- From our friends in the Live Free or Die state, bookstores embracing e-book sales (via Union Leader)
- If you grew up with the Berenstein Bears, and might be raising a tot on the same stories, a chronicle of the Berenstein family tradition is sure to rekindle memories (via Washington Post)
- A great story of a regular -everyday-reader and a life long love of books (via York Daily Record)
- An outstanding editorial from Malaysia about how controversy is the best marketing for any book, like Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (via The Star)
- Write a book in three days, win a prize. And, possibly write a very entertaining book in the process (via Crosscut)
- Is an entire community up for a 5 million page reading challenge (via Woodburn Independent)
January 31 is a pretty well rounded day in history when it comes to literature and bibliophilic history. From time to time we’ll feature a day in history that is particularly noteworthy in the annals of the written word.
Today we mark the anniversary of the births of three novelists and luminaries in American literature- John O’Hara, Norman Mailer and Zane Grey.
While the last two names might spark your memory, the first, John O’Hara was the creator of Appointment in Samarra and Butterfield 8. The back to back novels, 1934 and 1935 propelled O’Hara to early fame. Critical praise, as well as popularity among readers was coupled with accolades from literary peers, like Ernest Hemingway.
Born in 1923, Norman Mailer, a World War II veteran rose to notoriety in 1948 with the publication of his debut war-time novel The Naked and the Dead. That book, considered one of the best portraits of war, was on the New York Times bestseller list for 62 weeks. Mailer won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for The Executioner’s Song, a fictionalization of the life of Gary Gilmore.
From dentist to icon of western novels, Zane Grey diverse life is little known by many, even fans of his popular works. A graduate of University of Pennsylvania, Grey became a dentist and opened a practice in 1896. Despite some early set backs and emotional turmoil, Grey persevered and published his first novel in 1905. Year after year he would produce more works that shaped the mythology of the old west that lingers to this day in literature and film. His biggest book was 1912′s Riders of the Purple Sage best exemplifies his influence on the genre of the genre.
So perhaps if you’re stuck in a bookish rut, you might want to head out and find the works of these literary leaders on the anniversary of their birth.
Tuesday: A ‘what-if’ World War II thriller, Operation Neptune, puts Italian frogmen in New York Harbor in an attempt to sabotage Liberty Ships bound for the UK. We reviewed the book, fascinating premise and interesting execution.
Thursday: We here in Boston are averaging about a foot of snow per week. Yeah, we need a verdant break. So, we reviewed Boston’s Gardens & Green Spaces, the perfect mid-winter read.
Friday: Wonder how other stack and organize their books? We did too, thus a question about stack em and store em, how do you do it? And as the week wrapped up, we found some interesting book news for BIR.
The Boston Book Bums were captivated by the image online of organizing books according to the colors of spectrum. Now while that might be too much for some of the team, the most intrepid members of B3 are toying around with the idea of color coding the many books gracing their shelves.
The question was raised when realizing as readers, there does come a point of critical mass for book storage. Shelves go from one layer, spine out affairs. Growing to a second row of books behind the face row. But then, books begin to get piled onto both rows. Of course they might even creep out onto the floor and become Leaning Towers of Literature.
What do you do with your books? Book cases, or book shelves? Cubes, milk crates, tables? How do you organize your books? Do you cherry pick the best, favorite works and display them randomly? Or are you an organizer, going by author alphabetically? Or perhaps by genre? Or is it pure chaos, piled on the floor and shelves?
Tell us, how do you stack em, store em and organize em?
- In case you missed it, Amazon announced e-book sales outnumbered paperbacks last year (via BBC)
- One more indie bookstore falls, this one in Worcester, MA (via Worcester Telegram)
- Another indie bookstore in Miami opens (via Miami Herald)
- Despite fiscal woes, childrens book lending at UK libraries skyrocket (via Telegraph)
- One man just couldn’t shred books (via Alameda Sun)
- The image of JD Salinger as a recluse explored by a series of letters to a friend (via Toronto Star)
- A sequel to literary tattoo book is being compiled, this round, music tattoos (via USA Today)
The Boston Book Bums, by and large, are life long Boston residents. We know the city and life out to the Route 495 belt. So when someone offers up a book on our city, not about its buildings or luminaries; but its blades of grass and beauty, we eagerly accepted.
When you pick up Meg Muckenhoupt’s Boston’s Gardens & Green Spaces you expect an eye pleasing coffee table book. And yes, the images sprinkled throughout the book are often stunning.
However, what propels Boston’s Gardens & Green Spaces are the well researched and passionate vignettes about metro-Boston’s green spaces.
