Friday, February 29, 2008

Quill Book Awards Ended

The sponsor of the Quill Book awards, Reed Business Information, has shut down the Quill Book Awards. These awards were the publishing equivalent of the People's Choice Awards, but I don't think they ever caught on despite all the celebrity endorsements, glittering award shows and literacy programs.

Sponsor Shuts the Book on Glitzy Quill Awards

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. book award program created three years ago to bring glamour to the world of publishing and promote literacy has been shelved, its primary sponsor Reed Business Information said on Tuesday.

In a statement on, the publishing company gave no reason for its decision to end support for The Quill Literacy Foundation and the accompanying black tie Quill Awards, which were televised every year by NBC. (Link to article.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

People DO read!

Finally, someone has something positive to say about reading! In a New York Times blog called Opinion, author Timothy Egan rebuts Apple CEO Steve Jobs' comment saying that "people don't read anymore." While Egan praises Jobs' product innovations, he scolds him for his inability to see another market opportunity. After all, 40% of the population DOES read. Jobs has revolutionized the music industry, so why not the book industry? This is a witty and thoughtful piece.
Opinion: Book Lust
Every now and then, someone who is brilliant says something stupid — often the result of spending too much time riding a jet stream of high praise. Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive of Apple Inc., did such a thing last month when he all but declared the death of reading.

Asked about Kindle, the electronic book reader from, Jobs was dismissive. “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is,” he told John Markoff of The Times, “the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year.” (Link to blog.)

P.S. Even though I'm both a book worm and gadget geek, I'm not really lusting after a digital book reader. However, I would be very tempted to buy a book reader that was designed and manufactured by Apple (the iRead?) because it would probably be the easiest to use, have the best features, and look the coolest.

One feature that would absolutely cinch the deal for me would be the ability to both read and listen to the book. For example, let's say I'm on the couch engrossed in a good mystery, but have to leave for an appointment. So when I get in my car, I'd just plug my iRead into the car's speaker system and pick up the story where I left off...but I'd be listening to the book instead of reading it. How cool would that be?!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

America's Most Literate Cities of 2007

San Francisco is once again in the top ten of the most literate cities in the United States, according to the annual study conducted by Central Connecticut State University:

If you check previous years, you see that San Francisco has been moving up the list. I wonder why.
The website says that the " focuses on six key indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources. I wonder if one particular indicator is boosting S.F.'s literacy or if it's a combination of factors.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Guardian's Top 10 Romances

The Guardian's top 10 lists are always fun, but I found this one especially amusing. The synopsis for each of these top 10 romances may be wittier and more insightful than the book it describes. Here's one sample. If it's your cup of tea, check out the other nine!

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
If Defoe can be revered as the godfather of the romp, his spunky protagonist, Moll, is the godmother of feisty literary heroines. The pace is frenzied and the plot outrageous. Our heroine marries every eligible male between Lancashire and Virginia - including her brother. She's a very modern icon - whatever befalls her, she picks herself up, dusts herself down, rearranges her cleavage and rampages off again.

Coen Brothers to film Michael Chabon novel

For fans of Coen Brothers films or of Michael Chabon novels, here's some intriguing news that I found on The Guardian's website. It sounds like a great match-up.

Coens take on tale of alternate Alaska

The Coen brothers are to take on Pulitzer-prize winning author Michael Chabon's novel The Yiddish Policeman's Union, about an alternate-reality Alaska.

The siblings, who have scored their most commercially successful movie with the Oscar-nominated No Coutry for Old Men, will adapt and direct Chabon's book, which centres upon a private detective who is called upon to investigate the present-day killing of a heroin-addicted chess prodigy in the frozen US state. (Link to article)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Blog: Book By Its Cover

Book By its Cover is a blog that features books that are little works of art. The blogger, Julia Rothman, is a pattern designer who, along with some guest writers, features distinctive looking books she's come across. There are all sorts of books, loosely organized by categories such as childrens, design, comic, fine art, etc. If you like books that are a feast for the eyes, check out this blog.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Book for May 2008

I had to switch the book we planned to discuss in May because I couldn't get ahold of enough copies from our vendors. So, selfishly, I chose a book that I'm eager to read from the New York Times 2007 List of Notable Books. It sounds fun! See what you think.

BTW: It will be available at the Readers Roundtable meeting of February 1 and at the Main Library's Reference Desk after that.

Dancing to the Amendra
By Mayra Montero

Havana, 1957. On the same day that the Mafia capo Umberto Anastasia is assassinated in a barber’s chair in New York, a hippopotamus escapes from the Havana zoo and is shot and killed by its pursuers. Assigned to cover the zoo story, Joaquín Porrata, a young Cuban journalist, instead finds himself embroiled in the mysterious connections between the hippo’s death and the mobster’s when a secretive zookeeper whispers to him that he “knows too much.” In exchange for a promise to introduce the keeper to his idol, the film star George Raft, now the host of the Capri Casino, Joaquín gets information that ensnares him in an ever-thickening plot of murder, mobsters, and, finally, love.

The love story is, of course, another mystery. Told by Yolanda, a beautiful ex-circus performer now working for the famed cabaret San Souci, it interleaves through Joaquín’s underworld investigations, eventually revealing a family secret deeper even than Havana’s brilliantly evoked enigmas.

In Dancing to "Almendra," Mayra Montero has created an ardent and thrilling tale of innocence lost, of Havana’s secret world that is “the basis for the clamor of the city,” and of the end of a violent era of fantastic characters and extravagant crimes. Based on the true history of a bewitching city and its denizens, Almendra is the latest “triumph” (Library Journal) from one of Latin America’s most impassioned and intoxicating voices.

Book Discussion: Philadelphia Fire

Just a reminder that the Readers Roundtable will be meeting tomorrow, February 2 at 2 pm to discuss the book Philadelphia Fire.

The meeting is scheduled to meet in the Trustee's Room which is on the 1st floor, located on the Estudillo Ave side of the building. (The same room where we met in January.)

I'll not be able to attend tomorrow because of family business. Another librarian, Patty will moderate the meeting in my absence. She also loves to read and I think you'll like her.

Below I've added links to a few news stories about the Philadelphia incident in case you want to learn more about the it.

Police Drop Bomb on Radicals' Home in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, May 13-A state police helicopter this evening dropped a bomb on a house occupied by an armed group after a 24-hour siege involving gun battles. A 90 -minute shootout this morning came after a week of growing tension between the city and the group, known as Move. Residents in the western Philadelphia neighborhood had complained about the group for years. The only known survivors from within the house were a woman and a child. The fire spread to 50 to 60 other houses in the neighborhood, said the Fire Commissioner, William Richmond. He declared the fire under control about 11:40 P.M.

Philadelphia MOVE Bombing Still Haunts Survivors
Twenty years ago, Philadelphia's Osage Avenue was the site of a stunning use of force by city police. After a long standoff, police dropped a bomb on the headquarters of a radical group called MOVE, sparking a fire that gutted a neighborhood and left 11 people dead. Five were children.

Philadelphia, city officials ordered to pay $1.5 million in MOVE case
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) -- Eleven years after police dropped a bomb on a row house occupied by the anti-government group MOVE, a jury has ordered the city of Philadelphia and two former city officials to pay $1.5 million to a survivor and relatives of two members of the group who died in the subsequent fire. [Note link to essay by Alice Walker]