Archives: books

G.K. Chesterton: Everything about him was big, including his ‘colossal genius’

October 24, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, journalists, writers, writing.

In so many ways, Gilbert Keith (G.K.) Chesterton (1874-1936) was an enormous man. — Physically, he was massive: 6 feet 4 inches tall, he weighed more than 250 pounds. He had a shock of hair that on many days looked like it had exploded out of the right side of his head. — His writing production almost • Read More »

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Good advice for the General: Write like you talk

October 16, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, Civil War, history, journalism, writers, writing.

As a writing teacher of several decades, I never cared for the advice “write like you talk.” Most people don’t talk all that well. Besides, writing is a different process from talking. Talking is easy. Writing is hard. But “write like you talk” was the advice that Ulysses S. Grant got from Robert S. Johnson, • Read More »

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Benedict Arnold, explained but not excused

October 12, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism, writers.

Nathaniel Philbrick‘s Valient Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. explains–but does not excuse–Benedict Arnold. And the explanation is an important part of the history of the American Revolution. And, therefore, it is important for Americans to hear and understand. Philbrick is a top-flight historian whose narrative prose makes any topic he tackles readable • Read More »

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The United States has always been divided in its thinking — even before it was the United States

September 30, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism.

The deep divisions in America’s current political culture undoubtedly pose serious and difficult problems for the long-term health of the nation, but they need to be set in some context. The truth is that the United States of America has never been united except on the most basic of principles (equal justice, free speech, etc.). • Read More »

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All About Agatha – the podcast where Agatha Christie is first, last, and always

September 26, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers.

All About Agatha (Christie)Pro Unlimited Agatha Christie The Agatha Christie fans out there — and they are legion — will want to join in on this weekly podcast, All About Agatha, that is devoted exclusively to the author whose popularity remains undiminished even 40 years after her death. The podcast features Linda Brobeck and Kemper • Read More »

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What you do when you’re writing a Phillip Marlowe novel

September 25, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

Raymond Chandler died in 1959, leaving the fans of his detective anti-hero Phillip Marlowe wanting more. In the ensuing years, two excellent writers, Robert Parker and John Banville, have attempted to satisfy those desires. Parker took up Chandler’s unfinished novel and finished it as Poodle Springs in 1989. Then he wrote a second Marlowe novel, • Read More »

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The donkey libraries of rural Colombia: a story from the BBC

September 22, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism.

Colombia is not all drugs and drug lords and gangs and violence. There are people like Luis Soriano, a Spanish teacher in rural La Gloria Colombia, who loves books, understands their value, and wants the young people of his region to have access to them. Soriano put his dream on the back of two donkeys, Alfa • Read More »

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Yes, people are still trying to ban books. And they should be opposed.

September 19, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, First Amendment, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, journalism.

You can shield yourself from ideas that make you uncomfortable or that you disagree with. You may be able, to some extent, to limit the exposure that the young people in your care have to those ideas. But you cannot shield your community from the things you disagree with. That’s called censorship, and in any practical • Read More »

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A picture essay book on the necessity of libraries from The Guardian

September 19, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism.

What are libraries about? Neil Gaiman and Chris Ridell have put together this pretty neat picture book that solidly answers that question. Sit back and take a look. You will enjoy this.   Source: Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell on why we need libraries – an essay in pictures | Books | The Guardian

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‘The Woman Who Smashed Codes’ taught her biographer cryptology after her death

September 13, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, reporting, writers, writing.

Journalist Jason Fagon, when he set out to write a biography of the extraordinary Elizebeth Friedman, America’s chief codebreaker during World War II, had an obstacle to overcome that most biographers don’t face: He had to learn cryptology, the art and science of secret writing. Fortunately, Fagon had a good teacher: Elizebeth Friedman herself. Friedman • Read More »

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A 19th century writer-rock star, King James’ obsession, costly commas, and the Clinton impeachment revisited: newsletter, Sept. 7, 2018

September 10, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, grammar, history, newsletter.

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (x) on August 30, 2018 Too much good stuff to read, too little time. I am in the middle of an excellent novel by a well-known author at the moment, and I will tell you about it in a week or two. I’ve also started • Read More »

King James I, perpetrator of a Biblical translation, hunter of witches

September 8, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history.

The famous opening scene of The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare begins with the speeches of three witches. They predict what will happen in the play, but they are more than a dramatic device. They were a very pointed and obvious political statement. That statement — something of a cheerleader’s “We’re with you all • Read More »

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The scientific contributions and botanical art of Beatrix Potter

September 8, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

All the world knows Beatrix Potter as the author of the Peter Rabbit stories. Some of the world knows that Potter also illustrated those stories. Probably even fewer people know that Potter was a scientist and a scientific artist, and her specialty was mushrooms. As Maria Popova of BrainPickings writes: . . . no aspect • Read More »

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Frances Hodgson Burnett, a rock-star writer of the 19th and early 20th century

September 8, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

Frances Hodgson Burnett, another of The Secret Garden and Little Lord Fauntleroy, wrote prolifically and made a ton of money doing it. She traveled extensively, lived peripatetically, spent extravagantly, and maintained a lavish lifestyle that most of us could only imagine. During her 30 years atop the world’s literary stage, she was one of the world’s • Read More »

Self-publishing workshop at Blount County Public Library, Oct. 6, 2018

August 28, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, self publishing, writing.

My duties and responsibilities as writer-in-residence at the Blount County Public Library (Maryville, Tennessee) continue to evolve. On the first Saturday of October, I will be offering a half-day workshop on getting started with self-publishing. If you’re in the area and are interested in this topic, sign up here: http://www.blountlibrary.org/FormCenter/Public-Library-9/Introduction-to-SelfPublishing-OCTOBER-6-111 Here’s the description: Introduction to • Read More »

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What makes readers buy books?

August 23, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, self publishing, writers, writing.

Why do readers buy books? It’s an ancient question with no definitive answer, but fortunately folks keep searching for one. Maggie Lynch, author of numerous books and articles, has a roundup (Opinion: What Makes Readers Buy Books? | Alliance of Independent Authors: Self-Publishing Advice Center) of some of the latest research on the Alliance of Independent Authors • Read More »

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John Pendleton Kennedy: Edgar Allan Poe’s literary guardian angel

August 9, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, journalism, writers.

John Pendleton Kennedy is a man who lived in the 1830s in Baltimore, and chances are, you have never heard of him. That’s okay, but without Kennedy, who acted as a lifeline — a literary guardian angel, if you will — you might never have heard of Edgar Allan Poe. Poe lived a scant 40 • Read More »

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The Guardian’s August reading group: ‘the very finest detective story ever written’ 

August 3, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writing.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins — tagged by no less than Dorothy L. Sayers as the “very finest detective story ever written” — is the August selection for The Guardian’s reading group. The Moonstone is the first of the great English detective novels. The Guardian’s Sam Jordison, moderator of the reading group, says: It’s 150 years • Read More »

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Who killed Julia Wallace? The classic locked-door mystery

August 2, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers.

When Wiliam Herbert Wallace returned to his Liverpool home from work one January night in 1931, he found his wife Julia dead on the floor of the parlor, her head caved in by a heavy object and her blood spread across the room. Deanna Cioppa, a writer and editor and fan of true-crime stories, has all • Read More »

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Amazon a substitute for public libraries? Not on your life

August 1, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism.

Perhaps you saw this article (which has been taken down): An economics professor wrote on Forbes this past weekend that public libraries should be replaced by Amazon. The sheer idiocy of the idea is obvious, but it gave Amanda Oliver, a librarian, an opportunity to outline succinctly some of the services that Amazon never could, or • Read More »

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