Category: Features

Women in Translation: It’s a readathon, it’s a month, it’s a thing

I’ve been vaguely aware for a few years that Women in Translation Month, or #WITmonth, happens in August. And I have read many impassioned posts from #WITmonth founder and blogger Meytal Radzinski, aka Bibliobio, about the sorry state of gender representation in translated lit. Fewer works by women are translated into English, and even fewer of the women who do get translated are reviewed in major publications. That second stat could kickstart a vicious cycle: fewer reviews means less attention which means lower sales which means publishers take fewer chances translating women, which leads back to fewer women translated… that’s simplified, but you get the picture.

But it took a booktube readathon, of all things, to spur me into action. Well, “action” – I made a list! But I will eventually choose a book and participate in this readathon. That’s a few steps up from slacktivism, right?

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Blogging by numbers

It’s time to dig deep, and peel back the layers on Reading in Bed. Yep, we’re looking at blog statistics*!

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When you check your blog stats and realize no one is reading your carefully crafted, 2,000 word review of an obscure backlist book

I recently hit a significant milestone over on YouTube. 500 subscribers. Halfway to an almost-medium-sized-Booktube-account, still absolutely nothing in the larger YouTube ecosystem.

YouTube is all about the “like and subscribe”, but bloggers don’t really talk about follower counts or number of likes. I can easily find out who the big Booktube accounts are (or try the new Booktuber Catalog on Discord, learn more here), but it’s difficult to get a read on book blogs (there’s this list, but it doesn’t differentiate between corporate entities – like, yeah, Book Riot is riddled with typos, but it’s not *actually* a blog).

So in the interest of opening up a dialogue, and because I’m nosy as hell and hope that some of you out there decide to share a bit, here’s a peek at where I’m at with ye olde bloge: Continue reading

Start Where You Are: How to get into new authors, feat. the Man Booker International Prize shortlist

I picked up Book Riot’s “Start Here: Read Your Way Into 25 Amazing Authors” as a free Kobo download a while back, and gave it a skim: each entry offers a short introduction to an author, and a suggested reading list to ease your way into their work. I thought this would be light and entertaining, but I found it all a bit depressing. Much like my experience with The Novel Cure, what’s meant to be a bit of fun comes across as too preachy and prescriptive for my liking. As I keep impressing on my kids: once you know how to read on your own, you can read anything you want and no one can stop you.

 

(Plus, how badly do you think Book Riot wishes it could take back the very first entry in Start Here volume one, on Sherman Alexie? These things don’t always age well.)

Anyway, I was reminded of this particular brand of reading guidance while reading the Man Booker International Prize shortlist. In particular, The World Goes On by László Krasznahorkai and Flights by Olga Tokarczuk are spoken of a bit dismissively – not their best work, not the best place to start. Continue reading

Canada Reads: Who should win, who could win

It’s that time of year again! No, not spring. This is Canada. It’s beautiful in Edmonton today, but the forecast for later this week includes a low of -18 (that’s about zero degrees for you Americans) and snow. No, friends, it is time for Canada Reads.

The drama! The bickering! The relatively-high production values! The distinctly early-aughts reality show vibe!

If you need a primer about what Canada Reads is all about, please visit my YouTube channel where I break it down (short version: Canada Reads = Survivor + Who Wants to be a Millionaire + books)

Here are my picks for who should and could win, based on my previous experience with this show, and this year’s theme: one book to open your eyes. Continue reading

The Man Booker International Prize 2018: Readers to watch

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The Man Booker International Prize is a slightly more obscure prize than, say, The Women’s Prize, The Giller Prize, or the plain ol’ Man Booker Prize. That’s partly why I am keen to follow it – it’s not as overwhelming. There are plenty of other #mbi2018 readers, though. Here are a few I’m following. If I missed you, let me know!

