How many have you read?

Arianna Rebolini of BuzzFeed has chosen 102 of the “Greatest Books By Women” and asks how many of them you’ve read so far.

I have read 34 of them and here are three of my favorites.

Tale of Genji 


“Tale of Genji”, remarkable for being one of the first (if not THE first) book to be described as a self-definitive “novel” – ahead of its time in so many ways.


Left Hand of Darkness


 “Left Hand of Darkness” – one of Le Guin’s seminal works, and one that is so layered, with so many rewards  – and it had one of the best rejection letters in the industry, ever.





“Kindred”, the book that made me practically want to to thump down on my knees at the feet of Octavia Butler when I had the brief and heady privilege of meeting and talking to her at a gathering of my tribe, the scribes, before her untimely death.



How about you? How many have you read and how many do you still have to look forward to?

 Greatest Books By Women


Cosmos – Then and now

I belonged to the Carl Sagan F1 generation. I saw the original “Cosmos” series, when it first aired. I was never quite the same again. I recently wrote about it at Storytellers Unplugged.


Decades later the theme music from the show still makes me come up in goose bumps. I see an image of Carl Sagan’s smile or hear some snippet of an old interview, and I am young again, and the sense of wonder rises about me like a fabulous landscape which still belongs to me….



But I find myself detached from the new version of “Cosmos”. Neil Degrasse Tyson never quite manages to ignite that sense of wonder that Sagan did so effortlessly…

Then and now


22 Photos That Prove Why Babies Need Pets

A child’s development can often be accelerated by daily interactions with the family pet, HopeShared tells us, and says that their young minds grow a great deal through their social and emotional bonds. Instead of providing scientific facts to backup this theory, here are 22 photos that without a doubt prove that it’s true.

I'll watch himReddit

He's mineReddit

Babies and their pets


9 Essential Detective Novels for People Who Don’t Read Detective Novels

Jonathan Wood does the honors at Huffington Post.



Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

While obviously better known for The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams also turned his monumental talent to the mystery story with this novel, and it’s sequel, The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul. Murderous editors, alien ghosts, and time travel are just a few of the problems that complicate Gently’s attempts to save the human race. Recommended for people who are in the mood for, in the author’s words, “a thumping good detective-ghost-horror-whodunnit-time-travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic.”






Shadow UnitShadow Unit by Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Will Shetterly, Leah Bobet, and Holly Black

There’s been a bit of press recently about the rise in popularity of binge watching and binge reading. Shadow Unit–a long-running series of tightly-plotted novellas structured to resemble a TV show–lets you combine the two. Written by a who’s-who of supernatural thrillers, the series sucks you in as much with its lovable misfit cast as with its tense episodes, each one charting the course of FBI’s Anomolous Crimes Task Force investigations. Recommended for anyone who’s mainlined a series on Netflix recently.



Even if you don’t read detective novels


About my cat…

We have recently adopted a half-blind ex-feral tiger-striped caramel tabby who has just demonstrated that he may be more than he appears.

The other day he worried a file out of a vertical rack. We asked him to fill out a proper application if he wanted employment as an office assistant, and put it back. It only really occurred to me later to check on WHICH file he was so interested in.

It was a folder containing information on my current WIP… which happens to be about Were-critters.

I chuckled rather nervously. Just how much does this cat know, how long has he known it, and what was he planning to do with the information he was trying to extract?

And what, if anything, does he turn into when I’m not watching?


Quote of the Day

Honesty is what you do when no one could ever find out; nobility is what you do when no one can stop you; bravery is what you do when there is a choice; goodness is what you do when the recipient can’t do anything useful for you.” ~ C. J. Cherryh


Alma Alexander

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Based on Real People

When Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road, Stacy Conradt tells us at at Mental Floss, he was really writing about his own cross-country exploits with his Beat Generation buddies.

Cassady and Kerouac

Neal Cassady, left, with Jack Kerouac in 1952. Photograph by Carolyn Cassady.


For example, the selfish Dean Moriarty represents Neal Cassady, close pal of Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Ken Kesey.

But that’s not the only character Cassady inspired: Kesey, Hunter S. Thompson, and Tom Wolfe all took inspiration from Cassady.


