Shelf Life Book news, reviews, trends, and talk

Category: Books (71-80 of 1963)

On the Books: German authors sign open letter criticizing Amazon tactics

While Amazon and Hachette duke out their differences in the United States, German publisher Bonnier is now involved in a similar dispute with Amazon. Amazon and Bonnier are also negotiating over ebook prices for books published by Bonnier, and while negotiations are ongoing, Amazon has delayed shipment for their books and discouraged customers from buying them. More than 1,000 authors are protesting the treatment, signing an open letter to be published in several major newspapers in the region, and those authors include 2004 Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, bestselling authors Ingrid Noll and Nele Neuhaus, and many others.

“Amazon manipulates recommendation lists. Amazon uses authors and their books as a bargaining chip to exact deeper discounts,” the letter reads. Germany is Amazon’s largest market outside of the US. [The New York Times]

The Observer profiles Russell Grandinetti, a senior vice president at Amazon and the man representing the company in the publishing world. He’s one of the most important people in the Amazon-Hachette dispute, and probably in the publishing world at large. “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,” he said. “Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.” [The Guardian]

Lev Grossman, author of the Magicians trilogy and Time book critic, writes about finding his voice in fantasy after trying out literary fiction. “In a fantasy world those demons can get out, where you can grapple with them face to face,” he writes. “The story I was telling was impossible, and I believed in it more than I believed in the 10,000 entirely reasonable, plausible things I’d written before.” [The New York Times]

At The Guardian, Sam Leith wonders why British people love to hate Martin Amis. “But there are really three Amises. There’s Amis the writer and Amis the private individual. And then there’s Amis the public figure: the Idea of Martin Amis. That’s the Amis who hogs the attention and draws the fire. The other two are, as it were, collateral damage.” [The Guardian]

The Jewish Books Council put together a “Jewish literary map of New York City,” an annotated map of the city marking places referred to in great books by Jewish writers. [Jewish Book Council]

J.K. Rowling publishes story on Harry Potter character Celestina Warbeck

Celestina Warbeck, a famous singing witch, remained a mystery in the Harry Potter series—readers only saw her name mentioned briefly in a few of the books. But on Monday, J.K. Rowling published a piece on Pottermore so fans could find out more about the minor character, including what her hobbies are (traveling in fabulous style) and what house she belongs to (Gryffindor).

On the Books: Orwell estate swings back at Amazon

Bill Hamilton, literary executor of George Orwell’s estate, penned a scathing letter to the editor  in yesterday’s New York Times criticizing Amazon’s misrepresentation of the author in a message the online giant posted on last week. The letter was intended to defend Amazon’s position in its ongoing conflict with publisher Hachette over e-book prices, but Amazon’s choice of words has backfired in an ironic way.

In comparing its current e-book pricing standoff to the resistance Penguin Books faced with the introduction of inexpensive paperback books in the 1930s, Amazon quoted George Orwell “out of context as supporting a campaign to suppress paperbacks,” Hamilton wrote. Hamilton likened Amazon’s subversion of the truth to the propaganda tactics employed by the authoritarian government in Orwell’s famed dystopian novel, 1984.

This is about as close as one can get to the Ministry of Truth and its doublespeak: turning the facts inside out to get a piece of propaganda across,” wrote Hamilton. “It doesn’t say much for Amazon’s regard for truth, or its powers of literary understanding. [NPR] READ FULL STORY

What We're Reading Now: "We Are Not Ourselves" by Matthew Thomas


If you took a stroll around the EW offices, you’ll see a curious brick of a book on all our desks. We Are Not Ourselves has made quite the stir and it seems we’re all reading for it, talking about it or begging those who have read it and won’t stop talking about it for their copy.

Why? Because it’s amazing. It’s beautiful and simple and elegant and, frankly, even in the happy chapters I found myself crying at how much I love it. In a literary landscape where fantastically complicated plot lines and alternate universes run amuck, the straightforwardness of this novel is a big breath of very fresh air.

Following Eileen Tumulty, the daughter of two Irish, working-class immigrants in Queens, New York, through six decades of tireless climbing and clawing her family into the middle-class and then desperately hanging on as it all falls apart, Matthew Thomas provides an exceptional meditation on the American Dream.

