Books in General

Pastry Murder Mysteries

10 October 2018

From Eater:

Murder-as-entertainment was never my thing. Having spent a short chapter of my life working on a true-crime television show that resulted in daily calls to my mom to tell her I loved her, I’m not one to rush towards grisly Netflix docs or podcasts about someone’s favorite murders. But one afternoon while waiting in the checkout line at a grocery store, I noticed an ad on the conveyor belt divider for the newest book by Joanne Fluke, a New York Times bestselling author who apparently holds the much-coveted title of “Queen of Culinary Capers.”

The book was called Raspberry Danish Murder, a title that, given my tendency to request the dessert menu at the start of every restaurant meal I partake in, instantly caught my attention. As it turns out, Raspberry Danish Murder, which was released in February of this year, is the 22nd (!) book in an ongoing series surrounding a fictitious bakery owner/detective named Hannah Swensen. Each installment features a new murder for Hannah to solve, along with at least a dozen recipes for baked goods and (an occasional) savory dish, each mentioned somewhere in the story. The most accurate way to describe these books might be “cookbooks with smatterings of fiction woven in” — which is precisely why they’re my favorite guilty-pleasure reading material.

The protagonist, Hannah, is a red-headed 20- or 30-something (depending on how far along in the series you are) living in the fictional small town of Lake Eden, Minnesota. She lives with her giant orange cat, Moishe, is very close with her mother and sisters, and, despite being an innocent bakery owner, manages to find herself entangled in multiple murders each calendar year. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly macabre elements — they’re about as scary as Dr. Seuss stories, complete with a small-town setting that adds a dose of provincial charm. Hannah knows everyone in town by name (in addition to their favorite sweet treat), and her bakery, the Cookie Jar, acts as a community meeting place for Lake Eden’s locals. Murder might be what excites the town, but Swensen’s desserts are what unite it.

. . . .

Hannah’s desserts, of course, are actually Fluke’s recipes, which, as she told the New York Times in 2017, come from her own kitchen experiments, her family’s recipe books, and from fans. The featured recipes often have nothing to do with the actual plot line of a book — for instance, a quick reference to deep-fried candy bars made during a visit to the county fair in Key Lime Pie Murder warrants the inclusion of “Ruby’s Deep-Fried Candy Bars” in the recipe index.

Link to the rest at Eater and here’s a link to The Hannah Swenson Book Series (The series debuted in 2000 and there are now 23 books.)

10 Famous Book Hoarders

10 October 2018

From The Literary Hub:

I have a hard time getting rid of books, and if you’re reading this space, you probably do too. As Summer Brennan put it, “what kind of degenerate only wants to own 30 books (or fewer) at a time on purpose?” Not anyone I know. But apparently, you only have to own one thousand books to qualify as a book hoarder. Which seems a bit low, to be honest—unless we’re talking about one thousand books in a New York City one-bedroom, in which case, sure.

In general, I’m interested in other people’s book collections. How many books, which ones, how are they kept, where are they kept? So, one rainy afternoon, I started poking around the book collections of famous people, to see which ones happened to be (technical or actual) book hoarders. Some of the results surprised me—though I admit I already knew about Karl Lagerfeld.

. . . .

Karl Lagerfeld: 300,000 books

Karl Lagerfeld has more books than pretty much anybody. During a “master class” at the 2015 International Festival of Fashion and Photography, Lagerfeld explained: “Today, I only collect books; there is no room left for something else. If you go to my house, I’ll have you walk around the books. I ended up with a library of 300,000. It’s a lot for an individual.” No kidding. His collection includes books in French, English, and German, and in order to create more space in his home for all the volumes, he stacks his books sideways—that is, horizontally instead of vertically. Oh, and there’s a catwalk to reach the upper levels. This is Lagerfeld, after all.

. . . .

George Lucas: 27,000 books+

In 1978, George Lucas established the Lucasfilm Research Library—first collecting volumes at his Los Angeles office, and eventually moving the library to the main house at Skywalker Ranch. In addition to the more than 27,000 books, the collection includes over 17,000 films, as well as photographs, periodicals, press clippings, and more. Lucas’s library is not open to the public, but his employees—as well as special guests like Cecil B. DeMille, Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Clint Eastwood, Steve Martin, Edith Head, and Charlton Heston—are allowed to check things out.

. . . .

Thomas Jefferson: 6,487 books

“I cannot live without books,” Thomas Jefferson famously said. According to the Library of Congress, when the British torched the capital in 1814, Jefferson had built the biggest personal library in the United States—which he then sold to Congress for $23,950. After that, he promptly began acquiring books again (and sold that new collection to pay his debts in 1829).

