Talking About Books . . .

“Serious literature acts like a rocket-booster to the brain. . . . The research shows the power of literature to shift mental pathways, to create new thoughts, shapes and connections in the young and the staid alike.”  Those are the findings of scientists, psychologists and English academics at Liverpool University according to an article in The Telegraph.

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Authors and book publishers now have the ability to gather data about what people are reading, how fast they read individual books, the point at which they give up on a book, and which chapters they skip.  How do they know all this?  E-readers send data back to the companies that sell them, and the companies can interpret the data, and give it to the authors and publishers so they can, if they choose to, tailor their books to suit the people who read them.  So remember, when you curl up with an e-book, you’re not alone.

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The current Academy Award nominated movie version of Victor Hugo’s epic Les Misérables, like almost every other adaptation, leaves out most of the real history of its time, so The History Channel has graciously filled in some of the blanks.

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Random House has made a major commitment to reissue many of the novels of John D. MacDonald in trade paperback and e-book versions.  This unusual step will mean the reissue of all 21 novels featuring Travis McGee (a self-proclaimed “reject from a structured society”), and other novels including Cape Fear.  Jonathan Yardley has details in a Washington Post article.

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There are some sleazy publishers out there, but Edmund Curll, who lived 300 years ago, was one of the most unscrupulous of them all.  He may, in fact, hold the title as the most unprincipled publisher of all time.

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People occasionally ask Stephen King whatever happened to Danny Torrance the psychic child in The Shining.  They also ask if Danny turned out like his father.  King will finally give us the answers to those and other similar questions on September 24th with the publication of Dr. Sleep.  He talked about the sequel to The Shining in a wide-ranging interview with Entertainment Weekly.

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The Hatchet Job of the Year Award goes to the book critic who wrote the most scathing review of the last 12 months.  How scathing are the reviews under consideration?  Well, decide for yourself.

Now that you know the nominees, would you like to know who won (or, depending on your perspective, who lost)?  Here’s the answer.

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I can’t remember where I saw it, but the quote went something like this: “There will always be a need for brick-and-mortar bookstores like Barnes and Noble where you can browse the book shelves, hold the books in your hands, and look at their contents – before you go home and buy them on Amazon.com.”  Then again, that may not be true.  With the rise in e-book sales, and the low cost of books bought through Amazon and other internet-accessible companies, there may not be a future for brick-and-mortar bookstores.  Barnes and Noble, the last nationwide bookstore chain is set to shutter many of its stores over the next ten years due to flagging sales.  Is there any hope?  An article in The Atlantic magazine explores the issues.

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