But that wasn’t the gravity of the book for me. No, it was the family that pulled me in. The son trying to make it home without getting his teeth kicked in by neighborhood bullies. The dad who, in the politest way possible, is falling apart. The crazy Catholic extended family (oh yeah! I’ve got one of those!). And more than any other, Eileen, a gorgeous depiction of womanhood: the internal struggles, the self-doubt, the ability to shoulder the burdens of others, and the desperate, tireless and sometimes flawed ways of keeping a family together.

She is nuanced, carefully imagined, incredibly engaging, and as Melissa Maerz wrote in EW, it is amazing that she is born of a male author.

Between myself, Melissa, Stephan and Tina, I can’t begin to tell you how lofty the praise around these halls has been. I’m passing my copy straight onto Leah (otherwise, duh, I would have given it to you) and I hope you find your way to one soon as well.




On the Books: Christian bookseller pulls celebrity pastor's titles

The nation’s second-largest Christian-book retailer, LifeWay, has removed from its shelves and website all works by prominent pastor Mark Driscoll. The decision follows last week’s announcement of Driscoll’s ousting from the Acts 29 church-planting network he co-founded.

The pastor has long been extremely polarizing, with The New York Times Magazine calling him, in a 2009 article, “one of the most admired—and reviled—figures among evangelicals nationwide.” In the announcement of its decision to expel Driscoll, Acts 29 cited his “ungodly and disqualifying behavior,” referring to purported profane language in the pastor’s sermons as well as homophobic and sexist statements he made in an online chatroom under a pseudonym.

Last year, Tyndale House Publishers investigated Driscoll after radio host Janet Mefferd accused him of plagiarism in his 2013 book, A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future? (Tyndale concluded he was innocent.) In March, Driscoll admitted to artificially inflating book sales in a letter he posted on Reddit.

LifeWay said in a statement that, prior to the announcement, A Call to Resurgence was the only Driscoll title being sold in its 180-plus stores across the U.S. [NPR]

Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin told audiences at this week’s Edinburgh International Book Festival that he’s doing his best to keep up with the fast-paced HBO serial adaptation of the dense book series, but that ultimately the issue is out of his hands. “I can only write one word at a time,” Martin said. “I just have to worry about telling the stories as best I can.” HBO just began production on the fifth season, while the notoriously slow-working Martin is not expected to finish the remaining two books for several years. Martin also admitted that accurate theories about the series’ ending are floating around online, so any fans wanting a spoiler should simply read everything that has been written about the show.  [The Guardian]

Little, Brown and Company announced plans for the U.S. release of a tell-all memoir by Guantanamo Bay prisoner Mohamedou Ould Slahi next year. Slahi has been in U.S. custody at Guantanamo since being detained by the CIA as a terrorist suspect in 2001, but he has never been charged with a crime. He is a central figure in the ongoing dispute over the ethics and politics of the U.S.’s detention of suspected terrorists without due process. The book will detail the torture, isolation, and humiliation that Slahi, who hand-wrote the book after learning English by conversing with the guards, says he has experienced in captivity. The much-anticipated release announcement comes after years of efforts by his lawyers to have the book’s highly sensitive manuscript declassified. [The Los Angeles Times]

Wonder Woman arrives in Gotham in DC's 'Sensation Comics'

On Wednesday, DC Comics will release Sensation Comics, a Wonder Woman anthology that exists outside the New52 Continuity, the next step in their Digital First comic book line. The series is made to be accessible to casual readers who may not be caught up on the continuity reboots and relaunches that DC Comics have put forth over the years; the story brings back the pre-New52 Oracle identity of Barbara Gordon (a.k.a. Batgirl), and it boasts ComiXology driven digital accessibility matched with the top-notch creative talent pairings. (And yes—paper purists will be pleased to know they do a great job on the print editions.)

The Amazon Princess’s adventures this time around are written by Gail Simone (Batgirl, Birds of Prey) and Amanda Deibert with art by Ethan van Sciver (Green Lantern, Flash: Rebirth) and Cat Staggs. Simone and van Sciver previously collaborated on “The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men.” Working in the digital format is still a new experience for both creators, though ultimately they want to convey the essence of Wonder Woman and what makes her stand out from Superman, Batman, and other heroes.

