One-Minute Book Reviews

March 22, 2012

Why We Need Bookstores / Quote of the Day From Scott Turow

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 9:41 am
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Why do we need brick-and-mortar bookstores? Scott Turow, the novelist and president of the Authors Guild, gives an often neglected reason in this quote:

“Marketing studies consistently show that readers are far more adventurous in their choice of books when in a bookstore than when shopping online. In bookstores, readers are open to trying new genres and new authors: it’s by far the best way for new works to be discovered.” 

August 6, 2009

‘Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?’ — Quote of the Day /Henry Ward Beecher

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:04 pm
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“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?”

– Henry Ward Beecher, as quoted in the new The Book Shopper: A Life in Review from Paul Dry Books.

February 27, 2009

10 Books Named Finalists for 2009 Delete Key Awards for Bad Writing

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:07 am
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Here’s a complete list of the finalists for the 2009 Delete Key Awards, which recognize authors who don’t use their delete keys enough. Click on this link to read passages that earned these books a place on shortlist, posted on Feb. 26 in ten separate posts. More comments on these awards appear at www.twitter.com/janiceharayda.

1. Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid (Viking), by Denis Leary.

2. Death Benefits: How Losing a Parent Can Change an Adult’s Life — For the Better (Basic Books), by Jeanne Safer.

3. The Underneath (Atheneum, ages 8 and up), by Kathi Appelt with drawings by David Small

4. Wolf Totem (Penguin), by Jiang Rong, translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt:

5. Change of Heart (Simon & Schuster/Atria), by Jodi Picoult.

6. Leisureville: Adventures in America’s Retirement Utopias (Atlantic Monthly Press), by Andrew Blechman.

7. Read All About It! (HarperCollins, ages 4–6), a picture book by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush, illustrated by Denise Brunkus.

8. The Host (Little, Brown) by Stephenie Meyer.

9. Bright Shiny Morning (Harper), by James Frey.
10. Audition: A Memoir (Knopf), by Barbara Walters.

Randy Pausch has posthumously received the first Delete Key Awards Lifetime Achievement Award for The Last Lecture (Hyperion), in part for his unabashed acknowledgment of his love of football cliches. As long as there was still time left on the clock, he kept the drive alive.

The winners of the 2009 Delete Key Awards will be announced March 16 on the One-Minute Book Reviews blog.

Thanks for visiting One-Minute Book Reviews, a site for people who like to read but dislike hype and review inflation.

(c) 2009 Janice Harayda.

www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

February 26, 2009

2009 Delete Key Awards Finalist #1 – Denis Leary’s ‘Why We Suck’

Delete Key Awards Finalist #1 comes from Denis Leary’s Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid (Viking, 240 pp., $26.95):

The winner of the first-ever One-Minute Book Reviews visitors’ poll:
“I’ll take five Anna Nicole Smiths for every Martin Luther King.”

And the runner-up in the poll:
“The women [at the gym]? Paired off on adjacent treadmills or elliptical trainers – yak yakkety yick yak yic, yic yickety, yawbeddy jawbeddy – jic jak yick. Yicketty yacketty blah blah blah.”

Can we all agree that somebody needs to rescue the prose of the star of Rescue Me?

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

2009 Delete Key Awards Finalist #2 – Jeanne Safer’s ‘Death Benefits’

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 3:51 pm
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Delete Key Awards finalist #2 comes from Jeanne Safer’s Death Benefits: How Losing a Parent Can Change an Adult’s Life — For the Better (Basic Books, 226 pp., $25);

The first line in the book:
“The death of your parents can be the best thing that ever happens to you.”

Unless, of course, you’re fortunate enough to get an incurable disease, to lose your house in a foreclosure sale or to have invested all your life savings with Bernie Madoff. This sentence was the most crass and tasteless I read in a 2008 book. Denis Leary is at least trying to be funny. Safer is serious.

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

2009 Delete Key Awards Finalist #3 – Kathi Appelt’s ‘The Underneath’

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:43 pm
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Delete Key Awards Finalist #3 comes from Kathi Appelt’s The Underneath (Atheneum, 311 pp., $19.99, ages 8 and up), a finalist for the most recent Newbery and National Book Awards, with drawings by David Small:

“The pain she felt was palpable.”

What’s wrong with this sentence? All together now: “Palpable” means you can feel it.

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

2009 Delete Key Awards Finalist #7– ‘Read All About It!’ by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush

Delete Key Awards Finalist #7 comes from Read All About It (HarperCollins, 32 pp., $17.99, ages 4–6), a picture book by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush, illustrated by Denise Brunkus:

“I say, ‘The library is a boring place! All I will meet there are stinky pages.’”

and

“Miss Toadskin thinks she can gross us out with her science experiments. But I live for that stuff!”

It happens every year! Delete Key Awards finalists try to strengthen weak sentences by adding manic exclamation points! And bad puns! How many 4-year-olds will know that a “page” is someone who reshelves books!

© Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

February 25, 2009

How Badly Can You Write and Get a Book Published in America? Find Out Thursday, Feb. 26, When the Shortlist for the 2009 Delete Key Awards Is Posted

Are you tired of reading about what a hard time publishers are having? Do you wish that somebody would write about what a hard time we, the readers, are having with some of the clinkers they’ve thrown at us?

Stay right here. Tomorrow One-Minute Book Reviews will post the shortlist for the Third Annual Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books for adults or children. The finalists will be named in random order and numbered in reverse order, from No. 10 through No. 1, at roughly half hour intervals, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. The full shortlist will be posted by 5 p.m.

