Readersforum's Blog

December 11, 2013

Ten Unbeatable Holiday Gifts for Book Lovers

santa-fifty-shadesBy Kimberly Turner

Sure, you could put on actual pants to go partake in some door-bustin’ shenanigans at the mall, but between jingling bells, decking halls, and consuming your body weight in holiday cookies, who has time for that? Not you, my friend. Not you. Know what else you don’t have time for? Sifting through page after page of Mega Lightning Cyber Xtreme Deals, hoping to stumble upon the perfect gift for your loved ones. No! That’s why we here at LitReactor have done the sifting for you and come up with ten amazing presents for your book-loving friends and fam. Think of it as our gift to you.

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October 8, 2013

The 20 Best Books in Translation You’ve Never Read

Chad W. Post, director of Open Letter Books, which specializes in great books in translation, as well as the Web Site Three Percent, gives us the benefit of his years of working with world literature–he’s narrowed his best books in translation list to 20.

True deceiverAs the director of Open Letter Books and Three Percent—and former Associate Director of Dalkey Archive Press—I’ve spent most of my adult life reading literature in translation. Why? In part because I find it fascinating to learn about other parts of the world, but mostly because there are so many incredibly good works in translation available to English readers.

On the surface, this seems to run counter to the commonly cited statistic that only 3% (or less) of the books published in the United States are originally written in another language. Quantity doesn’t necessarily relate to quality though. Even though there are just over 400 original translations of fiction and poetry being published in the States every year, the vast majority of these are top notch books—titles that are critically acclaimed in their own country, and often are written with a style and structure that can expand your ideas of what’s possible in fiction.

When Stephen Sparks of Green Apple Books and I started talking about putting together a 20-book list of translations, we immediately wanted to get away from some of the more obvious authors that populate lists of this sort—Garcia, Cortázar, Proust, Kafka, Tolstoy, etc. Not that these books aren’t amazing—they definitely are—but those are authors that most engaged readers have already heard of, oftentimes in a college class, or from one’s reading buddies.

So instead, we chose 20 of our favorite translations from around the world. Obviously, this could be expanded and expanded, but hopefully you’ll find at least a few new works of international literature to check out.

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October 7, 2013

David Bowie’s 75 Must-Read Books

davidbowieby Maria Popova

 

From poetry to history to theory of mind, with plenty of fiction and a few magazines for good measure.

 

Creativity is a combinatorial force — it rests on our ability to fuse, usually unconsciously, existing concepts, memories, bits of information, pieces of knowledge, and fragmentary impression into novel ideas that we call our own. A mind of exceptional creativity, then, is a mind brimming with vibrantly diverse bits that can be fused together into a boundless array of possible combinations. One way to fully appreciate the power of such cross-disciplinary curiosity is to look at the intellectual diet of those we revere as geniuses, whatever their field of exceptional ability — take, for instance, the reading lists of Carl Sagan, Alan Turing, and Nick Cave.

 

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September 5, 2013

32 Books That Will Actually Change Your Life

enhanced-buzz-10556-1376603383-18And all you have to do is read them!

By Erin La Rosa

1. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

This heartbreaking memoir, written by Jean-Dominique Bauby, follows the life of a narcissistic editor turned ward of the hospital after a sudden stroke leaves him paralyzed and unable to communicate. It’ll make you realize how important the people in your life are, and how precious every moment really is. Did I mention you might weep through the whole thing?

2. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Need a little more impetus in your life?

Read this philosophical novel, and Robert Pirsig will help you realize how important it is to actually care about what you’re doing. In other words, if you’re fixing a motorcycle, then really fix it. Don’t listen to music, or do something else simultaneously. Do what you need to do, and take pride in it.

3. Cat’s Cradle

Of all the Vonnegut you could possibly read, this is the one that will raise the most questions — in a great way. Jonah, our narrator, wants to write a book about the inventor of the atomic bomb, Dr. Frank Hoenikker.

This book will make you question whether or not there should be a limit to the pursuit of knowledge. And it’ll get you to think about the power of weapons, and how even the most competent people can make mistakes with them. Plus, with all of that science comes the exploration of religion, or the futility of it, really.

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A Breaking Bad (and Beyond) Reading List

WinterBy Lauren Eggert-Crowe

Only five new episodes remain in AMC’s high-octane drama about a milquetoast family man who transforms himself into a cunning drug kingpin. Within the next two months, we can expect to see Walter White’s reckoning, whether through spectacular downfall or a final ascension to cartel royalty. Blood will spill and secrets will be revealed. Breaking Bad promises us the rush and pulse of the best Shakespeare dramas, cinematically captured in the saturated blues and bleached out beiges that signify the Southwestern landscape.