To amp up that contrast, the first story sees Wonder Woman swooping into Gotham to deal with Batman’s Rogues Gallery at Oracle’s behest, where her characteristic compassion will be tested. And with several super-villains and psychos on the loose, the fun comic book superheroine will likely make good use of her Greek-god arsenal, with weapons like the greatly under-appreciated boomerang tiara.

Below, see a preview and read an introduction (from the comic book’s solicit) of what happens when Paradise Island meets Arkham Asylum.


Image Credit: DC Entertainment


Diana Prince: Amazon warrior, ambassador to Man’s world, or champion of women in need? All of the above! This digital-first anthology series will bring some of comics’ greatest talents to Themyscira, and give them leave to explore Diana, her world – and ours!

Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver kick things off when Oracle calls for help after the entire Bat-Family gets sidelined. But when Wonder Woman steps into the breach, Gotham City’s criminals get the surprise of their lives! Then, Amanda Deibert and Cat Staggs take Diana to school, where she meets her biggest fan!


Trailer Released for Haruki Murakami's New Novel


Today, Knopf released an online trailer for Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage via YouTube. 

Like Murakami’s writing, the trailer is poetic and unusual—and deceivingly captivating for its visual simplicity. The graphics, consistent with the book’s cover, are simple and striking: Bold black text and colorful geometric shapes set against a white screen, often producing after-images that linger for just a moment. READ FULL STORY

'Gotham by Midnight' will showcase the scary side of Batman's city

For a story about a man who dresses up as a bat to strike fear into the hearts of criminals at night, surprisingly few Batman yarns are horror stories. That’ll change soon, though—DC Comics has announced Gotham by Midnight, a new series by Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith.

Over at SyFy’s blog Blastr, writer Ray Fawkes revealed more details about the new horror series. It will focus on Gotham City Police Department’s Midnight Shift, the organization’s X-Files-esque team. Led by Jim Corrigan, the team will investigate a supernatural sickness afflicting the city. Other mysterious elements include Corrigan’s secret role as host to The Spectre, an avatar of divine judgment, and the notion that Gotham City itself might have a dark and terrible secret that explains why it has deranged criminals within its limits.

It sounds like Fawkes is taking a few cues from Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s seminal graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth—and like that classic work, the new series has a distinguished artist in Ben Templesmith, whose work will help Gotham by Midnight establish a unique and creepy visual identity.

Gotham by Midnight launches Nov. 26, 2014.

'Trillium' and 'The Bunker' are time-travel comics about the present

In some ways, pop culture is a form of passive time travel. Any given work is informed by the time in which it was made, and the act of creation is also an act of preservation—our books and shows and music are all bits of dilated time, worlds perfectly preserved for us to visit at will and think of all the ways in which we have changed.

As complex a subject as time travel can be, almost all time-travel stories start with a simple choice: forward or backward? Regardless of which is chosen, or how complex the means by which that decision is made, the result is often the same: We, the readers, learn what we will become or attempt to fix what we were.

Time-travel stories, then, never really make the most poignant statements about the past or the future, but the present.

Released simultaneously in the first week of August, Trillium by Jeff Lemire and The Bunker Vol. 1 by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari are both graphic novels about time travel that succeed by focusing on something human and personal rather than getting caught up in the whys and wherefores of their sci-fi.


Read John Green's introduction to Hannah Hart's 'My Drunk Kitchen'


Looking for intoxicating recipes? Look no further than Hannah Hart’s YouTube channel. Over 1.3 million subscribers watch My Drunk Kitchen, Hart’s show where she cooks while drunk, makes puns, and cuts using only a butter knife (to stay safe).

Last year, The Fault in Our Stars author John Green guest starred on the show. Now, Hart has written a tongue-in-cheek cookbook, which is out Tuesday, titled My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your Gut, and Green has written a foreword to help her out on her literary exploits. Check it out in full below. READ FULL STORY

Latest Videos in Books


From Our Partners

TV Recaps

Powered by VIP