Thursday, July 11th, 2013

July Early Reviewers batch is up!

The July 2013 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 157 books this month, and a grand total of 4,445 copies to give out.

First, make sure to sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing address and make sure it’s correct.

Then request away! The list of available books is here:
http://www.librarything.com/er/list

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, July 29th at 6 p.m. EDT.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, and more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

The Permanent Press Taylor Trade Publishing Tundra Books
Lion Fiction Putnam Books Palgrave Macmillan
Random House Akashic Books Blacksmith Books
Quirk Books Henry Holt and Company Minotaur Books
Del Rey Penguin Young Readers Group Gefen Publishing House
Coffeetown Press CarTech Books Monico
Open Lens Delacorte Press Spiegel & Grau
Crown Publishing Candlewick Press Kayelle Press
Bethany House Chosen Books Gray & Company, Publishers
Libertine Press Mythos Press Enigma Press
Enigma Press Grimoire Press Sentient Publications
GMTA Publishing, LLC Celestial Press Ballantine Books
Petra Books BookViewCafe Riverhead Books
Bantam Dell PublicAffairs Gotham Books
JournalStone Seventh Rainbow Publishing William Morrow
Plume Orca Book Publishers Booktrope
W.W. Norton Elate Press Apex Publications
Galaxy Audio MSI Press Viva Editions
Cleis Press Oxford University Press Marble City Publishing
McFarland February Books Humanist Press
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers Sheridan House Georgetown University Press
Wayman Publishing Demos Health Five Rivers Publishing

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Saturday, July 6th, 2013

New Legacy Library projects: Truman, Voltaire

We’ve got a couple fun new Legacy Libraries projects in the works, and welcome volunteers to help us catalog the books!

Harry Truman’s “home study” library from his Independence, Missouri residence is already in LibraryThing (see it at the Harry Truman profile page), but we now also have a list of books from his “working office” at the Harry S Truman Library and Museum to add, so let’s get to it!

See the Talk thread or jump right to the project wiki page to get started and claim your section of the library list. No worries if you haven’t worked on a Legacy Libraries project before – this is definitely a good introduction to them! I’ll be helping out too, and will answer any questions you have on the Talk thread.

We’re also currently getting started on Voltaire’s library, which may be a little trickier but still promises to be great fun! You can watch progress on this one here, and please feel free to jump in and help (given the nature of Voltaire’s collection, we’re looking at you, French/Russian readers!).

There’s a discussion thread where we’re figuring out a good work-plan for this one, and a wiki page where you can claim a section and add some books.

Have fun, and thanks in advance for joining us on these!

Labels: legacy libraries

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

June Early Reviewers batch is up!

The June 2013 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 106 books this month, and a grand total of 2,865 copies to give out.

First, make sure to sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing address and make sure it’s correct.

Then request away! The list of available books is here:
http://www.librarything.com/er/list

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, June 24th at 6 p.m. EDT.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, and more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Henry Holt and Company Taylor Trade Publishing Putnam Books
Riverhead Books The Permanent Press Prufrock Press
Random House Candlewick Press Tundra Books
Crown Publishing Algonquin Books Plume
Palgrave Macmillan Pintail Ballantine Books
Sakura Publishing Marble City Publishing Apex Publications
Dundurn Information Today, Inc. koehler Books
Nonstop Press Bethany House Pixel Hall Press
Penguin Group (USA) In Fact Books Greenleaf Book Group
Akashic Books February Partners WaterBrook Press
Cleis Press Alaskan Gothic Press Humanist Press
Quirk Books Thames River Press Whitepoint Press
Open Books BookViewCafe Arabella Publishing
McFarland Human Kinetics Orca Book Publishers
JournalStone Garnet Publishing Chosen Books
Booktrope Dragonwell Publishing December House
Del Rey Wayman Publishing Penguin Young Readers Group
Istoria Books

Labels: early reviewers

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Author interview: Julie Wu on “The Third Son”

For the May State of the Thing newsletter, I had the chance to interview Julie Wu about her debut novel The Third Son (Algonquin Books). Julie studied literature at Harvard and medicine at Columbia, and received a 2012 fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She lives near Boston.

Can you tell us about the origins of The Third Son? Do you recall which part of the story came to you first?