Last year John Brockman said on the blog for the Powell’s Books:

“Arguably the second-best online literary award after the TOB’s Rooster [co-sponsored by Powell’s] is the 2008 Delete Key Awards for ‘the year’s worst writing in books,’ awarded by the One-Minute Book Reviews blog.”

Please check back tomorrow to learn the finalists for this year’s booby prizes for clichés, bad grammar, psychobabble, stereotypes, mispunctuation, incoherence, dumbing-down and more.

One-Minute Book Reviews does not accept free books or other promotional materials from editors, publishers, authors, agents or others with ties to the industry.

© 2009 Janice Harayda
www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

Questions and Answers About the 2009 Delete Key Awards for the Year’s Worst Writing in Books

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:33 am
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UPDATE: The finalists for Fourth Annual Delete Key Awards for bad writing in books will be announced on Thursday, Feb. 25. Please nominate your candidates by Feb. 15, 2010.

One-Minute Book Reviews will announce the finalists for the Third Annual Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books tomorrow, Feb. 26. The first book to make the shortlist will be named at about 10 a.m. Eastern Time with other titles released throughout the day. The full list of finalists will be posted by 5 p.m.

Here are some questions and answers about the awards:

Why do we need the Delete Key Awards?
When you go bed with a book, you should be able to respect yourself in the morning. Unfortunately, too many publishers don’t realize this.

Who is eligible for a Delete Key Award?
Any book for children or adults published in hardcover or paperback in the U.S. in 2008, including reprints and books in translation.

Why are the awards for “the worst writing in books” instead of “the worst books”?
The overall quality of a book involves subjective issues such as taste and judgment. The Delete Key Awards recognize more clear-cut sins. They call attention to such things as clichés, bad grammar or writing at a statistically verifiable third-grade level. The listing for each finalist will give an example of the bad writing in the book and comment on what’s wrong with it.

What kind of bad writing qualifies for an award?
Anything that would make an intelligent reader cringe. The sins that may qualify a passage in a book for a Delete Key Award include clichés, bad grammar, dumbing down, psychobabble, stereotypes, mispunctuation, stilted dialogue, unintentionally comic sex scenes, and overall tastelessness (the “that’s just sick” factor).

This is the third year Delete Key Awards have been given. What’s new in 2009?

First, visitors to One-Minute Book Reviews are choosing one of the finalists through a poll posted on Feb. 21 oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2009/02/21/. The poll remains open until 5 p.m. Eastern Time Feb. 25. Second, for the first time a special posthumous Delete Key Award will be given out before the shortlist appears.

Who are some past winners of the Delete Key Awards? Where can I read the bad writing that won them their awars?
The 2007 winners were Danielle Steel’s Toxic Bachelors, grand prize; Mitch Albom’s For One More Day, first runner-up; and Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children, second runner-up, all of whose winning passages were posted on March 15, 2007. The 2008 winners were Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, grand prize; Alice Sebold’s The Almost Moon, first runner-up; and Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, second runner-up, all of whose winning passages were posted on March 14, 2008.
How do you select the finalists?

At the end of each review on One-Minute Book Reviews, you’ll find the best and worst lines in the book. The finalists usually come from the “worst” lines. But all of the selected examples of bad writing are typical of what you’ll find in the book that made the shortlist. No author became a finalist because of one or two bad lines.

Why are you picking on struggling authors?
First, “struggling authors” is a cliché. Strike it from your vocabulary. Second, I’m not picking on those people. Most of the Delete Key Awards finalists are rich. Those who aren’t rich are generally influential or representative of a strong trend in publishing.

When will you announce the winners of the Delete Key Awards?
Visitors to One-Minute Book Reviews will be able to comment on the finalists for two weeks, and the winners will be named on March 16. The winners are usually named on the Ides of March because Julius Caesar was assassinated then, and at least in spots, these books assassinate the English language. But March 15 falls on Sunday this year, so the awards are being announced on March 16.

Why are you announcing the finalists one at a time instead of all at once?
It will provide more entertainment for people who are bored at work. And there are so many bad writers published in the U.S., my site might crash if they all rushed over at once to see if I’d recognized their contributions to literature.

Why are you qualified to pick the winner of the Delete Key Awards?
One-Minute Book Reviews doesn’t accept free books or other promotional materials from editors, publishers, literary agents or authors whose books may be reviewed on the site. So the reviews aren’t affected by the marketing considerations that sometimes affect the decisions of others.

I also received more than 400 books a week during my 11 years as the book editor of the Plain Dealer, Ohio’s largest newspaper. These included Knitting With Dog Hair, which is still in print. Critics laughed when the book was published. But Knitting With Dog Hair looks like Madame Bovary compared with some Delete Key Awards fianlsits.

One-Minute Book Reviews is for people who like to read but dislike hype and review inflation. It was created by Janice Harayda, a novelist and award-winning journalist who has been the book columnist for Glamour, the book editor and critic for the Plain Dealer and a vice-president of the National Book Critics Circle.

Thanks so much for visiting One-Minute Book Reviews.

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

February 12, 2009

She Cuts Big Novels in Half With a Bread Knife to Make Them Easier to Read (Quote of the Day / Harriet Compston in Tatler)

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:12 am
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Harriet Compston wrote this irresistible line about the English dancer Georgiana Cavendish, a direct descendent of her namesake, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, in the January 2009 issue of Tatler:

“Georgiana’s escape is big trashy novels, which she cuts in half with a bread knife to make them easier to read.”

Read it and weep, librarians and second-hand booksellers. You’re not going to get those novels for your Friends sales and sidewalk tables.

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

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