Link to the rest (including a photos) at The Literary Hub

110 Type Ornaments to Use in Your Book (Plus a Free Download)

9 October 2018

From The Book Designer:

Using type ornaments in your book design can add a pleasing pictorial element to your typographic pages.

Depending on the tone you’re trying to establish with your design, there’s likely to be a choice of ornaments that will complement the other choices you’ve made when selecting fonts and the overall design direction for the book.

I’ve written elsewhere about finding fonts with ornaments included in their character sets, and there are many fonts dedicated to symbols, pictograms, or other designs that work as ornaments in books. Probably the best known of these is Zapf Dingbats.

One of the reasons type ornaments make a perfect complement to the rest of the typesetting in your book is because they are vector art, just like all the other characters in the font. This means they can be scaled to any size, and that they will fit perfectly on a page of regular, alphanumeric typesetting.

. . . .

Inevitably, some clients say, “Hey Joel, this design looks great, but are there other ornaments I could choose from?”

That’s why I made up a PDF of some of my favorite ornaments for use in books. I called it “55 Sample Type Ornaments for Use in Books.” I know, not too original, right?

. . . .

Well, there are literally thousands of these kinds or ornaments. So I went back and created another set of ornaments, “55 More Sample Type Ornaments for Use in Books.”

All together, these 110 ornaments in a handy chart format makes it easy for an author to quickly find one that will work in her book.

Wouldn’t you like that?

I thought so, and that’s why I’ve combined both charts into one PDF you can download right now.

You aren’t going to be surprised to learn that I now call it “110 Sample Type Ornaments for Use in Books.”

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

PG occasionally comes across an ornament in an ebook he is reading and enjoys seeing it. He’s not certain why, but, for him, it’s a little like a cherry on top of a sundae, seemingly inconsequential but curiously refreshing. He’s downloaded Joel’s pdf for future reference when he’s formatting Mrs. PG’s books.

As Joel notes in the OP, font designs can be protected by copyright. Off the top of his head, PG can’t remember anyone being sued for using an unlicensed dingbat, but it would be a certain way for an entrepreneurial type designer to link up with an entrepreneurial attorney and generate lots of free publicity.

Hurricane Michael

9 October 2018

TPV was down for about an hour earlier this morning.

PG is not certain the exact cause, but his excellent hosting provider, Hosting Matters, located in Florida, posted a bulletin:


hopes all is well with visitors to TPV located in the Southeastern United States.

Mary Shelley’s Obsession with the Cemetery

4 October 2018
Comments Off on Mary Shelley’s Obsession with the Cemetery

From JSTOR Daily:

In her 1831 introduction to Frankenstein, Mary Shelley explains: “It is not singular that, as the daughter of two persons of distinguished literary celebrity, I should very early in life have thought of writing.” She is answering an oft-asked question—the nineteenth-century equivalent of “What’s a nice girl like you doing writing gross stuff like this?”—and the fact that she begins by mentioning her parents is a sign of how greatly they figured in her sense of self.

Yet only one of Mary Shelley’s parents lived to see Frankenstein published. Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, the brilliant feminist best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Women, died shortly after giving birth to Mary, a fact that haunted her daughter for the rest of her life. Baby Mary, however, was not the fatal agent: It was the physician, one Dr. Poignand, who removed the placenta piece by piece with unwashed hands, and who transmitted the puerperal fever that killed Wollstonecraft Godwin days after giving birth. (In light of her daughter’s creative output, it’s worth mentioning that puerperal fever was then often transmitted by doctors proceeding directly from autopsies to births.)

After that, Mary Shelley’s “only real ‘mother’ was a tombstone,” as Sandra M. Gilbert writes. The remark is not as figurative as it may first appear: Mary spent a considerable amount of time at her mother’s grave in the St. Pancras churchyard, reading her mother’s work. Her father, the reformist writer and philosopher William Godwin, first took her to the churchyard when she was a child, and Mary continued visiting on her own, especially after father married his next-door-neighbor Mary Jane Clairmont—whom Mary found insufferable—and her home life became considerably strained.

“Especially because she never knew her mother … her principal mode of self-definition—certainly in the early years of her life with Shelley, when she was writing Frankenstein—was through reading,” Gilbert says. “Endlessly studying her mother’s works and her father’s, Mary Shelley may be said to have ‘read’ her family and to have been related to her reading, for books appear to have functioned as her surrogate parents, pages and words standing in for flesh and blood.” And much of Mary’s reading during her younger years took place in the graveyard.

