Tag Archives: book thoughts

Shelf Space

Author Fonda Lee took to Twitter recently, lamenting the lack of shelf space in her local Barnes and Nobel for new fantasy authors. In the post, Lee points out that J.R.R. Tolkien had “3.5 shelves worth of space” and Robert Jordan had “2.5 shelves.”

Putting aside that 2.5 shelves of space for Jordan probably adds up to a total of four books (cause man, that guy wrote some huge tomes!), I find Lee’s comments interesting.  I understand her point about new authors trying to find a way to break into the publishing ranks and even her point that it was difficult to find novels that had either been recently nominated for or won genre awards.

When Barnes and Nobel opened a store that was convenient to where I shopped and did my errands, I was excited.  I frequented the store regularly and enjoyed browsing the aisles to find something new that may not have necessarily been on my radar at the time.  These days, it’s been months since I darkened the door of that local Barnes and Nobel.   And a large part of it ties into Lee’s lament.

In the past five years, I’ve noticed that more of the floor space of Barnes and Nobel has been given over to items that may or may not necessarily be related to the reading experience.  Everything from toys and games to collectible figures to things associated with reading.  I’ve also noticed that the amount of room for actual books has decreased dramatically.  At first, it was a shrinking of the shelf-space for new releases, then slowly the aisles for each genre seemed to become smaller.  What was first two and a half aisles for sci-fi and fantasy has become one and a half.  Same thing for mystery novels.  And while we get a bit of space given over to new releases, I find that what whoever deems a book worthy of such a spotlight has very different tastes than I do.

Insert rant about how much shelf space in the SF/F aisle paranormal romance gets these days here.

I understand what Lee is saying about the limited shelf space being given to older books by authors who may or may not necessarily be still around.  And while I share her concerns, I feel certain if we asked the buyers at Barnes and Nobel why this was, it would go back to the old adage that things like Tolkien and Jordan move product.

Look, I’m all for the classics getting shelf space.  Certainly, they’ve a proven track record and that fact that they keep finding Tolkien to publish (I expect his grocery lists to be published at some point) means he and other authors are always going to take up some shelf space.  I just wish that the experience of going to Barnes and Nobel was closer to what it was when my local store first opened and not what it is today.  I feel like the stores have become more about book adjacent items and less about the books themselves.

And that’s a shame.

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Review: The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

The Perfect MotherPaired together by their due dates, the May Mothers have quickly become each other’s best friends, confidants, and support group in the early days and months of parenting. After seven weeks of no sleep, dirty diapers, and trying to be the perfect mother, the group decides they need an evening out. That is especially true for single mother, Winnie.

After making arrangements for child care for Winnie’s son Midas, the group heads out to a local bar on the fourth of July to feel like grown-ups again. But things soon take a tragic turn when baby Midas vanishes from Winnie’s apartment and sets off a media firestorm. Turns out Winnie is the childhood start of a hit series about dancing and the circumstances of Midas’ disappearance threaten to expose not only her secret, but secrets of all the May Mothers. Continue reading

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The Great American Read

PBS begins a quest this evening to find “America’s Best Loved Novel” with the Great American Read.

The series will look at 100 books with conversations with their ardent fans and scholars.  I took a minute to look over the list of the top 100 books and I’ve got to admit I’ve got a couple of exceptions with it (as will most readers, I assume).

I wasn’t honestly expecting one of my favorite books, Lake Wobegon Days, to make the list.   And while it’s nice to see Stephen King represented with his tome, The Stand, I’ve always felt like The Shining is a stronger novel. (And it’s also about six-hundred pages shorter).

I will admit I’m perplexed by some of the more recent choices on the list.  Look, I’ll admit that Gone Girl was a great read, but I’m not quite sure it’s been around long enough to declare it one of the best 100 books ever written.  Sure, it’s ignited new interest in a the unreliable narrator niche, but I’m still not sure it’s one of the best books ever published.

I’m not quite sure how The Twilight Saga or Ready Player One made the list, unless it’s an ardent fan base that voted a lot for them.  Look, I fully accept that the Twilight novels aren’t for me, but I did read them a couple of years ago (OK, I listened to the audiobooks) and, quite frankly, I found them to be less than stellar. The first half of Twilight is a good book, but once Bella falls for Edward and she sublimates her entire personality and world to worshiping the sparkly ground he walks on, I lost interest quickly, wanting to reach into the audiobook and smack some sense into her.

And while Ready Player One was fun eight years ago, re-reading it for a book group showed it hadn’t really stood the test of time (at least for this reader).

All that said, I’m curious to watch this series and find out more about all the books.  But if the Twilight novels win the best book ever, I may have to call shenanigans on this whole thing.

 

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