Monthly Archives: February 2010

Issue of February 28, 2010

Does size matter? Or it is quality? Well, no matter how you feel here at BiblioBuffet we have both for you. Especially this week.

Yes, size matters, insists Lauren Baratz-Logsted. At least it does in the case of the fat books she’s read throughout the span of her life. In Size Matters I: Fat Books I Have Loved, she remembers, fondly in some cases, less fondly but certainly memorably in others, those fat books that seemed important at the time.

Lindsay Champion tackles a new type of memoir for her—dark and graphic, an unusual type from an illustrator known for his “bright illustrations and upbeat narratives” in children’s books to learn how this award-winning artist found his way out of a disturbing and difficult childhood to not only heal himself but to point the way for others to do the same in All Sewn Up.

Nicki Leone writes about books for BiblioBuffet, for a bookstore e-newsletter, and for the Southern Independent Bookseller’s Association. She also e-mails friends, engaging them in long and thoughtful, challenging discussions. She happily participates in an online forum. And she belongs to a book club. But Nicki, never one to be content with “safe” reading sometimes finds herself frustrated with her club’s choices, and in Book Clubs Anonymous: Why I Can’t Commit she explores her feelings about their picks of reading material and offers suggestions of her own for “unsafe” material.

How do you keep track of what you read? Do you like to mark your progress? Building from another’s blog post her own thoughts on how she tracks the books she reads, Lauren Roberts takes an affectionate look at those who like to do it in public and those who prefer to do it in private. And acknowledges they are all good in Making Lists. Or Not.

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Your Input, Please

I am thinking of adding a weekly book giveaway to my editor’s letter, and am interested to know if our readers would enjoy that. I’ve tried this  on occasion in the past and had more than a few times when I have had either no response or only one. It makes me wonder if anyone is interested in free books. If you read our website would you mind taking a minute this week to drop me an e-mail and let me know what you think. There are all these books hanging around looking for good, appreciative homes . . .

My e-mail address is lauren [dot] roberts [at] bibliobuffet [dot] com

Thank you!

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Issue of February 21, 2010

Let’s call this the “birthday issue” since one of the days in this week is my birthday, and because this issue contains some special presents that I am going to share with you. Those presents are the fabulous pieces about some special books, lessons, history, and more.

Super Bowl has come and gone, but Pete Croatto has found a book that will outlive the year’s winning and losing teams. Rather than look at teams or players, Pete notes in Behind the Billion Dollar Hype, that it instead focuses on the excitement and propaganda behind the annual phenomenon that overtakes much of the nation’s consciousness every January.

Ribbon has been a large part of both military garments and ladies’ fashion—hats, dresses, shoes, and even undergarments—for centuries. Laine Farley explores the history behind a heart-shaped celluloid bookmark for  “Fair and Square” ribbon and learns that its manufacturer was, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, an important business firm with lovely ads and a lovely bookmark in The Best Ribbon Made.

It’s the “multitude of little moments” that have the biggest impact for David Mitchell when reading about history. What did they feel, think, and how did the react when they charged into battle or heard about the end of the war they had been fighting in the trenches? While many of these personal stories have been lost to past time, David found one book that touches on exactly those moments in Tell Me Tales of Blood and Glory.

Lev Raphael, like many writers, has had a long and winding road on his way to publishing success—the  miles, both physical and emotional, the patience, the name (or not), the surprises,  the fans, and the not writing—that he mulls over in this tribute to lessons never learned (from his writing professors) in  Seven Things My Writing Professors Never Told Me.

What are some of the stories that lie behind the stories we read? Guest columnist Gillian Polack relates her “behind-the-family stories behind the published family stories in Behind Stories Lie Other Stories.

It took about sixty nearly sleepless and non-stop hours but the result—the inaugural Bookmark Collectors Virtual Convention—came together this past weekend when bookmark lovers from all over the world came together to talk, drool, and share. Lauren Roberts, with one eye on the bed and one on the computer shares the adventures in Convention Fever.

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Honoring a Champion

Lindsay Champion who writes “Memoirama” showed us her true colors this week—and they are glorious.