Little women

Similarly, as a neighbor of the Alcott family in Concord, Mass., Elizabeth Hoar served as the model for Beth March in Little Women.

Hoar was also good friends with Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, who liked to call her “Elizabeth the wise.”

Real people behind literary characters


51 Delightfully Geeky Language Facts

At BuzzFeed, Ailbhe Malone has collected some rather amazing language factoids. For example, he tells us that in Japan…

Four (shi) and nine (ku) are considered unlucky numbers, because the words sound the same as those for ‘death’ and ‘pain or worry’.

And because of this, some hospitals don’t have room numbers 4, 9, 14, 19 or 42. Forty-two (‘shi-ni’) means ‘to die’, 420 (‘shi-ni-rei’) means ‘a dead spirit’ and 24 (‘ni-shi’) is double death.

And then there is this fascinating curse:

“Así te tragues un pavo y todas las plumas se conviertan en cuchillas de afeitar” is a Spanish curse, meaning ‘may all your turkey’s feathers turn into razor blades’.

Geeky language facts


The Romance of Beginnings

Beginnings Cate Campbell talks about the first story glow.

There’s nothing like that first moment when a writer has a new idea for a story or a novel.  It’s like falling in love, when the object of our infatuation has no faults, no complications, only endless and enchanting possibilities. Character, setting, plot . . . they all glow with promise. The first lines flow, the first scene intrigues us, and visions of success draw us into this new project.

It’s been said that being in love is no assurance of happiness in a marriage, but that attempting marriage without it is a doomed effort.  There’s a strong analogy with a fictional concept.  Those first pages are easy.  The work begins when we try to make a cohesive whole, building a good strong fire out of the spark of imagination that got us started.



How to Write a Believable Happy Ending

As author Ted Thompson learned from John Cheever, a redemptive resolution doesn’t erase the darkness of a story, but instead finds the light within it, Joe Fassler writes in The Atlantic.

EndingsHappy endings are famously rare in literature. We turn to great books for emotional and ethical complexity, and broad-scale resolution cheats our sense of what real life is like. Because complex problems rarely resolve completely, the best books tend to haunt and unnerve readers even as they edify and entertain.

Writing a happy ending that feels meaningful is probably one of the hardest tricks in literature. There’s a lot of comedy out there (particularly in movies and television) that follows that ancient structure of the world falling apart and then being put back together again, but so much of it feels like, okay, those problems were solved and now I can forget about them. You don’t want a literary story to have that effect—you want it to have a resonance with the reader beyond the last page, and I feel like it’s a lot easier to do with tragedy than comedy.



15 Breathtaking Illustrations Of Fairy Tales From The 1920s

Long, long ago, things were really beautiful, Ariane Lange tells us at at BuzzFeed, and has collected some wonderful examples.

A happy ending was just behind the brilliantly green curtains.\

Happy endingVia, Sleeping Beauty awakens to her prince. (John Austen, 1922)

Fairy tale illustrations


Quote of the Day

Honesty is what you do when no one could ever find out; nobility is what you do when no one can stop you; bravery is what you do when there is a choice; goodness is what you do when the recipient can’t do anything useful for you.” ~ C. J. Cherryh


Alma Alexander

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Reading While Female

Reading while female


Women need to trust that they know what’s good, what’s bad, and what serves them intellectually in order to reject or reclaim the books in their lives, Sady Doyle reports In These Times.

Alienated by sexism in ‘Great Books’ (cough, Kerouac), some women create a secret canon, she says in a discussion of the book ‘No Regrets: Three Discussions’.

The book is built around three conversations among three different groups of female writers about reading: what they read when they were younger, what they didn’t read, why it mattered or didn’t. Stories about reading supposedly “great” dudelit only to feel hurt or repulsed come up repeatedly.

No Regrets editor Dayna Tortorici says she will “never forget reading Bukowski’s Post Office and feeling so horrible, the way that the narrator describes the thickness of ugly women’s legs.”

Elsewhere, the conversation turns to Henry Miller (Elif Batuman: “he compared women to soup” ), Portnoy’s Complaint (Emily Witt: “I cannot read another passage about masturbation. I can’t.”) and On the Road (Sara Marcus: “I remember putting [it] down the first time a woman was mentioned”).

