Book Reviews

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.

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:

Got Mockingjay?

Iowa City, IA — The hold shelves Tuesday at the Iowa City Public Library were peppered with the pale blue spine of "Mockingjay," the third and supposedly final installment in "The Hunger Games" blockbuster trilogy of young-adult novels by Suzanne Collins. Katniss Everdeen, 16, is the protagonist in a dystopian future version of North America known as Panem. It's a harsh dictatorship, where children from 12 blighted districts battle each other to the death in an annual reality-TV game show, to the delight of the pampered citizens.

I spent part of my summer reading the first two installments in the series, 2008's "The Hunger Games" and last year's "Catching Fire."
I think I'm OK revealing that, because I've learned I'm hardly alone among allegedly mature readers.

Jason Paulios, 32, the librarian in the young adults' corner here in the Iowa City library, tallied a "mind-boggling" 93 holds for "Mockingjay," released Tuesday.

Glen Rock, NJ - on Monday the library hosted its first-ever sleepover party, in conjunction with the release of "Mockingjay," Suzanne Collins' newest book in the "Hunger Games" series.

Nancy Pearl's twitter feed: Mockingjay: triumphant finale: painfully sad,many deaths,hard decisions;same courageous Katniss. Made me want to reread 1&2 in the series.

Evil Librarians, Oh My!

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson is a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek story that had me laughing out loud right from the beginning. It’s a fast paced book that creates a fascinating world, but doesn’t get bogged down with too many details. It’s similar to Harry Potter in that Alcatraz is an orphan who is unaware of his special power and the whole secret world he is from. The thing that sets it apart is that Alcatraz narrates the book as if he is writing it and often speaks directly to the reader—with hysterical results.

Read more: ALCATRAZ VERUS THE EVIL LIBRARIANS by Brandon Sanderson | Daemon's Books http://www.daemonsbooks.com/2010/06/29/alcatraz-verus-the-evil-librarians-by-brandon-sanders...

Not recommended: The Girl who something something Fire.

I plodded patiently through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because I wanted to give a dead man an even break. But now I'm in the first third of the second part of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, and that is enough.

I suspected during The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that in spite of Larsson's Men Who Hate Women theme, that the novel was little more than a middle-aged man's wet dream. Our hero, Mikael Blomkvist, seems to sleep with every woman he meets. Because Larsson's women are in control of their bodies and their bodies can't resist 40-somethingish Blomkvist.

The author has created women who are independent, yet compelled to jump into bed with our protagonist because sex with him is "uncomplicated."

I stopped reading when a couple of women slept together and the narrator had to explain it to us. Why does the narrator need to explain why two women are in bed? They like each other. There's no reason to say, "Chloe had her first lesbian experience when she was eighteen and never looked back or regretted not being with a man." There is only one reason to say that, well two, one is to show your readers that you, the author, are cool with lesbians, that you understand them, that you are a hip dude; and the other, is to justify why a woman wouldn't fall right into bed with your hero, Blomkvist. -- Read More

Terrorism Bibliography from the U.S. Army War College

The U.S. Army War College recently produced an extensive and comprehensive bibliography on the subject of terrorism, including books, periodical and journal articles, and websites. You can view the bibliography here on the Delaware Library Catalog blog and also check availability of some of the listed titles in Delaware libraries.
http://library.blogs.delaware.gov/2010/06/08/terrorism-bibliography/

Librarians at BookExpo America

From Shelf Awareness ...At the second annual Book Shout and Share panel last Thursday in New York City, seven librarians--Jason Honig, San Francisco Public Library; Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Library; Nora Rawlinson, EarlyWord.com; Miriam Tuliao, New York Public Library; and several staffers from Library Journal: Barbara Hoffert, "Pre-Pub Alert" editor; Douglas Lord, "Books for Dudes" columnist; Neal Wyatt, editor of "RA Crossroads" and "The Readers Shelf"-- touted their top finds from the BEA show floor. Barbara A. Genco, collection management editor, hosted the session.

Here are some of their suggestions:
Exley by Brock Clarke (Algonquin, October 2010), the story of a nine-year-old boy struggling to make sense of his father's disappearance, is "the first great find of the new season" for Barbara Genco--one that reminded her of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. "It's a fascinating book about the Iraq war--what it means to families and what it's like to live in a military town," she said.

Another title Genco highlighted is Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian (Nan A. Talese, October) by Avi Steinberg, who recounts his stint working in a Boston prison library. -- Read More

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?

Are We Prepared For a Cyberattack? Richard A. Clarke Says 'No'

New York Times Book Review of 'The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It' by Richard A. Clarke and Robert K. Knake. 290 pages. Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers. $25.99.

Gas pipelines explode. Chemical plants release clouds of toxic chlorine. Banks lose all their data. Weather and communication satellites spin out of their orbits. And the Pentagon’s classified networks grind to a halt, blinding the greatest military power in the world.

This might sound like a takeoff on the 2007 Bruce Willis “Die Hard” movie, in which a group of cyberterrorists attempts to stage what it calls a “fire sale”: a systematic shutdown of the nation’s vital communication and utilities infrastructure. According to the former counterterrorism czar Richard A. Clarke, however, it’s a scenario that could happen in real life — and it could all go down in 15 minutes. While the United States has a first-rate cyberoffense capacity, he says, its lack of a credible defense system, combined with the country’s heavy reliance on technology, makes it highly susceptible to a devastating cyberattack.

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