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Top Book Blogs 02/2016

[Guardian Books Blog] Could Gone Girl on the Train be the next bestseller?
From Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train to The Expats and The Expatriates, there is no shortage of recycling when it comes to new titlesAre authors running out of titles? January and February’s offerings suggest they’re finding it increasingly difficult to devise new ones. Instead they settle

[Guardian Books Blog] Poem of the week: Casida of the Dead Sun by Rebecca Perry
Using Lorca to riff on a humble, homely scene, these short verses thread together some unsettling thoughts on endings Casida of the Dead Sun the earth reedless, a pure form,closed to the futureFederico García Lorca: Casida of the Recumbent Woman Related: Beauty/Beauty by Rebecca Perry review

[The Millions] Maybe It Was Worth It: The Millions Interviews Alexander Chee
Alexander Chee’s debut novel, Edinburgh, was called, “spectacular, gripping, and gut-wrenching,” by critics and widely lauded for his careful handling of the tough subject of sexual abuse. As The New Yorker put it, “by balancing its anguish with fantasy and Korean folk tales, he keeps a

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Can the best financial tips fit on an index card?
Index funds make investing easier and less scary

[Guardian Books Blog] A bad year for men at the book awards
Frances Hardinge’s Costa success tops off a great year for female authors as diversity rules at the book awardsWhereas next month’s Oscars are expected to see a procession of white heterosexual men collecting statuettes as 2015’s films are feted, not one has been spotted on a podium picking up

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Examine the viability
The truth is out there?

[The Millions] We Asked For It
Sinclair Lewis tried to warn us and we didn’t listen–it can always happen here. Over at The Literary Hub, this piece takes a look at Lewis’s 1935 political novel It Can’t Happen Here as a mirror for Donald Trump’s unlikely rise to political superstardom.

[The Millions] The Current Extinction
The Guardian has begun rolling out their series of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time. The first? Elizabeth Kolbert’s horrifying, no-holds-barred ecological treatise The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Our friends over at the Football Book Club took a look at The Sixth

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: The birth of a Trump-Sanders constituency
Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump voters share anger, but direct it differently

[Book Forum] VIDEO: Elaine Kamarck, "Primary Politics"

[The Millions] Widening Income Inequality
“I live a life of appetite and, yes, that’s right, / I live a life of privilege in New York, / Eating buttered toast in bed with cunty fingers on Sunday morning. / Say that again? / I have a rule— / I never give to beggars in the street who hold their hands out.” Frederick

[Guardian Books Blog] Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week?
Your space to discuss the books you are reading and what you think of themAre you on Instagram? Then you can be featured here by tagging your books-related posts with #GuardianBooksScroll down for our favourite literary linksRead more Tips, links and suggestions blogsWelcome to this week’s blog.

[Salon Books] Olive Garden has unlimited breadsticks — also lots of labor issues, illness outbreaks, and an icky sexual harassment policy
With their claim, “When you’re here, you’re family,” Olive Garden has become synonymous with America’s proliferation of family-style restaurants. Olive Garden is the largest retail brand of Darden Restaurants, the world’s largest full-service restaurant conglomerate, and the world’s

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: This has to stop, people
The term we use for the concept

[The Millions] Everything That Rises Must Be Filmed
Recommended Listening: this episode of the Ryder + Flye podcast in which Jason Diamond and Margaret Eby discuss Southern Catholicism, 70s cinema, and why it’s so darn hard to make Flannery O’Connor’s stories work on the screen.

