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Lit Crit

10 Bestselling Books with More Than 80 One-Star Reviews

Do negative reviews stop people from reading your books? Over at her blog, novelist Shiloh Walker disputed that claim in a passionate essay.

Check it out: “That negative review isn’t going to kill your career. Will it stop a few people from buying your book? Possibly–because that book may not be right for them. And FYI, one of the rants lately was that negative reviews discouraged people from reading … readers aren’t discouraged by ‘bad’ reviews. And guess what–that negative review may be the very thing that entices another reader to buy your book.”

We were so inspired by her post that we checked negative reviews of ten authors at Amazon–follow the links below to the many one-star reviews received by bestselling authors. Twilight topped the list with 669 one-star reviews. Read this list before you complain about your next bad review.

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NetGalley Users Wrote 45,000 Reviews Last Year

Firebrand Technologies founder Fran Toolan tweeted a big statistic about his company’s digital book review service today: “over 45,000 reviews were generated in 2011 from reviewers using NetGalley. A 500% increase over 2010.”

NetGalley has opened the door for bloggers, librarians, and other readers to apply for review copies from major publishers. However, not all review requests get approved.

NetGalley has assembled a a practical What Are Publishers Looking For? page to maximize your chances of getting your NetGalley request approved. The guide reveals what individual publishers expect for review requests–follow this link to explore the page.

Jennifer Weiner Analyzes Gender Balance in NYT Fiction Coverage

Novelist Jennifer Weiner has made a count of men and women reviewed by the New York Times last year.

Overall, Weiner (pictured, via)  found that out of 254 fiction reviews, nearly 60 percent of the featured books were written by men. Her long essay also counted authors reviewed multiple times by the newspaper. Follow this link to read the whole report.

Check it out: “Finally, of the works of fiction whose authors were reviewed twice (either with two full reviews, or review plus roundup) and profiled, one was a woman and ten were men. The men who received two reviews plus a profile were David Foster Wallace, Albert Brooks, Julian Barnes, Kevin Wilson, Nicholson Baker, Tom Perrotta, Russell Banks, Jeffrey Eugenides, Haruki Murakami and Allan Hollinghurst. The only woman who received two reviews plus a profile was Tea Obreht.”

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J. Hoberman Cut at Village Voice

After 30 years at the newspaper, movie critic and author J. Hoberman has been cut at the Village Voice.

Most recently, the critic published An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War at New Press.

Daily Intel had a quote from Hoberman: “I would be disingenuous to say I hadn’t considered the possibility that this would happen to me eventually … I was shocked, but not surprised.” (Via Mediabistro Newsfeed)

HuffPost Book Club Unveiled

The Huffington Post unveiled a new HuffPost Book Club today. Starting on January 3rd, the club will feature 10 books next year.

In addition to reading books, the online group will use Twitter, Facebook, Instagr.am, YouTube and Flickr to share reading experiences. It will also feature events at bookstores.

Here’s more from the release: “We begin with one of the most remarkable pieces of fiction in recent years: The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht … We’re telling you now, so you can add it to your Christmas list. We can’t wait to read it with you. The Book Club will officially begin on January 3rd. On February 7th, we will host an free event at St Mark’s Bookshop in New York City, featuring Téa Obreht. More on that soon.

UC Davis English Department Calls for Chancellor to Resign

The University of California, Davis English Department has posted a statement at the top of their webpage, calling for Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi to resign following a harsh police response to student activists last week.

The statement also urged the school disband the University of California Police Department. In the video embedded above, you can see a line of student protestors staring at Chancellor Katehi in a silent but powerful protest.

Here is the complete statement: “The faculty of the UC Davis English Department supports the Board of the Davis Faculty Association in calling for Chancellor Katehi’s immediate resignation and for ‘a policy that will end the practice of forcibly removing non-violent student, faculty, staff, and community protesters by police on the UC Davis campus.’ Further, given the demonstrable threat posed by the University of California Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to the safety of students, faculty, staff, and community members on our campus and others in the UC system, we propose that such a policy include the disbanding of the UCPD and the institution of an ordinance against the presence of police forces on the UC Davis campus, unless their presence is specifically requested by a member of the campus community. This will initiate a genuinely collective effort to determine how best to ensure the health and safety of the campus community at UC Davis.” (Via Maud Newton)

John Williams Hired as Web Producer for NYT Books Section

John Williams, the editor of The Second Pass book review site, has been hired as a web producer at The New York Times books section.

This morning, he tweeted the news: “couldn’t be more thrilled to be the new web producer for the books section of the New York Times.”

Here’s more about the new producer: “Williams, lives in Brooklyn, NY. From 2001-2007, he worked in the editorial department at HarperCollins. Before that, he spent time as a journalist in Texas and an editorial intern at Harper’s Magazine. His work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Slate, McSweeney’s, Stop Smiling, the Barnes & Noble Review, the Austin American-Statesman, the Dallas Morning News, and other publications.” (Via Sarah Weinman)

Jonathan Lethem Responds to James Wood Review

In a new Los Angeles Review of Books essay, Jonathan Lethem expressed his disappointment in a review by book critic James Wood.

Wood dissected The Fortress of Solitude in a 2003 New Republic review, prompting Lethem (pictured, via) to write him a private letter. He received a short note back, and eight years later, responded to the letter with a public essay about the review. What do you think?

Check it out: “Wood, in 4,200 painstaking words, couldn’t bring himself to mention that my characters found a magic ring that allowed them flight and invisibility. This, the sole distinguishing feature that put the book aside from those you’d otherwise compare it to (Henry Roth, say). The brute component of audacity, whether you felt it sank the book or exalted it or only made it odd. These fantastic events hinge the plot at several points, including the finale — you simply couldn’t not mention this and have read the book at all. Or rather, you couldn’t unless you were Wood.”

Literary Halloween Costume Ideas

As Halloween nears, it’s time for our annual feature on literary costume ideas. The blogosphere was bursting with ideas last year, but we’d love to hear more suggestions–especially literary costumes for this GalleyCat editor’s one-year-old baby…

Share all your ideas at the #literarycostumes hastag created by Random House

Adventurous Writer pointed us toward a brilliant Curious George Man in the Yellow Hat costume (pictured, via).

The Book Bench set up a Flickr page collecting the best photos of literary Halloween costumes.

 

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What Book Did Your Lover Give You?

The Books They Gave Me is a new Tumblr blog collecting memories of books shared by lovers.

Here’s one story from the blog: “He, lovelorn literary loser, just like me—but better at even that than I was, for I was a mere apprentice—gave me a hardcover edition of the complete poems of William Blake. I’d brought him to the legendary Hyde Park, Chicago Powell’s, and the Blake edition was on my shopping list. I was back in school at 34, newly divorced, to finish the BA in English Literature I should have taken the first time around. Starry-eyed, in love with the man and the poems, I found the book, but sadly noted its $70 price tag…”

So we just had to ask: What’s the best book you ever received as a gift from your lover? If you want to share the story of that particular gift book, email the blog with your submission. The guidelines are simple: “submit a few paragraphs and a valid URL for a cover image of the exact edition you were given, if possible.”

 

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