Tagged: the reading life Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Jeff Somers 7:30 pm on 2017/10/24 Permalink
    Tags: bookception, the reading life   

    5 Incredibly Self-Referential Books About Books 

    A lot of people say they love books, the way some people will say they understand quantum physics. But like Neil DeGrasse Tyson knows from black holes, true book devotees know there’s a huge difference between casually reading a book or two every month, and being obsessed with books. For many book nerds who dig print, book aren’t just about the words, but the physical experience of reading—which is where these five meta books come in. Each offers a deep dive into the sensual pleasures of reading—why we enjoy the act, and why the book is an object of joy.

    Bookshelf, by Alex Johnson
    You’ve heard the term “house proud.” Book nerds are “bookshelf proud.” Whether it’s your standard IKEA Billy or a custom-designed, handmade beauty, book nerds love to examine bookshelves wherever they go, to snap “shelfies,” and to lust over innovative and clever bookshelf designs on Pinterest. In this fab book, clever, beautiful, and efficient bookshelves are highlighted, celebrating designs that make book storage prettier, deeper, and more fun. Whether you’re looking for a great idea for a small space, or a grand idea for a grand space, there’s a bookshelf in this book you’re going to covet.

    The Book, by Keith Houston
    A complete history of the book and its component parts, Houston’s fantastic work will remind you that every book is the end result of centuries of technological, artistic, and intellectual development. Houston traces the paper, glue, ink, and other materials that make up every book ever printed, and dives into the history behind each ingredient, while offering up tactile examples and gorgeous illustrations. When you’re done, you’ll see your books from a whole new perspective.

    Nabokov’s Favorite Word was Mauve, by Ben Blatt
    We love print books, but the digital age has given us plenty of blessings, among them the ability to apply big data to the world’s body of literature. Instead of an artistic review of great writers and their famous works, Blatt and his team have analyzed countless books to find patterns, to reveal secrets of composition and blueprints of creativity. They suss out which writers fall back on clichés, which break their own writing advice most often, which have the most limited or largest vocabularies, and more. This sort of data is fascinating to a book nerd, because it quantifies aspects of literature that are instinctive. Why do we enjoy some writers and not others? The answers might be in this incredibly meta book.

    Printer’s Error, by Rebecca Romney
    One of the upsides of digital publishing is the ability to fix an error with a push of a button, silently updating millions of downloaded books without fuss. But that’s also a downside for book nerds who revel in the mistakes, the errors, and the unintentionally evocative screw-ups that launched a million theories on what the author meant—when, in fact, it was just a mistake. Romney starts at the beginning of the printed word and recounts some of the best stories of publishing incompetence ever told.

    Codex Serpahinianus, by Luigi Serafini
    Finally, the experience of reading a book can come to be second-nature, and thus unremarkable, if you spend a lot of time with your nose in a book. Long forgotten is the amazement we experienced when we first learned to read, first discovered fictional worlds and factual compilations we could access at any time. The genius of Serafini’s book—written in an artificial language that has so far eluded linguists, describing things that don’t actually exist—is in how it replicates the way children must feel when they first encounter a book before they know how to read. There’s an instinctual understanding that the markings mean something, a beautiful order to everything that implies meaning, even if that meaning is obscured. It’s a wonderful feeling for a book nerd to be able to simply appreciate the form and beauty of a book without the hope of being able to understand a lick of what’s on the page.

    The post 5 Incredibly Self-Referential Books About Books appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Sarah Skilton 3:00 pm on 2017/10/18 Permalink
    Tags: adam langer, andrew sean greer, bestseller, , cherise wolas, , , less, lucia graves, olivia goldsmith, the angel's game, the reading life, the resurrection of joan ashby, the right time, the thieves of manhattan,   

    6 Novel Novels About Novelists 

    Films-within-films (Tropic ThunderSingin’ in the Rain), plays-within-plays (Shakespeare does this a lot), and songs referencing songs (“You probably think this song is about you…”) provide entertainment while also poking fun at the business side of art. Naturally, novels are the perfect medium with which to tackle the publishing industry. Not only are these authors positioned to pull back the curtain on the lives of agents, publishers, and editors, but they’re eminently qualified to share the agonies and ecstasies of writing itself. Using humor, irony, and grace, whether they’re hot off the presses or set within the last century, these books bring special meaning to the adage “Write what you know.”

    The Right Time, by Danielle Steel

    A bright, precociously successful writer of complex thrillers, novelist Alexandra Winslow was told during her formative years that men will only read her genre of books if they’re written by other men. The warning stayed with her, and as a result, she decided to pursue her passion under a male pseudonym. Having overcome more heartache than most by her teen years, including an absent mother and the death of her beloved father (who shared his love of mysteries with her), Alex’s latest difficulties are compounded as she realizes the double life she’s living is slowly destroying her. Will she find the strength to reveal her true self to the rest of the world? Will the time ever be right for her to step out of her own shadow?

    The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, by Cherise Wolas
    Joan Ashby’s writing career is off to dazzling start. Adored by critics and readers alike for her dark prose, she’s poised to become a lifelong literary star. Children were never in the picture—until Joan’s husband Martin changes the rule they agreed to and urges her to succumb to motherhood. Raising her two boys isn’t easy, and her creative ambitions struggle against “the consumptive nature of love.” Wolas’ powerhouse debut novel promises to take readers on an emotional ride, while tackling questions about the ways in which women are sometimes forced to choose between love of family and self-actualization.

    Less, by Andrew Sean Greer

    “Minor novelist” Arthur Less is about to turn 50, and his younger, former lover Freddy is getting married. Down and out, and determined to escape the torturous nuptials—while not appearing as though he’s escaping—Less decides to accept every ham-fisted, bizarre invitation he’s received for the year. His writerly itinerary, which will take him from NYC to Paris, Berlin, and Morocco, includes teaching a class, attending an award ceremony (in which high schoolers are the judges), and interviewing a more successful author. A surprise narrator (whose identity is kept secret until the end) adds poignancy and tenderness to this lovely and comedic story.

    The Angel’s Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (translated by Lucia Graves)

    “A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story…A writer is condemned to remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price.” So begins a haunting, gothic love story set in 1920s Barcelona. Orphaned pulp novelist David Martin leaves his newspaper job behind when he receives a mysterious publishing offer that may prove to be a Faustian bargain, especially when people begin dying and David suspects that the crumbling, abandoned house he’s living in holds terrifying secrets.

    The Thieves of Manhattan, by Adam Langer

    A biting, genre-bending satire of the publishing industry, with hilarious literary in-jokes and slang aplenty (a “frazier” is a large advance for a book, a la Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain; an “atwood” is “a mane of curls sported by the author Margaret Atwood”; and a “tolstoy” is a large pile of manuscripts), Thieves depicts a down-on-his-luck writer who agrees to put his name on an absurd novel and pretend it’s true, so he can take advantage of the misery-memoir trend. “I wasn’t sure if I felt more frightened by the thought that his scheme would work or the thought that it wouldn’t, that I would ruin whatever reputation and self-respect I might have had for nothing, or that lying would make me…successful.”

    Bestseller, by Olivia Goldsmith
    As a bestseller herself, Goldsmith (The First Wives’ Club and many more) knows the heartaches and triumphs of the publishing world, and she recreates it here with intimate aplomb. Five authors whose books were selected by powerful publishing house Davis & Dash vie for the coveted number-one slot on the fall list. But the writers aren’t the only ones desperate to climb the ladder of success. Up-and-coming editors and their shady mentors, back-stabbing agents, brokenhearted parents, struggling indie bookstore owners, and midlist ghostwriters abound in this scandalous tale. There’s even a husband-and-wife writing team that splits up when one of them pretends the work was a solo effort. Enjoy!

    What novels about novels would you recommend?

