Bram Stoker's reference materials for Dracula discovered at the London Library

Bram Stoker's working notes for Dracula were discovered in 1913 (but not published until 2008); now researchers at the London Library have pulled the titles Stoker referenced and shown that these were the very books that Stoker used -- they can tell because he defaced the library books, circling the phrases he later made notes on. Read the rest

You can request hand-crafted reading-list recommendations from the Brooklyn public library online

The Bklyn BookMatch is a free service that matches readers with custom lists of recommendations: fill in a webform with "the titles, authors, and/or types of books you enjoy, and why" as well as "movies, TV, games, and other interests" and any books you dislike, as well as format and age preferences and within two weeks, a librarian will send you a customized reading list that you can check out of the Brooklyn library (or your own local library -- the service seems to be open to everyone!). (via Kottke) Read the rest

The Art of Point-and-Click Adventure Games

As soon as I chanced upon The Art of Point-and-Click Adventure Games [Bitmap Books] today I knew what I wanted for Christmas: 460 pages of full-bleed screenshots from decades of computer gaming, with dozens of feature articles about the best and the more obscure alike.

A visual celebration of one of the most loved genres in gaming history, The Art of Point-and-Click Adventure Games is a sumptuous 460 page, hardback coffee table book packed with the very best pixel art and classic scenes from the most defining games of this genre. It will also contain extensive and exclusive interviews with the key developers, designers and artists behind some of the most beloved games and characters in the history of the medium. The book starts with a foreword by Gary Whitta (PC Gamer magazine/Rogue One: A Star Wars Story).

The book covers titles such as King’s Quest, Myst, Toonstruck, Discworld, Blade Runner, Gabriel Knight, Flight of the Amazon Queen, Simon the Sorcerer and of course other classics, such as The Secret of Monkey Island, The Dig, Maniac Mansion and Full Throttle. All of the most famous and iconic point-and-click adventures are going to be covered, as well as some lesser-known games and home-brew efforts.

Here's an interview with the editor, Sam Dyer.

What made you focus on a specific genre this time around, as opposed to a particular console or system?

Sam: A book focussing on point-and-click adventure games has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I was surprised that not many books existed on the genre and saw an opportunity to do something.

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The amazing deluxe commemorative edition of The Art of Dungeons and Dragons is out today

Today marks the publication of the $100 Dungeons and Dragons Art and Arcana box-set, which contains a 400-page retrospective of the classic art of D&D, a reprint of the notoriously hard Tomb of Horrors module (designed by Gary Gygax to challenge the most overpowered characters), and frameable lithos. Read the rest

The Get the Vote Out Humble Bundle: dozens of DRM-free ebooks to benefit ACLU

The latest Humble Bundle features up to 26 DRM-free ebooks (including In Real Life, the graphic novel Jen Wang and I created) at prices ranging from $1 (for 8 titles) to $18 (for all 26), with all proceeds to the ACLU to benefit voting rights litigation and action. Read the rest

America, Compromised: Lawrence Lessig explains corruption in words small enough for the Supreme Court to understand

Lawrence Lessig was once best-known as the special master in the Microsoft Antitrust Case, then he was best known as the co-founder of Creative Commons, then as a fire-breathing corruption fighter: in America, Compromised, a long essay (or short nonfiction book), Lessig proposes as lucid and devastating a theory of corruption as you'll ever find, a theory whose explanatory power makes today's terrifying news cycle make sense -- and a theory that demands action.

Judy Blume's "Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret" coming to to big screen

A half a century after Judy Blume's classic young adult novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret was first published, it's going to be made into a film. Blume has consistently refused to allow her books to become movies. Fremon Craig who wrote and directed The Edge of Seventeen will adapt "Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret" for the screen and direct the movie with James L. Brooks producing. Apparently Blume hit it off with them during a trip to Hollywood in August. From Deadline:

“It is this right of passage for women and girls,” Fremon Craig told Deadline. “It’s rare for me to run into a woman or girl who hasn’t read it and every time I’ve mentioned it to a woman, they clutch their heart and let out this joyful gasp. There’s something so timely and full of truth and I remember for me that at that age, it felt like a life raft at a time when you’re lost and searching and unsure. This book comes along and tells you you’re not alone. Women remember where they were when they read it. I can’t think of another book you can say that about...."

“I got the greatest email from Judy where she said if someone were to make a film of one of her books, she hoped it would have the same tone and feeling that The Edge of Seventeen had,” Fremon Craig said. “It’s maybe the greatest compliment I’ve ever gotten, because she has always been a North star for me as a writer.

