The author Neil Gaiman is a prominent backer of libraries and literacy, and he has a great idea for a new Halloween tradition. He thinks we should all give scary books as gifts on Halloween. He's calling it All Hallow's Read. As a fan of Gaiman's work, books in general, and scary things – I think this sounds like fun.
This week marks the USA's 30th annual Banned Books Week (sponsored by half a dozen American library, bookseller, journalist and publisher associations; and endorsed by about half a dozen more.) During Banned Books Week, bookstores and libraries across the USA celebrate (for want of a better word) the books that have been challenged or outright banned from libraries with in store displays, readings and so forth.
The slow-mo implosion of Borders has created an enormous amount of commentary, but perhaps none as visceral as the poster spotted in a Borders in Santa Rosa, California.
The Booker Prize shortlist has been announced with the usual mix of criticism and praise from various quarters. Indeed, the controversy over each year's list is as much a tradition as the Prize itself. For example, Ron Sharp, arts correspondent for The Independent criticized the omission of Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child from the shortlist; while Boyd Tonkin, literary editor for the Independent opines that:
"the process seems to have lost much of its focus. It now delivers a curiously mixed bag of worthwhile novels. So what? No longer does the Man Booker seem to want to test the year's output against the highest standards of literary ambition and artistry...many accomplished authors who failed to make the long-list will be wondering what the Booker is precisely for these days."
Much has been said about the reasons for the demise of Borders, but Raymond Rose's article in last week's Publishers Weekly really hit the nail on the head for me. He writes,
"My sorrow isn't for the death of this company but for its employees. They're the real victims here. In my store, we had an amazing group. There was the elementary school teacher who worked every weekend and made the most magical children's recommendations; the young woman who could guide both newbies and skilled knitters alike through the needlecraft books; the tattooed graduate student who could talk your ear off about Thomas Hobbes... or Batman, your choice; and the spitfire supervisor who could hunt down the perfect mystery novel. That's just five people in my store. Imagine the number of original, talented people in the other 600-plus stores that have closed or will close later this year...
Millions of people live in shantytowns across the world, many in corrugated-iron-roofed shacks with no windows. This leaves the residents with the choice of living in complete darkness or running expensive electric bulbs (if electricity is even available to them).
Liter of Light has a solution which is so mind-bogglingly simple that it is pure brilliance: