The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: Erik Larson, Bookstore of the year, GoodReads previews, Sara Gruen

BookBitsAs an author, I take offense at those who take it upon themselves to censor books whether it’s libraries (Item 2), school programs, or those arrogant souls who invent computer programs to “clean” things out of books the programers don’t like.

I can understand why–in polite society–one might legitimately take offense at teachers and students, ministers and flocks, and den mothers and Cub Scouts swearing at each other. However, if I were to write a novel called, let’s say, The Hooker Who Came to Dinner for Bangers and Mash, I wouldn’t need a holier than thou application like Clean Reader removing the word “penis” from the book. Yes, I know, some romance novels have done this for years, but the thing is, they did it, not an outside censor. So I’m happy to say that Clean Reader is suffering a backlash. Bless their hearts. (Item 3)

  1. deadwakeNews: Erik Larson’s ‘Dead Wake’ lands at No. 2. by Jocelyn McClurg – “It seems lots of readers are interested in remembering the Lusitania, the British ocean liner that was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in May 1915. Nearly 1,200 people died. Popular historian Erik Larson scores his highest debut ever on USA TODAY’s list as his non-fiction thriller Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania lands at No. 2.”  USA Today
  2. News: Vote will keep controversial book in school library, by Lysee Mitri – ” A concerned parent said a high school library book is pornographic and that it promotes prostitution and child abuse, but a school district committee voted to keep that controversial book in the library” at Rio Rancho High School in Albuquerque.  KRQE News 13
  3. cleanreaderCommentary: The New Censorship: Clean Reader and the Dystopian Future of Reading, by Jonathon Sturgeon – “Clean Reader, a new censorship app dreamed up by a couple of despotically hokey parents from Idaho, is now facing a backlash. If you’ve somehow missed the story up to this point, it’s fairly straightforward: Jared and Kirsten Maughan from Twin Falls came up with the idea for the app after their daughter complained about some swear words in a book she was reading. So they did what any healthy Christian family would do: they tried to cash in. ” Favorwire
  4. hsuInterview: Searching For Buried Treasure In China, A Writer Discovers Himself – “Writer Huan Hsu’s (‘The Porcelain Thief’) great-great-grandfather Liu Feng Shu was a scholar in China’s Qing dynasty during the late 1800s and early 1900s. As a patron of the arts, he built up an immense porcelain collection.”  NPR
  5. Looking Back: On this day in 1880 Sean O’Casey was born, in the working-class ghettos of Dublin that he would later make famous in such plays as The Plough and the Stars. O’Casey’s six-volume autobiography is less-known, but Frank McCourt, who would cover the same sort of ground a half-century later, thought its realism a revelation and a welcome change to the Irish writers who “go on about farms and fairies and the mist that do be on the bog.” Today in Literature
  6. BOOKSANDBOOKSNews: Books & Books Named PW Bookstore of the Year, by Judith Rosen – “Given the outsized influence that 33-year-old Books & Books and owner Mitchell Kaplan have exerted on independent bookstores and the literary culture at large, the biggest surprise about this year’s PW Bookstore of the Year Award is that it didn’t happen earlier. Since it’s opening in 1982 in a 500 sq. ft. space in Coral Gables, Fl., Books & Books has grown considerably. Its flagship store moved across the street into a 9,000 sq. ft. location, which is on the Register of Historic Places, added a full-service café, and now hosts more than 60 events a month.’   Publishers Weekly
  7. Viewpoint: What Will be on Digital Publishers’ Minds a Year From Now? by Lucia Moses – “At Digiday’s Publishing Summit in Vail, Colorado, the big issues at the tip publishers’ lips included viewability challenges, mobile and programmatic. Some of the more pressing themes were big topics at last year’s publishing retreat, too. Others — like ad blocking and publishing directly on platforms — gained prominence this year.So we wondered: What will we be talking about a year from now that’s not getting much attention today? Here’s what five publishing execs said”  Editor & Publisher
  8. goodreadslogoHow To: The Goodreads Preview Feature, by Yvonne Hertzberger – “It has recently come to my attention that Goodreads now offers the option to upload a preview for each of your books. I like the idea. Previews are a great way to allow readers to get a taste of the book so that they will have a better sense of whether the content and style will appeal to them. It works much the same way, in my opinion, as the ‘Look Inside’ feature on Amazon.”  Indies Unlimited
  9. endangeredReview: “Endangered,” by C. J. Box – “Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett’s 15th case takes him through some of the darkest days of his checkered career…All the action and suspense of Box’s long string of high-country adventures, with a solution that’s considerably tighter and more satisfying than most of them. One of Joe’s best.”  Kirkus
  10. Obituary: Tomas Transtromer, Swedish Poet Who Won Nobel, Dies at 83, by Bruce Weber – “Tomas Transtromer, a Swedish poet who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2011 for a body of work known for shrewd metaphors couched in deceptively spare language, crystalline descriptions of natural beauty and explorations of the mysteries of identity and creativity, died on Thursday in Stockholm.”  The New York Times
  11. News: Library Made of Books Will be Built at Bay Area Book Festival, by Dianna Dilworth – “A nonprofit art group called FLUX Foundation will build a giant library made out of books at the inaugural Bay Area Book Festival this June.”  Galley Cat
  12. watersedgeReview: “At the Water’s Edge,” by Sara Gruen, reviewed by Melissa Brown – “A search for an elusive sea monster at the height of World War II sounds like the plot of a genre-mashup movie. But in At the Water’s Edge, the latest novel from Water for Elephants author Sara Gruen, what starts out as a lark on the part of rich, entitled friends turns into a quest that is at times frightening, liberating and even comical.”  Book Page
  13. Quotation: “Could you take the kettledrums out of Beethoven because you don’t like loud noises and still call it Beethoven? #CleanReader” – Margaret Atwood
  14. Feature: What larks, Pip! Charles Dickens’ desk saved for nation, by Martin Williams – “It was the desk at which some of the most celebrated novels in English ­literature were written and has been hidden away for more than 150 years. But the desk where Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations is to go on public display permanently after it was saved with a £780,000 grant.”  The Guardian



KIndle cover 200x300Book Bits is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” a realistic Jim Crow novella that the Clean Reader would probably try to sweep free of the realities of the 1950s.

Click on the cover for the B&N link. The book is also available on Amazon.



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2 thoughts on “Book Bits: Erik Larson, Bookstore of the year, GoodReads previews, Sara Gruen

  1. A fascinating list as always. There always seem to be new books to ban and new ways to censor books. Eek.

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