Reading while female


E.B. White’s letter about why he wrote “Charlotte’s Web”

The letter reveals just how much of White himself is in the book, Brian Galindo tells us at BuzzFeed.

In 1952, just a few weeks prior to the publication of his classic children’s book Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White was asked by his editor at Harper & Row to explain why he wrote the book. He responded with a beautiful anecdote about the bond between humans and animals.

Charlotte's Web “As for Charlotte herself, I had never paid much attention to spiders until a few years ago. Once you begin watching spiders, you haven’t time for much else—-the world is really loaded with them. I do not find them repulsive or revolting, any more than I find anything in nature repulsive or revolting, and I think it is too bad that children are often corrupted by their elders in this hate campaign. Spiders are skilful, amusing and useful. and only in rare instances has anybody ever come to grief because of a spider.”

The why of a book


11 Ridiculously Overdue Library Books

Have you ever had to bring back a library book two or three days past its due date? Well, Mark Mancini, says at Mental Floss, at least you can take some comfort in the fact that it wasn’t nearly as tardy as the books on this list that range from 21 years late to … OMG!

overdueLOANED FROM: The Lawrence Public Library in Lawrence, Kansas


Long overdueLOANED FROM: The New Bedford Public Library in Massachusetts


Just a little late


Really? You’re Not in a Book Club?

By some estimates, James Atlas reports in the NYT, five million Americans gather every few weeks in someone’s living room or in a bar or bookstore or local library to discuss the finer points of “Middlemarch” or “The Brothers Karamazov.”

Book clubA book club meets in Fall River, Wis., at the home of Sara Uttech. Credit Darren Hauck for The New York Times

The book-club boom is nationwide. Should you live in the Miami area, you can hang with “Book Babes”; in San Francisco, drop in at “The Mind-Benders Book Club.” In Waco, Tex., check out “A Good Book and a Glass of Wine,” which has 21 members (women only) and is always looking for new ones. All you have to do is go online.

You can find book clubs that appeal to gender- and sexual-preference constituencies (“The Queer Lady and Lesbian Book Club”); African-Americans (“Sassy Sistahs Book Club”); the young (“The Stamford 20s/30s Book Club”) and the old (every town seems to have a senior citizens club); proponents of porn (“The Smutty Book Club”); and fans of a single author (“The Roberto Bolaño Book Club”).

The ubiquitous book club


Quote of the Day

I haven’t told why I wrote the book, but I haven’t told you why I sneeze, either. A book is a sneeze.” ~ E.B. White


Alma Alexander

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What did your first tweet say?

My first tweet wasn’t exactly profound.

“Hello world”

was all it said.

Flavorwire looked up “The First Tweets of 25 Writers We Love” and none of them were actually profound, but some some were … er, interesting. For example:

I did it. I’m here. Consider this a trial period, like a trial separation, or bisexuality. If I’m not famous in three months, I’m gone.— Rachel Shukert

hi, i’m gary shteyngart, a furry 39-year-old immigrant man trapped in a young dachshund’s body. LOVE ME!!!!!!!!!!!— Gary Shteyngart 

First author tweets


I bet you didn’t know that….

Tom SawyerVia

‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ is the first book written with a typewriter.


A  Christmas CarolCharles Dickens wrote ‘A Christmas Carol’ in six weeks.


50 booksJ.R.R. Tolkien typed the entire ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy with two fingers.

Justin Carissimo of BuzzFeed offers us “50 Books You’ll Never Read The Same Way Again” after reading these odd facts.

Believe it or not


22 Strong Female Characters In Literature We All Wanted To Be

BuzzFeed recently asked their editors “Who was the first strong female character in literature you related to?”

If I had to pick from their choices, I’d go with Jo March from Little Women.

Out of AfricaBut I was struck by the illustration from Out of Africa. Karen Blixen’s book has always spoken to me because of its powerful opening line:


“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”


Since the first time I met Karen Blixen, I’ve been transfixed by that first line. This is someone writing from love and memory, a sentence steeped in the scent of regret and remembrance, looking back at something forever lost.

My own foothold in Africa was not a coffee plantation on the slopes of a Kenyan mountain – but I walked those metaphorical dusty roads anyway. I touched Africa, and it touched me, and there is a mark where it touched me which will never go away again.

