Book News: Awards and an Evolution of Young Adult

Today, I’m highlighting three different articles that I found interesting in the news today concerning our favorite subject: books. (Did you think I would say something else?)

Winner of Man Booker Prize

On Tuesday, Eleanor Catton became the youngest person to ever win the Man Booker Prize for her book, The Luminaries. I have seen advertisements for the book but I hadn’t really taken much notice. But not only is the author the youngest at the age of 28, but the book is the longest to have won as well. This description from The Guardian makes me both want to read the book and feel automatically intimidated:

“Her second novel, a great doorstopper of a murder mystery set against the New Zealand gold rush of the 1860s… She does not make things easy for herself: she has organised her 800-page epic according to astrological principles, so that characters are not only associated with signs of the zodiac, or the sun and moon (the “luminaries” of the title), but interact with each other according to the predetermined movement of the heavens, while each of the novel’s 12 parts decreases in length over the course of the book to mimic the moon waning through its lunar cycle.”

Like *explicative* wow. That’s amazing and scary.

The Man Booker Prize has historically only been for contemporary fiction written by authors from the British Commonwealth and Ireland. But next year, Americans will be allowed to compete, which is already causing some waves of uneasiness by the others (will Americans overshadow the rest of the world?). It’s interesting, and I don’t really have an opinion on that, but I will be interested to see how it plays out.

Shortlist for National Book Awards

The list is getting shorter for the contenders for the National Book Awards. But here’s the thing: I haven’t heard of any of these books. I would have thought that I would at least recognize one book in the list for “young people’s literature”. But, I don’t. This year, probably for people just like me, the National Book Foundation is offering an eBook with excerpts from the finalists. It might be a good way to figure out if any of those books are worth checking out (okay, they’re finalists so obviously they’re worth checking out, but for I mean for me personally).

Evolution of Young Adult Literature

I always get both excited and a bit envious when I stumble upon a book news article quoting book bloggers. It’s a little dream of mine for that to happen to me (I’m being very transparent right now, be honored). This week CNN posted an article about the brief history of young adult literature. In it, two bloggers were quoted and linked to: Lisa from Read. Breathe. Relax. and Erin from Y.A. Book Addicts! It’s an interesting article about some of the different trends and evolution of young adult fiction.

 What have you taken note of in the news this week?

Book News: The One by Kiera Cass Cover Reveal

So if you have read my reviews this summer, you’ll have seen that I read The Selection and The Elite for the first time. I enjoyed the books as I enjoy watching reality television shows with guilty pleasure. It is one of those stories that you can’t believe that you are reading, and yet you keep reading. It is overall an enjoyable series, perfect when you want some brainless entertainment (and I don’t mean that harshly at all!).

So last week, the cover was revealed for The One, the final book in this trilogy. (Some quick recap: the series is The Bachelor meets a half-explained dystopian society meets a royal family. The main character is waiting of the final rose to marry the prince in a tense kingdom, but her heart is divided.)

So, here’s the new cover!

15844362

I think we all knew the girl would be wearing a white dress for this book, but it’s still very pretty. Is it a wedding dress? I particularly like how it goes along with the girl’s name “America” and now the trilogy features red, white, and blue dresses.

10507293The Elite (The Selection, #2)

What do you think of the cover(s)? Are you following this series?

Book News: Goodreads Policy Change and Commentary

If you’ve had your ear to the ground in the book world this past week, you’d likely have heard about the controversial actions taken by Goodreads. If you aren’t keyed into such news, then you’ve very likely not heard anything about it, hence some of the controversy.

Here’s the (un-detailed) detailed summary of the situation, with my commentary (of course):

  • Goodreads changed their policy regarding reviews and author guidelines earlier this year. They now request that authors don’t engage with negative reviews but instead advise them to flag the negative review if it doesn’t comply with said review guidelines.

Fine. I expected some changes with Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads. In fact, I really don’t think that this will be the last of the changes made to Goodreads’ business practices and policies. They might exclaim that they are still a good ole ethical want-to-good website, but when you’re owned by a big business whose business is making money, freedom to make those decisions goes away. The motives change. I’m not upset by it (maybe a little) but I recognize it as reality. It is what it is. One theory I’ve heard is that they are prepping for the option to cross-post reviews onto Amazon.

  • Goodreads did not make any site-wide announcement about the revisions to their policy.

I wouldn’t have thought that Goodreads would want to take a leaf out of Facebook’s book, so to speak. This to me stinks of all those little sneaky policy changes that Facebook used to/still does that caused enough outrage that Facebook had to implement a voting option to allow users to weigh in on policy changes. Albeit, that hasn’t exactly worked out thanks to the apathy of users, but still, I expected better from Goodreads (despite my realist attitude above).

  • Goodreads began to delete users’ shelves and reviews if they were deemed in violation of new policy—without giving any warning to the users (who at this point were in good-standing with Goodreads and were not aware of the policy change). The reviews deleted were supposedly those that had attacked an author’s behavior in a way that was not related to the book. The intent behind the shelves deleted was determined by Goodreads, and those that were used by users to group books in a negative way.

The key thing here: without prior notice of anything. It has been labeled as an attempt at censorship by some. Goodreads has since updated their little announcement thread (the only place this has been announced) in a group that users have to join. They apologize for making those deletions without notice and aim to send users a notification prior to their reviews or shelves being deleted.

  • Goodreads intends to continue reviewing and deleting those shelves and reviews that are written negatively in a way that does to pertain to the review.

Okay, so here’s where things get a bit complicated. Some people don’t find a review written in a complete attack against an author, sometimes before the book has even been published, to be helpful and shouldn’t have a place in Goodreads.

However, where is the line drawn? It has come out through authors’ Twitter feeds that authors are being encouraged to flag negative reviews (though really only when it is in violation of the review policy). This wasn’t instantly known by users of Goodreads either. GR-Amazon (pronounced gramazon…you’re welcome) wants to put a stop to some of the bullying attacks that can happen any online commenting/opinion forum. But if they are really trying to make the reviews about books, shouldn’t those reviews that go in the opposite direction (praise for an author without bring rooted in the exact book) be flagged? There is a genuine worry that more power is being given to authors to flag any negative review that they don’t like.

People sometimes want to consider an author’s beliefs, behavior, and/or history when deciding to consume a book. Those are factors that they find important in a review. Does this mean that Goodreads is no longer a forum for readers, but instead a tool for Amazon to sell more books?

A big problem I have with all of this is some of the interpretation that Goodreads has to do in order to make these deletions. Examples are shelves named ‘taa,’ ‘Hormel,’ and ‘due to author’ were deleted, despite their benign names. Goodreads inferred that the point of those shelves was to categorize books that the user viewed in a negative way due to an author’s behavior. Huh? And then there’s some weird stuff happening to people’s reviews, like review dates being changed as heard about from the Sword and Laser book club’s discussion about this.

This erupted over the weekend, and a few people have made the decision to discontinue use of Goodreads. The current problem is that there are no really satisfactory alternatives to Goodreads, especially for book clubs. Some users have started accounts at Booklikes.com, which as far as I understand it is like a Tumblr for books (I’ll probably be making an account there soon myself, just to stay current.). I wonder if this means that there will be an increase importance on blogs as a source for uncensored (though I’d temper that with reasonable and respectful) thoughts on books and their authors.

I shall try to stay current with these changes, as I’m curious to see if GR-Amazon will establish criteria to make these deletions less subjective. In the end, as it has been repeated a few times, it is a free service and we are at the whims of the big business. And we have the freedom of choice and the ability to discuss.

How did you hear about this? What are your thoughts? Are you going to be jumping ship or will you stick with Goodreads?

Book News: Fangirl Chosen as First Book in Tumblr’s Club

16068905I think I’m fast becoming one of the few people who have not read Rainbow Rowell’s book Fangirl. I could create quite a list of all the book bloggers’ raving reviews of this book. If you’re like me and haven’t read the book yet, you’ve probably heard some of the buzz around it. If not, well clearly you’ve been hiding underneath a tome. 😛 But Fangirl has been chosen as Tumblr’s first book pick for their official book club.