She came to BiblioBuffet in June of 2009 with a proposal for a column on memoirs. We tested her out, and found her writing strong, her voice robust, and her passion for writing about “people” books solid. We took her on almost immediately, and our personal bookshelves have begun to fill with her recommendations.

Lindsay came from New York and ended up settling with her boyfriend, who is connected to Hollywood, not far from my parents’ home. We have yet to meet, but I feel I know her well. She’s stunningly pretty, always upbeat, a delightful correspondent, and committed to her writing. She’s also a highly ethical individual.

A while back, she was contacted by an author who had read her previous reviews and liked them. He asked if she would consider his book. She informed him she would contact his publisher and ask for a copy but also let him know that a review was not guaranteed. Soon thereafter it arrived. “I received the book today,” she wrote him. “I’ll be in touch if I do decide to write a review.”

That review appeared this week, and the author (and publisher) are happy with it. That’s good, but what is important is that Lindsay acted with the utmost professionalism. I’ve discussed the ethics behind BiblioBuffet before. Nicki and I are adamant about maintaining high standards of behavior toward everyone with whom we interact but especially so our readers. They must be confident that we operate with integrity, that our opinions are genuinely ours and not tainted with any hidden relationships or agendas. Honesty underlies our words.

The correspondence that took place between Lindsay and the author had no bearing on her review. It is her honest opinion. While the publisher is pleased with it I am proud  to be associated with Lindsay, an upstanding and outstanding contributor to and representative of BiblioBuffet.

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Issue of February 14, 2010

This week, BiblioBuffet presents a variety of pieces ranging from a battle of the wits to a somber reflection on a special Valentine’s Day gift.

What can books tell us? Sometimes more than we want to know. Sometimes more about us than about the book. And what are we to books? That’s one question that Nicki Leone ponders as she thrills and puzzles her way through a seductive yet perplexing novel in The Secrets Hidden in Books.

Off again showing more disrespect is Lauren Baratz-Logsted. This time the unfortunate author lucky contender is Tish Cohen, who decided not to just take it but dish it out too. Read how these two go head-to-head in an interview that could be called The Battle of Bons Mots. Come on in, the witticisms are fine. And don’t forget: this week we are giving away a copy of Lauren’s YA book, Crazy Beautiful. You’ll find both in The Disrespectful Interviewer: Dissing Tish Cohen.

Trainwreck began as a self-published book, was made into a movie, and was picked up by a major house, then re-issued with editing and additions. In her review of the latter, Lindsay Champion finds self-deprecation and ostentation but also humor and eventually respect on the parts of both the author and herself as reader in The Little Engine That Couldn’t.

Most Valentine’s Day celebrations revolve around chocolate, roses, dinner out, or some other social nicety. Lauren Roberts has chosen to view a recent and serious family medical emergency as her valentine-of-sorts for her parents’ role in her introduction to and continued passion for books in A Lifetime of Valentines.

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Searching Out the Interesting

In my weekly editor’s letter I have four sections that offer links to places and things I think are of sufficient interest to BiblioBuffet’s readers to make them worth talking about.

The first one is “Upcoming Book Festivals.” This lists the fairs that will begin during the week or, more likely, that will take place on the next weekend following their announcement. I keep a database of these with the date, festival name, state, city, and URL for each fair I find. Where do I find them?  Mostly through research. The Library of Congress has a list, though it is not as extensive as mine. Sometimes people will post a notice in a blog or website I find. At other times, I simply google “book festivals” to see what comes up. Or doesn’t come up. A few festivals have folded and some have gone to bi-annual. Dates get moved around too and not always by a month or so. Some have moved their dates by as much as eight months.

It’s worse when a festival uses a different URL for each year. That not only means digging to find the new one, but possibly waiting to dig until the organizers decide to put the new one up. It’s surprising how many don’t bother to list the next year’s dates on it as soon as they know it.

When it is time to list the festival, I go to the site, look around, gather information about who is attending, what events are being offered, what the feel of the festival is (which determines how I write about it), and discover if there is a focus. Then I drool a bit. I would love to attend every single festival that makes it into my letter. Some day. Maybe.

