or It's Always Been a Tough Business)

Change of pace from the more frequent 'death of print' stories here on LISNews.

This one's about the birth of print; a discussion of the newly published book by Andrew Pettegree, "The Book in the Renaissance" with Tom Scocca of Slate and the Boston Globe.

In the beginning, before there was such a thing as a Gutenberg Bible, Johannes Gutenberg laid out his rows of metal type and brushed them with ink and, using the mechanism that would change the world, produced an ordinary little schoolbook. It was probably an edition of a fourth-century grammar text by Aelius Donatus, some 28 pages long. Only a few fragments of the printed sheets survive, because no one thought the book was worth keeping.

“Now had he kept to that, doing grammars...it probably would all have been well,” said Andrew Pettegree, a professor of modern history at the University of St. Andrews and author of “The Book in the Renaissance,” the story of the birth of print. Instead, Gutenberg was bent on making a grand statement, an edition of Scripture that would cost half as much as a house and would live through the ages. In the end, struggling for capital to support the Bible project, Gutenberg was forced out of his own print shop by his business partner, Johann Fust.

The article continues in a question and answer format here.

Video Book Review

Too much reading to do? Get your book review fix by video. Here's Ron Charles of the Washington Post reviewing "My Hollywood" by Mona Simpson:

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