The cemetery took on a new relevance when Percy Shelley burst upon the scene. The Godwins maintained an intellectual household, with visitors such as the radical essayist William Hazlitt, the painter Thomas Lawrence, the chemist Humphry Davy, and the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (who once allowed Mary and her stepsister to hear a recitation of The Ancient Mariner after the pair were discovered hiding under the sofa). But none had such an influence on Mary as Percy, a fervent admirer of her father’s who came for dinner one night in late 1812. The pair met again in 1814 and, despite the fact that Mary was only 16 and the 21-year-old poet was married (to another 16-year-old), began taking walks together in the St. Pancras churchyard. Mary was attracted by his idealism, fearlessness and what his friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg called his “wild, intellectual, unearthly” looks.

. . . .

The idea of the cemetery as a site of (sometimes forbidden) knowledge shows up in her most famous work. As a student, Victor Frankenstein supplements his study of chemistry and anatomy with trips to the graveyard, explaining: “To examine the causes of life, we must first have recourse to death.” The cemetery, or at least its gleanings, is the site of Victor’s greatest aha moment, upon which the rest of the novel depends:

Now I was led to examine the cause and progress of this decay and forced to spend days and nights in vaults and charnel-houses … I beheld the corruption of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life; I saw how the worm inherited the wonders of the eye and brain. I paused, examining and analyzing all the minutiae of causation, as exemplified in the change from life to death, and death to life, until from the midst of this darkness a sudden light broke in upon me—a light so brilliant and wondrous, yet so simple, that while I became dizzy with the immensity of the prospect which it illustrated, I was surprised that among so many men of genius who had directed their inquiries towards the same science, that I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret.

The secret, of course, is that of life itself—of how the “component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together, and endued with vital warmth,” as Mary writes in her introduction. The fact that Frankenstein’s monster is assembled from fragments of corpses has a parallel in Mary’s assembly of her own self-identity: in some sense she is like her own creature, without a mother, assembling herself out of dead fragments in the form of books.

Link to the rest at JSTOR Daily

35 Over 35: Women Authors Who Debuted at 35+

4 October 2018

From BookRiot:

Youth is often celebrated, especially in publishing; there is a pervasive idea that one must debut by Age X (often 30) or one has Failed Utterly. Every time a list of authors under age 35 (or whatever arbitrary age the list writer chooses) appears, there is a backlash because a young debut is a rarity and those lists ignore the many reasons that most authors debut later. Many of my favorite authors had their debuts in their 20s and 30s, but at age 40 and as yet unpublished, I find myself rather invested in older debuts.

. . . .

For the purposes of this list, I have selected women writers whose debut traditionally published full-length work came out after their 35th birthday. Because of the barriers to publishing, many older debuts are self-published, and I had to make a choice on whether to include them; I chose not to, but encourage you to seek them out on your own.

. . . .


Best known for Middlemarch, her debut Adam Bede was published when she was 40 years old.


The author of The Shipping News and “Brokeback Mountain” was 57 when  Postcards came out.


Best known for Out of Africa and “Babette’s Feast,” her debut was Seven Gothic Tales, which came out when she was 48.


The House of the Spirits was published when she was 40.


The Bluest Eye came out when she was 39.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

The Women Crime Writers with the Most Film Adaptations

4 October 2018

From CrimeReads:

While the world at large bemoans the lack of opportunity for women directors, Hollywood has never felt the same reluctance when it comes to female novelists, happily assigning the biggest directors of the era to tackle complex subjects and reinterpret them in filmic code. It’s easy to forget how many films have been adapted from works by women writers, given how frequently the textual basis for famous films has been allowed to go out of print. (Many of the authors mentioned below I came to first through their cinematic mirrors before I came to know them as words.)

. . . .

Agatha Christie

45 feature films

The queen of crime has 45 film adaptations under her belt, with another 3 announced or in production. This giant oeuvre includes at least 7 adaptations of And Then There Were None, filmed all over the world, and with, unfortunately, every version of the title (into the 1980s, a Russian adaptation used a direct translation of the book’s original, and cringe-worthy, title). While most films adapted from Christie’s novels have been British or American productions, there are a number of Soviet and Indian films based on her work. She’s been the darling of various directors—George Pollock directed 4 different films based on her work throughout the 1960s, and now Kenneth Branaugh’s taking his turn revisiting her masterpieces, and yet Christie hasn’t had a single feature film based on her work directed by a woman (the case may be different for tv adaptations—lest we never finish this list, we elected to leave tv for another day). Agatha Christie always pointed to Crooked House as a favorite of her own works and it’s no surprise that Crooked House has been filmed multiple times.

