Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Midnight Inspiration and a book link round-up

paper fox courtesey of Mark Leonard on Flickr, reproduced under a Creative Commons License

Well I *was* (I promise! I promise!) going to bring you a rather fine and thoughtful book review on the latest tome I’ve been reading…But having been up with the lurgy all night the book remains only three quarters finished so that pleasure will have to wait for another day. So, instead, I have for you a little round-up of book articles and blog pieces that have caught my eye.

We used to do a book round-up quite regularly on Vulpes but somehow got out the habit a while ago. I enjoyed visiting some old regulars for this – the always interesting and well-written Booklit. The mix of review and personality of favourites like Lizzie Siddall and DoveGreyReader.  But as I quested through some of our old friends I also noticed quite a few blogs were resting or occasionally discontinued, which was a little sad. Keeping a blog going is a big commitment. A big, silly, irrational, pointless, time-consuming commitment that gives you no money or recompense for all that blood, sweat and tears. Everything has its lifespan and perhaps some bloggers eventually run out of that time and energy – life gets in the way or they suddenly find themselves going through a reading dry patch. How do you keep it interesting and moving forward and challenging?

We have a lot of discussions about these issues on VL. And I think largely the community aspect of this very strange and eclectic bunch of opinionated eccentrics is what holds us all together. I know I will always get intelligent thoughts and interaction from my Vulpine colleagues. And even when overtaken by busyness and lack of time, I am loath to give that up.

But, as we move forward years down the line, we do need to think about ways of keeping things fresh and vital and interesting to ourselves. The world of books is changing. How do blogs reflect this? What seemed fresh and new a few years ago is already seeming tired and old-hat. Technology continues apace and just as mainstream publishers creep into the 21st century and start to acknowledge blogs in a big way – those early-adopters and movers and shakers are already claiming the blog is dead – killed off by Twitter and other social media. Is this true?

We are constantly told about the fast and furious net culture. People have no attention span, we’re told. One sentence is enough. It is a place of quick opinions and knee-jerk reactions – but print is where you find the contemplative stuff.

I’m not so sure. Book blogs have brought the long review – even the essay – into prominence. If there is one thing that is cheap on the internet it is space. This hasn’t been acknowledged enough and opens out a whole range of exciting possibilities. But time – now, there’s the rub. Where to find the constant, regular time any blog, let alone a thoughtful, considered blog, requires?

I am sad to see blogs folding. And I hope we can refresh ourselves so that we can respond and keep things interesting into the future. I wonder how other bloggers are thinking about and responding to that challenge.

Well, enough musings from me. I hope this ramble will, at least, provide a kick to myself to get a bit more creative and challenge myself a bit more. To explore themes and ideas here that are important to me – and throw them out there for others to think about and throw ideas back. Because that – at the end of the day – is what this is all about.

Right. And so to the links…

Valentine themes

On a valentine’s day front I couldn’t resist this gorgeous selection of love letters, although the first – from Henry VIII to the woman he would later order to be decapitated, sent shivers down my spine:

Continuing the war of the sexes, it seems both male and female writers are trying to claim they have a tougher time in this article from the Guardian:

On the demise of chicklit (aren’t we always being told of its imminent demise? How long can a demise last, I wonder?):

Women couldn’t get enough of “chick lit” like “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” “Sex and the City” and “Confessions of a Shopaholic.” Encouraged by sales, many publishers launched imprints solely for the literary confections.

Then chick lit disappeared faster than Mr. Wrong the morning after. What happened? Did readers fall out of love with these books? Was the market oversaturated with chick lit? Or did those damn vampire books suck the life out of it?

Although I imagine this lot at the Romantic Novelists Association wouldn’t agree as they announce the 2012 shortlist:

Other Book News

Another war – of the bookseller variety this time in a piece summing up much of the changes going on at the moment:

The age-old debate about what we do with problematic depictions in books from other eras raises its head as a campaigner tries to get Tintin in the Congo banned for being racist:

On a lighter note, I couldn’t resist this piece on Hatchet Job of the Year. There really should be a blog prize for this!