One of the strengths of Breaking Bad is its richly layered storylines. There are worlds and worlds behind Walter White’s character arc. The story of the land and people of Northern New Mexico alone could be its own fascinating spinoff of Breaking Bad. Not to mention the history of The Drug War, cartels, and race relations in the borderlands.

The books on this list range from the personal to the mythological to the journalistic, and some intertwine all three. They all depict a world of stark contrasts. There is danger here. There are hardscrabble heroes and self-made gods dripping with hubris. Each book is infused with the poetry of landscape, in which humans like Walter White and Jesse Pinkman try to craft their own story with what their realities have handed them.

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August 22, 2013

Satanic Summer: Horror Fiction for Hot Days

satans_beach  by Cameron Pierce

Horror is typically associated with autumn, when the days turn shorter, the air grows brisk, trees lose their leaves, and jack-o’-lanterns take their place on every doorstep. But there’s plenty of horror that’ll keep you awake through the sweltering nights. Here are eight short stories and seven novels perfect for the summer.

Note: With the short stories, I’ve included links to a collection/anthology containing that story to make them easier to track down.

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August 9, 2013

Top Ten Horrible Book Covers

Filed under: Lists — Tags: , , , — Henry Greeff @ 12:30 pm

worst-book-covers-titles-25  by Laura

 

They say that you should never judge a book by its cover but Reader, ‘they’ are wrong. ‘They’ also recommend you to floss and we all know how fucking horrible that is.

We judge book covers just like we judge everything and everyone you care about. Mostly that involves asking yourself ‘Is this person/place/thing going to benefit me in any way?’ and then ‘Do I enjoy looking at this person/place/thing?’.

ANYWAY. Books. Books are brilliant, there is no doubt about this, but when it comes to book covers, publishers can get it hilariously wrong. Here are Ramp.ie’s thirty-four Top Ten Horrible Book Covers.

 

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July 29, 2013

The 10 best … SA crime fiction novels

coldsleep By Charles Cilliers

In recent years, there’s been a spate of brilliant crime fiction by local authors, set in SA. Many of these titles have enjoyed critical and commercial success, both here and abroad. Charles Cilliers cherry picks some of the very best.

 

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July 5, 2013

Reading in the Closet

books_prideAuthors on the Books that Helped Them Come Out

Reading may be a solitary experience, but for some of us, it let us know that we were not alone. While everyone’s story is different, many of us are united by our love of books and our belief that they have the power to bring us together and to show us that when we’re different, as Nicola Griffith writes, “we can be glad to be so.” Growing up gay can feel like an excruciatingly isolating experience, particularly without the resources to understand what it is exactly that makes you so different. Books gave us not only a sense of who we were, but who we could be. So whether you hid a copy of A Boy’s Own Story under the bed or kept Fingersmith in your sock drawer, between the covers we were able to find a world for ourselves within the world.

To that end, we asked some of our authors what books spoke to them when they were coming out, asserting their identities, or putting a name to their desires. Below you will find a makeshift canon of works that served as “goads, guides, and balms” to FSG’s own Frank Bidart, Nicola Griffith, Jesse Bering, Maureen N. McLane, and Carl Phillips.

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June 25, 2013

The 10 Books Every Zombie Fan Must Read

world-war-zBy Kimberly Turner

Let’s face it, vampires are played out. Sparkles and sexiness vanquished their frightfulness in a way garlic and holy water never could. But the world needs a monster, particularly in tough times, so zombies have spent the last few years shambling in to fill the pop culture void. We play Plants vs. Zombies on our phones, watch The Walking Dead on TV, go on zombie walks, run zombie-themed races, and will almost certainly make World War Z (based on the 2006 book by Max Brooks, released today) one of the highest-grossing films of the summer. According to the Today show, the “zombie economy” is worth more than $5.74 billion in the U.S. alone.

There is simply no better time to brush-up on zombie fiction, but with so many undead-related titles to choose from, it’s hard to figure out where to start. LitReactor to the rescue. Here are ten not-to-be-missed zombie books worth their weight in rotting flesh. Um, we mean worth their weight in something much more valuable than rotting flesh. Even if you don’t consider yourself a horror buff, you might be surprised to find something here you’ll love. After all, most good zombie novels are more about the humans than the monsters, and you’ll find everything from political intrigue to romance to Southern Gothic literary fiction on this list…

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