Talking About Books . . .

Stephen King was a guest on Fresh Air with Terry Gross recently.  He talks about a wide range of subjects including the thing that scares him the most.

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Do you finish each and every book you begin regardless of how boring that task is?  The Wall Street Journal has an article about how difficult it is for many of us not to finish books that we’ve started.

The article references a Goodreads survey of the 100 most unfinished books.  You can access the list here.

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Paris is installing a system to play classical music in its train stations.  Why?  To chase away loiters who make people uncomfortable.  Paris joins a growing number of cities worldwide that are turning to classical music to make vagrants and young troublemakers uncomfortable.  Someone referred to this as “acoustic insecticide.”  I think that’s a perfect choice of words.

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Also, The Telegraph reports that the French government and the book publishers in France will provide about $11.8 million to independent booksellers to keep them from going out of business due to the encroachment of Amazon.  Here in the United States independent booksellers hate Amazon, and it seems that other countries are learning to hate Amazon as well.  However, most countries are happy to welcome Amazon when the company opens facilities that create new jobs.  It gets complicated.

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Mysteries of the Vernacular is a series of videos that will eventually explore the etymology of one word for each letter of the alphabet.  The videos are produced by Myriapod Productions which is based in New York City.  According to the company, each video takes about 80 hours to research, and produce.

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Each year for the past ten years Time magazine has listed the 100 Most Influential People for that year.  The winners for 2013 are broken into five categories: Titans, Pioneers, Leaders, Artists, and Icons.

Joel Stein takes a look back at the lists over the years to determine where the folks at Time got it right and where they got in wrong.

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At I found an article about five romances that changed history.  Four of them were what I would expect, but the fifth, the romance between Mildred and Richard Loving, was totally unexpected.

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Robert Caro recently won the Plutarch award for best biography for his book The Passage of Power.  It is the first ever biography award selected by biographers.  All of the nominated books are listed below.

  • Saul Steinberg: A Biography by Deirdre Bair (Nan A. Talese)
  • The Passage of Power by Robert Caro (Knopf)
  • All We Know: Three Lives by Lisa Cohen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • A Difficult Woman, The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman by Alice Kessler-Harris (Bloomsbury Press)
  • Barack Obama, The Story by David Maraniss (Simon & Schuster)
  • The Lives of Margaret Fuller by John Matteson (Norton)
  • The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss (Crown)
  • On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson by William Souder (Crown)
  • American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama by Rachel L. Swarns (Amistad)

The winner was revealed at the Biographers International Organization (BIO) Compleat Biographer Conference in New York City on May 18.

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