World Book Night 2013 - Become a Giver!

 

Hello Reader,

There is an exciting book event happening this spring, across this whole wide country of ours (as well as the U.K., Ireland and Germany).  It's called World Book Night 2013!  The idea is that on one night, throughout America, 1 million books will be given away by hand by tens of thousands of people.  Authors and publishers have enthusiastically agreed to print over 30 thousand copies of 30 different titles, to be delivered to pick-up locations throughout the country -- mostly independent bookstores and libraries.  Individual readers will sign up to be Givers who agree to hand deliver 20 copies of a title of their choice to strangers in locations outside of their homes, their bookstores, and their libraries.  It may be a park, a prison, a school, a hospital, an intersection, an airplane, a bus. 

You can sign up as a Giver, choose DIESEL as your pick-up location, and choose from this year's title list.  World Book Night 2013 is April 23rd, which is UNESCO's World Book Day and is the day of both Miguel de Cervantes' death and William Shakespeare's birth and death.   

In 2011, this was done in the U.K. and Ireland with astounding results and last year the U.S. joined in, with great success. The deadline for signing up as a Giver is January 23rd!  Please take the time to go to the World Book Night 2012 website and sign up to be a Giver.  You can see video footage from last year's event on the site as well, to get a sense of the joy created by this generous sharing of the love of reading between strangers. 

The World Book Night 2013 website is here.  The direct link to the sign up form is here.  Please put DIESEL as your registered pick-up location and let's make this event one of the biggest and best feel-good events of the year! 

Encourage your friends, your mayor, the media, your family, your favorite organizations -- all of them! -- to sign up and join to help to make this as big an event as we can!  It will take all of us to work together to get books into the hands of those who least expect them. 

 

Happy Reading! 

John and all Dieselfolk

 

January's Bookseller of the Month

Our Bookseller of the Month for January is Cameron Carlson. Each month, we ask a staff member a few questions about their relationship with books, and reading in general. Below are Cameron's responses.

1. What kind of reader are you?

I read everything, mostly nonfiction; history, 
journals, philosophy, and religious texts. I also enjoy non-American 
literature and American Noir. I read several books at once. I'm not sure 
how many I'm currently making my way through but definitely four books 
seriously.

2. Name three favorite titles that came out in the last three years.

The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq, People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry, and 
The Tiger by John Vaillant

3. What reading experience surprised you recently?

I expected Houellebecq's The Map and the Territory to be sort of 
nihilistic like Bret Easton Ellis' writing, based on his reputation, but I 
find it very honest and compassionate. Also, I picked up Patrick White's 
Voss, which I knew nothing about and was floored by his dense, 
medical precision with emotional language.

4. What upcoming book are you looking forward to?

The next book that I would buy based on an author's reputation, would 
be John LeCarre, out of curiosity. I think James Ellroy was undertaking a 
new series. Also, John Jeremiah Sullivan.

5. If you could spend a day with one living author, who would it be and why?

This is a difficult question for me to answer because I prefer to spend 
time with people I know well, and having interviewed some authors in the 
past, know that I am incapable of asking a fascinating, observant, and 
intelligent question in the moment. So this would have to be like who 
would I want to hang out with in a bar or in a storm shelter for a couple 
hours. Jim Harrison or Lydia Davis. Definitely Umberto Eco or James 
Salter. Joan Did's. Zadie Smith is really beautiful. Really anyone, now 
that I think about it.

Check out some of Cameron's favorite books on his recommendation page.

 

Women Who Raised Me: Episode Three

 

I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, I grew up with a wonderful, attentive mother. Super parents, both. Really. But a young girl and developing bibliophile requires a whole host of literary mothers to show her the way. It takes a village.

Episode Three: Ursula Hegi

The year is 2002 and I am in the eighth grade. That's the top of the middle school heap, folks. And, at thirteen, I'm feeling as grown up as I've ever felt (peaked too soon). My English teacher is young and full of radical, anti-establishment ideas about the futility of benchmarks and we have rallied around her in the revolutionary spirit and burned our spelling workbooks. She tacked a list of banned books to the wall and had many of them in her room to loan out; I could mainline the inflammatory literary smut they wouldn't keep in the middle school library. My first selection? Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi.

War, sex, Nazism, dwarfism, and a librarian heroine? What's not to love? And, until this moment, I had read only young adult fiction, never something so complex and beautifully written. Not to say that young adult authors can't be masters of craft, but Hegi is particularly daring and shocking. The story is about both Trudi, a dwarf woman reconciling her otherness in World War II-era Germany, and the greater implications of Nazism on the lives of Trudi and the members of her town. I want to make this clear: it blew my mind. Hegi opened me up to a number of great novelists that year--Toni Morrison, Ernest Hemingway--things that I didn't think I was ready to read because no one had ever told me it was okay.   

