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Sharon’s Book Pile

I’ve just finished a few books that I really enjoyed and I thought you might like to hear about them. I read a little of everything – mysteries, westerns, psychological thrillers, classical literature, historical fiction, nonfiction (especially about gardening, dogs and home décor), humor and lots of horror. I try to switch things up, so if I read a dark or scary novel, I’ll follow that with something really funny or light. 

Three of the books in Sharon's book pile.

Three of the books in Sharon’s book pile.

At the top of my list is Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. It follows Patricia, a typical housewife in 1990s Charleston, and her book club friends as they encounter a mysterious new neighbor who may or may not be a killer…or something worse. The book starts off laugh-out-loud funny, but quickly turns dark and extremely grisly. While Patricia tries to convince her friends and her dense husband that there’s something terribly wrong with the newcomer, she struggles to live up to the ideal of the perfect wife, mother and hostess. I’m not sure which was scarier, the monster next door or the pressure on our heroine to live up to society’s expectations. You can check it out at WCPL (F HENDRIX) and in our eLibrary via R.E.A.Ds. as an ebook and eaudio.

Book cover for The Animals at Lockwood Manor

The Animals at Lockwood Manor, a novel, by Jane Healey

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is historical fiction with a really creepy touch of Gothic eeriness. Hetty, a young curator at a London natural history museum, is charged with evacuating the museum’s stuffed mammal collection to Lockwood Manor, a huge Downton Abby-type estate, where they’ll be safe from German bombs during the Blitz. She runs afoul of the ruthless lord of the manor and his equally unpleasant staff, but bonds with the lord’s beautiful and troubled daughter, Lucy. Soon Hetty is fighting to save her precious collection, as one mysterious calamity after another befalls them. Could the estate really be haunted by the terrifying spirit of a woman in white, or does something even more sinister threaten Hetty, Lucy, and the irreplaceable mammals? I loved finding out. I listened to the audiobook through Tennessee R.E.A.D.S. It is also available in print (F HEALEY) and in our eLibrary via Tennessee R.E.A.D.S. as an ebook also.

For a really fun page-turner, check out The Other Woman by Sandi Jones. Emily, a successful young business woman, has met the man of her dreams, Adam. He’s crazy about her too. Things go swimmingly until Adam introduces Emily to his mother, Pammie. For reasons Emily can’t fathom, Pammie detests her at first sight and it’s soon clear she will stop at NOTHING to ruin Emily’s life and keep her from marrying Adam. It’s obvious to Emily that her future mother-in-law is a manipulative sociopath, but to the rest of the world, Pammie is an angelic elderly lady, beloved by everyone. It’s fun to guess what outrageous stunt Pammie will throw at Emily next, and there’s also a great plot twist along the way.  I listened to the audiobook through Tennessee R.E.A.D.S.  It is also available in print (F Jones) and in our eLibrary via Tennessee R.E.A.D.S.. as an ebook.

If you’re looking for something darker and more complex, try A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, whose terrifying novel The Cabin at the End of the World was a recent sensation. A Head Full of Ghosts is narrated by a young woman named Merry as she recounts the bizarre events that befell her family 15 years earlier. When Merry is 8, her older sister Marjorie begins exhibiting strange and extremely disturbing behavior. Mom thinks Marjorie needs therapy, but Dad believes Marjorie is possessed and needs an exorcism. Things get REALLY weird and increasingly tense and scary when the family’s situation becomes the subject of a hit reality TV show. Check out a hard copy at WCPL (F TREMBLAY) or you can listen to the audiobook as I did through Tennessee R.E.A.D.S.  It is also available as an ebook in Tennessee R.E.A.D.S. and Hoopla.

My current reads are Stephen King’s latest, If It Bleeds (Available in print and our eLibrary via Tennessee R.E.A.D.S. as an ebook and eaudio.), and Savage Season (Available in print) by one of my favorite authors, Joe R. Lansdale. I’ll report on those in a week or so and suggest some other interesting books as well. 

