Hey Kids: In all the excitement of the New Year we missed the blog’s birthday. BGB started way back in January of 2005. Happy 8th birthday blog!
Infographic: The Future of Libraries
Cartoon: Godzilla on indie bookstores
Sadly, it looks like this Kickstarter for an annotated/illustrated Moby-Dick is not going to meet its goal (<2 hrs left)
Are we still easing into the new year? Is that still a valid excuse for being a slacker? In the meantime, here are some Friday Links:
Don’t forget to participate in Sweater Vest Sunday to show your support for intellectual freedom. Which is ironic, because I quit wearing sweater vests as a direct result of Rick Santorum – who is not known for his love of intellectual freedom.
Decatur, GA’s famed Little Shop of Stories, the best children’s bookstore anywhere, announced their first Little Awards (for Big Books) to honor their favorite reads for kids.
Random House launches Facebook app Bookscout. I haven’t tried it out yet, but my timeline shows me that author Lev Grossman has.
If you read Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, check this out…
The most literary knuckle tattoo. Was there a big field of contestants?
Dan Brown’s latest novel to be called “Inferno” in a move guaranteed to lead reviewers to compare it to particular circles of Hell. Mark my words. This will happen.
A quick film about Gary Shteyngart’s blurbs. Featuring Molly Ringwald.
Travel and Leisure list America’s best bookstores. I’m excited/sad that I’ve visited most of them
Infographic: 2012 by Goodreads
Now it’s time for the year end accountability post. I started this last year when I borrowed an approach that Jessamyn West at Librarian.net has used for years to summarize her year in reading. My annual goal is to read 50 books, and I read 49. It’s 50 if I count Beck’s Song Reader, but that book has only song lyrics and sheet music. I’ll call that goal close enough. Here’s how this year stacked up against past years of reading.
number of books read in 2012: 49
number of books read in 2011: 48
number of books read in 2010: 43
number of books read in 2009: 50
number of books read in 2008: 68
number of books read in 2007: 50
number of books read in 2006: 40
number of books read in 2005: 47
And here are some of the stats that I wanted to keep an eye on in 2012:
percentage by male authors: 67
percentage by female authors: 33
fiction as percentage of total: 78
non-fiction as percentage of total: 22
My personal reading resolutions for 2012 were to read: “…more books by female authors, more non-fiction, more books by foreign authors and/or translated works, more graphic novels, more classics, more books from small presses and “indie” authors, and more books that challenge and broaden my comfort zone.” Let’s break it down to see how I did:
More books by female authors: 33% by female authors is the most be female authors since I started tracking in 2005. I’m calling that one a success. I hope to build on that in 2013.
More non-fiction: I always read more fiction than fiction, but this was a big jump in that category, too. I’m calling that a success with room to improve in 2013.
More foreign authors/works in translation: Thanks goodness for Nordic crime novels. I read four of those and HHhH by Lauren Binet, which was one of my favorite novels of 2012, for a total of 5. Room for improvement.
More graphic novels: Four graphic novels. That’s about typical for me. Room for improvement.
More classics: Um, The Hobbit was the only book that I read this year that was not written in this century. Fail.
More books by indie presses and authors: This one I’m not even going to break down. Most of the books that I read, excepting comic books and books by authors that I know, were big press books. Room for improvement.
More books that challenge and broaden my comfort zone: Given the improvements in the areas of female authors and non-fiction, I’m going to call this one a qualified success.
In the end, it was a good year of reading. I enjoyed almost all of the books that I read, which is the point of all of this. My 2013 resolutions? I think I can stick with the 2012 goals and try a little harder. What are your reading resolutions for 2012?
Yikes! 2012 is over and 2013 is rapidly progressing. I guess it’s time to get my year-end (2012) favorites posted. It was tricky coming up with this list, because 2012 saw new works by three of my favorite authors: Dave Eggers, Michael Chabon, and Junot Diaz. Having a third of my favorites list taken up by perennial all-stars didn’t leave much room for everyone else. Accordingly, I’ll concede that those authors’ new books were among my favorites and continue on with my top 10 favorite books of the year that were not written by Eggers, Chabon, or Diaz. In no particular order:
City of Bohane byKevin Barry is my overall favorite read of 2012. From my review: “…muscular prose and a cracking story that doesn’t mess around. It demands to be read in a thick imagined Irish brogue with “an honest measure of John Jameson” within reach. And it’s got plenty of literary merit to back up the action. ”
My favorite came-from-nowhere read of 2012 is HHhH by Laurent Binet. I originally picked this one up after hearing some positive buzz , and it seemed like a good way to satisfy my goal of reading more translated books. From my review: “HHhH is a historical novel that very deftly explores all that is wrong with historical novels (and with historical narratives generally). It’s a novel that should not work – too self-aware, too gimicky, etc. Yet, HHhH not only works, it is one of the best books that I’ve read this year”
My favorite “holy crap” novel of the year was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. From my review: “Several times in the story you will say “holy crap”, out loud, when Flynn throws yet another unexpected bomb at the reader. I read this book in a day and a half. It only took that long because I had to sleep (at some point) and go to work. ”
My favorite non-fiction science meets art book of 2012 is Petrochemical America by Kate Orff and Richard Misrach. I haven’t reviewed this one yet, but it is simply amazing. Although called Petrochemical America, it focuses on the chemical manufacturing corridor between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. This is, not incidentally, the geography of my family. The book features spectacular photographs (Misrach) and incredible infographics (Orff) that combine to tell a compelling story. The book is huge and very expensive, but its well worth its weight and cost.
