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December 31, 2013

2013 in review

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bookblurb @ 7:49 am

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,200 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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December 28, 2013

10 Books Based on Other Books

2666By Álvaro Enrigue, trans. from the Spanish by Brendan Riley

Álvaro Enrigue’s story collection Hypothermia explores identity and isolation through the eyes of garbage collectors, professors, and outcasts. It’s also loosely based on Dante’s Inferno. Enrigue picked 10 books that took inspiration from books that came before them. In “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote”, Jorge Luis Borges tells the story of a writer who set out to reproduce Don Quixote de la Mancha without consulting the original text written by Cervantes. “He did not wish to compose another Quixote” –says Borges– “but the very Quixote itself. Needless to say he never set himself to the facile task of mechanically transcribing the original; it was not his intention to copy it.” In Borges’ story, Pierre Menard dedicates years to writing thousands of pages on his recollections of the novel and by the end of his life he achieves success: he reproduces two and a half chapters from Cervantes’ book without having copied them. In “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” Borges, himself a voracious reader, responds to a question which typically torments writers: Do books emerge from our experience or do they come from other books? The following is a list of great literary works which have set out to modify our reading of other, earlier ones.

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This Woman Read One Book From Every Country in the World: Here Are Her Favorites

Ann Morgan

Ann Morgan

A holiday reading guide

By Uri Friedman

In the fall of 2012, Ann Morgan was wrestling with a problem few of us can identify with. No matter how hard she tried, she simply could not find a book to read in English from the tiny African nation of Sao Tome and Principe. At a loss, she appealed for help on Facebook and Twitter, only to be deluged with offers from around the world to translate whatever work she chose from the Portuguese-speaking island. A small army of volunteers in Europe and the United States ultimately came to her rescue, translating chunks of Olinda Beja’s 140-page The Shepherd’s House into English.

The crowdsourcing experiment was just one memorable moment in Morgan’s quest to read one book from every country in the world in one year—a goal she accomplished just around this time last year, as New Year’s Day approached.

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Salon’s ultimate book guide for 2013

ultimate_book_guide-620x412Got gift certificates to spend? James McBride, Elizabeth Gilbert, Junot Diaz and many more have suggestions

Michele Filgate

Salon reached out to a bunch of writers who had new books out this year to find out what their favorite book of the year was. We saw a lot of books by big-name writers: Donna Tartt, Jonathan Lethem and Elizabeth Gilbert, just to name a few. But 2013 was a good year for lesser-known writers, too. Here are some titles you should add to your to-be-read piles. Now you just have to find the time to read them.

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Mencken’s Tub & Hot Water

H. L. Mencken    (1880 - 1956)

H. L. Mencken
(1880 – 1956)

By Steve King

On this day in 1917 H. L. Mencken’s “A Neglected Anniversary,” his hoax article on the American invention of the bathtub, was published in the New York Evening Mail. Mencken’s lifelong campaign to deride and derail Main Street America — the “booboisie” — had a number of easy victories, but this joke at the expense of the squeaky-clean succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

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December 11, 2013

The 13 Best Biographies, Memoirs, and History Books of 2013

lostcatBy Maria Popova

 

From Alan Turing to Susan Sontag, by way of a lost cat, a fierce Victorian lady-journalist, and some very odd creative habits.

It’s that time of year again, the time for those highly subjective, grossly non-exhaustive, yet inevitable and invariably fun best-of reading lists. To kick off the season, here are my thirteen favorite biographies, memoirs, and history books of 2013.

 

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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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State surveillance of personal data is theft, say world’s leading authors

Clockwise from top left, eight of the people who have signed the petition: Hanif Kureishi, Björk, Arundhati Roy, Don DeLillo, Ian McEwan, Tom Stoppard, Margaret Atwood and Martin Amis

Clockwise from top left, eight of the people who have signed the petition: Hanif Kureishi, Björk, Arundhati Roy, Don DeLillo, Ian McEwan, Tom Stoppard, Margaret Atwood and Martin Amis

• 500 signatories include five Nobel prize winners
• Writers demand ‘digital bill of rights’ to curb abuses

By Matthew Taylor and Nick Hopkins

More than 500 of the world’s leading authors, including five Nobel prize winners, have condemned the scale of state surveillance revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden and warned that spy agencies are undermining democracy and must be curbed by a new international charter.

The signatories, who come from 81 different countries and include Margaret Atwood, Don DeLillo, Orhan Pamuk, Günter Grass and Arundhati Roy, say the capacity of intelligence agencies to spy on millions of people’s digital communications is turning everyone into potential suspects, with worrying implications for the way societies work.

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SA’s literary giants offer diverse views on Mandela

JM Coetzee

JM Coetzee

By Siyabonga Sithole

South African Nobel laureates Nadine Gordimer and JM Coetzee, as well as acclaimed author Zakes Mda, have all written high-profile reflections on Nelson Mandela this week.

The most talked about is The Contradictions of Mandela, an opinion piece by Mda in the New York Times.

Mda recalls Mandela as a fiery, disciplined young lawyer who would visit his family home.

“I remember Nelson Mandela. No, not the universally adored elder statesman who successfully resisted the megalomania that comes with deification and who died Thursday at age 95, but the young lawyer who used to sit in my parents’ living room until the early hours of the morning, debating African nationalism with my father, Ashby Peter Mda.”

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Of Fame and Fatwas

 Naguib Mahfouz

Naguib Mahfouz

By Steve King

On this day in 1911 the Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz was born. Despite a death sentence pronounced against him by Omar Abdul-Rahman, and nearly carried out in 1994, Mahfouz chronicled and questioned Egyptian society throughout his long life. He was given a state funeral when he died in 2006 – at which time Abdul-Rahman was a decade into his life sentence.

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