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Exceptional facts about America
Ignore the downers — America is already great, and it's getting greater

[The Millions] Breaking Newton’s Heart
“Insanity, madness, obsession, math, objectivity, truth, science and art. These friends always impress me. They’re sculptors and tailors, not scientists or spies. I’ve chosen them with the peculiar attentiveness of a shell collector stupidly combining the overwhelming multitude of broken

[Salon Books] “It’s going to be hard to change the Republican party”: E.J. Dionne explains how the right went wrong — and helped create Donald Trump and Ted Cruz
E.J. Dionne's work has had a consistent theme over three decades: We deserve better than the un-serious politics we get. In his masterful 1991 book "Why Americans Hate Politics," Dionne argued that "there are more ideas that unite us than divide us, but politics doesn't reflect that." We hated

[Salon Books] The genius of “Infinite Jest”: How David Foster Wallace’s masterpiece saved the “big” novel — and why it’s not “a thousand-page suicide note”
Nearly the size of a phone book, with dozens of pages of endnotes on subjects from Quebecois separatists to methadone clinics, the novel “Infinite Jest” landed 20 years ago today. An encyclopedic, oddly structured, grimly funny novel, it was met with both enthusiasm and frustration:

[Book Forum] DAILY REVIEW: Fear of a Black President
Two books plumb the racial breakthroughs and disappointments of the Obama era

[Guardian Books Blog] Embarking on an epic: Homer's Iliad for February's Reading group
The motherlode of western literature has kept readers and translators busy for 3,000 years. Now it’s our turnThis month on the Reading group – deep breath – we’re going for the big one: the Iliad. The ur-text of the western canon. The beginning of everything.If you’ve read Homer’s epic

[The Millions] Tuesday New Release Day: Martel; Gappah; Gallagher; Pinckney; Zweig; Welsh; Elizabeth; Chee
New this week: The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel; The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah; Youngblood by Matthew Gallagher; Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney; The Collected Novellas of Stefan Zweig; A Decent Ride by Irvine Welsh; Don’t Lose Track by Jordannah

[The Millions] A Long Winter of Oblivion: On the Forgotten Genius of Irish Literature
James Joyce discarded Catholicism, but he religiously observed Groundhog Day. February 2 was his birthday, and Joyce took his birthday seriously throughout his adult life. He didn’t look for the groundhog’s shadow, however. He looked for his own, and believed he’d found it in the person of

[NYT] PEN Announces Finalists for 2016 Literary Awards
Finalists for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction are Mia Alvar, Angela Flournoy, Julie Iromuanya, Viet Thanh Nguyen and Jennifer Tseng.

[Guardian Books Blog] Finnegans Wake: a musical reading sounds out a cryptic text
An online project has set James Joyce’s infamously difficult novel to 17 songs – thereby making its meaning clearer, it claims. And you can take part Listen to a taster playlist of the book set to music belowIs Finnegans Wake the most difficult novel ever written? With 60 different languages

[Salon Books] We’d rather pay for prison: Poverty, mental illness and the high cost of justice failing before a crime is even committed
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. A 2013 study reports that while the U.S. accounts for only 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it has 22 percent of the world’s criminals. Yet, despite all of this jail time, Americans are crying out for justice. The recent

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Looking for the candidate
A strong independent presidential candidate would be a nightmare

[Book Forum] PAPER TRAIL: The writing life
If you can take your eyes off the surprising results from last night’s Iowa caucuses, there is a new issue of Bookforum online. Ahead of the shut-down, Al Jazeera America staffers have set up a portfolio site, where you can find an impressive array of their best work. The New Yorker has a review

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Distort the record
The deep space

[The Millions] On Hunger
Alexander Chee has a stunning new story in Guernica. He writes, “I wanted to eat and so I learned to sing…It took more than a witch to make a singer out of me.” Pair with Claire Cameron’s Millions interview with the author about his new novel, The Queen of the Night.

[Salon Books] My party worships lame celebrities: Whether Donald Trump, Ted Nugent or Victoria Jackson, the GOP both denounces and demands famous people
If grifters, shysters, and flim‑flam men are a problem for conservatives, love of celebrities is another. Perhaps it is because A‑list conservative celebrities are so scarce that we fawn so much over the washed‑up actors and musicians who end up among our ranks (sometimes seemingly after

[The Millions] A Book about Beauty
In his latest Year in Reading, Chigozie Obioma told us about Eka Kurniawan’s Beauty Is a Wound, “the howling masterpiece of 2015…a howl, an outrage, and a sheer burst of particular talent.” In an illuminating interview for Electric Literature, Kurniawan discusses the label “magic

[Guardian Books Blog] Translation Tuesday: The Princess by Alit Karp
A cook’s chance encounter with a young Swedish princess sets the scene for this short story, translated from Hebrew By Alit Karp and Ilana Kurshan for Translation Tuesdays byAsymptote, part of the Guardian Books NetworkBy the time Nils Holgersson turned forty-eight, he already lived very far

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: How to be an anticapitalist today
Did socialism keep capitalism equal?

