Alex Shakar

Last week, The New Yorker’s Ben Greenman, author of the novel Please Step Back, invited his Twitter followers to name the word they would most prefer to see permanently stricken from the English language. After weeding out the political picks (“Obama” and “war” were on many lists), Greenman found that there was an undisputed winner. “In the end, there was a runaway un-favorite: ‘moist.’ People, particularly women, evidently prefer aridity.” Still, "slacks" was the winner.

Hundreds of booksellers across the country gave away half a million copies of thirty pre-selected titles last night in honor of Free Book Night. Titles included Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, and Dave Eggers’s Zeitoun.

The future of Barnes & Noble may be in the hands of an “activist” hedge fund. Company stock jumped more than ten percent on Monday after Jana Partners revealed that it had bought more than twelve percent stake in the company. According to CNNMoney, Jana is known for “taking stakes in companies and then pushing for action,” and “could add pressure on Barnes & Noble to sell or spin off its Nook e-reader business.”

Alex Shakar’s second novel, Luminarium, beat out Julie Otsuka's The Buddha in the Attic and Edith Pearlman's Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories to win this year’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books fiction award. In a review in our Fall 2011 issue, Justin Taylor noted that “Luminarium is one of those books that is not shy about being about what it’s about, and it’s about plenty: technology, faith, families, war, media, illness, New York, second chances, the aftermath of tragedy, and how grief shapes or even becomes the survivor’s life.”

On the Media’s annual episode on the publishing industry covers all the year’s hot-button issues, including the “fears of Amazon becoming a monopoly and the little publishing house standing up to it, a Pulitzer snub for fiction, and the problem of knock-off books.”

Literary tourism began with Faulkner-inspired pilgrimages to Mississippi, but as of late, tourism officials have expanded their horizons. In addition to Twilight-themed tours of the Pacific Northwest, Reuters reports, there are now outfits that allow participants to immerse themselves in The Hunger Games’ post-apocalytic world: “Fans ... will soon have a chance to channel the survivalist spirit of the novel's heroine by zip-lining through a North Carolina forest and taking classes in camouflage, archery, making fire, and shelter-building.”

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