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Top Book Blogs 08/2014

[Guardian Books Blog] Plague fiction why authors love to write about pandemics
From Michael Crichton and Dan Brown to Shelley and Boccaccio, the theme of infectious disease is not a new afflictionMargaret Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy, Dan Brown's Inferno, Louise Welsh's Plague Times trilogy, Terry Hayes's bestselling thriller I Am Pilgrim, the TV series Utopia stories about

[Guardian Books Blog] Trolls: now available on Amazon books
Online abuse reminds us that while technology is upgraded, human qualities of jealousy and bitterness are notIt may contain some passages judged by one Amazon customer to be "brilliantly written", but that isn't enough to spare Monica Byrne's The Girl in the Road a two-star kicking. The

[Lit Saloon] Kenneth Fearing/prose and politics
       At Tablet Ron Capshaw reminds readers that The Forgotten Founder of 'Partisan Review' Wrote Porn and Thrillers -- looking, sort of, at: 'What happened when Kenneth Fearing's Communist sympathies came up against his ideas about art ?'

[Lit Saloon] Bookslut Jessa Crispin moves on
       The complete review went online way back in 1999, but it started solely a book review site; this Literary Saloon weblog was only added in August, 2002 (yes, the twelve-year-anniversary is around the corner ...) -- a place to report on daily literary news,

[Lit Saloon] The Walls of Delhi review
       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of a collection of three stories by Uday Prakash, The Walls of Delhi.        Just as last year his The Girl with the Golden Parasol appears to have been the only

[The Millions] More Alive and Much Stranger: On Yelena Akhtiorskaya’s Panic in a Suitcase
1. One morning a few months ago, I purchased a large coffee from a small boutique café in Prospect Heights, took the Q line from 7th Avenue 15 stops into Brooklyn and half an hour later was standing on a boardwalk sipping the coffee in what might as well have been a different country, but wasn’t

[Guardian Books Blog] Poster poems: Cars | Billy Mills
They can be vehicles for many subjects, so please rev up your imaginative engines and see where this month's topic takes youTowards the end of 1955, Marianne Moore was invited to submit suggestions for naming the latest model from the Ford range of cars. For an obscure poet, Moore was something of a

[Guardian Books Blog] A book for the beach: In the Woods by Tana French
A shocking tragedy in an otherwise idyllic childhood summer comes back to haunt its sole survivor in adulthood all the ingredients for a tense thriller that's perfect holiday readingIt's high summer in the countryside just outside Dublin, "a summer stolen whole from some coming-of-age film set

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Ukraine, anvil of the new Cold War
The West has cornered Putin — and that's when he's most dangerous

[The Millions] Indie in the Age of Amazon
“Independent bookstores are intellectual centers of a city.” Our own Bill Morris, who’s currently on tour for his latest book, Motor City Burning, writes for The Daily Beast about the importance and continued relevance of bookstores in the age of Amazon.

[The Millions] Poet Laureate Sans Laurels
The recently (and controversially) appointed poet laureate of North Carolina has resigned from the post, but the upset generated by her short-lived laureateship can be interpreted as a sign of just how important poet laureates are. If you’re unconvinced, or simply confused about what exactly

[The Millions] “Writing isn’t entirely mental.”
“Writing isn’t entirely mental. You’re a physical being, and sometimes when your writing is broken, it’s your body that needs attention, not your mind.” Rebecca Makkai has some tips for breaking writer’s block and a very cool perspective on writing as a whole person. Pair with

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Mapping the issues
Laying claim to a meaningless shibboleth

[NYT] Honoring James Baldwin’s 90th Birthday in Harlem
A portion of East 128th Street is to be renamed, part of a larger celebration of the Harlem-born writer.