My first inkling of the main character was in 1989. I was sitting in my parents’ suburban Boston kitchen and suddenly had the image of a little boy on the floor of his parents’ house in Taiwan. It was the first time I’d ever visualized a scene so vividly. I rushed to my typewriter to record the musty smell, the dark floorboards, and the boy’s sadness. Thinking back on it now, I believe that boy was Saburo.

How did the story change during the research and writing process?

In 1989 I tried to make that boy the protagonist of a different book entirely—one set in contemporary suburban America in a Taiwanese-American household. That book stalled when I asked my parents questions for background information and I realized how boring my book was in comparison with their actual lives. I was resistant, though, to the idea of basing a book on my parents’ story.

It was 2002 when I finally sat down to interview my parents in earnest. I was pregnant with my first child and maybe had gained some perspective, as well as an understanding that my opportunities to find out my parents’ stories were finite. My first draft was very much based on their lives, but over the following years I learned that in order to make the story a universally appealing, cohesive, suspenseful, and satisfying work, I would have to feel absolutely free to take liberties with the story, the plot, the characters, etc. Now the book is its own self-contained story. Of course, despite that I made every effort to make sure the book is historically accurate.

The early sections of the book are set in Taiwan during a particularly tumultuous period in its history (which I’d venture to guess many of your American readers probably won’t be familiar with). Can you recommend some further reading on the history of Taiwan that interested readers might turn to?

There’s a classic work by George Kerr called Formosa Betrayed. George Kerr was an American diplomat at the time of the February 28 massacres in 1947, and his account of the events on Taiwan and his colleagues’ efforts to get the American government to intervene are both devastating and eye-opening.

Another interesting account is Peng Ming-Min’s autobiography, A Taste of Freedom: Memoirs of a Formosan Independence Leader, in which he describes his arrest for trying to distribute a manifesto for Taiwanese independence. Peng conceals the details of his dramatic escape to Sweden to protect his friends, but more recently, in the book Fireproof Moth, American missionary Milo Thornberry describes exactly how he and others helped mastermind Peng’s escape. There are museums in Taiwan that document the events of 1947 and the subsequent White Terror. These include the Taipei 228 Museum, the National 228 Museum, Jing-Mei Human Rights Memorial Park (a former military court prison) in Taipei, as well as the Green Island Human Rights Memorial Park on Green Island, on the site of the offshore prison where long-term political prisoners were held. The website associated with the Green Island museum is maintained by its designer, Ronald Tsao, and is quite extensive and informative: http://2011greenislanden.wordpress.com.

When and where do you do most of your writing?

I write mostly in my dining room and in the public library. I probably get the most done in the library, because there I’m not distracted by the pantry and the refrigerator, and I’m too embarrassed to sit around just doing Facebook.

Any particular writing tips you’d like to share?

Don’t worry about getting stuff out fast. Make your work the best it can be. Agents and editors are just people like everyone else. If tons of them don’t connect to your work, that means tons of other readers won’t either. If that matters to you, figure out why and fix it.

What’s your library like? What sorts of books would we find on your shelves?

My library is a jumble of all kinds of books—high-falutin’ French literature from college that I can’t understand anymore, Taiwanese history books, parenting books and travel guides, medical textbooks, and, of course stacks, and stacks of wonderful novels of all genres, famous and not-so-famous, many of them authored by friends.

For more about Julie’s next project, some of her favorite libraries, and more, read the rest of our interview.


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Labels: author interview, state of the thing

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Author interview: Jennifer McVeigh on “The Fever Tree”

Some excerpts from my interview with Jennifer McVeigh, which appeared in the May State of the Thing newsletter. Jennifer studied English literature at Oxford and has worked in the film, television and radio industries. Her debut novel, The Fever Tree, was published by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam in April.

Give us, if you would, The Fever Tree in a nutshell, for those who haven’t yet had a chance to read it.

The Fever Tree is a novel about a woman who is forced to leave behind everything she has ever known, and emigrate to South Africa to marry a man she barely knows. It’s a novel about a country in the making, about diamonds and disease, love and redemption.

What part of the novel came to you first?

