Readersforum's Blog

June 27, 2013

Boys to Men

Nouns in Book Titles1 | By Philip Stone

Earlier this week I began a light-hearted look at the most common nouns that appear in the titles of bestselling novels—but my research turned into something a little more unsettling.

While I can reveal that “secret”, “day”, “time”, and “house” are among the nouns that have become your biggest bankers, it saddens me to report that, where novels are concerned at least, men are “men” but women are “girls”.

Fact One: Of the top 1,000 bestselling adult novels of 2013 with titles that contain male gender terms (and by this I mean specifically “man” or “men” and “boy” or “boys”) 93% contain “man” or “men” with just 7% containing “boy(s)”. Whereas, of the bestselling novels with titles that contain female gender terms, we see just 19% containing the adult “woman”/”women” but an overwhelming 81% containing “girl(s)”.

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March 22, 2012

When a book gets popular, parodies aren’t far behind

By Carol Memmott

Parody may be the sincerest form of flattery, especially when it comes to blockbuster books.

The Hunger Games and A Game of Thrones are just the latest to be spoofed.

The Hunger Pains from The Harvard Lampoon (Touchstone, $13.99, in stores) is a send-up of Suzanne Collins’ young-adult novel about a dystopian society in which teenagers fight to the death on live TV. The parody arrives as the highly anticipated movie version is set to open Friday. Collins’ heroine is Katniss Everdeen; Hunger Pains renames her Kantkiss Neverclean.

•On sale Tuesday is A Game of Groans: A Sonnet of Slush and Soot (Thomas Dunne, $9.99) by George R.R. Washington (Chicago-based writer Alan Goldsher). It’s a parody of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, the first book in the epic A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series. It’s perfectly timed, too: The second season of HBO’s Game of Thrones miniseries premieres April 1.

•Published last year, The Girl With the Sturgeon Tattoo (St. Martin’s Griffin, $9.99), by the pseudonymous Lars Arffssen, was inspired by The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.Stieg Larsson’s computer hacker heroine, Lisbeth Salander, is called Lizzy Salamander in the parody.

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February 11, 2012

The Top 10 Fictional Antiheroes

Column by Meredith Borders

What makes a character an antihero? Certainly, he must be a protagonist who doesn’t display traditionally heroic traits, but that can’t be all. The reader must truly root for the character, we must be drawn to him despite ourselves. Perhaps his motivations are impure, his choices unconventional, but ultimately he must possess a certain charm or allure that ignites our sympathy and engages our interest. The antihero is complex and unknowable, and because of that, he is fascinating in ways a pure hero or villain could never be.

Below are ten of the greatest antiheroes in literature.

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January 8, 2012

50 Movies That Are Better Than The Book

By Matt Barone

Passionate bookworms can be a protective bunch. Just behold their furious anger if a paperback-to-film adaptation’s screenwriter changes even the slightest element of a beloved novel. And it’s usually justified, since far too many Hollywood adaptations either abandon all of the source’s subtext or enhance the showier moments while forgetting about character developments. That’s why the staggering amounts of fans dedicated to the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Series” are waiting with baited breath and sharpened knives for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, acclaimed director David Fincher’s much-ballyhooed repackaging of Larsson’s first “Millennium” entry (hitting theaters tomorrow, December 20).

Having sold 15 million copies in the United States alone, Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a pop culture phenomenon, so thankfully the impeccable Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network) tackled the project with his signature, superlative talents. His first master-stroke was casting the relatively unknown Rooney Mara as the series’ iconic female badass, Lisbeth Salander, a troubled computer whiz who dresses like a Hot Topic regular and helps solve a 40-year-old murder mystery. In addition, Fincher and screenwriter Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, Gangs Of New York) retained the book’s graphically adult nature but also expanded upon characters’ complexities (namely Lisbeth) and sprinkled in sickly clever stylistic touches (the sounds of Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” make a particularly grisly scene all the more disturbing).

Those 15 million owners of Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo can breathe easy: Not only is Fincher’s movie a worthy adaptation, it’s by all means the superior version, even better than the impressive 2009 Swedish film starring Noomi Rapace. Inspired by Fincher’s accomplishment, we’ve taken a look back at cinema’s history to salute The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s predecessors, a.k.a. 50 Movies That Are Better Than The Book.

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October 28, 2011

H&M launch The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo clothing range

Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in the original The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo film. Photograph: Knut Koivisto

The Swedish high street store will launch designs by Trish Summerville, costume designer on David Fincher’s version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. But what would Lisbeth Salander say?

By Rosie Swash

Lisbeth Salander is many things. A heroine, a techno-whizz, a hard nut with a soft centre, and, yes, the fictional character at the centre of Stieg Larsson’s hugely successful Millennium Trilogy. But fashionista? Considering Larsson went out of his way to portray Salander as a goth-punk styled sartorial rebel, we’re surprised to see H&M have produced an entire clothing line in her honour.

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August 8, 2011

Stieg Larsson’s ‘Girl’ series is but a tip of the iceberg of Scandinavian crime fiction

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ByLaura DeMarco

Nordic noir fiction can be divided into two periods.

