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February 2, 2010

'The Book Haven': A new blog for Stanford's literary universe

Every year, books pour out of Stanford University by the scores, if not by the hundreds. From biography to poetry, science and public affairs, it is a river of the written word. Yet as newspapers cut back their pages, column inches devoted to books and the literary life are the first to go – in recent years, book sections have been the canary in the mainstream media's mine.

So how to get the word out? Cynthia Haven, the arts and humanities writer at the Stanford News Service, has launched a Stanford book blog titled "The Book Haven" (

"Given the reduced coverage on books and book news nationwide, it's only logical that book lovers change the way we cover books and book events," Haven said.

The blog will cover not only books per se, but also readings, lectures, book events, publishing news, library events, literacy studies – anything to do with the written word.

Consider the current offerings: A recent post features Terry Castle, "Jedi knight of literary exploration and lesbian scholarship" and pal of Susan Sontag. Castle's latest, The Professor and Other Writings, has been called "a greatest-hits package of show-stopping monologues and offhand-genius riffs."

Or read about Welsh national poet Gwyneth Lewis, who shares a link with Haven in the classroom of late Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky. Or Twain scholar Shelley Fisher Fishkin, reading from her newest, Mark Twain's Book of Animals.

Haven hopes the blog won't shy away from controversy. To that end, "The Book Haven" is currently welcoming a discussion of the work of Jean-Marie Apostolidès, who has written extensively on Theodore Kaczynski, the "Unabomber." Apostolidès' thoughts on his research raise provocative ethical questions.

Widely published on literary topics, Haven has written for the Times Literary Supplement, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times Book Review and others. She has a forthcoming book on Nobel Prize-winning Polish poet Czesław Miłosz.

Editor Note:

An interview with Apostolidès about the Unabomber was broadcast on Robert Harrison's "Entitled Opinions" program on Stanford's KZSU 90.1 FM. A blog discussion of the topic is online at "The Book Haven."



Cynthia Haven, Stanford News Service: (650) 724-6184,

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