My favorite book by an aging musical genius who may or may not be autistic is How Music Works by David Byrne. From my review: “For a particular type of music nerd, this stuff is pure gold. And I’m that kind of music nerd. And there’s more! Much more. The book is published by McSweeney’s and is thing of beauty. Do yourself a favor and don’t buy this one as an e-book.”
My favorite book by a rock star statistician is The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t by Nate Silver. I never got around to reviewing this one, but I had to pick it up after watching Silver’s amazing predictions for the 2012 election come to pass. The man knows his stuff. If you read this book, you will feel like a much smarter person as well — Grade-A New Year’s Resolution reading.
The novel that was the most fun to read this year was easily Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. Sloan uses the best elements of the Cory Doctorow techno novel and adds humor, mystery, and a top-secret book society. And Google. Good fun.
My favorite novel in 2012 by a writer for Arrested Development is Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. I almost didn’t read this one. I bought it as a present for my wife. She loved it and recommended that I read it immediately. I read it, loved it, and immediately handed it off to our friend Anne. It’s the 2012 pass-it-along novel of the year.
My favorite novel that I learned about from a Facebook update is Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk. I forget now just what the status update from my friend Todd said, but the book was in my Amazon basket five minutes later. A spectacular novel, perhaps even more so because it is the author’s first novel. This one is definitely worth an enthusiastic status update.
Rounding things out, if you’ll pardon the expression, is Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Williams. Breasts is a spectacular non-fiction look at important issues in environmental public health. From my review: ”Breasts is an endlessly fascinating and important book. I couldn’t stop discussing it with whoever was closest to me at any given time. According to my Kindle, I underlined 82 passages, which easily destroys my personal record for making notes in an e-book. Time will tell if Breasts will join landmark environmental books in the pantheon created by Silent Spring, but, to this reader at least, it has that feel.”
In Truman Capote news - Bodies of “In Cold Blood” killers exhumed in Kansas
New legal specialty: superhero law. Awesome.
Author/blogger/super-statistician Nate Silver breaks down gun-ownership stats
Columbine is still required reading. Read it already.
The UK equivalent of Dave Eggers’s 826 writing centers, founded by Nick Hornby, has a kid-written soap opera. With a cameo by Nick Hornby.
I will have a year-end “best of list” coming soon. I have to wait until I’m sure that I’m done reading awesome books first.
The Poynter Institute presents the Best (and Worse) Media Errors and Corrections for 2012. Be sure to scroll down for all of the hilarity.
This is cool: A year in reading, comics-style.
Infographic du jour: the digital publishing explosion
A nice review of the literary allusions of Morrissey (The Smiths) – and you can dance to it
As David Byrne told us in How Music Works, sheet music for popular songs was the way that money used to be made in the music business. Back in those days families had pianos in the parlor and recordings were not yet available and widespread. In the 21st century, recordings are so plentiful and available that musicians are fored to rethink their business models. Some have gone the “pay what you want” per download route (Radiohead), while others have offered special packages, collector’s editions, etc to entice fans to actually purchase their music. Singer Beck Hanson (Beck) is thinking old school. His new “album” is a collection of sheet music for twenty songs called Song Reader.
Since the book is published by McSweeney’s (naturally), it is a beautiful, beautiful thing in its own right. The book opens to reveal two pockets that contain 10 songs apiece. Each song is printed individually on folded pages with its own artwork. It’s amazingly well done.
There are no recorded versions of these songs available (yet). Therefore, it is incumbent upon “song readers” to come up with their own versions of each song. Beck is collecting interpretations on the Song Reader web site. I love this idea. I love this book. My own rudimentary guitar skills will be put to the challenge, but I am looking forward to it. This is an excellent gift idea for the musician on your holiday shopping list.
This is what happens when you drop your wife’s Kindle. This doesn’t happen when you drop a book.
This week Meghan and I get Hobbit Fever. We talk about the book, the movie(s), and even a game on our iPad. We’ve covered all the Hobbit bases.
Book Time with Meg
Literary Mixtape: The most overlooked books of 2012
It’s official: All Music Comes From Louisiana
For your bestseller parsing pleasure, the NYT will now be separating Middle Grade and YA books.
“Tis the season for every publication under the sun to release it’s year-end “Best of 2012″ lists. These lists are usually compiled by the critics of the publication in question. The 2012 Goodreads Choice Awards is an interesting alternative. A “people’s choice” award, books are nominated and voted upon by Goodreads’ members, and the results represent the input of over a million voters. Whoa. Check out the winners.
I never would have guessed the fiction winner in a million years (based entirely on my wife’s reaction to the book).
McSweeeney’s: The Modern Pantheon
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Books that should be read by every intelligent person on Earth. That’s a lot of pressure.
A book list for parents for how to turn kids into bookworms
Kickstarter project: Choose your own adventure version of Hamlet. Nice.
The Biblio-Mat: a coin operated book dispenser