Happy reading while you’re safe at home!

Sharon

 

My Book Pile…

I like to read a variety of things.  I am partial to science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror novels and any mixes thereof.  Romance novels do intrigue me but I haven’t read as much of them lately.  I do like to read adult graphic novels too.  I do read some nonfiction – management and leadership plus popular or recommended books to me by other staff.  Teen novels are something I enjoy too because of the tightly told stories that pack such an emotional impact plus they can be read quickly (or maybe that’s just me).  I also frequently will sneak down to the Children’s Department and read some of the new picture books for the same reason plus the artwork is so varied and delightful.

Some authors I like are Orson Scott Card, Patricia Briggs, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Josh Malerman, Kelley Armstrong and Sarah Addison Allen.  Of course, there are many others.

Books I have recently read:

Stack of Library Books mentioned in blog post

Harleen by Stjepan Sejic (don’t ask me to say it) – a graphic novel that is an origin story for Harley Quinn from the Batman universe.  An excellent read with extra details in the artwork which I love and makes it fun to go back through and look for.   I’m currently reading Birds of Prey: Harley which offers a different origin story and different artwork, more bubbly whereas the other novel is darker in tone and illustration.

Lost and Found by Orson Scott Card – fiction novel about a young man with the knack for finding things and returning them to their owners. Obviously that would have some drawbacks with accusations of theft and suspicions.  I really enjoyed it and cried a little at the end, not that it was sad-sad but touching.

The Furies by Katie Lowe – fiction novel about a group of girls in a private school. Quite dark in a way that made me think of Gone Girl.  It left me feeling like I had just driven slowly past a car wreck. Not that it was bad, I couldn’t stop reading it.

I am currently reading Dean Koontz’s Devoted.  I’m a sucker for his books with the golden retrievers.  I remember reading his novel Watchers as a teenage and have devoured his books ever since.

~Jeffie

What’s In a [Pen] Name?

By Sharon Reily, Reference Department

Originally published Dec 4, 2015

“Pseudonym” comes from the Greek pseudonymos, meaning “having a false name, under a false name,” and writers have used pseudonyms or pen names for centuries. Everybody knows that “Mark Twain” was the pen name for Samuel Clemens, and by now most readers have figured out that “Robert Galbraith” (The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm) is a pseudonym for Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling. But did you know that “J.K. Rowling” is also a pseudonym? Rowling’s real name is Joanne (no middle initial) Rowling! Why would an author choose to write under a different name? And just who are some of these writers who’ve pulled the literary wool over readers’ eyes with alternate identities?

To Conceal Gender

wuthering heights book cover

One of the most common reasons for writing under an assumed name is to conceal the author’s gender. Women writers simply weren’t always taken as seriously as their male counterparts, and some of the most celebrated authors of all times had to use masculine pen names to insure their works were given the same consideration as male writers, or even be published at all. Among the most famous are the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. Charlotte published her works, including the classic Jane Eyre, under the male pen name “Currer Bell.” Emily used “Ellis Bell” for her masterpiece Wuthering Heights, while Anne wrote Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as “Acton Bell.”

To Conceal Identity

warlock

Louisa May Alcott published her most famous work, Little Women, under her real name, but she began her career writing as “A.M. Barnard.” Mary Ann Evans began writing as “George Eliot” to distance herself from the female romance novelists of the Victorian era. She revealed her true identity after her novel Adam Bede was well-received, but continued using her pen name for her other works, including Middlemarch. Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa, is better known as “Isak Dinesen.” Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin is famous as “George Sand.” Women writers still use male or androgynous pen names. Science fiction novelist Alice Mary Norton wrote as “Andre Norton” to increase her marketability with her primarily male audience. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter publishers urged her to use initials instead of her real name Joanne for fear the target audience of young boys wouldn’t read something written by a woman. Jane Austen hid her identity but not her gender when she published Sense and Sensibility as “A Lady.”

