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Hardback books: what’s the point? Money, prestige, space

Hardback books are highly profitable. Publishers reckon they can sell a hardback for twice (or more) the price of a paperback, but a hardback doesn’t cost nearly twice as much to produce.

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The Chandos portrait

Shakespeare’s appearance remains a mystery – but we have lots of clues

We have a general idea of what William Shakespeare looked like, but we do not have a confirmed contemporary portrait of him. Like many other things about The Bard, his appearance remains a mystery.

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samueljohnson

Inside the making of a dictionary

Dictionaries are marvels of any language. But English has resisted the orderly cataloguing that has been routine for many other tongues. Early lexicographers believed they could impose some necessary order on the language by setting down spellings and definitions and making them permanent. But the language quickly showed them who was boss.

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Jackie Kennedy Onassis

A portrait of Jackie Kennedy as a teenager, and then a lawsuit; then there’s a new biography

A portrait of Jacqueline Bouvier Lee, a.k.a. Jackie Kennedy, depicting her as a teenager, has appeared in a Long Island art gallery and has sparked a federal lawsuit brought by some of her relatives. The relatives say it is stolen. The art gallery owner says it is not and that he has doubts that the […]

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Point Spread by Jim Stovall

‘The Feminine Mystique’ and the change in women’s status in the 1960s

The book summed up many of the frustrations that middle-class women had experienced, especially if they had set aside ambitions and careers to become suburban housewives and mothers. From the day it was published, it sparked criticism from many quarters (and continues to do so today), but it struck a chord with many women and […]

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WilliamShakespeare-3

Inspiration for a genius: recent discovery of a book that Shakespeare may have used for his writing

Because Leonardo da Vinci kept a vast quantity of journals, we have a good idea about how his mind worked, what he was thinking about, and what he saw. With William Shakespeare, we have no such record. And William Shakespear is the reason we have the English language as it is today.

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Another painting giveaway; Amazon gift cards; Pliny the Younger, Rome’s great eyewitness reporter; newsletter, Feb. 2, 2018

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,222) on Friday, February 2, 2018. Hi, I watched a super moon, a blood moon, and a lunar eclipse this week. Not as spectacular as the solar eclipse we saw last summer but still pretty phenomenal. Nature has its moments — many of them, in fact, if we would […]

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girl reading

A pointed, provocative post: Why You Should Stop Reading News by Shane Parrish

Parrish wisely makes the distinction between “news creators” and “journalists.” News creators simply want to gain your attention and hold it for as long as possible. He doesn’t spell it out, but I assume that in his view journalists report information that adds value to your life.

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Don’t miss this NYT interview with Philip Roth

Author Philip Roth, now nearly 85 and retired from writing, has given an interview to New York Times journalist Charles McGrath, and it is fascinating. Roth talks about what it was like to be a writer: Exhilaration and groaning. Frustration and freedom. Inspiration and uncertainty. Abundance and emptiness. Blazing forth and muddling through. The day-by-day […]

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BearBryant

Alabama vs. Georgia, 50+ years ago: The Saturday Evening Post-Wally Butts-Bear Bryant libel case

More than 50 years ago, the Alabama-Georgia matchup resulted, not in a national championship, but in a legal ruling that expanded the First Amendment protections we now enjoy.

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Henry Watson Fowler

A bit of wisdom from Henry Watson Fowler

Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage is still one of the best references for those interested in how the language is used.

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Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar Allen Poe and the development of the mystery novel

Poe lays down the rules of a mystery novel.

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The 100 best nonfiction books of all time: a list from The Guardian

Robert McCrum, the co-author of The Story of English (1986), has compiled a list of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time, and the list was recently published in The Guardian (The 100 best nonfiction books of all time: the full list | Books | The Guardian), a well-respected newspaper and news website in Great Britain. Such […]

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Sue Grafton

G is for Grafton: Mystery writer Sue Grafton succumbs to cancer at age 77

Sue Grafton’s private eye, Kinsey Millhone, has taken her place beside Hammett’s Sam Spade, Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe, and Macdonald’s Lew Archer.

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James Callan

Where ideas come from: One author’s journey

James Callan is a fiction writer who was introduced to newsletter readers several weeks ago. He is the author of the Father Frank mysteries, the first of which is Cleansed by Fire, a roaring good adventure with lots of action and interesting characters. Here are a few questions that James was kind enough to answer. […]

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Lillian Ross

Lillian Ross, reporter and precursor of the 1960s New Journalism movement

Was she the mother of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s — the movement that showcased the deep reporting of people like Truman Capote and Gay Talese? Many people thought so. Lillian Ross, who died Sept. 20, 2017, at the age of 99, was doing that kind of reporting and writing for the New […]

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Best book of the summer? Readers respond

The subscribers to my newsletter were asked to let me know what their “best book of the summer” was, and here are the responses: Karen: My favorite book this summer was Chasing Someday by Lindzee Armstrong.  It is a story about 4 couples and issues they faced involving fertility issues.  This book is different from the books […]

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August was a good month for reviews of Kill the Quarterback

August brought in some very generous reviews for Kill the Quarterback. Here’s what they said: A star quarterback is dead before his senior year. A troubled struggling reporter, Mitch Sawyer, must track down the killer before he kills again. Overall, Kill the Quarterback is as nostalgic as the great classic mysteries. Very well written and […]

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The week’s best giveaways; Battlelines, 5 volumes, now available

Hi there, I hope that you have had a good week. Giveaways This week’s best book giveaway (and one in which I am involved with Kill the Quarterback) is Thrillers, Killers and Chillers. There are 21 of us authors offering some very good book — and they’re all free downloads, of course. In addition, there’s an […]

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Digital Reader blogger tries to get at the real facts about ebook sales

A lot of buzzing and scoffing these days in the world of independent publishing about the “fact” that ebook sales are down. Blogger Nate Hoffelder tries to set the facts — the real facts — about ebook sales straight. Source: Damn the Facts: The “Ebook Sales Are Down” Narrative Must be Maintained at All Costs […]

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