Happy New Year

May it bring you peace, happiness, health and lots of reading.


Happy Holidays

BookADay has a holiday present for you: the return of the comments.

Now's the time to e-mail your best books 2004 list to us (bookaday at gmail dot com).

Enjoy your reading.


Court Suspends Book Ban

I love reporting stories about book bans being overturned.
Here's one from overseas.
The full hearing is expected next month. But, for now, the argument that a ban on books is a denial of basic human rights holds up in court.
BBC NEWS Court suspends Ahmadiyya book ban


Government Eases Rules on Writers in Sanctioned Nations

I believe books can change the world.
The New York Times: Government Eases Rules on Writers in Sanctioned Nations

The Perfect Mix of Books and Technology

LeapFrog teamed up with the government to provide talking books for Afghani women, over 80% who cannot read.

These books will inform the women on basic health information, such as preventing disease, first aid, diet, pregnancy and childcare.

USATODAY.com - Health agency provides talking books for Afghan women.

This is a great start.


Google and The Library

Everyone's written about it, so you probably have already heard, but Google is planning to digitize and make searchable the library collections from Harvard, Stanford, University of Michigan, Oxford and New York Public Library.

Here's the story from the Washington Post:

Google to Digitize Some Library Collections (washingtonpost.com)

The search giant is also planning on expanding into the publishing arena, with Google Print. Their goal is to put all kinds of books within Washington search queries, giving searchers the ability to read portions of (and, if the book has no copyright, all of) books online.


Circular Logic

Here we go.

I don't normally do this. We're a book review and book publishing site. Rarely, do I take you to other book review sites. I'm doing that now.

Charles Taylor wrote a good review for Salon .

His review is about Nick Hornby's new book hornby">Nick Hornby's The Polysyllabic Spree.

Here's where it gets interesting. Hornby's book is a collection of columns he wrote for the literary journal, The Believer. The column topics? Book reviews.

Thanks to Shane for pointing me to the circular logic. Read Shane's brand new book review in the BookADay Book Reviews section.

Circular Logic

Here we go.

I don't normally do this. We're a book review and book publishing site. Rarely, do I take you to other book review sites. I'm doing that now.

Charles Taylor wrote a good review for Salon .

His review is about Nick Hornby's new book Nick Hornby's The Polysyllabic Spree.

Here's where it gets interesting. Hornby's book is a collection of columns he wrote for the literary journal, The Believer. The column topics? Book reviews.

Thanks to Shane for pointing me to the circular logic. Read Shane's brand new book review in the BookADay Book Reviews section.


Why Don't We Just Dig A Big Hole And Bury 'Em?

Alabama Representative Gerald Allen is trying to get all books that even refer to homosexuality banned. I'm not talking erotic fiction here. I'm talking about any book. The bill proposes that in order to save our children from "the homosexual agenda", all books with any mention of homosexuality would be removed from public libraries and schools (including universities).

On the Banned Books List: the works of William Shakespeare, those psychology or biology textbooks, Greek classics like The Iliad, or even The Bible, which under Allen's prospective rules, does mention homosexuality, so should therefore be banned. But, where to put all these books? Representative Allen has the answer.

"I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them," he said.

Well, at least he was smart enough to suggest a solution other than burning them.

Seriously, I don't care what side of the aisle you sit on. This ideology comes from ignorance, hatred and fear. In endangers our society, one built on the freedom of speech (which includes the freedom of speech you don't agree with). It endangers readers everywhere by not giving us the ability to educate ourselves and find the answers that are right for us.

If you have as many problems with these forms of bigotry as I do, drop Rep. Allen a little note:
Gerald Allen
Room 531
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130

Or, call him: 205.556.5310.

While I doubt he'll hear you out, I have a hunch he has a nice big hole to store your letter... and his answering machine.


When An Indi Publisher Isn't

I received an email earlier this week from an author who is published with a house that has been getting a lot of bad press lately.

Publisher's Weekly has been writing a lot about Publish America for the last few weeks. (Here's an abbreviated story that summarizes PW's claims.) Message rings, blogs, boards and writers from all over the web are converging en masse on this publishing company.
Here's a couple:
Predators and Editors (these guys have been watching Publish America for quite some time)
Absolute Write
Making Light
Point counterpoint:
Publish America, Yes or No?

Truth be told, PA's website does feel "me thinks thou dost protest too much". On a factsheet of 12, they spend half of it talking about how they're not a vanity or POD press. In addition, they mention they only edit for grammar and mechanics, not content. This seems to have the same business model of a vanity press--one where the authors are prickly about anyone touching the editorial direction of their work.

Also, they seem to capitalize on a culture of fear and loyalty-- fear that the authors will never be published, and, once they accept a book, reminding the authors how lucky they are to be published. But, it seems the authors can sense this and want more.

A Google search will lead you to a lot of criticism, including the Maryland (where PA is based) Attorney General's current investigation. Authors are even considering a class action lawsuit. Allegedly, Publish America attempts to silence its detractors, including Predators and Editors.

My three concerns:

1. The allegation that Publish America capitalizes on people's hopes and fears and dupes them into signing bad contracts (not to say than major publishing companies don't do this--I know many first time authors who have gotten themselves into quite a pickle).

2. The allegations that they don't edit or proofread. I can forgive bad plots and rudimentary writing. What I cannot forgive is sloppiness. A good editor is necessary for every book. A publishing house that does not edit and allows tangents to go unchecked is unacceptable and irresponsible.

3. Larger publishing houses, major bookstores and a big percentage of the media blacklists PA authors (and most self-published authors, as well) due to the low quality of the books.