 

Next Time: I find out that women write the best horror.

 

Read Episode Two: Kate DiCamillo

Read Episode One: Maud Hart Lovelace

 

Three Good Things: Presents, Presents, Presents

 

1. Best part of the holidays? Love and togetherness, of course. The second best part? The freedom to just tell people that you want certain things from them.

Check out these great DIESEL picks for your wish list!

2. 'Tis also a grand season for mail. I love the packages of candy, tins of wild-flavored popcorn, chocolate fruits, cured meats--CHEESE. Best of all are the Christmas cards. More than you ever wanted to know about your college friends' illnesses accompanied by a photo of the whole family in white linen.

Read this article about Bill McMillen, a man who has taken the art of the Christmas card to a new level. He and his wife send out a new holiday novella each year.  

3. Feel no distress, this holiday season, as you shop for those loved-ones who love their e-readers! Here's the breakdown, from Book Patrol, on how E-Books and Print Books Can Coexist. And, remember, if you want to gift eBooks, gift with Kobo

Diesel's 2012 Best Illustrated Kids Books

 

We know that there are other lists out there, but here's the Diesel-approved supplement to all other "2012 Best Illustrated" lists.

ENTER

Women Who Raised Me: Episode Two

 

I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, I grew up with a wonderful, attentive mother. Super parents, both. Really. But a young girl and developing bibliophile requires a whole host of literary mothers to show her the way. It takes a village.

Episode Two: Kate DiCamillo

It's the year 2000 in Lafayette, California. I've been reading the Series of Unfortunate Events and wielding my new vocabulary as best a ten-year-old possibly could. Too much Daniel Handler has made me a little rough around the edges, so my mother has given me a book by a woman, Because of Winn Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo. This is obviously a girl book for girls and I protest, but mom points out that there's a dog on the cover, which would make it a dog book, and that might be okay.

The story is about a ten-year-old girl, Opal, who has just moved to Florida with her emotionally distant father and befriends a rascal sort of dog, who she names Winn Dixie (after the supermarket). Having myself recently moved across the country, to the vast and lonely California, I had that first taste of seeing myself in the characters of a novel. As she lived I could see myself live. As she made choices, I weighed the equivalent conflicts in my own life. And when she thought that maybe Winn Dixie had run away, I cried and cried, right along with Opal. DiCamillo writes with empathy and an understanding of the emotional landscape of a child. She changed my view, at that young age, of what a novel could do, because it suddenly became something more than a form of entertainment. 

 

Next Time: I get my hands on a list of banned books.

 

The Melville Summer

 

My favorite reading experience was during the summer of 1976, after my first year of college. I was living at home, working, hanging out with friends and all that, but when I wasn't doing those things I was reading Moby Dick. My sister had graduated from college and moved to Kansas City, so I took over her room which was larger than mine, with a dormer in front. I put an Indian bedspread over the entrance to the dormer, moved a small bookcase into it along with an old armchair our dog had chewed the wooden arms of, which my parents were going to throw away. With a floor lamp and my stereo and records I was set. All summer, when the time was right, I'd put a record on, sit in the chair and slowly, deliciously, read Moby Dick. My memory now is that this lasted all summer and all I actually remember of that summer is the supreme pleasure of being in my little cubbyhole surrounded by warm light, books, and good music and reading to my heart's content.

--John Evans

 

 

 

Women Who Raised Me: Episode One

 

I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, I grew up with a wonderful, attentive mother. Super parents, both. Really. But a young girl and developing bibliophile requires a whole host of literary mothers to show her the way. It takes a village.

 

Episode One: Maud Hart Lovelace

 

It’s 1995 in Mobile, Alabama, which means that I’m five and taking fashion cues from Full House. I’ve got the hot pink leggings and enormous t-shirt, a big bow in my big hair. It’s summertime, so I’m also sporting glitter-jellies as I run amok around the neighborhood with my motley crew of cul-de-sac urchins. We play from dawn to dusk, like it’s a full-time job. We stay outside as long as humanly possible to avoid getting roped into chores. But let me tell you, it is difficult to be five and responsible for coming up with enough interesting make-believe games to amuse all your friends. Enter: the dear sister of my mischievous heart, Maud Heart Lovelace with her Betsy-Tacy series. My mother began to read chapters to my sister and I before we went to bed. These were turn-of-the-century girls who knew how to have a good time, before the Ya-Ya Sisterhood required that such a mythical childhood grow in the shadow mild parental abuse. Lovelace inspired me for years to have better adventures, ask better questions, and to marvel more at the magic of a car that can travel ten miles an hour.

