Readersforum's Blog

January 25, 2011

Books that change your world, but no one else’s

Filed under: Publishers — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:34 pm

Thank goodness for publishers like Capuchin Classics, preserving books that are hugely important to a small readership.

Off the radar: Austin Wright

The latest issue of the New Yorker has an article by Louis Menand (a review of a book about Betty Friedan and The Feminine Mystique) that powerfully addresses the perennial question of “books that changed the world”.

 There’s no shortage of these, in living memory, from Rachel Carson’s 1962 classic, Silent Spring, to former Observer writer EF Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful. In the development of feminism, The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer played a similar role. Every generation throws some up, zeitgeisty publications that express a mood.

“These are books,” writes Menand, “whose significance exceeds anything they actually said. For many people, it doesn’t even matter what they said or why they were written. What matters is that, when the world turned, they were there.”

 So far so good. But what – I wondered – about those books for which the world did not turn ? Specifically, what about those books that speak to, and move, us as individual readers, become part of our imaginative landscape, and remain a secret, private pleasure ?    ….read more


J.D. Salinger’s life caught by author Slawenski

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — Bookblurb @ 6:17 pm

Pretty much everything you think you know about J.D. Salinger is wrong, according to a startling new biography.

The reclusive creator of The Catcher in the Rye, the literary hero of teenagers around the world, died a year ago this week (Jan. 27) at age 91.In his sympathetic and insightful book, Kenneth Slawenski focuses on the forgotten fact that Salinger was a damaged war hero who struggled to make sense spiritually of the horrors he experienced in World War II.Salinger never spoke of what he saw and did during the war, but Slawenski’s use of military records is revelatory.   ….read more

Reading together is crucial for children

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:06 pm

INDEPENDENT charity Booktrust are the latest organisation to find their financing under threat from Government cuts.

They work to ensure all children have access to books but have been told funding for their free programmes – Bookstart, Booktime and Booked Up – is going to be slashed.

At one stage it seemed they would lose 100 per cent of Government money, but talks are continuing about retaining some level of aid. We hope it works out, because sharing a story with your offspring and encouraging a love of books is vital.   ….read more

I’m Indiebound

Filed under: Bookshops — Tags: , , — Bookblurb @ 5:52 pm

Tayari Jones

Last week, I attended the American Booksellers Winter Institute, which is the conference where booksellers gather to see what’s new for 2011. I am very very grateful to have been asked by my new publisher, Algonquin Books, to attend the event. The Winter Institute was a really great event. You know how everybody is always saying the book is dead? Well, it’s hard to believe that when you’re in a room full of booksellers, brimming with excitement about the written word, written on paper.

Being there was quite an education. I have blogged before about why you should buy your books from independent bookstores, but after attending the Winter Institute, I am more committed. Booksellers are women and men who help connect readers with the best books.   …read more


Anne Robinson softens style for BBC2’s My Life in Books

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:30 pm

Television presenter Anne Robinson will explore the impact of books on the lives of her interviewees in My Life in Books. Photograph: BBC

Fearsome Weakest Link presenter to front literary version of Desert Island Discs as part of a year-long focus on writing.


Anne Robinson, the dark lady of teatime television and mistress of the pointed putdown, is to be re-styled this spring as the presenter of a new celebrity chatshow about books, modelled on Desert Island Discs. Gone will be the black trouser suits and severe stares. In their place, Robinson will be smiling and dressed in approachable pastels.

The BBC2 programme, My Life in Books, will be a literary version of the long-standing Radio 4 music show.   ….read more

Walcott wins T S Eliot Prize

Filed under: Literary Prizes — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:21 pm

Charlotte Williams

Nobel-winner Derek Walcott has won the 2010 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry, for his “risk-taking” collection White Egrets, published by Faber.

Walcott pipped nine other poets to the £15,000 prize, including Simon Armitage, Seamus Heaney and Annie Freud. The award is now in its 18th year and each of the shortlisted poets received £1,000, with the prizes awarded by T S Eliot’s widow, Valerie Eliot, at a ceremony at the Wallace Collection last night [24th January].   ….read more

BBC reveals Year of Books

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:05 pm

25.01.11 | Katie Allen

 The BBC has revealed the full programme for its “Year of Books 2011”, including details of its World Book Night programming, upcoming adaptations and a Dickens season to mark the author’s bicentenary.

At an event in central London last night [24th January] the broadcaster revealed that the live, late Friday night show “Newsnight Review” is to devote one programme a month entirely to coverage of books and authors. The strand will begin in the late summer.   ….read more

Urinating on Jorge Luis Borges’s grave was an artistic act, says Chilean writer

Eduardo Labarca appears to urinate on the grave of Jose Luis Borges on the cover of his book The Enigma of the Modules. Photograph: Catalonia

Book cover depicting Eduardo Labarca apparently urinating on author’s grave provokes outrage in Argentina.


Jorge Luis Borges was possibly the greatest Spanish-language writer of the 20th century, but the Chilean author Eduardo Labarca felt the best tribute a fellow writer could pay would be to urinate on his tomb.

A photograph on the cover of 72-year-old Labarca’s latest book appears to show him doing exactly that in the Geneva graveyard where Borges’s well-tended, flower-adorned tomb lies.     ….read more


2010 Goodreads Choice Awards: Hints for the Hugos?

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:15 am
Rose Fox —
The 2010 Goodreads Choice Awards have been announced, and the top five titles in the fantasy, SF, and paranormal fantasy categories may give us some hints as to the likely contenders for the 2010 best novel Hugo.

A crowded fantasy field showed a pretty close race. The top five, out of 4711* votes cast:   ….read more

January 24, 2011

Harper’s Union Spat Intensifies As Big-Name Authors Weigh In

John "Rick" MacArthur.

The war of words between Harper’s publisher John “Rick” MacArthur and the magazine’s union is intensifying. Today, the union is circulating an open letter to MacArthur signed by 84 writers and former Harper’s editors that calls on the publisher to cancel the planned layoffs of literary editor Ben Metcalf and Harper’s Index editor Ted Ross. The signatories, who read like a guest list for a Brooklyn literary salon, include novelists Jonathan Lethem, Sam Lipsyte, George Saunders, and recent Harper’s hires Zadie Smith and Thomas Frank….read more

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