To Switch Genres

mcbain book cover

Sometimes writers known for specific genres just want to try something different, which can be confusing and off-setting to their faithful readers. So they choose to use pen names. Mystery writer Agatha Christie also wrote romance novels as “Mary Westmacott.” Nora Roberts, mainly known for her romance novels, branched out into science fiction as “J.D. Robb.” Anne Rice, famous for her Vampire Chronicles, writes erotic fiction as “A.N. Roquelaure” and “Anne Rampling.” (For the record, her real name is Howard Allen O’Brien, so “Anne Rice” is also a pen name.)

J.K. Rowling wrote her adult mysteries The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm as “Robert Galbraith” to “publish without hype or expectation” and received unbiased reviews from critics without the preconceived notions her name carries. Novelist Evan Hunter (born Salvatore Albert Lombino) saw his most success writing crime fiction as “Ed McBain” (the 87th Precinct series). Hunter’s 2005 New York Times obituary explained that McBain and Hunter bylines were kept very separate “to avoid any confusion or shock that readers of Evan Hunter’s ‘serious’ books might feel when exposed to the ‘mayhem, bloodshed, and violence’ that were Ed McBain’s meat and drink.” Isaac Asimov, best known for his popular science and science fiction works, wrote a series of juvenile sci-fi novels as “Paul French.” Poet Cecil Day-Lewis published detective novels as “Nicholas Blake.”

To Avoid Saturating The Market

the regulators book cover

Early in Stephen King’s career, his publishers felt writers should be limited to putting out only one book a year. To get around this restriction, he created “Richard Bachman.” He came up with the name while on the phone with his publisher – he had a Richard Stark novel on his desk and a Bachman Turner Overdrive song was playing. King wrote four novels as Bachman but once his cover was blown, he declared Bachman dead of “cancer of the pseudonym.”

A more extreme example is provided by horror master Dean Koontz. Throughout the 1970s, Koontz published as many as eight books a year, and since his editors told him that writing in different genres under the same name was a bad idea, and risked serious overexposure, he chose some aliases: “Aaron Wolfe,” “Brian Coffey,” “David Axton,” “Deanna Dwyer,” “John Hill,” “K.R. Dwyer,” “Leigh Nichols,” “Anthony North,” “Owen West,” and “Richard Paige.” Koontz is suspected of using other names as well, but only admits to writing under these ten pen names.

To Separate A Writing Career From A “Day Job”5180sUOPy3L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Nevil Shute Norway published his novels, including A Town Like Alice and On the Beach, as “Nevil Shute” to protect his aeronautical engineering and business careers. Renowned Egyptologist Dr. Barbara Mertz is better known as “Elizabeth Peters,” writer of the bestselling Amelia Peabody mystery series. Sir Walter Scott wrote Waverly and other novels anonymously to protect his reputation as a poet. “Ann Landers” was a pen name created by the popular advice column’s original author, Ruth Crowley, who didn’t want it confused with another column she was writing about child care. Joe Klein, TIME magazine political columnist, wrote the novel Primary Colors, based on Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign, as “Anonymous” and went to great lengths to protect his true identity.

As a Pen Name for a Group of WritersHardy-Boys

It turns out that some well-known writers never existed at all! The Hardy Boys series by Franklin W. Dixon was written instead by several ghostwriters. Likewise, the Nancy Drew and Dana Girls series were not the work of Carolyn Keene, who didn’t exist, but by different ghostwriters. Laura Lee Hope, credited with The Bobbsey Twins series, was also just a pseudonym for several ghostwriters.

 

No matter why a writer chooses to use a pseudonym, whether to mask gender, explore different genres, or maintain professional and personal privacy, key results are the unlocking of creativity, the freedom to write as one pleases, and the opportunity to have one’s work made available to readers. Without the use of pen names, some of literature’s greatest masterpieces (and works of popular fiction) might never have been written or published.

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