When it comes to books, size does matter….
For those of you out there who love big, meaty books, with immersive details, deep, complex characters, and long journeys that allow those characters to develop within that scenic world…I have some good news. A recent study (by a group called Vervesearch on behalf of an interactive publisher called Flipsnack) analyzed the page counts of recent best-sellers and discovered that print books are getting bigger. In a fairly significant way, at that, with the average best-seller growing from 320 pages in 1999 to 400 in 2014. This implications of this are not clear at all; few studies of the present are. But, as we approach the “beach reading” season, those of you who want a good, sturdy book to take with you, I celebrate this news on your behalf.
There are those of us (and I definitely count myself in this group more often than not) who can’t always handle the commitment of a big book. As a self-professed adulterous reader, I often have three or four books going at once…for a number of reasons, which we can discuss later….but anyway, the point is that sometimes, for some of us, big books can be a real turn-off.
But there is good news! E-books have forced the publishing market to diversify their products in ways that haven’t been seen since the evolution of the paperback in 1935. And that means that new genres, new characters, and new types of books continue to emerge with startling speed. Just one of these options is the novella.
Novellas, by definition, are works of fiction that are longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel. The word itself derives from the Italian work “novella”, which means “new”. In reality, novellas are delightful, delicious, single-serving works of fiction that can be read in a single sitting…a train ride…a workout….whatever time or space you have to unwind for a bit is the perfect place for a novella. And, thanks to the revolution within the publishing market, novellas are becoming increasingly diverse, wider in scope, and increasingly more refined as an art form in and of themselves. Even better, they are becoming increasingly easier to find in print form, as well as electronic form.
And, to heap goodness on top of all this goodness, any resident of Massachusetts has access to the Boston Public Library databases….and the Boston Public Library has a phenomenal and growing collection of novellas (as well as a completely insane collection of other works and resources). Patrons can get a BPL library card online as well to have instant access to databases (including Overdrive!). To find these great resources, head to the “e-Library” option on our home page:
Then, click on “Articles/Databases”. It’s the sixth option on the list. Clicking that will take you to this screen:
The highlighted option in the screen capture above (the fourth option on the page) is the link to the Boston Public Library database, where you can get your BPL card and begin going hog-wild:
You can use the BPL’s catalog–and ours, as well–to find whatever reading material makes your heart skip a beat. You can pick these books up where they live, at the BPL’s numerous branches and central library, or use ComCat to have it delivered to your home library–give us a call for more information! For the sake of this particular post, let’s have a look at some of the novellas on offer–both through us, and via the BPL!
The Ballad of Black Tom: It’s no secret that I have a thing for weird fiction, so as soon as I heard about Victor La Valle’s novel of Lovecraftian horror set in Jazz Age New York, there was nothing that was going to get between me and this 151 page thrill ride. La Valle is a superb author, who works very complex and difficult real-world issues in to his intensely imagined, unsettling, and completely compelling fiction, and this book is a perfect sample of his talents. Charles Thomas Tester may not be the best musician in Brooklyn, but he knows enough to put food on the table for him and his father, and knows the magic tricks to surviving in a deeply racist world. But when he is hired by a reclusive, fiendishly powerful man from Queens, Tommy’s entire life changes. Faced with unspeakable bigotry on one side and unimaginably dark powers on the other, only one thing is sure…Tommy will never be the same. And neither will you after reading this haunting little book.
Chase Me: Tessa Bailey is a superb contemporary romance novelist all around, and I’ve never met a book of hers I didn’t love. Though most of her works were published in e-book format only, her Broke and Beautiful series was released both electronically and in print, so you can savor these delightful stories in any way you wish. Roxy Cumberland dropped out of college in order to follow her dreams of becoming an actress…but reality quickly stepped in, and now Roxy finds herself performing singing telegrams to make ends meet. To add insult to injury, her very first client is a drop-dead handsome trust-fund Manhattanite in a giant pink bunny costume. Louis McNally II has no plans to humor the absurd spectacle at his door, but the voice–and the face–of his singing visitor intrigues him, even if Roxy appears to want nothing to do with him, or his entitled lifestyle. This opposites-attracting story is steamy, touching, and genuinely good fun from start to finish, and the perfect antidote for a gloomy day.
The Awakening: Melville House is a phenomenal publishing company (who also maintains a delightful website!), and their Art of the Novella series has really helped established the novella as a crucial genre in and of itself. Among those works is Kate Chopin’s classic feminist novel about a woman trapped by marriage and her social situation. At the time of its publication in 1899, the book was considered an irredeemable scandal that ended Chopin’s career. Since then, thankfully, Chopin’s powerful prose and enduring message has become a classic, and readily available, thanks to Melville House and the BPL. Check out all of the Art of the Novella books on offer, as well, in order to get a real sense of all the potential these books have to offer!