Readersforum's Blog

April 23, 2014

Five perfect books for men who never read

RoadJust under a third of the male population don’t read books, says a Reading Agency survey. Here are five man-friendly page-turners they might enjoy anyway.

By

Nearly 30% of men have not read a book since school, according to a survey commissioned for World Book Night, an annual event that hopes to change their ways. The reasons men don’t read are varied, but “not really wanting to” seems to be the main one. However, if you are a man – or know one – who might agree to try just one book for the hell of it, these are my guaranteed-no-regrets recommendations.

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Nadine Gordimer: The Great Post-Mandela Disillusion

No TimeBy Michael Skafidas

Nadine Gordimer, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991, is the leading lady of letters in South Africa. Through her fiction and non-fiction writings she has captured the despair and the triumph of a country that went all the way from the ignominy of apartheid to the heights of Nelson Mandela’s presidency.

In this conversation, Gordimer speaks with Michael Skafidas for the WorldPost about the disillusion of post-Mandela South Africa, her distrust of the digital era and her decision to retire from writing fiction.

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The Underrated, Universal Appeal of Science Fiction

Chris BeckettWhy do so many readers still look down on the genre of Orwell and Atwood?

By Chris Beckett

When I’m introduced to someone as a writer, a now familiar pattern of events often follows.

“Oh, really! How interesting!” the someone—let’s call her Jane—says, sounding quite enthusiastic. “What do you write?”

“Science fiction,” I say.

Jane instantly glazes over. “I’m afraid I never read science fiction.”

In other instances, people who know me have read a book of mine out of curiosity and then told me, in some surprise, that they liked it—“even though I don’t normally like science fiction.” Indeed, when a short story collection of mine won a non-genre prize, it was apparently a surprise to the judges themselves: According to the chair of the judging panel, “none of [them] knew they were science-fiction fans beforehand.”

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Shakespeare, Cervantes & World Book Day

 

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

By Steve King

 

On this day in 1616 both William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes died, and this is also the generally accepted day of Shakespeare’s birth in 1564. This alignment of the literary stars requires some calendar juggling – a mathematical adjustment to bring Spain’s Gregorian calendar in line with Elizabethan England’s Julian calendar – but it has prompted UNESCO to declare today “World Book and Copyright Day.”

 

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April 18, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez, Conjurer of Literary Magic, Dies at 87

Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose “One Hundred Years of Solitude” established him as a giant of 20th-century literature, died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

Cristóbal Pera, his former editor at Random House, confirmed the death. Mr. García Márquez learned he had lymphatic cancer in 1999, and a brother said in 2012 that he had developed senile dementia.

Mr. García Márquez, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, wrote fiction rooted in a mythical Latin American landscape of his own creation, but his appeal was universal. His books were translated into dozens of languages. He was among a select roster of canonical writers — Dickens, Tolstoy and Hemingway among them — who were embraced both by critics and by a mass audience.

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Chaucer’s Pilgrims

 

Geoffrey Chaucer    (? - 1400)

Geoffrey Chaucer
(? – 1400)

By Steve King

On this day (or possibly the next) in 1394, Geoffrey Chaucer’s twenty-nine pilgrims met at the Tabard Inn in Southwark to prepare for their departure to Canterbury. Chaucer’s intention was to have his pilgrims arrive on Easter morning, after a fifty-five-mile hike through a pleasant English springtime; the pilgrims never made it, though the poetry endures.

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April 15, 2014

American Library Association releases its 10 most challenged books of 2013

BraveAs a fresh controversy arises in Delaware over whether parents should censor school reading lists, Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series tops the list of books which received the most complaints.

By Alison Flood.

As debate rages in Delaware over whether parents should be able to screen school reading lists for “obscene content”, the latest list of the books most frequently challenged in US libraries shows it is not only classics that are being challenged.

Books from Fifty Shades of Grey to The Hunger Games have all drawn protests over the last year, with librarians reporting over 300 requests to remove books from shelves or exclude them from school curriculums.

According to local press, a board meeting in the Cape Henlopen school district in Delaware grew heated when two board members started speaking out against Aldous Huxley’s dystopian classic, Brave New World, and calling for parents to be warned before children begin studying it.

