Thursday, January 2, 2014

Magazines about books

I came away from a newsstand recently with three book-related magazines that held my interest for several days. Two of them, Mystery Scene and ForeWord Reviews, I had never spent time with before, while the third, Fine Books & Collections , was an old friend I hadn't seen for a couple of years.

ForeWord Reviews devotes itself to books from independent publishers. These books, like indie films, get relatively little attention from the major media and, consequently, from the public, but often are worth seeking out. Unfortunately, because the purpose of the magazine is to promote books from small publishers, the reviews are almost indistinguishable from the magazine's ads. One might get the idea that each of the scores of books mentioned is at least a minor masterpiece.

Despite this shortage of objectivity, ForeWord makes interesting reading for any bibliophile. I found at least a couple of books that might be worth seeking out: Shake Terribly the Earth: Stories from an Appalachian Family by Sarah Beth Childers (Ohio University Press), the review of which includes a long excerpt that sells the book by itself, and Cartilage and Skin by Michael James Rizza (Starcherone Books), a thriller that sounds unusual and interesting.

The autumn issue of Fine Books & Collections has articles about Hobby Lobby billionaire Steve Green's plan to build a Bible museum in Washington and about the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum on the campus of Ohio State University. Nicholas Basbanes, a regular contributor to the magazine, has both his column, Gently Mad, and an article that seems basically to be a promotion for his latest book, On Paper: The EVERYTHING of Its Two Thousand Year History.

The holiday issue of Mystery Scene contains a piece about Alexander McCall Smith explaining how he came to write the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels and another about the husband-and-wife writing team of Aimee and David Thurlo. The magazine offers numerous reviews, which like those in Foreword tend to be mostly positive. The publication seems like a good way for mystery fans to find out what's new before heading to the bookstore to make their choices.

I seldom read magazine ads, but I found the ads in these three magazines to be almost as interesting as the articles. I may have read every one of them. The ads, like the magazines themselves, are about books.

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