News & Notes is a weekly Saturday post featuring book- and publishing-related news, links to interesting articles and opinion pieces, and other cool stuff
- Hamilton Mania Inspires the Library of Congress to Put 12,000 Alexander Hamilton Documents Online (Open Culture)
- School librarian rejects First Lady’s donation of books, saying they should go to a school with fewer resources. She also argued for choosing books with a wider diversity of characters. Ms. Trump had donated 10 Dr. Seuss books. (The Guardian)
- Latino Authors Celebrated at Annual Book Awards (Publishers Weekly)
- The Hurricane Relief Bookstore offers SFF ebooks and emagazines for sale, with 100% of profits going to hurricane relief and recovery. Prices are higher than at other retailers, but presumably that’s to boost profits and therefore funding. (Or you could just make a direct donation elsewhere.)
- UK’s National Poetry Library launches appeal to collect poetry in endangered languages like Irish Gaelic, Assyrian, and Basque. (The Guardian)
- Merriam-Webster adds 250 new words to their online dictionary, including sriracha, froyo, troll (in the internet sense, as a verb), alt-right, and ransomware. Alas, the blog post doesn’t list all 250 new terms. (Merriam-Webster.com)
- Irish publisher refuses ‘sexist’ submissions addressed “Dear sirs” (The Guardian)
- Seattle Mystery Bookshop to close (Shelf Awareness)
- To Tweet or Not to Tweet: “A growing number of YA authors are posting about previously taboo topics” like politics. (Publishers Weekly)
- Cover design: Why are UK and US book jackets often so different? (The Guardian)
- Bargain Books in the Digital Age: “The rebound in print sales has helped stabilize the remainder market.” (Judith Rosen, Publishers Weekly)
- A new scholarly book “Highlight[s] Hobby Lobby Owners’ Path from Retail Giant to Bible Curators . “…Biblical scholars Candida Moss and Joel Baden question the ethics behind some of the Green’s acquisitions and the way the museum is being presented as a nonsectarian “Christian Smithsonian.” (Shannon Hill, Publishers Weekly)
- Banned Books Week: In 2017, censorship comes from an outraged public (Allison Flood, The Guardian)
And then there’s this…
The NY Times Book Review published “A Roundup of The Season’s Romances” by Robert Gottleib that got a lot of romance readers steamed up—as in angry—and with good reason. Gottlieb, an 86-year-old man who is neither the target audience nor a fan of the genre, is condescending, patronizing, and oddly clueless about the romance side of romance, focusing instead on the sex (with quotes apparently cherry-picked for a combination of salaciousness and poor writing.) Or, in the case of Barbara Cartland, the lack thereof. Cartland? Excuse me? In 2017??!!! Even the first book he discusses is not exactly new: Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I (originally published in 2000.) It seems an odd choice for an article about “the season’s romances.” Oh, and then there’s his casual racism. And his complete missing of the whole point of romance: the building of a romantic (emotional) relationship, leading to a HEA. And his dismissal of the whole genre as “harmless.” This of a genre that makes up 34% of US fiction sales, with sales of over $1 billion per year. (source)
I could go on and on about why Gottlieb’s article infuriated me, but instead, I’m going to point you to some terrific responses and takedowns by other writers and bloggers:
- Start with the comments on the article itself. Some of them are great. I particularly like Jaya’s response. Then read…
- SB Sarah’s response on the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog, which also references some good twitter threads.
- All the Dumb Things You Can Say About Romance Novels, In One Convenient Place (Ron Hogan, Medium), which is brilliant and funny and feminist.
- I Drank Wine and Read the NY Time Romance Roundup (Amanda Diehl, Book Riot), which comes pretty close to expressing my own outrage.
- My Overdue Defense of the Romance Genre (Lauren Layne), which also makes some very good points (most of them the same, at this point, but obviously THEY STILL NEED SAYING, or we wouldn’t be subjected to pieces like Gottlieb’s.
- and finally, Robert Gottlieb is obviously smitten, in which Olivia Waite, after pointing out some of the more egregious problems with the book, makes a tongue-in-cheek but also convincing argument that Gottlieb is in the process of falling for the genre he’s so dismissive of. I don’t know if she’s right, but the same thing occurred to me… and it will at least leave you with a smile on your face. (Seattle Review of Books)
Great Blog Posts
- Banned Book Week: On Banning Books (Musings of a Bookish Kitty, aka LiteraryFeline)
- Banned Books Week 2017: Some Celebrations and Links (Bea’s Book Nook)
Book & Movie Announcements
- Peter Rabbit is getting an origin story… from Sony Pictures. And it turns out everyone’s favorite bunny (voiced by James Corden) is pretty naughty. It’s no wonder Mr. McGregor is so set on catching him. (Personally, I think I’ll stick to the lovely British series of animated Beatrix Potter tales based on Potter’s own drawings, but we’ll see.) (IndieWire, with trailer)
- 15 Challenged Books Retitled As Clickbait (Book Riot)
That’s it for this week!