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Sue Townsend – obituary

Filed under: Obituaries — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:11 am

townsend_book_2879360cSue Townsend was the writer whose diaries of spotty teenager Adrian Mole became a publishing sensation.

Sue Townsend, who has died aged 68, was the creator of Adrian Mole, the spotty, lovestruck teenager from Ashby-de-la-Zouch whose comic chronicles of myriad anxieties – political, intellectual, social, sexual – proved the publishing phenomenon of the 1980s and were turned into successful television series, starring Gian Sammarco as the title character.

Including various omnibuses, there were eventually nine volumes of Mole’s diaries; the last – The Prostate Years, published in 2009 – documented him battling cancer as a middle-aged man who runs a bookshop. But it was the early books that particularly gripped the reading public, selling millions of copies and transforming Sue Townsend, a self-confessed “Old Labour type”, from a poverty-stricken single mother-of-three into a rich woman.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾, as the first volume was titled on publication in 1982, unveiled a boy clear-eyed enough to assess the world around him but powerless to shape his own fate. His pursuit of the treacle-haired, middle-class Pandora is defeated by acne, and his self-declared intellectual inclinations by the fact that “I am not very clever”. His slight teenaged frame carried a large dollop of guilt about the state of the nation itself.

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Students Reading E-Books Are Losing Out, Study Suggests

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The 13 Best John Steinbeck Books

A Very Rare Book Opens 6 Different Ways, Reveals 6 Different Books

Friday 01.24.2014 , Posted by

Read more at http://www.visualnews.com/2014/01/24/rare-book-opens-6-different-ways-reveals-6-different-books/#1WpbDikorRSPUwcQ.99

A Very Rare Book Opens 6 Different Ways, Reveals 6 Different Books

Friday 01.24.2014 , Posted by

Read more at http://www.visualnews.com/2014/01/24/rare-book-opens-6-different-ways-reveals-6-different-books/#1WpbDikorRSPUwcQ.99

A Very Rare Book Opens 6 Different Ways, Reveals 6 Different Books

Friday 01.24.2014 , Posted by

Read more at http://www.visualnews.com/2014/01/24/rare-book-opens-6-different-ways-reveals-6-different-books/#1WpbDikorRSPUwcQ.99

John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck

By Susan Shillinglaw.

Susan Shillinglaw’s new book On Reading “The Grapes of Wrath” provides readers with a new appreciation for the American classic and John Steinbeck’s craft, and it’s just in time for the book’s 75th anniversary. Shillinglaw, former director of the SJSU Steinbeck Center and author of Carol and John Steinbeck: Portrait of a Marriage, shares with us her favorite Steinbeck books.

Where I live, Monterey County California, Steinbeck also lived, so interest runs high. After twenty eight years traveling long and well with this rumpled, engaging writer, I know first hand that Steinbeck’s appeal extends far beyond his home turf–that his voice roars beyond boundaries of place, time and class. Why this might be so is a question to ask in this 75th anniversary year of The Grapes of Wrath.

Reasons for his popularity abound. His prose is supple–muscular and melodic. Early on, he fixed his gaze on the marginalized and dispossessed, conveying a palpable empathy for ordinary folk who speak a robust and earthy American idiom. Throughout his nearly forty-year writing career, he remained an astute observer of American life—he was “basically, intrinsically and irresistibly a Democrat,” as he said of himself. (He wrote speeches for Adlai Stevenson, drafted some for Lyndon Johnson and was asked by Jackie Kennedy to write a biography of her husband.) Friendship was his great, equalizing subject. He noted the ethnic diversity of California: Chinese Lee in East of Eden, for example, at the helm of the Trask family’s listing vessel. He was an environmentalist, knowing from a young age that humans must share landscapes with other species, not blindly dominate them. And his books are both winsome and wise; he was a writer unafraid to experiment with slight and weighty volumes, as well as work in a variety of genres–filmscripts and journalism and dramas and short stories, travel narratives and novels.

I’ve arranged my favorites into sets with Steinbeck as the common ancestor. Any number of people I’ve met read one Steinbeck novel and then gobble them all. A reader seated at the feast might switch metaphors and consider the branching and “comfortable” Steinbeck oak, the sets as limbs:

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