Over the years I’ve gone through all kinds of Christmas presents, and nearly all of them quickly broke or have been long forgotten. Not so the gift books, whether Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan and the Golden Lion, a paperback copy of Ovid’s Metamorphoses or the Pléiade edition of Stendhal’s Oeuvres Intimes. Given to me by relatives, teachers and friends, they helped to make the season bright — and they also helped to make me who I am.
Lying Liars: “Nearly half of all men and one-third of women have lied about what they have read to try to impress friends or potential partners”, the BBC reports.
The creator of Donkey Kong and Super Mario is hoping that Austen and Dickens will prove as great a pull to computer game fanatics. It has worked with HarperCollins to select 100 titles – from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Gulliver’s Travels, Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities and Treasure Island – which will be available in a single software package for the Nintendo DS
One of the commonest complaints by cultural doomsayers is that nobody reads good books any more. Yet in the past two years, the Oprah Book Club in America recommended Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” and three novels by William Faulkner–good by any standard, and they all made the bestseller lists. This year, Waterstone’s, which owns over 300 bookshops in Britain, asked two celebrated novelists, Sebastian Faulks and Philip Pullman, each to choose 40 titles and write a few words of recommendation. The chain then piled copies of the books on tables next to the entrances of its main shops and waited to see what would happen. Faulks and Pullman hardly dumbed down their choices: they included Fernando Pessoa’s “Book of Disquiet”, Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim”, and Raymond Queneau’s “Exercises in Style”. The sales increases for these books over the same period the year before were, respectively, 1,350%, 1,420% and 1,800%–clear evidence of latent demand. If you offer it, they will come.
And on a similar note, stills of the 25 minute animated adaptation of Oliver Jeffers’ book Lost and Found (to be broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK on Christmas Eve) can be seen on the STUDIOaka website. Looks lovely.
And this is probably my last regular post for the next couple of weeks. In the extremely unlikely instance you get withdrawal symptoms, you can always check out the links in the sidebar and/or send me an email!
See you in the New Year!