From the Wire

Barnes & Noble Picks the Best Books of the Year..So Far

It’s mid-year check-in season. This and more in today’s collection of book links.

Barnes & Noble Picks the Best Books of the Year…So Far

Barnes & Noble continues its recent format for best books list: grouping titles not by genre, but by….other things (books with sprayed edges, modern love, and others). Let me just highlight a few wild cards: being one of the four literary fiction titles selected (and literary fiction being in the top carousel), Real Americans‘s inclusion in the “spredges” category (sometimes gimmicks work), sports romances get their own group, and, as far as I can tell, no group dedicated to YA.

Philadelphia Sets World Record for Drag Queen Story Hour Attendance

As if hosting a drag queen story hour in this age of book banning wasn’t a brave enough task, Philadelphia Gay News’s successful attempt at a world record for a drag queen story hour shows just how brave these groups and people are. Kudos to them and to Visit Philadelphia for getting behind it. And here’s hoping someone in Austin or Seattle or heck Baton Rouge or Mobile sees it as a mark worth beating.

Nick Hornby on 25 Years of The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing

A tender appreciation both for Melissa Bank and her book The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, which is getting a 25th-anniversary edition. And I am glad it is. This was one of the first contemporary novels I remember reading and feeling like I was in on a new writer at the beginning. I was 21 and no one I knew was reading it. And I have no idea how I picked it up. But I remember that it was great. Might have to return to it again, because it sounds like it holds up.

The Gulag Archipelago at 50

On to another anniversary, this one I got through with harrowing slowness. This essay makes a case for its singular greatness — in execution and importance (of far lesser concern but still — The Gulag Archipelago might be the greatest title of all time). I remember being stunned at the scale — more than 10 million killed as part of Stalin’s war on his own people. Solzhenitsyn made understanding the reality of that number barely possible — where it was simply impossible before.