This leads me back to the author who wrote me. I worry about him. The book seems promising and I would like to review it, in spite of the allegations surrounding the publishing company. But, I am concerned. The controversy around Publish America has caused part of me to doubt whether books from this company will be run-away ego trips, contributing to the further blacklisting of PA authors. The other part of me genuinely wants this author to be the exception rather than the rule with a fantastic book that the major players won't cover because of the imprint he chose, defeating the blacklisting. A third part is worried that because I'm writing this, PA won't return my calls even if I do request a review copy. A fourth part, and probably the part I'm leaning to the most (I know, I know, a lot of parts) , suggests I request the review copy and put it on my ever expanding list of to-reads, judging the book simply by what's in between its covers. I'm going to try and do that.

How about you? Would you read a self-published book? A book from a dubious publisher? A book from an imprint you hate? Let me know.


Indi Books: Call To Publishers

I've been reading a lot of Indi books lately (for you Muggles, that's books published by a smaller independent publisher).

While it's sometime hit or miss, I've been enjoying them.

Over Thanksgiving, I finished The Race by Dave Shields (Three Story Press, 2004). Although not a book I would normally pick up, it was a compelling read. It's the story of one man's bicycle journey through the Tour de France. The main character, who is riding for the European team because he was kicked off the American team, overcomes a lot of obstacles to ride to his peak performance. Shields plays with time using flashbacks as the mind wanders through the mileage accumulated on the tour. This is book about the journey and it's done very well.

Reading this and other Indi books has gotten me to thinking, how does one start a publishing company? Is it as simple as hanging your metaphorical shingle over your desk, designing a logo, grabbing something worth publishing and going? Here's a call to Indi publishers--email me at bookaday @ gmail.com and let me know how you started. What were your triumphs and tragedies and what compelled you to start. Depending on the response, I'll either print the emails or do some interviews.

Also, if there's anyone out there that can fix my comments, please let me know. I've thrown up my hands in exhaustion.


Books of Grace

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. In addition to the norms like family, friends, opportunity and health, here are the books that I'm thankful for.

Written on the Body. Jeanette Winterson. A story about love where gender is a mask and the players jump around in time.

Light in August. William Faulkner. Okay, let the debate begin, but I think this is Faulkner's greatest work.

Voyages of Dr. Doolittle. Hugh Lofitng. The best part is his ocean journey home.

Have a safe and happy holiday.


This Week's Bestsellers (And Other Books You Should Be Reading)

First, a tip of the hat to the Sunday Book section from the NY Times. Laura Miller's essay about the National Book Awards finalists--and the whiners who weren't. She provides an interesting juxtaposition between an honor bestowed by writers and an honor expected by readers.

Sean Rocha wrote a great column for Slate about the infamous Bestsellers list.

Margo Baldwin, publisher of indi-press Chelsea Green Publishing, takes on the NY Times and its book categorization in this essay on Alternet.

Without further ado, this week's Bestseller and Web Mentioned lists:

The Weekly Bestsellers List: The Tops Tens
Publishers Weekly
Hardcover Fiction
Week of 11.15.04.
1. Baldacci, David. The Hour Game. Warner: 448 pgs. Times on List:2. Last Position:1.
2. Evanovich, Janet. Metro Girl. HarperCollins: 304 pgs. Times on List:1. Last Position:na.
3. Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code. Doubleday: 454 pgs. Times on List:85. Last Position:2.
4. Alborn, Mitch. The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Hyperion: 198 pgs. Times on List:58. Last Position:4.
5. Roth, Philip. The Plot Against America: A Novel. Houghton Mifflin: 400 pgs. Times on List:7. Last Position:3.
6. Steele, Danielle. Echoes. Delacorte: 336 pgs. Times on List:2. Last Position:5.
7. Salavatore, R.A. The Two Swords. Wizards of the Coast: 352 pgs. Times on List:3. Last Position:6.
8. Shreve, Anita. Light on Snow. Little, Brown: 320 pgs. Times on List:2. Last Position:7.
9. King, Stephen. The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower. Scriber/Grant: 864 pgs. Times on List:7. Last Position:8.
10. Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code: Special Illustrated Edition. Doubleday: 480 pgs. Times on List:1. Last Position:na.

NY Times
Hardcover Fiction
Sales Week Ending 11.06.04
1. Evanovich, Janet. Metro Girl. HarperCollins: 304 pgs. Times on List:1. Last Position:na.
2. Baldacci, David. The Hour Game. Warner: 448 pgs. Times on List:2. Last Position:1.
3. Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code: 454 pgs. Doubleday. Times on List:86. Last Position:4.
4. Steele, Danielle. Echoes: 336 pgs. Delacorte. Times on List:2. Last Position:2.
5. Alborn, Mitch. The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Hyperion: 198 pgs. Times on List:59. Last Position:5.
6. Roberts, Nora. Northern Lights. Putnam: 562 pgs. Times on List: 4. Last Position:3.
7. Roth, Philip. The Plot Against America: A Novel. Houghton Mifflin: 400 pgs. Times on List:7. Last Position:6.
8. Flagg, Fannie. A Redbird Christmas. Random House: 240 pgs. Times on List: 1. Last Position: na.
9. Shreve, Anita. Light on Snow. Little, Brown: 320 pgs. Times on List:4. Last Position:8.
10. King, Stephen. The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower. Scriber/Grant: 864 pgs. Times on List:7. Last Position:10.

