Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Oddest Book Title of the Year

What is the oddest book title you've ever seen? Did you know there is an award given each year for just that distinction? And you can help pick this year's winner!
The Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year is administered by The Bookseller, one of the United Kingdom's longest standing magazines having been the business magazine of the British book trade since 1858. The magazine has awarded this humorous honor 38 times since it was first conceived in 1978 as a way to avoid boredom at the Annual Frankfurt Book Fair. :-)
Consider these this year's list of unique titles and vote for your choice before the poll closes on March 15th. Neither the content of the text nor the cover of the book matter, the award is given simply for the title the the book -- the oddest title of the year.
The 2015 nominations for the Diagram Prize are:
  • Behind the Binoculars: Interviews with Acclaimed Birdwatchers by Mark Avery and Keith Betton
  • Paper Folding with Children by Alice Hornecke and translated by Anna Cardwell
  • Reading from Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus by Jonathan Allan
  • Reading the Liver: Papyrological Texts on Ancient Greek Extispicy by William Furley and Victor Gysembergh
  • Soviet Bus Stops by Christopher Herwig
  • Too Naked for the Nazis by Alan Stafford
  • Transvestite Vampire Biker Nuns from Outer Space: A Consideration of Cult Film by Mark Kirwan-Hayhoe

Vote on your choice of oddest title now! The winner will be revealed in The Bookseller on March 18. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

More Literary Book Award Nominees Announced

This is one of those weeks when multiple awards nominees are announced or anticipation is building for winners to be declared. My previous post covered the 2015 Nebula Award nominees and this coming Sunday will be the Academy Awards ceremony when the Oscar winners are announced. The finalists for this year's Los Angeles Times BOOK PRIZES were announced Tuesday, February 23rd.

The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes,first awarded in 1980, honors literary excellence and celebrates the community of readers in Los Angeles. The prizes "... are judged by working writers, so in a very real sense they express the admiration of a community of peers. But even more, they tell us that reading is important, an essential way of connecting with, and understanding, the world in which we live."

The Book Prizes cover ten categories including Biography, Current Interest, Fiction, Graphic Novel/Comic, History, Mystery/Thriller, Poetry, Science & Technology, First Fiction (Art Siedenbaum Award) and Young Adult Literature. Other awards presented are the Robert Kirsch Award that recognizes the career and body of work of a living author whose work focuses on the West. Since 2009, an Innovator's Award has been given "which recognizes the people and institutions that are doing cutting edge work to bring books, publishing and storytelling into the future.

The 36th annual ceremony will be held during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The Book Prize winners will be announced on Saturday, April 9 at Bovard Auditorium on the University of Southern California campus.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

2015 Nebula Award Nominees Announced!

Another literary award announcement and this is one of my favorites! I am a big fan of speculative fiction and always enjoy finding out what titles from the previous year have been nominated by the members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

"The Nebula Awards ® are voted on, and presented by, active members of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. ... Since 1965, the Nebula Awards have been given each year for the best novel, novella, novelette, and short story eligible for that year’s award. The Award for Best Script was added in 2000. An anthology including the winning pieces of short fiction and several runners-up is also published every year. The Nebula Awards® Banquet, which takes place each spring, is attended by many writers and editors and is preceded by meetings and panel discussions."

The nominees for novel:

And for those interested in Young Adult science fiction & fantasy titles, here are nominees for this year's Andre Norton Award:

The full list of SFWA 2015 nominees can be found at 2015 Nebula Awards Nominees Announced

Winners of the 50th Annual Nebula Awards will be announced during the SFWA Nebula Awards Banquet on May 14th, 2016 in Chicago, IL at the Palmer House Hilton hotel.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Loss of Two Literary Icons

On February 19, 2016, the world learned of the passing of Harper Lee and Umberto Eco. Lee was 89 and Eco was 84.

As with many others I am a big fan of To Kill a Mockingbird although having been too young when it was originally published, I did not read the book until I was an adult. Up until I was about thirteen my mother, a grammar school teacher, despaired off my ever picking up a book. Once I did begin to read though, she couldn’t get me to stop and then despaired of getting me out of the house. :-) What I still cherish today from my initial reading was ‘hearing’ the Southern accents come alive in the dialogue. Then came the story itself with all those lovely characters. Atticus Finch and his defense of Tom Robinson. The Finch children, Scout and Jem along with their friend Dill. And their mysterious neighbor Boo Radley. Oh my, how that book got to me! 

Being an Alabama girl, I am also a huge fan of the movie based on Lee's novel. While I did not realize it at the time, I have a small personal connection to the motion picture. Along with hundreds of other mother’s and their young daughters, my Mother took me to an open casting call for the role of Scout. I was just a kid with no interest in acting so had no clue what was going on. And perhaps to keep me from being nervous my Mother did not appraise me of the situation either, which is probably just as well. Suffice it to say I did not get the part, it went to a Birmingham girl by the name of Mary Badham. :-)

Another personal connection I have is with Umberto Eco's debut novel. The Name of the Rose is my favorite mystery title and another of my all time favorite books. The novel appeals to me on many levels. The history major in me is drawn to the time period -- 14th Century Italy during the political and religious conflict of the Papal Schism, when three men simultaneously claimed to be Pope. Then there is the setting, a Benedictine abbey renowned for it’s library. The librarian in me is always in heaven at just the thought of visiting such a place! Then there is the protagonist, William of Baskerville, Eco’s tribute to Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Due to it’s setting, most of the characters are Catholic monks who tend to speak in Latin, a language in which I am poorly versed. While entire passages of dialogue are in Latin, this did not deter me from reading the book. I just went with the flow and skimmed those portions of dialogue, gleaning what I could from base words. Another fan of the book who does read Latin, later informed me that many of the red herrings common place in mystery novels appeared in those segments! Imagine my surprise. In the long run though, it did not make any difference to my enjoyment of the story and may have enhanced it because I didn’t have all the clues to help me solve the mystery before the climax. :-)

In honor of their passing I have pulled my copies of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Name of the Rose off the shelves to re-read and treasure once again.

If you are likewise inclined to explore these author’s and their works, here are some suggestions for consideration: