Nov 13, 2012
A new podcast discovery; we contemplate novellas; and we recommend Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and The MIddlesteins by Jami Attenberg.
We discovered a new books podcast! Literary Disco is smart and funny and worth checking out. The sound quality is great, too! In the episode, I mention that Instacast is my favorite app to listen to on the iPhone, so do check it out if have an iDevice.
We have a thread on our Goodreads group about other book-related podcasts. There are recommendations there for other podcasts to listen to. If you're new to BOTNS, please do explore our Goodreads group -- a GoodReads account is free, and we have a lot of active book-lovers who take part and I've found it to be a great way to meet fellow booklovers.
Also, a little bit of housekeeping: we've had a few emails asking us to not spend so much time talking about Booktopia during the podcast -- so we are going to put any Booktopia-specific information at the end of podcast episodes from here on out. We'll continue to talk about our Booktopia books and authors, since we think those should appeal even to people who can't join us in person. But the "nitty gritty" details pertaining the the actual weekends will be saved for the end. We will let you know at the beginning, though, so that you can listen through or fast-forward, as you wish.
Lastly, we are working on our annual BOTNS Holiday Gift Guide. It should go live on Black Friday.
In a recent post on The New Yorker's Page-Turner blog, Ian McEwan wrote about the novella. It's a form that I haven't really thought much about, though there are several novellas that are among my favorite reads: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan and Walk for Mankind, a novella that leads off the latest Ann Packer collection, Swim Back to Me. Michael considers A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle to be a novella. Melville House publishes a series called The Art of the Novella, offering a mix of classics and other works by authors you may know. They are gorgeous, small-format paperbacks, and they are not too expensive. Some of the books in the series have additional online content available, which can be accessed by links and QR codes in the back.
Thinking about the novella made me wonder if e-reading will make novellas (novellae?) more attractive to book buyers. Will we see more "e-shorts"? Will we start referring to word count instead of page length?
(Must be yellow book-jacket week!) Michael's pick this week is Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. It's a "quest" novel set in partially set in a bookstore where many of the volumes are mysterious old books borrowed by an assortment of odd characters.Our main character and his Google-programmer sidekick go on a journey to discover the mystery of these books.
The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg is a book that seemed to come out of nowhere. I had never heard of it, and then suddenly it was everywhere. It's a family story with a woman at the center who is obese. Her family is concerned, especially as her health worsens, but Edie doesn't seem to want to do anything about it. I love dysfunctional family stories, and I devoured this one in under two days.