Jessica Roy writes for Time that the professors—experts in toxicology and bacteriology—found the ten most popular books at the Antwerp library and screened them for germs and other substances. All ten of the titles ended up testing positive for traces of cocaine, which suggests that Belgian library patrons are having just the BEST time when they borrow, say, Wuthering Heights or the latest offering from Sue Grafton. In all seriousness, Roy reports that the drug wasn’t present in large enough quantities for unsuspecting patrons to feel any effects, but they could end up testing positive for cocaine.
The copies of 50 Shades of Grey, meanwhile, produced even cringe-inducing results, in the form of the herpes virus. E.L. James’s wildly popular erotic novel apparently tested positive for traces of the virus, albeit in minimal enough quantities that the professors assure that there’s no public health risk and no possibility of contracting the STD from contact with the book.
In 2011 the publisher of Guy Kawasaki’s New York Times bestseller, Enchantment, could not fill an order for 500 ebook copies of the book. Because of this experience, Guy self-published his next book, What the Plus! and learned first-hand that self-publishing is a complex, confusing, and idiosyncratic process. As Steve Jobs said, “There must be a better way.”
With Shawn Welch, a tech wizard, Guy wrote APE to help people take control of their writing careers by publishing their books. The thesis of APE is simple but powerful: When a self-publisher successfully fills three roles—author, publisher and entrepreneur—the potential benefits are greater than with traditional publishing.
Guy and Shawn call this “artisanal publishing.”
Artisanal publishing features writers who love their craft, and who control every aspect of the process from beginning to end. In this new approach, writers are no longer at the mercy of large, traditional publishers, and readers will have more books to read.
APE is 300 pages of tactical and practical inspiration. People who want a hype-filled, get-rich-quick book should look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you want a comprehensive and realistic guide to self-publishing, APE is for you.
While on the way to the cabin on Friday, I stopped by Indigo Books and picked up December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World by Craig Shirley. The book attempts to look at each day of December 1941 in the lead up and aftermath of the attack of Pearl Harbour though a variety of lens to give the month and attack some context. He examines historical records, news paper accounts and even pop culture as part of this effort to explain the almost instantaneous change in American culture and life because of it’s entry into Word War II.
It’s an entertaining read. I wandered through the almost 600 pages in two days. I leaned a lot, especially about the difference in American and British views of how to communicate the war (Churchill laid it all out while FDR chose to reveal as little as possible) but in the end it was a very unsatisfying read. The editing was awful. The book got countless historical facts wrong (like the tonnage of the Price of Wales or the suggestion that England had 500,000 pilots trained). The there are sentences like, “It was raking in millions each week, mostly for the top four studios: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros.” The fourth studio was… Also Pittsburgh was misspelled. Things like that drove me crazy.
What was interesting to learn was the totalitarian powers that Congress almost immediately gave FDR to win the war. What was even more interesting is when you realize that once war was won, those powers were taken away from the President. It speaks to the ability the United States has to make and remake itself as the context determines it. It will be interesting to see if the U.S. ever returns to a pre-9/11 mindset.
I think the other thing the book did well was explain the events leading up to Pearl Harbour from Japan’s perspective. While in no ways does it justify the attack, it does explain a little of what the Japanese were thinking through their militaristic cabinet. I am not sure that I would recommend the book, there are just simply too many mistakes in it but it wasn’t a bad way to spend the weekend.
Canadian author F.S. Michaels has won America’s prestigious 2011 George Orwell Award for the non-fiction debut MONOCULTURE: HOW ONE STORY IS CHANGING EVERYTHING (Red Clover Press, May 2011). Published by Red Clover, a new Canadian independent press, MONOCULTURE has been described as “a provocative investigation of the dominant story of our time.”
ABOUT THE AWARD
The annual George Orwell Award, established in 1975 and given by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), recognizes authors who have made an outstanding contribution to the critical analysis of public discourse. Past recipients include author Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food), Amy Goodman (co-founder, executive producer, and host of the award-winning national daily news program Democracy Now!), Pulitzer Prize-winner Charlie Savage, television host Jon Stewart and the “Daily Show” cast, economist Juliet B. Schor, linguist Noam Chomsky, and cultural critic Neil Postman.
Congratulations! It is on my soon to be published list of my best reads of 2011. If you haven’t read it yet, you really need to. The book changed how I look at much of the world around me.
Last year it took Mark forever to get started on his written assignments. He would just freeze and get all stressed and I would have to calm him down and get him focused on what to do. I thought we had made some progress but he wanted a book the other day and tried to access his line of credit at the Bank of Dad. I agreed but made him promise to write me a book report on what he learned. After a couple of days of Mark stressing all out about it, I wrote out a quick outline and things went much smoother and he gave me a pretty good book report without the stress and suffering that often comes with it. I typed up what I had put together, added a bit of formatting, stole some ideas from some other book journals and printed out 50 copies for him to keep in a binder. I also saved it to a PDF and uploaded it here in case any of you want to see what I did or make your own book journal for your kids. I think I am going to put together a weekend trip journal and a Adventure Around Town Journal as well.