Book Sense: Bestsellers From Independent Bookstores
Hardcover Fiction
Week of 11.11.04, Sales For Week Ending 11.07.04
1. Roth, Philip. The Plot Against America: A Novel. Houghton Mifflin: 400 pgs. Times on List:7. Last Position:1.
2. McCall Smith, Alexander. The Sunday Philosophy Club. Pantheon: 256 pgs. Times on List:6. Last Position:2.
3. Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code. Doubleday: 454 pgs. Times on List:85. Last Position:4.
4. Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Bloomsbury. Times on List:10. Last Position:45.
5. Baldacci, David. The Hour Game. Warner: 448 pgs. Times on List:2. Last Position:3.
6. Evanovich, Janet. Metro Girl. HarperCollins: 304 pgs. Times on List:1. Last Position:na.
7. Shreve, Anita. Light on Snow. Little, Brown: 320 pgs. Times on List:4. Last Position:6.
8. Alborn, Mitch. The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Hyperion: 198 pgs. Times on List:59. Last Position:7.
9. Moore, Christopher. The Stupidist Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Holiday Terror. William Morrow: 288 pgs. Times on List:2. Last Position:8.
10. Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code: Special Illustrated Edition. Doubleday: 480 pgs. Times on List:1. Last Position:na.

Publishers Weekly
Trade Paperback
Week of 11.15.04.
1. Housseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. Riverhead: 384 pgs. Times on List: 10. Last Position: 1.
2. Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Vintage: 240 pgs.
Times on List: 25. Last Position: 2.
3. Agatston, Arthur. South Beach Diet Good Fats/Good Carbs Guide. Rodale: 160 pgs.
Times on List: 44. Last Position: 8.
4. Cussler, Clive. Sacred Stone (Oregon Files). Berkley: 404 pgs. Times on List: 5. Last Position: 6.
5. Bissinger, H.G. Friday Night Litghts: A Town, A Team, and a Dream. De Capo: 400 pgs. Times on List: 5. Last Position: 9.
6. Nafisi, Azar. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. Random House: 384 pgs. Times on List: 43.
Last Position: 3.
7. Niffenegger, Audrey. The Time Traveler's Wife. Harcourt/Harvest: 536 pgs. Times on List: 24. Last Position: 7.
8. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks. The 9/11 Commission Report. Norton: 516 pgs. Times on List: 16. Last Position: 4.
9. Monk Kidd, Sue. The Secret Life of Bees. Penguin: 320 pgs. Times on List: 92. Last Position: 5.
10. Sparks, Nicholas. The Wedding. Warner: 256 pgs. Times on List: 19. Last Position: 13.

Book Sense: Bestsellers From Independent Booksellers
Trade Paperback: Fiction
Week of 11.11.04, Sales For Week Ending 11.07.04
1. Housseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. Riverhead: 384 pgs. Times on List: 28. Last Position: 1.
2. Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Vintage: 240 pgs.
Times on List: 25. Last Position: 2.
3. Jones, Edward P. The Known World. Amistad: 432 pgs. Times on List:24. Last Position:4.
4. Monk Kidd, Sue. The Secret Life of Bees. Penguin: 320 pgs.. Times on List: 92. Last Position: 8.
5. Niffenegger, Audrey. The Time Traveler's Wife. Harcourt/Harvest: 536 pgs. Times on List: 24. Last Position: 3.
6. Eudenides, Jeffrey. Middlesex. Picador: 544 pgs. Times on List:60. Last Position:5.
7. Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Namesake. Mariner: 304. Times on List:15. Last Position:6.
8. McCall Smith, Alexander. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Anchor:240 pgs. Times on List:91. Last Position:7.
9. Tyler, Anne. The Amateur Marriage. Ballantine: 336 pgs. Times on List:2. Last Position:9.
10. Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. Harvest: 336 pgs. Times on List:. Last Position:10.

Bookwatch: An Online Site Tallying Book Mentions in Blogs
Top Five
Week Ending 11.14.04.
1. Frank, Thomas. What's The Matter With Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. Metropolitan Books: 320 pgs. 23 mentions.
2. Stewart, Jon and The Daily Show staff. The Daily Show Presents America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. Warner: 240 pgs. 20 mentions.
3. Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code. Doubleday: 454 pgs. 16 mentions.
4. Lakoff, Dean and Hazen. Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--the Essential Guide for Progressives. Chelsea Green Publishing Company: 144 pgs. 10 mentions.
5. Anonymous. Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror. Brassey's, Inc: 309 pgs. 8 mentions.

All Consuming: A Second Online Site Tallying Book Mentions In Blogs
Top Five
Week Ending 11.14.04
1. Stewart, Jon and The Daily Show staff. The Daily Show Presents America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. Warner: 240 pgs. 24 mentions.
2. Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code. Doubleday: 454 pgs. 18 mentions.
3. Frank, Thomas. What's The Matter With Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. Metropolitan Books: 320 pgs. 15 mentions.
4. Lakoff, Dean and Hazen. Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--the Essential Guide for Progressives. Chelsea Green Publishing Company: 144 pgs. 9 mentions.
5. Roth, Philip. The Plot Against America: A Novel. Houghton Mifflin: 400 pgs. 8 mentions.

Don't believe in bestseller or web mentioned lists? Email your picks on what to read to bookaday@gmail.com.


Ebooks and Book Bloggers

The New York Public Library is breaking down the barriers to get more people reading. NY Public Library patrons can now check out ebooks-- instantly downloadable to your computer, PDA or Ipod. Hopefully, more libraries will follow this path.


Publishers have started to look at blogs as an alternate means of publicity, as well as review hotspots. This is especially true of smaller publishers. So, let's get this "off the porch" as Karen Grigsby Bates says in her report. Keep reading. Tell your friends. Link to BookADay Book Review Blog. Champion the books you love. Write reviews. Read reviews. This is the place for more reviews to come. (Audio story from NPR.)

Currently Reading:
Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Signet Classic: 2004 (or. pub: 1847). 137/322.


Back Online

Welcome to the new and improved version of BookADay.

Sorry about the down time. We hope you'll find it as time well-spent. Enjoy our new look and new sections: Current Book Reviews and a Book Review archive. (Good idea for a book review blog, huh?)