The second section of the letter is called “The Pub House.” Each week I feature a different publisher, almost all of them being independent (that is, non-mega houses). They may range from small to medium-large, and may publish a variety of genres or just one. These can be harder to find, but I have complied a current total of 183. I am still missing many university presses, and some more small ones that crop up on my radar occasionally from blog posts, links, or industry newsletters. The database on which these are stored include their names, genres, URLs, and the date it ran as the featured publisher in the letter. I try to vary them from week to week, going from a SFF/horror publisher one week to a children’s publisher the next, and perhaps an arts publisher after that. I also look through their current catalog and seek out books that I think some of you might like and mention and link them. This is one of my favorite researches because I often find books I like and add to my own To Buy list.

“Of Interest” has no special focus. What lands here is stuff that is mostly, but not entirely of literary interest. You could say it’s of interest . . .  to me, which would be accurate. This section has featured a wide-ranging set of links including radio shows, blogs, speeches, articles, online exhibitions, magazines, and literary toys and gadgets. I find the material that goes here in as nearly as many ways as I find the things that go in it. Recommendations from friends, websites, blogs; newspaper and magazines articles; advertising; trade newsletters; and more. I have on occasion wondered if I might ever run out, but given the limitless expanse and offerings online I know that isn’t likely to happen. As of now, the folder I use to temporarily  store links to be used later (Links for BB Pages) has thirty-nine, and more are added all the time.

The final section, “This Week . . .” is not much different from the “Of Interest” section. Originally, I intended it to be for listing things that were, well, something going on in that particular week. It worked for a while, but I found that it was hard to sustain. For one thing, timely events tended to be in a physical location more often than not and that meant they were pretty much limited to the local populace. Now while I do look for things that might be opening that week I don’t use that as a criterion.

When I began adding these sections I posted a couple of places more than once. To avoid that I began another database in which I keep names of the latter three sections and each week list what I used for each one. It’s easy now to do a search if I am ever uncertain. Because while I do have a phenomenal memory I also read far too many books, publications, and online material to be certain about why something sounds familiar. Is it because I’ve bookmarked it to be used, or is it because I have used it? Sometimes, to paraphrase an old television commercial, only my database knows for sure.

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Issue of February 7, 2010

It’s been a hectic week, but I can promise you it is worth waiting for. An old contributor returns with a thoughtful essay; the bookmarks column has gone fishing; there’s a surprise valentine in the air; and brilliant bastards abound. Sound good? Then dig in.

In his philosophical poem, “An Ordinary Evening in New Haven,” American modernist poet Wallace Stevens uses a compelling but “odd  conjunction of words” that Frank X. Roberts wonders might have come from a novel that appeared forty-six years earlier but whose author was a creative contemporary of Wallace’s. Both writers worth discovering, he says, in his contribution, Coincidence or Influence?

Salmon and other fish oil capsules are touted as being a good addition for anyone’s diet these days. But it’s nothing new. Nearly a hundred years ago, a generation of children were force-fed cod liver oil by the teaspoonful, which as any of our parents can tell us was a nasty (tasting) experience. One such company, the focus of this column’s bookmark, loved it however. Lauren Roberts explores the world of Norway’s most distinctive product in An Oily Bookmark.

It may be a “grand Valentine from one of his biggest fans,” but the book is not being marketed that way. Instead, Pete Croatto says, this biography by a New York Times reporter of one of basketball’s largest players of all time not only short-changes the subject but disrespects the reader in Airball!

From bastard to brilliant. Excluding the classical world, in ages past, children born out of wedlock were deemed bastards and shunned for the crime of being a representation of their mother’s sins. But some of these children went on to become shapers of nations, art, culture, and science, in other words, they helped give us the world we live in now. And, David Mitchell says in Bastardizing History, aren’t we fortunate.

Read! This week Lauren Roberts, in Putting Family First, is encouraging everyone to turn off their television and read. Read to yourself, read to another, read to your children. Go a week without news and see if you feel any different at the end. Make it your goal this week to give a book the attention it deserves.

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