[Book Forum] VIDEO: After Words with Eddie Glaude, "Democracy in Black"

[The Millions] Ready, Set, Goals
Octavia Butler did everything she set herself to do in this ambitious to-do list—courtesy of the Butler Archive at the Huntington Library in San Marino.

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: Go away
Resistance from the old guard

[The Millions] Choose Life
“The purpose of being a serious writer is not to express oneself, and it is not to make something beautiful, though one might do those things anyway. Those things are beside the point. The purpose of being a serious writer is to keep people from despair. If you keep that in mind always, the wish

[The Millions] The Purpose of Punctuation
Recommended Reading: Artist Nicholas Rougeux removes all the letters in a text and meditates on the punctuation that is left on the page.

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: What is white privilege?
Half of white Americans think the racial tables have turned against them

[Salon Books] How Alexander Chee wrote “The Queen of the Night”: “‘Buffy’ reruns daily. The need to watch all of ‘Six Feet Under’ in a week. So much Internet”
For February, I posed a series of questions — with, as always, a few verbal restrictions — to five authors with new books: Alexander Chee ("The Queen of the Night"), Sara Majka ("Cities I’ve Never Lived In"), Belinda McKeon ("Tender"), Ed Tarkington ("Only Love Can Break Your Heart") and John

[Book Forum] DAILY REVIEW: Technically, a Utopia
Fighting for a feminist future in Silicon Valley and beyond

[The Millions] Reality Turned to Cliché: On ‘Trump: The Novel’
I began my Contemporary Novel course this year with “Writing American Fiction,” the 1960 essay by Philip Roth that argued that “the American writer in the middle of the twentieth century has his hands full trying to understand, describe, and then make credible much of American reality.”

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: The heart of the American political divide
How did angry white men once again find themselves at the center of the presidential campaign?

[Book Forum] PAPER TRAIL: Trouble at Harper’s
Christopher Cox, who was promoted to editor in chief of Harper’s just three months ago, has been abruptly fired by the publisher and president, John R. MacArthur, seemingly over Cox’s support of a plan to redesign the magazine’s cover. The rest of the staff reportedly opposed the firing of

[Book Forum] OMNIVORE: The world without
Experience tells us

[The Millions] Language, the Savior
At The Guardian, Jhumpa Lahiri recounts the path that led her to write her latest book in Italian, one of the most anticipated books of 2016. As she puts it, “A week after arriving [in Rome], I open my diary to describe our misadventures and I do something strange, unexpected. I write my diary in

[The Millions] PEN Literary Awards Shortlist
PEN America has announced the shortlist of this year’s PEN literary awards. The 2016 finalists include Millions contributors Angela Flournoy, Katrina Dodson, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and David L. Ulin, among others.

[Guardian Books Blog] Literary Mixtape: Alexander Chee finds a heroine – with Beyoncé's help
When writing his novel set in the Second Empire in France, Alexander Chee found that a mix of Beyoncé, Azealia Banks and The Knife set the right mood for a story about ‘confident, bold, hilarious and sexy’ women of the eraBy Alexander Chee for Literary Mixtapes by Electric Literature, part of

[Guardian Books Blog] The best books-and-music pairings
Listening to music and reading not only can go together, but can make fantastic partners and intensify both experiences. Here are your favourite pairings – with couples like Stephen King and Petshop Boys, sci-fi and Aphex Twin or Atwood and Beach House The best background music for reading: your

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