With “Masked Classics” Pandemic Publishing Comes of Age

When in doubt, fall back on a classic. It worked for Pride, Prejudice and Zombies and its many spinoffs, and now resourceful publishers, making up for lost time and revenue, aim to make it work for a pandemic-weary reading public. Gimik Books (a division of Langweiliger-Zellstoff) has just premiered a new line of “masked classics,” featuring slightly rewritten versions of familiar titles. So we join Mrs. Dalloway as she struggles with the banal details of arranging lawn chairs for an appropriately distanced social gathering, and we experience afresh the noughting of Ralph Ellison’s nameless protagonist as he struggles not just to be seen, but to be heard through a double mask. 

Racing them to the marketplace is Impulse! (a division of Seelenlose-Gier), with its own line of masked reprints, including the intrepid girl detective Nancy Drew going up against a new sort of “invisible intruder,” and Tolstoy’s doomed Anna Karenina, who recklessly persists in leaving her nose hanging out, even amidst the hustle and bustle of a crowded train station.  Continue reading “With “Masked Classics” Pandemic Publishing Comes of Age”

2021 Audiobook Awards: And the Winners Are…

This month saw two major audiobook awards: the Grammys and the Audies. We have a full list of nominees and winners in our catalog, here, but here are at least some of the audiobooks that went home holding trophies this month.

The winner of this year’s Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word or Non-Musical Album is: Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth, by Rachel Maddow, read by the author.  Think it’s all about the money? Guess again: it’s all about the oil. The popular cable news star digs deep on the dirty open secret of geopolitical power.

Continue reading “2021 Audiobook Awards: And the Winners Are…”

New Always Available eBook Collection

I love living – and being a librarian – in a city of readers, but I won’t lie: the eBook hold queues can be intense. New this month are 170 eBooks that are always available – no holds, no wait! Here are some highlights to get you started.

Book Club Picks

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Short Stories: Tiny Windows into Other Worlds

During this pandemic, I’ve heard from so many people – normally avid readers of long novels – that they are having trouble focusing on full-length books. I, too, have found myself in the same boat. Thank goodness for short stories!  Sometimes I forget about these gems, but quite a few book groups (including two that I belong to) have been re-discovering these little powerhouses. As Neil Gaiman says, “Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner.” 

Short stories are also a great way to introduce yourself to unfamiliar authors or genres. For example, I’ve been intrigued by the growing number of Chinese science fiction authors whose works are being translated into English, but I didn’t know where to start. Then I saw the book Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation and had to check it out. The stories cover quite a gamut of moods and topics, ranging from a melancholic tale about artificial intelligence set in the near future to a time travel story set in an alternate 10th century China. Each story is prefaced by a brief description of the author’s life and work, and further context is provided by several essays about Chinese science fiction past and present. 

Continue reading “Short Stories: Tiny Windows into Other Worlds”

Bulosan at 75: Contemporary Filipino/Filipinx Memoirs

Carlos Bulosan’s fictionalized memoir America is in the Heart was published 75 years ago this month. The passionate and incendiary account captures the brutality and casual cruelty meted out to Filipino migrants in America, persecution that would continue as the poet and labor organizer was subsequently blacklisted and targeted by the FBI. By the time Bulosan died in his early forties, collapsing on the lawn of Seattle’s King County Courthouse and buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave, his once bestselling book had fallen into obscurity. Decades later it would be revived as a seminal work of the Filipino diaspora and the Asian American immigrant experience.

Since that time much has changed, and much hasn’t. Here are just a handful of the many outstanding memoirs at your local library by Filipino/Filipinx* writers to show how far we have and haven’t come.

Continue reading “Bulosan at 75: Contemporary Filipino/Filipinx Memoirs”