You'll also notice some new contributors. Thanks to Maxwell, Matt Larsen and Shane Wilson for your great reviews.

You'll still be able to find your old favorites, such as current book publishing news, library information and the Currently Reading section.

If you have a review you would like to write, have a book that you would like reviewed or suggestions for what you'd like to see on BookADay, please query Brandi at bookaday@gmail.com.

It feels great to be back.

Currently Reading:
Wuthering Heights. Bronte, Emily. Signet Classic (reprint): 121/322.



BookADay will be on a mini-hiatus until mid-September. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Back To Neverland?

A British hospital is calling all writers to write the sequel for Peter Pan. A few prestigious children's' authors, including J.K. Rowling, have already snubbed their noses at the Great Ormond Street's commission for a sequel. While the hospital would own all copyrights, there is a large cash prize being offered. Publishers and literary agents are encouraged to nominate up to two authors. Nominated writers will send a synopsis and sample chapter by January 31. A winner will be chosen in spring for a Fall, 2005 publication date.


Kudos to Scholastic

Right in time for school to start, educational publishing giant Scholastic gave away 40,000 copies of The Big Turtle to poor students in North Dakota. Here's to good press and encouraging new readers.


Coming Soon

Sorry no updates. Hard at work on making BookADay better.

The long-awaited review section is coming soon. There will be three reviews posted this weekend. They will also be archived for future consumption.

Currently Reading
The Complete Short Stories of Mark Twain. Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens. Ed. Charles Neider. Doubleday: 1957. 361/679. (Reading at Random.)

Market Forces. Richard Morgan. Del Rey: expected March, 2005. 31/441.


Copyright Victory

Viet Nam is finally going to recognize copyright laws.


Money, Scandal and Sellers

The reports are in. Just in case you're curious on who is making money in book publishing, this week:
Rupert Murdoch is.
Jon Stewart and Warner Books expect to.
Simon & Schuster is hoping Lewis Black does.
HQN, Harlequin's brand-new imprint "devoted to blockbuster romances" is with Diana Palmer's Renegade.

As reported in BookADay earlier this month, the Norma Khouri scandal has come to a head. Random House gave Khouri three weeks to clear her name and prove that her best-selling book, Forbidden Love is true. Her defense in an Australian newspaper wasn't enough for Random House, who dropped her from their list and apologized to buyers for purchasing a book they believed to be true. Simon & Schuster is expected to do the same. Khouri is reported to have been in contact with the major tv talk shows for a tell-all interview.

This Week's Bestsellers, According to the Wall Street Journal.

1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (Doubleday)
2. Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf)
3. Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (Hyperion)
4. Visions in Death by J.D. Robb (Putnam)
5. The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason (Dial Books)
6. Lost City by Clive Cussler with Paul Kemprecos (Putnam)
7. R is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton (Putnam)
8. Sam's Letters to Jennifer by James Patterson (Little, Brown)
9. Kiss Me While I Sleep by Linda Howard (Ballantine)
10.Angels & Demons by Dan Brown (Atria)
11. Shem Creek by Dorothea Benton Frank (Berkley)
12. Immortal Highlander Karen Marie Moning (Delacorte)
13. Star by Pamela Anderson (Atria Books)
14. Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's Press)
15. The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah by Stephen King, (Grant)

1. American Soldier" by Tommy Franks, M. McConnell (ReganBooks)
2. The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston (Rodale Press)
3. My Life by Bill Clinton (Knopf)
4. The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren (Zondervan)
5. Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss (Gotham)
6. Bushworld by Maureen Dowd (Putnam)
7. Imperial Hubris by Anonymous (Brassey's, Inc.)
8. Good to Great by Jim Collins (HarperBusiness)
9. Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson (Random House)
10.Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris (Little, Brown)
11.Woman Power by Laura Schlessinger (HarperCollins)
12.The South Beach Diet Cookbook by Arthur Agatston (Rodale Press)
13.Prophecy by Sylvia Browneby Lindsay Harrison (Dutton)
14.Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Laura Schlessinger (HarperCollins)
15.Automatic Millionaireby David Bach (Broadway Books)

This Week's Bestsellers, According to the New York Times.

1. THE DA VINCI CODE, by Dan Brown
2. LOST CITY, by Clive Cussler with Paul Kemprecos
3. R IS FOR RICOCHET, by Sue Grafton.
4. SKINNY DIP, by Carl Hiaasen
5. THE RULE OF FOUR, by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

1. MY LIFE, by Bill Clinton
2. EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES, by Lynne Truss
3. IMPERIAL HUBRIS, by Anonymous
5. SHADOW DIVERS, by Robert Kurson

1. ERAGON, by Christopher Paolini
2. TEEN IDOL, by Meg Cabot
4. THE BAD BEGINNING, by Lemony Snicket
5. SUMMER OF THE SEA SERPENT, by Mary Pope Osborne. Illustrated by Sal Murdocca

1. THE NOTEBOOK, by Nicholas Sparks
2. THE WEDDING, by Nicholas Sparks
3. HELLO, DARKNESS, by Sandra Brown
4. ANGELS & DEMONS, by Dan Brown
5. BLEACHERS, by John Grisham

4. DUDE, WHERE'S MY COUNTRY? by Michael Moore
5. IT'S NOT ABOUT THE BIKE, by Lance Armstrong with Sally Jenkins

You Normally See This In Reverse

There are a lot of movies made from books. The online arena is a touch different. Game Developer Cryptic Studios just worked out a deal with independent book publisher CDS Books. CDS will publish a series of books based on the game City of Heroes. CDS is most well-known for their book distribution and production services.


America's New Poet Laureate

We have a new Poet Laureate. Ted Kooser's appointment will be announced later today. His latest book is Delights and Shadows, published earlier this summer.



