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"Reading isn't supposed
to be this much fun."
Spotlight on Black History in the Making
Our annual Spotlight on Black History, mailing today in the February 1, 2009, issue of Booklist—and available this morning on Booklist Online—contains a wealth of reviews and features: our Top 10 Black History Nonfiction; our Top 10 Black History Books for Youth; our Read-alikes: Before Barack; Andrea Davis Pinkney's fortieth-anniverary look at the Coretta Scott King Award; and new reviews of books for adults and children.
But rarely have black history and current events seemed so contemporaneous: we're reviewing Mongrel Nation: The America Begotten by Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, and meanwhile, a scant eight days ago, the son of an African man and an American woman took a solemn oath to serve as the president of the United States of America.
There's already a book about how that came to be, as you'll see from our Review of the Day, Evan Thomas' "A Long Time Coming": The Inspiring, Combative 2008 Campaign and the Historic Election of Barack Obama. In fact, in February, books will be published that treat the inauguration itself: a commemorative album that includes the inauguration speech; a journalistic document, by the staff of the New York Times; and a chapbook of Elizabeth Alexander's "Praise Song for the Day."
Recording something so recent in a book seems daunting, but today's technology allows publishers to turn things around faster than ever before. Authors may be subject to the same mental and physical constraints as ever, but once their manuscripts are done, it's a matter of weeks—not months or even years, as was once the case—before their writing can be made into books.
And, once something's in the books, of course, it's history.
P.S. Be sure to take a look at our newest blog, Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan's Bookends.
"A Long Time Coming": The Inspiring, Combative 2008 Campaign and the Historic Election of Barack Obama
Newsweek editor Thomas gathered the gleanings of various Newsweek colleagues to create an adroitly distilled chronicle of the 2008 presidential campaign and the election of Barack Obama, the first African American president of the U.S. This easily devoured, crisply anecdotal account, spiked with revealing, side-of-the-mouth comments, charts the most cautious and reckless of political maneuverings and provides in-action portraits of the major players, both obvious and behind-the-scenes. >>read more
The books below have been selected by Booklist editors. If you like "A Long Time Coming," you’re likely to like these—and, of course, vice versa.
On what seemed like the hottest day ever during the New Jersey Library Association meeting in 1970, 20 librarians bestowed the first Coretta Scott King Book Award . . . That first “ceremony” was a far cry from the Coretta Scott King Award breakfasts of today. >>read more
From stories of environmental activists to slavery during the Revolutionary War, the diverse selections featured in our Top 10 Black History Books for Youth, all reviewed in Booklist in the past year, present outstanding classroom and independent reading suggestions for a wide range of interests. >>read more
Our Top 10 Black History Nonfiction: 2009 list compiles the 10 best-reviewed books between February 15, 2008, and January 1 & 15, 2009. They cover half a millennium of history—and an even larger span of achievement. >>read more
Surely it will be a sign of the apocalypse when the critically beloved Elmore Leonard gets a bad review. Fortunately, we can continue to postpone the day of reckoning, thanks to Bill Ott's starred assessment of Road Dogs, a homecoming for a handful of Leonard’s most entertaining characters. >>read more
Books for Youth
Nine months before Rosa Parks' history-making protest on a city bus, a 15-year-old Montgomery, Alabama, high-school student was arrested and jailed for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger. Phillip Hoose limns her inspiring story in the exceptional Claudette Colvin: Twice toward Justice. >>read more
What qualities ensure the continued existence of a nation? And can we find these qualities in the real world, or must we turn to the pages of fiction? If the latter, will we get the same results if we listen to the story instead of reading it? You bet we will! Read Mary Burkey's review of Terry Pratchett's Nation, as read by Stephen Briggs. >>read more
What would you say if we told you that there was a reference work that devoted one page to each day since the founding of the United States? You'd think we were kidding, right? Well . . . you're right. Chronology of American History is far more efficient than our made-up reference work. >>read more
Monday, January 26, 2009 11:06 am
In case you aren’t in Denver or missed the live Web cast this morning, the winners of some of ALA’s most prestigious awards have been announced. And the awards go to:
Tuesday, January 20, 2009 1:19 pm
Barack Obama: the forty-fourth president of the United States of America.
