Thursday, December 16, 2010

December's Compendium of Literary Links

'tis the season of "Best of 2010" lists. And far from it from me to be a Grinch. So this month's compendium of literary links has some decidedly "best of" flair — but not in the traditional sense. Here, you'll find everything from the year's best book-related videos to the annual Tournament of Books. Enjoy!

1. The Millions' A Year in Reading — It's always fun to find out what famous authors are reading, right? The Millions has been posting a guest-written article a day from writers like Margaret Atwood, Lionel Shriver (who I just recently discovered is a woman! Holy George Eliot, Batman!), and Sam Lipsyte. A lot of these favorite authors' favorite books are rather obscure — for instance, Tom McCarthy, author of C, picked a book published in 1971 by someone named Ingeborg Bachmann. Got that one? But I thought it ironic that the author (Michael Cunningham) of one of my least favorite books this year (By Nightfall) chose Room, by Emma Donoghue, one of my favorites of this year, as his favorite. But then he also picked The Hunger Games, at which I thumb my non-YA, non-sci-fi-reading nose. ;)

2. Book Videos: 19 of the Best and Worst — Cheers to The Huffington Post for collecting these book-related videos and book trailers in one easy-to-view spot. The idea of the "book trailer" really took off in 2010, and while opinions are generally mixed, mine's not: I love 'em. And my favorite of the 19? Tie between Denis Leary and James Franco with Gary Shteyngart. Both hilarious. What's your favorite?

3. The 2011 Tournament of Books — To paraphrase The Simpsons, this annual tradition is one of my favorite yearly customs. The longlist for the tournament was just announced, so as to give holiday shoppers a good list. It includes just about all the heavy-hitters you'd expect. The tournament will be pared down to 16 in January, and the winner announced in March. I wish there was somewhere you could gamble on this, like the NCAA Tournament. But I'm happy to see The Instructions made the longlist — that is my choice for most underrated book of 2010. What book is your pick to win?  (Also, if you can explain in 100 words why you'd like to be a judge, you might just get to be a judge. The deadline to enter is this Sunday, Dec. 19.)

4. Letters To Santa By Shakespeare Characters — Right off the bat, we have Ophelia asking for a "He's Just Not That Into You" book and DVD. It gets better from there. God bless you, McSweeney's.

5. 12 Common Misperceptions About Book Publishing — This article from The Nervous Breakdown by writer J.E. Fishman is one of the most interesting, comprehensive, no-nonsense pieces on publishing I've ever seen. It's a must-read for anyone interested in the biz. (Side note: E-book price-whiners: Pay special attention to No. 12.)

6. The Top Five Sins of the Book Reviewer — Today's post is my 100th post of 2010, so I hope you'll allow me the sell-indulgence of linking back to my favorite post of the year — not because I think it's the best-written or anything but because it generated the most (and most interesting) feedback. Cheers!


  1. I'm very excited about the Tournament of Books. I've read five on the list, gave up on two others, have another 13 either in hand or on the library waitlist, so I guess I know what I'll be reading from this point forward! The Instructions is one that I have, but haven't read. However, I'm also a big fan of Room, as well as A Visit From the Goon Squad and The Imperfectionists.

  2. I always look forward to your collection of links and I love the Letters to Santa by Shakespeare Characters!

  3. When I read Cunningham's Year in Reading, I thought "Wait, Michael Cunningham a book blogger?" ROOM and the HUNGER GAMES trilogy both have to be in the top 5 blogged about books this year. And I am a big fan of the Tournament of Books too. Actually working on a breakdown for my own blog right now....

  4. Your link posts are some of my favorite posts of the month!
    I loved the Shakespeare letters to Santa. I need to start lurking around the McSweenys sign instead of just popping up when i see a cool link

  5. Thanks for sharing these links. I really enjoyed the letters to Santa from Shakespeare characters. The Falstaff one is my favorite. I'm also happy you linked to your "Sins of the Book Reviewer" post. That was a good one :) Can we be expecting a top ten of 2011 from you, Greg?

  6. Got to agree with you, Greg, I'm only 40 pages into the "Instructions" -- a thousand more to go, but I can already tell Levin loses nothing to this exceedingly long form. He really is one of the up and coming writers to watch, which -- with all due modesty -- I've been saying since last spring!

  7. Thanks for the links, especially the Letters to Santa; by the time I got to Falstaff's, everyone in my house was demanding to know what was so funny!

  8. @Amy - I think I'm going to have to read Goon Squad. The Reading Ape picked it as his winner already. The Instructions is awesome - but exhausting too. I'll review it later this week.

    @Red - Hey, thanks! Yeah, those are awesome. Puck wants: "— An Indian boy (Not for me, it's a present for my boss. Must be authentic, and not a cheap Chinese knock-off.) " Dying laughing....

    @Ape - Ha, good point about Cunningham. I wonder if he threw in Hunger Games to (artificially?) show that he really is a man of the people.

    @Letter4no1 - Yeah, me too - I tell myself every year I'm going to subscribe to McSweeney's...then never do. I don't even know how expensive it is.

    @Brenna - Hey, thanks! Yeah, I'm gonna do a Top something of 2010 list eventually. First, I need to figure out what would be on it.

    @Matt Rowan - I'm down to the last 100 pages of The Instructions - and as exhausting as it is at times, it's still one of the more mesmerizing pieces of fiction I've read in awhile. You're right - I remember reading about The Instructions and Levin on your blog much earlier this year. Can't wait for his short story collection next spring!

    @Jeanne - Yeah, those are great. Romeo and Juliet want a Personal Instant Messenger. Ha!