Talking About Books . . .

A new movie based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third novel, The Great Gatsby, is about to be released, and the novel itself is still one of Amazon’s top 100 sellers in books.  Why is it still so popular?  Richard Brody of The New Yorker explores the novel’s enduring appeal here.

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John le Carré, unlike Philip Roth, is not retiring.  His 23rd novel, A Delicate Truth, will be published on May 7th and it is getting very good advance reviews.  You can read an in-depth article about le Carré in the New York Times.

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The gold standard for writers is to be able to put the words “A New York Times bestseller” on the dust jackets of their books.  But will that mean as much in the future as it has in the past?  Will the New York Times book review even be around in the future?  Michael Wolff of The Guardian has his doubts.

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When I was in high school we had to read books like Moby Dick and The Scarlet Letter.  Most of us found them terribly boring, and, I suspect, some of my classmates were turned off to reading from then on.  There was, I think, too little action in those books for our teenaged minds.  Later when I read Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki I couldn’t help thinking that we (at least the boys) would have enjoyed it so much more than the classics, and we might have been inclined to read more books rather than fewer books.  Well, now Heyerdahl’s classic is a movie and CBS Sunday Morning recently did an interesting segment on it.

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Michael Dirda, my favorite book reviewer is a very well read man.  He seems to be familiar with everything – fiction, nonfiction, the classics, and just about any other book category you can come up with.  For a year Dirda wrote weekly essays for The American Scholar magazine on quite diverse subjects.  I invite you spend some time reading his essays.  You are sure to be entertained and enlightened.

And to learn more about Michael Dirda, be sure to read the interview that Diane Prokop did with him for the Portland Book Review.  The interview was occasioned by the publication of a book that Dirda wrote about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but the interview also delves into Dirda’s past, and what made him as erudite as he is.

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We all know that Shakespeare contributed many words to the English language, but would you believe that Walt Disney contributed a few as well?  Well, believe it, because the folks who maintain and update the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) say it’s so.

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