Friday, April 27, 2007

Here Come the Blookers!

The self-publishing Web site Lulu recently announced the short list for its 2007 Blooker Prize -– a $10,000 literary prize for best books based on blogs, Web sites or Web comics. Last year’s winner was Julie and Julia: My Year of Living Dangerously by Julie Powell, which has sold more than 100,000 copies. Frank Warren’s My Secret: A PostSecret Book made the short list this year. It is the second book based on his PostSecret Web log, which encourages people to share their secrets.

Another book on the short list, Doorbells of Florence, is being dubbed an example of “flicktion” by the BBC, since the photos of the Italian city’s door chimes first appeared on the photo-sharing Web site, Flickr, and are accompanied by imaginary stories of the people and things that might be inside.

According to Lulu, “Blooks are the world's fastest-growing new kind of book and an exciting new stage in the life-cycle of content, if not a whole new category of content.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


“It seems as though we are becoming a nation of mourners and victims,” Sally Driscoll wrote in Book Links several years ago. “Few communities have not experienced senseless crimes.”

Last week’s tragedy at Virginia Tech has focused the world’s attention on the victims, as well as we relatives, friends, neighbors and coworkers who mourn their loss. Another group impacted by the violence is kids, who can be overwhelmed by nonstop news and the constant conversations of family and friends.

Overwhelmed children don’t always know how to process their feelings. One way parents can help is through bibliotherapy -- reading stories to your kids about difficult events, discussing the characters’ reactions to them, and then helping your kids apply the lessons from the fictional trauma to real life.

"Reading puts words on experiences," psychiatry professor Melanie Katzman explains in a Scholastic article. "It gives kids … ways of thinking about feelings or problems that seem daunting."

Professor Tom McIntyre describes bibliotherapy as a way to “assist a youngster in overcoming the emotional turmoil related to a real-life problem by having him/her read literature on that topic.”

Experts agree that just having parents read them a story can help children feel calmer and more secure. Check out:

The Book of Mean People by Toni Morrison. (Recommended for age 4-8.)

Why? by Nikolai Popov. (Age 5-8)

Grandmother Bryant’s Pocket by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. (Age 5-9)

A Little Bit of Rob by Barbara J. Turner. (Age 6-8)

Feathers and Fools by Mem Fox. (Age 6-9)

One-Eyed Cat by Paula Fox. (Age 9-12)

Part of Me Died, Too by Virginia Lynn Fry. (Age 10 and up)

Wringer by Jerry Spinelli. (Grade 4-8)

Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes. (Grade 5-8)

Scary News by Lorna Ann Knox.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Book Collecting

If you are fan of TV’s Antiques Roadshow or radio’s The Book Guys, you know that sometimes an unassuming manuscript can fetch a hefty price. Even if you aren’t in search of a Gutenberg Bible or Shakespeare’s First Folio, collecting first editions, books by one author, specific illustrators, or signed copies is such a popular avocation that online bookseller Web sites like Alibris can tell you the potential value of a volume at hand.

Many book collectors visit library used book sales to discover discarded treasures. If you are on such a search, check out these upcoming book sales at Fairfax County Public Library branches.

George Mason Regional Library
Thursday, April 26, 5 p.m. -9 p.m.
Friday, April 27, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, April 28, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, April 29, Noon - 5 p.m.

Reston Regional Library
Friday, April 27, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday, April 28, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 29, Noon - 3:30 p.m.

You can check the library’s Web site for information on buying books. Or, you may want to visit the next meeting of the Fairfax Bibliophiles Book Collecting Group, which meets at the Fairfax City Regional Library. Their next gathering is Tuesday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m.

In the meantime, here are a few books on the art of book collecting and some of its eccentric practitioners:

Among the Gently Mad: Perspectives and Strategies for the Book Hunter in the Twenty-First Century by Nicholas Basbanes.

Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books by Aaron Lansky.

Warmly Inscribed: The New England Book Forger and Other Book Tales by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone.

First Editions: A Guide to Identification by Spoon River Press (reference).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pen Names

Barbara Vey recently admitted on her Publisher’s Weekly "Beyond the Book" blog that she enjoys the books of J.D. Robb, but has never warmed to the work of Nora Roberts, even though she knows they are the same author. She feels the same about the historical romances of Amanda Quick, which she prefers to the contemporary romantic thrillers of Quick’s alter ego, Jayne Ann Krentz.

Authors through the ages have used pseudonyms to hide their identity. Can you match the authors below with their pen names? We’ll post the answers next time.

