Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Nine Lives

The winner of the Eight Characters giveaway is xmaggiexjanex, who should e-mail me at LynnViehl@aol.com with your full name and ship-to info so I can get these books out to you.

It's assumed that the average life cycle of a book begins when it's created and written by an author, then printed by a publisher, sold by a bookseller and finally either bought by a reader or stripped and destroyed. Given the ever-decreasing shelf life and sales of books, people outside the industry often wonder why we writers even bother.

They don't know it, but books, like babies, bees and the brain have secret lives. Being written and sold is only the beginning for a book. Like cats with nine lives, books are hard to get rid of or control once they're set free. Readers rarely destroy them, so a sold book can expect to join personal collection, become part of a public library or be passed along to another reader. Books are carried around the world by folks on airplanes and ships, into combat by soldiers, imported and exported and smuggled across borders, and are routinely passed down through generations.

Books are no longer confined to print or brick-and-mortar libraries, either. On the internet, works in the public domain are being made available to the public via electronic collections of literature like Project Guttenberg and Bartleby.com. You've seen how willing writers are to publish their own works as free e-books. The ease of electronic publishing -- not to mention the infinite number of downloads -- allows any author to go global.

The author rarely if ever knows where their books will go or how many lives they'll have. Lord Byron, for example, had no idea that a collection of his poetry published back in 1860 in England would end up in the collection of a 21st century housewife/novelist. It took 124 years from the day it was printed to make it to the junk shop in California where I found it; there were at least three other owners, judging by the names written on the inside cover. If only the book could talk, imagine the stories it would have to tell.

I send as many books as I can out into the wilderness of the world because, well, I'm obnoxious that way. Along with what I give away here at the blog, I send out books every month to American soldiers stationed in combat zones. One novel that I've been putting in every box of books that I send to Iraq is Tied to the Tracks by Rosina Lippi. Not only because I think it's brilliant, funny and a great story, but because it's a book about home, and what home means. I've been a soldier who was far from home, so I know how important it is to be reminded of that. This and the many secret lives that I think Tied to the Tracks will have is why I'm making it the ninth very cool book of December.

For a chance to win today's giveaway, in comments to this post name the title of a book that you think will have many secret lives (or, if you can't think of any titles, just throw your name in the hat) by midnight EST on December 13, 2006. I'll draw one name from everyone who participates and send the winner unsigned copies of Tied to the Tracks by Rosina Lippi, Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati (Rosina's alter-ego) and Talyn by Holly Lisle. Giveaway open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

66 comments:

  1. My husband is going to be deployed in June and I've already started thinking of things to put in care packages. This is a great idea!

    I think for me almost all books of poetry lead secret lives. They are loved or hated, given away or cherished.

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  2. Anonymous3:05 AM

    Name in hat, please ;)

    Oh...and I think The Time Traveler's Wife and Wicked are definite books that have secret lives ;)

    -jackie

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  3. Hi,

    "On The Art of Writing" by Quiller-Couch.

    My copy came from a second hand store with a letter wedged between the pages that was over 60 years old!

    D.

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  4. My pick is "Odd Thomas" By Dean Koontz. I've picked up quite a number of second hand editions for friends and family. And some have had notes left in them. Opinions and comments on what was written on certain pages. Its interesting to see what affects different people in books. But then, we all have our own secrets just like books do.

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  5. Cinderberry3:53 AM

    "Lord Byron's Novel" by John Crowley. I think it will live on, and on, and on...

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  6. Mallory's "Le Morte d'Artur' will survive for many more secret lives, and is destined to be hacked apart and reborn as a thousand new books.

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  7. I would say Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

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  8. I'm going to say The Wedding by Nicolas Sparks. It was a keeper for me.

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  9. "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card

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  10. "The Thorn Birds" because I find something new between the pages each time I flip it open.

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  11. This is an interesting post! I've just started reading this blog and I've found it very thought provoking.

    I'd like to toss my name in the hat with a story of a book of mine that's probably already had nine lives. It's "Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers". This book has been with me from the Atlantic coast of Canada to the Pacific Coast in California. Now it's nestled in my bookshelf in Japan. I always have it with me when I travel and whenever I'm stressed or feeling down, I open it to a random page. I barely have to read the words anymore; I know the book pretty much off by heart.