    The post 6 Novel Novels About Novelists appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2017/10/12 Permalink
    Tags: , hoarders, the reading life   

    How to Fit More Books on Your Crowded Shelves 

    For true book lovers, books are life—the source of all that is good in our existence. As a result, we have a tendency to acquire quite a lot of them, and many, if not all, of them have such a place in the emotional tapestry of our lives, we simply can’t give them up. Which means we spend far too long contemplating book management, a process that starts with buying a lot of bookshelves and ends with books piled on the floor, on the kitchen counters, on the bed, and everywhere else.

    If your bookshelves are full, don’t despair. Spend a few hours this weekend trying these hacks, and you’ll be able to cram more books on those shelves—guaranteed.

    Load-Bearing Books

    First step: Make use of your air rights. Unless your bookshelves go all the way to the ceiling, chances are you’ve used the top of the bookshelf as an ersatz shelf as well. Have you hit the ceiling yet? If not, go get another shelf of some sort, and place it on top of the books up there. It makes getting the ones at the tippy-top difficult to get, but it instantly increases your top-of-shelf book storage. Hey, these are desperate times.

    Add a Shelf

    Under the category of Super Obvious Thing a Surprising Number of People Don’t Think Of, why not make your five-shelf bookshelf into a six-shelf bookshelf? It’s easier than you think. For maximum efficiency, you can sort all your books by height, then adjust each shelf so each category of book just barely squeezes in there. See how much space that leaves you at the bottom, and add one or two shelves, depending on the height of the remaining books. You might need a drill and some shelf hardware (and you might need to cut a piece of wood to make a shelf), but it’s really not as hard as it sounds. Bonus points: if you paint the bookshelf when you’re done, no one will ever know which shelves aren’t original.

    Layering

    Desperate book owners have been putting two rows of books on shelves since the dawn of the printing press, but this usually renders the back row of books difficult to access, or even see—and if you can’t spend hours gazing lovingly at your books, why keep them? While layering by itself doubles shelf capacity, a simple hack to make it more workable is to put the rear row of books on a platform. This could either be a half shelf cut to size and installed with brackets, or a few boxes of appropriate size for the books sit on top of. Boom: you just created a bookshelf that’s bigger on the inside.

    Jack ‛Em Up

    A slightly more involved, but also more useful way to use dead space is to place your bookshelf on top of boxes, cartons or other sturdy, squared-off storage container, then put books inside the boxes. Simple particleboard storage cubes can be inexpensively purchased at a lot of stores, and they’re generally strong enough to support a normal bookshelf while creating a whole new level of storage down below.

    Everything is a Bookshelf

    Of course, there are physical limitations to what you can do with a piece of discrete furniture, and after you’ve hacked yours into new usefulness into your shelf, you might (probably) still have books left over—let’s be honest, you’re bought two new books even as you read this article, didn’t you? Don’t forget that every wall is an opportunity for a beautiful shelf. Every staircase can be transformed into a bookshelf. Closets can be emptied and filled with shelves, dresser drawers can be filled with books, and even kitchen cabinets can be stuffed with them (though we wouldn’t recommend putting them in the oven).

    If we helped solve your book storage problem, let’s celebrate by buying more books!

    The post How to Fit More Books on Your Crowded Shelves appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2017/10/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , answered prayers, , anthony trollope, , , , , , , , , , j. g. ballard, , joan weigall, , , , , , picnic at hanging rock, , , the adventures of huckleberry finn, the macdermots of ballycloran, , , the reading life, , through the looking glass, , why I want to f*ck ronald reagan   

    15 of the Most Infamous Deleted Chapters in History 

    Revision is a vital aspect of creation; all authors delete, re-write, and occasionally burn entire manuscripts with tears streaming down their faces. Most of the time, deleted chapters occur so early in the writing process that they’re not relevant—or interesting. They’re just the cost of doing literary business. Sometimes, though, the story behind excised material is almost as interesting as the finished version of the book it comes from. The fifteen chapters listed here didn’t make it into the published version of the book—but that hasn’t stopped them from being part of the conversation.

    Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
    Heller’s classic 1961 novel, one of the funniest, darkest, and most complex ever written, took about eight years to write—and remains the defining work of Heller’s career. Put simply, if you’re discussing Joseph Heller, you’re discussing Catch-22, and even Heller seemed to accept this towards the end of his life. Much of his late output was directly connected to his first novel, and in 2003 he published the collection Catch as Catch Can which contained two deleted chapters from Catch-22: “Love, Dad” and “Yossarian Survives” (both of which had been previously published). The chapters provide some background on Nately and Yossarian while offering some of Heller’s most savage mockery of the military—and both chapters work perfectly well as standalone stories, making them perhaps the rare examples of chapters deleted from books because they were too good.

    Dracula, by Bram Stoker
    Stoker’s novel is one of the most influential in all of history, but it originally ended a bit differently from the version you’re familiar with. A deleted chapter detailed Dracula’s castle literally falling apart as he dies. It’s not very long—a grace note, really—and there are several theories as to why Stoker excised it very close to its publication. Some people think he might have been envisioning a sequel and wanted to hedge his bets. Others think he might have worried about being accused of stealing the concept from Edgar Allan Poe. Whatever the reason, reading the chapter does change the tone of the novel just enough to make it significant.

    The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
    Wilde’s only novel originally contained a great deal of homosexual imagery, sexual allusions, and other edgy stuff that made his publisher’s head explode. So his editor forced him to cut a great deal of this “objectionable” material. Even so, the book created a stir upon publication, as it still contained passages that outraged a lot of people, and so Wilde revised the book a second time in an effort to make it acceptable. Wilde’s reward was a novel everyone is still reading and, of course, a few years in jail simply for being a homosexual. In 2011 the uncensored version of the book was finally published with the deleted chapters restored, so you can now read the book in all its dirty glory.

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
    In the early versions of Dahl’s beloved book there were actually eight kids brought into Wonka’s factory, and they had some different adventures—including the original chapter 5, which brings the children and their parents into the Vanilla Fudge Room, where a literal mountain of fudge is worked on by Wonka’s servants with picks and hammers, sending boulders of fudge down to the floor where they’re grabbed by cranes and sent on wagons into a hole in the wall. Sounds delightful until two of the kids and their parents ignore Wonka’s warnings and ride the wagons to what they think will be fudge heaven. Instead, Wonka reveals that the fudge is tipped out of the wagons into a machine that pounds it thin then chops it up. Dahl’s publisher thought this was a bit too nasty for kids, and so the chapter was deleted and didn’t see the light of day until 2014.

    The Martian, by Andy Weir
    The Martian by Andy Weir went through a lot of revision. The original version posted on Weir’s website—still available online if you know where to look—is very different from the final version. A few years ago Weir went on Reddit for an unannounced, secret “Ask Me Anything” session and revealed the original epilogue of the story, which featured Mark Watney cursing at a child who asks him if he’d return to Mars if they asked him. It’s actually kind of a delightful ending, and one we wish they would have included in the movie.

    Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
    The original ending of Dickens’ famous novel was kind of dark and sad: Pip and Estella meet years after the events of the novel, but instead of a bittersweet moment implying a future for the two, both are simply bitter, and they part on savage terms. Dickens liked this ending because he thought it was unexpected and original, but his Beta Readers disagreed, so he changed the chapter to the version we’re all familiar with. After publication he went back and revised the final line, coming up with the perfect “I saw no shadow of another parting from her.”

    Why I Want to F*ck Ronald Reagan, by J. G. Ballard
    In the late 1960s, Ronald Reagan was something new: one of the first “media politicians” who knew that how you said something was more important than what you said, as well as one of the first “far right” politicians in mainstream politics. Although a decade and a half from the presidency, he made an impact that J.G. Ballard found interesting, and he wrote a short work styled as an academic paper describing bizarre experiments to measure Reagan’s sexual appeal. It was meant to be challenging and confrontational—and it sure was. It was originally included in Ballard’s collection The Atrocity Exhibition, but the American publisher of the book actually destroyed the entire printing rather than let it loose on the country. Let that sink in: the publisher destroyed every copy of the book rather than publish this. If there’s a better reason to read it, we’re unaware.

    A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
    It’s well-known that the last chapter of Burgess’ novel was deleted before it was published in the United States; the publisher thought the “softer” ending in which Alex starts to mature and see that his behavior in the earlier portions of the book was wrong would turn off American readers. Indeed, many still prefer the way the book ended in the truncated version, which is also the beat Stanley Kubrick’s classic film version ends on: Alex dreaming of violence, thinking “I was cured all right.”

    The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
    Wells’ novel about a man who invents a time machine established not just one of the sturdiest sci-fi tropes of all time, but a template for the modern speculative novel. Wells’ publisher insisted he add a section showing mankind’s ultimate evolutionary fate, and Wells obliged under protest, writing a chapter in which the time traveler escapes the Morlocks by traveling into the distant future, where he encounters small mammals which he determines are the descendants of humanity. Wells never liked it and had it removed as soon as he was able, and while the story, which you can read under the standalone title “The Grey Man,” is interesting, the book is much better without it.

    Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
    Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice in Wonderland is more Alice than Alice in many ways. The illustrator working on the book sent Carroll a note saying he wasn’t inspired by the “wasp chapter”, and suggested none-too-subtly that if Carroll were looking to cut the book down a bit, the Wasp part would be the place to start. No one knew what he was referring to, however—until 1976 when the missing “Wasp in a Wig” chapter was put up for auction. One problem, however: no one has ever been able to verify that this was actually written by Carroll. Reading it, the reason people have doubts is pretty clear: it’s awful. Either Carroll cut the one example of bad writing he ever managed…or he didn’t write it.

    Picnic at Hanging Rock, by Joan Weigall
    Weigall’s 1967 novel was a sensation at the time, despite the fact that it literally had no ending. The story of college students who disappear while visiting Hanging Rock in Australia was originally ended with a pretty crazy explanation of everything that happened, but Weigall’s publisher suggested the book might do better without the, um, crazy part and so the final chapter was deleted (you can read it here if you want), meaning that the story just stops, and no explanation is offered at all for the mystery. This actually fueled the book’s success, making it into a “must read” at the time. If the Internet had existed in 1967, this book would have broken it.

    The MacDermots of Ballycloran, by Anthony Trollope
    Trollope had very low expectations for his first novel, and these were borne out when it didn’t do very well. Although the novel has gained in reputation since its initial lackluster publication, you have to be careful to get the original 1847 version, because Trollope later hacked his book to death in an effort to…improve it, we guess? He deleted three chapters and changed a great deal of what makes the original novel interesting (mainly the Irish dialects, politics, and the character flaws). The revised version isn’t nearly as good, and the three missing chapters are, ironically, some of the best writing in the book.

    Answered Prayers, by Truman Capote
    Capote’s transformation from brilliant writer to alcoholic gadfly took about twenty years, and in that time he continuously accepted advances and signed contracts for Answered Prayers, a novel he never got around to finishing. Four chapters were published in magazines (the first, “La Côte Basque 1965,” was so obviously based on his real-life friends and acquaintances Capote pretty much lost every friend he had) and they’re pretty hefty, amounting to a novel’s worth of text if put together. But several other chapters have been referenced in Capote’s correspondence—and he claimed he’d written the final chapter first so he’d know where he was going—that have yet to turn up anywhere.

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
    Twain, never one to be typical, wasn’t satisfied to delete a mere chapter, instead opting to delete 665 manuscript pages, essentially an entire shadow version of his all-time classic novel. Twain paused work on the book for three years, and scholars have long argued over where exactly he broke off and what he changed when he returned to the book. The deleted chapters contain plenty of material not present in the final book, and have proved invaluable in trying to determine Twain’s intentions and process.

    Persuasion, by Jane Austen
    Austen was one of the most meticulous writers of all time, and put a lot of effort into revising her novels. Persuasion is one of the few in which we can compare early drafts to see how the novel developed, and Austen’s deleted chapters show a ruthless approach to improving the pacing of the plot and the creation of her characters. Assembling earlier versions of the novel show what her original inspiration was, how her ideas changed as she worked, and cast some light on the sausage-making underneath the charming and compelling narratives Austen created.

    Did we miss any famous deleted chapters?

