The harsh fact is that we belong to a violent species; the kinds of outrages committed by serial killers have been an aspect of human society at all times in all places. As the Bible says, “There is no new thing under the sun” — and that applies to sadistic murder as much as to anything else. – “The Serial Killer Files,” Harold Schechter
I don’t like gory films. You’ll never catch me watching “Saw” or “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” (Although one of my favorite shows is “Criminal Minds.” Please don’t ask me to explain.) However, like a lot of people, I find evil fascinating, and as I’m all right with reading horrible, awful things, I occasionally delve into true crime. “The Serial Killer Files” is the second of Harold Schechter’s books I’ve read, and I recommend him for his clean writing. “The Serial Killer Files” mentions the big names — Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Jack the Ripper — but Schechter is a thorough researcher and presents the cases of killers who are less well known but whose crimes are equally horrific. It’s engrossing, if you like that sort of thing. He doesn’t delve into any one of them too deeply, just gives an overview. Given the nature of the material, it’s enough.
But moving on to lighter fare. For all you Nook users, Barnes and Noble is struggling to compete in the e-reader market and is turning to third-party manufacturers. Nooks were a major loss for the company. B&N will discount existing Nooks, so if you’re in the market, now might be a good time to pick one up. Or not, because who knows how this will turn out.
Locally, some really cool news for Harry Potter fans: Arts writer Mike Allen discovered that the Hogwarts train on an edition of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is an O. Winston Link photo of a sister engine to the 611. How magic is that? Accio awesomeness.
What literary excitement has come your way lately?
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Look at it this way. Tomorrow, your job is to change the world into a better place. Today, my job is to see that everyone gets there. – “A Hat Full of Sky,” Terry Pratchett
If you read the business section in Sunday’s newspaper, you’ll have seen Amanda Codispoti talk about Paperback Exchange consolidating two locations into one along Williamson Road. I’ve been to the Apperson Drive location just once, and there certainly were a lot of paperbacks, but none to my taste. The only used-book store I’ve frequented is Too Many Books on Grandin Road, and I haven’t been there in ages because, well, I already have too many books.
I’ll be doing the second book giveaway later this week, and I have two books to give away this time. (That’s just a numerical coincidence; I won’t have three books to give away the third time.) It will be a Civil War-themed question and I’ll pick two winners. I had to think about this one hard, and even bounced ideas off a co-worker who, as it happens, was named after a military figure from the Civil War. Check in later this week!
Until then, why not tell me what cool book stuff you encountered this weekend? I’d love to hear it.
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Witches were a bit like cats. They didn’t much like one another’s company, but they did like to know where all the other witches were, just in case they needed them. — “A Hat Full of Sky,” Terry Pratchett
Good morning and happy Monday.
I finished “Big Brother”; the review will be out next week. I won’t repeat myself here, but I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The ending is not what I expected, but it’s overall well constructed and carefully developed. I really love books that are about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and “Big Brother” definitely is one of those.
I’m moving on now to something completely different: Terry Pratchett. “Hat Full of Sky” is the sequel to “The Wee Free Men,” which I wrote about in the summer reading thread (still accepting ideas, by the way, and just added one myself in the comments).
There was a Q&A in Sunday’s paper with Roanoke native Liza Mundy who has a book out called “The Richer Sex.” It examines the challenges of women who are the breadwinners in their households. “I think we are having a really robust conversation about working parents and working mothers,” she told Danielle Dunaway. I am tempted by the book, I love this kind of topic.
If you were using Twitter on Sunday evening, you probably saw #thewhitequeen trending. It’s a 10-part BBC adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s book about Elizabeth Woodville who married Edward IV. In the tumultuous decades after, we got Richard III, the War of the Roses and the Tudors. I’ve the read the book and it was … OK. I have “The Red Queen” at home and have yet to crack it open. I did read “The Kingmaker’s Daughter” about the Neville sisters (Anne Neville married Richard III), and I enjoyed that one.
Anyway, I quite like BBC productions, so I might get into “The White Queen” if it makes it onto Netflix or Amazon prime. It is nice to see a medium move away from the Tudors, I feel they’ve been done to death.
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Whenever I encounter a picture of myself, the first thing I assess is my weight. I am attached to particular photographs not because they memorialize a signal occasion, but because they depict me as thin. I could probably arrange my every photo in a precise order of preference that would perfectly correspond to a continuum of my size. — “Big Brother,” Lionel Shriver
Hey ho, I am still immersed in my Lionel Shriver novel. It is, if you will pardon the pun, delicious. It tackles so many relationships — with food, with partners, children, siblings. Shriver has a real talent for articulating ideas I personally have a hard time putting into words, and for presenting thoughts of which I was not conscious (see the quote above about photographs).
In book news, Iain Banks, author of “The Wasp Factory,” has died. Who here has read it? I have heard of it, and I’ll put it on my reading list. I’m interested to hear from anyone who has read Banks’ work.
We’ve had some beautiful, sunny days the past week, and I’ve been more inclined to go out on the greenway with the dog than open my book. Have you read anything good this weekend?
If you’re in the market for something good, “Inferno” by Dan Brown is still atop the best-sellers list. This is the last week of my competition to win a hardback copy; I’ll pick a winner Friday. I’ve had some really interesting responses; this is not going to be easy!
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I propose: food is by nature elusive. More concept than substance, food is the idea of satisfaction, far more powerful than satisfaction itself, which is why diet can exert the sway of religion or political zealotry. Not irresistible tastiness but the very failure of food to reward is what drives us to eat more of it. — “Big Brother,” Lionel Shriver
Read that quote up there and tell me Lionel Shriver doesn’t have a point. It jolted me; I admit I have a complicated relationship with food, and Shriver’s words hit me in the heart. I knew as soon as I read that that this book was going to be great. It is. I’m not that far into it, but it’s wonderful. The review should be out this month. If Lionel Shriver sounds familiar to you, she — and yes, Shriver is a woman — wrote the critically acclaimed “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” about a fictional school massacre. I haven’t read it, but “Big Brother,” which explores relationships between family and food, makes me want to sample other of Shriver’s work.
If you read the news last week, we’ve had a couple of book-related items. Amanda Codispoti, who runs the Storefront blog, previewed an independent book store that opened in Wasena over the weekend. If anyone went, let me know, because I’m interested in what kind of selection they have. Bravo to them; opening any kind of store is risky business, but especially a book store in an age where most people order their books online or use an e-reader.
My co-blogger Dana Bailey did a Q&A with Roanoke author R.S. Belcher who wrote “The Six-Gun Tarot.” He talks about the process of writing that book, plus what he’s working on now. We ran a review of “The Six-Gun Tarot” back in April. You can still comment on that review, by the way, or talk about the book here.
Finally, in national news, today is the first day of an antitrust trial involving Apple. The Justice Department accuses the company of conspiring to raise e-book prices as it competes with Amazon.com. I’m sure you can get the latest news from Googling, but The L.A. Times lays out what’s going on in a preview story.
Whew! Lots of book stuff going on. Everything is fair game for comments, plus, as always, tell me about your own reading — that awesome free book you scored for your Kindle, that library book that sounded better on the cover, that book you can’t wait to come out. I’m still taking recommendations for summer vacation reads; and “Inferno” by Dan Brown is up for grabs. I think I’ll let the competition ride out at least another week, maybe a week and a half, then pick a winner. Spread the word, the more the merrier!