An essay I wrote about it some time ago is linked below if you are interested.

But first check out BuzzFeed’s choices of strong fictional characters. What is your favorite?

Strong females in literature

And then read my essay on Africa HERE


Wow, Kelly Barnhill’s blog posts always leave me awed.

 “When Light Balances Dark: on wrong numbers, new life, certain death, and the slumbering spark.”

 Balance the unbalanceable


How Mark Twain became Mark Twain

Mark TwainBen Tarnoff tells the amazing story of the lectures that made Twain a superstar. He was broke, tired of being a freelancer and bored in California. One trip and some lectures changed everything.

Mark Twain, superstar


Never Before Uttered

“Last week a former Royal Marine who is the boyfriend of the model Kelly Brooks crashed into a bus stop while driving a van carrying a load of dead badgers.”

 “I mention this, “Geoffrey K. Pullum writes in Language Log, “solely to remind you that linguists are not kidding when they say … that your command of English enables you to understand sentences that have never occurred before in the entire history of the human species.”


 Never Before Uttered


Quote of the Day

 “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” ?Nora Ephron


Alma Alexander

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Their drugs of choice

And here I sit looking forlornly at my coffee. Honestly, I feel TAME. Not that I’m a genius, but they’re talking about creativity here, and all these people apparently needed the equivalent of rocket fuel to turbocharge their mental engines. Does the fact that I can function on mere coffee instead of “cocaline elixirs” (doesn’t that sound elegant?) make me a better or worse creative than some of the following folks?

These intellectual luminaries indulged, Robert T. Gonzalez tell us, and asks: Is intelligence related to an increased likelihood of recreational drug use?

It’s an interesting hypothesis, and one that’s been gaining momentum in recent years. Let’s meet 10 of history’s most influential scientific and technological visionaries, along with their drugs of choice.

Sigmund Freud — Cocaine

FreudTo Freud, cocaine was more than a personal indulgence; he regarded it as a veritable wonder drug, and for many years was a huge proponent of its use in a wide array of applications. In a letter written to his fianceé, Martha, Freud wrote: “If all goes well, I will write an essay [on cocaine] and I expect it will win its place in therapeutics by the side of morphine and superior to it … I take very small doses of it regularly against depression and against indigestion and with the most brilliant of success.”

10 creative druggies


Really Harsh Reviews of 20 Classic 20th-Century Novels

In 1998, the Modern Library polled its editorial board to determine the 100 best novels published that century. While these classics are adored with the benefit of time and hindsight, they weren’t universally loved when they were first published. Here are 20 harsh reviews of some of the best novels of the 20th century.

the Sun Also RisesThe Sun Also Rises first edition, fair use, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Hemingway’s debut novel about masculinity and the Lost Generation typifies the sparse and powerful writing style that his subsequent work would become known for. Some critics still believe it is his most important work. His mother Grace, on the other hand, did not. In a letter she wrote that Hemingway kept all his life, his mother said, “What is the matter? Have you ceased to be interested in loyalty, nobility, honor and fineness in life … surely you have other words in your vocabulary besides ‘damn’ and ‘bitch’—Every page fills me with a sick loathing—if I should pick up a book by any other writer with such words in it, I should read no more—but pitch it in the fire.”  It would seem that mother, in fact, may not know best.

Harsh reviews


The 10 Most Annoying Teenagers From Books

We’ll be the first to admit that being a teenager is pretty rough,” Huff Post Books says. Acne, battling with hormones, battling with frenemies, battling with parents, thinking you’re right about everything only to be told constantly that you’re wrong. It’s the worst.

That being said, once you reach adulthood, you realize how annoying you were as a teenager, and often look back on this time period with mortification and regret about all the horrible things you said and did (sorry, Mom!).

While we do think that all of the following teens are ridiculously annoying, we feel their pain.

Little WomenAmy March from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women

Who doesn’t hate Amy March? Remember how she throws all of Jo’s writing in the fire?! Oh, didn’t you just want to slap her in her little smug face? And then she grows up to marry Laurie, which is just so, so wrong on so, so many levels. Ugh, Amy. Didn’t falling through the ice teach you anything?

