Tag Archives: media

Everything Is Broken by Emma Larkin

Everything Is Broken: A Tale of Catastrophe in Burma by Emma Larkin (Penguin Press, April 29, 2010), 288 pages

In May 2008 the massive Cyclone Nargis hit Burma, wreaking untold havoc on a heavily populated delta region. When the international community responded with aid, the ruling military regime denied access.

Going into this book, knowing it’s about a devastating hurricane and its aftermath, I knew it wasn’t going to be fun. I feared it might be incredibly depressing. I also knew I *needed* to read it. Larkin wouldn’t have had to stretch to make the book so, but instead, thankfully, she went another way. Or perhaps, since the darkness in the book wasn’t a surprise, it didn’t hurt me so much to read about it. Regardless, Everything Is Broken is incredibly intriguing, and not in that car-crash-rubbernecker way.

I remember the May 2008 cyclone and when it hit Burma. In my mind I’ve long compared and contrasted this disaster with the December 2004 tsunami that devastated so many Asian countries.

In a nutshell: Everything Is Broken is not a fun book (Hey, consider the topic!), but it’s definitely a good one. Besides great coverage of the hurricane’s aftermath, it has lots of good background information and is very readable. The history was fascinating, to say the least.

Tangent: While reading this book, I was frequently reminded of Kimya Dawson’s song 12 26, about the December 2004 tsunami. Totally different events, and very different responses. But some of the sentiments expressed in the song (Note: At some point I saw the song labeled as explicit, basically because of its depictions of the tsunami. While I don’t think the song necessarily deserves the label, some of the images in the linked video are pretty graphic.)

About the author
Emma Larkin is the pseudonym for an American who was born and raised in Asia and studied the Burmese language at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. She lives in Thailand and has been visiting Burma for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of Finding George Orwell in Burma, which I’d heard of somewhere in the blogosphere.

Check out the rest of the TLC Book Tour stops for Everything Is Broken: A Tale of Catastrophe in Burma by Emma Larkin.

Other reviews
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher, as part of the TLC book tour. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Trending on Twitter: A read-a-thon mini-challenge

deweys-readathonbuttonWelcome, read-a-thoners! This Trending on Twitter mini-challenge will take place in two parts. For the first part, you must all work together to get the official read-a-thon hashtag — #readathon — trending on Twitter (if it’s not already).

If you’re not yet on Twitter, joining is quick and easy.

Then, while #readathon is a trending topic, take a screenshot capturing the high point and/or details of your joint success, and post this to your blog. Come back here and leave me a link to your post with screenshot, and you’re done!

Need a refresher on how to take a screenshot? This site has straightforward directions for both Windows and Mac users.

This mini-challenge will last just one hour. It will close at 9 a.m. CDT. Enjoy! I look forward to seeing what you can accomplish together! The winner will be chosen randomly from all those who post a photo to their blog and leave me a link in the comments.

The prize: A $25 gift card to the book store of the winner’s choice.

Books a social media

A lovely story about how books help tangibly connect us, one reader to another in the Guardian:

“Novels aren’t just sources of solitary cogitation. They are social objects, and we use them to brandish our identities, mark our allegiances and broker our relationships. They can provoke passions as strongly as politics. Thanks to the intimate connection between story and reader, they impact upon us very personally, and can drive otherwise undemonstrative folk to feel they have a right — nay duty — to confront complete strangers with their zeal, and have thus been responsible for some of the most unexpected human encounters I’ve had.”

Read the whole piece; it’s quite heartwarming (and it’s short, too).

Via Shelf Awareness, July 14.

A bridge between lit blogs and book blogs?

I feel, sometimes, like I’m perhaps the missing link between the lit blogs of yore and the book blogs of now. (Not that the former have died out, but rather that book blogs have been making a splash.) Let me explain.

Lit blogs, as they coined themselves, mainly started years ago and were birthed out of a journalistic tradition. They don’t write personal, revealing posts but rather focus on maintaining a certain level of professionalism.

Book blogs are a more recent incarnation. Some book bloggers flaunt their amateur status and enjoy not having to fit any pre-conceived mold for what they do and how they present themselves.

[Many words have been used to attempt to differentiate between the two. First wave, second wave. Serious or not. Journalistic or chatty. Journalistic or conversation-driven. Professional vs. amateur. If you don’t know yet what I’m talking about, read the blog posts linked at the bottom of this post.]

• I started my blog 2+ years ago. That’s certainly not a long enough track record for me to fit into the first wave of online book reviewing (aka lit blogs). It’s certainly on the front end of book blogs, though.

• I came out of a journalistic tradition. I have a journalism degree, and I’ve held various newspaper jobs, including writer and editor.

• I don’t (and never have, really) write much about me personally on this blog. My voice tends toward the journalistic. Now, I recognize I’m not writing for a newspaper (and I’m not getting paid, either), so I’ve made some efforts to inject some of the new media voice into my writing, since I’m not writing for an old media.

• As much as journalism is a part of me and my blog, I never wrote reviews for a newspaper (or any traditional media outlet).

• I really enjoy the community aspect of book blogging, something lit bloggers don’t participate in at all (to my knowledge).

