Readersforum's Blog

November 30, 2012

Writer Ann Patchett’s bookstore thrives in digital age

By Bob Minzesheimer

When novelist Ann Patchett opened a bookstore here in her hometown a year ago, she wondered if she was “opening an ice shop in the age of Frigidaire.”

One year later, Parnassus Books is thriving in an age of e-books when ordering and reading is a click away and browsing takes on a new digital meaning.

As the store celebrates its first anniversary this month, Patchett says, “People might not use ice to refrigerate anymore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still want some ice in their scotch and in their tea. There is still a real place for ice. And when the power is out, we are mighty grateful for a bag of the stuff.”

Parnassus doesn’t sell ice. It does sell books, $2 million worth in the past year. Most were the old-fashioned kind, paper and ink.

Ask Patchett, 48, if she’s bucking a trend, and she defiantly says, “We are the trend.”

Until early last year, she had been busy enough just writing novels. Six in all, including her 1992 debut, The Patron Saint of Liars, set at a home for unwed mothers, and Bel Canto starring an American opera singer held hostage by Latin American terrorists, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 2001.

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February 16, 2012

‘Charlotte’s Web’ and 99 more ‘great’ kids books

By Bob Minzesheimer

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White’s 60-year-old novel about how a determined farm girl and a noble, vocabulary-building spider save a naïve runt of a pig, is No. 1 on a new list of the “100 Greatest Books for Kids.”

The rankings, released today by Scholastic Parent & Child magazine, are aimed at “generating controversy and conversation,” says Nick Friedman, the magazine’s editor in chief.

In that spirit, why is J.K. Rowling’s groundbreaking debut, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, only No. 6, chosen to represent the entire series?


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December 4, 2011

Deadwood’s David Milch to adapt William Faulkner for TV


By Bob Minzesheimer

David Milch, a Yale English professor before becoming a successful TV writer and producer, has signed a deal to adapt William Faulkner’s novels and short stories into TV movies or series.

Milch’s Redboard Productions announced the deal with Faulkner’s literary estate. It gives HBO the first opportunity to finance, produce and distribute the projects as movies, miniseries and series.

No word yet on what Milch will adapt, or when.

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August 12, 2011

Who made comedian Andy Borowitz’s list of ’50 Funniest’ writers?

Andy Borowitz

By Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY

Let the arguments begin, says Andy Borowitz, in his first interview about his book, The 50 Funniest American Writers: An Anthology of Humor From Mark Twain to The Onion, (Library of America, $27.95, Oct. 13).

Who made it? Garrison Keillor, Larry Wilmore and Anita Loos. (full list below).

Who didn’t? Tina Fey, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart.

“Anytime you do a best-of list, people get mad, except for the people on the list,” says Borowitz, of the satirical website, “Lists are lightening rods. That’s the fun of it. And the most personal thing of all is deciding what’s funny.”

The list includes the usual suspects: O. Henry, H.L. Mencken, Dorothy Parker and Woody Allen, as well as more modern humorists including David Sedaris, Dave Barry and Sloane Crosley.

But what about the omissions?

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June 30, 2011

‘Hunger’ strikes USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list

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By Bob Minzesheimer

The movie version of The Hunger Games, starring Jennifer Lawrence, won’t be released until March. But thanks in part to growing online chatter about the film and its cast (which includes Lenny Kravitz and Woody Harrelson) all three titles in Suzanne Collins’ teen series, set in a dystopian future, are in USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list’s top 10. Games, released in 2008, is No. 4. Catching Fire (2009) is No. 8, and Mockingjay (2010) is No 10. Publisher Scholastic reports 9.6 million copies in print. more

June 13, 2011

New book reveals how E.B. White spun Charlotte’s Web

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:30 am

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By Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY

In 1943, when E.B. “Andy” White still was mostly known as a magazine essayist, a New York Times critic dismissed White’s writing as “hogwash” and a “racket.”

Katharine White, a legendary editor at The New Yorker, rose to her husband’s defense: “They are not words that should be applied to anyone who is an honest man and an honest writer. Andy is both.”

A few years later, White would adapt his wife’s phrasing at the end of Charlotte’s Web, his classic children’s novel about a headstrong farm girl, a naive pig and a noble, vocabulary-building spider:

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”

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May 3, 2011

Kids choose Rick Riordan as top author

Filed under: Lists — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 1:11 pm

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NEW YORK — Rick Riordan, whose best-selling adventure books, including The Red Pyramid and The Lost Hero, have found new uses for mythology, was named author of the year in voting by 524,000 young readers Monday night.

The Children’s Choice Book Awards gala, hosted by the Children’s Book Council, also honored David Wiesner (Art and Max) as illustrator of the year.

The other winners, each named book of the year for their age groups, are:

                                                                                                                                                          …read More

January 14, 2011

2010 saw a frenzy for fiction, led by Stieg Larsson’s ‘Girl’ trilogy

Stieg Larsson's trilogy took the top three spots in the list of best-selling titles in 2010.

By Bob Minzesheimer and Anthony DeBarros, USA TODAY

Call it escapism or merely a fondness for good stories, but in the midst of a recession at home and wars abroad, fiction seized a record-high share of the best sellers of 2010.The year’s most popular author: Stieg Larsson, the late Swedish novelist, whose Millennium trilogy of crime thrillers captured the top three spots on USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list for 2010, based on data collected all year….read more

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