    The post 15 of the Most Infamous Deleted Chapters in History appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 2:00 pm on 2017/09/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , read it or i will weep, the reading life   

    How to Sell Your Favorite Book to Someone Who Doesn’t Read 

    As Gary Coleman once taught us, it takes different strokes to move this world, and that means that people who love to read must work hand-in-hand with people who regard reading as the worst way to spend any amount of free time. In fact, you might even be close friends with (or related to) someone who never, ever reads a book, which means your relationship is limited by the fact that you can’t talk about books endlessly. In some cases, you can get close if there’s a film or TV adaptation they’ve watched, but it’s not exactly the same thing. The ideal would be to convince them to read your favorite books so you can pull them into your insidious Reading Circle.

    But how can you do that if they regard reading as a chore (as if)? It’s not going to easy, but it can be done. Here’s five steps you can take to convince your non-book nerd friend to read your favorite book.

    Shape Your Pitch
    First of all, know your audience. Why are they so resistant? Do they think Harry Potter is for kids, or do they think any story that incorporates magic is silly? Are they contrarians who just refuse to consider anything that’s popular? Start with their reasons for resisting, and shape your pitch for the book to be the equal and opposite force. If they think stories about boy wizards aren’t worth their time, focus on the depth of the characters and the emotional resonance of their travails. If they refuse to read anything popular, point out how many classics were once wildly popular bestsellers.

    Remove the Pressure
    The hard sell won’t work here. You have to keep in mind that the easiest thing in the world is to not do something, and if you push too hard for your book the non-reader will probably just dig in their heels. And if you do manage to pressure or guilt them into reading the book they’ll do so with a surly, negative attitude, and there’s a real risk they’ll decide they don’t like it just because they resent being pushed into reading it. The key is going to be taking a step back and arguing positively for the book experience instead of trying to force the issue.

    Make a Deal
    You’re asking someone to take it on faith that their time will be well spent on this book, and time is the one thing they’re not making more of. Instead of just imperiously insisting that the book will change their lives and they must read it, start a negotiation and offer to experience something they insist is great but you can’t get excited about. Whether it’s a movie they’ve always insisted you should see, or a lifestyle choice you just don’t understand (ugh, jogging, amiright?), or a night at the opera or something, put it on the table: you’ll do theirs if they do yours. That puts skin in the game and makes it a partnership instead of putting your taste above theirs.

    Find Famous Allies
    If you get the sense they’re simply not taking your arguments seriously, it might be time to find some celebrity endorsements to aid your cause. Think about their favorite musicians, actors, or other famous types and see if you can find some that have publicly endorsed the books in question. This doesn’t have to be internationally famous people, either—maybe there are folks in your social circles that your friend respects and looks up to who could be recruited for the cause. In short, swallow your pride and seek reinforcements.

    Get in There
    Okay, you love this book, so you’ve read it sixty-four times and can quote it at length and frequently have entire conversations that are just quotes from it. If your friend still refuses to read it, it might be because you’ve made it feel like a school assignment. Get in there and make it into a more Book Club feel by offering to re-read the book with them, instantly turning a solitary experience (which might be one reason they don’t like to read in the first place) into a shared experience. If you know other superfans who are just as besotted with the books, recruit them to re-read it too, and meet up on a regular basis (like, over cocktails or a fun dinner) to discuss it, making it into a must-attend social event. That’ll make it something they desperately want to be a part of instead of a chore they want to avoid.

    Finally, accept the outcome. If you try everything in your power to convince them to read that book and they still refuse, back off—it’s not worth ruining a friendship over. And, most importantly, if they do give in and read the book and don’t like it, accept that verdict. They did their part and gave it a chance, and it’s totally legit for them to simply not like it the way you do. Sure, they’re clearly wrong, but that’s their right.

    What book do you constantly try to convince people to read?

    Shop all fiction >

    The post How to Sell Your Favorite Book to Someone Who Doesn’t Read appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
c
compose new post
j
next post/next comment
k
previous post/previous comment
r
reply
e
edit
o
show/hide comments
t
go to top
l
go to login
h
show/hide help
esc
cancel