It’s the last day of June. How did that happen? 2012 is officially half-over and I’m not exactly sure where the time went. Of course, I say that every time we come to a new month. Now that summer is officially upon us, it’s time to break out the beach books (Kindles and sand just don’t mix) and soak up some sun (but not too much!). The blog will be taking a bit of break this week, in honor of Independence Day, but here’s some book news to tide you over:
- Sad news to start: journalist, screenwriter and author Nora Ephron passed away earlier this week at age 71, after battling leukemia. Though best known as the screenwriter of modern-day classic romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, Ephron was also several books, including two well-received memoirs. Above all, Nora Ephron gave women a voice and proved you could be smart and funny at the same time.
- Congratulations to people I’ve never heard of! At the American Library Association’s annual conference, the first ever Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were awarded. Anne Enright won the fiction category for her novel The Forgotten Waltz, while Robert Massie won the nonfiction category for his biography of Catherine the Great. These awards are among the first ALA honors for adult books. Finalists were judged by library professionals working closely with adult readers.
- Damn the man! Save the libraries! At the same annual conference, the ALA released an infographic chart outlining the dangerous funding cuts facing libraries across the country. 23 states reported a cut in state funding for libraries, while libraries simultaneously reported an increase in public use of those very same libraries. And, of course, with a decreased budget, libraries have to offer less services at the same time that patrons are asking for more. I suppose I should be glad, though, that my state wasn’t one of the ones cutting funding, right?
- Let the rumbling begin! Now that we’re officially half-way through the year, the annual “best of” lists are starting to come out (it’s like when they start putting up Christmas decorations in October.) Amazon has announced its list of the Best Books of the Year – So Far. Among the editors’ top 20 are John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Hilary Mantel’s Tudor-sequel Bring Up the Bodies, and Toni Morrison’s latest, Home. Like always, Amazon also offered its top 10 in individual categories, including teen books and romance (Julia Quinn’s latest made this list!). We’ll have to wait and see if any of these books can fend off competition from the second half of this year.
- Girl Power! Via Bookshelves of Doom, I found Flavorwire’s countdown of the greatest female science-fiction and fantasy authors. While many names might be familiar to you (Ursula LeGuin, Madeleine L’Engle, for example), others might surprise you. Octavia Butler is one of the few African American women writing science-fiction and she was the first science-fiction writer to win a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant. Meanwhile, Connie Willis has won a combined 18 Hugo and Nebula Awards. The authors of the list even make a convincing case for Ann Rice as fantasy.
As always, happy reading.