Gabriel Garcia Marquez has signed over his rights to Love in the Time of Cholera to Hollywood production company Stone Village Pictures Stone Village Pictures. Nicole Kidman and Jude Law may play the book's main characters. Marquez may even write the screenplay. Marquez has previously criticized the United States for its policies and has not released any of his rights to adapt his books into screenplays, with the exception of a single Italian producer. He will be paid about $3 million for the rights.

If you're in Minneapolis, you're probably a reader. A new study by the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater has found it to be the most literate city in America. El Paso, Texas bottoms out the list at 74. Chicago, home to the BookADay headquarters, is number 58. Boo.

Reading Goes High Tech

In case reading on your PDA wasn't good enough for you, you can now read books on your phone. Outside The Fortress Besieged, a novel by Qian Fuchang, will be the first book available through the text messaging portion of Chinese cell phones. Fuchang abbreviated his novel to 4200 characters, available in 60 chapters of 70 characters each. He received $21,733 USD for his work. Full story here.


The Inquisition All Over Again

As a lover of books, I hate it when books are used as propaganda. (It's one of my chief issues with Ayn Rand.) It's happening in Europe.

Human rights groups sent out an alert warning Italians of Oriana Fallaci 's latest book. Fallaci has written two worldwide bestsellers and a number of other platforms for propaganda. Her latest book warns Europeans about the "Arab Invasion", comparing Muslims in Europe to the burning of Troy.

She is another author telling her scores of fans which group of people to allow, and which to throw out. Her book feeds on the fear of foreigners, a xenophobic attitude always an issue in portions of Italy. She is telling people that it's okay to be racist and calling for the exile of Arabs from Europe. The more books like this are published, the more mainstream the ideas of hatred become, until it is not only tolerable to persecute a group of people, it is the norm.

This is disgusting.

Cheers to the Phoenixville Public Library, in Pennsylvania. They thought up a program that had children reading books and watching the movies side by side. This way, children could see where things are based from and get the true experience. It is aimed to create a love of reading in the next generation.

Small blurb about our neighbors to the north. With the gigantic success of Bill Clinton's My Life, as people are still lining the streets to get autographed copies of his book, Canadian publishers are rolling out autobiography after autobiography for their fall catalogues. Long lists of Canadian dignitaries, actors and politicians join the ranks of authors this season. I'm thinking that the same will be true of our Fall List.

In more international news (today's entry is turning into the international issue), England is following the America's trend of multinational conglomerate media companies, replacing independent book publishers. Sigh.

Just Finished
Good as Gold. Joseph Heller. Dell Publishing. 447 pgs.


It's a Sad Day For Libraries

In Ireland. They can't afford to buy books anymore.

In Kentucky, school libraries aren't complaining that there isn't any money to buy books. They're just asking their patrons to do it for them through Barnes and Noble.

Currently Reading
Good As Gold. Joseph Heller. Dell Publishing. 261/447.


What Are You Rereading?

That's it. That ALA has finally done a study (while not scientific and based purely on member opinions).

People are rereading books. Faulkner makes the list. So does Rowling with Harry Potter. A Christmas Carol and the Great Gatsby are seasonal favorites.

The study reports that we reread books we encountered as a child. While I agree, I also think there's more too it. I reread books because I miss the characters or love the author's voice.
(On my list of favorite rereads are Written on the Body and The Adventures of Dr. Dolittle.)

What do you reread?

In more JK Rowling news, she's pregnant with her third child. While she says that it won't affect the publication of her yet-to-be-completed sixth novel, there is no publication date.

Currently Reading

Good as Gold. Joseph Heller. Dell Publishing. 233/447.


The Best Marketing Ever

Before I get on my soapbox about how woeful the budget is that publishers apply to marketing new books, I'd like to give a standing ovation to author Matt Schutt.

Like many writers, he was having trouble getting published. So, he created his own marketing. He took his concern to Howard Stern. Stern made him an offer--a night with gorgeous women who would do anything with him, or a single minute on the show promoting his book. Schutt took the latter. Liberal Independent Publisher Flying Dutchman picked up his book, Encyclopedia Satanica.

I'd love to get my hands on a review copy.

Currently Reads
Good as Gold. Joseph Heller. Dell Publishing. 212/447.


Fake Out

Big controversy on the other side of the globe.  Author Norma Khouri is in a load of trouble.  Her international bestseller Forbidden Love (sold in the US as Honor Lost: Love and Death in Modern Day Jordan), about a relationship across religious lines in Jordan, is reported to be fiction.  She had sold the book as an autobiographical account, claiming that the main character was her friend. 

While Khouri has been unavailable for comment, bookstores in other countries have been pulling the books from the shelves, some even offering money back to customers who have bought the book.  Amazon.com is no longer selling it from its main site, only from the Marketplace.  Barnes and Noble isn't selling her books online.  In fact, if you do a search for her, she doesn't exist.  Books a Million sides with the Paris bookstores--they have kept it on the shelves.

It's an ethical problem.  They're starting to uncover lots of elements that point to the story being fiction.  Australia, where she currently resides, is considering revoking her immigration status.  (Note to self: don't piss off Australia.  They're serious.)  There are records pointing that she was in Chicago while some of the events in the book were taking place and has two children that are not mentioned in the book.

Yet, the book seems to stand on its own.  According to Amazon.com, it received a glowing review from Publisher's WeeklyThe Library Review loved it.  So, what does that mean?

Obviously, the book being a fictional account rather than a nonfiction "eye on the scene" makes it less relevant in scholarly circles (where it has circulated quite heavily).  But does it make the book less interesting to read?  Did the reviewers like it out of sympathy?  Or because they felt it was a story that needed to be told?  Is it still a story that needs to be told?

I'm going to pop into my local bookstore this evening and see if I can drum myself up a copy.  Stay tuned.  Post your comments if you've read it. 