And my blogs round-up:

A terrific review from Booklit on This is Not a Novel by David Markson:

Dovegreyreader writes movingly about the taken too soon Angela Carter and the pleasure and opportunities that come with being in your fifties:

And to cheer everyone up in these difficult economic times – Clive James reminds us of the upside of authors being remaindered (just so long as it’s somebody else)

And lastly, because I couldn’t resist this, and because it reminds me of illicit viewing with my mates as a kid – Litlove muses on Dallas, Dynasty and the Moldovian massacre. Even the pictures of Joan Collins and Linda Evans launching into a catfight made me smile.

ENJOY and remember to pay a visit to all those fantastic blogs in our sidebar.

5 comments on “Midnight Inspiration and a book link round-up

  1. Hilary
    February 16, 2012

    What a great surprise package, Rosy! Enjoyable and thought-provoking.

    The sad thing about blogs fading away for me is not noticing that they’ve disappeared from the rss feeder. I can understand that life brings changes to lone bloggers, and to collectives too, which means that the blog has had its span. But I’m now wondering who the new bloggers are, and how to find out about them. Off to Wikio I go …..

    I think it is this sort of thought piece leavening the reviews that takes this blog into the future world. I’m almost never in agreement with arguments the say ‘x has replaced y’ – great believer in both – and. In particular, the rapid-fire social media are an exciting addition – but saying something in 140 characters will never be the only game in town. In great part, they are about links, and the links are to more extended writing and exploration of reaction and opinion – so the blog, or nearest offer, can continue to hold its place, I feel.

    I’m really loving the way this week is turning out! A magisterial new voice on Monday (Ticky daaaahling), a uniquely wonderful love story, and now this excellent surprise today.

  2. Jackie
    February 16, 2012

    Really thoughtful post! I agree that it’s sad when blog fade away, though I understand Life getting in the way, especially when people have kids or get new jobs, etc. I also agree that Twitter can’t possibly replace blogs, there’s not enough room!
    And chick-lit may not be as trendy now, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead. It may lead to a better quality or a return to the high quality of the early days, with publishers not rushing to jump on the bandwagon.
    Thanks for the links, I’m especially interested to check out the love letter & the Hatchet Job ones.

  3. kirstyjane
    February 17, 2012

    Thank you very much for this, Rosy — an incredibly useful resource! Hope you are feeling better!

  4. Stewart
    February 18, 2012

    Thanks for remembering the blog. Booklit is on indefinite hold until the time comes when I can sit down and enjoy a book once more. I tried many a timein 2011 to read a book and managed a measly one, which I never even got around to writing about.

    When I started it I was doing a two hour commute to work and the same back, giving me plenty of time to read plenty of books. A year after starting it, I started a part-time degree and, despite the work involved, tried to keep up with my reviewing. Then, following a change of office, my commute was shortened to half an hour each way. Then, a flat move reduced this further to about six minutes on the subway, which is no time to settle into a book, especially when station-watching to ensure not missing the stop.

    In December 2012, my degree will finally be over and I’ll have time (I hope) to do some more reading. How it fits into other hobbies (photography, cooking, and beer), I don’t know. We’ll see. I still have the blogging bug, but just can’t scratch that itch too much right now. I’m toying with the idea on expanding and rebranding booklit when the time comes to be something that’s not just book reviews, but will also give me free reign to cover movies, music, TV, restaurants/food place, pubs, beer, chocolate, and more. Time will tell.

  5. rosyb
    February 21, 2012

    We often have similar discussions here, Stewart. Should we branch out? Cover films etc? We have agreed to but strangely we don’t seem to do it that much.

    If you ever fancy keeping your hand in with a guest review on Vulpes, just holler. We’d be honoured to have you.

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This entry was posted on February 16, 2012 by in Uncategorized.



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