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Book of brutalist archictecture postcards from the Soviet era

Brutal Block Postcards is a new book that, er, celebrates the concrete landscape of the Soviet era. Over at Collectors Weekly, Lisa Hix flips through the pages:

Many of these postcards, published by governments of the U.S.S.R. between the 1960s and 1980s, depict the bland, 1960s five-story concrete-paneled apartments known as “khrushchyovka” as if to say, “Look at the modern wonder of collective worker housing!” To Westerners, the boxy buildings telegraph the bleak authority of so-called poured-concrete “Brutalist” architecture, which was somehow popular with both democratic and totalitarian governments during the postwar years.

However, in Brutal Bloc Postcards, the images of stern rectilinear apartments, government offices, and hotels stand in stark contrast to the dramatic public monuments. These Cold War-era monuments are epic in scale, towering over the Soviet landscape; their angular, avant-garde forms convey movement, as if hurtling toward brighter future through Communism.

"Postcards From Big Brother" (Collectors Weekly)

Brutal Blog Postcards: Soviet Era Postcards from the Eastern Bloc (Amazon)

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A sensible, free guide to negotiating book contracts

The Authors Alliance is a nonprofit that advocates for authors, libraries, readers and scholars (I'm on their advisory board); they've done a ton of great work, notably a tool for authors to claim their copyrights back from publishers, even when the original contract specified that the rights were signed away "in perpetuity." Read the rest

A book made from shelf-stable American cheese slices

The University of Michigan's library recently acquired a copy of American Cheese, 20 Slices, by Ben Denzer, a book made from shelf-stable, plastic-wrapped slices of American cheese. Read the rest

UPDATED: The US Patent and Trademark Office is ready to hand over an exclusive trademark for "Dragon Slayer" for fantasy novels

Update: The USPTO has withdrawn this from publication for "further review."

Michael-Scott Earle, a self-publisher of "pulp harem fantasies" is seeking a trademark on the use of "Dragon Slayer" in connection with fantasy novels. Read the rest

The online chopblock of text is making it hard to read anything else

Jennifer Howard, a professional writer and editor, found herself unable to re-read a Hermann Hesse novel she loved: the "grafted, spasmodic, online style" of reading has forced itself onto all of her reading, making immersion difficult and the text unsatisfying. So she knuckled down to review Maryanne Wolf's Reader, Come Home, a book about what's happening to our "reading brains."

...the average person “consumes about 34 gigabytes across varied devices each day” — some 100,000 words’ worth of information. “Neither deep reading nor deep thinking can be enhanced by the aptly named ‘chopblock’ of time we are all experiencing, or by 34 gigabytes of anything per day,” Wolf argues

And...

Even as it keeps one eye on the future, “Reader, Come Home” embodies some old-fashioned reading pleasures, with quotes from Italo Calvino, John Dunne, Toni Morrison, Marcel Proust, Elie Wiesel and other illustrious word-workers. It unfolds as a series of letters addressed to “Dear Reader” from “Your Author,” a call to remember that books come alive as exchanges between writers and readers.

That structure can make “Reader, Come Home” feel — in a corny but charming way — like a throwback to an era already gone, if it ever existed. Wolf offers a persuasive catalog of the cognitive and social good created by deep reading, but does not really acknowledge that the ability to read well has never been universal.

Make reading great again.

Photo: Johnnydeezwax, CC-BY-SA Read the rest

Aw, shit: New York's McNally Jackson Books is closing its Nolita store

New York City's amazing McNally Jackson Books is closing its flagship bookstore on Prince Street in Nolita; the store is a neighborhood fixture and a hub of literary events (I've appeared there); they also sport a cafe and a book-printing machine. Read the rest

"Radicalized" will be my next book!

I've just closed a new book deal: Tor Books will publish "Radicalized," which tells four stories of hope, conflict, technology and justice in the modern world and near future in March 2019; along with the book deal is a major audiobook deal with Macmillan Audio and a screen deal with Topic Studios (a sister company to The Intercept) for one of the tales, "Unauthorized Bread." Read the rest

Now in print: William S Burroughs' lost guide to overthrowing a corrupt government

Tony Sanfilippo says, "'The Revised Boy Scout Manual," a lost Burroughs manuscript concerning how to overthrow a corrupt government has just been published in its entirety for the first time. With an afterword and reminiscence by V. Vale, publisher and founder of RE/Search publications. Vale's afterword is available in its entirety." Read the rest

The ethics of wiping out a mosquito species

The announcement from Read the rest

EFF and McSweeney's collaborated on a publication: "The End of Trust"

The End of Trust will be McSweeney's issue 54, the first-ever all-nonfiction issue of McSweeney's, with more than 30 contributions on "surveillance in the digital age." Read the rest

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