Before the girl and after the girl.

The girl being “The Girl.” You know, the one with the dragon tattoo.

Late author Stieg Larsson’s 2008 novel “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” took the publishing world — make that the world — by storm.

The first book in his Millennium series introduced the world not only to punkette heroine hacker Lisbeth Salander and crusading journalist Mikel Blomkvist as they attempt to track down a young girl lost for decades. Larsson also introduced the rising genre of Nordic noir. The titles in his series have sold a phenomenal 53 million copies in more than 50 countries, including more than 1 million e-books.

Suddenly, in Larsson’s wake, dark and bloody books set in the Swedish (or Norwegian, or Icelandic) countryside began hitting best-seller lists worldwide and flying off library shelves. These were not necessarily new author names, but Lisbeth made them popular.

For nearly a decade before this genre-changing character arrived on the scene, writers such as Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum, Hakan Nesser, Jo Nesbo and Peter Hoeg had been delving into the dark side of sunny Scandinavia.

Their gritty, philosophical thrillers merged tenets of hard-boiled American noir, such as the troubled detective, with specific regional concerns, such as anti-immigration and anti-welfare-state sentiment. And lots of snow and ice, of course.

“There was a Scandinavian invasion years before Stieg Larsson. It really all started with Henning Mankell, whose books began appearing here in the late ’90s,” says Bill Ott, editor and publisher of Booklist Publications of the American Library Association, who has written extensively about the trend.

“What Stieg Larsson did was become popular, not just with crime-fiction readers but with everyone.”

Wendy Bartlett, collection development manager for the Cuyahoga County Public Library system, has seen the trend explode locally.

“Interest in Scandinavian writers was building, but Larsson blew it wide open with ‘Tattoo,’ ” she says. “We have as many Larsson books circulating as you normally would for a John Grisham.

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August 4, 2011

Fourth Stieg Larsson novel rumours dismissed

Claims that Swedish author Stieg Larsson wrote a fourth novel are wide of the mark, his partner has revealed.

Stieg Larsson and Eva Gabrielsson were together for 32 years

The Millennium trilogy writer died before books including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo were published.

Eva Gabrielsson told BBC Radio 4’s Woman Hour that there was “not much truth” in reports that he left another novel on a laptop.

She said while he had written some new pages, there was not enough to shape another novel.

“There’s the beginning of a fourth novel,” she explained.

“I would estimate it to be about 200 pages, given what I saw in late August during our last vacation, and given what I knew of Stieg’s workload in his last two months.”

The trilogy has sold 27m copies, and reports of a potential fourth book in the series had excited fans.

But Gabrielsson said: “It probably doesn’t hang together. Stieg was a spontaneous writer, he could write scenes and not knit them together until later on – he just liked the scene. You can’t call it a novel.”

Larsson died of a heart attack aged 50 in 2004. Despite being together for 32 years, Gabrielsson was not entitled to anything from his estate under Swedish law, as they were not married and there was no valid will.

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July 14, 2011

Dragon Tattoo hits 2m UK sales

| Philip Stone

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Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Quercus), the first book in the late Swedish journalist’s Millennium thriller trilogy, has become only the sixth adult novel to sell more than two million copies since records began.

Helped by a deep-discount deal at Tesco, 10,870 copies of the book were snapped up at UK booksellers last week, taking its total sales across all print editions to 2,000,345. Since publication in January 2008, £10.9m has been spent on copies of the thriller, which sold just 14,100 copies in its original, hardcover format.

The book joins an elite group of just five other adult-audience novels to have sold more than two million copies:

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January 15, 2011

In new memoir, Larsson partner Eva Gabrielsson says she wants to finish Millenium series

In a new memoir to be published next week, Eva Gabrielsson says that she wants to finish writing a fourth volume in the massively popular series of thrillers written by her longtime partner, the late author Stieg Larsson.

Almost 50 million copies of series’ three books — The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Kick Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest — have been sold around the world. The novels also spawned a film franchise, with the English-language adaptation coming later this year.

There could have been more.
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January 13, 2011

David Fincher Gets The Girl

The darkly obsessive director of Fight Club and The Social Network takes on the biggest franchise since Harry Potter­—The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. An exclusive first look from the set of the year’s most anticipated film.
On a dark, icy afternoon in late November, director David Fincher was in a photo studio in Stockholm adjusting blood. The blood, which was of course fake, covered the hands of a young actress named Rooney Mara, but to Fincher’s mind, which is prone to reimagining reality in cinematic terms, the bloody hands belonged to Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Salander—an androgynous, bisexual computer hacker with multiple piercings and a distinctive tattoo on her back—is the complicated star of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” series, a trio of novels that have sold more than 50 million (and counting) copies worldwide. Larsson described Salander in opposites: slender but tough, “spidery” but elegant. Fincher, who is directing the American movie version of the first book in the series, has taken that gamine, biker-chick, downtown-girl template and tweaked it. Now she’s his.

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