Words

“Books Aren’t Just Commodities” – Ursula K. LeGuin’s Speech At The National Book Awards

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“Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. … Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial. … And I see a lot of us, the producers, who write the books and make the books, accepting this – letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write.”

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Did Paperbacks Help The U.S. Win World War II?

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“The largest of them were only three-quarters of an inch thick—thin enough to fit in the pocket of a soldier’s pants. Soldiers read them on transport ships, in camps and in foxholes. Wounded and waiting for medics, men turned to them on Omaha Beach, propped against the base of the cliffs. Others were buried with a book tucked in a pocket.”

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When Teens Fall In Love With Their E-Readers …

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“You know that irresistible urge, that impulse you have to want to buy a book and start reading it at that very moment? Ebooks satisfy that hunger. Sitting at home, with a few clicks, I can now have delivered to me within thirty seconds any book that I want.”

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Writing – And Reading – A Novel Is Like Crossing The Berlin Wall

Japanese writer Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami: “In the face of the dark, violent and cynical reality in which we live, this might seem at times like a powerless and fleeting hope. But the power that each individual has to imagine is found precisely in this: in the quiet yet sustained effort to keep on singing, to keep on telling stories, without losing heart.”

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Should We Care About The Disappearance Of Marginalia With Digital Books?

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“Kindle did launch a public notes feature in 2011, which allows people to make their notes and highlights available to others, but some still worry digital marginalia won’t be preserved as technology advances, leaving future historians without the kind of marginalia penned by people like Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Austen, and other historical figures. Others wonder whether there’s a point in trying to preserve marginalia at all.”

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Writers’ Group Robbed At Gunpoint In Brooklyn

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“An armed robber held up a popular Church Avenue cafe while a writers’ group was meeting there [last] Thursday night … He grabbed three Apple laptops and one iPad before fleeing on foot, police said.”

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Police Raid Paris Manuscript Museum Over Alleged Ponzi Scheme

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“Paris’s Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits, an institution devoted to ancient manuscripts and historic letters, was raided by French authorities on Tuesday for its apparent role in a fraudulent investment scheme masterminded by the museum’s founder, financier Gérard Lhéritier.”

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Phil Klay, Evan Osnos, Louise Gluck Win National Book Awards

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“Former Marine Phil Klay took home the [award] for fiction, winning the prize for his debut short story collection Redeployment. … Journalist Evan Osnos won the National [award] in nonfiction for his impressively subtitled book, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China.” Louise Gluck’s Faithful and Virtuous Night took the prize for poetry.

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Ursula K. LeGuin On Choosing, And Straddling, Genres

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“Ah, genre. A word only a Frenchman could love. Well, you ask how I decide which genre to write in, and I have to answer, mostly I don’t. My mind doesn’t work that way. … I didn’t follow the sf rules and conventions unless I felt like it; essentially I went on writing what I wanted to write, and they could call it what they liked.”

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James Patterson Is On A Crusade To Save Reading (And He Says Amazon Should Help)

Writer James Patterson promotes the new movie "Alex Cross" based on his novel "Cross" at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles

The world’s best-selling author, who gave out $1 million in grants to independent bookstores this year, strongly believes that the practice of reading for enjoyment is in danger in the U.S., especially among the young. In a Q&A, he talks about how he’s trying to help turn that tide, and what Jeff Bezos could do for the cause.

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23 Cool Maps And Charts About Language

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Linguistic family trees; languages maps of China, India, and Ukraine; how well various EU nationals can converse in English; the most common second language in each U.S. state; a graphic timeline of the history of the English language; a graph charting the rise and fall of the semicolon … a treasure trove for language and graphics geeks.

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Are Readers Really Open To Changing Their Taste?

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“A new kind of book might offer pleasures we haven’t yet learned to enjoy and deny us pleasures we were expecting. Rather than fitting in with something we are long familiar with, it is asking us to change. And how many people are genuinely open to changing their taste?”

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Can The Miami Book Fair Become As Big As Art Basel?

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“Under the new leadership of Tom Healy – poet, gallerist, fund-raiser – it enters its 31st year with a growing budget and a plan to expand into a year-round institution that would make Miami as indispensable to the book business as it’s become to art collectors on the make.”

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Good Grammar Is Important. But Some Of These Rules Make No Sense…

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Plenty of scientific linguists have debunked the sillier rules espoused by language pedants – those proscribing split infinitives, ending a sentence on a preposition, and so on. But Steven Pinker wants to go beyond that, “to offer guidance, based in evidence from actual use of language, for how people can improve their prose without recycling these superstitions”.

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Death Of The Literary Feud?

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“Writers today are less likely to engage in open antagonism because the political risks are too great. Between trolls on Twitter, libel law and the pressures of political correctness, writers no longer dare to insult their rivals in the hyperbolically abusive terms that Mailer and Vidal favoured.”

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Salvador Dalí’s Erotic Cookbook

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“The book’s contents range from discussions of the grotesque shapelessness and immorality of spinach to the masterful tool that is the human jaw. Recipes include exotic and experimental eats like Thousand Year Old Eggs, Crayfish Consomme and Conger of the Rising Sun (which is an eel).”

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