The Man Booker International Prize Shadow Jury

These are the cool kids of #mbi2018. They are already posting longlist reviews! Actually, I’ve followed several of them for years, and they are super nice. Here is the full list of shadow jurors. In particular, I recommend Dolce Bellezza for thoughtful reviews and reading challenges galore; and Tony’s Reading List for his sense of humour and commitment to translated fiction (and the best book blog tagline in the game: “Too lazy to be a writer – Too egotistical to be quiet”). Continue reading

How to follow a UK Prize from Canada or my foray into the Man Booker International Prize

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I made a snap decision today: I’ve decided to follow the Man Booker International Prize. I came to my decision, oh, about a half hour before the longlist was announced this morning. In my excitement, I filmed two videos before work: one about why I’m following the prize, and one reacting to the longlist. Scroll down to watch, if you wish.

Since my early morning burst of activity, though, I’ve learned some harsh lessons about following a UK prize from overseas: you can’t get the books.

Well, you *can*. And I knew it would be a pain – this isn’t my first rodeo (or my first Booker). But the combination of UK publication dates, translations, and this particular longlist’s preponderance of small press books makes the 2018 MBIP a real challenge. So, I did some research. Continue reading

Jonathan Franzen’s Away Message

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This time of year, I’d usually be kicking off another round of Franzen in February, but due to my unplanned, two-month blogging hiatus, I don’t have my shit together.

So, sadly, this year I will not be bringing you any new Franzen conspiracy theories, nor will I be peer pressuring anyone into reading their First Franzen (which has generally not gone well).

But I just remembered, the most amazing Franzen-related incident of my life occurred during my hiatus, and while I regaled everyone on social media, YouTube, and even IRL, I haven’t shared it with you, dear readers.

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Short Story Recommendations from Short Story Lovers – and #SSAC2017 winner announcement

I would have announced this sooner, but I took at week-long internet break (inspired by Bookbii) and it was lovely.

Meghan has won the Short Story Advent Calendar giveaway! She’s an accomplished short story writer herself. Check out her writing here.

Thank you to everyone who entered. I asked you to tell me about a great short story collection as part of your entry, and did you guys ever come through. Below is the full list of recommendations: Continue reading

The Short Story Advent Calendar 2017: Giveaway open till Oct. 17

Disclaimer: Giveaway copy is courtesy of the kind people at Hingston & Olsen Publishing, but I bought my own copy. I know one of the creators, Michael Hingston, and reviewed his novel The Dilettantes here.

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It’s that time of year again: The Short Story Advent Calendar is on sale now, and I have a copy to give away. I plan to do daily reveal videos, so subscribe on YouTube if you haven’t already!

The SSAC is exactly what it sounds like: individually bound short stories that you open every day from December 1 to 25. The creators also post daily author interviews and extras on their website. The best part is reading along and chatting about the stories with fellow bookish people on the internet – use #ssac2017 on Twitter.

How to enter & other fine print

  • To enter: tell me about the last great short story you read in the comments, and make sure your comment either includes your email address, or links to somewhere I can find it. Or, email me at lauratfrey@gmail.com and put SSAC in the subject line. If you haven’t read a great short story lately, that’s okay! Just tell me how excited you are to start reading them, or something.
  • Rules and regulations:
    • Contest is open till October 17, 2017.
    • On October 18, I will randomly choose a winner. I will notify the winner by email and ask for their mailing address. If I don’t hear back in 48 hours, I’ll choose again.
    • The winner’s calendar will ship in late October.
    • The giveaway is open internationally, but can only ship to addresses in Canada, USA, Mexico, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Good luck!

Psst… Hingston & Olsen are offering a second story box this year. The Ghost Box is full of scary stories, and is still available but probably won’t be for long.

CanLit for Cynics: Q&A with Peter Unwin

petroniusWhen I wrote about CanLit cynicism for carte blanche, I started with Alex Good’s book of essays, Revolutions (full Q&A here). Then, a very strange novel fell into my hands (actually, it was placed there by Kelsey at Freehand Books) and I knew these books were meant to be together. Searching for Petronius Totem is a strange, hilarious book, and author Peter Unwin is a bit strange and hilarious himself. Read on for the full Q&A.

Many thanks to Mr. Unwin, and Ms. Attard at Freehand books!

 

 

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