Book reviews, new books, publishing news, book giveaways, and author interviews

Bookish thoughts 1 August: books and work, loaning ebooks, book journals & more!

book news Bookish thoughts 1 August: books and work, loaning ebooks, book journals & more!

RIASS stuff:

Giveaway: MacRobertsonland and Chocolate Pack'(open to all)

Interview: Mingmei Yip on narrative, Chinese femmes fatales, and chicken's feet

Im currently knuckling down on some line edits, so apologies if I start to run behind!

Other bookish stuff:

A website that matches book covers to bathing suits'Phew. Ill never have to worry about accessorising at the beach again.

Why does literary fiction avoid depicting characters who work in money fields?'Quote:'It's especially apparent in literary fiction, which often seems to have a positive aversion to the depiction of work in general, and financial work in particular.

My quick thoughts: Im going suggest that its not just money fields such as insurance and stockbroking that are avoided in fiction. The majority of jobs are, with a couple of exceptionsand those exceptions are usually the jobs that can be used in the line of the narrative itself. Work is often used in literature as a way to ensure that a main character has enough money to do what it is they need to do, or to give them the freedom that they need to get up to mischief. Writers and artists and travel photographers are popular choices because they (in theory) have flexible working hours that take them to interesting places that arent an office. Honestly, unless the work somehow relates to some other element of the bookit helps to set position a character in a certain way, or is used to get two people in a room togetherwho wants to read about it? I dont think all the literary peeps mentioned in the article were necessarily thumbing their nose at work for being plebian, dahling, but rather because, generally, its boring to read about.

15 of the greatest lists in literature'I would also suggest just about anything by Jules Verne, because, seriously, that guy was a list-making obsessive.

Maeve Binchy: a big-hearted guide to friendship, love and loss'The tributes continue after the death of much-loved Irish author Maeve Binchy.

Will Self on modernism, postmodernism, and 5 books he thinks you should read'Quote:'Well, we often do think in prose. But we don't think in the simple past, and we don't think by the agency of an omniscient narrator. We just thinkThat problem with the mechanics of the conventional prose novel are not true to my experience of life ' which is chaotic, immediate, present tense, and not directed by some supernatural being. I just can't do conventional, narrative fiction.

My quick thoughts: I wonder why this is why Im drawn to books that have a very strong narrative voiceand by that I mean that the narrator is almost a character in itself. The narrator offers an extra bit of distance that provides a frame by which to organise the madness of life.

Libraries and the uncertain economics of loaning virtual books'Quote:'Awkwardly for publishers, buying an e-book costs more than renting one but offers little extra value. You cannot resell it, lend it to a friend or burn it to stay warm.E-lending is not simple, however. There are lots of different and often incompatible e-book formats, devices and licences.

My quick thoughts: I havent ventured into the world of ebook lending myself, but this certainly poses some interesting questions. The limited duration licences offered by some publishers are an interesting thingit makes me think of those Argentinian books that erase themselves, or one of those Howlers from Harry Potter. Of course, I do think that rather than riding on the coattails of an immortal product and trying to curtail its use, perhaps publishers should merely offer re-releases with extras and bonuses so that libraries/readers are encouraged to take a gamble on the newer version? Goodness, listen to me, Im a broken record with this whole justify the expense business, arent I?

Marianne de Pierres on young adult science fiction and how she draws on her Australian roots for inspiration:'Quote:'The beauty about short stories is that you can write a short story and then you can use it later ' you can come back to it later and suddenly it's a full-blown novel. So they can often be stepping-off points for novels.'Or they can be perfect just the way they are.

A tutorial on the basic binding of books'Excuse me while I go and find all of the office bulldog clips

The benefits of a book journal'Quote:'My late father-in-law kept a book journal for decades, and at his memorial service, my brother-in-law read excerpts from it. To me it was like listening to poetry, the poet revealing his curiosity and gratification in the condensation of book titles.

My quick thoughts: Um, yeah. See this website? Im not going to suggest that writing lengthy opinions about everything you read is necessarily a useful way to spend your time, but it is good to be able to flick through my site and see what I was reading last year or the year before, and what resonated with me and why. I can also see how Ive grown as a reader, and how my reading preferences have changed over time. This site is becoming increasingly helpful now that Ive started to cull my read books rather than keeping them on my shelves as part of my have-read list.

Weird World of Wonders author Tony Robinson on'his love of history'

Through him I understood that 'now' wasn't the only time there had ever been; there had been other nows and a long line of other people who had had blood-curdling adventures and ridiculously hilarious escapades. I knew, although it was many years before I realised I knew it, that I was part of the great continuum of human history.

My quick thoughts: if ever youre short on ideas or inspiration, hit the history books.

A cheap (one-day) deal on the Narnia books

Have you entered the Overland short story prize?

Famous inboxes: Ron Weasley'(love re: shes my sister, Harry!)

Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter on The Long Earth:


  1. Great collection of links here. I agree that jobs in general are typically avoided because they are boring. Then again, thats why I love Nora Roberts because she does has her characters have real jobs and actually have to work for a living.

    So sad about Maeve Binchy.

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks, Michelle! Jobs do feature strongly in some genres, but I think it depends on whether the book is more character, plot, or setting oriented. Obviously in crime novels jobs tend to loom large, and they do in chick lit as well; in literary fiction, on the other hand, it tends to be the characters life beyond their job thats the focus..

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