My husband and I were driving across the hot, dusty plains of Namibia in Southern Africa, when we passed a high wire fence cordoning off a diamond mine. I remember thinking—who were the men who first came here to mine for diamonds? What kind of lives did they lead, without running water or sanitation? And who were the women who came with them? When I came back to England I did some research, and became fascinated with the early days of the diamond rush in South Africa, when men travelled hundreds of miles to the diamond fields with little more than the shirts on their backs, and when fortunes could be won and lost on the luck of uncovering a stone.

What were some of the historical sources you found most interesting and useful as you wrote The Fever Tree?

I drew on a huge range of historical sources. The British Library was particularly useful, and it was there that I poured over guide books to South Africa, written in the 1880s, read Victorian newspapers published on the diamond fields, and discovered the diary which told the story of a smallpox epidemic which raged on the diamond mines—the true story which lies at the heart of the book. But there were other sources. It was in Kimberley, the famous diamond mining town, that I came across a book of old photographs taken on the diamond mines, which made real for me the lives of the men, women and children who camped in tents, in the dust and the filth, on the diamond fields, hoping to make their fortune.

How did your own experiences traveling in southern Africa come into play as you wrote the novel?

When I travelled in South Africa, I was fascinated and unsettled by its dark concoction of pioneer spirit and racism, by the brutality of its urban landscapes—with their sprawling townships which spoke of labour migration and forced evictions—and the astounding beauty and wildness of its countryside. These contradictions, I realised, had their roots in my story—in the discovery of diamonds, when men like Cecil Rhodes, driven by greed, used their political influence to create an economy based on lines of race. The more I learned, the more I was able to make sense of what I had seen in South Africa, and the people and attitudes that confronted me.

When and where do you do most of your writing?

Once the research is out of the way, most of the actual writing is done at home. At my desk, in bed, standing by the toaster. Anywhere where I can catch myself off guard and get words down on paper.

But wait, there’s more! Read the rest of our interview.


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Labels: author interview, state of the thing

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Thoughts toward a LibraryThing redesign

Labels: design

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Author interview: Colum McCann on “TransAtlantic”

For the May State of the Thing newsletter, I had the chance to interview Colum McCann, winner of the 2009 National Book Award in fiction for Let the Great World Spin. His new novel, TransAtlantic, will be published on June 4 by Random House.

TransAtlantic opens with three stories of voyages to Ireland: Frederick Douglass in 1845, Jack Alcock and Teddy Brown in 1919, and George Mitchell in 1998. How did you decide on these three, and were there other voyages that you considered using and decided not to?

I suppose that writers must always gravitate towards their obsessions, and one of my obsessions was the idea that Frederick Douglass went to Ireland, a black slave, in 1845, but he was also an author, an orator, an intellectual, a dandy, an abolitionist, a humanitarian, a contrarian. What a story! I was also obsessed with the idea of writing about peace and what it could possibly mean in this day and age, which made George Mitchell a fascinating subject. Alcock and Brown landed in between these narratives, in more sense than one: they almost split the time difference between 1845 and 1998. But these were the only stories I contemplated. They seemed to bridge each other perfectly.  They are—in my imagination at least—braided together. They inform one another.

Give us a sense of how this novel came together, if you would. Where did you begin, and how did you shape the narrative to create the final version of the story?

It began with Douglass. It continued with Mitchell. But it was bridged by Alcock and Brown, which was the section that came easiest to me. But the moment I knew I “had” the novel was when I realised it was much more about the supposedly anonymous corners of human experience. The story belonged to the women. That’s where the truth lay. It is, in a sense, a feminist novel.

The novel’s real main characters, of course, are the women whose stories are at its heart: four generations of women beginning with Lily Duggan. Tell us a bit about them, and are they also based on real characters in part, or are they entirely fictional creations?

They are entirely fictional. And yet they live and breathe for me as much (if not more) than the supposedly “real” characters. It is very much a novel about women and their intersection with history; it’s also a novel that hopefully forces a reader to confront what is “real” and what is not.

You must have done extensive research for this book: what were some of the sources you found particularly useful or compelling?

The further I go along in my career, the more I realise that books belong to others more than to myself. It feels to me that this book was a community effort and the grace of the book (if it has any grace) belongs to others. I am indebted to countless numbers of people. I am aware that this could sound coy, or full with false humility but the fact of the matter is that a writer gets his or her voice from the voices of others. We are indebted to those who have come before us.

In the acknowledgements you mention that George and Heather Mitchell “had the great grace to allow me to try to imagine my way into their world.” I’d love to know more about what you learned from Senator Mitchell and how you worked those details into the story.

George and Heather Mitchell are an amazing couple, an astounding story of love and resilience and decency. They allowed me, at first, to imagine their lives. Then they read the manuscript and were charming enough, and humble enough, to allow me any mistakes. So I wrote the section before I met Senator Mitchell, and then I shaped it to get as close to the truth as I thought I might possibly get. They helped me realise what it was that I wanted to eventually say.

What’s your favorite scene or line from TransAtlantic?

Oh, this is very much a “slice the baby” question. How can one choose? I suppose the last line is very important to me, though I very much like line 247 and line 822 (just kidding!). I am very proud of the Douglass section—that one broke my heart until I felt like I had properly captured him. But this is an impossible question and I’m delighted by its impossibility.

For more from Colum McCann, including some advice on writing, a few of his favorite authors, and what he’s been reading recently, read the rest of our interview.


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Labels: author interview, state of the thing

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Books received in Ghana!

We are very happy to report that nearly 3,000 books for the Bright Future School in Keta, Ghana have been successfully delivered and were happily received by the students there earlier this month!

Keith Goddard at Books Matter posted a short video on Facebook of the students saying “thank you,” so check that out if you can (it’s almost guaranteed to make you smile!). Keith reports that the school was actually on break when the books arrived, so there will be more pictures of the students with the books soon.

Earlier this month, another hundred books were presented to the library of the University of Health and Allied Sciences: Ghana TV was even on hand for the arrival of the books!

All of the books sent to Ghana this spring are cataloged on LibraryThing in the Books Matter account, and members have been helping out by adding tags to the library.

Keith is planning on sending the next batch of already-donated books to an orphanage in Kumasi, located in northern Ghana. The orphanage houses some two hundred residents ranging in age from six months to 20 years. The books will be cataloged and tagged on LibraryThing prior to shipment.

If you can help out by making a donation to help ship the books, it would be greatly appreciated! A gift of $1 basically funds the shipment of one book to Ghana, so every little bit helps! Head over to the Books Matter site and you can make a donation today. LibraryThing will be giving a $800 donation as well, from the funds raised by members adding events to LibraryThing Local over the winter.

For more on our Books to Ghana project and our partner Books Matter, see our announcement blog post. To help out with tagging the books or to discuss the project generally, chime in on the Talk thread.

Labels: books for ghana, gifts

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Join the June ReadaThing!

Mark your calendars! Coming up soon is a weeklong, start-of-summer June ReadaThing. All are welcome, and you don’t have to read for the full week: the goal is to have a few people from around the world reading at any given time during the ReadaThing.

The official start time will be at midnight on Tuesday, June 11 UTC/GMT: that’s 8 p.m. Monday in the Eastern US/Canada/LT time zone. This ReadaThing will run for a full week. See the time chart here.

For more information, see the announcement thread; to sign up, head right to the ReadaThing wiki. As we get closer to the date, watch the ReadaThing group for the “What will you be reading?” thread, and during the ReadaThing you can use the “Log Book” thread to document your ReadaThing experience.

If you haven’t participated in a ReadaThing before, give it a go if you can!

For more on ReadaThings, and to participate in planning future events, join the ReadaThing group.


* Summer reading spot photo submitted by LTer connie53.

Labels: readathon

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Better Twitter sharing for LT reviews

Mike has just pushed some new enhancements to review-sharing on Twitter. When you share a review, Twitter will now recognize the link as a LibraryThing review and you’ll see a “View summary” link below the text of your tweet. The summary view includes a headline, a cover image, and a short snippet from your review.

Here’s what one looks like:

If you haven’t already, connect your LibraryThing account to Twitter on the Sites/apps page (and be sure to say “yes” when Twitter asks if you want to grant us permission). Please note: LibraryThing never shares to Twitter without your explicit consent.

There are various places you can share, usually marked with the “share” icon (). Sharing is always available at the top right of the site. We also enable members to share to Facebook (for more on recent upgrades to Facebook sharing, see the Better Facebook sharing post.

Come discuss on Talk.

Labels: twitter