Still, there’s two little news tidbits in this that were definitely news to me.

  1. Had we heard that Tumblr was going to have an official book club? I admit, I don’t really use Tumblr like that masses do. I have my blog posts pushed out to an old account I have on there and I occasionally get a few followers from there. But, I just haven’t fallen prey to the meme and gifs that, to me, seem to dominate the site. I imagine that with Yahoo recently buying Tumblr, that the book club is one way that they intend to continue this trend of online companies trying to dominate the world by the way of controlling our lives.  Yet, I have to admit, this seems pretty cool. I already participate in quite a few book clubs on Goodreads (though I have been bad at actively participating lately), and had before never considered Tumblr as an outlet for that kind of discussion. I can see how the very mechanics of reblogging and liking could be fun to add to what can become just a discussion thread. (I imagine that gifs and memes will continue to be a mainstay of the interactions though.)
  2. I knew that Fangirl was a popular book these days, but I admit that I was a bit surprised initially that it was picked for this book club. Then, I thought about it and it made complete sense. Why pick something that has the airs of being literary for a social media site that has the reputation of being a little informal? You certainly would want to attract a lot of people to your first book club month. Picking a popular book with a lot of people (and the fact that it deals with fans, considering fandom = Tumblr) makes a lot of sense. Kudos to the Yahoo/Tumblr people.

I’d love to ask Ms. Rowell what she thinks of her book being chosen by Tumblr. I might get the chance next week when she comes to Politics and Prose in DC on Wednesday, September 18.

What are your thoughts concerning Tumblr’s book club? Have you read Fangirl? Do you think it was an appropriate choice as their book club pick?

Book News: CNN’s Book Fall Preview

I may or may not have admitted to this in a past post, but I’m a bit of a news junkie. I may not always agree with how the news is saying things, but I there is a fairly large part of my day where I catch up on events and articles of the day. I’d like to think that doing so makes me a little bit more informed than some, but really, it’s like trying to read all the books in the world. I don’t think I’ll ever feel confident that I truly understand any one topic in being reported or going on in the world.

17262203Anyways, this week, CNN had a nice little article about the books they feel are worth checking out this autumn. (Here’s the point when cynics will say that it’s not really what the creator of the article thought was noteworthy, but which books the press releases made it easy to spotlight.) I have to be honest, I had maybe heard of only two or three of these books before this article. I won’t repeat the article, but I will say that the one book they list that I am now on the lookout for is Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam. It sounds fascinating, though I will probably want to read the other two books in the series before getting to this one.

Had you heard of any of these books before? What other books are ones to look out for this autumn?

FYI: Historical Fiction Books for the Summer

Historical Fiction Books for the Summer (albeit the end of summer)

My ally in most things bookish, Stephanie from Cover2Cover Blog, alerted me to this awesome list last month. It’s a list of five great historical fiction novels that are great summer reads. And yes, I am entirely aware that summer is basically over, but that doesn’t mean that these books don’t deserve some kind of shout out. I actually anticipate that one of these books will be voted as my book club’s October pick.

Fact Behind the Fiction

FYI: Local Celebration of Harry Potter Birthday

When I went to the Young Adult author panel at Hooray for Books in Old Town Alexandria a few weeks ago, I picked up an awesome flyer. It was for an event celebrating Harry Potter’s birthday. It is an event put together by the Stabler-Leadbetter Apothecary Museum. Starting at 6:00 p.m. tomorrow, July 31, people can take a tour of the museum and uncover the real magic behind Harry Potter. I am excited for it; I know it is meant for kids, but I want to go for a couple of reasons:

  1. I am a huge Harry Potter nerd. Potter-head, as it seems to be called these days. I’m quite proud of the fact that Pottermore sorted me into Gryffindor and generally lament that its universe is not real.
  2. Apothecaries are awesome. Herbology is awesome. History is awesome.

For these reasons, I plan on celebrating tomorrow by learning some things about some of the various herbs used in Harry Potter and what they can be used for in the real world.