Currently Reading:

Good as Gold.  Joseph Heller.  Dell Publishing  (1976). 59/447. 


Big Blue Marries The Teacher

In the world of interesting mergers, IBM merged with Pearson Education.  Before Apple took over, IBM used to be the king of education.  I remember a Big Blue machine in my elementary school classroom.  Who cared that it was slow and ran on a floppy?  Technology in action.  Pearson education is one of the largest educational publishers.  Sounds like this merger is the first news in what will be a series of announcements that Big Blue is back in the game.

My husband just finished  Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife.  I'm paraphrasing, and may have the quote wrong, but he said that it was a fifteen tissue book.  A sentiment I agree with--Niffenegger kept the surprises going until the very end.  I've invited him to review it for BookADay. 

Speaking of reviews, I'm about to add a new section, entitled Reviews.  My plan is to keep a record of all the reviews posted so it is searchable.  If you have a book you'd like to review, let me know.  I'd be happy to hear and post the reviews of others.

Currently Reading:

Good as Gold.  Joseph Heller.  Dell Publishing  (1976). 53/447.

Just Finished:

The Lovely Bones.  Alice Sebold.  Little, Brown and Company. 328 pages.


Arrg, Pirates!

The Nigerians are worried that literary pirates are pillaging the publishing industry.  Here's Vincent Igbinedion's article from allafrica.com.  Igbinedion does have a point.  When I worked at a literary agency, there were constantly problems with our authors' rights from China.  It seems that almost all owners of property, especially intellectual and copyrighted, have reasons to lose sleep because of Chinese and Malaysian infringers.

The sky isn't falling.  At least not for books as we know them. We're just in the middle of a hurricane.  This insightful, if reactionary, article is from reporters Kevin Nance and Mike Thomas at the Chicago Sun Times.

Just Finished:

The Devil in the White City.  Erik Larson.  Vintage Books (a division of Random House).  432 pages.

Nothing To Fall Back On.  Betsy Carter.  Hyperion. 289 pages.
Reviews to follow.

Current Reads:

The Lovely Bones.  Alice Sebold.  Little, Brown and Company. 0/328 pages.

Self Publishing Faux Pas

Today's news describes how the self publshing industry is booming, due to the Internet.
Read Raleigh News and Observer's Jonathan B. Cox's news story on how the Internet Leads Many To Self Publish.  My favorite quote from the article:

What's more, without the benefit of professional editors and illustrators, many self-published books are simply bad, industry observers say.

Brand New Blog Design!

It looks different.  BookADay just got a face lift.  Regular posts to follow.

Still under construction: links and comments.  The links will return.  The comments are baffling me at present.  For some reason, all comments left before today have been disabled.  I'm working on it.  Look for more improvements in the upcoming weeks!


Nothing to read

Augh! I don't have a book at present.
Post your comment on what I should read right now.


It's already building

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard that Bill Clinton’s new book My Life comes out today. There’s been a lot of hype. The picture above shows the lines of fans waiting for a Manhattan book signing.

To be honest, I’m sad about it. Not because it’s Bill Clinton. I’m on the fence about him—I feel like he was a good President, but I don’t like him. I’m sad because I wish people were excited about reading.

The line around the block isn’t about his awesome book. From what I hear, at 900 something pages, it’s daunting and loses its steam around page 600. That’s not why people are there. People are there because it’s Bill Clinton.

The same thing happened with Madonna. When her children’s book, The English Roses came out, there were lines around the block. The book turned out to be pretty good. She teamed with Jeffrey Fulvimari, a fantastic illustrator, and the book has a Bratz learn a lesson feel. That's not the point, though. Fans were there because they wanted to see Madonna, not because they were excited about literature. (I read the book in an airport bookstore.)

In recent years, the only fiction book that has generated this crazy hype is the Harry Potter series. I love how these books captures the imagination. When the Harry Potter books are released, there are lines around the block and everyone, children and adults, are in costume. JK Rowling is an international recognized celebrity, pretty rare for authors.

I know it’s a business. Knopf wouldn’t have given Clinton over a million dollar advance, almost unheard of in the industry, without knowing there was a desire for this book. I know I’m greedy, but I want more. More authors getting recognized celebrity status. More publishers dumping money into authors. More hype about reading.

My dream is that it becomes the norm for people to line the streets for new releases. No matter if the author is a former president or not.


Page Turner Test

A friend asked me last night how I determine what to read. There are a couple of ways:

1. Buzz. Who else has read it? Did they love it? Did they think it ended well? (I think the most depressing part of reading is investing all the time and finding the writer just stopped-- creating an ending that is completely unsatisfying.)

2. Genre. I'll read just about anything. Some genres I'll just move to the top of the list quicker.

3. Page Turner Test. This is the biggest one. If I'm in the library or a bookstore, I'll pick the book up. I'll flip to a random page. I'll read it. The whole page. If I'm interested enough to turn the page, I'll bring the book home with me. If I'm doing a mental happy dance because the blasted page is finally over, it stays unread.

Today's Reads

Lighthousekeeping, Jeanette Winterson, Pg. 193.


Winnie The Pooh

There's something very satisfying about finishing a children's book.
Just finished Winnie-the-Pooh.

I had never read it before. I've only seen the Disney version on TV, but this was the original. I checked it out for the nephews, but never got around to reading it with them. I knew it was a children's classic and thought I should get around to reading it.

The stories are short enough to be read before bedtime (although I read them in two big chunks) but challenging enough to get the imagination jumpstarted. My favorite story was when Kanga and Roo moved into the forest. The gang plans on tricking Kanga into leaving by replacing Roo with Piglet. They succeed, but Kanga realizes it is a trick and proceeds to treat Piglet like Roo, under his great protests. It's great.

I also love the original illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard. The pen and ink drawings are simple and stunning.

This is a world I'd like to live in. I would be Rabbit. Or Kanga--she is the only girl.


My Sister's Keeper

Okay, I finished it.

My Sister's Keeper is a wonderful hack book. My face is still wet from the tears I cried. My heart broke as I read. Jodi Picoult does an amazing thing, she gives you the climax and then turns the book on its heels in the denouement. But, it's not enough.

My Sister's Keeper is the story of the Fitzgerald family. Specifically, about the Anna and Kate Fitzgerald. Anna is thirteen, genetically harvested by her parents to be a perfect donor match for her older sister, Kate. Kate is on the brink of death from a rare form of leukemia and has been since her diagnosis at the age of two, fourteen years prior. The family has asked Anna to donate yet another organ, this time a kidney, to save her sister. Anna hires attorney Campbell Alexander to fight for her medical emancipation.

The narrative jumps back and forth between characters, and for one character, time. This, and the positive reviews, was one of the initial reasons I wanted to read the book; however, the characters are not strong enough to speak in their own voices. Picoult's character switch made me think of Faulkner and wish I was reading him: his character differentiation is what Picoult strove for.

Picoult is clever. Her word choice is wonderful--she knows exactly what to say to punch the reader in the gut. Even during blatant and cliched situations, it's clear she understands empathy and knows how to evoke an emotional reaction.

My Sister's Keeper does not quite fall into the light summer read category because the subject matter is heavy and Picoult does challenge you to think, even though you can see her challenges as clearly as if she wrote them in the margin. It's not literature, either. But it does take you through one family's heartbreak in a visceral way.


Currently Reading

Henry and Mudge In The Green Time, Cynthia Rylant, Pg. 12. Side note: this is one of books my nephew read to me. He read it to me on the train--about 6 pages. He's just graduated kindergarten. The book was a lot of fun and easy for a 6-year-old mind.

Winnie-The-Pooh, A. A. Milne, Pg. 90.


Thursday, for the first time since moving to Chicago, I stepped into the Children’s Library. My nephews are in town and the eldest just learned to read. I want to celebrate this accomplishment, and, hopefully, help instill a love of reading into them. So, off to the Children’s Library I went.

I know this sounds ridiculous, but there were so many books and categories of books that I had never even thought about. I got a nice introduction a few weeks ago when I attended CWIP’s Writing Children Literature seminar. There was a nice panel: authors, illustrators and editors explained the current market. So, I had a little knowledge and asked a really good librarian for help. I spent an hour in the library roaming through the kids’ stacks.

Some of my favorites that I’m excited about reading with the boys: A Perfect Day, Eric Carle’s The Very Clumsy Click Beetle(I remember reading his The Grumpy Ladybug when I was a child), The Three Little Pigs—this book won the children book prize—it takes the original story and morphs it as the pigs tear the pages to shreds and skip through other books collecting characters along the way, and the old standby, Winnie The Pooh. I also took out a book that is mostly pictures where you imagine the story, a book about trucks, a book about building a skyscraper, and two books about brothers. I’ll report back how well they go over.

I’m reading fiction again. When I started BookADay, I was only reading nonfiction, as a little experiment with myself. I hardly ever read nonfiction, but as I stated in an earlier blog, it’s an election year, and I get a little crazy. While I love absorbing all the information, I miss the freedom I feel with fiction. The creatures in nonfiction are real people, and I must compare their daily actions from other information sources with the personas detailed in the books. With fiction, I am free. These characters are what I imagine them to be. I will never meet them and can compare them to who I know or would want to know. I’ve missed it.

I started My Sister’s Keeper yesterday. I hope to finish it today. It’s this kind of behavior that my spouse refers to when he mentions what a voracious reader I am. It’s true, I can devour some books. I’m reading this book as part of my book club.

I’m disappointed with my book club. I rarely get to discuss literature with people—perhaps that’s why I turned to blogging. I joined a group that was forming through Craigslist. I had hoped we would have insightful discussions about books. The first one we read was Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Our meeting was unorganized at best. We tried to discuss the book, but the discussion was stop/start. I felt like I was doing a lot of the talking. Pardon the pun, but we weren’t on the same page. One woman kept sandbagging the discussion by returning to her original question of whether we thought it was fiction or not. (This is even though the book is clearly labeled fiction, copyrighted under fiction, has a fictional disclaimer and a good portion of the book is about a boy who crosses the ocean in lifeboat with a tiger.) We elected to read My Sister’s Keeper, which was my suggestion. I regret that, so far, the book has less leaping off points, even though it does pull at the heart strings—I’m worried that our discussion will be short and inconsequential. We’re all going to bring questions and discussion topics, as well as finish the book, so hopefully, that will make things more interesting.

Back to reading. I’ll post a children’s book review and review of My Sister’s Keeper in the next three days.

My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult, Pg. 200.
Casanova: The Man Who Really Loved Women, Pg. 129.
Attack of a Nation, Bob Woodward, Pg. 142.



I went to the Printer's Row Book Fair this weekend. I've always wanted to go and this was my first opportunity. People drove all the way from Michigan and Wisconsin to see it. I love that people are as enamored with books as I am.

There were so many wonderful independent book stores and quite a few small publishers as well. Everyone was incredibly approachable. Including the author of The Bernstein Bears.

Two things: one, why was Borders there? They had a gigantic tent and also were selling on the bottom floor of the library. Two, my favorite small press: preaching the doomsday. The end of the world, the aliens that are coming to get us, how the capitalist pigs are ruining this country. Not to belittle someone else's political ideals, but I find it quite amusing that the UFO guys are now being grouped in with the socialists.

