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Books make great movies--after all, good stories are good stories. And movies can become books. But video games? The waning decades of the 20th century brought us a whole new way to tell stories through video games. Not many games have gone from console to printed page, but The Legend of Zelda is about to, in a gorgeous edition that made top 50 lists weeks before publication. I loved playing Zelda myself, though not perhaps as much as Link does, and waiting for The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Historia made me wonder . . . what other games may have zapped themselves into print?

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End of the Year! Time to roundup books like horses, corralling them in “best of” lists: fiction, nonfiction, children’s, young adult, illustrated/art, and more. But how about by syntax? As someone attuned to language and grammar, I’m going to round up the books I loved this year by syntax—the grammatical structure (sentences, prepositional phrases, clauses, and the like) of their titles. Let’s see if there any patterns

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You think election time is tense? Try talking about words in the dictionary. Seriously. The Story of Ain't, a new book by David Skinner about the controversy when "ain't" made it into Webster's Third, reminds us that words once were--and still can be--fighting words. "Ain't" ain't a big deal anymore, but what are the words we just won't use now?  

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Literature is not a horse race, but who can resist a sporting wager? From October 8 to 15, the Nobel Prize winners for Medicine, Physics, Chemistry + more are announced. But the hot money is on the Literature prize, to be announced later. British oddsmakers publish odds on that race! Murakami is in the lead, but who is Mo Yan? And is Bob Dylan really in the running?!

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Lauren Oliver (author of the bestselling Liesl & Po and Before I Fall) has another hit on her hands with her new teen dystopian Delirium series. First came Delirium (January 2011), then Pandemonium, and soon Requiem (March 2013). Her tale of a society in which love is surgically removed and amor delirium nervosa is a deadly disease is compelling, especially to teens,  but it was the use of Latin in the name of the malady and the titles that caught my eye. In these futuristic books, how much fun to see a reflection of some ancient and classical attitudes toward love, and how enjoyable to look at the words Oliver chooses.

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British playwright Rachel Joyce's first novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, seems an unlikely sort of book to jump across the Atlantic. The story of a retired brewery salesman, his wife, absent son, and a note from a dying friend he hasn't seen for years unfolds in a world marked by a particularly British kind of reticence about feelings, a very specifically English way of living together in polite, yet sometimes bitter chill.

 

But American readers are embracing it, possibly because its arc of revelation, a physical and psychological journey to a sort of enlightenment, is so American and possibly because the prose is so effortless. Although one never forgets one is reading a British novel, the reader is never brought up short by glaring Britishisms, Commonwealth-style spelling or punctuation, or unfamiliar vocabulary. The book itself went on a bit of a pilgrimage, and it has emerged splendidly.

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Maria Semple's latest novel, Where'd You Go, Bernadette, is a sharply funny, occasionally exasperating, eventually heartwarming story of self-regarding entitled geniuses, upper-middle-class creatives and the hell they've created called Seattle, and collateral damage. A family farce with a cast of exaggerated yet endearing wealthy characters P. G.Wodehouse might have come up with had he been alive in the Microsoft-era Northwest, Where'd You Go, Bernadette is ostensibly a collection of documents collected by daughter Bee as part of her effort to find her missing mother, Bernadette Fox, a misanthropic agoraphobe who goes AWOL on the eve of a famiy trip to Antarctica.

 

 

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Julia Child, probably America's first, most influential, and most beloved TV chef, would have been 100 (one hundred?) on August 15; and Bob Spitz's splendid new biography Dearie is just one of many commemorations taking place. Julia's centennial birthday has inspired food-fueled and author-filled celebrations across the United States. 

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Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy is a sensation, spawning a hit 2012 movie and reaching millions of fans. As an aficionado of manga, Japan's popular illustrated narratives, I couldn't help but be struck by how much the work reminded me of Koushun Takami's Battle Royalewhich had exploded onto the Japanese scene years earlier in 1999, spawning controversy and fervent admirers. Both are primarily for teenagers; both feature teen protagonists battling to the death in a sort of Lord of the Flies-meets-Survivor scenario; both are read by adults. Both have spawned discussion about their respective merits vis-a-vis each other and their suitability for young readers. 

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In late July 2012, presidental candidate Mitt Romney publicized a statement by President Barack Obama, "You didn't build that," claiming that Obama was saying American small business owners didn't build their own businesses.

 

Late-night comedian and author Jon Stewart said Romney's interpretation was inaccurate, a way to "make willful hay out of this rather common singular-plural demonstrative pronoun snafu." While I was merely delighted to hear the words "demonstrative pronoun" on national television, Stewart was stating that what Obama was referring to with "that" was the infrastructure that allows small businesses to flourish in the United States, not the businesses themselves. What Romney is trying to do of course is get into the Oval Office, to join the short list of men who have been president. He wants to join The Presidents Club.

 

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About Unabashedly Bookish: The BN Community Blog
Unabashedly Bookish features new articles every day from the Book Clubs staff, guest authors, and friends on hot topics in the world of books, language, writing, and publishing. From trends in the publishing business to updates on genre fiction fan communities, from fun lessons on grammar to reflections on literature in our personal lives, this blog is the best source for your daily dose of all things bookish.

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