To learn more about this event, I found this article.

FYI: Local Author Panel

So if you haven’t read the ‘About’ page, I live in the DC area. In Old Town Alexandria, there is a children’s bookstore that hosts quite a few cool author panels. Last Saturday I went to my first one there (which I’ll be writing about in a couple of days) and really enjoyed it. It’s awesome to support independent booksellers in this age of monopolies-without-using-the-word-monopolies-conglomerate-companies.

I say all this because the bookseller, Hooray for Books, has a few events coming up in the next week that if anyone is nearby might want to check out.

Their calendar is up-to-date, so I won’t completely rehash it here, but I know I’m particularly interested in their Young Adult Author Panels. There is one tomorrow from 3:30 – 5 pm titled “Life is Messy.” There will be 3 authors and their books there (Elizabeth LaBan, Jennifer Hubbard, and Katherine Marsh). From what I experienced last week, I’d definitely recommend attending if you can. The venue is intimate, which allows for a great dialogue between the audience and the authors. The signings afterwards are low-key, allowing for additional dialogue. There is another Young Adult Author Panel next Saturday with lots of events in between.

I feel a little ashamed that I am just now discovering all of this. One of my (many) goals is to become more aware of local book events to attend and promote. I went to Book Expo America this year, and while that was fantastic, it made me realize that I also need to take advantage of local events and opportunities. So if you know of any other great venues or events, please let me know!

Book News: Galbraith = Rowling and I’m Celebrating

So, I know this is no longer quite breaking news, but it’s still fascinating news to me. Especially considering that I just finished and reviewed The Casual Vacancy

Robert Galbraith

This lovely lady, J.K. Rowling has been outed as having published a book under the pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. This book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, was published in the spring pretty quietly. And I mean quietly as compared to some other books I’ve seen. On Goodreads, there are only 345 ratings at the time I am writing this post. That’s compared to the tens of thousands of ratings popular books published the same month have already.

I cannot blame Rowling for trying to publish under a pseudonym. After the mixed reception of The Casual Vacancy (with so many people crying out that it’s nothing like Harry Potter!), who can place blame? Honestly, I wish it had stuck…but here’s where it gets particularly interesting.

There’s a growing conspiracy surrounding how this pseudonym was discovered. Sometime over the past weekend, a news outlet received a tweet concerning Galbraith. After some research, it was discovered that it was curious that Galbraith and Rowling had the same editor and publisher. Just like with any media rolling ball, the news broke and admissions came out, that Galbraith was in fact actually Rowling. (A strange transition given that Galbraith had been described on publication materials as a male veteran.)

The conspiracy is that the book had actually been struggling. I don’t think that that is difficult to see even to someone outside of the publishing The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)and bookselling industry (see my ratings comment above). I have also read that the timing of this revelation, both within the actual day of the week and the overall lifespan of the book, is increasingly suspicious. However, Little, Brown and Rowling have both denied that this was all actually a publicity stunt to save what would have otherwise been a floundering novel.

Again, do I blame them? No. If it was a publicity stunt, whatever. It’s a better stunt than some others out there trying to get money off of what they really probably shouldn’t, at least ethically speaking (see the Zimmerman juror B37’s ‘book deal’ or even OJ Simpson’s book a couple of years ago). So I think in the scheme of things, this isn’t that big of a deal in terms of the reason behind it.

I totally have fallen for this trap though. Had I even heard of the The Cuckoo’s Calling before? Nope. Do I now really want to go get a copy of it? Yes. It’s J.K. friggen Rowling, the architect of my childhood whimsy! It is now on my to-read list, once of course all those new copies have been rush printed. (If you want to try your chances, there’s a Goodreads’ giveaway up for this book.)

For more interesting news, definitely look into the impact that this is having on booksellers. If people really want a book they can’t get a physical copy of, will they wait for the bookseller to get it or will they go get the ebook version? Like I said, this is definitely an interesting piece of news.

Sources:
NY Times
The Bookseller
Yahoo

And I highly recommend following Publishers Weekly on Twitter…it’s really thanks to them that I found all this out.