    It's not a great work of literature, but this book has been my laugh buddy and travel partner for...jeez...over ten years.

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  12. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

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  13. Bridget Medora8:29 AM

    Space by James Michener.

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  14. I'm going to say Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. I STILL read that occasionally. It's something I pick up sometimes when I'm in a funk and need to be whisked back to simpler times.

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  15. Tossing my name in the hat!

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  16. As usual I can't pick just one. I'm going with Talyn and Alas Babylon.

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  17. Every book I've ever read by Maya Angelou has really stuck to my ribs and soul. Parting with them would be difficult at best. If I were going to send one off overseas I'd probably tuck a note inside.
    --Love the book choices you've had!

    Kay
    ****Note to all others who read this comment... Is my blog boring? Is there a reason I don't get comments? Do I need to throw a great contest like this to get more than 1-4 comments?
    Pop on by...
    http://writewizely.blogspot.com

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  18. A Confederacy of Dunces.

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  19. Just tossing my name in the hat!

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  20. The book that came immediately to mind was The Stand by Stephen King.

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  21. Anonymous9:47 AM

    Valley of the Soul sounds like it's got stuff going on behind the scenes. My other pick would be The Scarlet Letter.

    Jess

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  22. The book that I would feel has the stature for that type of recognition is My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier. Loved it and could read it forever.

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  23. Anonymous10:06 AM

    It took 124 years from the day it was printed to make it to the junk shop in California where I found it; there were at least three other owners, judging by the names written on the inside cover. If only the book could talk, imagine the stories it would have to tell.

    What a great premise! A story from the book's POV. What if we could follow the secret life a small book published a hundred and twenty years ago, what would it tell us? It's been loved and abandoned to a dusty shelf more times than a lawnmower's owner's manual? Do books talk to one another in the quaint used-book store when the lights go out at night? Do they defend their genres, speak in that voice? I'm sure this has been done before, but what a fun idea.

    Sorry, I know that wasn't the question. Got a little carried away there. I wanted to pick a recently published book I think will roam about mankind for centuries to come, but my psychic vision is out this morning. So, I'll wimp out and chose 'Silverlock', by John Meyers Meyers. That one was a surprise for me. I'd never heard of it when I stumbled across it and found it has this whole underground fan club thing going on. 'Silverlock' truly seems to have a grand secret life.

    Karen, the lurker.

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  24. Just tossing my name in the hat!

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  25. Definitely Tess of the Durbervilles by Thomas Hardy. His writing and the story has me spellbound and mesmerized.

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  26. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a genm of a book that has so much in it that I could reread it and never complete it fully.

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  27. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser has that special feeling that I can never get over. His writing and the entire book captures this unique feeling.

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  28. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence resounded with me for a long time. I cherish his writing and his ability to be so creative.

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  29. Any of the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon.

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  30. GenghisCon10:30 AM

    Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I'm on my 9th copy ... I loan the book out and it never comes home. Who can be angry when you know it's being enjoyed wherever it's ended up!

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  31. Rochelle10:34 AM

    The Last Hot Time by John M. Ford. I find something new in this each time I read it.

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  32. Deidre Knight's Parallel Heat.

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  33. Name in hat. Way too many books have secret lives, and I would eat up all the space naming 'em. :-)

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  34. Karen S11:01 AM

    Just tossing my name into the hat!

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  35. I killed my copy of Pride and Prejudice by reading it to death. The back cover's gone and every so often another page peels off the notes. Soon pages of the novel itself will start to go. Mansfield Park literally fell out of its covers in three lumps. And I can't even find Persuasion. I'm thinking none of my favourite books will have afterlives.

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  36. Tossing my name in as well; I can't imagine that there is any book that doesn't/wouldn't have many secret lives - even the not-so-good ones. It's an intriguing concept!

    Pam

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  37. This was interesting. I had never even thought of books having second or third lives. Very cool.

    I think all of Terry Pratchett's books deserve many lives.

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  38. I have a worn copy of When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne where I'm at least the third owner of it. I'm sure that someday I'll have the chance to pass it on to someone else and they can get lost in the delightful lyrics of his poetry.