• I enjoy reading genre books (mysteries, particularly), something I’ve rarely seen mentioned with anything but disdain in the lit blogs I follow (and I follow more than a few, in addition to tons of book blogs).

• I love conversing about books. There’s no way I’ll ever (past or future) have the comments turned off here. I don’t think conversation, give and take, is contrary to a journalistic style, though. In my experience with journalism, there’s always been a way for readers to respond to content. Letters to the editor is one of the most-read sections of every newspaper (after obituaries), if I remember my stats correctly. Any newspaper with a website worth anything allows comments on its individual articles.

• I find it odd that one way of determining whether a site fits into the first or second wave is by word count of reviews. It’s strange to me that those of the journalistic side are insisting that a review is not a review if it’s not long; journalism is at least in part about boiling things down! Extracting the essence! My own reviews are not long (500 or 1,000 words plus), but I don’t want them to be; I don’t read reviews that long because they’re too long. (And if it’s that long, they’re likely to reveal too much of the story, something I’ve promised to never do!)

With all the recent controversy and hurt feelings between the two groups, I feel somewhat torn. In some ways, neither label fits me. In others, I could wear both. Is there a way for me to bridge this gap? How do you see me?

Notes on a distinction/controversy:
The Book Publicity Blog: Book bloggers — the old and new “waves” and what you need to know about both
My Friend Amy: This Social Media Thing
GalleySmith: Who’s Your Target

Defining news

Veteran journalist speaking to young journalist:

“You know, you’ve got a lot to learn about journalism. Look at it this way. News is what a chap who doesn’t care much about anything wants to read. And it’s only news until he’s read it. After that it’s dead. We’re paid to supply news. If someone else has sent a story before us, our story isn’t news. Of course there’s colour. Colour is just a lot of bulls-eyes about nothing. It’s easy to write and easy to read but it costs too much in cabling so we have to go slow on that. See?”

— from Page 91 of Scoop by Evelyn Waugh, a 1938 novel.

I finished this reading this book today, hopefully I’ll have a review posted soon.

Other quotes about journalism:
‘Vendors of words’
Artist (writer) as prophet
More from Muggeridge on the news business

Comics and publishing

Today’s Non Sequitur:

Today’s Pearls Before Swine:
(Click to enlarge)

First, I was struck that two comics, on the same day, both making the same point: Newspapers are dumb (perhaps book publishers, too) to give away their content for free.

Second, that point (aside from not being funny, either time) is such an old, worn out, answer!

Some well-known facts:

  1. Information, especially news, needs to be on the internet; that’s where people look. (Newspaper readership is down, down, down.)
  2. People don’t like paying for internet content; that model doesn’t work.
  3. Resisting or just ignoring change doesn’t make things stay the same.

Instead of rehashing statements older than yesterday’s news, read this forward-thinking look at the publishing revolution for some hope of a positive solution. (I offered some brief commentary on the piece last month.)

Today’s publishing revolution

    “Revolutions create a curious inversion of perception. In ordinary times, people who do no more than describe the world around them are seen as pragmatists, while those who imagine fabulous alternative futures are viewed as radicals. The last couple of decades haven’t been ordinary, however. Inside the papers, the pragmatists were the ones simply looking out the window and noticing that the real world was increasingly resembling the unthinkable scenario. These people were treated as if they were barking mad. Meanwhile the people spinning visions of popular walled gardens and enthusiastic micropayment adoption, visions unsupported by reality, were regarded not as charlatans but saviors.”

Agreed. Having worked in the newspaper industry, I’ve seen this, first hand.

That’s just one small tidbit of an in-depth look at the current revolution impacting journalism (and all of publishing, really). Among other things, Clay Shirky talks about the revolution of the printing press.

Here’s another peek:

    “Print media does much of society’s heavy journalistic lifting, from flooding the zone — covering every angle of a huge story — to the daily grind of attending the City Council meeting, just in case. This coverage creates benefits even for people who aren’t newspaper readers, because the work of print journalists is used by everyone from politicians to district attorneys to talk radio hosts to bloggers. The newspaper people often note that newspapers benefit society as a whole. This is true, but irrelevant to the problem at hand; “You’re gonna miss us when we’re gone!” has never been much of a business model. So who covers all that news if some significant fraction of the currently employed newspaper people lose their jobs?”


But really, just go read the whole piece.


Via @publishingtalk.

Men and women read differently?

Do men and women read differently?

Well, they do in my house.

The Telegraph reported Tuesday that a recent survey found:

Women are more avid readers, and that “almost half of women are ‘page turners’ who finish a book soon after starting, it compared to only 26 percent of men. The survey of 2,000 adults also found those who take a long time to read books and only managed one or two a year were twice as likely to be male than female. Men are also more likely to have shelves full of books that have never been opened.”

Unfortunately, the very-brief article does not note who conducted the survey, and I couldn’t find that information, either. Sigh. So many factors can invalidate a survey, which is why this story should have had more complete reporting. Anyway. Moving on.

As much as this says, it’s pretty true in this house (of two people). My husband tells me he set a personal reading record last year: He read seven books. Whereas I read 75-plus.

He is often (always?) in the middle of at least three books at once. He reads nonfiction almost exclusively.

I read predominately fiction. I usually read just one book at a time (with an exception for poetry).

So tell me, is this true in your household?