In the Field

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My grandma has a tradition–every year, over cups of tea, she reads A Cup of Christmas Tea. While we do, at times, get tickled over her dramatic pauses, it is a lovely tale of what’s most important this time of year. Speaking of which, did you know December 15 was International tea day? True story. In honor of the occasion, The Guardian gives us Reading the Tea Leaves: Literature’s best brews (10 best references to tea, perhaps? Literary tea leaves? Anyway, tea in literature). So pour yourself a steaming cup of goodness, and read all about it.

In other bookish news . . .

Speaking of warm beverages, here’s an argument that states the only way for libraries to survive is if they become more like coffee shops: free Wi-Fi, warm beverages, and comfy sofas (The Independent). While I think these enhancements sound delightful, there’s no mention of actual books. That makes me twitchy.

Lest we lose all hope, Nielson reports that teens tend to prefer print books over ebooks. Like a little Christmas miracle, that.

Science Fiction author Neal Stephenson has announced he’ll be joining the mysterious startup Magic Leap, which intends to meld fiction with reality. His title: “chief futurist.” Intriguing, non? Although, it makes sense. Long before science fiction writers were known as such, they’ve been dreaming up (and paving the way for) technological advancements.

11 Books Strand’s Booksellers loved most in 2014 (courtesy of The Huff Post).

You may recall, Patrick Modiano won the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature. Well, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) has announced they will publish an English edition of Modiano’s latest novel, So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood

Judy Blume’s preparing to publish her first book for adults in fifteen years. Titled In the Unlikely Event, People Magazine gives us a sneak peak.  People Magazine, I know . . . but the story’s premise sounds interesting. We shall have to wait and see . . .

According to Dick Cavett: “We’d all have been better off to have read half as many books. Twice.” (via The New York Times)


Gifts for book lovers

I had every intention of being all fancy and compiling gift ideas for book lovers.

Of course, why turn a new leaf this late in the game; I’ve been a slacker all year, why stop now? Not to mention, book lovers are so easy. If all else fails, buy them books–or something to keep their books in place.

Like these fabulous giraffe solid brass bookends from Sexy Trash Vintage . . .

giraffe_bookendsSee? Boom! You’re done.


In the Field

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2009 August - England Trip Disc 2 219

Charles Dickens postbox: the ‘before’ picture

I don’t know about you, but I’ve wiled away extra hours, as of late, penning cards to friends and loved ones, near and far. Christmas, you know. Of course, for Charles Dickens it would be just another day. No doubt he’s also be a bit appalled with my lack of words. For you see, between 1820 and his death in 1870, Dickens wrote over 14,000 letters-thousands of which were mailed from his personal postbox, at his home in Kent. Just so happens Charles Dickens’ postbox has been put back into service. So if you’re in the neighborhood, you too can mail your letters from his postbox–they’ll even be postmarked “CD.”

With that, here are a few other bookish bits of the week . . .

Did you hear the brouhaha surrounding Australia’s Prime Minister’s literary awardMmm, Hmm . . .

And a Nigerian federal court has blocked former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s memoirs, My Watch.   Not that it has stopped the book from appearing on shelves, mind . . .

On a brighter note, for The Guardian, Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis pick their top 10 writing duos. For the record, this piece made me ridiculously happy.

Also: Hemingway’s works in 15-seconds . . . Huff Post Books highlights The Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park’s hilarious video series.  P.S. I thought the disclaimer a nice touch.

Nicholas Blechman, of The New York times, selects The Best Book Covers of 2014. They’re interesting, I’ll give ‘em that.

The author who writes under the nom de plume Elena Ferrante remains a mystery–but this article in The New York Times gives us a glimpse . . .

In the Field

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PDJamesGoodbye PD James–thanks for giving us stories worth the read.

I’m a firm believer in taking time every now and again to unplug. Of course, the downside to such things is you miss things. Once you realize what you’ve missed, it then comes as something of a shock. Such was the case when I discovered the death of PD James. I’ve always held a soft-spot for “the Queen of Crime.” Publishing her first novel at forty-two, her quest to write mystery fiction well, her confession that violence quite frightened her–they were just a few of the reasons. Needless to say, it saddened my heart to she’s gone. She died at her home in Oxford, England, on November 27. She was 94.

In other bookish news . . .

A short, unpublished work by Raymond Chandler has been discovered in the Library of Congress–where it has been housed for nearly 100 years. Oh, and it’s an opera.

And here’s a new one: Miranda July is listing an odd assortment of items that appear in her upcoming debut novel, The First Bad Manfor which readers can bid.  So, if you’ve always wanted an old envelope, gum popcorn, or pink boxer shorts–this is your chance. All proceeds will go to The National Partnership for Women and Families.

Zoella breaks record for first-week book sales. I’m not sure what to do with that. But here it is.

A copy of Gone with the Wind finally returns to Spokane high school–after being overdue for 65-years. The school kindly waived the $470 fine.

We all know Truman Capote’s infamous In Cold Blood–the nonfiction account of the 1959 quadruple murders of Herbert Clutter and his family. Well, it turns out, the book may be more fiction than fact. The son of a Kansas law enforcement officer who helped investigate the killings has been granted permission to publish his father’s field notes that he says substantially contradict the account found in Truman Capote’s literary masterpiece (Associated Press). Intriguing, non?

Margaret Atwood considers our robotic future.

Buzz Feed gives us 15 silly old-timey words you need to start using again (courtesy of Huff Post Books Twitter feed). –who knows? Might come in handy at a holiday party or two.

If you’re wondering what you might read next (or give as a gift), here’s the 10 best books of 2014 (according to The New York Times).

Or, according to The Guardian, the best biographies and memoirs of 2014. (‘Life writing,’ I love it)


A study in scarlet

If ever you get the chance to add this little publication to your library, you simply must do so . . .


For you see, Beeton’s Christmas-Annual of 1887 first introduced us to Sherlock Holmes.

Arthur Conan Doyle was twenty-seven when he wrote the tale (perhaps you recall this video). It would receive little more than rejection at first. Even after publication, it wasn’t the most popular. Perhaps readers of the day felt it untoward to read of murder and mayhem around the holidays; perhaps that’s why only a handful of complete copies of the Christmas Annual exist today.

Nonetheless, A Study in Scarlet went on to be published as a book in July of 1888 (Doyle’s father illustrated that version); a second edition made an appearance the following year, and an American version a year after that (1890). Of course, that’s but a start of a myriad of editions, translations, and adaptations–not to mention the countless other stories featuring Holmes and Watson.

If you’d care to read the story that started it all, you’ll find A Study in Scarlet on Project Gutenberg.

“There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”  

– A Study in Scarlet