Ian Casselberry is a freelance writer, currently based in Asheville, NC. He is an editor at The Comeback and Awful Announcing

Previously, he has been a contributing writer for Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew, and SB Nation. In addition, he was a lead baseball writer for Bleacher Report. 

You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook, where he craves your attention.

He still plans to write that novel someday. 

("Pearls Before Swine" © 2005 Stephan Pastis)
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Entries in books (4)


More than a book? Marisha Pessl's 'Night Film' looks very intriguing

I enjoyed CBS Sunday Morning's feature on author Marisha Pessl this past weekend. I was always intrigued by her debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which was a critical darling in 2006. (And what a cool cover!)

Did I read the book? No. That will surprise no one that's known me and my seeming inability to read fiction over the last eight years. But it's definitely been on my to-read list. You know you've taken too long to read a book when a) you own the cover and the paperback has been released or b) the author's new book is coming out. 

What makes Pessl's new book, Night Film, intriguing is how she's promoting it. Many writers have created video trailers for their work, but Pessl is taking that a bit further. She also composed a trailer for the novel, but additionally made four short films as a companion to the novel. 

Basically, Pessl has produced a visual backstory for her novel and its protagonist. For instance, one of the primary characters is a horror movie director and Pessl had posters for each of his films (and their great titles) created. It's the sort of multimedia rollout that novelists surely have to consider to get their work noticed these days.

Something else mentioned in the CBS feature that I'd surprisingly forgotten about Pessl is that she's from my current residence of Asheville, NC. That definitely got my attention. She'll be making a return to her hometown next week at Malaprop's bookstore. I certainly plan to be in attendance.


Ender's Game: When to give up and just wait for the movie

My friend A. has been on me for years — years — to read Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game

I've purchased it. The novel taunts me from my bookshelf. I know it's a classic. I know I should read it.

Even a cashier at Greenlife (which is a local version of Whole Foods — at least it was until Whole Foods bought it, so now it's basically a Whole Foods) has gotten on my case to read Ender's Game.

She was one of those excessively talky cashiers who's nice to encounter when you're in a mood to have a conversation but annoying when you just want to buy your shit and get out of the store.

The first time, she asked me how I was doing; I asked her how she was doing. She told me she was happy because she just finished Ender's Game. I admitted I hadn't read it, which prompted a gasp and a finger-wag. 


"You should read it," she said.

"I know," I said. "I've been meaning to for years." 

"You will not regret it."

I went home, reminded myself that A. has been telling me to read Ender's Game for years and rationalized that she might be hurt or a little pissed that I finally decided to start reading a book because a total stranger asked me to, rather than following the recommendation of a dear friend. 

So I didn't open the book. Out of consideration to A., who's only been telling me to read Ender's Game probably since I first met her. I think that was more than 15 years ago. 

Now a movie adaptation of the book is coming out. It's set for a Nov. 1 release. 

On one hand, that still gives me plenty of time to read the book. I always feel like a better person if I've read the source material before seeing an adaptation. Maybe so I can just say, "Ah, the book was better." As if anyone wouldn't guess that response. 

But honestly, as a writer, I'm fascinated by adaptation from book to movie. What did the screenwriters cut out of the story for time purposes? Are the characters any different? Above all, was the movie faithful to the book even if it didn't follow every word of the text? 

Over the years, however, I've come to believe such things might take me out of the movie-watching experience. Am I really enjoying the movie for what it is if I'm too busy thinking about the book? 

Of course, that's surely just a lazy rationalization for not reading. 

At this point, maybe I should just wait for the movie and judge that on its own merits. (By the way, that includes not holding a grudge against the film — or the book — because of Card's abhorrent views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.) 

That approach worked out for me fine with Game of Thrones. A. has also nudged me many times to give George R.R. Martin's books a whirl, but I just never got around to it. Then HBO came along to help me out. Now A. and I can talk about the series!

Unfortunately, I haven't watched a single episode of Season 3 yet. And we're eight episodes in, with only two left to go. 

I am a terrible friend. 


Trailers for books? Brilliant

Warren Ellis isn't the first author to make a trailer to promote his book, one that can be posted on YouTube and go viral throughout the internet. 
(If you're asking me to come up with another, none immediately pop to mind. I remember watching a trailer for Chip Kidd's last novel, but can't find a clip as I write this. This Shazam! book isn't what I meant.) 
But Ellis might be the only one who has Ben Templesmith to draw illustrations for his trailer. People might be disappointed to realize Templesmith won't be drawing the whole book.
This is probably the first item to be purchased with the Amazon gift card my sister bought me for Christmas. 

How about I just keep reading, OK? 

It seems like you have to take a side with just about everything these days.

You have to be a Democrat or Republican. If you love baseball, it must mean you hate football. Do you watch MSNBC or Fox News? Paper or plastic?

Apparently, this now applies to books, as well. Do you read e-books? If so, why aren't you reading print books? 

Maybe that's a bit exaggerated, but after reading Jonathan Segura's post at NPR Monkey See, it seemed as if a line in the sand had developed among people of the book.

This flame was lit by Jonathan Franzen, who thinks it's "going to be very hard to make the world work" if our literature isn't permanently available on print, rather than flirting with obsolescence on an electronic screen. 

I've been thinking about this even more over the past couple of days, as I prepare for my visit to Malaysia and collect things to read for the long trip. Almost all of the books (and magazines) I'll be reading are going to be loaded on my iPad.

Why? For one thing, there's a hell of a lot less to pack and carry around. I won't have to try and cram all of it in the pocket of the seat in front of me. I'll be able to switch between materials without having to rummage through my bag and constantly elbow the person sitting next to me. (Sorry, Mom.) And I won't be leaving anything behind for someone else to pick up because I'm done with it. 

Although to be honest, I probably will bring a print book or two with me to read later on. Because I happened to buy that particular book in printed form. And it's virtually impossible for me not to spend at least $20 any time I'm at an airport newsstand. Because I still like books and love magazines. I wasn't aware that reading them electronically and not holding the actual publication in my hand could call that into question. 


I love books. Other than my sofa (and probably the desk I'm typing this on), my favorite pieces of furniture are my bookshelves. I enjoy having all my books right there in the living room and bedroom to pick over. I feel like it says who I am. And if I visit someone else's home, and they have a huge bookshelf, it's probably what I'm most impressed with. 

But my buying preferences are definitely changing. 10 of the last 12 books I've purchased have been e-books. (I might buy Freedom as an e-book, Franzen. Deal with it.) I actually didn't realize I'd bought that many in recent months because they're not strewn all over my coffee table, kitchen counter, or bedside table. And I haven't been fretting over how I'm going to cram them on my bookshelves. 

I'll agree that owning those books doesn't seem as substantive without all them physically accounting for their presence in my living space. And if I want to recommend any of those books to someone, I can't loan him or her a copy anymore. But it's sure as hell a lot more convenient to have all of those books zippered into my iPad. (I'm sure I'll be especially thankful next time I move.) 

So I'm sorry that a guy like Franzen doesn't think the version of The Art of Fielding or The Leftovers I read on my iPad somehow aren't as helpful to society than the printed versions of those books. If I talk to a friend who read those books in print, will we be able to discuss the same piece of literature? Or will my opinion hold less weight because I read it on a screen? 

As Segura said in his post, it's not an either/or proposition. You don't have to be an e-book person or print book person. And to make someone feel as if he or she has to choose a side is ludicrous. We're all still reading books. How about we be happy with that? 

Or maybe I'll just load a bunch of TV shows and movies onto my iPad for the trip instead. No, I'm just kidding.