Those annoying teens


15 Books To Spark Your Feminist Awakening

We asked women on BuzzFeed’s editorial staff what book gave them their “a-ha!” feminist moment. A starter guide to your feminist reading collection from Katie Heaney, BuzzFeed Staff

Hidden Face of

The Hidden Face of Eve, Nawal El Saadawi

“[This book] was one of the first times I looked at Western society through the eyes of a woman who was completely outside the culture rather than straddling the line, like myself and other marginalized people living inside the society. The similarities I saw between the two of us gave me a greater understanding of intersectionality, and it really illustrated and highlighted for me the need for womanism. It made me think of women globally, rather than locally, which is an incredibly powerful thing.” —Tracy

HarrietHarriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh

“Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy (and its sequel, The Long Secret) are books I read when I was under 10 years old. Though Harriet came out in 1964, it was utterly contemporary. Harriet is a curious and smart kid, and I found a template in her. It was only later that I realized how rare it was, especially for the time, that she doesn’t care about how she looks, she fears no one, and she’s friends with both girls and boys. What an important character! I can’t wait to read the books to my sons when they’re old enough.” —Kate

Feminist  books



The original Cybermage?

Cybermage When I coined the word Cybermage for my HarperCollins young adult novel of the same name, I never thought of him.

The reissue of WORLDWEAVERS Cybermage by Sky Warrior Books is now out in both ebook form and in print.



Cybermage?Gandalf checks his emails behind the scenes in the set of the Hobbit – Imgur


Are Stonehenge’s Boulders Actually Big Bells?

StonehengeSome of the structure’s ‘bluestones’ ring when struck with a hammer.

Countless theories and tools have attempted to make sense of the set of raised stones and earthworks in the south of England, categorizing it as an astronomical calendar, a healing site, a burial ground, or all of them at once.

Now, Robinson Meyer writes in The Atlantic, a study from the Royal College of Art in London has suggested a new possibility: The monument might make music.

The music of Stonehenge


Life Is Like Blue Jelly

Margaret Mead Discovers the Meaning of Existence in a Dream, Maria Popova tells us at Brain Pickings.

Margaret MeadMargaret Mead: Last night I had the strangest dream. I was in a laboratory with Dr. Boas and he was talking to me and a group of other people about religion, insisting that life must have a meaning, that man couldn’t live without that. Then he made a mass of jelly-like stuff of the most beautiful blue I had ever seen — and he seemed to be asking us all what to do with it. I remember thinking it was very beautiful but wondering helplessly what it was for. People came and went making absurd suggestions. Somehow Dr. Boas tried to carry them out — but always the people went away angry, or disappointed — and finally after we’d been up all night they had all disappeared and there were just the two of us. He looked at me and said, appealingly “Touch it.” I took some of the astonishingly blue beauty in my hand, and felt with a great thrill that it was living matter. I said “Why it’s life — and that’s enough” — and he looked so pleased that I had found the answer — and said yes “It’s life and that is wonder enough.”

 Life Is Like Blue Jelly


Quote of the Day

Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” ~ John Green, The Fault in Our Stars


Alma Alexander

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No more boys-only books

Gender-specific books demean all our children – or so says Katy Guest, the literary editor of The Independent, and therefore her paper will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex.

Bully for her!

Sugar and spice and all things nice, that’s what little girls are made of, she writes. And boys? They’re made of trucks and trains and aeroplanes, building blocks, chemistry experiments, sword fights and guns, football, cricket, running and jumping, adventure and ideas, games, farts and snot, and pretty much anything else they can think of.

At least, that’s the impression that children are increasingly given by the very books that are supposed to broaden their horizons.

 A good read is just that. Ask any child, regardless of gender.

 No more gender-specific books


Boys Will Be Boys, and Girls Will Be Accommodating

In her blog, Laurel Snyder (I write books, chase after children, and talk too much) explains why ‘boy books’ aren’t always the solution

I have seen it happen time and again. A mom or dad looks down at a book and sees a girl on the cover and says something like, “No, not that one. I have a son. I need a boy book.”

It’s conventional wisdom. Boys read: fart jokes, battle scenes, and cartoons. Girls read fairies, princesses, and anything pink. (Of course, given the success of The Hunger Games, we can assume that if you introduce enough battle scenes, boys will read a book about a girl, but probably only then.)