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  39. William Goldman, Color of Light

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  40. Ahh... Lord Byron. "She walks in beauty, like the night" is possibly my favorite poem.

    I think Pride and Prejudice has, and will continue to have many secret lives. As far as a contemporary book, I would think Wally Lamb's - She's Come Undone or Jennifer Weiner's - Good in Bed would have secret life potential.

    Happy Holidays!!! Zara

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  41. Like Pam, I think most books probably have secret lives.

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  42. Hmm, interesting. I am obligated to say Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler because it's my favorite book ever and everyone should read it multiple times. Aside from that, maybe A Clockwork Orange. I think that book is probably prone to secret (and nefarious) activity.

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  43. I would have to choose Their Eyes Were Watching God. Whenever I feel homesick for the South Florida I grew up in, I read that. I also lived for a time in Central Florida and would pass Eatonton daily on my way to and from work and would think of her and that great book. Lastly, I think of how not long after she died all of her works were out of print, but thanks in no small part to Alice Walker, her books are back in print, on school reading lists, and being read and enjoyed by people who otherwise would never have heard of Zora Neal Hurston. She even managed to track down where Zora Neal was buried and had a marker put on her grave. Some books just aren't meant to be forgotten.
    Ann
    P.S. I get to go to FL for Christmas. Yeah!

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  44. GarniGal1:45 PM

    Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro. It's a book I've never seen new, but have found in every library I've ever been in, every used bookstore, and can discuss with almost every woman I've met.

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  45. The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon. A great book about lost books.

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  46. Maryann McFadden's The Richest Season is a new one I think will have many secret lives

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  47. A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell is an exceptional novel which transports you vividly.

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  48. The Birth House by Ami McKay.

    (http://www.thebirthhouse.com/)

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  49. Just throwing my name in today. Though maybe it counts to say I have some books that already had a secret life. :)

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  50. Karen W.4:32 PM

    I think my books already have secret lives because they seem to be multiplying when I'm not looking. ;-) However, I'd have to say THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak.

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  51. C.S. Forester's Hornblower series - from whence David Weber and Bernard Cornwell have already made a nice income with Honor Harrington and Sharpe.

    I'd say that was a more visible 'life' than most.

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  52. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien has to be one of the most traveled books written.

    One more name in the hat...

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  53. I have two that has a lot of twist in them. One is your series with the vamp. (Sorry can't think brain freeze of the title)
    The other Deidre Knights~Prallel series

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  54. The Lord of the Rings for sure

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  55. Just throwing my name in the hat

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  56. I agree with one of the commenter's above that the Time Travelers Wife will have many secret lives. I have passed that thing around to everyone I know!
    --Kelly Marie

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  57. Long Lazarus7:22 PM

    Consider my name tossed into the hat.

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  58. Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende does have secret lives and many that blend into the universe.

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  59. Honest to God, I'm not sucking up but Stardoc would be one of my picks. ;)


    And Anne Bishop's Black Jewels trilogy

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  60. Anonymous7:38 PM

    Too many to pick from, but I'll try to narrow it down. Watership Down by Richard Adams and Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear.

    Sari

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  61. Now that I saw Lord of the Rings mentioned I'm going to have to go for that one.

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  62. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. Funny stuff that stands up to the test of time.

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  63. I just came back to make a list of books. You cannot imagine how many times I've used your blog as a place to find links to other interesting blogs just from the people who leave comments.
    The internet ROCKS!!!!!

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  64. Just to toss my name in, I have a funny story about a book's life. I bought Jurassic Park in paperback back in high school and took it to college with me.

    I'd marked my place with a Hershey wrapper, which was odd because I rarely eat chocolate, when I let my boyfriend borrow the book. Shortly after, we broke up and he moved away. I assumed he took the book with him.

    So I'm in my favorite second-hand bookstore, Changing Hands, and I come across a used copy of Jurassic Park on the shelf. I think, "I haven't read that book in ages!", so I impulse-buy and take it home.

    And open it up to find a Hershey wrapper tucked inside between the same pages I quit reading YEARS before. I paid for my own darn book!

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  65. Does To Kill a Mocking Bird count?

    I'm in... please, please pick me! :-)

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  66. Name in hat, if it isn't too late.

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