Book Reviews

The Viralizer

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Thu, 04/24/2014 - 3:41pm

Here are ten easy ways you can write an article that goes viral, just like this one. I mean, you're reading it, aren't you?

 

1)      Give it a zingy headline, like, say, "The Viralizer." You must have a numbered list of instructions, promise that following them will yield desirable results, and indicate that the process is not arduous. Not arduous is crucial. The ideal number of items is ten; if you can’t think of a tenth, just leave it blank—people never read to the end, anyway. They're too busy viralizing the list.

 

2)      Target the 55-to-70-year-old mom demographic with articles they will send to their friends or, better yet, children. Nobody forwards articles like 55-to-70-year-old moms do to their kids, in part because nobody else actually uses a site’s clunky proprietary emailing system as opposed to simply copying-and-pasting a link. My own mom has already painstakingly sent this to one hundred and twelve people, as well as to me. Some topics:

 

  • Exercise tips (or the commonplace activity you’re currently engaging in that is highly deleterious to your health, like reading on a computer screen)
  • The nation’s wayward youth
  • Gluten
  • This

 

3)      Reinforce some banal piece of conventional wisdom with an argument cloaked in somewhat clever language, so as to make it seem brilliantly, Gladwellianly counterintuitive, such as: “Only by paying attention to the world around us, instead of our smartphones, can we actually become smarter.” Hammer this point home repeatedly throughout the article with slightly different phrasing.  Remember: People love conventional wisdom—but only if it is presented under the guise of unconventional wisdom. 

 

4)      Secure pithy quotes from celebrities on quotidian matters. If you are unable to contact them, make up their quotes, as they are too busy being famous to notice. In the end, “all’s fair in viral articles,” said Michelle Obama in a phone interview.

 

5)      Adopt a wry tone, facilitated by a liberal sprinkling of exclamation points. You can say something darkly disturbing and it still comes off as lighthearted and humorous! Such as: "Our country is on the brink of financial collapse yet we’re still watching reality shows about singing!"  "We will all eventually die, some of us unexpectedly soon due to drinking from plastic bottles!" "Within a month you will be laid off—yes, you, Britney Morris of Galveston, Texas!"

 

6)      Capture the zeitgeist by mixing and matching ingredients from this list: college loans; social media's latest privacy snafu; exorbitant rents; sexting; a rich, attractive, and/or famous person who says heinous things around a reporter; speculation on the newest smartphone; organic quinoa; Ph.D.s who are unemployed; adjusting your office chair to reduce back pain; how to actually use the newest smartphone; Michelle Obama; what you’re doing wrong for sleep; job-interview etiquette; gluten-free wayward youth who don’t exercise enough.

 

7)      Declare something generation-defining about the Millennials and careers, or Millennials and relationships, or Millennials and anything at all, such as Millenials and the Viralizer.

 

 Seriously—anything, even a made-up fact completely out of context but ripe for someone to Tweet just that sentence, like: “The Millennials have already depleted the earth’s resources more than the Baby Boomers have.” Just watch what happens.

 

8)      Publish the article in some prestigious online venue so that angry Internet commenters will try to take it down a notch by posting insults like, “Seriously? Is this what your publication has come to?”; a tersely judgmental “Not funny”; or a devastatingly cutting “Meh.”

 

9)      Solidify what we already know, but employ enough acrobatic and allusive turns of phrase, in the manner of a verbal Cirque du Soleil aerialist soaring under an azure sky, weightless and swift-like, so that it seems as if it’s something we don’t know. See 3).

 

 

Teddy Wayne is the author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine and Kapitoil.

Categories: Book Reviews

Long View

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 10:30pm

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Categories: Book Reviews

Gabriel García Márquez, 1927-2014

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 12:50pm

Essential reading from -- and about --  the master storyteller.

Categories: Book Reviews

The People's Platform

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 9:34am

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

Categories: Book Reviews

In the Light of What We Know

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 9:18am

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

Categories: Book Reviews

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters: Kenneth Calhoun and Lysley Tenorio in Conversation

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 8:44am

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Categories: Book Reviews

From Adman to Barista

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 10:30pm

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Categories: Book Reviews

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters: Kenneth Calhoun and Lysely Tenorio in Conversation

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 3:59pm

Discover Great New Writers authors Kenneth Calhoun and Lysely Tenorio on B-movies and knowing when a story's finished.

Categories: Book Reviews

Shakespeare in America

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 1:00pm

The Bard's lasting influence on U.S. icons during some of the nation's most pivotal moments.

Categories: Book Reviews

The French Intifada

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 9:17am

The tumultuous history of France and its Arabs in the wake of the Algerian War.

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Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 7:53am

Thinking outside the box of twentieth-century office life.

Categories: Book Reviews

Betting on Earth

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 10:30pm

April 22: "Instead of reading Paul Ehrlich's clash with Julian Simon as a simple...morality tale, their story can move us beyond stereotyped portrayals of environmentalists and conservatives."

Categories: Book Reviews

A Private Venus

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 2:36pm

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

Categories: Book Reviews

The Promise of Hope

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 2:31pm

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Categories: Book Reviews

Akhil Sharma

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 1:46pm

The books that inspired him to write Family Life.

Categories: Book Reviews

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 1:29pm

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."

Categories: Book Reviews

Marquez at Camp Liberty

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 11:55am

When I heard that Gabriel García Márquez had died, I immediately thought of three things: the fine grit of Iraqi sand that scratched between the page and my fingertips, the metal cot with springs that squeaked like those beneath a prostitute's well-worn bed, and the way my forearms ached as I lay in my hooch on Camp Liberty (Baghdad, 2005) and held a hardbound copy of 100 Years of Solitude above my head, absorbed in what I'd long put off reading.

Categories: Book Reviews

Love Boxed

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 6:13am

Reading books filled with passion is my favorite indulgence, and as a romance author, I get to call it work, too. A great way to sink into reading bliss is multi-author boxed sets, which represent a collaboration of authors, both bestselling and new, usually in the same subgenre or writing with a united theme. For today I’ve looked at two different sets to recommend—a contemporary and a paranormal. Boxed sets allow readers to try several authors, and do so for a fantastic value. Can’t go wrong.

 

A heads up: some boxed sets are published only for a limited time, so if one piques your interest, snap it up while you can.

Categories: Book Reviews

Massacre-Memory

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Sun, 04/20/2014 - 10:30pm

April 21: " 'Pull' includes 'invitations to tea' at which one hears smiling reminders that a better life is available to people who stop talking about massacres..."

Categories: Book Reviews

The Little Girl who Fought the Great Depression

Barnes and Noble Book Reviews - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 6:52am

Why was Shirley Temple one of the most iconic figures of 1930s America?

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