Sunday Links for November 13, 2011

Publishers Weekly has posted its list of the best books of 2011 in various genres and subgenres. You could do worse than to use these lists to guide your reading for the next several months.

The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award long list lives up to its name: it is long. It’s another great source for the best reading of the year, though it is, of course, noticeably light on genre fiction.

I’ve always assumed that libraries are good for authors. They keep an author’s name in circulation, introduce new people to his or her work, and often cause readers to purchase everything written by a beloved author discovered on the library shelves. Not to mention that libraries buy books in the first place; they don’t appear on the shelves as if by magic, after all! Kristin Laughtin confirms my assumptions from a point of greater knowledge, as she’s both an aspiring author and a librarian.

One of the first and best pieces of advice given to aspiring writers is that they should read, and read widely. Charles Tan gets more specific: these are the collections aspiring speculative fiction writers should read. If you ask me, they’re also collections that every well-informed reader of speculative fiction should read as well. There’s some very good stuff on that list, especially the Jeffrey Ford and the Theodora Goss collections.

Maureen Kincaid Speller, one of my fellow students at the Science Fiction Foundation’s master class a few years ago, is blogging about Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s new mammoth collection, The Weird, as she reads it, that is, story by story. I’m thinking of doing the same when I get my copy, which is presently on order from the Book Depository (the book is not yet available in the United States, but I couldn’t wait). Maureen’s scholarly work is excellent, both informative and inspiring. I hope my own work will be a sort of internet conversation with hers.

Catherynne Valent’s Omikuji Project sounds absolutely wonderful to me. How delightful to get a new illustrated story in the mail each month! I’m hoping someone will subscribe for me as a Christmas present. (Honey, in case you’re reading this, that’s a hint.)

At long last, black writers are getting recognition for their speculative fiction. This article, with the provocative title “If Tolkien Were Black,” particularly discusses the work of N.K. Jemisin and David Anthony Durham, both of whom have written some of the best books in fantasy in the last couple of years. Jemisin offers further insights into the matters discussed in the article on her blog.

This link is old, but I’ve never seen it before, and it’s rather fascinating: a topical index of science fiction stories with good astronomy and physics. I’m thinking of using it as a guide to buy Christmas gifts for my husband, who loves the hard stuff.

Locus Online is hosting a roundtable about formative experiences in reading (Part One, Part Two). One of the more interesting statements, and one that found wide agreement, is that one should teach one’s children to read long before he or she starts school, and that one will rarely be a voracious reader otherwise. I didn’t learn to read until I was in first grade, and I still remember the moment when it all clicked for me – and heaven knows that “voracious” hardly even begins to describe my reading habits.

Last week I linked to an article or two about Amazon’s new venture into lending books to members of its Amazon Prime program. Some see this Amazon venture as a challenge to traditional publishing, rather than as an insufferable infringement upon it. I guess it all depends on your perspective. I can’t quite figure out what’s best for the reader as a long-term proposition in all this, myself.

Speaking of books available without cost, Litfy is a new source for the classics.

A 10,000 year clock is a fascinating idea. More than that, it’s a fascinating reality. It’s really kind of amazing what humans can do.

Just in case you need a reason to feel old, here’s a list of sounds that today’s kids have never heard. I remember them all. How about you?