Showing all posts tagged: novels

Is book social cataloguing website Goodreads still relevant?

4 September 2023

Canadian author Tajja Isen, writing for The Walrus:

Gradually, things started to go off the rails. My to-read list ballooned alarmingly, not from titles I felt drawn to out of genuine desire but ones the algorithm pushed on me. The thrill of discovery, too, felt compromised: every time my feed told me a friend had added a book that I’d found first, I felt a frisson of annoyance. Have some imagination.

Amazon bought the social cataloguing website in 2013, which some book industry pundits saw as an attempt to stifle potential competition, should the then owners have decided to sell books through the site. Goodreads has remained little changed since Amazon took over.

While I have a page there, I don’t used it a whole lot at the moment. In terms of reading recommendations though, I’ve just about always obtained them from other sources, as I think my reading interests fall way outside the purview of the Goodreads’ algorithms.


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From slush pile to bookshop shelf: the secrets of successful unsolicited manuscripts

26 August 2023

We all know the drill. We send — unsolicited — the novel manuscript we’ve spent years toiling over, to a couple of publishing houses who accept them. From there they go into a kind of purgatory called a slush pile. How long manuscripts might spend in this limbo is unknown, but probably just about all of them end up going through the shredder eventually.

Nevertheless, we hold onto hope — hope above all else — of a different fate.

Because not all slush pile works go to pulp. Some Australian authors, including Abby Corson, Shannon Meyerkort, Natasha Sholl, and Mark Smith, have been plucked from the agglomeration and found their way onto a bookshop shelf. Perhaps then what happens in the movies is true. Book publishers have staff who sift through the slush pile, looking for that elusive diamond in the rough.

Take note then. Good writing separates the wheat from the chaff. Manuscripts with eye-catching premises, and engaging opening chapters, might reach the next rung of the ladder.


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The Voyage Out by Virginia Woolf, with her handwritten notes, found in Sydney

24 July 2023

In 2021, Simon Cooper, a University of Sydney worker, rediscovered a first edition copy of The Voyage Out, the 1915 debut novel of British author Virginia Woolf, lurking amongst a collection of science books, where it had been misfiled years ago.

What makes the find so remarkable are the notations throughout the book, written in hand by Woolf herself, when she was considering revising the novel. A veritable boon for anyone interested in studying Woolf’s work. The book has since been digitised, and can be viewed online.


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Leslye Headland to direct The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo film adaptation

4 July 2023

Well over a year after a screen adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s 2017 novel The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo was announced, American filmmaker and screenwriter Leslye Headland has been named as director. Reid’s work of historical fiction spent over a year on The New York Times best seller list, after becoming a TikTok sensation in 2021.

The story recounts the life and times of Hollywood Golden Age star Evelyn Hugo, who, at age 79, grants a rare interview to an unknown journalist, Monique Grant. The now reclusive Hugo promises to reveal all to Grant, much to the chagrin, and envy, of Grant’s better known contemporaries. While Grant is as surprised as anyone else at being chosen, Hugo has a reason for selecting her.

So far there is no word on who will be cast, but earlier this year fans of the novel were clamouring for Jessica Chastain to take the role of redhead Celia St. James, Hugo’s foil and friend.


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American author Cormac McCarthy has died, aged 89

14 June 2023

American author Cormac McCarthy, writer of novels including No Country for Old Men in 2005, The Road in 2006, and more recently in 2022, The Passenger and Stella Maris, died on Tuesday 13 June 2023. According to a statement on his website, he died of natural causes.

So long Cormac McCarthy, and thanks for all the stories.


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Klara and the Sun being adapted to film by Taika Waititi

18 May 2023

Klara and the Sun, the 2021 novel by British author Kazuo Ishiguro, is being brought to the big screen by New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi. While all parties are yet to sign on the dotted line, it’s looking pretty certain, according to Justin Kroll, writing for Deadline:

Sources tell Deadline that the Jojo Rabbit Oscar winner is in negotiations to direct Klara and the Sun, based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s New York Times bestselling novel, for Sony’s 3000 Pictures. The project is in development, with Dahvi Waller penning the original draft of the screenplay.

I loved the novel. I believe Waititi could bring forth a faithful adaptation of Klara without dispensing with too many of his trademark cinematic flourishes.


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Vale Gabrielle Carey, co-author of 1979 novel Puberty Blues

6 May 2023

Australian author Gabrielle Carey, who co-wrote the controversial though iconic novel Puberty Blues, with Kathy Lette, died this week in Sydney.

Set in the southern suburbs of Sydney, Puberty Blues polarised readers with its no holds barred depictions of the antics, and sexuality, of Australian adolescents. Although published in 1979, Carey and Lette began writing the novel some years earlier as teenagers. The book spawned a film adaptation in 1981, and a two-series television run in 2012.

Carey went on to write a number of other books, both fiction and non-fiction, and also worked as a freelance journalist and university lecturer.


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The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti film adaptation

6 May 2023

The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti, film still

Still from The Eight Mountains, directed by Felix van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch.

The Eight Mountains, trailer, is one movie I’m looking forward to seeing, since I couldn’t get enough of Italian author Paolo Cognetti’s 2016 novel of the same name, when I read it. The story traces the lives of two boys, Pietro, and Bruno, from the time they first meet in the Aosta Valley, in the north of Italy, and the decades that follow.

Pietro is a lonely boy living in Milan. With his parents becoming more distant each day, the only thing the family shares is their love for the mountains that surround Italy. While on vacation at the foot of the Aosta Valley, Pietro meets Bruno, an adventurous, spirited local boy. Together they spend many summers exploring the mountains’ meadows and peaks and discover the similarities and differences in their lives, their backgrounds, and their futures. The two boys come to find the true meaning of friendship and camaraderie, even as their divergent paths in life — Bruno’s in the mountains, Pietro’s across the world — test the strength and meaning of their connection.

Made in 2021, filming locations included the Italian Alps, Turin, and Nepal, mostly preserving the authenticity of the story. While the film has a run time of almost two and a half hours, Elissa Suh, writing for Literary Hub, says the adaptation, co-directed by Felix van Groeningen, and Charlotte Vandermeersch, “adheres strictly to both the book’s tone and the author’s intent.”

If you haven’t read the novel, take the time to do so. The Eight Mountains is a whole different world, one where scaling mountains, and wandering through Alpine forests, comes as second nature to those residing within its realm.


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The 2023 Better Reading Top 100

3 May 2023

The Wife and the Widow by Christian White, and The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams, are among Australian titles I’ve read that make the 2023 Better Reading Top 100 list.

Other books by authors outside of Australia I’ve finished, include Normal People by Sally Rooney, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

A full list of all one hundred titles in PDF format can be found here. For those not in the know, Better Reading is a Sydney based Australian community of engaged book readers. Just the sort we like…


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American libraries report increase in book challenges

26 April 2023

The American Library Association (ALA) has published a list of the top ten books subject to some sort of challenge, based on their content, or subject matter, in the last twelve months. While the majority of challenges related to books written by, or about, people of colour, and LGBTQIA+ community members, the ALA also noted a sharp overall increase in objections over the last year:

Libraries in every state faced another year of unprecedented attempts to ban books. In 2022, ALA tracked the highest number of censorship reports since the association began compiling data about library censorship more than 20 years ago. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 2,571 unique titles targeted for censorship, a 38% increase from the 1,858 unique titles targeted in 2021. Most of the targeted books were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color.