Elizabeth Alexander: the fourth poet to read at a U.S. president’s inauguration.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 2:03 am
Looking for some good books for your book group? Why not check out this list of the best from last year just announced. Since 1944, the goal has been to list 25 great works that are readable.
Sunday, January 25, 2009 2:49 am
It feels so good to write those words! President Obama is a reader, as this recent New York Times article by esteemed critic Michiko Kakutani attests. Perhaps I should qualify that with a President who reads and even talks about books. The article mentions that Bush read quite a few books, too, but I don’t seem to recall his ever talking about them or sharing his love of reading with Americans in any substantial way. Laura Bush, yes, George W., not so much.
Saturday, January 24, 2009 5:52 am
Have you seen the graphics on the Teen Tech Week 2009 promo items? Perfect for your audiobook section! Teen Tech Week is a great time to hold a “How to download audiobooks for free” demo, calling on Teen Advisory Board members as the experts. Maybe even send the show on the road to the Senior Center, with teens showing grandparents how to download best-sellers right to their home computer - no need to travel to the library in the snow!
Monday, January 19, 2009 9:53 am
Tomorrow will be a day of celebrating firsts, as Barack Obama is inaugurated as President of the United States. There’s another first to add to the list that you may not know about: Obama is the first standing president to have won TWO Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word recording, the Grammy for best audiobook.
Monday, January 26, 2009 3:48 pm
Lynn: So there we were at the airport, 5:30 am, suitcases in hand and giddy with anticipation. ALA Midwinter was a short flight away and we would be set loose on the publisher booths in the exhibit hall, ready to scoop up all the enticing arcs for the new publishing season! Dinners, friends, committees and non-stop talk about books, books and more books! We had a mostly empty suitcase with us for schlepping our booty home. Then we met our first obstacle.
Thursday, January 22, 2009 11:14 pm
Our lists of top books of the year would not be complete without our favorite picture books. I miss my days as a public library children’s librarian for the storyhours and the picture books. Even though I work with middle school students now, I’ve kept my puppets, Where the Wild Things Are dolls, and my love for picture books. Lynn and I attended some mock Caldecott events and saw lots of great books this year but these are our personal favorites, not necessarily those eligible or predicted to win. Lynn’s list was co-selected by her five-year-old twin grandsons, who have exquisite taste.
Joanne Wilkinson, Editor-at-Large
What do you do?
I edit the reviews of the Adult Books staff as well as our two contract reviewers. I copyedit all the features and oversee our stable of free-lance copy editors. I also pinch-hit on proofreading and copy editing as needed. And I review three to four novels every issue. I also spend some time nagging our staff on the finer points of style.
How did you get here?
It took some doing. I was a serials clerk at DePaul University's library while I was pursuing a master's degree in English. I then became a proofreader at Follett Publishing Company, where I learned that the slow pace of book publishing was not for me—I think I spent an entire year proofreading a history textbook. Then I landed a job as a copy editor for ALA's old Central Production Unit, which introduced me to the fast pace of magazine publishing and to Booklist.
What's your favorite thing about your job?
Getting paid for reading.
What's the first book that made an impression on you?
The Beany Malone series really made a big impression on me because, like me, Beany was a Catholic girl who hated her freckles. One high point was when she discovered a freckle-vanishing cream at the drugstore; unfortunately, as we both discovered, it didn't work.
What's the last book you read?
Black Water Rising, by Attica Locke, an excellent debut novel about a black lawyer still haunted by his activism in the '60s.
What do you do when you're not reading?
Have lively discussions (i.e., argue) with my teenager, watch Damages (I'm hooked) and attempt to cook fabulous food without the need for first aid.
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