For those outside Massachusetts, the city of Boston was in the earliest days a speck of land jutting out into the bay. Through time, Bostonians filled in and built up watery stretches to define the boundaries of the city today.
Muckenhoupt’s book perfectly introduces the entire history of Boston’s terra-firma, from the Ice Age to the fall of the Central Artery. From the famous, Boston Common, to the obscure, Hall’s Pond Sanctuary, Boston’s Gardens & Green Spaces combines its history and with its inherent beauty.
We walk past or through some of the places featured by Muckenhoupt nearly daily. We sit on the same benches and scan the same vistas featured in Boston’s Gardens & Green Spaces. And seeing these oh so familiar places in print, we found the book magnified their value to us.
Boston’s Garden’s & Green Spaces is a lovingly crafted work blending the best attributes of eco-travel, regional history and photography books.
Boston’s Gardens & Green Spaces by Meg Muckenhoupt was received for free by the Boston Book Bums
The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman: Hoffman’s latest novel was released yesterday and this is at the top of our to read list this month. Hoffman always brings magic to her story and characters and The Red Garden will be no exception.
Endgame by Frank Brady: Chess may not be everyone’s idea of excitement, but during the late 1960s and early 1970s the name Bobby Fischer, chess master, was at rock star levels. However, Fischer’s fall from the heights is covered in this new book.
While Mortals Sleep by Kurt Vonnegut: Posthumously, a collection of Vonnegut’s earlier work is being published, with a foreword by Dave Eggers. Having spent one summer in my college days reading every Kurt Vonnegut book, I can’t let this new release tarnish my perfect reading score.
Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch: A Metropolitan policeman in London who can speak to the dead gets some wizard training and a supernatural procedural unfolds. An interesting mash-up of crime and magic might have some gritty potential.
- In Tunisia, the ouster of a regime has invigorated book sales, especially those once banned in that North African nation (via AFP)
- Why it’s important for parents and tots to read together(via The Sun)
- How a solid background in sports helped one publisher thrive (via Kansas City Star)
- Making reading cool is the goal of one effort in Detroit (via Detroit News)
- Extreme bookjacket designs (via The Guardian)
- A Miami girl has collected 5,000 books to distribute to those in need (via Miami Herald)
- The British movement to save books by taking out every book in some libraries has caused some to say, ‘Return our books please’ (via BBC)
Operation Neptune by Arno Baker enters the fray with an inventive story of frogmen, Italian martial insecurity and a clandestine attack on the United States. The book poses an intriguing idea: what if Italian naval commandos launched clandestine swimmer attacks on Liberty ships loading and sailing from pre-war New York harbor.
Baker intertwines Benito Mussolini, Italian naval officers, Italo-American mobsters, Feds and of course, a tough as nails and fearless frogman.
Operation Neptune follows several character to climax on the eve of and through the start of World War II in the United States, but the two antipodes are an Italian combat swimmer and a fast rising FBI agent, Federico Spada and Willy Andersen.
There isn’t tremendous character development with either lead, but each is a well constructed dogged professional.
Operation Neptune has some rough spots, with some clunky transitions, but overall the intriguing concept polishes the story. Baker’s attention to detail, providing interesting peeks at Italian underwater warfare during World War II, adds interesting layers to the story.
Not unlike a period Tom Clancy novel, minus the heavy handed politics and prose, Operation Neptune is an engaging and fast paced World War II novel. If you have a World War II fiction fan in your house, this obscure book inventively captures an all too plausible ‘what-if.’
Operation Neptune by Arno Baker was received for free by the Boston Book Bums.
Imagine going through some shelves, piled up with stuff, junk and items to find a book. Not just any book, but a book that looks old. And what if, you then find out that book is rare and over 300 years old.
Not too long ago a woman at a Lutheran Church in Wisconsin came upon one such book while searching for records in the parish safe. What she found was a 340 year-old copy of a German Bible. One of only 40 remaining, the Bible was the first set of copies made of Martin Luther’s translation of the Christian holy book.
It’s believed that German immigrants brought the 1,500 page book to Wisconsin, but how it ended up in the church vault is unknown.
At 17.5 x 11 x 6.5 inches, the Bible discovered in Wisconsin is a large one and is considered in great condition, with its pig skin over board binding well preserved and its interior inks remarkably vibrant.
We particularly liked this piece because it highlighted the core immigrant nature of the United States. And how the written word, whether in Latin or German, can be transported physically and through time to capture the imagination of the world.
Something remarkable, unique and handmade, has a many levels of weight, including intellectually and spiritually. Books can record our history, but sometimes those books become history and that binds our today more tightly with yesterday.