Patricia Highsmith

20 feature films

When I started this list, I thought for sure that Highsmith would top it (although I should never have discounted the vast filmography of Dame Christie), but Highsmith, with 20 feature film adaptations under her belt, came in a respectable second place. Many of these are adaptations of her Ripliad: The Talented Mr. Ripley was first brought to screen in 1960 as Plein Soleil/Purple Noon, directed by Réné Clémont, and beyond the argument that occasionally consumes our office as to which adaptation is better, Purple Noon or Anthony Minghella’s slicker, more faithful eponymous 90s adaptation, I think everyone can agree that Tom Ripley was meant to be on-screen. Wim Wenders contributed to the filmed Ripliad with The American Friend, adapted from Ripley’s Game and filmed with an unusual approach to language, switching between English and German. Liliana Cavalli, of Night Porter fame, also took a more recent swing at the same story in her 2002 film Ripley’s Game.

Beyond the Ripliad, Highsmith had quite a few big-name directors attached to her work, including Hitchcock’s incomparable adaptation of Strangers on A Train, and Claude Chabrol’s Le Cri de Hibou/The Cry of the Owl, while not as renowned as some of the other adaptations of her work, is still considered a solid contribution to the canon. We can only hope that the success of Carol leads to even more adaptations of her standalone works.

Finally, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and parody is the sincerest form of imitation, then we also have to include a shout-out to Danny Devito’s loving parody of Strangers on a Train, simply titled Throw Mama from the Train, a modern classic. (We assume. We still haven’t seen it…)

. . . .

Vera Caspary

Five feature film adaptations

Vera Caspary worked in Hollywood and wrote a number of screenplays as well as treatments, but for the purposes of this list she’s at four feature film adaptions of her separately published work, including three films from the 1930s based on short stories and two films from the 1940s based on her novels Laura and Bedelia, each keeping the same title in film form. Laura, directed by Otto Preminger, is essential viewing to this day (especially in this new era of the girl in the title), while Caspary’s screenwriting talent is on full display in Bedelia, which she adapted herself.

Link to the rest at CrimeReads

Wattpad To Beta-Test a Payment Plan for Writers

3 October 2018

From Publishing Perspectives:

Wattpad officials in Toronto are confirming to Publishing Perspectives on Tuesday (October 2) that the platform is preparing to run a beta payment program in select regions to test how writers can make money on Wattpad through a reader-payment system.

The experimental program—which our contacts stress is short-term—is up in four markets: the company’s home base Canada, as well as the UK, the Philippines, and Mexico. The launch date for the beta project is a week away, October 9.

The Philippines is one of Wattpad’s most successful markets, a country in which the Wattpad Presents television programproduced with Manila TV5 was something of a precursor to the rapidly accelerating success that the Wattpad Studios division is having in platform-to-screen development.

The upcoming invitation-only beta is limited at present to some 50 current Wattpad writers, who were selected for the test to contribute to the program.

The stories these writers produce for the beta will be available only in the four participating regions and only for purchase. There will be no effects on normal Wattpad operations otherwise.

. . . .

Once the beta has launched next week, users can use the Wattpad app to purchase their coins in various sized batches. Based on the graphics on the explanatory page about buying coins for the Wattpad Next program, coins may come in batches of nine for $0.99, batches of 66 for $2.99, batches of 120 for $4.99, and batches of 230 for $7.99.  It’s likely these prices are in Canadian dollars, since the beta will not be available in the States, and these price may be higher or lower than the actual cost structure once the beta program is activated next week.

. . . .

Many writers who have looked at Wattpad—particularly authors who have some career traction—may find it good news that the company is exploring, even on a limited trial basis, a way that readers might be able to pay their favorite writers.

Long recognized as a fine incubator for young talent, the platform, with its highly attractive 65 million active users monthly, has seemed a leap for those who need to make money from their writing.

The company is explaining the new, limited-time beta is to say that readers have been asking for ways to compensate their favorite writers.

In answer to Publishing Perspectives’ query, a spokesman for Wattpad says, “Helping writers has always been a priority for Wattpad. We’re currently running [this] closed beta program in select markets to explore different ways writers can make money from their work on Wattpad.”

. . . .

“The connection between readers and writers is what makes Wattpad the unique and incredible space we all love,” according to the FAQ messaging. “The stories selected echo this connection, and will help us build the best program to fund writer’s careers, while giving readers access to stories they can only find on Wattpad.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

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