Today's Reading:
Human Biology, Sylvia S. Mader, Pg. 34.
Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward, Pg. 123.


New Reading Style

It's been awhile since I've been back in school. I decided to return earlier this year. Next week, I start my first class: Human Biology. This will be the first of a year's worth of online classes I complete. I like the idea of online classes because that way I can go to class and study on my own time, as opposed to during the day, when my employer likes me in the office. I still have to go into school for exams and lab days, but that's not quite so bad.

I received the books in the mail earlier this week. I downloaded the syllabus, so I figured that I might as well get ahead. I began reading. The textbook, Human Biology by Sylvia Mader, is clear and concise.

I changed my reading style. Under normal circumstances, I'm not a skimmer; however, I looked at the course objectives. My instructor gave the class a comprehensive question list for each unit. My first read is specifically to answer these questions. I'm not spending my time concentrating on the interesting, but not necessary, factoids. Straight to what I need to know. Even with the skimming, the first quarter of the first chapter took me an hour to read and take notes on. With three chapters a week, that's a lot of reading time. I'm going to see if this modification works on the first test. I'll report back.

Yesterday's Reads:
Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward. Page 81.
Human Biology, Sylvia Mader. Page 24.


Just A Label, Right?

Okay, I'm a touch political. Not political enough to volunteer for a campaign or join a protest, but I read up on politics voraciously, especially in an election year. And I always vote. (I think it's a waste of our civil liberties that people don't vote.)

So, it's an election year and I'm trying to read every new political book on the market. As you may have noticed, I'm currently reading Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward. Woodward is one of my personal heroes. Ten years of journalism will do that for you. Seriously, his professional ethics paralleled with his clear and concise writing style makes him a standout in the profession. And then you add on his list of accomplishments. All the President's Men is another fascinating read.

Enough raving about Woodward. I picked up Plan of Attack from the library. I love our library. My local library is the Harold Washington Branch of the Chicago Public Library. I cried the first time I was in it because it was the first time I was in a building fit for a library. I know, sentimental. I'm a bibliophile. Even my father in law, who is an architect, thinks this is a beautiful building. It's housed in brick with these cool green gargoyles guarding the sides. If you want to read more about the building history, click here.

So, I checked out Plan of Attack. I'm the first person to borrow this copy. It's a nice looking book. A book obviously about current events. Simon & Schuster, the publisher, was even nice enough to print "Current Events" on the back jacket. The Chicago Public Library didn't think so. The book is based on "interviews with 75 key participants" (according to Simon & Schuster's own website), and is discussed by White House Chief of Staff Andy Card on the White House website. I heard it was on the White House's official non fiction reading list, but I couldn't find their reading list anywhere on the site. Anyway, this book is definitely about current events. The Chicago Public Library labeled it "Historical Fiction."

I feel this does library patrons a disservice. I come to the library because I want to expand my horizons. I plan on reading Who's Looking Out For You by Bill O'Reilly. I like to decide what the facts are for myself. I do not want the library making political decisions about books. I expect the library to present me with a vast array of books, hopefully more books than I can read in my lifetime.

You might say that I need to calm down. It's just a label, right? It shouldn't be that big of a deal. I disagree. It'll be shelved in fiction or literature. It won't be shelved with all of the other current event books. This is an annoyance now, but as time buries the specific political arguments, this book is going to be shelved incorrectly. Students doing research about the early 00s (I hate our new decade name) will miss this perspective of our time. It won't be pulled up on subject searches. It will be entirely overlooked. Simply because someone in the library classification system decided to make a political statement.

I'm not arguing this is the best book in the world. (Frankly, I'm a few chapters in and it's a little dry.) That's not the point. The library has a myriad of badly written and simply awful books. I'm arguing that the library shouldn't classify books outside of their published genre. Don't make a political decision about a book that affects me. Just give me my book, thank you very much.

I took matters into my own hands. I tore the sticker off. I've never defaced any kind of book in my life. I was hesitant to highlight college textbooks. But, I had to do something.

I'm also writing two letters. One to put into the book for the next person. Make sure to tear the sticker off, I did. It says historical fiction. Don't you want to evaluate the book on its own merits? I'll ask. If there's a historical fiction label, tear it off, too.

The second letter is to the library. I'm going to lobby that they change this book's classification. Let the readers decide for themselves whether or not it's political bunk. Put it on the shelf next to all the other books about politics.

Today's Reading
Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward. Page 57.
Casanova: The Man Who Really Loved Women, Lydia Flem. Page 121.


Current Reads

Here's what I'm reading now:

Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward.
Casanova:The Man Who Really Loved Women, Lydia Flem.
Adobe InDesign For Dummies.

Just finished:
Life of Pi, Yann Martel.

My thoughts and links soon.


On any given day, I'm reading a few books at the same time. I do this for two reasons: weight and mood.

First, weight. I feel like I'm not myself if I travel without a book. This traveling can be as simple as the fifteen minute walk to work. Now, I know that unless a book is so interesting that it practically burns my hand if I put it down, I'm not going to read and walk simultaneously. I rarely leave for lunch, and when I do, it's with my colleagues. I don't have time to read at my desk. After work, I walk home. There is no time for reading during the normal business day. Yet, I am always with book. Shlepping around a hardcover is tedious. Hardcovers generally don't fit into my cute (and small) bags and are heavy. So, even if I'm reading a hardcover book, I need to also be reading a softcover or smaller hardcover for my daily travels.

And mood. To me, books are like friends. I'm interested in the characters and ideas placed in front of me. But, sometimes I get distracted. Sometimes, a book goes on and on, rambling like a senile turtle. Sometimes, a book is morose and determined not to see anything optimistically. And sometimes, a book is just plain dull. I rarely give up on books; however, I'm not above putting one down to replace it with one better suited to my mood. I'll come back to it.