 

Next Time: A book makes me cry!

 

DIESEL A.V. Club: Adaptation Trailers

 

Great things are happening. Great, big, star-studded things are happening at a theater near you. Life of Pi is finally becoming a movie. Watch the trailer, below, it looks like an epic, Dali-inspired acid trip. Then there's The Hobbit, the closest thing to a cinematic sure-thing we could hope for--Peter Jackson's cup runneth over. And finally, the adaptation I talk about at least twice a day, Cloud Atlas. How can it work? How can it possibly work??!

Also look out for: Anna Karenina, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Great Gatsby, and The Bell Jar. It would also seem that the second part of the Breaking Dawn movie is coming out in a few weeks...

1. Life of Pi.

 

2. The Hobbit.

 

3. Cloud Atlas.

 

 

Papa Hemingway

 

 

Ernest Hemingway is one of those ancient relics of English class that you always hear about growing up, but never actually read in a meaningful context. Sure, there are snippets and excerpts in the textbooks, but they're necessarily sterilized for consumption by public school students. You're fed just enough as a kid to know he is a Big Deal, there are cats named after him!

My only real, tangible contact with Hemingway while growing up was watching The Old Man and the Sea on the couch at my grandma's house during some holiday function. My dad was there watching it with me and he said that it was one of his favorite movies. Being somewhere between eight and twelve years old, I completely didn't understand the story. Spencer Tracy on a tiny boat with a big, dead fish that sharks are eating. Okay, whatever. I sat through it, though, because my dad isn't the kind of person to whom you can say "I don't like this thing you just said you loved.” Not that he gets angry, it's the opposite, his disappointment in you is crushing. I learned this early.

My second major encounter with Hemingway was in college. We were handed a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xeroxed copy of The Snows of Kilimanjaro to read. For those unfamiliar, it's a short story about a white guy in Africa dying of gangrene he got while on safari there. This is an offensively obtuse summarization, but the point is that I was still in the wrong mindset for this whole Hemingway thing until I got to this passage:

He had destroyed his talent himself. Why should he blame this woman because she kept him well? He had destroyed his talent by not using it, by betrayals of himself and what he believed in, by drinking so much that he blunted the edge of his perceptions, by laziness, by sloth, and by snobbery, by pride and by prejudice, by hook and by crook. What was this? A catalogue of old books? What was his talent anyway? It was a talent all right but instead of using it, he had traded on it. It was never what he had done, but always what he could do. And he had chosen to make his living with something else instead of a pen or a pencil.

My blood ran cold. Seriously. I read it again. And again. And again. I've all but memorized it in the years since that day in class. It was like Hemingway looked me in the eye and called me out on all the bullshit that I told myself about myself regarding what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to go with it. This was a new, fresh sort of horror that I hadn't had any concept of until that very moment.

He had destroyed his talent by not using it.

When was the last time that I had actually written something that wasn't a means to an end? I could think of things for school, to get a grade, to get out of school – nothing of personally satisfying substance. Was it years? It had to have been years. Was I, right in that moment, squandering my talent by not using it?

It was never what he had done, but always what he could do.

It was a transformative experience, a crystallized moment that I'll remember for as long as I'll live. Perhaps that was the moment that I realized that I was now a Grown Up. Even if I didn't necessarily feel like an adult, I had obtained a stark awareness of everything that wasn't there before I read those words on that nth generation photocopy.

...by laziness, by sloth, and by snobbery, by pride and by prejudice, by hook and by crook.

No, Hemingway isn't an author that you can appreciate while you're a child. You need to become an adult in order to properly appreciate that particular brand of nihilistic hedonism. It's just not a thing that a teenager has the perspective to even comprehend. Try and explain it, go ahead, witness the eyes glazing over, the absolute disinterest that transforms into outright disdain when the speaker doesn't get the hint that nobody can possibly care about this. I know, because I was that kid.

And he had chosen to make his living with something else instead of a pen or a pencil.

The specter of this dead man looms over me daily. Judging me. I've known since I was little that I want to make my living being a writer. I'm not there yet, but I've made inroads, certainly. Papa Hemingway doesn't care though. He knew the truth since before I was born. Since before my dad was born. Funnily enough, I think his disappointment would be just as crushing as my own father’s.

Pages