Authors: (1) Pearl Gray; (2) Barbara Mertz; (3) Samuel Clemens; (4) David John Moore Cornwell; (5) James Oliver Rigney, Jr.; (6) Daniel Handler; (7) Stephen King; (8) Howard Allen O’Brien; (9) Allen Stewart Konigsberg; (10) Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee

Pen Names: (a) Lemony Snicket; (b) Woody Allen; (c) John Le Carré; (d) Zane Grey; (e) Richard Bachman; (f) Mark Twain; (g) Robert Jordan; (h) Elizabeth Peters; (i) Ellery Queen; (j) Anne Rice

Friday, April 13, 2007

Literary Fakes

Last week the film The Hoax was released, which is about Clifford Irving's false biography of Howard Hughes. Irving is not the only writer who’s produced questionable literary efforts.

A few years ago London’s Guardian newspaper published a list of top ten literary hoaxes, which included The Hitler Diaries, which fooled historians, as well as the work of the young Thomas Chatterton, an 18th-century poet who passed off his work as that of a 15th-century monk.

Unfortunately, there’s more where that came from: a blogger published a list of the top 20 literary hoaxes, and more recently, there was a brouhaha about James Frey’s best-selling memoir, A Million Little Pieces, which turned out to have a lot of fiction for a supposed autobiography.

For more on literary hoaxes, check out:

The Hitler Diaries: Fakes That Fooled the World by Charles Hamilton.

The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion by Will Eisner.

The Poet and the Murderer: A True Story of Literary Crime and the Art of Forgery by Simon Worrall.

A Treasury of Deception: Liars, Misleaders, Hoodwinkers and the Extraordinary Stories of History’s Greatest Hoaxes, Fakes and Frauds by Michael Farquhar.

The Museum of Hoaxes: A Collection of Pranks, Stunts, Deceptions, and Other Wonderful Stories Contrived for the Public From the Middle Ages to the New Millennium by Alex Boese.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pat Conroy Is Back!

Bestselling author Pat Conroy is finishing up his first novel in more than a decade, reports the Associated Press. It’s running more than 700 pages at the moment, and returns to the dysfunctional relationships that characterize his earlier work.

“Everyone in this new book is dying and driving themselves off cliffs,” Conroy told the Atlanta-Constitution. “So I’m back to normal.”

While you’re waiting for Conroy to put the final touches on his new work, you can relish some of his earlier books. Most are also available in alternate formats, such as large print, cassette, CD, eBook and eAudiobook.


Beach Music

The Prince of Tides

The Lords of Discipline

The Great Santini


The Pat Conroy Cookbook, Recipes of My Life

My Losing Season

The Boo

The Water is Wide

Friday, April 06, 2007

Humorist David Rakoff

Enjoy “An Evening With David Rakoff” at 7:30 p.m. on April 24 at the Alden Theatre of the McLean Community Center, located at 1234 Ingleside Avenue in McLean, VA. Tickets to this free event will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 7 p.m.; limit four per person. For directions, call 703-790-0123. Books will be available for sale and signing courtesy of Barnes & Noble – Tysons Corner. The event is cosponsored by the Fairfax County Public Library Foundation, Inc., and the Alden Theatre.

Rakoff, a contributor to Public Radio International’s "This American Life" is known for his edgy and humorous insights into contemporary American life. He is the author of two books of essays, Fraud and Don’t Get Too Comfortable, in which he reports on his investigation of elf populations in Iceland, his impersonation of Sigmund Freud in a Manhattan department store window display, and his two-day guest part on a popular soap opera. He also writes for The New York Times Magazine, Outside, GQ and other publications.

Rakoff has worked with David and Amy Sedaris, directing and acting in their plays. He can also be seen in the films “Strangers With Candy” and “Capote.” Listen to a 10-minute podcast interview with Rakoff at the library’s Web site.

The library’s Perspectives series continues May 8 with Julian Bond, chair of the NAACP.

If you have suggestions for speakers in next year’s Perspectives series, let us know.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Baseball Sleuths

This week marks the official start of the baseball season, and those of you who like mystery novels might like to read some that are ballpark-related:

By Troy Soos:
Hanging Curve
The Cincinnati Red Stalkings
Hunting a Detroit Tiger

By Crabbe Evers:
Tigers Burning
Fear in Fenway

By Alison Gordon:
Striking Out
Safe at Home
Night Game

Want more? NoveList is a fiction database that provides reviews, annotations, and much more for more than 135,000 novels. It also includes other content, such as author “read-alikes” (if you like that author, try this one), book discussion guides, and annotated book lists. If you have a Fairfax County Public Library card, you can access Novelist with your card number.

By the way, here are the answers to the quiz in last Tuesday’s posting, “Forty Years and Counting”:

In 1967:

(1) a. UCLA won the NCAA championship;
(2) b. “Michelle,” written by McCartney and Lennon won the Grammy that year;
(3) c. The Confessions of Nat Turner and A Garden of Earthly Delights were published;
(4) a. “In the Heat of the Night” was a popular film; and
(5) b. 33 cents was the average cost of a gallon of regular gas.