Hunger games (But) when we assume that boys won’t read books with girls on the cover, and then institutionalize that assumption by leaving the “girlie” books out of award nominations, we insult them …by suggesting that boys have … an inability to imagine a world beyond their own most obvious understanding.

In the same stroke, we neglect our girls…because when they see those awards, they also learn something —to accept a world in which they are rarely the central players. They learn, at a formative age, that the “best” books are the ones about boys.


Hmmm. No comment.

The dangers of reading less

The UK is divided in terms of reading, with those who read less more likely to be male, under 30 and with lower levels of qualifications, happiness, and satisfaction in their lives, a new study says.

Readers rule


Avid Reader Leaves Library $6 Million in Her Will

Simply because she loved to read, Lotte Fields bequeathed $6 million to the New York Public Library after her death.

A reader’s will


How do you get art from chaos?

ViralNova takes a look at the work of Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada, a Cuban-American contemporary artist. When you see his works, you won’t know what to think, no matter what type of art you typically connect wth. You’ll be so confused… that is, until you zoom out. Then, it just gets crazy.

Jorge specializes in making large-scale works out of art.

Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada-before

And they only begin to take shape…

Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada afterWhen you’re REALLY zoomed out.

Art from chaos


Five Crime Novels Where Women are the True Detectives

Female detectives were bringing new twists to the classic tropes“, Ujala Sehgal writes at The Millions. “Some of the best mysteries I was reading had women cracking the cases.”

This is a short list of crime novels (many of them the start of series) where there’s a woman in charge. You might discover, like me, that you’re an accidental fan of the female detective.

Garnethill Garnethill begins when Maureen O’Donnell wakes up with a terrible hangover to find the dead body of her lover, a psychiatrist at the outpatient clinic she attends, tied up dead in her living room. There are clues in the room that point to Maureen’s own trauma as an incest survivor — secret pieces of her personal history that almost no one knows about. Looking to clear her name, Maureen and her close friend Leslie, a domestic violence shelter employee, begin uncovering a horror story of abuse at the local psychiatric hospital.


Women the crime solvers


How the other half lives

A Cruise Ship on which residents live permanently as it travels the world

The WorldImage (c) Rick Stemmler

The World is a private residential cruise ship serving as a residential community, owned by its residents who live on board as the ship travels the globe, MessyNessy reports.

It has 165 residences (106 apartments, 19 studio apartments, and 40 studios), all owned by the ship’s Residents who can decorate with their own furniture, art, books and personal touches. There’s a deli and supermarket onboard and six restaurants if you didn’t feel like doing the washing up in your own kitchen.

Cruising forever


Quote of the Day

But sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going…I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. ~ Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast


Alma Alexander

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Comments welcome. What do you think?


Snarking the Cover

No, I get it. ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, and all that. BUT WE DO. It’s the first thing we see, the first aspect of the book that we meet. A good cover is a real asset. Some of these from Christina at Reader of Fictions? … er… well… not so much.

Sure, that enthusiastic ‘Hey! Let’s put a doe’s head on the body of a woman wearing a tutu and ballet shoes!’ sounds AWESOME in a planning meeting. But surely the first first rough sketches would have tickled someone’s sense of the weird far enough to go, ‘er, anything else on the drawing board?’

Christina is a “twenty-something librarian” and book reviewer who also offers us Cover Snark, where the people are snarky and the covers quiver in fear. “Since I don’t write many snarky book reviews here on A Reader of Fictions, Cover Snark is my outlet.”

 Some examples:

Hair cover 



Thoughts: No, I really wouldn’t believe the things she sees, since her HAIR IS IN HER FACE. She sees hair.









Thoughts: What a funny looking Cyberman.






Cover Snarks


Required Reading: 40 Books Set in the Pacific Northwest

 Some books celebrating my current home, the Pacific Northwest, or the Great Northwet as one friend calls it.

 The books were chosen by the staff of Powell’s Books. “Whether you’re from the area or you simply appreciate the region for its beauty, history, or temperament (or legendary bookstore), these titles will give you a more nuanced understanding of this peculiar corner of the U.S.”