[Salon Books] Gay men draw vaginas, illustrate the mysteries of female sexuality
Three years ago, writer Shannon O'Malley was having dinner at a Thai restaurant with her friend and professional collaborator, Keith Wilson, when their mealtime conversation turned to the topic of vaginas. O'Malley asked Wilson, a gay man, to sketch his own version of a vagina on their paper

[The Millions] Poetic Graphics
This week in book-related graphics: An image-heavy test that combines poetry with traffic signs from Ploughshares, and an infographic breaking down the most fearsome (and most useless) characters in The Iliad.

[Book Forum] VIDEO: 2014 ALA Annual Conference - Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: On American belief
Which religious groups do Americans view most negatively?

[NYT] Book Review Podcast: ‘The Invisible Bridge’
Rick Perlstein discusses the third volume in his series about the rise of the modern conservative movement in America.

[The Millions] How to Seem (Or Be) Well-Read
“The easiest way to appear to be well-read is to socialize exclusively with uncultured cretins, which simply won’t do, so instead you should subscribe to the New York Review of Books and read it religiously, committing to memory one idea from each piece and praying to achieve a casual air

[Lit Saloon] Writing (in English) in ... Bangladesh
       Shougat Dasgupta's piece in The Caravan on how 'Bangladeshi writing in English joins a global conversation', East Is East, is from last month, but is only now freely accessible online -- well worth a look (though of course what I'd like to see is writing

[Lit Saloon] Hermans' typewriters
       I think I must make a pilgimage to Belgian Ghent, to the Limerick bookstore; from afar I express my great admiration for their Hermans kamer, a room -- shrine ! -- holding the ... typewriter collection of the great W.F.Hermans.

[Lit Saloon] August issues
       Some August issues of online periodicals are out, including Words without Borders' A New North: Contemporary Writing from Finland-issue (with a timely bonus of: 'New Writing from Ukraine').        Open Letters Monthly also

[Lit Saloon] Hard to be a God review
       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's 1964 classic, Hard to be a God, just out in a (long overdue) new translation by Olena Bormashenko, from Chicago Review Press.

[Guardian Books Blog] A book for the beach: A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride
The austere, disjointed beauty of this intense account of broken family life is perfectly suited to the raw drama of a Clydeside coastBute, an hour and a half from Glasgow by car and boat, may not be blessed with palm-fringed beaches but is the perfect setting for this dark tale about the ties of

[The Millions] Google Hangout with Gene Luen Yang
If you like comic books, diverse characters and / or our recent article on Gene Luen Yang, pay close attention to the internet on Monday afternoon. Yang will be part of a Google Hangout on the 4th to talk about his book Boxers & Saints with a reporter TIME for Kids and BookUp, two outlets for

[The Millions] The Guesthouse of Mirth
Edith Wharton is known as a novelist but she was also a wonderful hostess, whose guests (including Henry James) remember her as “kindness and hospitality incarnate.” Kate Bolick has turned Wharton’s life-long attempt to master “the complex art of civilized living” into an

[The Millions] “Go Read Alice”
The diary novel may be “an under-attended” genre, but Johannah King-Slutzky is trying to remedy that. In an essay for The Hairpin she traces the diary novel’s history from the Victorian era to Go Ask Alice while examining the genre’s balance of “melodrama and awkward

[Salon Books] How the middle class got screwed: College costs, globalization and our new Insecurity Economy
It is clear that American families have been struggling in recent decades. Less obvious are the forces that are responsible for this reversal of fortune. However, a significant body of research now points to a confluence of economic and social trends that many scholars agree have played a crucial

[Bookslut] An Interview with Mary Beard
"What have the Romans ever done for us?" John Cleese grouches in Monty Python's Life of Brian. To be fair, didn't they give us the aqueduct? Roads? Modern sanitation? Medicine? "Alright, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine,...

[Bookslut] Suspicious Minds: How Culture Shapes Madness by Ian and Joel Gold
gold ian suspicious minds

[Bookslut] An Interview with Chloé Griffin
Instead of an ordinary biography, Berlin-based artist Chloé Griffin's Edgewise: A Picture of Cookie Mueller is an oral history of the people who knew underground writer and actress Cookie Mueller, best known as a character in John Waters's movies...

[Bookslut] Elegy on Kinderklavier by Arna Bontemps Hemenway
hemenway arna bontemps elegy on kinderklavier

[Lit Saloon] Evie Wyld Q & A
       At Guernica Meara Sharma has a Q & A with Evie Wyld, Felt Not Known.        Wyld has been racking up the literary prizes -- including recently the Miles Franklin Literary Award, for All The Birds, Singing; get your copy

[Lit Saloon] 'Light' Hungarian reads
       At hlo they try to: "combat the view of Hungarians as gloomy and serious" by making a few suggestions for Holiday reads with a bit of a lighter side.        Three of the four titles are actually under review at

[Salon Books] How did things get this bad? Polarization, dysfunction and the collapse of everything
The United States hasn’t reached the level of dysfunction that paralyzes Jamaica. But judging from the exasperation Americans now feel about Washington’s ongoing failure to tackle the nation’s big challenges—the tendency of Congress to let issues come to the breaking point before piecing

[Bookslut] My Hundred Lovers by Susan Johnson
johnson susan my hundred lovers

[Guardian Books Blog] A book for the beach: Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson
A book that that will deliver a palpable Siberian chill, however hot the weather when you read itI first read Kolymsky Heights during a heatwave a few years ago in Ukraine. Lying sweltering in an unbearably stuffy hotel room in Kiev, I'd never felt colder, immersed in the bone-chilling world of hero

[Bookslut] On Selected Poems by Robinson Jeffers
I doubt I’m alone in finding “human” puzzling as a term of approbation. “He came across as very human,” for example. Human beings have, no doubt, produced some admirable things, like the music of Bach and, well, I can’t really...

[Bookslut] Nobody Is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey
lacey catherine nobody is ever missing

[The Millions] What’s That Type?
For all typography enthusiasts and lovers of browser plugins: Chrome has a new extension, FontFace Ninja, that will tell you the font of any text on any webpage.

[Bookslut] Bald New World by Peter Tieryas Liu
liu peter tieryas bald new world

[The Millions] “Cultivate Lightness”
What should you do if, horror of horrors, you find yourself appearing as a character in someone else’s book? Michelle Huneven shares her experience being fictionalized in an essay for The Paris Review. Her advice? “Don’t read too much into it. Cultivate lightness.” Pair with our

[The Millions] Murakami’s Jazz
Haruki Murakami’s love for jazz is no secret – he used to own a jazz bar, he’s written full essay collections on the music, and his books are peppered with references to jazz songs and musicians. How fitting, then, that there’s finally a playlist of jazz songs mentioned in

[Bookslut] The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai
makkai rebecca hundred-year house

[Bookslut] How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer
Just how close is the relationship between love and science? How much of what we think is raw human emotion can be explained by coincidence, common interest, or happenstance? Could love be fated through careful planning, a set of...

[Bookslut] Jo Walton's Victorian Dragon
Why the fascination with dragons? Why the dragons dipping and diving in the parchment of old maps, pins folded into the oceans' corners? Why the hundreds if not thousands of dragons printed on paperback covers? Why the dragons that decorated...

[Bookslut] The Symmetry Teacher by Andrei Bitov, translated by Polly Gannon
bitov andrei symmetry teacher the

[Bookslut] The Dangerous Women Game
Recent studies on the appalling gender (mis)representation on TV have led some media analysts to conclude that the more television a boy watches, the more sexist he becomes, while the more a girl watches, the fewer options she believes...

[Salon Books] Great for the Tea Party, bad for the people: How the 1 percent conquered Internet activism
Ten years ago, many political activists had high hopes for the Internet. Political strategist Joe Trippi, who managed Howard Dean's 2004 campaign for president, imagined “huge, involved communities around political issues and candidates … these people would be an army, ready to mobilize at the


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