Sunday Salon 2009-11-08 – Week in Review

Books Then and Now

This week was a good reading one for me. I finished and reviewed four books starting with a cosy by new to me author Elaine Viets (Murder Between The Covers), moving to a fast-paced thriller by another new to me author Harlan Coben (Tell No One) then an audio version of an Agatha Christie novel that I don’t recall ever reading before (Dead Man’s Folly) and finishing up with the second novel in Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander series (The Dogs of Riga).

Arrivals and Departures

So far this month I have shown unusual restraint, acquiring 6 books (3 of them audio downloads) but giving away 23 books to friends and colleagues. I also have found a charity shop that will take as many books as I can give them so I plan to get rid of a lot more books in the next few weeks. My aim is to keep only the books I might one day read again or the ones that have some sentimental value.

Link Fest

This week, most of what I read online made me cranky for one reason or another.

  • This post about authors needing to brand themselves started the trend. I certainly don’t disagree that authors should have decent websites and other promotional tools but I am sick to death of the religion that is branding. Books are not burgers and as a reader I am sick to death of being treated like the kind of moron that picks what I want to read based on the pretty covers. The author of the blog post uses James Patterson as the prime example of a branded author and on that issue I agree with him – Patterson is wonderfully branded. However if all authors become Patterson-like I’ll need to find a new hobby because his product is dross and not remotely the kind of thing I actually want to read.
  • It’s nothing to do with books but this news article about the plastic bag ban in my state made me crazier still.  It’s only a few lines but for me it epitomised what is wrong with the media, politicians and society in general (what, me over-react?). Earlier this year the government here banned the use of single-use plastic shopping bags and this is what the relevant government minister had to say

SA Environment Minister Jay Weatherill is happy with the outcome. “Eighty-two per cent of people think that this has had an impact that is on reducing plastic bags to landfill and also getting it out of our natural environment,” he said.

Nowhere so far has there been any reporting on whether the ban has actually had any impact on the environment but apparently that doesn’t matter as long as a majority of people believe it has. It’s not that I’m opposed to the bag ban (hey I’ve been taking my own bags to the shops for ten years) but I am opposed to making law based on the nebulous beliefs of the majority.

  • This press release from Women in Letters and Literary Arts (WILLA) about the lack of women in the Publishers’ Weekly top ten books of the year also made me cranky. I’m not thrilled that the PW list had no women writers in it but neither am I convinced that hurling insults and unhelpful labels at PW is going to do much for the cause. Why does this stuff always have to be so confrontational? To my mind WILLA would have been better off just publishing their own list of ten great books by women writers so that commentators might discuss the differences. WILLA is preparing its own list of books by women authors but as it’s happening via a publicly editable wiki it could conceivably contain any (every?) book published by a woman this year and looks petulant rather than considered.

…and one more thing

I don’t know what’s true and what’s not in the great climate change debate but I do know summer is here with a vengeance a whole month before it’s officially supposed to be and I’ve had enough already.

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2 Responses to Sunday Salon 2009-11-08 – Week in Review

  1. Dorte H says:

    “Books are not burgers and as a reader I am sick to death of being treated like the kind of moron that picks what I want to read based on the pretty covers.” Hear, hear!

    An interesting cover may tempt me in the library (no problem running a risk there, as they are free anyway), but I shop for good authors, not cozy or different covers. Mostly I buy second-hand stuff so I don´t even know which cover I will get.

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  2. Covers attract me but it is the synopsis that gets me to buy a book. Like Dorte, I too prefer used books.

    Here is my Sunday Salon post!

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