 Lathe of HeavenThe Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Northwest’s very own SFWA Grand Master writes a philosophical novel set in Portland, Oregon. George Orr goes to sleep and awakes in the world of his dreams — still Portland, but… different. Now anytime he goes to sleep, the world is capable of shifting, and no one seems to notice. What is the true world? How does one bear such a gigantic responsibility? Big-idea sci-fi at its finest. ~ Recommended by Kaila


Mink RiverMink River, by Brian Doyle

Mink River is Pacific Northwest fiction at its finest. Doyle plunges us head first into the lives of the residents of a soggy, fictional Oregon coast town, Neawanaka. Rich with both Native American and Irish storytelling, Mink River lets us inside the raw, honest lives of ordinary people and makes us see the extraordinary in them. Long after you have read this novel, you will find yourself wondering what the characters are doing now and hoping that all is well in the fictional little town you’ve come to love. ~ Koa


Roadside Attraction


Another Roadside Attraction, by Tom Robbins

In this funny, rambling tale about a pair of counterculture roadside attraction operators, Robbins asks: What if Jesus wasn’t really resurrected? True to form, his first novel explores spirituality while questioning organized religion and social mores through philosophical parables and clever prose. ~ Genevieve A.


40 must-reads


Women, Books, and Oscar: 10 Brilliant Books That Gave Women Excellent Roles

Okay, we know Bette Davis didn’t actually win for Of Human Bondage but it’s such a great performance she should have, the Off the Shelf staff says. Every actress in this list had a career-making turn in her part-based-on-a-book. Each of these woman captured their character so well that we only see them now when reading the book.

The first in their list:

Of Human Bondage


Of Human Bondage, by W. Somerset Maugham

 The story of Philip Carey, a sensitive orphan born with a club foot who is eager for life, love and adventure. After a few months studying in Heidelberg, and a brief spell in Paris as a would-be artist, he settles in London to train as a doctor where he meets Mildred, the loud but irresistible waitress with whom he plunges into a tortured and masochistic affair. There is no more powerful story of sexual infatuation, of human longing for connection and freedom.




Great roles for women


What It’s Like To Live At A Bookstore In Paris

Young writers are invited to stay at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris for free, Krystie Lee Yandoli of BuzzFeed reports, as long as they work in the bookstore for a couple of hours every day and commit to reading and writing every single day.

Shakespeare books

Shakespeare2 Molly Dektar, a 23-year-old MFA student at Brooklyn College, lived at Shakespeare and Company in January and June 2013. “One minute I was a visitor just like any other, and the next minute I was welcomed in to this huge, historic community of writers and expatriates,” Molly said

“I aimed to read a book a day but it wasn’t entirely possible. Still, the goal is spiritually important and should be taken seriously.”

 Living in a bookstore


The 19 Most Charming Places On Earth, Too Perfect To Be Real

Hidden all over the world are towns that you may think only exist in your dreams, Viral Tales reports. They are villages full of quintessential charm, almost too perfect to be real. However, these dream towns really do exist. Here are 19 towns that are so beautiful, you will scarcely believe that they aren’t movie sets.

Wengen, SwitzerlandWengen, Switzerland – SergiyN / iStock

Shirakawa, JapanShirakawa, Japan – del.Monaco

Living in beauty


At 90, she still is running the store

The white-haired woman in Manila is short but stands straight, in a pink blouse and flat shoes, with mostly unwrinkled skin, a wide nose and a broad smile that nearly leaps from her face when she laughs, Mitch Albom reports in the Detroit Free Press. “You ask her the secret of her longevity, and she says, ‘Work every day’.”

Socorro Ramos When asked about the early days of her first bookstore, opened during World War II, Socorro Ramos rolls her eyes and says the Japanese soldiers censored every publication, ripping out the pages they didn’t like. After a while, she feared selling American books at all because — she runs a finger across her throat — “the Japanese cut your head off.”


Socorro and her husband Jose started the bookstore in 1942. Who opens a bookstore during a war? They got by selling candies, soaps and slippers because books were just too dangerous. She let them pile up in the back until the fighting was over.


Still running the store


Quote of the Day

The love of books is a love which requires neither justification, apology, nor defense.” ~  J.A. Langford


Alma Alexander

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